Fail-to-be-safe?

In the LOST season finale, a drunk Kelvin confides in Desmond:

DESMOND: What is this?

INMAN: This is the only other way out, partner.

DESMOND: What are you talking about?

INMAN: Failsafe. Turn this key and this all goes away.

DESMOND: What’s behind that wall, Kelvin? Huh? What was the incident?

INMAN: Electromagnetism, geologically unique. The incident — there was a leak. So now the charge builds up and every time we push the button it discharges it before it gets too big.

DESMOND: Why make us do it — push the button? If we, if we can just…

INMAN [laughing and closing the lid]: Here’s the real question, Desmundo — do you have the courage to take your finger out of the dam and blow the whole thing up, instead?

Later on, when everything is going to hell in the hatch and SYSTEM FAILURE shows up on the screen, Desmond grabs the “failsafe key” and tells Locke:

DESMOND: I’ve got to go. And you’ve got to get as far away from here as possible.

LOCKE: Go where? Stop!

DESMOND: I’m going to blow the dam, John. [the timer starts flipping to the hieroglyphs] I’m sorry for whatever happened that made you stop believing. But it’s all real. Now I’ve got to go and make it all go away.

The vagueness of these statements is confusing to me. What do they mean “make it all go away”? The way Kelvin and Desmond talk about the key, they make it sound like something that is a suicide mission–risking their lives to save a project, or sacrificing themselves to save others. The wikipedia has two definitions of “fail-safe”:

A device which, if (or when) it fails, fails in a way that will cause no harm or at least a minimum of harm to other devices or danger to personnel.

An operation which ensures that a failure of equipment, process, or system does not propagate beyond the immediate environs of the failing entity.

What do you think the fail-safe key does? Does it reverse the polarity of the giant magnet? Does it do the same thing as the button (releasing built up electromagnetic charge–in which case, why didn’t Desmond use the key the first time in “Orientation”–when the computer was shot)? Is it a self-destruct sequence, to protect the secrets of DHARMA? Do you think Desmond survived?

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19 Responses to Fail-to-be-safe?

  1. joe says:

    i think it’s pretty clear that desmond knows exactly as much about the function of the key as we do (not much), and believed it to be a suicide mission, whatever the outcome. ‘fail-safe’ meaning ‘causing a minimum of damage’ could be construed as ‘you and everyone on the island will die, but the world will be saved.’

    based on carlton and damon’s comments, it looks like that will not be the case, as it sounds like we may be able to look forward to having desmond as a regular character next year.

    if that’s the case, i’d like to know what caused the ‘quarantine’ door to fly off like that.. without killing locke, eko, and desmond. rather than an explosion, perhaps the magnetism reversed and repelled everything away from it with equal force? oh and that white sky thing. i’d like to know that that was too.

  2. aub says:

    I agree with you, joe.
    I really want to know about everyone’s theories on Penny getting the phone call in the end? How did she know he would turn the key? How did she know he had been there? Can someone help!!??

  3. VidGamer123 says:

    I hope Desmond returns. He kinda grew on me.

  4. Maurice Tift says:

    The LOST podcast (with Damon and Carlton) certainly made it sound like Desmond will be back. His fillings, however, may have followed the same trajectory as the hatch door which nearly struck Bernard – a dentist!!

    It may be no coincidence that we have a dentist on the island! 🙂

  5. Lesley says:

    I always thought that fail safe meant that it (the hatch) would be made “safe” and ensuring the survival of those involved. That said I think the EM charge built up because the unique geography was walled in with concrete, thereby creating pressure of sorts (EM pressure does that exist??). So, I think the fail safe merely exposes the natural geography (getting rid of the concrete) so the charge no longer builds up. Perhaps something rises out of the ground and that is how the hatch door is propelled upwards. I am not sure there is an explosion but an emergence of a force or geography long suppressed. I only hope it is not radioactive. I think Desmond survives (as well as Locke and Eko)and the EM becomes exposed (and visible by the world??) for good.

  6. Cecilia says:

    Nice comments, guys. joe: I think that well could be the meaning of the word in this context (though I’d say that for me personally, it’s not the most accurate naming of the key’s purpose, if that is the case :). Funny comment about Desmond’s fillings, Maurice.

    aub, I really don’t know if I or anyone here would know the answer to that just yet, sorry. One could guess, I think, that Pen has more insider info than we might have originally thought… after all, her father was Widmore, who may have been involved with the Hanso project on electromagnetism on the island.

  7. tom says:

    I KNOW THAT THIS IS A BIT RANDOM, AND A LONG LONG WAY BACK, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GLASS EYE THAT THE TAIL PASSENGERS FOUND IN THEIR HATCH. THE TAPE AND CAMERA THINGY HAVE BEEN COVERED, BUT NOT THE EYE AND I RECKON THAT IT IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING IMPORTANT

  8. tom says:

    I JUST WATCHED A RECORDED SEASON ONE EPISODE WHEN JIN GOT THE JOB FOR SUN’S FATHER AND I NOTICED THAT SUN’S DAD HAD A SOLID EYE AND THAT HE NEVER BLINKED WITH THAT EYE OR MOVED IT. COULD IT BE THE GLASS EYE THAT THEY FOUND AND IF SO SUN’S DAD COULD BE A BIG OR IMPORTANT CHARACTER TO THE LOST SERIES.

  9. Hammer says:

    [quote comment=”3892″]I JUST WATCHED A RECORDED SEASON ONE EPISODE WHEN JIN GOT THE JOB FOR SUN’S FATHER AND I NOTICED THAT SUN’S DAD HAD A SOLID EYE AND THAT HE NEVER BLINKED WITH THAT EYE OR MOVED IT. COULD IT BE THE GLASS EYE THAT THEY FOUND AND IF SO SUN’S DAD COULD BE A BIG OR IMPORTANT CHARACTER TO THE LOST SERIES.[/quote]

    Nice catch Tom…but why are you yelling? 🙂

  10. Ven says:

    I thought the glass eye belonged to Dr. Marvin Candle and was there because he is on the island, possibly dead if Kate shot him.

  11. Cecilia says:

    I could be wrong, but I don’t personally think the glass eye belonged to anyone we know yet. I think it was either that of someone we’ve never met, or just to continue the eyes theme of the show.

  12. ja says:

    wild theory that I like although I can’t take credit for it – the failsafe made the whole hatch+electromagnet ‘go away’ by launching it into space! remember sawyer made that joke about aliens, and then there was that one shot at the end that started up in the stars before panning down to earth, etc. it’s some kinda sci-fi rocket thing that caused that crazy sonic boom and left loose bits like the quarantine door to fall to the ground. how fucking awesome would it be if season 3 opens with Locke, Eko, and Desmond in space?? just crazy enough to be total genius

  13. ilumzar says:

    [quote comment=”3857″]I agree with you, joe.
    I really want to know about everyone’s theories on Penny getting the phone call in the end? How did she know he would turn the key? How did she know he had been there? Can someone help!!??[/quote]

    thats because: the turning of the key had nohting to do with the anomaly detected. the two guys in the observatory asked: “did we miss it again?” – so, there had been an anomaly before, wich caused the plane crash. If the turning of the key would habe caused it, there must have been another, similar hatch anywhere. But, i definately think, that the counter went down to zero only twice, both times letting the detector BLEEP. this time, when penny was called, the just didn`t miss it 🙂

  14. ZANDER says:

    I think that the failsafe does the same thing as pushing the numbers does. It is backup if anything happens to the computer. I think that Inman made it sound like it ended everything, but he was drunk and was not very thrustworthy to begin with. I also think that the hatch door was blown in the air by the dynamite explotion. I think that the “LAVENDER” light kept the door up longer. I think that instead of the presure being released into the island, by not pressing the numbers releases it into the atmosphere.

  15. Ryan says:

    “…why didn’t Desmond use the key the first time in “Orientation”–when the computer was shot)?”

    Because the writers are human and hadn’t written the key into the story of the hatch yet!

  16. elliott says:

    desmond know alot more then u think he suvives the hatch and so do others but it is going to be alot more exploshons like that

  17. Joel says:

    I haven’t been since the show ended, and reading these entries got me thinking again. Did anyone consider this: Desmond knows about the weird map that Locke tried to draw from memory, yet no one knows he knows. He was there as Inman created it on the wall of the blast door. As Elliot just said, Desmond must know a lot more than he lets on, and has to be a bigger character next (this) season. Where are the blog police, by the way? You let one of the posts slip through with profanity (June 19). Let’s keep it PG rated, please.

    The rocket idea someone wrote about is food for thought at least for this reason: It could have created the bright light that attracted everyone’s attention for that long minute when the others were on the dock with Jack, Kate and Sawyer. Or did that happen way before the counter reached zero?

  18. Andreas says:

    The idea of the hatch being launched into space and thus creating the white light and making the hatch door fall down might be a possibility, but I personally don’t believe that was what happened.

    I might be contradicting myself because I think I wrote about this somewhere else, but my guess would be that when Desmond turned the key, some form of electromagnetic-field that was hiding the island from the outside world was either destroyed or temporarily disabled. This could be the electromagnetic anomaly that the Portuguese men detected.

    As for profanities, the phrase “fucking cool” isn’t that bad in my opinion since it simply implies a stronger version of “coolness”, but I agree with you Joel when you say that it is preferable if everyone tries to avoid that kind of wording.

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