Friday, April 30, 2010
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?
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 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?
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
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
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?
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
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'?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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*.
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
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.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
So, I'm looking over my long list of Lost questions and near the top is: "Where do the Others really come from? What is the origin of the ruins on the island?". 'Happily Ever After' aired two days ago. The first half of my question has, apparently, already been answered. The history of the Others begins when Richard and Jacob talk on the beach, and Richard reminds Jacob that if he (Jacob) refuses to interfere in the lives of those he brings to the island, than the Man in Black most certainly will. Before this conversation, Jacob brought people to the island, and he brought them for the same reasons he did after the conversation: to prove the Man in Black wrong. But with Richard there to guide the new arrivals, and to act as an eternal source of guidance, the new arrivals coalesced around him to form a group.
Perhaps we'll not see any more footage of life among the Others, detailing the creation of Others culture: How the 'very specific' process for choosing their leadership came about, Why Latin became their private language, if they have always had no regard for the lives of those newcomers not on Jacob's lists? In fact, I think that's an awesome idea for a Lost spin-off. Life on the island during the first years of Richard's reign as Jacob's consligiere: it'll have swordfights, heavy duty 'Ab Aeterno' style religion, and center around the unsure progress of Richard's band of proto-others from raw Conradian gone-native in the jungle madmen to a strange and powerful culture bound by ritual and spiritual insight. At the edge of the action, taking a much larger role than they did in 'Lost' will be Jacob and the Man in Black: scheming, murdering, converting, and otherwise manipulating the puny humans who have wandered into their eternal battle. Titles? How about 'Heart and Darkness',or 'The Cork', or 'Cetera' (latin for 'the others' ;) ?
If the first part of my question has already been answered during Season 6, the second part remains a mystery. The statue of Tawaret, and thus all of the other ruins on the island (though not the well John Locke lowered himself into) were there prior to the Black Rock's arrival. So, before the Others existed, and given the Egyptian iconography, before even Jesus Christ existed, a decent sized population lived on the island and spent their time building stone structures, large and small. In the 2000 plus intervening Earth-historical years, the only other group of Island inhabitants who were interested in building structures of any sort were the Dharma Initiative. So what made the statue-builders different? To what end did they direct there labors, and why hasn't anybody since built as much as a log cabin? I have two hunches.
First, though millenia has passed on earth since the statue builders time, it hasn't been that long on the island. Following a yet unseen 'Incident' the island moved through time, from the Egyptian era, until closer to Ab Aeterno times.
Second, the culture of the Statue Builders was not devoted to either Jacob or the Man in Black. Both Jacob and Man in Black arose from this culture. Man in Black has already confessed that he was once a man, and because this information gives him no ability to manipulate the Lostaways, I believe him. We have no idea if Jacob was once a man. I'm guessing (with no evidence whatsoever) that he was. Both Jacob and the Man in Black became more than men during the time of the statue builders.
THE OTHERS DOSSIER: QUESTIONS
1. Where did the Others come from? What is their real origin? Answered, I believe, as of 'Ab Aeterno'
2. What is the origin of the Statue and the Ruins on the Island?