Kelvin Joe Inman was an intelligence officer and former member of the U.S. Army who later joined the DHARMA Initiative. Arrogant and deceptive, Inman was an expert in manipulation and intelligence. He was instrumental in changing the life course of Sayid Jarrah during the Gulf War. He later manned the Swan station after his arrival on the Island, originally with his partner Stuart Radzinsky, then by himself for a time, and later with Desmond Hume. Ultimately, Kelvin's actions on the Island indirectly led to the crash of Oceanic 815 on September 22, 2004.
Before arriving on the Island
Not much is known about the background of Kelvin Inman. He appeared to have been born sometime in the 1950s and had a generic American accent. Because of his age, he likely served with the U.S. military in the Vietnam War. In early 1991, during the Gulf War, he was deployed with the U.S. Army in intelligence operations with the Defense Intelligence Agency. During the war, he crossed paths with Sam Austen, Kate Austen's stepfather, while they were both in Iraq. ("One of Them")
Kelvin's training provided him knowledge of human psychology that he used to manipulate and mislead others. Around February or March of 1991, he manipulated captured Republican Guard soldier Sayid Jarrah, forcing him to torture his commanding officer, Tariq, in order to obtain information about a missing American pilot. He first flatters Sayid and appears to empathize with him, telling him, "You're a man who values loyalty. Even doing a little translating for us — you feel like you're doing the wrong thing. I get that, and I respect it." He showed Sayid video footage of a sarin gas attack on an Iraqi village, which Kelvin said Tariq was personally responsible for as the head of the chemical warfare battalion in Northern Iraq. He informed Sayid that the Americans had "liberated" their personnel files and thus knew not only about Tariq's history but that Sayid had relatives in the village. He challenges Sayid to reconsider his loyalty, telling him, "Loyalty is a virtue. But unquestioning loyalty — I don't think that's you." ("One of Them")
Whereas the straighforward Sam Austen failed to motivate Sayid to press his commanding officer for answers, Kelvin was successful. Sayid tortured Tariq to retrieve the information that the pilot was dead and the whereabouts of his body. When Sayid expressed his disgust to Kelvin for what he had done, Kelvin revealed he could speak fluent Arabic himself, telling him in Arabic that his new "skill set" would come in handy in the future: "One of these days there will be something you need to know. And now you know how to get it." In the spring of 1991, as the U.S. prepared to withdraw from Iraq (on orders not to invade Baghdad and depose Saddam Hussein), Kelvin transferred a handcuffed Sayid to a deserted area and gave him money, including "bus fare" back to Ramadi. Sayid indeed put his torture skills to use, becoming a "communications officer" in the Iraqi Army. ("One of Them")
Kelvin was extremely arrogant. He later mocked the British Army to Desmond Hume, and the fact that Desmond was kicked out for refusing to follow orders, while admitting that the reason he left the U.S. Army was "because men followed my orders." ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2") He was later recruited by the DHARMA Initiative, possibly before the Purge, which presumably brought him to the Island. (Official Lost Podcast transcript/January 29, 2009)
On the Island
Dissatisfied with his life after The Gulf War, Kelvin joined the DHARMA Initiative, probably sometime between the spring of 1991 and December 1992. Determining the exact time of his arrival is extremely problematic owing to the uncertainty regarding the date of the Purge. It is unknown exactly how Kelvin came to the Island, but it appears he was one of the last DHARMA recruits. He became the operator of the Swan research station with his partner, Stuart Radzinsky, with whom he took shifts pushing the button. According to Kelvin, Radzinsky committed suicide at some point by putting a shotgun in his mouth and firing it, leaving a blood stain on the ceiling. Kelvin later buried him quickly, as he had only 108 minutes to do so. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2") Kelvin and Radzinsky were the only known DHARMA members to survive the Purge who hadn't defected to the Hostiles.
After being caught in a storm at sea one night during his sailing race in 2001, Desmond hit his head while on the deck of his boat. The next day, Kelvin, dressed in his yellow HAZMAT suit and wearing a gasmask, dragged the delirious Desmond off the beach and into the Swan. He asked Desmond asked "Are you him?" and the snowman joke. Even though Kelvin realized that Desmond was not the man he expected, he still showed him the station's orientation film, and enlisted him as his partner to push the button, telling him they were saving the world. He told Desmond that the conditions on the Island were extremely dangerous because of "the Hostiles" and the quarantine. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1")
Kelvin showed Desmond how Radzinsky figured out how to simulate lockdown conditions in order to continue Radzinsky's work on the blast door map. This map was meant to plot the landmarks of the Island, including the locations of the other DHARMA stations. Even though he could not see the map, which was painted with a detergent mixture and only visible under certain lighting, Kelvin was able to remember where he had left off. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
Kelvin lived with Desmond for three years, training him in the operation and defense of the Swan. During which time only Kelvin left the hatch, always armed and wearing a full HAZMAT suit. He was sometimes gone for days at a time, but warned Desmond that it was too dangerous for him to leave the hatch, even though Desmond begged to go outside. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1")("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2") One day, Desmond found a drunk Kelvin in a crawl space below the Swan, repeating, "I couldn't do it." He informed Desmond about the fail-safe device — "the only other way out" — which could be triggered using the key he wore around his neck on a chain. Kelvin said he didn't have the courage to "make it all go away" by finally blowing the hatch with the fail-safe. He finally explained to Desmond about the "geologically unique" electromagnetism that caused the Incident, and that the purpose of pushing the button was to prevent the buildup of the electromagnetism before it got too big and caused another incident. Desmond asked why they were made to manually push the button instead of setting up some sort of automated process, to which Kelvin replied, "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?" ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
When Kelvin first found Desmond, he had told him he merely found him on the beach and there was no boat, leading Desmond to believe his boat was lost. During this time, however, he had been secretly repairing the sailboat Elizabeth when he left the hatch. On September 22, 2004, as Kelvin prepared to leave the hatch, he said, "Bye Des," in a manner that drew Desmond's suspicion. Desmond then noticed that there was a sizable tear in the leg of Kelvin's HAZMAT suit. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
Desmond then carefully followed Kelvin and watched him as he took his gas mask and HAZMAT suit off outside the hatch. Desmond continued following him along the shore until Kelvin suddenly disappeared, but a shocked Desmond then sees the Elizabeth in the cove. Kelvin then reappeared and holding his rifle, told Desmond, "Well, gosh, I didn't think you had the stones to come after me. I was a spook for 10 years, Des. I know when I'm being followed." Desmond demanded to know what he was doing with the Elizabeth, and Kelvin responded that he had been repairing it, and was nearly finished. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
Kelvin then invited Desmond to leave with him. Desmond, confused, demanded to know where exactly he planned to go, as the world would end with nobody left behind to push the button. Kelvin laughed it off and said he didn't even know if the button did anything, saying, "Screw the button, man. Who knows if it's even real?" He told Desmond, "I lied to you because I needed a sucker to save the world after I left!" Enraged, Desmond accused Kelvin of stealing his life. He attacked Kelvin, and as they fought, he accidentally killed him when Kelvin fell and hit his head against the rock. Desmond then pulled Kelvin's fail-safe key and ran back to the hatch to push the button, leaving Kelvin's body behind on the rocks. Desmond failed to push the button in time, and the energy that was released caused the crash of Oceanic 815. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
- His name was listed as "Joe Inman" in the script for "One of Them", despite never being used in the dialogue for that episode. This was done on purpose because TV Guide has a tendency to name characters even when they aren't referred to by name in the actual episode. If the name "Kelvin" had come up, fans would have instantly tied him to the "Kelvin" Desmond mentioned in "Orientation." His full name, thus, is "Kelvin Joe Inman." (Official Lost Podcast transcript/May 26, 2006)
- Kelvin is of Scottish origin, being the name of one of the tributaries of the River Clyde. It is also a unit of measure for absolute temperature, named after the physicist Lord Kelvin.
- His name may be a reference to Lord Kelvin, an Irish physicist, following the convention of characters named after famous scientists, e.g. Daniel Faraday and George Minkowski.
- W. P. Inman is the protagonist of the Charles Frazier novel, Cold Mountain. Inman is a Confederate deserter during the American Civil War, whose journey home mirrors that of Homer's The Odyssey.
- His name is similar to Bobby Ray Inman, who was Vice Director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency from 1976-1977 (Bobby Inman was also Director of Naval Intelligence prior to being Vice Director of the DIA, and following the DIA he was director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the CIA). This accords with Kelvin Inman's relationship with the DIA and his claim of being a spy.
- His name is also similar to the British surgeon Thomas Inman, who established one of the first theories about the origin of the Ankh symbol in 1869.
- Kris Kelvin is the main character in Stanisław Lem's novel Solaris, which has an alien planet and a human research station on it, that, respectively, bear some similarities to the Island and to the Swan station (Kris Kelvin's role in the novel as an outsider coming to the Solaris station parallels Desmond more than Kelvin Inman).
- The Name "Kelvin" is frequently used by J.J. Abrams in his works as a reference to his grandfather, Henry Kelvin.
- The Kelvin scale is a thermodynamic (absolute) temperature scale where absolute zero, the theoretical absence of all thermal energy, is zero (0 K).
- In Fringe, there is a project called "Kelvin Genetics". In Alcatraz's first episode, there is a boat named "Warden Kelvin". In Mission Impossible 3, there is a letter addressed to H. Kelvin. The Star Trek movie directed by Abrams and produced by Damon Lindelof had a Starfleet ship called Kelvin.
- Out of the main characters, he has only met Sayid Jarrah and Desmond Hume.
- Producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse confirmed on the Season 3 Blu-ray special feature "Access: Granted" that Desmond did indeed accidentally kill Kelvin.
- He was singing the former Iraqi national anthem in a drunk state while telling Desmond about the fail-safe system.
- He wore a wedding band during his involvement in Operation Desert Storm, but did not appear to wear one while on the Island.
- Kelvin was killed in a similar manner as Richard killed the doctor from Tenerife (accidentally, hit back of head, bled out, culprit took something from the victim and sprinted away from the scene of the crime).
- Kelvin's final appearance in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" was made entirely from archive footage.
- Witnesses of death: Desmond Hume
- Social security number: 567-59-2383
- He was a Catholic.
- Last words: "Oh, come on!"
Behind the scenes
- In the March 20, 2007 Official Lost Podcast, Carlton Cuse said he did not believe that the Others originally knew about the Swan station. Therefore, Radzinsky and Kelvin were not killed during the Purge along with the rest of the DHARMA Initiative. However, Cuse acknowledged that the Others might have observed the Swan through the monitors in the Pearl.
- For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Kelvin Inman/Theories
- What happened to his corpse? Did the Others or the Man in Black take it, or did it stay where Kelvin died?
- Why did Kelvin keep the fact that he was fixing Elizabeth, a secret, when he eventually asked Desmond if he wanted to come with him?