Tuesday, July 22, 2014

THE RULES

The island "rules" were a fast and loose term used by the writers to NOT explain critical points in their story.

The show runners played things fast and loose, hoping that the momentum of the characters’ story arcs and the whole “good vs. evil” showdown would be enough to appease most fans. But the promise of an intellectual drama was what most fans wanted to see.

One explanation of the island mythology has to be centered in "Across the Sea," the Jacob origin story in Season 6. The semi-explaination what the island was – a sort of container for a very important energy that seemingly links this world with worlds beyond... or something else.  There is a view that the unique "energy" is actually a form of light and water, and if that light goes out and the water stops flowing, so the world is basically end.

Everything magical or fantastic about the Island stems from this energy, and many of the technological oddities found on the Island (the Swan Station from Season 2) are a result of the Dharma Initiative trying to harness and control that energy (i.e., man trying to bend magic and mysticism to the will of modern science).

However, there are some things that were definitely left unexplained: Why did the Man In Black become a smoke monster when he was exposed to the light (was it a manifestation of his corrupted soul?); What is the nature of the “rules” that governed certain aspects of the Island – who could come and go, who could kill who, who was healed from injury (Locke, Rose), who lived forever (Richard). How were these rules established and maintained?

We were vaguely told that the island guardian made up his own rules, but what we came away with were a lot of vague pseudo- explanations. But if Jacob's rules controlled the island, he would never die because that was against the rules. And the randomness of who lived and died on the island, who was saved and punished by the smoke monster, also did not fit into any established rules. So why was MIB was obsessed with “finding a loophole” in order to kill Jacob? And since MIB was NOT Jacob's brother, who Crazy Mother said he could not kill, then Jacob could have destroyed the smoke monster long ago. If Jacob would not allow or could not kill the smoke monster/MIB, then how could Jack and Kate do it?  Some say that since Smokey was connected to the energy source, and when Jack had Desmond “turned off” that energy by re-setting the cork, Smokey "lost" his powers and was merely flesh and blood again. Except that does not make any sense. The cork was in the bottle and MIB still had all his powers. When the cork was removed, MIB still had his powers. Since we don't know how MIB was created in the light cave, nothing is canon.


If Jacob's final rule was "if I die, you can die," then that is not a dramatic loophole for the smoke monster. The smoke monster's statement that he wanted "to leave" the island mirrored Jacob's brother's, but since MIB was not human, where could it actually go if it was tied to the light source?


Without rules, one cannot have order. And with LOST's non-rules, the story is tangled in messy inconsistencies and legitimate questions.

Monday, July 21, 2014

WAKE UP DESMOND

There has been a difficult explanation of why Desmond was the one who would shepherd the Losties to the final reunion.


One of the biggest things people seem to be questioning is how Desmond was able to “wake up” from the purgatory universe and how he had the know-how to “wake up” the other characters. 

Desmond was not an original cast member. He did not survive the plane crash. He was never really part of the beach camp. He really did not care which side to take, Jack, Locke's, or anything else except to get off the island and back to Penny. In the story progression, Desmond's character began as arc filler, to add another piece to the Widmore story (that his daughter was involved with a loser).

To our knowledge, Desmond was not "touched" by Jacob to become a candidate. He was sent on his insane quest to show-up Widmore by winning a solo sailboat race across the Pacific. How a stupid and dangerous thing would make a rich girl swoon is another matter. But that was his plan. However, since Dez had no money and no boat, he had fallen back to his comfort zone (a depressed, self doubting existence of inner pain and regret). But out of no where, widow Libby gives him her late husband's boat. Too coincidental? Of course. That is the LOST tangled ball of strings story writing.

We can assume it was Widmore who recruited Desmond to get the boat and race across the Pacific. What better way to get rid of a problem then send him into the vast ocean? But for some unknown reason, Desmond shipwrecked on the island. How he got through the barrier is unknown, but if Jacob was to be believed, only he could allow people to come to the island. Of course, Jacob could have been lying - - - a Desmond got through because there is no evidence that Jacob ever knew Desmond existed until late in Season 6. So Widmore got rid of his problem. But at the same time, Widmore's other big problem was finding the island. He was working with Eloise to do that - - - and probably had spies try to tail Ben or his people when they went to the mainland (again, why would Jacob allow free passage by the Others since Jacob had no real "work" for them to do for him.)

Some fans believe that the first true love story of the series was the Desmond-Penny affair. It was that bond that led to the concepts of having a "constant" and being a "variable" in the island's time skipping equation. But Desmond was not the only one with a constant. Everyone has a constant - - - someone they knew or bonded with such as a parent, friend, spouse or child that they love and want to protect. But somehow, the writers tilted Desmond's relationship as special. The only difference between Dez and the rest of the characters was the likely fact Desmond was never supposed to be on the island. That may have been the wild card MIB was looking for in his own "loophole" theory.

In many viewer's explanation of the sideways reunion, it is Desmond (specifically through his past connection to Penny Widmore) that is the “constant” in the show. No matter what happens, when, or where, Desmond seems somehow immune to the Island’s energy (which has electromagnetic properties) and has a sort of awareness that can transcend space and time (his consciousness shifts seen in episodes like “The Constant“). These “shifts” and Widmore’s explanation that Desmond is special because of his resistance to the Island’s energies, imply that Desmond would even be able to “shift” his consciousness back and forth between this universe and the sideways purgatory one, catalyzed by Widmore’s team placing him in that huge electromagnetic machine in the Season 6.

Based on the show's apparent reasoning, that Desmond – after having his consciousness
“shifted” to the purgatory reality – would “wake up” after encountering HIS constant, Penny. It’s another fast and loose metaphysical explanation, but one that some people think works within the framework of the show. 

 Except, in the sideways world, other characters encountered their constants - - -  like Jin and Sun. Together, they should have awakened first especially with their traumatic ending on the island.

So if the island EM "blocks" memories of the past life, then why does it fail when Desmond starts rounding up the other cast members? Sayid instanteously remembers everything when he finds Shannon? But his entire life centered around Nadia - - - even in the sideways world. The major inconsistencies with the amnesia in the sideways world is baffling when one considers the quick cascade of memories flowing from one concert setting.  Worse, is the awakening of Claire and Charlie - - - and Kate - - - only by the "re-birth" of Aaron in the sideways world. If Aaron was alive in the real world, he could not be a fetus in the sideways world. He would have lived his life on Earth then died and gone to purgatory-heaven-whereever as an adult. The Aaron rebirth sequence calls into question whether there were actually two different dimensions at play.

The writers tagging Desmond "special" so he can get everyone magically back together was too convenient. The show had labeled other characters as "special" including Walt and Locke, but they really had no role in bringing the cast back together. It is hard to believe that the writers knew Desmond would be the final key when the show began since Desmond was not even written into the show until much later. And many viewers believe that Jack should have the key to the series and its resolution.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

THE SIDEWAYS


One explanation for the Season 6 sideways plot exit into a confusing after life realm is that two points have to be taken as true.

Christian told Jack in the finale that in the sideways world he was dead (they were all dead) and that his friends died before and long after him.

In other words, people take Christian's comments as the basis that the plane crash and island events were real - - - that Jack and his friends survived the plane crash and were alive until they lived out the remaining time on Earth. The sideways universe was a "purgatory," a place where souls put themselves in limbo until their friends died on Earth.
 
Each person in this “purgatory universe” created a reality for themselves based on their lingering issues in life – that which they could not “let go” of. For Jack it was Daddy issues; Kate, the guilt of murder; Sawyer, the quest to find “Sawyer” and be a better man; Sayid, the unrequited love of Nadia; Charlie, looking for something “real” like a family instead of trivial past fame as a rock star.


The explanation is that the main characters made a connection amongst themselves because they were all  still attached to their  personal life concerns. Because of this strong island survival connection,   they never forgot the journey and growth they had experienced because of the Island, and then each character could finally understand the connections and “purpose” brought into their damaged lives by being there. With that greater understanding of themselves, they were each ready to “leave” or “move on” to the next phase of existence – i.e., the true after life. 

This view does not answer all the lingering questions, like how a dead soul can create a memory blocked sideways world with thousands of strangers based upon the "unforgettable" island experiences. Who or what directed each character's dead soul into a cosmic holding place - - - to actually live out totally different lives than the past, including Jack having a son!, and not making those "new" experiences count for anything except filler?

As explanations for the ending goes, this falls into the supernatural bin.

But look at a few other key elements of the sideways story arc. Eloise, who had present knowledge in both the island world and the sideways after life, tried to keep Desmond from "remembering" his past because she feared Desmond would awaken Daniel, who would leave the sideways world and Eloise. Why was Eloise so hellbent on keeping Daniel in the dark about his life and his current death status? Simple: she feared that Daniel would leave with the other Losties to the next phase of the after life.

But was Eloise smarter than the rest? The puppet master of the entire series? If we look at the Season 6 back story of the island, the answer would be no. Eloise would have just been another "candidate" brought to the island by Jacob. It would then seem that Jacob was the supernatural being capable of creating an after life purgatory.

Jacob did grant Alpert "immortality" on the island. And if one looks at the canon that only the island guardian can bring people to the island, then Jacob manipulated the lives of all the characters to come to his island world. There is something "mad scientist" about Jacob collecting human beings with personal issues and faults to conduct some crude and cruel experiments on them. It is then probable that Jacob orchestrated his candidates to get on the same plane in Sydney in order to crash it on his island. In normal circumstances, everyone on the plane would have died. But Jacob intervened magically and "saved" his candidates from certain death. (Or perhaps, reincarnated them as human beings without their souls - - - which were dispatched to the sideways purgatory to continue to live a false life).  The split soul concept is found in ancient Egyptian culture, which was featured heavily in Season 6. 

It comes down to a personal definition of "life." Is life the mortal existence on Earth? Or is there a life "ever after?" 

All cultures have some sort of "creator" mythology. A super being, usually from the stars,  that created all life on Earth. The same could be true for the sideways world - - - some creator imagined a continuation of the characters' airplane journey without the detour to the island - - - while Jacob kidnapped the characters to his island. Perhaps, this is the real conflict between Jacob and MIB. Jacob was the one how kidnaps souls for the island world, while MIB is trying to find a "loophole" in Jacob's game. It is possible that MIB's loophole was the creation of the sideways world (since as a smoke monster, a supernatural being that can manipulate matter and memories of human beings to take any form). 

If MIB created the sideways world in order for the characters' souls "to remember" the island, that could be the check mate move - - -  no one before had ever "remembered" the island after dying. Once the island was recalled in the after life, Jacob's game was revealed to his superiors as an unsanctioned interference with normal people's lives. Thus, knowledge of the island was the key to stop Jacob's candidate games (like a Hunger Games for lost souls).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

OPT OUT

In an alternative universe, not being the sideways one, what could have happened in Season 6 stripped away the after life parallel story line?

The fork in the road is the solution to the cliffhanger of Juliet pounding a rock on the atomic bomb while the Incident was happening, imploding the Hatch dig site.

Alternative 1A: Juliet somehow detonates the bomb and there is a huge explosion.
Result: Everyone on the island would "die" due to the nuclear blast and radiation fall out.
Problem: Then the paradox of killing the people in the 1970s would destroy the future, including Jack, Kate and the others being born,  and Flight 815 would have never crashed on the island.

Alternative 1B: Juliet does not detonate the bomb (which we believe we saw in the series), but the implosion causes her severe injuries which she will succumb.
Result: Everyone except Juliet would be "alive" on the island, but put back into their real time lines.
Problem: This implosion event in the 1970s would have changed the course of the Dharma collective, most likely causing it to fall a part (which actually may have happened) and thus not allowing Ben to become the leader of the Others. A leaderless Others would be merely the nomadic remains of other candidates brought to the island.

If we take the latter and move forward, the "re-boot" of the series would eliminate the Widmore-Others conflicts with the plane survivors. They would "disappear" from Season 6 as they would have been eliminated in the alternative.  This leaves the plane survivors back at the very beginning of their journey: to point where they survived the plane crash and are looking for rescue in order to survive.

The alternative Season 6 would have been the basic struggle to get off the island. There would be no Ajira rescue plane because Ben would not have built the runway. The final conflict remaining between the survivors would have been simple: those who wanted to go and those who wanted to stay on the island.

Those who wanted to stay on the island would include Rose and Bernard, who had little to do with the politics and violence swirling around the island groups. Also, Kate and Sayid would have nothing to go back to on the mainland so they probably could care less about rescue. Despite their personal differences, Jack and Sawyer would want to get off the island.  Sawyer's plan was always to leave. Jack had his mother and career to go back to, as well as his "duty" as leader of the survivors to get them home. Sun would want to leave to be reunited with her daughter. Claire would want to be reunited with Aaron. The other survivors like Hurley could be neutral.

Jin perhaps has the skill set as the son of a fisherman to take Michael's place and build a rescue raft. Sawyer had experience building the first raft.  The only person left to sabotage this plan is Jacob and the smoke monster, MIB.

We assume that Jacob and MIB would want everyone to stay on the island and fight, kill and corrupt for their amusement. But even if we take those supernatural beings out of the equation - - - no reference to them in Season 6 - - - there still could be major conflict as the island's resources could be at issue between the rafters and the beach camp.

Alternative Season 6 could have concluded with the tearful launch of the raft and its occupants. As they cross into the horizon, those who stayed behind make a vow to make their own family and community. But immediately after the launch, there is a violent tropical storm that hits the island, causing havoc and hardship on those who stayed behind. This is another cruel "re-set" of the plane survivors who have to start once again from scratch to rebuild their camp.  The series could end with a pan of the beach away from the beach camp, to find specific objects from the raft, coming on shore with the driftwood storm debris.

Friday, July 18, 2014

THE QUICK HIT

There are many new pilots making the television rounds like The Strain, The Leftovers and  Intruders which apparently quickly set the stage with a HUGE mystery as a means of locking in viewers' interest. When pitching these shows and discussing them with the media, the producers stress the mysteries and eventually concede that the series would not be another LOST.

Another LOST meaning that the new shows will fully explain the premise and mysteries set forth early on in the plots.

So one of the lasting legacies of LOST is the express promise to networks and viewers that a new show will not be another LOST.

It is one thing for the LOST creators-producers-writers to bristle at fans criticism of the ending of LOST, but to have people within the industry raise the question at the very beginning has to be a real blow to the stomach.

One of the tenets of Hollywood has always been to steal from successful films and shows. Success breeds imitation to outright copying. The sales pitch usually includes that the new show is "like" this one, or "has elements" of this other one . . . as a means of giving a network executive some context and level of comfort that a familiar story has a better level of success. In the early LOST materials, the creators used the same type of marketing technique to get their pilot green lit.

But to have a calling card that the quick hit opening show mystery is NOT going to be like LOST has to be the life preserver thrown to the network prior to the ship setting sail. It is ironic that a show that still finds its way into many critics Top Ten lists is now a moniker to television insiders of what is not going to happen.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

DOES?

Does LOST work as any of these genres?

1. Action series?

Yes and No. There was plenty of action including memorable explosions such as the Hatch, the ambush of the Others in the beach camp, Artz handling the TNT and the endless running through the jungle scenes. But some of the explosions or action sequences were unrealistic or mere twists to jump start a sagging plot line. The whole Jughead detonation to reboot the time line only accomplished a cliffhanger.

2. Adventure series?

No. An adventure series is where the protagonist(s) have to overcome a series of challenges, events, villains in order to reach a specific goal. The Indiana Jones films are clear adventure series where the lead is setting forth on a quest to find something. Even Michael Palin's travel shows are his adventures in strange lands and cultures which leads him to his final conclusions on the people and places he encountered along his journey. LOST had a series of "missions" that the main characters went on, but very few had a clear focus (except "rescue" missions). Some people considered the mission creep in the series as filler to keep the characters moving and exploring the island but the characters rarely used any of the knowledge gained to better their situation. A bunch of disconnected adventures does not make an adventure series.

3. Romantic show?

Yes but more no. Characters liked and disliked each other. Some had passionate affairs, some had personal regrets. When Sayid spent years pining over his life's love, Nadia, but winds up with his very short hook up partner in Shannon in the sideways ending, viewers were both confused and angry.  Likewise, when Jack wound up back with Kate, it seemed more like she was the last one standing than the passionate love of his life. Only Rose and Bernard seemed to have a lasting, true love which was sealed prior to their island life.

4. Mystery series?

No. Mystery shows construct complex story lines filled with clues so the viewers have a chance to figure out the mystery before it is revealed in the ending. In LOST, the writers-producers set out to intentionally raise mysteries and questions without the intellectual bargain to give viewers their solution in the end. It cannot be a mystery series if the mysteries are not solved.

5. Science fiction series?

Yes and no. It did have many sci-fi elements like the smoke monster, and scientific references to unique electromagnetic properties, but extrapolated science principles into credible sci-fi canon was diluted when supernatural elements without explanation overwhelmed the plot lines. The immortal beings of Jacob and MIB was so different than the Widmore-Dharma-Others scientific questions and quests to control the island that it clouded the stories and facts of the first five seasons.  A true sci-fi series like Star Trek or Star Wars sets forth a clear vision of the story's universe and keeps true to it. LOST had so many continuity issues within the overlapping story lines to have no clear vision of its own universal structure.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BACK FROM THE DEAD

Medical science is conducting trials on a process that is attempting to bring the dead back to life. It is quickly replacing a person's blood with cold saline solution to create a suspended animation where the brain and other organs shut down but do not die. This gives physicians time to repair damaged organs and revive the patient.

Science fiction has its share of bringing back souls from mummies to vampires to Dr. Frankenstein.

In LOST, one of the open questions is still whether the main characters were "alive" or "dead" on the island. One group believes they died in the plane crash and the island was their purgatory. Another group believes they survived the plane crash and were human survivors on a mysterious island.

But what if we twist those beliefs.

The theory is that the main characters were dead souls in the sideways world, but they were brought back to life on the island world in order to work out their past life's issues.

It is a handy theory because it in some ways neutralizes the "are they alive or dead?" debate with a unique premise that the characters were both dead and alive.

The "reincarnation" takes place in the after life when the souls take "a plane ride" to LA, but are split into a new body as an island survivor. As a survivor with no memory that they are already dead, continues to live out their lives through their memories, which are reinforced by the island's supernatural smoke monster. The island is a form of group therapy for troubled souls who have regrets that hold them back from moving on in the after life.