Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Big Ones


Happy finale day, everyone. I'll be writing 'answer' posts as twins to my previous 'questions' post from time to time in the following weeks. I'm sure I'll also have some thoughts about the finale itself that I'll want to write about here. Thanks to all who have read these posts, and please consider yourself welcome to come back and provide your own input on the answers we'll be left with after tonight.

In conclusion, here are--for me--the big, unresolved questions I'd like to see addressed in the finale.

Namaste!

'THE END' DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. How has Ms. Hawking always known what's going to happen? What has been her motivation for being such a cryptic and cruel guide to Des, Faraday, and others?

2. What happens if the Man in Black leaves the Island? Plenty of characters have alluded to ominous consequences...Isabella (via Hurley): "We all will go to hell"; Widmore: "everything you know will simply cease to exist"; Ms. Hawking: "We are all dead!"

3. What is the Sideways? How is it connected to the Jughead detonation?

4. What does Desmond know, that has guided his actions in both realities since 'Happily ever after'?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

To all the Lost fans...



Holy frak. I love Lost. I love Lost fans. Thank you so much to njusticeleague. This is amazing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A remembrance of Seasons Past: The hatch

So, here comes the second of a five part series of really short reflections on seasons gone by. I kind of free-associated what I remember to be the emblematic sounds, images, characters and scenes of the season in question. But they could never be the only ones, and you're most welcome to comment on your own selections.

Season 2:'Lost' departed in Season two. It departed from hopes of imminent rescue, and from the physical drama of eking out an eating, drinking, disease-free existence in the wilderness. It departed from the hothouse collision of 40+ (for dramatic purposes, 12+) strangers forced to regress into a rough collective of survivors. The show has been continually moving since that first departure, but the rush of leaving, the absolutely novel contours of the first port, and the depth of mystery we were able to glimpse there makes Season Two my favorite season of Lost.

I have the sense that this isn't a common position--that conventional wisdom is that pushing the button was a gimmick that should have lasted 2 episodes, not an entire season. I've also read the creators themselves, and Terry O'Quinn, talking about the mounting frustration they felt as they were forced to keep Locke in the hatch, hour after hour, pushing the button. It may have been maddening, but I am enchanted by its sheer simplicity, and its ability to formalize the key conflict of the entire series--Why are we here?--in relentlessly awesome pseudo-sciencey trappings. It's old news now, but could anyone, in their absolute wildest predictions, have guessed what awaited our castaways in the Hatch?? Darlton have said that they take their missteps in stride because without a willingness to go so far out there and court failure, they wouldn't have the successes we all love them for. The opening of Season 2 represents a massive risk, and stands as a peerless success.

The Sound:

The hatch computer timing out. Leading to the crash, and the entire series...nuff said.

The Image:

The numbers: "Enter exactly what I tell you. And nothing else."

The Character:

And...it's a tie between Eko and Locke. Both men of faith, but Eko's was a faith that his journey had ended, while Locke's was a faith that his special purpose was yet to really begin. Perhaps no character on 'Lost' is thought to have met a more premature end than Mr. Eko. While it wasn't until Season 3 that he died, it was in Season 2 that Eko became the powerful presence that we still miss. Still, Darlton has said that Adewale's desire to leave the show left them the room necessary to further develop Ben Linus into a major component of the show--so, not the worst of exchanges. As far as Locke, the biggest arc of the season is, essentially, Locke's own arc. The writer's took us into the depths of elation, piety, petulance, anger, and heroism of this extraordinary character. Taking the long, long view, there isn't a single more original and compelling character on 'Lost' than John Locke, and this was the season that the writers and O'Quinn took us into the bare heart of the man.

The Scene:

Jack. Locke. The Hatch. The Button. Faith. Science. Mindgames. Absolute fracking brilliance. Watch the whole thing. It primes you for the final 15 seconds, which have probably already been the seed for a thousand discussions in Philosophy 101 classes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Guys...where are we?


After the events of 'Across the Sea', the context of a post like this, concerning questions about the nature of the Island, is going to be radically shifted. Before Season 6 (when I composed the questions below) I just wasn't prescient enough to wonder about what might happen if the Island overlaid a golden river of something...special...that I have a little of in my heart, and you do too.

I'd still like a marker here to look back on later in post-finale retrospecting on what we did and didn't find out about the Island. So, written from some time around 'The Substitute' is...

THE ISLAND DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

Obviously, the island is a place where impossible things occur. Some of these events (i.e., Dharma time-traveling bunnies) have a basis in pseudo-science, while others are more supernatural (Island apparations such as Yemi, Walt’s astral projections, the monster, etc). Finally, many of the island impossibilities may be rooted in a unified theory of both pseudo-science and the supernatural. So what the heck is the island?

1. Is it a natural place that gains its peculiar properties from being the playground/plaything of demigodish entities such as Jacob and MiB?

2. Is it an inherently magical place that draws humans to it, and then allows the latent capacities and archetypes of mankind to manifest in strange and supernatural ways? This idea is influenced by Dan Simmons’s books Ilium and Olympos (which in turn are influenced by, among others, The Tempest), in that they’re in a large part about the consequences of myths becoming real via sfnal means.

3. Is the island, in some way, personified? The key example here would be the mystery golden boy from ‘The Substitute’. Could he represent the Island made (visible to some) flesh? If this is so, is the personified island restricted to a role of neutral arbiter between conflicting sides?

4. Or is Jacob the island personified? And MiB is a sort of Ahab, obsessively trying to kill the Great White Whale that took his leg trapped him long ago?

5. Or is MiB the island personified? Although this would really be a variation on the above, in which a man is slowly, and eventually his great sorrow, turned into something else than a man.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The good son



The good son has sat and often wept
Beneath a malign star by which he's kept
And the night-time in which he's wrapped
Speaks of good and speaks of evil
And he calls to his mother
And he calls to his father
But they are deaf in the shadows
Of his brother's truancy
The good son
The good son
The good son
The good son

Update: TPTB talk about the Outrigger shootout


A while ago, I wrote a post concerning a mysterious event in the Season 5 episode 'The Little Prince'. In that episode, an outrigger canoe manned by Locke, Juliet, Miles, Sawyer, and Charlotte came under fire from another boat, some distance away. They returned fire, and appeared to wound one of the assailants before disappearing in a timeshift. Though the event did not have any massive plot repercussions, the identity of the assailants remains a mystery to this day. Or until yesterday, that is.

During an extended interview with Darlton, Alan Sepinwall brought up the as-yet-unexplained shootings. The following is a SPOILER. I've excerpted the relevant passage from the (very interesting) interview below. But you'll have to open the spoiler box if you want to read it.

SPOILERS INSIDE THE BOX

Spoiler:





AS: Okay, finally, I have to ask, simply because it's been driving me nuts for a year and a half: what's going on with showing the other half of the outrigger shootout?

CC: The outrigger shootout is not something we're bending around in gyrations so we can solve it. In the grand scheme of the show, that is a fairly obscure piece of the show. It is your particular obsession...

DL: ...and you're not alone in it.

CC: You're not alone in it. And yes, it would have been great if we had had the opportunity to close the time loop. But you can't get everything done and keeping the narrative going in a straight line. This is one of those things where we made a very conscious choice to ask, "What are the big questions? And most importantly, what are the paths of these characters? Where do they lead?" And we followed those paths and tried not to trip ourselves up getting too diverted from that. We felt that that's the thing that's ultimately going to make the finale work or not work. We got to the point where we made the finale we wanted to make, that was our approach, and I think it was the only approach we could take. We sat here in my office, had breakfast every day for six years, talked about the show, and we used this gut check methodology, where if we both loved something and thought it was cool, that would go in. We applied that same methodology to the finale, and that was the only way we could do it. We came up with a finale that we thought was cool, that was emotional and one we really liked. That's the best we could do.

DL: When we wrote that scene and somebody started shooting at them, we knew exactly who was shooting at them. That is not a dangling thread that we don't know the answer to. That being said, as we started talking about paying that off this season, it felt like the episode was at the service of closing the time loop, as opposed to what the characters might actually be doing in that scenario. It never felt organic. We decided we would rather take our lumps from the people who couldn't scratch that itch than to produce an episode that was in service of putting people in an outrigger and getting shot at.

AS: You put people in a lot of outriggers this season. It feels, frankly, like you're taunting me.

DL: We can't entirely deny that we're taunting you.

CC: Honestly, though, the logistics of getting all the participants in the outriggers in the configuration that was on the A-side of the time loop was actually really daunting.

DL: Considering half of them had been killed off

CC: It's not like we didn't want to do it. Like Damon says, it was just too much of a narrative deviation to do it.






END SPOILERS

So that is what it is. Go ahead and comment away on this topic. But don't read the comments if you don't want to be SPOILED.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

'Across the Sea' blew my mind


'Across the Sea' was a simple story, a devotedly simple story, its structure purposely unadorned with humor, suspense, romantic pique, or any story elements familiar to 'Lost' fans. I was nearly expecting the 3 principal cast members to simply utter their lines seated while an unseen chorus provides the little exposition needed. Whether the classical tones of the story resonated within the mythic framework of 'Lost' or were instead jarringly ponderous is a judgment that I wouldn't yet make for anybody but myself. However, I would suggest that such judgments should be postponed (as is necessary for almost every episode this season) until after a rewatch. The paranoia about 'answers, answers, answers' is so debilitating that it’s difficult as hell to pay attention to the present—the episode on the screen—the first time around. Thus, after my rewatch, I've made up my mind about 'Across the Sea'.

The episode...complicated me. It complicated my vision of what 'Lost' is. And, being the sort of viewer I am, that makes it the most gratifying episode of the season.


Mother was enough

The anonymity of the Mother allows the woman to assume an archetype rather than a personality, and her implacability girds the sense of timelessness that myth affords. Maybe I'm a cheap date, but I would happily exchange a fully manufactured and exposited origin for these few mythic brushstrokes. And I thank the writers for grounding the Island’s origin in the structures of myth without nailing it in place with some list of times, places, and people that might constitute some particular origin story.

It’s hard to state exactly, but: I'm *not* watching 'Lost' to discover 'what' the supernatural tokens of the story 'really' are. They aren't 'really' anything. Each succeeding level of explanation of, say, the FDW will require more minutiae, more 'facts' with a veneer of rationality. And eventually, somewhere in the secondary, tertiary, or subsequent rationalizations for such things, we will discover the nugget of impossibility that powers the whole machine. Only, by that point, with our sustained deployment of rational investigation, we will have unfortunately convinced ourselves that we are, in fact, considering a genuine thing of this world. It will end badly now, as the nugget of impossibility will be transformed into a pellet of bullshit, and that's all we'll see, smell, or think of whenever we see the FDW.

I *am* watching 'Lost' to find out about the 'who' and the 'why'. And regarding the Mother, I think the cocktail of the writers’ borrowing from the narrative devices of myth and ancient story, along with a harrowing and unnatural performance from the actress has communicated the 'who' and the 'why' to me.


The Man in Black is not the Man in Black. He is not any ‘body’

I can’t say I was thrilled when ‘Lost’ decided to personify evil in the opening and closing scenes of ‘The Incident’. If there is a thread that runs through all of its seasons, I would argue that it is the dilemma of free choice, unanchored from the surety of absolutes. But Lost’s focus does not cease at the moment of choice—it follows characters as the consequences of their choices shape their very nature and identity. The drama has always been existential, and rarely—if ever—moral. So, to introduce an important character who, simply by dint of his identity, cannot make a choice that isn’t evil seemed an uncalled for reduction in the autonomy of the main characters who must react to him.

After ‘Across the Sea’, I realize that the writers never intended such personification, and not for the first time, I have been conned.

What I mean is this: We thought that the man who shared breakfast with Jacob was the same man who freed Richard from his chains, and (at least for the first 40 minutes of ‘Across the Sea’) the fraternal twin of Jacob. Yes, he had a kind of superpower, but he could be understood as a man just as costumed supervillains like Magneto or Dr. Doom can be understood as men, though sort of pre-defined as ‘bad’ men. The profound reveal of the final golden cave scene is that the fellow who ate breakfast with Jacob and freed Richard is as similar a person to Jacob’s nameless twin as the Fake-Locke of Season 6 is to the man the Benjamin Linus murdered in the Westerfield Hotel. Following ‘Across the Sea’, the ‘eeeeevil!’ of that character has been dissociated from a personality, in the sense that the man we thought to be evil’s author (the nameless twin) died 2000 years ago. It *is* disorienting: we must now both negate Jacob’s twin from the identity of the man on the beach, and comprehend that fLocke’s true identity is, in fact, not Jacob’s bad twin, but the identityless man on the beach. It doesn’t seem possible. How can fLocke have an identity of no identity?


The astounding nature of ‘Eeeeevvvil!’ on ‘Lost’

He can because he is a liar, and because in the metaphysics of ‘Lost’, the root of evil is nothing more or less than a lie. In Christianity, the adversary of God is often described as the ‘father of lies’. In literature though, it’s a challenge to personify such a character, as their very personhood and agency are predicated on a coherent motivation: that is, there must be at least one lie that they do not tell themselves, and thus, if they wished to, that they might relate to someone else. In ‘Lost’, the dislocation of fLocke’s identity allows him to bypass these constraints: he can both have the motivations once attributed to the nameless twin, and not have the identity, the agency, that grew them. We could ask of the nameless twin “What is it that truly motivates you? What makes you tick?” , and we could know that there is a true, real answer to the question. Ask the same question of fLocke, and though he might reply with the same words, we know that it would be, in a both technical and important sense, a lie. For fLocke is not the Bad twin, and as much as he might think otherwise, he lied when he replied to Ben’s quivering query of “What are you?” with “I’m not a ‘what’ Ben, I’m a ‘who’”. And what is he? What is the ‘what’? He is that whose identity is no identity. He is no-person, no-history, no-motivation, he is a nullity. He is what would be loosed upon the world if the Island were no longer to constrain him. It is what Widmore is speaking of when he warns Desmond that unless he aids him, the world he knows will simply “cease to exist”. The awkwardly alluded to nature of the golden spring is, in a word—being—and the danger of the black smoke is its embodiment of the paradoxical concept of un-being.

Up until ‘Across the Sea’ the writers have thing-ified this un-being as a cloud of black smoke—not the worst choice for representing the presence of absence in prime-time television. I am truly astounded after ‘Across the Sea’ by the skill of the story’s creators—able to convincingly create a character, and a basis for ‘evil’, that is absent identity, personhood, or morality.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Two players. Two sides. One is light … one is dark"



Here's an idea with real resonance for considering the show's endgame, from commenter boycurry here.

Nobody has talked about the role Backgammon plays in the promo for next week. This is the key. The island is a metaphysical game of Backgammon and the numbers of the candidates refer either to positions on the board, or roles of the dice/moves to get Jack into position 23, the last position on the board that white can block the color players pieces from leaving the board/island. There are more clues about the island, candidates and their numbers and the dual realities within the rules of the game if anyone wants to look them up.


That.is.awesome. Jacob is the sort of defensive backgammon player who never moves his gamepieces from his opponents home quadrant. In backgammon though, one gamepiece in position 23 is not enough to keep your opponent from leaving the board, for if he lands on you, you're vulnerable and will have to move from the gameboard to the bar. The Candidate plus the wildcard (that is, Jack + Desmond) are necessary to stop the MiB's escape. The gamepieces that have been lost through attrition during the course of play must be moved to the bar, a sort of purgatory for those who, as Michael says, 'can't move on'.

PREDICTION: A player must roll doubles to free his gamepieces from the bar and return them to the gameboard. Jack, as the candidate, will find that he must free those dead souls trapped on the Island as part of his effort to counter Flocke.

The doubling cube in backgammon allows one player to raise the stakes by powers of two: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64. Should the other player refuse to play with raised stakes, they lose the game. Jacob and MiB's conflict seems to have been escalating for a long time now--and neither has refused the raised stakes.

Anyone else comment on backgammon and the show? boycurry mentions a link between the sideways and the game...but I'm not bright enough to see it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jacob treads where Stephen Hawking will not


Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Chair Emeritus of Cambridge University, and self-described "physicist, cosmologist, and something of a dreamer" has recently published instructions on how to build a time machine.

However, Professor Hawking only provides ideas for time machines that travel into the future. A time machine that travels into the past is theoretically impossible, according to Hawking, and he uses a story to demonstrate why (italics are mine):

I don't like the way scientists in movies are often described as mad, but in this case, it's true. This chap is determined to create a paradox, even if it costs him his life. Imagine, somehow, he's built a wormhole, a time tunnel that stretches just one minute into the past. Through the wormhole, the scientist can see himself as he was one minute ago. But what if our scientist uses the wormhole to shoot his earlier self? He's now dead. So who fired the shot? It's a paradox. It just doesn't make sense. It's the sort of situation that gives cosmologists nightmares.

This kind of time machine would violate a fundamental rule that governs the entire universe - that causes happen before effects, and never the other way around. I believe things can't make themselves impossible. If they could then there'd be nothing to stop the whole universe from descending into chaos. So I think something will always happen that prevents the paradox. Somehow there must be a reason why our scientist will never find himself in a situation where he could shoot himself. And in this case, I'm sorry to say, the wormhole itself is the problem.


So, Professor Hawking worries about effects that are their own causes. And rightly, so...no one wants the universe to descend into chaos. However, we have seen one paradoxical object already on the Island: Richard's compass. I predict that we'll see another such item by the end of this season: Daniel's Journal.



Perhaps this is part of the unique essence of the Island...the laws of cause and effect may be suspended. The entire flight of Oceanic 815 is in essence, a paradox. Only due to the Island's existence was an effect (the 815ers on the Island) able to negate its very cause (the crash of Oceanic 815).

Perhaps Jacob has spent his entire existence hoping that the men and women he brings to the Island will be able to end (that is, '...end once') the bastion of paradox that is the Island.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A remembrance of Seasons Past: The crash

Lists! Whenever something ends: a year, a century, a pizza...people love to formalize and rank the most treasured moments of times gone by. Lost is ending. Lost is, in fact, ending very soon. And I can think of many Lost lists that call out to be made. How about...

1. Top 10 Sawyer nick-names.

2. Top 3 most unnecessary instances of Kate telling either Sawyer or Jack, when they are working out a legitimate and heavy emotional issue, to 'stop...that's enough'.

3. Top 3 times when Sayid knows what the score is before anyone else.

4. Best Hurley headphone closing montage of Season 1.

...off the top of my head. One blogger, doubtless not the only one, decided to rank the seasons. I'm inspired by his effort to recollect the moments of Seasons past, but stumped when it comes to a ranking. I can say only what my favorite season has been, but it's a first among equals sort of thing.

So, here comes the first of a five part series of really short reflections on seasons gone by. I kind of free-associated what I remember to be the emblematic sounds, images, characters and scenes of the season in question. But they could never be the only ones, and you're most welcome to comment on your own selections.

We herewith begin...

Season 1: Things that struck me on a recent Season 1 rewatch: Jack.is.intense. Compared to the ‘working things out’ Jack of Season 5, he is just so damn volatile. The men on his good side—Michael, Jin, Charlie, Hurley—are kept at a polite yet brusque arm’s length, while those on his shit list—Sawyer, and more slowly, but much more potently, Locke—are given no quarter in an unpredictable, violent, and totally reactive Jackian way. I read something recently quoting Josh Holloway as being excited about the return of a more salty Sawyer in Season 6, but I’d be equally as excited to see the return of a more intense Jack, as we glimpsed in the Black Rock scene with Richard in 'Dr. Linus'.

Also: I wasn’t sorry to see Boone go—too often his character reminded me I was watching a network drama, rather than the incredible pop-culture mindmaze and mythic drama that ‘Lost’ actually is.

And: I miss Charlie. Dominic Monaghan is a great actor. He lent an energy that the ensemble needed to counter the self-seriousness of a Locke or, later, an Ilana.

Furthermore: Life-lesson Locke—John had a couple of great little scenes where he’d impart wisdom to a conflicted character in a very non-didactic zen koanish sort of way. There’s a dark reflection of such scenes in Season 6, as Flocke deploys his ‘but what if you could’ visions of fulfillment to his recruits.

And as far as episodes: ‘Walkabout’, ‘The Greater Good’, ‘Whatever the Case’, ‘The Moth’, and of course, the Pilot stand out to me, but moreso than other seasons, I can conjure up wonderful little character moments than I can blockbuster episodes from this first outing. The fizz has inevitably lessened from some once truly surprising moments, i.e., Sun speaks English? And Sawyer doesn’t even have the inhalers? But, the patient introduction of such well-drawn, complex characters that the writers accomplished this season should be admired as a challenge just as difficult as threading the complex intertime plotlines of Seasons 4 and 5…and to our great benefit, they *rocked* it.

The Sound:


The roar of Smokey. 'nuff said.

The image:
John Locke, amid the wreckage, pulling his shoes on and arising to answer Jack's calls for aid.

The Character:
Jack. It’s a big ensemble, but Kate’s right when she says “Without you Jack…” and trails off into a silent mixture of gratitude and empathy.

The scene:


The raft launching. Along with the phone call that closes ‘The Constant’ it is the never fail, make me weep uncontrollably moment of this amazing show.

Mostly minor miscellaneous mysteries, Part II



1. Did Desmond and Penny really sail all the way from London to Los Angeles after Des get’s Ms. Hawking’s address from Widmore?

2. We know what the ash does, but what is it? Is its potency the result of its origin, or perhaps of a ritual consecration of sorts, like holy water.

3. Suppose Dogen used his machine that “…tells us how the scale [of good and evil in a man] is balanced.” on someone who who’s unarguably ‘good’, say, Hurley. What possible difference could there be in his ‘good’ reaction to electrocution and branding? I suppose those scenes were dramatic, but absent further explication, the machine’s proposed function is ridiculous.

4. How is the Ajira plane going to leave Hydra Island when its passenger side windshield is shattered? (but nice symmetry to Oceanic 815, in which the same window was broken)

5. Was the cave Flocke showed Sawyer in ‘The Substiute’ really Jacob’s cave? It’s bleak setting on cliff-side seems more appropriate for a monster—the MiB. (actually, this tends more toward a major than minor question)

6. Who set in motion the poison gas dispersal that was narrowly avoided in ‘The Other Woman’? Charlotte proposes that it was Ben. But Ben is back in New Otherton as a prisoner when all this is going on with nary a gas-mask in sight.

7. The mystery mothers: who is David Shephard’s mother? Or Penny’s mother??

8. Why did Smokey appear to Locke as a 'beautiful bright light' (as Locke describes it much later to Eko in 'The Cost of Living') in 'Walkabout?

9. What is Richard referring to when he responds to Jack's question of where he [Richard] has been with "you wouldn't believe me if I told you" during 'Dr. Linus'? Richard immediately goes on to say that he's just been to the devastated Temple--perhaps a situation that one 'wouldn't believe'--but Richard's remark appears to allude to something else. What?

10. Who hit the John Locke's mom with a car, forcing the premature Locke to be delivered?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bernard and Rose



It looks like Jacob’s intercession wasn’t necessary to bring Bernard and Rose together. Even Bernard’s bowels behave just as they would in the Jacobless universe as they did in the Jacobful universe. Off the top of my head, the most salient changes to the flight of Oceanic 815 in a world without Jacob are the presence of Des—but he’s special, the rules don’t apply to him, blahblahblah—and Cindy’s liquor dispersal policy. Well, as a Lost blogger trying to become worthy of their salt, a post on Des is most certainly upcoming—but a post on Cindy’s liquor bottles…? I hadn’t considered it, but obviously it must be added to the list.

In retrospect, the talents of J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof for creating unconventional versions of familiar characters (i.e., the rebel, the hero-doctor, the self-important rockstar) are really at a level above and beyond the writers of much of the TV I’ve seen. I haven’t ever watched ‘Alias’ or any other Abrams shows, so I can’t guess as to whose more responsible. Lesser writers might have taken Bernard, the oldest man among the survivors, and given him the default role of ‘experienced old wise man’, but JJA and DL instead do a nice inversion of expectations, and write him as a character not far removed from a guest-starring role on ‘Seinfeld’. Bernard’s a favorite character of many Losties, but I think especially of those who have become progressively more disappointed as the show’s focus shifted towards the rules of time travel and weird physics. For much of the second half of the series, I’ve come across the repeated complaint from these quarters of, “Where’s Rose and Bernard?”

Well, where are they??

We know that whatever qualifications one must have to start time traveling when the FDW begin to spin, Rose and Bernard have. And we know they found nice little house by the shore in the late 70s, and lived an idyllic 3 years, just the two of them. The final time traveling event we know of was Juliet’s detonation of Jughead right on top of the breached Swan site. Every 815er in immediate proximity was instantly ported to 2007. The question is, was the Incident of the same time traveling class as the FDW’s wobbly turns? The effective radius of the FDW extends far out to the surrounding ocean. We can only guess as to the effective radius of the Incident. If it was Island-wide, Rose, Bernard, and presumably Vincent have been scavenging mangoes and fish in some isolated corner of the Island for days.



And if the Incident only transported those in close proximity, and Rose and Bernard remained in 1977, they would have had to navigate the perhaps obliterated, perhaps not Island of immediate post-Incident times. If this is/was the case, then I hereby nominate Rose and Bernard as candidates for…the cave skeleton couple. They were both already well past 60 in 2004, so that would put them close to 100 by the time they reached 2004 again. Their cottage setup was pretty chill, so I wouldn’t be surpised if Jacob himself stopped by from time to time. Upon their death (likely together, and in their sleep) Jacob then tenderly (also a little perversely) arranged their bodies in the caves their comrades would later find.

An even cooler possibility would be for a super-ancient Bernard and Rose to amble out of the 2007 Island jungle and impart some wisdom to our Losties.

Also...hasn't like NOT A SINGLE PERSON wondered where they are in 2007 or expressed some worry on their behalf...even Sawyer or Kate, who saw them in 1977 only hours before the Incident???

I think there's a couple potential happy endings for Bernard and Rose. But however it happens, these two are not going to make it to the end of the finale—at least in the crash timeline.

THE NADLER DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. Where are Bernard and Rose? Were they transported to the Island in 2007 like the rest of the 815ers? Were they left in 1977? If so, what was their eventual fate?

2. Will they be allowed to pass away together, in peace?

Amazing visons of 'Lost'



The image above is one of a collection of posters, a new one for every single episode of 'Lost'. I sometimes think of 'Lost' as a finely crafted LP, providing a richer, realer experience than the endless stream of cheap disposable crap filling the TV show discount bin.

This artist has designed the album covers 'Lost' deserves. See the entire collection (already up to 5x02) at their flickr stream here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Rules



The first rule of The Rules is that we don't speak of The Rules.

That rule has been broken by the following individuals: Ben Linus, Charles Widmore, the Man in Black, and forest boy of undisclosed origin. Are they all talking about the same rulebook?

I believe they are not. Ben and Charles are discussing a set of guidelines that have their origin in the related-by-Richard missives of Jacob. Over Richard's time on the Island (and I sincerely wish we could see more of that era) Jacob's wishes have gently shaped the Others. As biblical as Jacob's name and lifestyle are, I like to consider his political philosophy as a sibling of the spirit underlying the U.S. constitution's Bill of Rights, the original charter of negative liberties. The Bill of Rights doesn't say an American has the right to a house. It just says that if an American does have a house, the 3rd amendment protects her from having to house soldiers within it.

On 'Lost', Jacob will bring you to the Island, but once there, you have no explicit right to knowledge of what you should do. Yet, Jacob does offer protection from the influence of your past life, so that when you get to the Island, your past 'doesn't matter'. Jacob is a bit trickier than the founding fathers though, because unlike acquiring a house, knowledge of what you should do on the Island is (to mix my political metaphors)an unknown unknown.

Ben, Widmore, and other Others likely had to pay attention to a few other similarly formulated edicts, perhaps: 'None of you have any right to be the Leader, but if you do, you are under my protection', or 'I force no obligation on you to do anything in particular on this Island, but if you leave you may not return'. I believe its a rule of this type that Ben accuses Widmore of breaking in 'The Shape of Things to Come'.

The rules that jungle boy reminds Man in Black of in 'The Substitute'? They exist on an entirely different level. I believe Jacob and the MiB have rules, and are thus motivated to search for loopholes to avoid those rules, because the order of the Island/World/Universe is sensitive to the dynamics of both entitites. For it to survive, their conflict must be bound by law and executed by proxy.

Jacob and MiB's rules = Speed of Light
Ben and Widmores rules = Speed Limits

The puzzling aspect of all this to me is that the MiB obviously believes that at some crucial point in the distant past, Jacob deceived him. Now, MiB seems like a somewhat arrogant individual. If his opponent tricked him, what stopped him from considering the 'Rules' broken at that point? Why did he respect and follow them for so long that it took the Lockean loophole to accomplish his long sought Jacobean homicide?

THE RULES DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. What is the origin of Ben and Widmore's rules? Which rule did Ben accuse Charles of breaking?

2. What is the origin of Jacob and MiB's rules? Why does MiB follow them, even after Jacob deceived him?

3. Are there consequences for breaking Jacob and MiB's rules? Who determines/doles out the punishments?

Miles



To get a little meta, it seems to me like the Miles of Season 6 would enjoy watching Lost. The Miles who arrived on the Island in 2004...not so much.

Ken Leung has one of the most actorly blank faces that I've seen. When Bram--fine guy, I'm sure, but not really a master of strategy and subterfuge--attempts to woo Miles to his cause by reminding him of that darn old hole in his soul, Miles just stares blankly at him for a long beat. Could he be just a second away from tearing up and falling helplessly into the comforting embrace of Bram's ample bosom? Errr, no. Miles delivers that awesome, deadpan "It's sad. Isn't it?". But he precedes his reluctant lines to Sawyer when asked to 'talk' to dead Juliet with the exact same blank-face beat. Weirdly, he sells it in both situations! Two completely different emotions, and one blank face.

I also have Miles to thank for one of my top 5 flashback episodes of the whole series, 'Some like it Hoth'. At this point (a couple days away from 'The Candidate'), I think that the major reason for Miles joining Richard and Ben is the equal distribution of deadpan comedy among the Island factions. But besides this welcome function, what might be his purpose in the remainder of Season 6? In the premiere this season, I thought that Miles would eventually 'speak' to dead Jacob, and that would be a crucial event--but that's already happened and the revelations were fairly minor (though a question of mine was answered). Really, some of Miles's greatest contributions of past seasons have been the moments when his no-bullshit observations have slowed the steps of a group of characters hell-bent on some crazy mission. I cite his 'Has it occurred to any of you that your buddy's actually gonna cause the thing he says he's trying to prevent? Perhaps that little nuke is the incident? So maybe the best thing to do... is nothing?' speech as one of his finest moments.

I wouldn't mind a little more specificity on how Miles acquired his talents. At this point, the explanation is simply: he was on the Island as a baby. That will suffice, but...do all Island babies have secret powers? Why that particular ability? But really, I'm just hoping my man doesn't become cannon fodder before his time. As long as Claire gets to survive...Miles at least deserves to make it that far.

Also, I could go for a completely gonzo twist to Miles story--like he becomes the new Richard to Jack's new Jacob!

THE MILES DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. Why and how, exactly did Miles acquire his abilities?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Lost' and Thomas Covenant, Part II



Enter a mysterious world of unspoiled richness and spiritual purity: The Land. Our hero is a physically ravaged and broken, yet enormously stubborn man of the everyday 'real' world. He finds himself, through circumstances he does not understand, transported to this magical and verdant place. A sickness that had previously defined his existence and isolated him from any modicum of happiness is, in this new land, completely healed. He is awed by the lore and wisdom of the land's inhabitants, yet that awe is dwarfed by discomfort, as the land's people are convinced that our hero is a prophesied savior upon whom the fate of the land depends, a notion he finds ridiculous. The land is troubled by a sort of 'dark lord' who thrives upon the defilement of the land's spirit. The corrupt servants of the dark lord were not always so, but succumbed to his will by means of arrogance and temptation. The dark lord's highest wish? To escape the land.

Now class, can anyone who has watched 'Lost' for these 5 13/18 seasons note a parallel between the above story and the narratives of 'Lost'? The foregoing was a brutal and brief summation of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever.

Covenant, in our world, is a leper. His disease has robbed him of any sense of touch, and thus pain, forcing him to constantly repeat a fixed regimen of 'VSE'--visual surveillance of extremities--to ensure he does not mortally injure his already corrupted body in the course of everyday life. He loses consciousness in our world and wakes up--healed of leprosy--in a place simply called 'the Land'. The land is peopled by a collection of races (giants, goblins, etc) familiar to readers of Tolkien-influenced literature. The humans of the land are a pre-scientific society whose lives are immersed in a sort of nature-religion absent any particular deity, and to a greater or lesser degree all wield an earth-derived magic. Repeated magic ritual constitutes daily life, and performing mundane daily tasks using machinery or overly complex tools instead of magic is seen as abomination.

The inherent magic of the Land seduces Covenant into (in someone else's words) believing it to be 'not just an island!' while simultaneously goading his skepticism and bitterness regarding the truth of such a sensual place. After all, he has survived his adult life only by rigorously denying and mistrusting feeling. Covenant oscillates between 'Jack-like' and 'Locke-like' poles of belief and unbelief.

Arrayed against the land, wishing only to desecrate its nature and people, is ghoulish Lord Foul, the Despiser. Covenant is not only healed by the Land, but hailed by its people as a prophesied savior, possessor of unique powers that will be the key to defeating Lord Foul. Foul's contention though, is that through manipulation and intimidation, he will force Covenant to use his Land-bestowed power to sicken rather than save. The psychological drama of the series draws from Covenant's attempts to escape the clutches of either a benevolent (assuming the role of the Land's savior) or fiendish (succumbing to Foul's manipulations)destiny and find a way to retain his autonomy without denying the land's reality for the benefit of Foul.

The prime enemy of both Covenant sequences, Foul is also the entity responsible for bringing Covenant to the Land. Though he is a demigod-like being, he cannot achieve his final goal--***escape*** from the bounds of the land--until he utterly corrupts (claims?) Covenant. Foul works by humiliating the prideful, turning hope to spite, and manipulating the naive into desecrating what they'd formerly thought holy. The portrayal of 'evil' in such emotionally familiar terms, rather than black capes and dark castles elevate the Covenant sequence above cosmetically similar fantasies content with only costume metaphysics.

There are other books more apt for complementing the time-travel, multiple dimension aspect of 'Lost', but the Covenant sequence is a fantastic read for those touched by the heroism, foolishness, tragedy,and redemption all embodied in John Locke, surely the most original creation of the 'Lost' writers, regardless of how (un)fulfilling the finale turns out to be.

Discussing the end of the Chronicles in an attempt to reason out the possible conclusion of 'Lost' just isn't possible without spoiling the 'Chronicles', something I just can't do.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Man No. 2



It is sentimental to consider the Man in Black as a ‘bad guy’. There are perfectly reasonable and moral stances by which one of our characters may choose to consider Jacob as less than a ‘good guy’.

I want to start this entry—on questions concerning the Man in Black—with an explicit statement of these two postulates. I have seen nothing to convince me otherwise at this point (the off-week in between ‘The Last Recruit’ and ‘The Candidate’). I understand that the story of ‘Lost’ is not my story—it is the writers’—and thus, it’s possible that I may have to revoke my opening statements by the end of the series. If I must though, it will be the fault of writers with no compunctions for tromping through their own story, oblivious to the size of the footprints they leave behind. And that, for me, would not be a happy ending for ‘Lost’.

The Man in Black is the newest ‘main’ character in the Lost-o-verse. He is also the most bizarre, in terms of narrative construction, of any character ever on the show. Having ‘questions’ about him is a bit redundant, as the character himself is either a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma or the most notorious MacGuffin yet on ‘Lost’.

Side note: Is there a difference between these two possibilities?

Double Side note: ‘Lost’ may be read as meta-narrative in which MacGuffins transcend their own meaningless origins by threatening to remove themselves, and thus the element of fate, from stories of redemption. Or something.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m concerned about the ill effect of rewriting Season’s 1-5.9 as simply the deterministic outcome of the hidden hands of Jacob and his nemesis. The great issue with such rewriting is that due to the obligation to maintain dramatic tension, the true origin and goals of Jacob and his nemesis will not be revealed until the penultimate episode, or the finale of ‘Lost’. When writers find themselves with such a small amount of time to reveal such crucial character and plot beats, they are greatly tempted to succumb to the invocation of mealy-mouthed and trite ‘archetypes’ to substitute for original ideas. I’ll now briefly mention some details from the finale of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series to buttress this argument, so…

[MASSIVE BSG PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD!!! BE WARNED]

The new BSG series was, for the most part, well written. It had fantastic potential, and that potential was comprehensively squandered by "the worst ending in the history of on-screen science fiction”. In brief, a drama full of conflicted, mature characters harboring complex and fluid motivations that were developed with care and honesty for the better part of the series was reduced to the after-effects of a ‘Big Bad’ introduced in the waning moments of the last act. Though the Big Bad had been seen before in the series, he was a relatively minor character whose true nature was never *shown* to the viewers in the course of storytelling, as it was for the half-dozen or so major characters of the show. Thus, upon the revelation of the Big Bad’s identity, the writers had no other choice than to *tell* us, in a brief scene or two of exposition what motivated the character who was now presented as the prime mover of the series long story arc. And what was this essential motivation? It consisted of one thing: the resentment of a machine towards its human creators. In one form or another, this ‘angry Pinocchio’ motivation has been around for more than 100 years. See Frankenstein, 2001, and Terminator for various twists. What the writers forgot is that the dramatic DNA of their show was the considered, ambiguous exploration of the conflicts that arise between men and sentient machines coexisting. Their lazy appropriation of a story that is, within s-f, an old and boring cliché, in order to tie up their loose plot ends ruined everything of originality and interest they had built before. But what could they to do pacify a broad audience? They’d left themselves no time.

[END MASSIVE BSG PLOT SPOILERS]

There you go. But, I’m guardedly optimistic about upcoming revelations of Man in Black, as a character and guiding force on the show. I feel like the writers have done a good job, so far, at distilling equal parts sympathy and suspense into the character. It’s clear that he has a long memory, and a firm conviction of what he deserves. There are no Jack-like ‘do I wanna be on the Island or don’t I?’ or Kate-esque ‘Jack’s such a good man, but Sawyer makes me horny’ dilemmas for this man. Whether we will agree with the Man in Black’s judgment of what he’s accorded when we know the whole story is besides the point. We know he won’t change his mind.

It’s also clear that, in his opinion, he was tricked into his current predicament. If there’s one thing ‘Lost’ viewers have sympathy for, it’s the resentment and powerlessness felt by victims of a manipulator with an agenda—let’s take a short break to pour a little drink on my man John Locke’s grave and salute him.

Let’s end this here with a listing of…

THE MAN IN BLACK DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. Does Jacob’s ‘evil, malevolent, dark wine’ directly signify the MiB? Or is the ‘hell’ the island acts to contain something else, something independent of Jacob and the MiB? And MiB’s ‘trapped’ state a necessary corollary to the containment of ‘hell’?

2. What was the long-ago event between MiB and Jacob that MiB describes to Richard as ‘The devil betrayed me. He took my body. My humanity.’?

3. How is the story of Jacob and MiB connected to MiB’s mother (!), who was a ‘very disturbed woman’?

4. One assumes that when Flocke tells Sawyer that he’s ‘experience[ed] betrayal’, he’s referring to the same event I just mentioned in #2. But to what is he alluding to when he says he knows ‘what it’s like to lose someone you love.’?

5. Is the explanation simply that MiB is totally insane and has conflated the life experiences of those he ‘scans’ while in smoke form with his own long-forgotten past?

6. Is the MiB alluding to his own experience when he tells James, regarding Jacob: ‘He came to you, he manipulated you, pulled your strings like you were a puppet. And as a result, choices you thought were made, were never really choices at all.’

7. When MiB is in Smokey form, are Smokey’s actions entirely the will of MiB? Or does some other force, i.e. Jacob, influence or guide the behavior of Smokey.

8. Were any of the Lost characters (i.e. Hawking, Widmore, Ben) ever consciously in league with MiB?

9. Where is MiB’s home that he wants so badly to go to?

10. Does the MiB have any connection to the Sideways reality?

11. MiB has admitted that he benefitted greatly from Locke dying off the Island, and by Locke’s body returning upon Ajira 316, but did he benefit/have a stake in the H-Bomb/Swan site ‘Incident’.

12. Is the MiB connected to the strange EM activity of the Island?

13. Lots could be put in this question, but…Is there a ‘real agenda’ of the MiB’s that he hasn’t admitted to us yet?

Ellie accidently invented the Sideways world: A 'Lost' theory with (a little) predictive ability


Following another theorist’s proposal that the Island is a macroscopic place in which multiple quantum states can coexist: Just as Schrodinger’s cat is both alive and dead before an observer checks the experimental result, two states of the universe exist at the end of the events of ‘The Incident’: one in which Juliet detonated the bomb by hitting it with a stone, and one in which she failed to do so with the stone and died shortly thereafter at the bottom of the Swan drill-shaft. Juliet, in effect, committed quantum suicide. She was motivated to strike the bomb due to her regret over Sawyer's love for Kate (Fate), and she was able to ignite it due to the quantum behavior of the bomb (chance). The unpredictable outcome of the meshing of the Swan EM and Jughead energies is the sustained existence of the sideways universe.


Recall, for a moment, the Season 3 episode ‘Flashes before your eyes’ when Ms. Hawking told Desmond that pushing that button is the only really important thing that he would ever do? The button was ‘really important’ because it held at bay the profoundly important event that really did occur in the sideways universe—the sinking of the Island. The Island’s unique properties—its tendency to move within space and time, the buffer of warped space-time surrounding it (think Faraday’s projectile experiment, and the timeslip sickness experienced by Minkowski, Desmond, and others on the Kahana) emerge from a stable equilibrium between the real world and the unique EM sources underlying the Island, especially the massive source at the Swan site. When the DI drilled too deep at the Swan, they breached the anomaly, an act with massive, unforeseen consequences. The Island-world equilibrium was upset, and thus the Island fell to the bottom of the sea.


Let's talk about the universe where Juliet failed to set off the bomb. We'll come to know it as the Sideways universe. Though the bomb didn't go off, the chaos started by the Dharma drilling continued, leading to the island sinking to the bottom of the Pacific, as we saw it in the opening of ‘LA X’. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, Miles, and Sayid...they all died either at the Swan site, or in the aftermath of the EM anomaly breach. At least Ellie, Charles, Roger Linus and Ben Linus were able to escape the Island before it sunk. Richard...may have died on the island, or not. For now, let's assume he did. Penny was born before 1977, so she'd be a young girl awaiting Charles and Ellie when they return to the mainland from the doomed island in 1977.


However, Ellie has brought with her from the island the notebook of the young man she shot who claimed to be her son. She will study it backwards and forwards in the years following 1977. She pieces together, from the notebook, some, but likely not all of the events of the life of Daniel Faraday as we knew him. She knows he was her son, that he was a time traveler, that he lived a post-1977 existence that was not happy, that 'Desmond Hume' was his constant, and probably a lot more—Faraday always said that everything he’d ever learned about the Dharma Initiative and about the Island was in his notebook! So, in the years following 1977, Ellie learns that she was, somehow, able to both kill her son and avoid doing so. She keeps this knowledge, very, very close. Perhaps she’s told her husband Charles, but just as likely she hasn’t.


Thus, when Desmond Hume starts asking about a 'Penny' (a name that may also have been in Faraday's notebook), she knows that this is an unnatural event, a violation, and wishing to preserve the gift she's been given of a 2nd life for her son, she attempts to quash Hume's questioning. All of the Sideways versions of the 815ers that we’ve seen in Season 6 are simply the grownup versions of the off-island child-versions of these characters that were growing up in the real world in 1977.

Let's move on to the alternate universe, in which Juliet successfully set off the bomb. We know this as the main timeline of Lost that the characters have experienced in Seasons 1-5. When Juliet ignited the bomb, Richard and the rescued Ellie were watching from afar. They knew that Jack, Kate, and Sayid (though I can't remember if they ever saw Hugo, Jin, Sawyer, or Juliet) were right at the site of the explosion.


Being at ground zero of a nuclear blast typically results in your death, and that’s why Richard tells Sun that he 'watched her friends die’ when she asks him about the Dharma yearbook photo at the end of Season 5. The bomb did not destroy the Island. In fact, it’s destructive radius is limited to a very small space around the Swan site due to its reaction/negation with the EM energy at the Swan. After the bomb was detonated, the DI eventually fills in the Swan site with concrete and builds the Swan hatch. It is the residual radiation of the bomb that leads to the problems that pregnant women face on the Island after 1977.


The Swan, until Desmond turned the fail-safe in 2004, acted as a ‘cork’ upon the EM energy beneath. In this timeline, Ellie leaves the Island knowing that it’s stable, but that its safety is very precarious. Unless the Swan site is constantly attended, the EM anomaly will escape and the Island will be destroyed. She is (for reasons that remain unrevealed at this point) absolutely dedicated to keeping the Island safe. As she reads the journal of the young man she shot, she realizes that he was indeed her son, and that it must be her heavy burden to guide him on a path that leads forward, and then back in time, so he can be sure to set off the H-bomb and prevent the DI from destroying the Island. From Daniel’s journal, she’s able to learn something of Desmond’s involvement with the Island.


It’s Ellie who passes this information to Charles, and it’s she he refers to when he tells Desmond ‘If everything I’ve been told about you is true, you’ll be perfectly fine.’ before he zaps Des.

WHACKADOO PREDICTIONS AND COROLLARIES ARISING FROM THIS THEORY:

1. Remember when a visibly distraught Ellie stepped into the living room where Daniel was playing piano in ‘The Variable’? I predict we’ll see this scene again from Ellie’s point of view. The reason she’s distraught is that she’s gotten off the phone with Charles, and they’ve agreed that Daniel is now old enough that he must be manipulated into becoming the man who will eventually return to the island and die at Ellie’s hand.

2. We will also see a scene in which Richard and a dazed Ellie watch a mushroom cloud arise over the Swan site. Ellie will be holding Daniel’s journal.

3. Ellie has fulfilled her 3 key tasks after she has (i) made sure Des doesn’t marry Penny, (ii) convinced Daniel to take Widmore’s Kahana offer, and (iii) sent (most) of the O6 back to the island on Ajira 316. This is why she tells Penny that ‘For the first time in a long time, I don't know what's going to happen next.’ She maintained the time-loop that kept the Island from sinking, presumably in the service of something that’s ‘bigger than her’.

4. The intersection of the two realities is the September, 2004 flight of Oceanic 815. It’s chance alone that leads Charlie to experience his vision, but it is destiny/Fate which motivates him to lead Des to a road to Damascus moment.

5. Main timeline Ellie *does not* know about the Sideways Universe. In fact, the only main timeline character (with the possible exception of Flocke or Jacob) to know of the sideways universe is Des.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Minor Miscellaneous Mysteries, Part I



Understanding that five hours remain in which any mystery can be solved, I here present several minor league mysteries. I can live without a response to these, but I say that only because time is scarce and I highly recommend more time being devoted to the marquis mysteries.

For my own part, I would put the 'who are the skeletons in the caves?' question in the 'minor' category as well. If the answer is a side note or a minor consequence of a much wider, greater mythological reveal then I am happy to applaud it. But if not, I think that part of the notoriety attached to this question has simply to do with the length of time they've paid the question forward. After 'the numbers' were addressed, I think the skeletons are the one remaining question, major or minor remaining from Season 1. I just want to be on record that time spent addressing, for instance, the Widmore:Hawking overall goals and revealing what they actually knew, and kept from the audience and other characters, throughout the show is a much better use of time than coming up with a subplot for the sole purpose of explaining the skeletons.

MINOR MYSTERY DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. Season 5: In the hotel room where Jack shaves his beard and Ben flushes his [Jack's] pills down the toilet, Ben makes a point of hiding, and then removing, a box in the ceiling duct. What was in there?

2. Season 5: After 316 lands on Hydra Island, Cesar is rifling through the file cabinets in Ben's old office. One of the documents he finds is clearly a page from Faraday's journal. How and why did the Other's obtain it?

3. Seasons 5 and 6: Why is Ilana in the hospital? What happened to her?

4. Season 5: How did Charlotte know about the well?

5. Seasons 2 and 3: Did Kelvin Inman begin his Swan hatch duties before or after the purge? Was the 'sickness' he warns Des about real?

6. Season 2 (I think): What was the source of the DI food drops?

7. Seasons 4, 5, and 6: Did Jack ever tell Kate (or has she ever discovered through another source) that Claire is his half-sister?

8. Seasons 4-6: How did Miles acquire his 'talents'?

Friday, April 23, 2010

So sad, so true

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sure, MiB kills people, but Jacob is a total bastard



In working out a theory of some possible ramifications of the Incident over at Bigmouth's site I let my propensity to produce overlong comments go daffy. So, here's a repost of that comment in a venue that requires a wee bit less scrolling to get through. The thread started talking about possible causes of the pregnancy sickness, which led Darkprose to comment: "Indeed, the whole reason the Swan site was there [when Locke found it in S1. --ab42] was because of the Incident, which was the bomb being detonated. When Juliet got the Island to work with the Others, she had already detonated the bomb decades ago. Whatever happened, happened."

I kind of haven't explicitly thought through the time travel mechanics of the Incident, but darkprose's proposed scenario motivated me to do so. Here's me doing the blog-commenting equivalent of thinking out loud:

You're proposing that Miles was right in season 5 when he warned the others that Jack's H-bomb detonation plan may end up causing the very incident he's seeking to prevent.

The corollary is that Faraday was, tragically, wrong. Forgive me for quoting at length, but here's Faraday's speech to Jack in 'The Variable':

"In about four hours, the DHARMA folks at the swan work site--they're gonna--gonna drill into the ground and accidentally tap into a massive pocket of energy. The result of the release of this energy would be catastrophic. So in order to contain it, they're gonna have to cement the entire area in, like Chernobyl. And this containment--the place they built over it--I believe you called it "the Hatch." The Swan hatch? Because of this one accident, these people are gonna spend the next 20 years keeping that energy at bay... by pressing a button... a button that your friend Desmond will one day fail to push, and that will cause your plane--Oceanic 815--to crash on this island. And because your plane crashed, a freighter will be sent to this Island--a freighter I was on and Charlotte was on and so forth. This entire chain of events--it's gonna start happening this afternoon. But... we can change that. I studied relativistic physics my entire life. One thing emerged over and over--can't change the past. Can't do it. Whatever happened, happened. All right? But then I finally realized... I had been spending so much time focused on the constants, I forgot about the variables. Do you know what the variables in these equations are, Jack?"

So...you're saying Faraday was, ultimately, incorrect about his 'realization' of variables, and that his focus should have remained on the constants.

It would then follow that James's disappointment upon waking up at the ruin of the Swan hatch in 'LA X' is one more example of "how little he knows". He'd gone along with Jack's H-bomb plan to *avoid* the incident, and following Faraday, the subsequent construction of the Swan Hatch. Nothing of the sort had happened.

Interesting. This reinforces that the sideways universe has existed since at least 1977. But why would the bleed-through between the S1-S5 timeline and the sideways universe only begin after the sideways 815 flight? But that's entirely another topic.

Per the original topic, the pregnancy sickness, if it is simply a byproduct of radioactivity on the island emanating from the 1977 H-Bomb...why the hell did Richard not once mention it to Juliet in her recruitment or in her years of research??? He was there in 1977 and would have watched the bomb go off.

In any event, if you're right the main timeline of 'Lost' is a cruel, cruel story. Both Locke and Faraday came to the island, and both gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of something they believed to be greater than themselves--for Locke, it was the Island itself, and for Faraday it was the 815ers whose lives had been so altered by the island. Jacob told Richard that he brought people to the island because he believed that they were capable of 'knowing the difference between right and wrong'. If willingly throwing yourself into a fatal task completely for the benefit of others isn't evidence of having satisfied Jacob's stated reason for manipulating the lives of others, than what is?

But let's look at Locke and Faraday's reward: For Locke, it was to be murdered in a state of profound bewilderment, and later to provide the bodily means by which the enemy of all that he held dear might destroy what he (Locke) meant to sacrifice his life for. For Faraday, it was to be murdered by his own mother, and to have his dying thought be 'My mother acted as if she pushed me so hard out of love, but really she did it so I would eventually come to this island and die by her hand for a reason that I don't even know.' And following his murder, his great sacrifice was put into motion by Jack...the end result being to cause the very thing he'd given his life to prevent.

That is profoundly, absolutely, and utterly cruel. The Man in Black may kill people on a whim, but the fate of Locke and Faraday is just...sadistic. And if Jacob's responsible, since he brings people to the island in the first place, then he's worse, a thousand times worse than MiB.

The only way Jacob can redeem himself is if his endgame is to engineer the complete negation of the Island reality, and let Faraday, Locke and the others exist free of his and MiB's manipulations in the sideways reality.

And sideways Faraday needs to get a clue. Sure, that redhead was hot, and you loved her in another life...but in that other life *your soul was destroyed for the benefit of others who couldn't care less*.

DHARMA DHARMA DHARMA



I explained here that I'm constraining the contents of this blog to meanderings about ABC's Lost. As I am neither as brilliant or as lucky as some, I must spend some small part of my days on things I am paid to do--that is, working on non-Lost related tasks. Because of these duties, it turns out that I know a little bit about the lives of graduate students pursuing arcane research without immediately realizable real-world benefits. Y'know, people like Gerald and Karen DeGroot: Just a couple of kids working on their PhD's at a prestigious Big Ten research university. Getting by on a research fellowship one year, maybe scraping together a summer salary by acting as teaching assistant in remedial summer classes, sharing cramped living and office spaces with like-minded junior laborers in the academic vineyards.

But once Gerald and Karen landed a benefactor with endlessly deep pockets, modified their dissertation research into the basis for a genuine alternative society, and colonized a magic island...did they ever finish those dissertations?? I've heard of thesis projects sprawling beyond what was expected...but this is ridiculous. In any event, it would be awesome to run into the DeGroots in the Sideways Universe.

Still, a couple issues remain concerning their underlings, the Dharma Initiative. In the main timeline, they must have known that the hostiles were eventually victorious after the purge ended all on-Island DI activities and communications. But Kelvin Inman was pushing the button, sealed into the hatch *after* the purge. And of course, Radzinsky was doing it before him. Given '77-era Stu's obsession with the Swan site, it's totally believable that he would develop into the crazy hermit locked in his precious hatch, pressing his buttons and drawing blast door maps. Even Lostpedia can't confirm if Inman arrived prior to, or after the purge to join Radzinsky. This is pretty key, because if Inman arrived after the Purge, the DI HQ knew that despite the Hostiles having knocked them off the Island, they'd have to ensure button-pressing continuity in the face of the dire consequences of failure. Even if Inman arrived before the purge, the DI continued to send food drops afterwards. My guess is to keep the button-pushers supplied. In addition, I'll bet that the 'sickness' aboveground so feared by Inman and Dez was just a kind of psychological tool the DI used to keep the button-pushers continuing their very unnatural task. So...

THE DHARMA INITIATIVE DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. When did Inman arrive on the island, before or after the purge? Was the mainland DI active after the purge, even up until current 2007 times?

2. Who was responsible for the DI food drops after the Purge?

3. Was the 'sickness' real, or just a Dharma mindgame?

4. (Also asked in my Jacob post) Did Jacob bring Dharma to the Island, or did they use science to bypass Jacob's invitation-only Island visitor policy? Did Jacob really order Ben to execute (tee hee) their mass murder?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sea Captain



According to IMDB and Wikipedia, Jeff Fahey (prior to 'Lost', at least) was best known for his starring role in 'Lawnmower Man'. I've seen that movie. Granted, I think it was in somebody's basement during Junior High, but I have seen it. Honestly, it's a second-rate adaptation of a fourth-rate Stephen King story. Starring in such a work is no doubt a more notable achievement than I'll be able to etch on my gravestone, but that doesn't change the fact that even Timothy Hutton's been allowed to star in better King vehicles. Jeff Fahey deserves better. The man has led a seriously remarkable life (summarized in a couple of paragraphs here)that I won't go into except to say that when the producers wanted to cast him as they prepared for Season 4, they had trouble getting in touch to offer him the job because the guy was somewhere in Afghanistan working in an orphanage.

I'd say that in the role of Captain Frank Lapidus, he's got a fantastic role, worthy of what he's got coming to him after a journeyman's career. When Frank's onstage, even with few or no words of dialogue, his presence alone can elevate the whole scene above a focus on a single person's (over?)acting and ground the viewers focus squarely within the island's frame of reference, not our own couches--we see not Mathew Fox and Josh Holloway (or whoever), but Doc Shepard and Sawyer. And Frank's a very sly audience surrogate, as effective as Jorge Garcia's excellent characterization of Hurley, but not as winkingly clumsy. I think that Fahey and Garcia are really the only actors on the show capable of pulling this off. For instance, I consider Josh Holloway's performance, especially in seasons 5 and 6, to be an example of an incredibly focused and versatile talent. But when he's not talking (as in way, way too many episodes this season)you can almost sense his chomping at the bit to get in the scene. Like a lot of TV actors, he's most comfortable when he's in motion.

So, from Jeff onto the Sea Captain (as Frank is so named by a redoubtable Lost blogger). What questions remain concerning Frank? What final outcome is most desirable for our grizzled blue-eyed adventurer with a knack for the ironic quip? Well, for one I don't want to see him die while say, Claire, remains alive for screentime. I vote for Captain Frank making it to the end. And while I know he's not been specifically designated as a candidate, the guy would be a shoo-in. Who'd vote against him? And if it came down to it, I think Frank would just turn to us and repeat his words when aboard 'Searcher':"Whatever you guys decide...I'll just roll with it."

I read one crazy theory that the Locke-thing is actually a total decoy and that Frank is actually the Man in Black, working through subterfuge and deceit to escape the island. Obviously there's a ton of evidence against this interpretation. But it would still be really awesome.


THE FRANK LAPIDUS DOSSIER: QUESTIONS:

1. Will Frank die before the story's over

2. Will Frank ever have more than two lines of dialogue in any remaining episodes?

'Lost' has more than a little in common with 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant'. Could this aid in thinking about the finale? (Part I)


At least since the release of the Lord of the Rings films, Tolkiena of all sorts has become as mainstream a portion of good, clean, consumerist escapism as Lucas's Star Wars toy-cartoon-comic-film fusion. J.R.R. Tolkien though, began creating the world of 'Rings' long before Lucas (and maybe even Lucas's parents!) were born. The volume that modern-day Tolkien heads usually begin only after first reading the Rings Trilogy--'The Silmarillion'--was started long before the trilogy, during Tolkien's convalescence from wounds suffered in the First World War. Tolkien continued to expand the myth, language, and stories of Middle-Earth in the continuing decades, eventually publishing the Rings trilogy in the mid 1950s. Upon publication, the trilogy was met with a relatively quiet reception relative to its current Dark Lord-esque power and reach. Something happened in the 60s though, and eventually 'Frodo lives!' was found among NYC subway graffiti, and the Tolkien family found itself well-off enough that son Christopher was able to become the full-time scholar and archivist of his father's massive, but disorganized, corpus of Middle-Earth literature--enabling the later publication of 'The Silmarillion' and the dozen or so succeeding volumes of 'The History of Middle-Earth'. The enormous success of the Rings franchise likely led publishers of the era to happily flood the market with too many undistinguished tales of elves and swords and castles, hoping that when the critical and commercial dust settled, their entry would be the one anointed as 'the New Tolkien'. Some of these prospective heirs were entertaining, innocuous, and though an awesome read for kids (I count myself!), don't stand up to re-reading the way, say, Tolkien does. In retrospect, one can empathize with the scorn that adults of the 70s era speculative fiction world heaped on these books-- derivative, kid-oriented pabulum was making millions while trading off the legacy of far better writers.

Fast forwarding to the late 90s, I must not have been the only fantasy/sf oriented reader in their late 20s with an adolescent heritage of Lloyd Alexander, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Tolkien himself, to open the Potter books for a clunky, stale chapter or two and feel the same disgust, right?

Side note: no better encapsulation of the wretchedness of a culture that endlessly lessens the value of imaginative work by flooding the market with clones of good or even half-good ideas exists than author, and film reviewer, Lucius Shepard's dissection of the post-Tolkien phenomenon here (registration required, but its free) in his review of the first 'Rings' movie.

Side note to the Side note: Shepard doesn't have the highest opinion of the first Potter film or the sequels either. Warning: Do not read while drinking something. Seriously, don't.

Return from side notes: Right, I'm writing an entry on my 'Lost' blog, soooo...one of the 'new Tolkiens' was one Stephen R. Donaldson, and his entry into the contest, in 1977, was entitled 'Lord Foul's Bane', marketed as 'Book One' in 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever'. This book, the subsequent two volumes, and a second trilogy--'The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever' are now million selling classics in their own right. And they are so not because they mindlessly ape Tolkien (though they do, as any fantasy series must, acknowledge him) for the benefit of fanboys, or because they're written in the elegant, 'high' prose style the scholarly Tolkien revered (though they are so--compare the more straight-forward 'Lord Foul's Enemy' to Donaldson's writerly use of the more archaic--in a good way--'Bane') but because in his version of the hero's epic quest, Donaldson subverts the genre's, and the reader's, expectations of plot and narrative, and in so doing creates something compelling and new. Very much like a particular serialized American drama just weeks away from ending a six-year run has done in the realm of television.

I really did not expect to write this much before even discussing the barest of the 'Chronicles' plot's bones, and their parallels in 'Lost'. So I'll do that in the next entry.

Final note: If you've read either 'Chronicles' sequence, you're in a wonderful position to comment...and if not, I'll be able to say what I want to say without any sort of spoilerage of the books.

Final Final note: If you like that sort of thing (trilogies, Tolkien, etc)the 'Chronicles' (especially the first sequence) are a superb work, a work of the very highest order...difficult, but very much worth it.