To kick things off this week, I’d like to address a question that my wife has gotten from a few people this week (strangely enough, none of my friends ever really ask me about the Blog – or read it):
The question is this:
“How does Brian feel about Lost ending? Is he happy? Sad? Worried that his life will lose all meaning and purpose?”
What might be surprising is that I’m actually really excited about Lost ending – because it’s going to finally offer the payoff that I’ve been waiting for since the summer of 2004 (yes, I watched Lost illegally before it originally aired – so I’ve been waiting longer than almost anyone in the world). I understand those who don’t want Lost to end, because when something is really good you want it to last forever - but you have to realize that unlike almost every other show on TV, Lost was never intended to last forever. In that way, it’s much more like a book than a TV show. A book has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You wouldn’t want the middle of a book to just keep getting longer and longer to prolong getting to the ending. You want the middle to be important and to matter to the story, but also to serve its purpose – which is to get you to the end and conclude the story.
On the other hand, most TV shows have the ability to live forever. They can reinvent themselves from season to season, or at least introduce and close a new storyline each season. Usually it’s the audience losing interest or the writers running out of ideas that result in a TV show ending. Lost isn’t like this. While it has had “sub-storylines” that were introduced and wrapped up most seasons – it’s really been one big storyline from the start.
It needs to end.
Back in Season Three, the fans and the writers both realized that an end point was necessary to ensure that the story didn’t end up spinning its wheels, wasting our time on trivial storylines that didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. At that point, by taking the unprecedented move of setting an end date for a series that was still immensely popular and profitable, Lost accepted that it wasn’t a normal TV show.
Will I miss the show? For sure. We’ll see how things wrap up, but it’s definitely a contender for my favorite television show of all time – and without a doubt it’s going to be the television show that I spend the most time with over the course of my life. I haven’t kept track, but doing some rough math I would estimate that I’ve spent over an entire month of my life watching and writing about this show, and that doesn’t even count all the time I spend thinking about, reading about it, or discussing it with others.
While it’ll be nice to have all that extra time back in my schedule, it also introduces the big question for the Blog – what the hell am I going to write about once Lost is over? People are hoping that some new show comes along that is worthy of in-depth analyzing, but you never know – even if one did come along, what if I don’t like it? Lost was the perfect storm of a show I loved that also required a lot of time, effort, and thought to fully appreciate. Who knows if that storm will come again? Do I just start writing about random things? Do I just write about TV, music, movies, politics, or whatever else inspires me? That I don’t know – but I’m more than open to suggestions… because at the end of the day, I like to write when it’s something I’m passionate about. On the other hand, writing about something that my heart isn’t totally into (like some of the Blog posts over the years) is torturous, and results in craptastic results.
But back to Lost – I’m pumped for the ending. I’m excited to see what the writers have in store for us, and I’m excited to go back and revisit old seasons with the newfound understanding of the big picture. I’m curious to see how well the old seasons hold up after you know the conclusion – what mysteries seem less interesting, what hints there were along the way, and whether or not all our time and effort that we’ve put into this show was worth it all along.
So there’s your answer. If there are any other burning questions, feel free to post them in the Comments and I’d be happy to address them.
On to this week’s episode!
Flash Sideways. I have to start with the part of the episode (and season) that has occupied my mind the most this week – the bane of my existence, the Flash Sideways. The way that Hurley’s epiphany played out was somewhat predictable – he recreated a moment from Reality #1 that held intense emotional connection to him – his picnic with Libby that never quite happened, complete with a little smooching. If you think about it, that seems to be the common theme that leads to these epiphanies: emotional moments in Reality #2 that mirror moments from Reality #1. It sounds like for Charlie and Faraday, it was more of a “love at first sight” thing – and maybe part of that has to do with the fact that both are actually dead in Reality #1. But for both Desmond and Hurley, it was the recreation of a moment that triggered the connection.
Which brings us to Desmond running over John Locke at the conclusion of the episode.
Based on the same logic that we applied to Charlie and Faraday, Locke should be in the same boat. He’s dead in Reality #1, but alive in Reality #2. If he were to experience a moment that had an intense emotional connection to him, he’d probably have his epiphany and see the truth. Since his relationship with Helen was pretty strained in Reality #1, his time with her didn’t trigger it the way it did for Charlie-Claire and Faraday-Charlotte, even if perhaps the two of them were truly in love in Reality #2.
Which raises the question – what was the most emotional moment for John Locke in Reality #1?
I would narrow it down to three events:
- Getting pushed out of the window by his father, breaking his back.
- Crashing on the
Islandand magically gaining the ability to walk.
- Encountering Smokey for the first time on the
While it’s possible that Locke could gain his ability to walk in Reality #2 (thanks to Jack, perhaps) – or encounter a vision of a black pillar of smoke (from something burning) that would trigger Locke’s epiphany, both of those events would take at least another episode or two to occur. Whereas with option number one, it could have already happened, allowing the Flash Sideways storyline to keep zipping along.
Desmond running over Locke with his car accomplished the same thing as Locke’s father pushing him out of the window – it was an intense physical moment, one where his life hung in the balance, one where he was lying on the ground, bloodied and looking towards the sky for answers. Heck, if you look at a screen shot from the two events, they even look like mirror images of each other!
If this is the case, John Locke just had his epiphany.
It also gives us some new “rules” for these epiphanies – most notably that they don’t have to be events that occurred on the
However, it also raises one very big question: now what?
Desmond said that he had “something to show” some of his fellow passengers of Oceanic 815 at the end of “Happily Ever After”. Well, he helped Hurley get into a position to “see the truth” – but upon seeing that Hurley had his epiphany, he didn’t recruit Hurley for some bigger mission or give him any further instructions. Instead, he just drove away. Hurley has no way of getting in contact with Desmond, and Desmond has no idea where Hurley will go or what he will do with this newfound enlightenment. Unless Desmond is suddenly magically “all-knowing”, or Hurley is going to use his deep pockets to track Desmond down, the chances of the two of them reuniting in the Flash Sideways seems pretty slim right now. It was as if seeing the truth was all that Desmond cared about. With that done, Hurley is checked off his list and he could move on to John Locke. With John Locke done, he can move on to Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Sun, and Jin.
So assuming Desmond accomplishes his “mission” with each of these people, what is the end result? Each of our Survivors realize that the lives they are living in Reality #2 are fake and…
- …attempt to get back to Reality #1? I don’t see how that would be possible. It’s not as though they could detonate another nuclear bomb or create some other cataclysmic event. There’s not enough time, and without the magic electromagnetic properties of the
Islandit would probably just kill them all.
- …appreciate the second chance at life that Reality #2 offers them? They appreciate the sacrifices of their friends and learn from the lessons on the
Island, and vow to live their lives to the fullest, truly living “happily ever after”? What about someone like Jack, who has a “fake son”? Does he love him less? What about the characters who died in Reality #1? They magically come back to life? Seems pretty cheap and after-school-special-y to me.
- …the collective “waking up” of all the Survivors causes Reality #2 to vanish, whoosing them all back to Reality #1? But what would that even mean? Our Survivors in Reality #1 don’t seem to have any notion that Reality #2 exists – so were it to vanish, would they even know? Would they care? I don’t see how this would tie back to the main storyline at all, and would make all the time we’ve spent in the Flash Sideways this season a horrible waste of time.
So I’m stumped. I can’t come up with any logical way for things to conclude in Reality #2 without seeming like an enormous copout – which is why I keep coming back to my best theory from last week, where Reality #2 is all some elaborate hoax put on by Anti-Jacob to keep our Survivors out of his way while he attempts to carry out his mission. The problem with this theory is that as the weeks go on, it seems like Anti-Jacob isn’t as all-knowing and all-powerful as we once thought… at least not powerful enough to create an alternate reality and put our Survivors into a Reality #2 coma.
So instead of thinking about the big picture explanation, I’ve tried to go about this another way – to think about some of the individual little scenes that could give the conclusion of the Flash Sideways dramatic weight and emotional importance. I can picture things like:
- Locke “sacrificing” himself in Reality #2 by accepting that he needs to return to Reality #1, even though that means he will die.
- Juliet and Sawyer getting one more day of happiness in Reality #2 before Sawyer says goodbye to her for good.
- Jack understanding that if he had the chance, he could have been a good father, then returning to Reality #1 where it will never be possible.
The common thread in all of them is a return to Reality #1 driven by our characters choosing to give up something better in Reality #2. I hate to go back to it, but this all starts to feel like my “deal with the devil” theory from earlier this season. Maybe that’s still the best option available.
The characters are given fantastic imaginary lives, and all they have to do in return is accept them and let Reality #1 go to hell. But since they have all grown as people over the past five seasons, they take the high road and sacrifice themselves to do the right thing – to give up their pseudo-perfect lives in Reality #2 for the sake of the greater good for the rest of the world of Reality #1. That seems very Losty to me, and would leave me satisfied (that’s what she said!) with the Flash Sideways… but I still can’t quite figure out how the story would get to that point. If someone else could figure it out for me, I’d greatly appreciate it - because I keep trying unsuccessfully.
Motivation. Similarly, the other thing I’ve been trying to figure out this week is the motivation behind the different characters on the
A lot of the characters have general motivation right now – like Team Alpert wanting to stop SmokeLocke by blowing up Ajira 316… but then what? Being trapped on the
I know the writers are intentionally keeping the specifics of what SmokeLocke, Widmore, and Desmond are attempting to accomplish secret to allow for maximum surprise at the payoff, but I have to fault them here for not building up the motivations of all the other characters better. We’re moving towards a big battle between the key players on the Island, but without knowing what each individual Survivor is hoping to see in the outcome of that battle, it has taken a lot of the drama out of the individual Survivors actions and decisions on the
As for this week’s episode, the one character’s motivation that I’m most intrigued by is Michael… or Ghost Michael. He says that he’s come to stop Hurley from getting everyone killed. He then tells him that since people are listening to Hurley now, if everyone gets killed, it’s going to be Hurley’s fault. Really? Let’s analyze.
Whispers. I wish there was a tag for “saying something like Brick on the Middle – head down and whispering” – because that’s totally how I just said “whispers” in my head when I wrote that.
This week finally offered the big payoff to one of Lost’s longest mysteries – the mysterious whispers that we’ve heard on the
HURLEY: Hey, you around? Michael? You're stuck on the
MICHAEL: 'Cause of what I did.
HURLEY: And... there's others out here like you, aren't there? That's what the whispers are?
MICHAEL: Yeah. We're the ones who can't move on.
Was it heavy handed and anti-climactic? Absolutely.
Was it what we expected all along and what makes the most sense? Probably.
I’m fine with the answer. From what I’ve read, the purpose of the whispers actually changed over the seasons when the concept of the Others changed. Time for a history lesson!
Originally, the Others were going to be a more primal people on the Island (notice how they appeared in ragged clothes, barefoot the first few times that we saw glimpses of them on the
It seems to me that originally, the Others were going to be more of a primitive “tribe” on the Island that worshipped the Island, were “one with the
What’s curious is that even after the concept of the Others changed, the writers continued to use them much in the same way as they did at the start. The appearance of the Others continued to signal the arrival of Others all the way up to the start of this season, when our Survivors were grabbed by the Others outside the
Back to Michael – whispers aside, his conversation with Hurley paints the picture of a “trapped soul” on the
MICHAEL: And Hurley, if you ever do see Libby again, tell her I'm very sorry.
We can take this one of two ways:
- The “ones who can’t move on” are only the ones who did bad things on the Island, and it results in their souls being in a sort of “purgatory” on the
Islandto atone for their sins.
- The souls on the Island can’t interact with the other souls on the Island, and are leading a really, really lonely existence there rather than it being a soul Island party with random hookups and all night soul keggers.
Since the transcripts of the whispers often indicate a conversation between multiple people (even after the concept of the Others changed), I’m going to vote for Option #1. If you are a bad person and you die on or around the
Of course, the other option is that the
The other thing that is curious is why Michael decides to step in and help Hurley now. If he’s been on the Island since the end of Season Four, why didn’t he step in and help out any of the people who have died on the
I think we’re all hoping for Option 2 or 3, but something tells me that Option 1 is the most likely.
Ilana. “There she was - handpicked by Jacob, trained to come and protect you candidates, no sooner does she tell you who you are, then she blows up. The
Ben’s comments this week remind us that even though we’re talking about Jacob and Anti-Jacob as the “god-like players” in this game, they’re really not. Remember my business / religion metaphor from earlier this season?
Leader – Jacob, the CEO of the
Security System – Anti-Jacob / SmokeLocke / Smokey. The “muscle” on the Island that exists to take out trouble makers and judge those on the
Secretary – Richard Alpert. The connection between the Leader and the employees (the Others). He takes lists from one to the other and provides necessary information to both sides. The Leader uses a Secretary like Richard Alpert to accomplish the same goal. (If you want to go religious, he’s “The Pope”)
The Employees – The Others. People who were brought to the Island and deemed worthy, allowed to be let in on some Island secrets, given some sense of purpose and happiness in serving the Leader, and getting a sweet life in paradise in return. (If you want to go religious, they’re “Followers of the Religion”)
I think it still holds true – although maybe we should now add a footnote that says “all employees are pawns in the game, and are only as good as carrying out their role in the master plan”. If this is the case, then our remaining Survivors are still in store for “big things” and will have a major role to play in the remainder of the season. This gives me hope for characters like Miles, Frank, and Ben, who haven’t really done much this season aside from a key scene or two – but it also seems a little crazy to think that the moment that the Island is done with you, it kills you. Sure, that seems to have been the case with Ilana and Michael – but what about all the other people who died, many senselessly on the
Maybe we should look at this from the other perspective. The
Wells. Aside from the whispers, the other big Island mythology reveal concerned the wells on the
LOCKE: They were looking for answers. A long time ago places like the one we're standing at right now made compass needles spin. And the people holding the compasses needed to know why, so they dug.
To me, this makes total sense, and I like the way it starts to give a logical explanation for something totally mysterious like the FDW. It makes you wonder if there are other FDW on the Island, or if the FDW well was the only one that they actually dug deep enough to reach the gooey magical core of the
Thankfully, SmokeLocke told us just a few seconds later:
LOCKE: You're out here, middle of the jungle, with me, not a person on earth even knows you're here.
Keeping Desmond tied up in the Jungle, just a short distance away from Team SmokeLocke, increased the likelihood of him being found – especially since we already have seen that Team Widmore knows where that camp is (since they abducted Jin from it just two episodes ago). SmokeLocke thinks that throwing Desmond down the well is a way to keep him out of the picture… something he definitely wants because he doesn’t quite understand Desmond – and doesn’t like that he isn’t afraid.
But as I mentioned in my Instant Reactions, this is going to be more of an all-time backfire than betting a kiss on making a hockey goal from mid-ice, because Widmore is actually looking for these pockets of electromagnetic anomalies on the
As for Widmore himself, SmokeLocke once again brought up the “most likely” explanation for his involvement with the Island – that he’s only interested in the power that the Island could bring him (and, in my mind, the monetary gain that goes along with it). Widmore’s been coming across like a “good guy” in the past few weeks – but this comment was a nice reminder that the most likely motivation for Widmore is probably still something less than 100% altruistic.
Jack-ob. Lastly, the episode dropped a pretty big hint that Jack is going to be the “next Jacob”, if there is going to be one. I know he’s probably been the front runner all along (heck, Jacob even took him to the Lighthouse and let him sit and stare at the ocean for a few hours to try and make him see how important he is), but a lot of people have been theorizing that maybe it’s going to be Hurley. But for me, this statement pretty much seals the deal:
JACK: Ever since Juliet died - ever since I got her killed - all I've wanted was to fix it. But I can't. I can't ever fix it. You've no idea how hard it is for me to sit back and listen to other people tell me what I should do...but I think maybe that's the point...maybe I'm supposed to let go.
In short, he’s realizing that he needs to let go of his past mistakes, stop trying to fix everything, and stop trying to make decisions for other people… kinda like Jacob, who was pretty adamant about letting people make their own decisions – right or wrong – in hopes of eventually proving that they are fundamentally good. Sure, he might give a little push here or there, but he’s a “hands off” kind of leader – and that’s exactly what Jack is becoming before our very eyes. If he can keep himself alive for the rest of the season, I think the job is his.
Phew. That was a good one. For the first time in a long time, I’m actually pretty happy with the way that Blog turned out. But you tell me. Am I crazytown? Right on? And what should I be doing with this silly little Blog after Lost ends?
(PS - what's the protocol there? Do I become a fan of my own group? Or is that kinda conceited?)