DarkUFO - Lost

I'll get to why I think Claire is actually a ghost in a minute — but first, a word about Alice.

Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame, of course. You'd think Lost was trying to tell us something the way it keeps pointing toward Lewis Carroll's beloved children's book on its bookshelf. In last night's episode, ''Something Nice Back Home,'' flash-forward Jack — enjoying domestic bliss with flash-forward Kate — read a whole stinkin' passage from the thing as he put flash-forward Aaron to bed. Perhaps by Lost's last episode, if not sooner, we will realize that Carroll's topsy-turvy underworld was a clue to the show's essential metaphysical enigma; perhaps, for example, the castaways have literally tumbled into a hidden, beyond-microscopic dimension tucked into the seams of reality, as described by current superstring physicists. (For those of you who insist on a ''hard science'' explanation of Lost, check out The Elegant Universe, which makes such a scenario plausible.) But the specific Alice in Wonderland reference cited in last night's episode (taken from the book's second chapter, ''The Pool of Tears'') reminded us anew that Lost is first and foremost about its characters, and more deeply, the tough, often impenetrable mystery of ourselves:

''Alice took up the fan...and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: 'Dear, dear, how queer everything is today. And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: Was I the same when I got up this morning?...If I'm not the same, the next question is, who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.' ''

''The Pool of Tears'' is a transitional chapter in Alice's adventure. She's just fallen out of her world but finds herself stuck in a stuffy corridor on the other side of a door leading into Wonderland proper. As she ponders the riddle of herself and the problem of opening the door — a problem because the door is rather tiny and she has grown very large thanks to a piece of magic cake — she cools herself with a fan left behind by the White Rabbit, oblivious of the fact that the very act of fanning is magically making her smaller. The dilemma is making her weep: Poor Alice can't figure out how she fits — literally — in her new world. (I swear to you, this is relevant.) Similarly, ''Something Nice Back Home'' was partly a transitional passage in the Lost saga, a busywork episode designed to put all the characters in position for the year's big finale, a three-part affair that starts in two weeks. Jin cut a secret deal with Charlotte, Claire went MIA, Christian Shepherd bonded with his grandson, flash-forward Hurley went nutty, and flash-forward Kate did secret favors for left-behind Sawyer. But mostly, it was about Jack.

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