Friday, April 17, 2015


LOST's writing and creative staff admired how The Sopranos ended even though it left many viewers and critics baffled by it.

The Sopranos was one of the most controversial endings in television history. The camera suddenly cuts to black after a quick shot of Tony Soprano looking up from his plate of onion rings in a small town New Jersey diner, loyal viewers were left, quite literally, in the dark as to the fate of the beloved/reviled mobster. Did he die? Did he live? No one, except the show’s creator David Chase, knows for sure. In the past, Chase has rebuffed any suggestion of any fan’s conclusion to his series.

That said, in DGA Quarterly, Chase goes into a lengthy, incredibly detailed, and wildly fascinating dissection of this memorable finale. He breaks down the action shot-by-shot, giving hardcore fans unprecedented access into his thought process and directing choices, including some awesome insight into why he chose Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” to score the scene:

I love the timing of the lyric when Carmela enters: ‘Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, she took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ Then it talks about Tony: ‘Just a city boy,’ and we had to dim down the music so you didn’t hear the line, ‘born and raised in South Detroit.’ The music cuts out a little bit there, and they’re speaking over it. ‘He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ And that to me was [everything]. I felt that those two characters had taken the midnight train a long time ago. That is their life. It means that these people are looking for something inevitable. Something they couldn’t find. I mean, they didn’t become missionaries in Africa or go to college together or do anything like that. They took the midnight train going anywhere. And the midnight train, you know, is the dark train.

I said to Gandolfini, the bell rings and you look up. That last shot of Tony ends on ‘don’t stop,’ it’s mid-song. I’m not going to go into [if that’s Tony’s POV]. I thought the possibility would go through a lot of people’s minds or maybe everybody’s mind that he was killed … I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.

To Chase’s credit (and to most people’s frustration), he still does not give a definitive answer as to Tony’s fate. 

Some critics still think the Sopranos ending, like LOST's, was a creative cop-out.  A few infer that the creative minds drew so many plot tangents and mysteries the creator's well had run dry on how to wrap things up. Even LOST's showrunners have stumbled upon the vague explanation that the show's finale was about "bigger questions," like life and death.

What was Chase trying to say? That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short.

Everyone can agree "Life is short," but so is the conclusion of someone's favorite weekly entertainment show. Mankind is all about curiosity, exploration, relationships, causes and effects. And answers - - - we need to continually need to final answers otherwise we would apathy and sink like a shark who stops swimming.

But in the Sopranos ending, viewers had a cue to the long history of gangster film tropes, especially the quaint family diner "hits" by a character's rivals. And many assumed Tony got what he deserved as he looked from his plate when diner door opened . . .  but others could presume a fate worse than death such as the FBI arresting him, or an old girlfriend coming in to make a scene to destroy his family. Which such a sudden ending without more, fans were left to their own imagination to figure out what happened next.

LOST's showrunners also keep going down this path, in interviews saying it was never their intent to answer "all the questions and mysteries."  In fact, they boast proudly of not answering the big questions.  But one of the bargains in the creator-consumer entertainment complex is that the viewer or reader is not to being tricked into thinking that the time, energy and resources given to the show, film or book was for naught. A creator who takes a path of creating mysteries is bound by this implied contract with his audience to answer what he created for them. Despite LOST being a highly fan-interactive show, it was not up to the fans to write their own ending to their series.

Yes, creators and writers have the right to see their personal vision to their end. But then they should at least have the decency to explain their ending to questioning fans. Otherwise, there is a smoldering resentment that carries on long after the series' end.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Was John Locke the Key to Lost?

Many things have been said and written about LOST, but one thing has not been its clarity. LOST continues to befuddle, confuse and head scratch the best of series scholars. Since the ensemble cast had so many back stories, conflicts and relationship issues, it was the ultimate smoke screen (smoke monsters excepted) to NOT tell us what was really going on.

Let's look at some objective situations with the show's beloved whipping boy, Locke.

Prior to Flight 815, Locke was a handicapped loner who totally screwed up everything in his life. He was abandoned by his crazy teen mother who had been knocked up in the 1950s by a traveling con man. Locke miraculously survived a premature birth in a rural hospital with no advanced technology (but he was visited by Albert, an immortal island liaison who would try to recruit young Locke to the island.)

Locke was literally and figuratively a "broken man" when he got aboard the flight to LAX. His outback adventure turned into a bitter rejection. His final straw in his life snapped when he was not allowed to go on the trip.

One could remark at this point that Locke's outrageous and outlandish dreams had turned into one, big nightmare. And the "crash" on the island could be the manifestation of his nightmare.

Science has tied psychotic tendencies in parents to their children. There may be a genetic component to mental illness. Since Locke's mother was institutionalized, there may have been some lingering paranoia and delusional behavior hard wired into Locke's mind. As such, Locke's mental state could be the real state of the show, as many theories have speculated that the premise of the show had to be the fantasies and fears of a person's mind.

Locke was permanently paralyzed. There was no medical procedure to correct his crushed spinal cord. He would be trapped in his wheelchair for the rest of his life.

But once he "survived" the plane crash, he was no longer "trapped" in his wheelchair. That is a physical impossibility. The physical impact of a plane crash does not "heal" broken bones; it tears a part of person's body upon impact. Locke's transformation from a severely handicapped man to a strong,  outback survivalist was unbelievable. A few people believe that the island's "healing" properties "changed" Locke. But that theory does not objectively hold true as many of the other passengers were in good health but sustained traumatic and fatal injuries. Other viewers believe that Locke was chosen by god to do his work - - - a supernatural intervention. Again, there is little evidence that any spiritual god was part of the show, let alone communicating and giving characters personal miracles. For if the island was a spiritual dimension, our general notions of good vs. evil; right vs. wrong; and the moral litmus tests for eventual good souls to go to paradise, none of those concepts were present in any religious context. In fact, some really, really bad people wound up in the same heavenly afterlife as the good people. So, a minority view Locke as the poster boy for "everyone died" theory.

Now, TPTB continue to vehemently deny that the passengers on 815 died on impact, and the island was about purgatory. But objectively, they contradicted themselves in Season 6 where the run-up to the conclusion was clearly "everyone died."

In fact a few people, including Locke, "died" many times. A few doubt Locke survived the fall from the office building (where he was met by Jacob who "touched" him, perhaps bringing him "back to life?") Some believe that Locke and his fellow passengers did not survive the plane crash. Later, some view the FDW and purple flash as another death portal that a normal human being could not survive. Then, we saw Locke strangled by Ben. Then we saw Locke's form reincarnated by MIB on the island to seek revenge against everyone - - - then falling dead to the rocks after being shot by Kate.

Locke went from an abandoned baby who should not have survived, to a abandoned adult in foster homes, to a loner and loser adult who bounced from job to job with no direction or common sense, to being tricked into giving up a kidney to a con man, to being crippled by the same man, then surviving a plane crash to become a heroic hunter leader. It sounds too made up to be true (even in this fictional series). Locke's path shows the self-grandeur that Locke himself would dream himself to be.  This bolsters the dream theorists who think that the show was about one man's fantasies about himself.

It is a good study to show Locke's dreams (being a leader, a hunter, a lady's man, a jock, etc) seem to collide with his subconscious fears, phobias and experiences (being a worker, without friends, bad with women, anger and authority issues, etc.). The torment of Locke's mind is the sowed fertile fields of his imagination - - - the back and forth between the good (dreams) and bad (nightmares). This sums up the LOST experience, through Locke's own story.

Locke's own story could be the real story of LOST.

Monday, April 13, 2015


I never understood why Charlie's character wanted to die. He could have easily saved himself by getting out of the control room, even after Patchy flooded it by exploding a porthole (which is question for another day).

Charlie had much to live for:

1. He wanted very much to protect Claire and Aaron.
2. He wanted to have a family with Claire and Aaron.
3. He wanted to get his career back on track, since the island gave him a second chance at life.
4. He wanted to be a hero, so people would look upon him not as a "one hit wonder," but a real person.

His relationship with Claire was not that unusual. Claire was the damsel in distress after the crash. Who wants to deal with a pregnant woman in shock? But Charlie did - - - instinctively. But initially Charlie felt he did not have the skills to impress and keep her: Jack was the medical savior protecting her baby, while Locke was the hands on guy who could build her shelter and a crib. All Charlie could give Claire was kindness, something that apparently was lacking in her life.

And Claire did not know how to react to Charlie's affection.  She was put off by his imposition of himself into her island situation. She did not have the same feelings for him. Some would say her hormones were all out of whack, and the added stress of the Others wanting to take her child made her mad. But even as frustrated as Charlie got, he never gave up. When she was kidnapped, he went into the jungle to confront the Others - - -  and he wound up hanged by a tree. Jack had to cut him down - - - which brings us to an island tangent: did Charlie actually "die" in that encounter to be reincarnated as a smoke monster or soul seeking forgiveness of Claire for not being able to protect her like he had promised her?

If Charlie was Charlie 2.0 (soul/smoke monster/reincarnation) that would put a whole different spin on "what" the island was . . . . beyond a metaphysical dimension in time or space but a soul proving ground for redemption.

But after Desmond's purple fail safe moment (which like Charlie's hanging should have killed Desmond, who was found naked in the jungle), Claire seemed to gravitate toward Desmond rather than Charlie. It made Charlie jealous.  Then when Desmond told Charlie he could see future visions, including Claire and Aaron leaving the island on a helicopter, Charlie knew he had to make that happen. But when Desmond told him that he also saw Charlie dying - - - they connected the two visions as being a cause and effect. In order to save Claire, Charlie had to die.

There were no "rules" which made that connection true. Charlie's own weaknesses: his low self-esteem, his jealousy, his rejection, his self-pity, all contributed to his suicidal but heroic stance in the control room. In order to radio for rescue, Charlie had to recognize a musical pattern code to unlock the panel. This always seemed to contrived to be true reality. But it made Charlie the "only" person who could figure it out - - - his own supernatural power. But once he got contact established, he found out that Desmond's vision was wrong: it was not Penny's boat coming to save them. It was Widmore's freighter coming to kill them.

So instead of doing anything possible to bring that news back to the island - - - and to protect Claire from the coming harm - - - Charlie decided not to open the control room door. As Desmond pleaded with him to open it, Charlie drowned in what could be considered a senseless death.

The only thing that Charlie's death did was to cause other people, especially Desmond, pain. Dez's flashes were not reality and not true premonitions. Desmond's own personal motivation to get back to Penny clouded his judgment. It cost Charlie his life. It cost Charlie his chance to make things right with Claire.

After Charlie's death, Claire went insane when Aaron was taken away from her. Some believe that Claire may have been killed during that three year period of darkness - - - since she could see "Christian" a smoke monster, she too could have been recreated into one. She did not ask about Charlie at all when she encountered Kate. She did not miss him. Her sole focus was revenge.

So why did Claire rejoin up with Charlie in the after life? There connection was broken on the island when they were not on the best of terms. The sideways was an afterlife plane of existence, but it has the troublesome unreal aspect in which Aaron and Sun's baby have in common:

Why did the island pregnant women give birth to their children in the afterlife if they had already been born in the real world? 

Logically, an afterlife birth would mean that Claire and Sun never gave birth in their real worlds. That would mean the island was not in fact real. Their motherhoods were illusions. Their relationships and interactions with other people were merely dreams. The sideways world was the ultimate "do-over."

Charlie got his second chance with Claire, to experience the birth of Aaron. Claire got a loving partner in return. Their reconnection seems to be the most real of the final pairings, as we still have issues with how Jack and Kate wound up with each other while Locke never reconnected with Helen.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Buzzfeed has created an major business model on goofy quizzes which yield no significant, tangible results except for sharing results in social media circles.

By checking off some random photo choices, a participant gets spit out a result.

The answers included:

"What are these rules of which you speak, Charles Widmore?"
"Michael Abbadon, who are you?"
"What the fuq did that bomb do?"
 "WTF is the island?"

"What's up with the statue?"

Thursday, April 9, 2015


We know Kate was supposed to be the lead character in the original manuscripts for the series. But in the rush of the pilot and early screenings, Jack emerged from an early dramatic death candidate to the leader of the survivors.

A pivotal plot point was contained in the episode "A Tale of Two Cities."

Jack, Kate and Sawyer have been captured by the Others. Unknown to them, they have been taken to a secondary island, Hydra, and held in cells (Jack inside the facility and Kate & Sawyer in outside polar bear cages).

Jack wakes up in a holding cell. He sees chains across the ceiling. He seems to be on some kind of table. He looks at the inside of his elbow, which has a band-aid on it where something had been injected or blood given. He tries to open some kind of hatch/door but it is locked. Some kind of electronic device used to "communicate" is on the wall, but it does not seem to work. Jack sees another door on the opposite side of the room, but when he walks toward it he collides with a glass wall blocking his way. Water is dripping from the ceiling. Jack tries to break the glass, unsuccessfully. He shouts for Kate, but there is no reply. 

Kate wakes up in a bathroom with "Mr. Friendly," Tom,  standing over her. He indicates a clean towel, a new bottle of shampoo and an unwrapped bar of soap, and tells her to take "a nice hot shower." She refuses to shower in his presence, but Tom laughs and tells her she's not his type; he then leaves. Kate sees that she too has a band-aid on her arm. 

Sawyer wakes in an outdoor  zoo cage. He looks around and sees speakers and a big tube with an unknown DHARMA logo. Also, he notices other nearby structures, including a cage similar to his, with Karl inside it. Sawyer tries to get answers from him, but the man does not respond. Sawyer looks around his cage some more and sees a strange contraption/button inside that has a large "button" with a knife and fork painted on it. He tries to figure it out, and pushes the button. A "Warning" sound goes off. Sawyer pushes the button again, the same sound goes off. As he is about to push the button for a third time, the prisoner in the cell opposite warns him not to. Sawyer pushes the button anyway, and receives a painful electric shock. 

We learn fairly quickly that Hydra station was for animal experimentation. It is also away from the main island, which adds another level of security and therefore danger to the castaways. Each castaway had been apparently "injected" with something in their arm. We would later learn that Sawyer has a chest scar, as Ben shows him that he is trapped on the island, that contains an explosive device set to go off with high blood pressure. Most people believe Ben was bluffing the con man, but Sawyer believed him enough to cooperate and control his anger and rage to escape.

It is clear that this episode shows the brilliance of Ben's evil mind. He has taken three strong willed survivors and put them into a situation where he can play each their fears, desires and self-interest off each other.

But the key plot point was the beach scene.

After Kate's encounter with Tom, she takes a shower. When she emerges, she finds that someone has taken her clothes and left her a dress instead. She puts it on, reluctantly. Tom and three Others bring her to a beach, where "Henry" is waiting at a covered table with chairs, freshly cooked food, utensils, and coffee, with a pair of handcuffs on the side. He tells her to handcuff herself or she gets no coffee. 

She asks "what did you do with Sawyer and Jack?" But "Henry" notices that she started the question with Sawyer and not Jack. Kate asks for her clothes, "Henry" tells her they burned them. When she asks why he's doing all this, "Henry" responds that he gave her a dress to make her feel "like a lady," fresh food to make her feel at home, allowed her a view of the beach because her friends are seeing the same beach, and utensils to make her feel civilized. He tells Kate that he gave all those things to her so she'll have something to hold on to, because "the next two weeks will be very unpleasant."

After some experimentation, and with the help of a large rock Sawyer found outside the cell, he soon figures out the mechanism that delivers food and water. The water streams out a pipe into a trough, kibble falls on the ground as well as a large fish biscuit -- animal food. As Sawyer drinks the water, Tom returns and he puts Kate into the cell that Karl had occupied. He takes off her cuffs. She also has visible cuts from the handcuffs and Tom remarks "cut you up pretty bad, didn't they." Tom, noticing that Sawyer was able to obtain food, first congratulates him, and then mocks him by telling him that the bears figured it out in two hours.  Kate is in the cell across from Sawyer's, and he tries to make her feel better by joking around. She seems distraught, so Sawyer asks if she wants something to eat. Kate says yes, so Sawyer throws her a biscuit which she eats pitifully.

And the unsaid aspects of the beach scene hover over the rest of this story arc.

Apparently, if Kate was still hungry upon her return to the cage, then she must have not eaten with Ben on the beach. That would mean that Kate decided not to cooperate with Ben. But what was the proposal(s)?

We know that Ben had risen to power by being brutal and controlling of the Others. But as king, he wanted to solidify his kingdom with a queen. Juliet had refused his romantic overtures, so Ben killed her lover and vowed to keep her a prisoner on "his" island. We could assume that in the beach conversation, Ben made a similar demand: Kate would work with him (or be his consort) or one of her loves would die.  When Ben picked up "Sawyer's" name first in Kate's concern, Sawyer got the chest bomb. (Some could argue that was the plan all along since Ben really needed Jack to do spinal surgery on him.)

Ben had all the intel on Kate's past, so he probably used it against her. Criminal minds think a like, and Ben was a master of leverage. He could have used Kate's secrets to claim that he could turn her over to the authorities and receive maximum punishment if she did not cooperate. Kate was always a runner; a person who never wanted to face her responsibility or accountability for her actions. She also had in the past used then discarded her lovers when she needed to keep running from the law. Kate could have decided to cut a deal to "stay" on the island, i.e. to be Ben's double agent.

It would then make sense why Kate demanded to go on ALL the remaining missions. If she was Ben's inside spy, she could tell the Others exactly what the castaways were planning to do. Juliet was a later obvious choice as a triple spy, using Jack's affection for her to get herself into camp leadership and trust roles (as a medical professional helping Claire), but also to balance or confirm Kate's potential spy activities. 

The deal could have also been that Kate had to choose between Jack or Sawyer. Ben probably pressed her to choose Sawyer, since he needed Jack to turn his back his feelings on her. And it worked. Out of character, Kate made a move on Sawyer which Jack "conveniently" saw on the bear cage monitors. With Kate choosing Sawyer as her island lover, Jack was heartbroken - - - and fell in line to help Ben.

It would not have been out of character for Kate to sell out Jack by pretending to bond with Sawyer. But like all Kate's decisions, she did not follow through very long with Sawyer (only enough to escape from the Hydra station.) There was conflict in Kate's mind since she immediately started to plan a rescue mission, but it was Jack who told her to NEVER return. When she did try a rescue mission, we saw the shock on her face when she saw Jack playing toss with Tom in the Barracks yard. Jack was suddenly integrated into the enemy camp - - -  and he looked happy and content. Kate was shocked - - - and she was taken away with the impression that Jack was lost to her.

At that moment, Kate's "bad" decision in choosing Sawyer over Jack was apparent. It was a decision that would haunt her for the rest of her life. She would only "remember" the pain and deep love for Jack when she awoke her soul in the sideways afterlife. This is the only rational explanation of why Kate would be so clingy to Jack in the sideways church at the End. She got her one second chance to be forever in love with Jack - - - something that would have not happened if not for her "deal" with Ben on the Hydra beach.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Variety reports that today is LOST DAY, because April 8, 2015 lines up with the Numbers on LOST.

Wednesday is being dubbed “Lost” Day by fans, as it’s the day that Hurley’s infamous lotto numbers — 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 — finally align on the calendar (April 8, 2015). The numbers really line up perfectly at 4:23:42 p.m., for those keeping track
The series of numbers first appeared in the show on Hurley’s (Jorge Garcia) winning lotto ticket, though he was convinced that the numbers were cursed and brought him bad luck wherever he went. They would go on to become forever intertwined in “Lost’s” vast mythology, taking on a deeper meaning as the show went on.

Viewers later found out that the numbers were the ones that Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) punched into the computer in his hatch on the island every 108 minutes for three years. And as any avid “Lost” viewer knows, there are few simple coincidences in the show.

Each number actually represents one of Jacob’s candidates for becoming protector of the island, which he determined via degrees on a lighthouse mirror. For many Losties, however, the numbers simply represent hours spent obsessing over trying to figure out what they meant.

While the meaning of the numbers did disappoint some fans, there’s no doubt the once-in-a-decade day will be filled with “Lost” binge-watching, reminiscing, speculation and, of course, venting about the mysteries that still plague viewers today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Of all the secondary characters in LOST, Helen Norwood would probably be nominated as the most important to the underlying mythology themes of the series. She was a saint compared to all the sinners.

Helen was Locke's girlfriend for a period during his life before the plane crash, whom he had intended to marry. (In the sideways world, they were engaged to be married in October, 2004) After Locke returned to the mainland in an attempt to bring back the O6 survivors, it was revealed that she had died of a brain aneurysm in 2006. 

Locke's relationship with Helen was a bitter triumph of self-destruction. Helen had the patience of a saint. She kept giving Locke chance after chance, but Locke refused to let go of his past. Locke's anger, frustration and revenge for how he perceived his life going so wrong clouded his judgment that the best thing about his life was right in front of him: Helen, who unconditionally loved him before and after his horrible disability.

Locke and Helen met at an anger-management support group of which they were both members. After his outburst at the group about their whining, Helen approached Locke outside and told him that she appreciated his candor and shared his frustrations. She also flirted by telling him that she liked bald men - despite Locke not being bald she said that she was prepared to wait. 

Their friendship moved to the bedroom fairly quickly and continued to blossom. During a meal at a restaurant, Helen gave Locke a key to her flat as a six-month anniversary present. She told him that she'd followed him and discovered that he was sneaking out at night to lurk outside his father's   house. The gift of the key was given on the condition that he stopped going there, to which Locke agreed.

Despite his promise to stop, Locke continued to spend long periods in his car waiting outside Cooper's house. Helen followed him again and shunted her car into the back of his, stormed over to his window and snatched his keys from the ignition. She threw the keys over the security gates in the drive and implored him to give up on his obsession and take a "leap of faith" with her. Shortly after, Locke moved in with Helen. Locke eventually started making plans to propose to Helen over a romantic picnic. Unfortunately on the morning of the picnic Helen spotted Cooper's obituary in the newspaper and that the funeral was scheduled for that day. Helen accompanied Locke to the funeral to support him. Some days after the funeral, Cooper revealed to Locke that he was still alive and convinced him to participate in a criminal financial scheme in exchange for a share of the money. Locke's suspicious behavior and a run in with gang members searching for Cooper led Helen to follow him again. She turned up at the motel, where Locke was meeting Cooper to hand over the money. She demanded of Cooper: "Are you him?", slapped him and berated him for his treatment of Locke before leaving to go back to her car. Locke caught up with her in the parking lot outside and pleaded for forgiveness, went down on one knee and proposed. Helen shook her head and drove off.

But Helen was with Locke in the sideways afterlife. Things seemed different. Cooper was in a nursing home, unable to speak or function, but Helen took care of him as well as Locke. She was not demanding but supportive. Helen was the embodiment of a good partner: kind, charming, witty, loyal, trusting, helpful, and nonjudgmental. 

Helen was the best thing in Locke's life, but he failed to realize it.  In all relationships, there are fleeting moments where a couple becomes a couple, connects as a couple, and lasts as a couple. There are few if any second chances at romance with a person spurned during a first encounter. Locke had several chances to make things right but he failed over and over. 

Helen deserved better. Much better. She was like a guardian angel who gave Locke a glimpse of what he life "could have been" if not for Locke's delusional self-torment issues.

Helen also deserved a better ending in the series. We are told she died after breaking up with Locke. She died alone. She did not meet Locke in the sideways church to share or rekindle their affection for eternity. So, despite doing nothing wrong, Helen's soul is apparently trapped in a purgatory of Locke's own creation. That's a sad fate for a character who did nothing wrong to deserve such treatment.

It is almost a reverse life lesson. Locke, whose bad behavior and choices, hurt so many other lives but he was rewarded with eternal life with his island friends. Meanwhile, Helen, who took care of people, was kind and loyal to a fault, gets nothing for being of high moral character.