Set into the wall of a frozen secret chamber beneath the Orchid station is a giant eight-spoked frozen wheel. Prior to the creation of the Orchid, the wheel chamber could be accessed by means of a well. Benjamin Linus turned the wheel to move the Island, ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3") causing the Oceanic Flight 815 survivors and remaining freighter people to begin periodically skipping through time. John Locke later used it to leave the Island and end the time jumps. ("This Place Is Death")
In a time before 1974, a time-traveling Locke descended a well near the future location of the Orchid. After falling into the underground chamber, another time flash transported him to a time before the well had been built. Christian Shephard appeared to Locke and told him the wheel had "slipped off its axis", and that Locke needed to give it "a little push". ("This Place Is Death") The wheel was vibrating and shifting back and forth, and a green light was pulsating intermittently from the other side. Locke pulled the wheel in a clockwise direction, and it suddenly lurched, regaining its axis. The room flooded with light as the last time flash occurred, and the rest of the survivors on the surface above ended up in 1974. ("LaFleur") Locke himself was transported to late 2007 in Tunisia. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham")
In 1977, DHARMA Initiative construction workers discovered an anomaly deep in the rock while excavating what would become the underground section of the Orchid. Attempting to reach it, they melted six drill bits. The drill operator became dazed and suffered a nosebleed. Dr. Pierre Chang was called to the station, where the construction foreman showed him an image of the outline of the wheel. The worker referred to the imaging technology as "sonar imaging", but the exact type of technology used is undetermined. Dr. Chang stated that they were close to a source of "almost limitless energy" which could allow them to manipulate time, but warned that drilling any closer could release the energy. ("Because You Left") ("The Incident, Parts 1 & 2")
In the Season 4 DVD commentary of "There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3", the writers confirmed that the DHARMA Initiative was unaware of the frozen wheel's location and function when they built the Orchid.
After the Orchid station was completed, Dr. Chang (using the alias "Edgar Halliwax") recorded the Orchid Orientation video, in which he explained the vault was built next to a pocket of "negatively charged exotic matter" which DHARMA had been using to conduct experiments with space and time. He cautioned that this pocket of matter was associated with volatile electromagnetic energy. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
The fact that a DHARMA parka was found in the Orchid (highly unusual on a jungle island) indicates that Dr. Chang was aware the wheel chamber was frozen and either had found another way to access it or was preparing to access the location. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
Based on Jacob's command to Locke to "move the Island," Ben took it upon himself to do so, even though he claimed that a repercussion of turning the wheel was never being able to return to Island. To reach the wheel, Ben had to blow a hole in the wall of the Orchid station, crawl through a tunnel carved out of rock, break through a sheet of ice, and climb down a ladder into the wheel chamber
Before turning the wheel, Ben looked upwards, and uttered, "I hope you're happy now, Jacob." After much physical effort and chipping away ice, Ben managed to turn the wheel. It appeared to be very difficult for him to turn alone, indicating either it hadn't been turned in quite some time or it was intended to be turned only with great difficulty. After Ben turned the wheel, a loud noise and bright lights were experienced across the entire Island and for quite some distance beyond. In the midst of this Island-wide disturbance (similar to the discharge which occurred when the failsafe key was turned by Desmond at the Swan) the Island vanished. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
Ben clearly showed foreknowledge of the wheel's existence, location, and use; he knew to wear a parka before entering the wheel chamber. Ben also knew enough to bring a crowbar to aid in removing ice from the wheel.
The wheel was mounted in a wall of carved stone blocks inside a secret chamber. Before the arrival of the DHARMA Initiative the chamber could be accessed by descending into an ancient well, but by 1974 the well had been filled in or collapsed. During Ben's visit, the chamber was accessed through a tunnel behind the vault of the Orchid station. While the chamber was furnished with a lantern and wooden ladder, the effort involved in reaching the wheel suggests it was not intended to be used very often.
When Ben found the wheel, temperatures in the chamber seemed to be below freezing, making it an unusual location on the tropical Island. The chamber had apparently been cold for quite some time, as the entire room, floor to ceiling, was covered in ice, including the wheel itself. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3") When Locke visited the chamber, less ice was visible on the rocks and wheel. ("This Place Is Death")
The stone walls of wheel chamber also featured hieroglyphs similar to the ones previously seen on the the Swan's countdown timer and elsewhere on the Island. ("Live Together, Die Alone") ("The Shape of Things to Come")
The wheel itself appeared to be made of wood and held together with some metal bindings, similar in fashion to nautical construction. The construction implies that the wheel may have been built a long time ago and had an original purpose other than what it was used for in the chamber.
The tips of the wheel's spokes had holes bored through them that appeared to be part of some obsolete function or previously connected to apparatus that was no longer there. At one point, Ben threaded his crowbar through a hole in order to gain more leverage while attempting to turn the wheel. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
The wheel appeared to be part of a larger mechanism, as it seemed to be connected to something behind or inside the wall or beneath the floor. Turning the wheel manipulated this unseen mechanism which caused the Island to move. Both times when the Wheel was turned, bright light or energy emitted from the slot in the wall where the wheel sat, eventually filling the entire chamber. When the wheel was off its axis, green light flashed periodically as the wheel rocked back and forth. ("This Place Is Death")
Individuals turning the wheel are transported to "the exit": a location in the Tunisian desert. Ben appeared there sometime in 2005, ("The Shape of Things to Come") and at some point after that Charles Widmore had a CCTV camera installed to watch for others who might leave the Island this way. On turning the wheel, Locke arrived there in 2007, whereon he was immediately picked up by the camera. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham") Exactly how much time elapses between turning the wheel and one's arrival in the real world appears to vary: Ben appeared at the exit about ten months after he turned the wheel, but Locke was transported across a much larger span of time. As he had traveled from a time period before the well was built, he must have been sent more than 33 years through time. The actual number of years is likely much greater.
|Picture||Name||First visit||Last visit||Reason for visit|
||Ben||"There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3"||"There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3"||Ben turned the wheel to move the Island.|
|John||"This Place Is Death"||"This Place Is Death"||Locke pulled the wheel back onto its axis to stop the Island's time shifts.|
||Christian Shephard||"This Place Is Death"||"This Place Is Death"||Christian Shephard appeared to Locke in the chamber and instructed him to place the wheel back on its axis. He offered no explanation as to how he arrived in the chamber.|
|Wheel in 2265|
Wheel's full legal name is Wheel. (TOSS # 11: )
Wheel attends Starfleet Academy for basic training (not the 4-year officer course) in the early 2260s. In 2265 he is assigned to the USS Mumbai.
His duties include preparing food in the galley. The cooks use a mixture of synthetic and stored ingredients to produce dishes from various Federation cultures, including Earth. His ambition is to become chief cook. (TOSS # 1: , # 4: , # 8: , # 18: )