Saturday, August 11, 2007

Comic Con Analysis!

Before we start, it should be noted that some of you are going to flip out about this post and cry, “These are spoilers! These ruin the entertainment value of all future episodes of Lost for me! I hate you Brian! I’m never going to read this Blog again!” These people should probably stop reading now, and return to their sensory depravation chambers until February, so as to receive the most full and pure Lost experience.

For everyone else, hear me out. Everything I’m about to comment on comes directly from the mouths of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. The logic here (put to vote on the Message Board, where literally 100% of voters told me it was okay to discuss this) is that if the show’s creators, who are extremely spoiler-averse, are willing to talk about these points – then why shouldn’t we?

I’m talking of course about the big annual nerd-fest of Comic-Con, which has somehow gone mainstream to the point where all sorts of non-comic book things are discussed there, like TV shows and movies. Although cameras were illegal at the event, somehow the full Lost press conference ended up on YouTube. Since we’ll be discussing it, I thought it might be good for you to watch it before going any farther. If not, my thoughts can serve as a sort of “Cliff Notes” for it, saving you an hour of you life.

The Others. One of the first questions was related to The Others, and the possibility that they might be good guys. As you know, this has been one of my favorite theories since the early days of Lost. In fact, my earliest predicted Series Finale of Lost involved our Survivors finally overcoming the Others only to realize that they’ve just doomed themselves / the world. Pretty upbeat, right?

Well, initially Damon and Carlton seem to confirm that The Others will NOT turn out to be good guys. In fact, they almost go so far as to hint that we might be done with The Others, with the death-filled Season Three finale “showdown” serving as the exclamation point on the conflict. I find this a little hard to believe. Ben will clearly still be a big part of the show, and there are still some big questions concerning The Others (more on this later).

But then when you listen a little more, maybe The Others aren’t so bad after all. We’re reminded that we root for the Survivors because they’re pretty. When Sawyer is beating someone up, we think he’s dreamy. When Tom is beating someone up, we think he’s a monster. So are The Others really the bad guys? Or are they just the “other guys”, which we force into a “bad guy” role since we refuse to believe that our pretty Survivors could be anything but good? Or, are we, the viewers of Lost, the “bad guys” for judging people based on looks? So many social commentaries, so little time.

Michael. The big news was actually broke a few days prior to Comic-Con by ABC President Steve McPherson – Michael will be back on Lost as a series regular next season. How? When? Why? Here’s what I’m thinking:

According to the Lostpedia Timeline, Michael and Walt left the Island on the world’s shoddiest boat on November 27th. At the end of the third season, it’s December 23rd. For me, that doesn’t seem like enough time for Michael to make it back to civilization, gather a rescue party, and return to the Island. So that leaves one of two options:

1. Michael has been going around in circles, similar to what Desmond reported, because they are all inside a “snow globe”, and finally gave up and came back to the Island.

2. Michael ran into another ship along the way, and is coming back to the Island with them.

Smart money is on Michael being onboard Naomi’s Crew’s Ship (the SS NCS). But keep in mind, it’s not as though he just happened upon some random ship. No, the ship was clearly searching for the Island… or someone on the Island. The ship is outfitted with a helicopter, futuristic iPhone, the picture of Desmond, etc. In fact, it Michael might not have even found the ship – what if the ship found him?

Assuming that they were heading for the coordinates revealed by the Hatch Implosion, they would be in the general area of the Island, looking for anything. If they saw a ship come up on their radar (very similar to the way this same ship showed up on Sayid’s radar on the Raft during the first season finale), they would head for it – possibly assuming that the ship was coming or going to the Island. They could have picked up Michael and Walt, gotten information from them, and brought them along for the ride.

The other thing to keep in mind here, is that if the SS NCS isn’t Penny’s Boat, and is possibly an enemy of the Island / Dharma / the Others, Michael might think he’s doing a good deed, but in reality is doing a very bad thing by attempting to “rescue” everyone.

However, since Damon talks about Michael’s storyline being about “redemption”, I don’t see how he gains it without actually saving everyone – unless it’s through some sort of self-sacrifice. Keep in mind that he’s killed two people. The only way I know of to achieve redemption for such a crime is by dying to save someone else. I’ll go ahead and put Michael on the top of the Death Watch 2008 List right now.

It should also be noted, this brings up an interesting thought about the Walt that we saw during the Third Season Finale. If Michael is back, isn’t it possible that he’s already back on the Island, and that could have been the real Walt, rather than Island Spirit Walt? Yes, it’s possible – but not likely. Recall how cryptically Walt talked to Locke and the fact that Michael wasn’t with him. So will the real Walt return, along with Papa Mikey?

I don’t really see how Michael could return without Walt unless the two actually did make it back to the mainland, Michael dropped Walt off, and then formed this search party for the Island… but if that were the case, you would think the search party would be some sort of government / military operation, and the SS NCS definitely appears to be something more sinister.

But with Walt back, the producers will again be forced to deal with the rapid aging of the actor over the course of one month Island time – and I would think that if he was back, they would have made an announcement about that as well. Very interesting. I’m not sure what the logical way to write Walt out of the story and bring Michael back to the Island is – but I’m excited to find out.

Flashforwards. We finally got our confirmation that Lost will feature both flashbacks and flashforwards next season, confirming my hope that the storyline would continue progressing from the point we left off, with the SS NCS arriving. As Damon and Carlton mention, the intriguing thing is going to be who gets the flashforwards and who doesn’t (which would seem to indicate who lives and dies), as well as how far forward. It also turns out Lost isn’t going to end, timeline-wise, with the super depressing Jack and Kate’s airport scene wrapping up the series (boo!). While I don’t think this means that we’re going to have some “Jack returns to the Island” flashforward, as many readers had hoped for, maybe Jack will find some sort of peace in his post-Island life… even though I’m rooting against it.

The Flashforwards remain one the most genius writing ideas ever – allowing each character to receive a full story arc while saving the most exciting parts of the story until the end. I’m very excited to see the post-Island portion of the story, especially since it will save us from yet another Jack flashback. Tip of the hat.

Siblings. Apparently Jack and Claire will find out they are brother and sister in Season Four. How? I have to assume this information will come from the Others or from the SS NCS, both of whom have a wealth of information about our Survivors. I could do without this storyline. Here’s hoping it doesn’t eat up a full hour of our remaining 48.

Ben. On the other hand, a storyline that I would gladly devote a full hour to is the story of how Ben got caught. Apparently, it was an accident, totally throwing my previous theories about his actions inside the Swan Hatch out the window. Damon promises that we’ll learn why Ben was heading across the Island – but hopefully we then also get some understanding surrounding his actions regarding the 108 Button.

Remember, he entered the code, but then told Locke that he didn’t. Maybe Ben is forward-thinking enough to realize that this would plant the seed of doubt in Locke’s mind, eventually leading to the Implosion (once he was safely away), which he could then use as a front for why communication broke down, helping to keep the potentially wayward Others in line behind him – but if he’s smart enough to figure all this out, wouldn’t he be smart enough to avoid the trap in the first place?

Rachel. For the Lost Experience nerds out there, Rachel is not going to end up on the Island. What a wasted question. Wag of the finger.

Richard Alpert. I’m not sure exactly how we go about doing this, but we need to bring down the upcoming fall show “Cane”. Since Nestor Carbonell is on the show, as long as it’s on, the odds of us seeing Richard Alpert on Lost are pretty slim, especially since the shows are on different networks. This is especially crushing since Alpert is the only confirmed Island Original that we have, and was one of the most intriguing characters on the show. I also don’t know how the writers will explain his absence among the Others, but I’d bet they quickly introduce some other Island Original to explain the whole “lack of aging” storyline that Alpert introduced.

Still, I’d much rather just have Alpert back, so we should all begin spreading vicious rumors about “Cane”, and telling all our family and friends to boycott the show. Pray for the show to fail. I plan on hanging the following signs all over town. I encourage you to do the same:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Questions. One of the more genius questions from the comic book nerds was “What questions are we not asking that we ought to be?” Apparently these things:

Who’s in the coffin? Harold thinks it’s Michael – which makes a ton of sense (the black neighborhood, having a teenage son) – but suicide isn’t quite the “hero’s death” I would think required for Michael to get redemption... and why wouldn’t any of his family or friends be there? Was he shunned when his actions on the Island were revealed?

Who’s on that freighter out there? What do they want with the Island? This is my biggest question for the next season, and has the potential to dramatically shift the show the same way that the Hatch did in Season Two, opening up even more of the mythology of the show. I’m still leaning towards this setting up the “Battle for the Island” with our Survivors caught in the middle.

Kate and Jack got off the Island – did anyone else? The answer here would seem to be “yes”, unless all our flashforwards are Kate and Jack-centric, but as I mentioned, it will be interesting to see how the writers handle the flashforwards. I would think it would have to be very cautiously, to ensure that we have the high drama in the on-Island action with lives hanging in the balance that we had at the end of last season.

What about the skeletons from Season One? Said in a slightly punny manner to the hardcore fans in the audience, we’ve been told they are proof that the writers actually had this story planned from the start – but after the season finale, I don’t think many are doubting this anymore. As for the answer, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t think we have enough clues to even start guessing at this point.

Is Penny going to be on the Island? Penny is a puzzle. I was counting on this for most of the third season, yet at the end of the season, we found that she wasn’t on the Island or on the SS NCS – but if she got the coordinates from the Hatch Implosion, you would think she also would be actively searching for the Island and Desmond. Maybe her ship will show up as a sort of “Deus ex machina” during the “Battle for the Island”. I would also like an explanation as to how she just happened to show up on the video monitor inside the Looking Glass during the finale… aside from “it was necessary for the storyline”.

Libby. The intention is to wrap up Libby’s storyline this year. I’m not sure how this theory gained so much traction, because there really weren’t that many clues pointing towards it – but people are thinking she’s somehow tied in with Dharma – which would make her donation of a boat to Desmond all the more mysterious. I’m racking my brain trying to think of what other character’s flashbacks she could show up in to fully explain her storyline, and I can’t come up with any – so perhaps our Survivors stumble upon some information about her through the Others or SS NCS, in the same way they find out about Jack and Claire being step-siblings.

CFL. Although we’re going to get a CFL flashback eventually, it didn’t sound overly-promising for that sometime to be this year. Rather, next year is looking more likely. Carlton mentions that there are some very important things revealed in her storyline that need to be synched up first. After seeing the puzzle pieces fall together with the wire on the beach / Looking Glass / Radio Tower in the season finale, I know exactly what they mean.

SPOILERS. Be on the lookout! By the time the fourth season premieres, the first 10 episodes will already be complete… which means there will be an unprecedented amount of spoilers this spring. I urge you to err on the side of caution and avoid any “fringe” Lost websites that might inadvertently spoil you. I’m hopeful that after the backlash from the season finale spoiler, the Lost community will come together and realize that spoilers are the devil’s TV Guide.

Smokey. When asked what we should call Smokey, Damon and Carlton said that Radzinski and Kelvin called it Cerebrus Vents, which was Dharma’s name for “the Monster”. I like Smokey better. They also confirmed that we will definitively receive satisfying answers of what it is, who made it, and what motivates it… but I’m guessing those are at least two seasons away.

Finally, they ended the panel with a video – an Orientation Video for “The Orchid” station. Initially, I took this to be a joke – but some people on the Internet seem to think it’s legit, so we’ll analyze appropriately:

Narrated by Edgar Halowax (i.e. Marvin Candle / Mark Wickmund), we learn that “The Orchid” station is used for animal testing. However, due to the highly volatile, potentially dangerous nature of the tests, those who work there lie to their family and colleagues, who think the tests surround botany. There are some weird scenes with everyone freaking out over a numbered rabbit (just like Ben’s), and then the video cuts out.

Why do I think it’s just for fun? Well, we’ve seen no mention of the Orchid before, and it wasn’t on the Blast Door Map. There’s also an air of humor throughout the video, like it’s an outtake from a real Orientation Video. But the one interesting thing mentioned is a “Casimir Effect”. I had no idea what this was, but after doing some research, found something quite interesting:

In physics, the Casimir effect or Casimir-Polder force is a physical force exerted between separate objects, which is due to neither charge, gravity, nor the exchange of particles, but instead is due to resonance of all-pervasive energy fields in the intervening space between the objects. This is sometimes described in terms of virtual particles interacting with the objects, due to the mathematical form of one possible way of calculating the strength of the effect. Since the strength of the force falls off rapidly with distance it is only measurable when the distance between the objects is extremely small. On a submicron scale, this force becomes so strong that it becomes the dominant force between uncharged conductors. Indeed at separations of 10 nm — about a hundred times the typical size of an atom — the Casimir effect produces the equivalent of 1 atmosphere of pressure (101.3 kPa). The van der Waals force between a pair of neutral atoms is a similar effect. In modern theoretical physics, the Casimir effect plays an important role in the chiral bag model of the nucleon; and in applied physics, it is becoming increasingly important in the development of the ever-smaller, miniaturised components of emerging micro- and nano-technologies.

A similar analysis can be used to explain Hawking radiation that causes the slow "evaporation" of black holes (although this is generally visualized as the escape of one particle from a virtual particle-antiparticle pair, the other particle having been captured by the black hole).

What does all that medical mumbo-jumbo mean? Well, it just might be an explanation for what Smokey is (explained by pseudo-science!) – which might mean that this Orchid station is responsible for Smokey’s creation (an experiment gone terribly, terribly wrong – just like we all hoped!), and it would help explain why at least some of the Others (Juliet) don’t really know what Smokey is – since the experiments from the Orchid were kept secret.

In the end, I come down on the side of parody for the video. But with Lost, even parodies can contain little hints of things to come.

Dru already started a thread to discuss this on the Message Board. Way to make my life easier, Dru!

All others, the comment section is now open.