Saturday, August 30, 2014

NINE LIVES

The old saying is "cats have 9 lives." It is not really based upon any actual science, but mere observation that cats tend to get in and out of trouble in McGuffin fashion. For some reason, cats that fall off building ledges always land on their paws.

What if people had this cat-like trait?

We clearly saw Patchy, the one-eyed Other, "die" numerous times only to come back and thwart the Losties plans. That seems to be an obvious writer's ploy to surprise the viewers, and add the taint of mystery about the island (why do some people die, and some do not?)  Ben was taken to the temple and was "reborn," but Sayid was taken to the temple waters - - - died and was reincarnated as an evil minion. Locke "survived" a 10 story plunge, an airplane crash, and being shot in gut. Pretty darn lucky; 9 lives cat lucky.

Like most things in LOST, story continuity and rules are very inconsistent. Who lives and who dies is probably more attached to the emotional viewer meter than anything else.

But if life teaches us, everyone comes across events that could change their path, for good or ill. Just like in Monopoly, some people tend to get more "Get Out of Jail Free" cards than other people.

But to put a more sci-fi spin on this concept, one could look at a person's life as having one of those sub-sandwich shop customer loyalty cards: after 9 meals, you get one free. But in the scope of one's life line, the card allows 9 critical events to pass that does not cost you your life. The grim reaper clicks off those events until you run out of freebies - - - then you have to pass on.

You can reflect on your own life to remember various events that could have gone badly.

One probably does not realize that this is happening. But a few, like Patchy, who did crazy stupid and clearly suicidal things, probably did know that he would return. With that type of knowledge, one would have great power to control any situation.

You can count on your own how many of the main characters survived car crashes, mental illness, alcohol /drug addictions, shootings, falls, explosions, fights - - - before, during and after their island dangers.

If you look at the characters as counting down not time, but their 9 lives in order to get to the promised land, then that may explain the dull attitude and lack of grasping their dangerous surroundings when they flew off into the jungle on crazy missions. Their subconscious must have been pulling them through the gateway of their own existence.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

MOTIVATION

There were many driven characters on LOST. But what really motivated them?

POWER. Widmore was hellbent on reclaiming the island. In his banishment from the island, he amassed a great deal of wealth in order to "find" "his" island.

His son, Daniel, was looking for a different kind of power. One that could control time, as his lab rat experiments at Oxford would show was possible. But in his search for intellectual power, Daniel severely injured his assistant - - - and stopped his progress to attain power and its prestige.

Jack held the power of life and death over his severely injured patients. As a surgeon, his skill level would determine whether he would help or harm at patient. As with his father's demise for medical negligence, there is a fine line between being a miracle worker and a fraud.

CONTROL. Sawyer wanted to control his life after his parents deaths. He wanted to control his future for one event: revenge on Cooper. It gave him a narrow vision; and ironically turned himself into the person he hated most. He learned the skills of control by being a con man - - - looking deeply into the greed and desires of others, to manipulate them to his advantage.

Likewise, Ben wanted control of the island, not for the power but for the respect he never gathered from his own father. He banished Widmore so the Others would look up to him as their sole leader. Ben tightened his control by surrounding himself with new hires loyal to him.

However, Locke had the same want of being able to control his future as he received no respect from his father. But Locke failed because he never could formulate a workable plan where other people would follow his lead. And during the course of failure after failure, Locke became a bitter person.

Eloise was also a control freak. She knew of future events, and manipulated people like Desmond to get her chess pieces in place so she could have her own after death fantasy family life with a doting son and husband.

But those actions above were not the true motivations of people seeking power or control. The real motivation throughout the characters were their fear of loneliness. Widmore, Ben, Jack, Sawyer and Locke all battled against the stress of loneliness.

Kate was a flirty, gregarious child who got into trouble in order to connect with other people. She turned into a loner because she wanted to run away from commitment. But she found that made her even more alone.

Hurley always felt abandoned and alone when his father left him. Then his one best friend left him after he kept a secret from him. Hurley felt that he could trust no one with his new found wealth so he was crazed with the fear that his life would be one lonely road.

Desmond never fit in because he really did not want to try. He feared commitment so he took to the idea of being a loner. But after he met Penny, he wanted to free himself from the chains of loneliness but could not bear the confidence of being able to support Penny or win over her family.

In order to combat their lonely existence, the main characters found new hope when they were thrown together in an island survival story. None could make it on their own. "Live Together or Die Alone." They needed the friendship of each other in order to make their lives meaningful. They needed their friendships in order to move on with their lives. This is probably the clearest theme in the series.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

POSSESSION

Continuing with the recent theme of multiple souls, there is another possible theory on the island survivors. Instead of dying in the plane crash, they survived but in a weakened state. In such a physical state that the whispers (the ghosts of dead souls who can't leave the island) attempt to enter their bodies in order to get off the island.

This is exactly what MIB/Smokey told the survivors when he was in the form of Flocke.

And it makes some deal of sense. If the island has a strange electromagnetic pull, and certain souls without redemption cannot navigate to the after life, the whispers would then have to find a way out. We know they have an intelligent core as whisper Michael had a conversation with Hurley.

Now, some may counter and say that the whispers were merely mental illusions or delusions, since Alpert's dead wife appeared to him even though she never died on the island.

The idea of Miles and Hurley being able to talk to the dead has two possible reasons. First, they are truly special people, mediums, to the other side. Second, they could have been contacted by the whisper souls directly in order to influence or change their actions so as to help those immortal souls  trapped on the island to escape. Perhaps in a roundabout way, this is the real conclusion to the LOST story as Hurley becomes the island guardian and "shuts it down" which probably would include releasing the souls to their own sideways reality.

So if dead souls could possess living beings, how did they get the survivors to do their bidding? There was a chain of influence spread down from Jacob to Alpert to Ben to Jack to the beach camp.

The problem is what is Jacob. Is he a god, an intelligent being with supernatural powers? Or is he a possessed soul who is granted immortality for so long as a whisper possesses his body? The only real supernatural force shown with any unusual power was the smoke monster, MIB. But he had the lone desire to leave the island, and during the course of the final episodes did everything in his power to recruit, destroy, scare and kidnap people in order for him to get his way. (Ironically, all of these missions and plans may have been a smoke screen; the smoke monster may never have wanted or could not leave the island.)

If the whispers are trapped on the island, was this a form of punishment? In Michael's case, it was since he killed two innocent people. In Alpert's case, he was tried and convicted of murder but sold in slavery instead of receiving his punishment. If so, then the island is a form of hell but no in the conventional fire and brimstone setting.

If the islanders were possessed by whispers, what happens if they are lucky enough to leave? For example, since Jack and Kate saw ghosts form their past on the island, we can assume that window was created by the whispers as a means of controlling them. Once they left the island, the whispers were not able to release themselves into the real world. It made them very unhappy. It caused Jack down a spiral path of personal destruction - - - and an illogical quest to return to the island (so his whisper could go back to its "home.") Recall, Jack's return to the island makes no sense since he had no idea that any of his friends were still alive after the island vanished. It was not Jack that wanted to go back to the island, but the soul who possessed his body and mind.

One can weave a good ghost possession premise to LOST because it is as good as any other theory in trying to explain the illogical motivations of some of the characters and the strong, absurd connection people had with the island.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MULTIVERSE

Theoretical scientists are at the cross roads of quantum dynamics with the Higgs Bosom and particle string theories. Some believe that current information suggests that there are no parallel or multi-universes.

Parallel universes or alternative dimensions have been part of the human culture since the beginning. Ancient cultures had a clear understanding of cosmic planetary and star movements which was the foundation for after death dimensions where souls would go to live in paradise.

When the sideways story arc came into view, many fans thought that the sci-fi element of a parallel universe would explain it. It had its merits. One, there are many writers who believed that there are several parallel universes, like onion skin layers, that contain the same people, places and events but are shaped solely by the decisions individuals make at key points in time.  For example, if Jack did not ask out Sarah in universe one, then Jack would wind up with Juliet in universe two.

Two, other writers believe that scientists like Einstein calculated that there may be as many as 26 separate dimensions that compose of our known universe. The idea of another dimension was used to explain the anomalies in time and space formulas. It also may be a crutch to dream that if there are other dimensions, our laws of physics may not apply - - - which could result in objects going faster than the speed of light.

Three, other people believe that we live in a plain of existence that overlaps into other worlds. For example, people believe that somewhere on the planet there is your double, a doppelganger. Others believe that their sixth sense is actually caused by encounters with one's self from another dimension. Finally, some people believe there is duality within each of us: that the conscious and subconscious mind operate in two different universes in which they cross over when the mind rests in a dream state.

A multiverse explanation would diminish the poor writing and continuity errors in the sideways story arc. But it would be such a bad McGuffin that most fans really don't want to go down that tired road.


Monday, August 25, 2014

SOUL POSSESSION

In the new British series, Intruders, the premise is that after people die, their souls can live on . . . by possessing a live individual. It is an interesting concept of demonic possession from ancient times (which in many instances was misdiagnosis of actual medical conditions like seizure disorders).

LOST did feature elements of multiple souls. In ancient Egyptian death rituals, the person's soul is divided at death into the ka and ba which separately have to journey through the underworld to try to be reunited in the after life. If souls were released upon death, sci-fi allows for these intelligent vessels to inhabit other human beings.

In a bait-and-switch type theory, the 815 survivors could have been "possessed" by lost souls, the whispers, trapped on the island. In fact, the only reason the survivors "lived" after the crash was that they were re-possessed by island souls.

For example, what if Jack was near death in the bamboo grove when dead Horace, the former leader of the Dharma group, possesses his body? There were many of the Dharma group that was purged by Ben's Others. And when the Others member died, they destroyed the body which may be so that that body could not be repossessed by an island soul.

If there were possession by island souls, that could explain why Jack immediately took to pushing back against Ben and the Others because deep inside he knew of their threat and danger because Horace's soul was influencing his decision making process. When they talked about "a war" on the island, it may be a never ending saga of souls reanimating their revenge with new visitors time after time for eternity (much like the reality of the Middle East conflicts).

The island souls could become the dominate personality in a person's body; repressing the person's actual soul until its "second death." The real soul may be in a sort of suspended animation, a dream state of confusion, during the island time line. Perhaps the suspended animation of souls is a better explanation of the sideways limbo state.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

WHEN CANON HITS A DEAD END

The British television series, Doctor Who, has lasted for 50 years (with a hiatus period). Today marks another milestone as Peter Capaldi takes the reign as the Next Doctor. The picture above shows all the previous actors who played the iconic role of the The Doctor. As you can count, there are 12 men who have played The Doctor. The reason so many could do so was that early on in the series, the writers came up with the concept of re-generation.

When one actor left the show, a new one could replace him through this biological process that only seems to work with Time Lords. It is like a cat who is said to have 9 lives; in the Who universe, a Time Lord has 12 re-generations, or 13 lives in total.  In reboot Season 8, Capaldi becomes the 13th and final Doctor according to the show's own canon.

Now, I take the position that the producers should embrace the challenge of having the "last" Doctor because it would be a trans formative narrative for a complex character that is still shrouded in much mystery. But the BBC still calls the new Doctor only the 12th. And the producers seem to agree.

But with such intense fandom, and the regeneration process one of the few ironclad rules of the show, this is a potential Jump the Sharknado moment. Some believe that the producers will just concoct another cycle of regenerations (like some believe may have occurred during Matt Smith's final episode in Season 7). But that does not show respect for the original material, and the legacy of the prior creators who kept the series alive, fresh and interesting.

It is a very simple proposition when the current Doctor leaves the show. He dies. But what panic would occur in London if there was no new Doctor? Probably not much, for you see it would be just as compelling for the show to turn its axis point (temporarily) to the biggest mystery of all: who could replace the Doctor? The candidates could be more vast than the standard collection of Who villains. Another Time Lord? Another alien species? The Doctor's "daughter?" Or his last companion? For Doctor 2.0 to exist in the context of the original canon, he or she would have to be an extraordinary being (alien) compatible with Gallifreyan  biology and who would inherit the one item that would bind the new series with the old: the Doctor's pocket watch. The watch contains all the memories and information of the past time lords. It can imprint them on Doctor 2.0. Problem solved from a writing continuity standpoint.

But I find this solution highly improbable. It is too detailed; too "insider" for a network executive to grasp the nuisances. The production company has the brand of the Doctor and does not want to dilute it with a successor, even if he or she is a worthy one.

It is theme for successful shows, including sci-fi epics, that if set canon is violated, the trust with their audience is breached because successful sci-fi shows rely heavily on their own mythology to support the fantasy. Doctor Who is fast approaching such a breach. How the show runners will cope with this event is still unknown.

Friday, August 22, 2014

IF LOST WAS A GAME SHOW

What if LOST was pitched today, not as a television drama series, but as a game show.

Not a game show theory that has been mentioned by fans as a premise to the series, but as an actual "game" show.

First, the contestants (characters) would not "know" they were on a game show. That takes the Survivor reward-reality concept off the table.

Second, the contestants would had to be placed in real danger to see how they would react. A small plane "crash" lands on a deserted Pacific island (which has been rigged with camera traps, odd set pieces and dangerous people). The pilots would be the only people in the know - - - and they could be easily "taken out" by The Others early on during the show. Without the pilots, the 40 odd passengers would be left to fend for themselves.

Third, there would be enough basic materials on the island for the contestants to survive. Wild animals, fruits, and tools to build things. During the filming, if there are people desperate to leave, depressed to suicidal, the producers could secretly intervene under the cover of darkness and take them off the island and back home.

The major problem with this premise is that the network would be charged with kidnapping the contestants. That would be a serious charge with no defense.

Ironically, one could say that is exactly what happened to all the characters on LOST. They were kidnapped and brought to the island, not realizing that they were part of some grand, diabolical experiment. 

Like with the show itself, how would a contestant(s) "win" the game?

Besides not hurting themselves or someone else, the reward would be "rescue." Like those wilderness survival shows, the host knows that there is a place where he can find a path back to civilization. It is highly unlikely that modern suburban folk have the skill set of their pioneer ancestors to forge a rescue plan.

Then, the bottom line is whether any network would call this game show "entertainment." With all the crap on television today, the answer is probably no because it cuts too close to the core of the ancient Roman Colosseum.