Pierre Chang: Man of Mystery

In an effort to post more (not to mention milk everything I can out of the Lost franchise before it ends next May), I’m starting a new feature (with a title inspired by Hurley) called I Want Some Freakin’ Answers.  From time to time, I’ll talk about some of the things we’ve seen over the past five seasons of Lost that I’d like answered.  I’m not going to deal with topics we know will get answered (like the smoke monster), but rather those things that no one but die-hard Lost fans would care about.  It’s very likely that not everything will be answered, and even possible that some may be passed off as continuity errors, but Lost wouldn’t have obsessive fans if people didn’t care about the little things, right?

The big mystery around the end of Lost’s first season was what was in the hatch.  We later found it was a station built to study the unique electromagnetic properties of the island by a group calling themselves the DHARMA Initiative.  Aside from the weird swan-specific symbols scattered around the station and on it’s boxes of food products, our (not to mention the Lostaway’s) first introduction to the Initiative came through the Swan Station orientation film, way back in Season Two’s aptly titled third episode “Orientation.”

Hosted by a man calling himself Doctor Marvin Candle, who only has the use of one arm, the film gives us some background about the Initiative, as well as details as to the function of the Swan.

After that, the Lostaways find different DHARMA stations, some of which have their own orientation films/videos, and while they’re hosted by the same person, he doesn’t always go by the name “Marvin Candle” and in some cases, has two functioning arms.

In “?,” Locke and Mr. Eko find the Pearl Station, where they find an old school video cassette tape of an orientation video.  Copy-written 1980, the gentleman hosting the Pearl video goes by the name Mark Wickmund and can use both arms.

In Season three, we see clips in the computer video for the Flame and the “Welcome to the Island” flick, but don’t catch the presenter’s name.

We don’t see any more DHARMA films presentations until the end of Season Four, when Ben has Locke view the Orchid‘s video. Again hosted by the same gentleman, but this time under the name Edgar Halliwax.  “Edgar” even has a custom Orchid-station Parka which Ben appropriates for his trip to spin the wheel.

Finally, in Season Five, we actually meet the man in a setting outside of the orientation films.  Everyone in the Initiative knows him as Dr. Pierre Chang, and he can use both his hands.  Throughout the season, we find out Pierre is a bigwig with the DI, is a scientist and acts periodically in DHARMA films. He has a son named Miles, and much to [future] Miles’ consternation, he likes country music.   We also see Pierre shooting the film for the Arrow Station, where he again calls himself Marvin Candle.  In Season Five’s finale episode, The Incident, Pierre loses his left hand in an accident while trying to shut the drill at the Swan site down.

So we know this about the man of mystery: His name is Pierre and he lost his left arm in a construction accident in 1977.  He shot the films for the Pearl, the Orchid, the Arrow and “Welcome to the Island” before 1977 (when he lost both his hands).  However, the years for the Pearl and Orchid videos are after 1977, so either the DI fudged the copyright dates, or that’s a continuity error on the part of the Lost creative team.

The thing about Pierre that I’d like some freakin’ answers to is what’s with all the different names?  Through the video for the Pearl, we learn that DHARMA is involved in studying psychology- though the answer to who’s the subject of the mind games – the observers or the observed, is up in the air.  And these fake names all being somewhat related (Candle, Halliwax, Wickmund) make it seem as if the whole situation is more than a continuity error.

The DHARMA members who are the audience of these films/videos are being lied to for some reason.  As seen in the episode Namaste, a large number of the DHARMA people know Pierre Chang (and one of my favorite moments of the episode is when Jack meets the man he knew as Marvin Candle, 27 years from that moment).  So who’s he fooling?

My guess?  There’s still more of DHARMA’s story to tell.  After the incident, the Initiative implemented some heightened security protocols–changing how people dealt/communicated with each other, in some cases, even cutting off communication between stations.  So giving people in each of its stations a unique frame of reference would serve to that advantage.  And with what little we’ve seen of the functions of the Pearl Station (they were being watched too, the notebooks that were the “fruit of their diligent work” went nowhere), the Initiative wasn’t above lying to its employees/test subjects.

One of the few things we know about the DI in the time period between the Incident and Desmond’s arrival is that Stu Radzinsky worked in the Swan.

And why not?  He had some science background, was a high-ranking member and even had a hand in designing the Swan.  But as Kelvin told Desmond, he also killed himself in that very station.

Here’s what I think:  Because of the incident, operators at the Swan (and other DI stations) were locked down- the Quarantine hoax was put in effect to keep workers confined to their stations.

Stu (who may have been punished for the incident with his tour of duty in the Swan) knew the truth.  To keep himself sane, and to pass along his knowledge of the DI, he started the blast door map before finally losing it (or his conscience got to him) and ending up as a spot on the ceiling.

As this extrapolation of Stu’s saga shows, there’s more of the DI’s story to tell.  As part of that story, I’d like some freakin’ answers as to why Dr. Pierre Chang’s IMDB credits can include the roles of Dr. Marvin Candle, Edgar Halliwax and Mark Wickmund.

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2 thoughts on “Pierre Chang: Man of Mystery

  1. I think you’re right: the date thing is a continuity error. But the names and arm usage almost have to be on purpose. I just hope they take the time to explain it. Good idea for a story.

    By the way, François Chau, the actor who plays Chang (and everyone else) was the voice of Quick Kick in the GI Joe cartoon and movie. Just thought that an interesting bit of trivia.

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