Imagine: you’re re-watching your favorite season of a popular tv show. As you’re watching, one of your favorite characters appears on the screen. But upon this re-watch, you notice something different about this character. It’s a small detail that never crossed your mind before. Because the character in question is your favorite, you’re familiar with their story. This leads you to realize the aforementioned small detail doesn’t make sense with what you know about your favorite character. There are no clarifications included in the season you’re watching. You search the internet for answers, but walk away empty handed. You know this detail was given to your favorite character for a reason. And yet you don’t know what it is.
This is Sally Solves a Mystery, my new series where I will explore television-related topics. Through these editorials, my goal is to solve mysteries that may have been overlooked. I can’t promise I’ll always find the answers by the end of an editorial. But if my writing raises awareness on a given topic, that will be a step in the right direction! To start this series, I will cover a mystery I haven’t seen or heard fans of Lost bring up. Ana Lucia Cortez is a character who was officially introduced in the second season of Lost. Throughout her time on the show, she consistently wears a ring on her wedding ring finger. Yet she admits she isn’t married, and there’s no evidence she was ever engaged. Lost is a television program that is known for piling mysteries onto its plate. However, the mystery of Ana Lucia’s ring has been buried by the show’s other unsolved mysteries. With the help of quotes, screenshots, and examples from Lost, I will address the mystery surrounding this small detail, bringing up theories and questions along the way!
The Ring in Question
Before getting into any questions or theories related to this mystery, we need to discuss the ring itself. Ana’s ring is a thick, silver band that she consistently wears on her wedding ring finger. Despite its placement, the ring does not appear to be a typical engagement ring, as it doesn’t bear any stones. Upon closer inspection, though, the ring seems to boast different designs in different scenes. In the episode, “Two for the Road”, Ana’s ring is visible as she is cleaning a small cut on her head. The ring looks like it has a flat, clear surface, with an etched butterfly design on the side. In “The Other 48 Days”, as some of the dead Tailie passengers are being buried, Ana’s ring continues to present an etched design. But this time, it looks as if it could be a flower or gun’s revolver. The ring showcases a simpler design in “Collision”, while Ana is holding Sayid hostage in the jungle. This design is a curved line, almost looking like the letter V in cursive. Going back to the episode, “Two for the Road”, Ana’s ring can, once again, be seen as she is preparing fruit for Ben/Henry. In this scene, the ring bears a more complicated design, featuring an oval surrounded by deep grooves. Two deep lines are visible on the ring’s side, giving the impression raised triangles are included in the overall design. With this said, could the ring bearing different designs simply be a production error or could these differences be intentional?
Theory #1: A Flipped Image
Creating a television show is not only a business, it’s a complicated equation involving many different avenues and possibilities. Because television is a visual medium, various film-making techniques need to be considered. One of these techniques is Reverse Motion, where, according to Beverly Boy Productions, “action of the film is shown backwards in a reverse motion scene”. This means a filmed image will be flipped and presented in the opposite direction. Reverse Motion is what led me to believe Ana’s ring was originally filmed on her right hand, with the images flipped to appear the ring was on Ana’s left hand. However, evidence reveals this theory is debunked. The Director of Photography for Lost, Larry Fong, admitted Reverse Motion was utilized on the show. But this technique was specifically used whenever characters were driving in Australia. In the book, Lost: Messages From The Island, Larry talks about filming Australian scenes in Hawaii, saying “That’s not such a big deal on the set but we couldn’t get any cars that had steering wheels on the wrong side for certain scenes so we shot everything and reversed the film”. When discussing filming the show’s pilot episode, specifically the scene where Kate, portrayed by Evangeline Lilly, drives a truck in Australia, Larry says “We had to put jewelry on the other side of her; for the guy who had a fake arm we had to put the fake arm on the other arm. Everybody was so confused but all I did on the video monitor, was flip a switch and it reverses it. It wasn’t that hard and it is funny how the simplest solutions come out”.
While Reverse Motion presented the illusion of characters driving in Australia, this illusion can be broken if an actor or actress has a visible facial marking, tattoo, or birthmark. Michelle Rodriguez, the actress who portrays Ana, broke this illusion in the episode “Two for the Road”. Michelle has what I will call a “freckle”, for the sake of this editorial. This “freckle” can consistently be seen on the left side of Michelle’s face. But in “Two for the Road”, as Ana is driving Christian Shephard to an Australian bar, the “freckle” is on the right side of Michelle’s face. The use of close-ups prevented Ana’s ring from being visible in that scene. Because of the “freckle” and because of Larry admitting to using Reverse Motion, this proves Ana’s ring was always meant to be on her wedding ring finger. Question is, why?
Theory #2: A Peek into the Past
One of the trademarks of Lost is the use of flashbacks. These flashbacks have explored the backstories of the main characters from the island. On a few occasions, an accessory has opened the door to a specific character’s backstory. Two examples are Jack’s tattoo in the episode, “Stranger in a Strange Land”, and Mr. Eko’s cross necklace in “The 23rd Psalm”. These facts lead me to believe Ana’s ring may have been intended to explore a part of her past. Unclarified quotes said by Ana herself fuel this theory as well. In the episode, “The Whole Truth”, Ana tells Sayid:
“People don’t like me. I tried to get them to most of my life. I guess I just gave up a while back. I mean, I am what I am.”
This quote leaves me with several questions. Who are these “people”, and why don’t they like Ana? What exactly caused her to give up? What does she mean when she says “I am what I am”? While in the Hatch with Ben/Henry in the episode, “Two for the Road”, Ana tells him:
“I’ve been around a lot of killers in my life. You know what surprises me the most about them? How much they love to talk”.
Upon first hearing Ana’s quote, one would assume she’s referring to the criminals she’s arrested in her police career. But notice how she says “I’ve been around a lot of killers”, not “I’ve arrested a lot of killers”. Could any of these “killers” be the reason why Ana knows so much information about the Army knife she and Goodwin encounter in the episode, “The Other 48 Days”? In that episode, Ana wonders how the Army knife in Goodwin’s possession got on the island. While she and Goodwin are examining the knife, Ana is able to correctly identify the knife’s connection to the U.S. Military. She is also able to locate the knife’s tank stamp, as well as estimate how old the knife is. One might automatically assume Ana came across one of these knives while being a police officer in Los Angeles. But if this were the case, why wouldn’t she have mentioned this during her assessment of the knife?
With Ana’s unclarified quotes, knowledge about the Army knife, and police career, I’m speculating Ana’s ring may have revealed she did some undercover police work she might be ashamed of. This would explain why she’s “been around a lot of killers” and why she feels people don’t like her. Her knowledge about the Army knife might be explained if this theory were true. If she did undercover police work, she would have effectively used her experiences to successfully trick characters like Sawyer into giving her what she wants.
Theory #3: A Connection Between Ana and Sawyer
Sawyer is one of Lost’s main characters, consistently appearing in all six seasons of the show. One of his “quirks” is making pop cultural references, especially those from the Western genre. In season two, Sawyer made some pop cultural references to Ana. In fact, out of the six pop cultural references made to Ana throughout the second season, Sawyer gave her four of them. In the episode, “…And Found”, Sawyer asked Ana if she was married, which she responded by saying “No”. It needs to be noted that Sawyer is the only character to ever question Ana’s relationship status. What should also be noted is Sawyer is the first main character Ana crosses paths with before arriving on the island, crashing into Christian’s car door in “Two for the Road”.
As I previously stated, Sawyer makes pop cultural references, including those from the Western genre. Some of these references have related to programs such as Howdy Doody, Mister Ed, and Little House on the Prairie. But what if one of those references was meant to come from The Lone Ranger? In the 1981 movie, The Legend of The Lone Ranger, Tonto explains the importance of silver bullets to The Lone Ranger. During this explanation, Tonto says;
“Silver is pure. It’s been a symbol of justice and purity since The Year of the Sun”.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “What does The Lone Ranger have to do with Ana”? The answer lies in her ring. As already mentioned in this editorial, Ana is a police officer. Throughout her time on Lost’s second season, she has tried to seek out justice to varying degrees, such as when, in “The Other 48 Days”, Ana digs a pit and places Nathan in it, believing he kidnapped the children in their Tailie group. Plus, Ana’s ring just so happens to be silver. Could Sawyer have planned on calling Ana “Lone Ranger” or “Silver Bullet”? If “Lone Ranger” was Sawyer’s nickname for Ana, her statements about being alone in the episode, “Collision”, would make sense.
In the episode, “The Long Con”, a series of flashbacks reveal Sawyer sold fake jewelry in an attempt to pull off a con. During one of these flashbacks, he tries to sell chain necklaces to unsuspecting customers. But what if he sold rings at one point? If this were the case, perhaps someone gave Ana her silver ring, purchased from Sawyer. But if Ana knew the ring was fake, why would she keep it, let alone continue to wear it? And if Sawyer did sell that ring, why didn’t he notice it or comment on it? Maybe the ring was purchased from Sawyer as part of an undercover investigation, with Ana keeping the ring as a memento. Perhaps Sawyer didn’t mention the ring because he didn’t realize Ana may have played a role in the investigation.
Ana and the Number Three
4 8 15 16 23 42. This set of numbers has become a staple on Lost. The show’s creative team has incorporated these numbers into the story, from Hurley’s winning lottery ticket to some of the characters’ plane seats. During my investigation, there is one number that kept frequently popping up; the number three. Not one of the aforementioned numbers, the number three has been associated with Ana throughout her time on the show. In fact, I’ve compiled a list of all the times the number three has appeared in Ana’s story.
“Exodus Part 1”
- During Jack and Ana’s first interaction together, Jack asks Ana three questions: who Ana is, what her name is, and why she’s drinking Tequila and Tonics at ten to noon
- Ana’s ring can be clearly seen three times
- Ana’s full name is Ana Lucia Cortez, three names. Ana’s first name not only contains three letters, her first and middle name contains a total of three As
- Ana’s first appearance on Lost was in the first season’s twenty third episode
- Ana’s seat on Oceanic Flight 815 is 42F. The letter F is comprised of three lines
- Ana’s ring can be clearly seen three times
- When Ana enters the pit, three guys from the main camp are stuck there: Sawyer, Michael, and Jin
- Ana appears in three scenes total
- Ana’s first appearance in season two is the third episode
“Orientation” and “Everybody Hates Hugo”
- Ana hurts Sawyer three times: she punches Sawyer in the pit (“Orientation”), she throws a rock at his head (“Everybody Hates Hugo”), and Ana punched Sawyer again after he refused to put down a rock (“Everybody Hates Hugo”)
“Everybody Hates Hugo”
- Ana tells Sawyer he has three seconds to drop the rock in his hand
- Ana touches the DHARMA shelter door three times; two knocks, one scratch. This action was shown on screen three times
- When splitting into groups to find food, Ana caught fish with Bernard and Jin, a group of three
- Ana asks Jin three questions: “You want to help us out over here”?, “You want to eat”?, “Does it look like I speak Korean”?
- Ana tells Michael “The Others” first took three tail section passengers. This detail was also brought up in “The Other 48 Days”
“The Other 48 Days”
- Ana is told three tail end passengers are missing
- Ana asks Goodwin three questions as they’re walking up to higher ground: “Why do you think they’re doing this”?, “Don’t you ever wonder why they attack us”?, “Why do you think they take some of us and not the others”?
- When answering Ana’s third aforementioned question, Goodwin explains the three qualities that caused the first three Tailie passengers to be kidnapped: athletic, tough, and poses a threat to “The Others”
- While investigating the Army knife, Ana brings up three facts about the knife; its U.S. Military connection, its tank stamp location, and its likely age
- On Ana’s police badge, the number three is in the six number digits
- On the door of Ana’s mom’s office, the number 315 can be seen
- While Ana and Mike are riding in the police car, Mike asks Ana three questions; “So that shrink give you any good drugs”?, “D’ya miss me”?, “You want me to go kick his ass for you”?
- Ana said on the police dispatch she and Mike were three blocks away for the domestic disturbance call
- On Ana and Mike’s domestic disturbance call, they encounter a family of three; a man, woman, and baby
- While keeping an eye on Sayid, Ana pops the magazine into her gun three times
- When Ana crosses paths with Jason in a parking lot, she told him three things; “Hey”, “Jason”, “I was pregnant”. The third statement consists of three words.
- When Ana is holding Sayid hostage in the jungle, she tells Libby “I’m already alone”. During her conversation with Sayid, Ana tells him “I feel dead”. These statements contain three words
“What Kate Did”
- Ana asks Jack three questions; “Where’s the tonic”?, “You sure you want to waste that on me”?, “You gonna try to convince me that everyone here doesn’t hate me”?
“The 23rd Psalm”
- Ana makes only one appearance in this episode, where the number twenty-three is in the title
“Fire + Water”
- Ana’s ring can be clearly seen three times
- When Sawyer and Kate spot Ana and Jack leaving the jungle, Sawyer tells Kate “That’s the third time I’ve seen them walking out of the jungle”
“One of Them”
- Ana speaks to Sayid three times: “Where’s Jack”?, “There. See”?, “What”?
“The Whole Truth”
- Locke tells Ana the man in the Hatch (Ben/Henry) has been down in the Hatch for three days
- Ana, Sayid, and Charlie (a group of three) go on a trip to locate Ben’s/Henry’s hot air balloon
- Ana made three appearances in this episode
- During their search for Ben’s/Henry’s hot air balloon, Sayid tells Ana they’ve been searching for the balloon for three hours
- When Ana and Sayid are interrogating Ben/Henry, Sayid tells Ben/Henry he has three seconds to answer his question
- “Ana spoke to Locke three times; “Hey”, “I pressed your button”, “Where’d you go”? Ana’s question contains three words.
- This episode name contains three letters and three periods
“Two for the Road”
- Ana was told by her mom Jason’s body was found a little after three in the morning
- In Ana’s Australian hotel room, her clock reads 3:51
- While Jack is cleaning his medical tools in the Hatch, Ana speaks to him three times; “Hey”!, “You’re back”, “So, The Others. They didn’t show up”?
- When Michael is sharing information about The Others, Ana asks him three questions; “What about everyone else they took”?, “Cindy”?, “Did you see any other kids”?
“Dave”, “S.O.S.”, and “Two for the Road”
- Ana sits on the Hatch’s couch a total of three times; once in “Dave”, once in “S.O.S.”, and once in “Two for the Road”
As this very long and detailed list shows, Ana is often associated with the number three. In fact, this association doesn’t feel like a coincidence. In the special feature segment, “Mysteries, Theories, and Conspiracies” from the Lost season two DVD, Michelle Rodriguez said the following:
“You know, numbers are interesting. Alchemy could have something to do with it too. I think they use a lot of alchemy in this show too. They hint at it. They hint, you know, stars and signs and masonry. A lot of that symbolism is in there”.
If there truly is symbolism behind Ana’s ring and her connection to the number three, could the ring itself and the number three be linked in some way?
Different Versions of Ana
Time is an element experimented on in Lost. Not only were flashbacks used to explore characters’ backstories, “flashforwards” predicted how some characters’ futures would turn out and “flashsideways” broke different time barriers. Despite Ana only consistently appearing in the show’s second season, she did appear in an episode from seasons five and six. Based on where the ring is placed on her hand, it seems like there are different versions of Ana. In the episode, “Exodus Part 1”, and throughout the second season, the ring is on Ana’s wedding ring finger. But in the season five episode, “The Lie”, when Ana stops Hurley on the side of the road, she’s not wearing the ring at all. Ana also acknowledges the fact she’s deceased, telling Hurley “What if I were real” and “Oh yeah, Libby says hi”. The season six episode, “What They Died For”, shows the ring back on Ana’s left hand. But this time, it’s on her middle finger. The scene she appears in is part of an alternate universe, showing the characters as if the pilot episode’s plane crash had never happened. These versions of the same character make me wonder if the ring’s purpose evolved from its original intent, showing the differentiation between each version? The fact there seems to be three different versions of Ana highlights the possible connection between the ring and the number three I mentioned in the previous statement.
Lost is one of the most ambitious shows of our time. In fact, some people might argue the show was too ambitious. The mysteries surrounding the island are what intrigued viewers to watch Lost. But limited answers left the audience frustrated and confused. Because the mystery of Ana Lucia’s ring has been overlooked, there hasn’t been a demand for an explanation. Before the publication of this editorial, there was no speculation around the ring itself. With everything said in this article, my current speculation is how Ana’s ring was originally intended to serve as a peek into a part of Ana’s past. In this part, Ana did some undercover police work involving stolen or fake jewelry, with Sawyer a part of the equation. Something happened during the investigation, causing Ana to feel ashamed of the experience. Since Ana died toward the end of the second season, the ring’s purpose evolved to showing the differentiation between different versions of Ana. However, as of this editorial’s publication, this mystery is currently unsolved.
To read the full description of Reverse Motion, you can visit Beverly Boy Productions’ website at this link: