The Orchid was the name given to a DHARMA Initiative station dedicated to exotic matter research, namely time travel, under the guise of being a botanical research station. The true station was located in an underground chamber beneath a greenhouse, and drew energy for its experiments from the same anomalous energy source as the frozen wheel. The Orchid was located several hours north or northwest of the survivors' camp, and was found fairly close to the remnants of the statue of Taweret.
The site the Orchid was built upon appeared to have had special significance throughout the early history of the Island. The existence of the wheel chamber and the later addition of the well suggest that early inhabitants of the Island were aware of the energy pocket's existence and had figured out a way to tap into it. The Orchid was later built over this location, although it is unclear what, if anything, DHARMA knew of these older structures. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3") ("This Place Is Death")
The Man in Black confirmed that several wells were built on the Island by an early civilization who were attempting to understand why their compasses reacted strangely in proximity to the energy pockets. He noted the wells were dug by hand and claimed that the builders ultimately learned nothing. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3") ("This Place Is Death") Possibly at this same site, Jacob's brother and his people began excavation to install a wheel that would manipulate the power of the Heart of the Island, but these people were killed by Mother before construction could be completed. ("Across the Sea") If this was the same site, then construction was resumed and the wheel chamber completed as Jacob's brother had intended.
The construction of the Orchid. ("Because You Left")
The DHARMA Initiative detected the pocket of anomalous energy beneath this sector of the Island and began construction of the station sometime before 1977. From the outset, the Orchid's purpose was to find a way to tap into the energy pocket as a means of allowing the Initiative to manipulate time. By 1977, the Orchid was largely taking shape: the general framework for the greenhouse, the elevator, and the initial part of the tunnel system had all been developed.
Dr. Chang was in charge of overseeing construction at the Orchid. He immediately dropped everything he was doing to visit the station after a drilling accident was reported. Upon arriving at the station, Dr. Chang found that one of the workers had collapsed while drilling into the rock according to his specs. The drill itself had melted. Chang ordered the workers to cease drilling immediately -- as drilling any further into the chamber inside could release the "limitless" energy beyond. He appeared highly concerned that the release of this energy would have serious consequences. ("Because You Left") ("The Variable")
The Others probably gained control of the Orchid after the Purge, but they appeared to have left it in an abandoned state. Ben clearly was familiar with the operation of the station, although he viewed the experiments being carried on here by DHARMA as "silly." Per Ben's actions, it appeared the Others likely knew of the existence and function of the wheel chamber. Charles Widmore was aware of the station as well given he sent his mercenaries there to intercept Ben. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
Day 100 (Season 4)
The greenhouse area of the Orchid was briefly inhabited by Martin Keamy and his men in an attempt to capture Ben. Ben surrendered himself willingly and was brought to the helicopter. Soon after there was an ambush by the Others and Keamy's men were all killed. Ben then returned to the Orchid greenhouse, and together with Locke, they took the elevator down into the station's hidden laboratory, as per the instructions Locke received from the Man in Black (disguised as Christian Shepherd) to "move" the Island. ("Cabin Fever") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
Keamy, who had unknowingly survived the earlier attack, followed Ben and Locke down into the Orchid's laboratory. Ben was able to sneak up on Keamy and fatally stab him, but it activated Keamy's "dead man's trigger" which destroyed the Kahana, despite Locke's efforts to save Keamy. Ben then ventured beneath the laboratory and into an ancient chamber with a giant frozen wheel. On turning the wheel, a bright white light surged outwards across the entirety of the Island and a humming (similar to that of the discharge at the Swan) was heard. The Island then moved through space and time, disappearing from its current position. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
Ben was transported off the Island and wound up in the Sahara desert. Desmond, Frank, and the Oceanic Six, who were still in the helicopter when the Island moved, were forced to bail when the helicopter had nowhere to land. They were left stranded in the middle of the ocean on a life raft, although they were later rescued by Penelope. ("The Shape of Things to Come") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 3")
Time flashes (Season 5)
As the result of Ben turning the wheel, the remaining survivors still on the Island began experiencing a series of time flashes, where they were transported to other points in time in the Island's history. In order to get the flashes to stop, the survivors journeyed back to the Orchid. ("Because You Left") ("This Place Is Death")
Though they initially found the greenhouse intact, the next time shift sent them to a time zone before the Orchid had been constructed. Thankfully, they discovered a nearby well that led into the wheel chamber. Locke climbed down the well and barely made it inside the chamber before the next time flash, which sent the survivors even further back in time, before the well itself had been constructed, and trapping Locke inside the now-sealed chamber. However, he was successful in turning the wheel back onto its proper axis. As with Ben before him, Locke was transported off the Island to the Sahara desert. ("This Place Is Death") ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham")
This ultimately stopped the time flashes, albeit after sending the survivors through one final time shift to 1974, when the DHARMA Initiative was still active. The well had returned, but was now filled in with dirt, leaving the wheel chamber inaccessible. ("LaFleur")
1977 (Season 5)
Miles and Hurley visited the greenhouse area of the station while it was under construction, bringing the corpse of a dead DHARMA worker to Dr. Chang at Horace's request from the Swan construction site. The body was unloaded upon arrival and taken inside the Orchid. Exactly why the workman's body was brought here under such secrecy or what was done with it afterwards are unclear. ("Some Like It Hoth")
The following day, Daniel requested that Miles drive him to the Orchid. Upon arriving, Daniel made his way into the laboratory and witnessed the aftermath of a drilling accident, where a worker had been injured as a result of the electromagnetic activity. Daniel sought out Dr. Chang and asked him to order the evacuation of everyone on the Island. Daniel warned that, in six hours' time, a similar accident was going to happen at the Swan site, only far more catastrophic. ("The Variable")
Introduction and presentation
A still from the final Orchid Orientation video. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
Outtakes from the Orchid's orientation film were introduced by producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse as a teaser for Season 4 at the Lost panel at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con and later on the Region 1 Season 3 DVD release. The video is presented by Edgar Halliwax. According to the video, the Orchid, or "Station 6", was a fake botanical station that housed many numbered white rabbits. It seemed to have an alarm system similar to that of the Swan. The subject of the Orchid's research was described as "highly volatile and potentially dangerous", and reference was made to the Casimir effect.
Before the video played, Lindelof and Cuse recounted a story in which the film was sent to them after being found in a building in Narvik, Norway, that was set to be demolished (possibly the Hanso Foundation headquarters). The film was then purportedly spliced together and restored by the writers.
Implications of the film
- In the film, Edgar Halliwax specifically mentioned the Island's creation of a "Casimir effect". The appearance of such a pointed reference implied that the Orchid played a specific role in the unique space/time properties of the Island (see wormholes).
- The mention of 'negatively charged exotic matter' was something of a misnomer, more likely referring to 'negative density' exotic matter, like the oft-referenced theoretical particle known as the tachyon. These theoretical particles possess a 'negative energy density' or more appropriately, a negative mass, and are necessary to stabilize the event horizon of a wormhole enough for an object to pass through it. That the Casimir effect is also mentioned is significant insofar as the Casimir effect can lead to areas of space possessing negative mass density, and thus areas of space-time that could support the event horizon of a wormhole.
- Hidden messages in the film:
The well. ("This Place Is Death")
Before DHARMA's arrival on the Island, a stone well was constructed near the site. The well was composed of stone blocks with a rope descending into the depths providing access to the wheel chamber. ("This Place Is Death") When Sawyer's group was transported through time to a period before the well was built, the statue of Taweret was visible from the site. ("LaFleur")
The well, albeit in a collapsed state and no longer providing access to the wheel chamber, continued to exist into the 1970s. ("LaFleur") Charlotte was also familiar with it from her childhood. ("This Place Is Death") The collapsed well likely still existed close to the Orchid in 2007. There were apparently other similar wells elsewhere on the Island. ("Everybody Loves Hugo")
It was revealed in Across the Sea that wells were dug in classical Roman times by the Man in Black and a group of Islanders as a way to access the Source under the Island, since he could not find the cave that Mother showed him when he was 13.
The Orchid's greenhouse. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1")
From the outside, the Orchid appeared to be a large greenhouse containing a wide variety of plants growing on various trellises. About twenty-seven years after its construction, the station appeared to be completely abandoned, having sustained substantial damage and been overgrown by the jungle. Vines climbed up the exterior frame, stairs, and support beams. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
Greenhouse station concept art
Inside an alcove near the north wall of the station was a hidden switch that activated an elevator providing access to the true station deep underground. Ben told Locke:
You're going to go into that greenhouse through that hole there. Once inside, you're going to turn left. Go about 20 paces until you see a patch of anthuriums on your left. They're in an alcove against the north wall. Face that wall, reach down with your left hand, you'll find a switch that activates the elevator. The elevator takes you down to the actual Orchid station.
Inside the actual station ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
At the bottom of the elevator shaft was a short corridor with several adjacent rooms, and a large area containing electronic equipment, a number of desks, and rabbit cages. Among the electronic equipment were a television and VCR which Locke used to watch the station's orientation video. A heavy parka belonging to "Dr. Halliwax" was found nearby in a locker. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
- A testing laboratory with beakers
- A machine labeled 'MAGNETRON TRANSMITTER'
- An office-space
- A chalkboard on which a maintenance schedule is written:
- Monday: Emergency Lighting(?)
- Tuesday: Water Pumps
- Wednesday: Electronic Generators(?)
- Thursday: Air Conditioning
- Friday: Oil Pumps
- Saturday: Backup Systems
- Sunday: Station wide PA
- Folders labelled 'VTS4 Procedures'
Adjacent to the main room was an oval-shaped chamber with an unusual shielded door known as "the vault", where the Initiative conducted space-time experiments. In the orientation video, Dr. Edgar Halliwax stated that the experiment would displace a rabbit in time by 100 milliseconds, and that no metallic objects were to be placed within the vault. A set of controls in the main room appeared to tap somehow into the energy pocket.
Judging by the original video, which was said by the writers to be "out-takes" of the real video, the equipment did indeed function, but often had unpredictable results.
To gain access to the wheel chamber, Ben piled everything metallic he could find into the vault and activated the controls. The resulting explosion blew a hole through the back wall of the vault into a previously hidden tunnel. It is unclear where the tunnel originated, but the architecture suggested it may have been built about the same time as the Temple and tunnels beneath the Barracks. At the end of the tunnel, an old ladder led down to the entrance of the wheel chamber, sealed by ice.
Breaking through, Ben emerged into the wheel chamber: a small icy cavern with hieroglyphs carved into several surfaces. A small lantern hung on one wall. One entire wall was taken up by a large stone wheel set into a rock wall and encased in ice. Turning the wheel appeared to somehow activate the energy pocket resulting in a movement of the entire Island in space and time. Movement also set off a reaction similar to the discharge.
|Picture||Name||First visit||Last visit||Reason for Visit|
|Pierre Chang||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 2"||"The Variable"||Was seen in the station's orientation film. Also came to the station under construction to inspect a problem.|
|Keamy||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 1"||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 3"||Led the mercenaries to the greenhouse to ambush Ben; later followed him to the hidden section, where Ben killed him.|
|Omar||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 1"||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 2"||Traveled there with the mercenary team.|
|Ben||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 1"||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 3"||Used the frozen wheel to move the Island and was transported to Tunisia in 2005.|
|Locke||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 1"||"This Place Is Death"||Traveled with Ben to move the Island and said goodbye to him and returned during the time flashes to stop the Island's moving.|
|Hurley||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 1"||"Some Like It Hoth"||Traveled there with Ben and Locke.|
|Jack||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 2"||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 2"||Went to find Hurley, and argued with Locke.|
|Sawyer||"There's No Place Like Home, Part 2"||"This Place Is Death"||Accompanied Jack to find Hurley and returned with Locke during the time flashes to stop the Island's moving.|
|Daniel||"Because You Left"||"The Variable"||Visited The Orchid after returning from DHARMA headquarters in Ann Arbor.|
|Jin||"This Place Is Death"||"This Place Is Death"||Followed Locke during the time flashes to stop the Island's moving.|
|Miles||"This Place Is Death"||"The Variable"||Followed Locke during the time flashes to stop the Island's moving.|
|Juliet||"This Place Is Death"||"This Place Is Death"||Followed Locke during the time flashes to stop the Island's moving.|
- The Orchid was hinted at on the blast door map. At the 7:00 position, there was a notation: "Low Priority Zone for Exploration - Possible site for Above Ground Study of ?Flora?. Low Relevance to Valenzetti related Research Activity".
- Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse suggest that fans curious about Charlotte's discovery of a polar bear skeleton in Tunisia watch the Orchid video, and further draw a link between the polar bear with the bunny in the video. (Official Lost Podcast/February 19, 2008)
The inverted Orchid logo
- Daniel Faraday described the energy pocket beneath the Swan as being 30,000 times stronger than the one beneath the Orchid. ("The Variable")
- The inverted version of the logo can be seen in the station's orientation film.
- The logo for the Orchid was an optical illusion. At first glance the logo appeared to be a connected spiral, but it was really a group of concentric circles.
- After Ben destroyed "the vault," strange electromagnetic humming in the station could be heard, similar to the loud humming in the main corridor of the Swan station.
- For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Orchid/Theories
- Why was Alvarez brought to the Orchid, and what was done with his body?
- The Orchid Orientation Video - This version lacks the profanity and countdown alarm sound.
- The Orchid Orientation Video from Comic Con audience - This version includes the profanity and countdown alarm sound, as well as the reactions of the audience.
- Lost Panel Video
- Casimir effect (Wikipedia)
- Exotic matter (Wikipedia)
- TheTailSection - video of Lost Panel at Comic Con 2007, including short statement about the Orchid video. (may contain other spoilers)