LOST Discussion: A Retrospective on the Finale and the Series

31 05 2010

I have to admit, I’ve started and stopped writing this entry multiple times.  It’s extremely difficult to put into perspective just what this show has meant to me over the years, and it’s important to me to do justice to this type of summary.  In addition, my understanding, perceptions, and emotions have all changed numerous times since I first viewed the finale.  It’s almost as if I needed to give it more time to wash over me before I dove in.  But I feel like I have it where I want it, and am ready to share it with you now.  So here it is…the final entry of interLOST.

Writers’ unwritten contract?

As I said in the opening, I’ve actually let the thoughts and ideas flow about 3 or 4 separate times before pushing out this post.  And to be fair, most of them were negative in nature.  In fact, immediately after the finale, I felt cheated on many levels.  Obviously, if I’ve spent many, many hours writing a blog trying to unearth the mysteries of the show, and trying to analyze each of the tiniest of clues, I’m going to feel a little bit of disappointment if the show failed to answer those questions in a straightforward fashion.  I think that’s natural.  Even after waking up the day after the show, I still felt somewhat robbed.  My disappointment actually turned to resentment.  How could they do this?  How could they leave so much unanswered?  Allow me to digress for just a moment, so I can help you understand my perspective.

Some of you readers may disagree, but I think that writers have an unwritten contract with their audience.  I think that people choose to watch a show based upon the “rules” that the show operates under.  For example, if you like comedy but hate sci-fi, you’ll probably watch something like “How I Met Your Mother” or “Modern Family” as opposed to “Fringe” or “Caprica”.  But how would you feel as an audience member if “How I Met Your Mother” slowly morphed into a “CSI” or a “Law and Order” rip-off?  I imagine you’d feel betrayed.  You started watching a comedy, and it turned into a cop show or a courtroom drama.  You were hooked in by one thing, but then the show changed.  You’d probably jump ship and stop watching…but you’d have to be disappointed that you invested time in the show just to have it make a u-turn on you. 

That may be an exaggerated scenario, but I think it gets my point across.  LOST always had to balance a fine line between the mythology/mystery,  and character development.  And whether or not they succeeded, they always seemed to at least make the effort.    Character episodes like “I Do”, “Tricia Tanaka Is Dead” (which I loved, by the way), and “Some Like It Hoth” were balanced by mythology episodes like “Lockdown”, “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, and “Cabin Fever”.  Sometimes they even pulled off episodes with great mythology and great character development in the same episode, like what we got with “The Constant”.

But by dedicating half of Season 6 to the flash-sideways, they clearly made the decision to prioritize character development at the expense of the mythology, despite the fan reaction they had to know was on the horizon.  And really, the most bizarre part of that, is that any of the character development that happened in the flash-sideways is largely a throw-away.  Yes, they’re the same people, as we found out in the end.  But the only purpose of the flash-sideways is to get the characters to reach enlightment together, so that they can advance to the next realm.  Most of the experiences we saw in the flash-sideways leading up the finale are even less relevant than anything done during any character’s island time.

Dismissing the hard-core viewers?

That’s what makes the ending so puzzling.  Obviously, the show started as a character drama in Season 1.  But it clearly moved into a genre show as the years progressed.  In fact, it embraced it…even to the show’s diminishing ratings.  As the show shifted more and more to a science fiction bonanza (where time travel, possession, and teleportation were all in a day’s work), more and more viewers decided it wasn’t for them.  Viewership diminshed, but there was a hard-core fan base that stuck with the show through it all…and these were the folks that wanted some sort of payoff for the years they watched the show.  But then, when the show  reached the ending, it’s almost as if the writers made a conscious decision NOT to cater to the fans that stuck with the show as it became straight-up sci-fi, but instead, to appeal to fans on the edge, or those that checked out long ago.

When you think about the series as a whole, and try to make a critical assessment of it, it’s important to remember that the writers created these mysteries.  Major narrative thrusts and episode-to-episode cliffhangers centered around things like the numbers, the infertility issue, and Jacob’s cabin.  In some cases (like the blast door map, what the smoke monster is, and who the Others are) questions were answered well.  In others (like the first ones listed above), the attempt wasn’t even made.

Here’s a way to look at it: do you think that LOST would have continued to have the ratings it had if the writers came right out from the beginning and said, “we’re not going to answer all of these questions, so prepare yourselves now.  We’ll answer a few, but don’t get too emotionally invested in any one specific mystery, because there’s a good chance we won’t get to it.”  In a very real way, that would be a slap in the face to a viewer that was considering investing 6 years in a show.  I’m sure many viewers would check out right then and there, for fear of that the question they wanted an answer to wouldn’t be resolved.  It seems to me that the same question should be asked now that the series is over.  What hammers that point home the most is when you think about someone who’s thinking about starting from the beginning, asking you about the mysteries of the show and whether or not they were answered.  What could you say?  I think trying to sell that person on the fact that the show isn’t really about that, but more about the journey, would be selling them a bill of goods.

Nailing what they set out to accomplish in the finale

All of that being said, I must have hated the finale, right?  Well, no, not exactly.  Actually, I think that the writers did a masterful job with what they wanted to accomplish.  (I’ll get to that in just a minute.)  But the point I’m trying to get across is that I think the writers did a disservice to their most die-hard fans by not even trying to give resolution to some of the key plot points.  And what’s the most discouraging about it is that it seems to me that it could have been done with a single Jacob/MIB flashback episode.  Simply walking back through some of the critical moments of the show from the perspective of either Jacob or MIB could have brought resolution to things like the infertility issue or Jacob’s cabin, and they could have even squeezed in the outrigger shootout in the process.  It’s quite puzzling: the writers requested to shorten the series to 6 seasons because they felt as though they couldn’t keep “treading water”, but in the end, they failed to answer some of the questions they themselves posed to the audience.  It appears to the casual viewer that they ended the show too early, and/or they planned the narrative exit strategy very poorly.  Either of those thoughts is very discouraging.

On a positive note, despite not giving all of the answers they promised, the writers largely achieved what they set out to do in the finale: create a compelling sense of closure to the characters.  Three other shows I watch also had series finales this year: Heroes, 24, and FlashForward.  And each of them paled in comparison to the LOST finale in terms of scope and closure.  Heroes and FlashForward may have an excuse: the writers thought they were writing a season finale, not a series finale.  Typically, that’s the reason why series finales are so poor: half the time, the show is getting cancelled, and the writers didn’t have the opportunity to write an over-arching, compelling wrap-up to the storyline.  But this was not an excuse for 24, whose writers knew it was coming to a close.  And in reality, that show is a perfect example of a show that knew the end was coming, but still couldn’t wrap it up in a meaningful way.  The moral of that story is: even when you know the end is near, it’s still hard to wrap it up exactly the way you want.  But that’s where I think LOST hit a home run.

Yes, it was a season-long lead-up, and perhaps could have been achieved with a tighter narrative and less time devoted to it, but it was absolutely a clever and unique way to send all of these characters off with a happy ending, and not render the entire time on the island meaningless.  (It still lessened the characters’ time on the island, but I’ll get to that in a bit.)  With any show, you want those final moments to be a time where the characters have resolution, and that there’s a sense of closure.  The way the writers dovetailed our desire for closure with the characters need for enlightment to advance to the next stage of the afterlife was incredibly brilliant.  I can’t imagine a better way to engage the audience than seeing each of the character’s remembrances of their times on the island, and having the viewers “move on” along with the characters.  In and of itself, it was a conceptual masterstroke for finale writing.  But because LOST is what it is, it’s hard to judge simply within the context of the finale itself.  You have to judge it in the way it fits in with the rest of the series.  And that’s where it again fals a bit short of expectations.

If it’s about the characters, how do you explain John Locke?

I’ll get right to the point.  I was a big fan of the character of John Locke.  And while the show gave meaningful and fully satisfying character arcs to Jack and Ben, they really seemed to make Locke’s journey an ultimately bitter one, despite the finale’s last scenes.  He got to his spiritual enlightenment via Jack’s help, he got a heartfelt apology from Ben, and he got to advance to the next realm with all of his friends from the island.  But here’s what he didn’t get: redemption.

Locke was a man that was deeply troubled in his off-island life.  He had a horrific relationship with his father, one in which he was pushed out of building 8 stories up, and was confined to a wheelchair.  Even later in life, that same father stole one of Locke’s kidneys in a terribly emotionally painful long con.  When Locke came to the island, it granted him a second lease on life.  He regained full mobility and could ditch the wheelchair.  He took advantage of the situation and attempted to be the person he never was during his off-island time.  And because this magical place granted him this 2nd chance, he invested his faith in it.  He wasn’t always 100% faithful; at times he failed in his beliefs.  But early on in the series, it was Locke’s faith and belief that the island was a special place that superceded everyone else’s, including the eventual savior of the remaining survivors.

But as it turns out, it was all a long con.  Locke put his faith in the island, but what he was really putting his faith in was the manipulations of the Smoke Monster.  The monster used Locke’s undying faith to create an opportunity to get to and kill Jacob.  In essence, Locke was simply a pawn…as MIB put it later in the series, when he was using Locke’s physical form: “Locke was a sucker.”  And that is the legacy of John Locke.  A man who provided so much inspiring, blind faith on a show that concluded with a huge leap of faith required by the audience about the afterlife, met with his demise alone (remember, each of his friends off-island rejected him before his death) and confused.  Every taunting comment that the Man in Black made about him, even as he stole his body, was left unchanged by the finale.  Even for those that believed that the journey of LOST was about the characters would have a tough time explaining how anyone who felt an association with Locke could feel content about his character arc.

In my mind, the one logical response is that in the flash-sideways, Locke got to move on to the next realm.  He got his apology from Ben, and he clearly forgave him.  But that doesn’t equate to redemption.  The only way that moment is meaningful, is if you take it at its face.  As in, “Locke found enlightenment and went to some version of heaven.”  But is that enough?  Sure, I suppose…if you concede the fact that nothing on the island was relevant.  Or at least, that the happenings on-island were less relevant than what happened afterwards.  But if you do that, doesn’t it make the first 5 seasons mostly meaningless?  Now, suddenly “the journey” doesn’t matter: only the end result.  Let me put it to you another way.  According to the nature of the afterlife we saw on the show, the only thing required for this arrangement to happen was that all of these people had to meet and become meaningful in each others’ lives.  It wouldn’t have mattered if it happened on an island, on a mountain, out at sea, or in Los Angeles.  If that’s the case…if that’s the message that LOST wants to tell us…then why should we have cared about the island in the first place?  The writers have stated on numerous occasions that the island is the character the fans forget about the most…it seems as though they took a page out of that book in the finale.

Finale in and of itself versus the series as a whole: a tale of two dichotomies

It’s those two dichotomies that make the finale such a difficult thing to digest.  First, it makes it seem as though the writers didn’t even try to answer some mysteries that they could have nailed to the satisfaction of the hard-core viewers with simply a single episode addressing them.  Why choose to end the series in a timeframe that wouldn’t allow you to answer the questions you presented to the viewers?  Second, while the finale was brilliant when taken in and of itself, it ultimately lessens the time of the survivors on the island.  This point is driven home by the character of John Locke, who ultimately found heaven, but whose life on earth was just as flawed as MIB/Smoke Monster claimed it was.

Ultimately, your perception of the finale, and the series in general, is going to be determined by how forgiving you are of these two dichotomies.  If you realy didn’t care about getting answers, or had resolved yourself to the idea that you wouldn’t get any, then you probably mostly enjoyed the finale.  And, if you didn’t put too much thought into what the trip to the afterlife meant, or didn’t care because you got to see your favorite characters together again one last time, then you probably thought that the finale was the best one created in the history of television.

Final thoughts

As for me, I’m still mixed (which is better than where I was immediately after the finale aired).  I’ve enjoyed the finale more each time I’ve watched it, and I’ve come to truly appreciate what the writers were trying to achieve, and the fact that I think they pulled it off.  However, I’m still disappointed in the long-term strategy of Team Darlton, and their propensity to insert situations or mysteries into the show without a real plan of resolving them.  In some cases they were able to go back and make it work, in others they didn’t, and in others, they inexplicably didn’t even try.  But I suppose that at the end of the day, I look back on my time with LOST, and don’t feel cheated.  I feel as though the show pushed me into writing a blog, helped me build friendships that will go beyond the show’s run, and gave me a sense of accomplishment and comaradarie that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Overall, my experience with LOST was alternatingly incredible and challenging.  And ultimately, I will look back on it fondly, with a twinge of bittersweetness for what it might have been if just a piece or two more had been put in the right place.  And with that, I officially end my time with this blog.  Thanks again to all of you that joined me on this journey.  I hope you all find that it was worth the effort.  I’ll see you all in another life (or another blog), brotha!


LOST Discussion: Times Talks Live

21 05 2010

Hey everyone, are you all as excited for the finale as I am?  If you’re reading this blog, it’s hard to imagine that you’re anything but 100% geeked for this Sunday night.  But before we get there, some of us got the chance to listen to LOST showrunners Damon & Carlton answer some questions last night.  It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, and they managed to dodge as many questions as they answered, but it was still fun.  It actually felt like one last chance to sit down and chat with one of your friends at work before they left for a different job.  It’s not like you’ll never talk to them again, but it won’t be the same as having them around all the time.  The bottom line is that I felt like the $12.50 I had to fork over for the ticket was well worth the experience that I had.

For the most part, the interview was structured around writing decisions the two had to make over the course of multiple seasons.  There was one particular insight they shared that really resonated with me.  They showed a clip of Locke trying to convince Jack to push the button in the Swan station (from Season 2), and Carlton noted that most sci-fi shows would be dealing with the logistics of the button: how was it constructed, how could they unplug it, how could they trick the system into thinking the button was pushed…that type of thing.  But that for LOST, they were always more concerned with how the characters might react to certain situations.  It wasn’t about how the button was constructed as much as it was what each character would feel when presented with the idea of having to push a button every 108 minutes in order to save the world.  They pulled this off so well that it didn’t even occur to me as I originally watched it.  I never even questioned how the button worked.  It was their conscious misdirection, and focus on character motivation that made that piece a non-issue.

They also mentioned that it took them 5 weeks to complete the Desmond-centric “The Constant”, mostly because they wanted to do time travel in such a way that was both more emotional than sci-fi, and also because they didn’t want any actions in the time travel to potentially disrupt any known “truths” about the story…both what the audience already knew, and what the writers knew was to come.

A little less than halfway through, Michael Emerson (Ben) joined the conversation, and not too long after that, so did Jorge Garcia (Hurley).  At that point, tons of fan questions rained down, too many for me to remember for this post.  But some of the more memorable moments included:

  • The writers being on-set for the final (not final, final according to Damon) scene, and asking the actors in it if they had any questions about what it was or how they needed to play the scene.  Jorge commented that they hadn’t been cluing them in for six season, so why should they start now?  That got laughs from both the local and remote audiences.  Carlton probed a bit further, and Jorge said he didn’t need to ask because he thought he got it.  That elicited a cheer.
  • The writers admitted that they used a combination of long-term planning, short-term planning, and making it up as they went along during the course of the show’s run.  They admitted that they broke the fourth wall in more ways than one in “Expose”, when Sawyer didn’t know who Nikki was, and when they buried both Nikki and Paulo alive as a way of saying, “we get that the audience doesn’t like these characters…we’re going to bury them alive instead of pushing them to the background”.  They did, however, say that the finale plays out mostly the way they enivsioned it from the beginning.
  • Many cheers went up in New York, and “ooh”s and “ah”s from the audience in San Diego when the writers said that we’d get to see Walt in the finale.  At the same time, they suggested that we cover the credits at the beginning of the finale so as to not be spoiled about some of the guest characters.
  • Jorge mentioned Ben as his favorite character, because he gets to say some cool stuff; Emerson mentioned Mr. Eko because he had a well-fleshed out backround story and got to carry a big stick.
  • The writers said that their most difficult decision on the show was killing off Charlie.  They admitted that Dominic was doing some fabulous work, but that they had to make Desmond’s flashes real, and realized that it meant that Charlie had to die.  They even called themselves “bastards” after they watched the final cut of the season 3 finale and realized what they had done.
  • One of the more interesting things they said was that they have equated LOST and their relationship with the fans to a romantic relationship.  In the beginning, if someone were to ask, “You’re not going to break my heart, are you?”, then they’d say, we’re only on the first date, I hope not!  But to ask it now, after six seasons…at some point, you just have to take that leap of faith.  At some point, you have to risk getting hurt in order to achieve that happiness that you couldn’t get otherwise.  As Damon said, you can’t hit a home run if you don’t swing the bat.

The event ended with a preview of the finale.  It actually is an extended clip of what you can find on ABC’s site: http://abc.go.com/watch/clip/lost/SH006723620000/165261/261547

The extended bit shows Sawyer physically attacking Ben and taking his weapon, and stating that he and the rest of his group aren’t candidates anymore.  As Sawyer quickly exits, Locke tells Ben that he chooses not to chase him because it doesn’t matter; he’s going to find Desmond and use him to sink the island.  Ben’s upset with that because Locke promised that he could have the island, but Locke says that he can still have it if he wants…it’s just that it’ll be at the bottom of the sea.  He also gives Ben another option: he can be on the boat that Locke’s on as he leaves.  As the two get ready to leave the area, Locke notices a paw print near the well, and states that a dog has been there…

Overall, the night was a great way to get that one last fix of LOST before the finale on Sunday.  I’m ready; there’s nothing left to do now except sit back and see what they’ve got in store for us.

With that, I’ll be gone until Sunday night, where I’ll post an open thread for any comments anyone wants to leave regarding the finale.  I’ll be back on Monday with a review of the finale, although it may only be for Part 1, depending on just how dense the writers pack everything in.  Have a great weekend everyone, and enjoy the finale on Sunday!

LOST Discussion: What the heck is up with the flash-sideways?

27 03 2010

So…as we move past the halfway point of LOST’s final season, one of the biggest questions on my mind is what the heck we’re supposed to be getting out of the flash-sideways.  Depending on your point of view, they’re either a fun diversion, a minor distraction, or a complete disappointment.  Personally, I think the typical viewer’s level of tolerance for the flash-sideways stories has nothing to do with the level of quality of the stories themselves.  I’m more inclined to believe that your interest in the flash-sideways is directly related to how much good will the show has developed with you over the years.

Jack on Oceanic 815 in the flash-sideways

Quite frankly, in the most objective sense, the writers have not given us any reason to be emotionally invested in what happens in the flash-sideways.  Without understanding exactly how it relates to the storyline we’ve been following for six years, or knowing the consequences or stakes, it’s hard to decide what to hope for.  Additionally, with the plot in the main timeline being so intriguing, and promising to untangle the web of six years of mystery, it’s only natural for viewers to feel as though the flash-sideways are a distraction or even an annoyance.

So what to do with them?  Sit back idly and hope that the next episode will somehow tie the two storylines together?  That hasn’t worked so well for me so far.  I think I’m going to try to do something different with them, and that is to theorize on what they might actually be.  This way, when they appear in episodes, I can apply the theories to them, and see which ones might hold up, and which ones don’t seem to make any sense.  Of course, these are only my theories.  If you have any that I didn’t list here, please explain them in the comments!  I’d love to hear your explanations.

Theory #1: The timelines will merge

This theory seems to have the most momentum from the online community, but in my opinion, is the least viable.  Things in LOST have slowly moved from Season 1, with nearly everything explainable via modern science, to Season 6, with time travel, possession, and reincarnation all having happened with little to no skepticism.  So merging alternate timelines could be the icing on the cake.

Kate helps a pregnant Claire in the flash-sideways

The problem I’m having with this one is the logistics of it all.  If they come together, which universe “controls” the other?  In other words, is it flash-sideways Jack that retains consciousness in the merge, or is it the Jack from the main timeline?  Or do both get to exist in the same timeline?  And beyond that, what event will trigger such a happening?  It just seems like an overly complicated and contrived plot device for a storyline that appears to be very simple at its heart.  I’d have to think that we’re moving to less complication as we come closer to the end of the story, as opposed to more.

Theory #2: The timelines are connected, but separate

This theory seems to be a variation of the first one, where the timelines themselves don’t actual merge in some way, but instead, the characters have some unknown psychic ability to transfer their consciousness to the other timeline.  This could, for example, allow Locke from the alternate timeline to transfer his consciousness to the Locke in the main timeline, thus taking over his body and forcing MIB out.  Or, Sawyer and Juliet could transfer from the main timeline to the alternate timeline and have their happily ever after.

Hurley throws Locke a bone in the flash-sideways

While this theory would go a long way towards explaining Juliet’s last words in the main timeline, doesn’t it lessen the magnitude of what happens on the island if anyone can simply escape to an alternate timeline to get their happily ever-after?  It’s not like I’m rooting for a bad ending for our characters on the show, but it trivializes those that get a good ending if the ones that don’t can simply escape their fate by flashing to a different timeline.  This theory is somewhat more palatable to me than the first one, but it still leaves me wanting.  It’s just too much a cop-out.

Theory #3: The alternate timeline shows the consequences if Smokey wins

Especially in light of the events of “Ab Aeterno”, this is the explanation that seems to make the most sense to me.  The logic goes like this: what happens if the Man in Black wins?  What if he escapes the island and gets to do what he’s been aching for years to do?  I think it’s a compelling “what if”, but not compelling enough to actually see our LOSTies lose in the end.  So how do you relay the consequences of losing this battle?  How do you show what happens if Smokey wins?  Well, what if we were shown an alternate timeline in which something happened to the island…something that stopped it from being that “cork” to hold the evil where it belongs?  Maybe a scenario in which the island is submerged?

Jack has a son David in the flash-sideways

This seems to make the most sense after recent events.  The major negative to this explanation is that if Smokey’s off the island, why has the world not already succumbed to his evil?  But it’ll be interesting to see if things slowly progress in that fashion in the alternate timeline now that there are only 8 episodes left.  

Theory #4: The alternate timeline is an epilogue for the show

So think for a second about an alternate Season 6…one in which the great conflict ends somewhere around episode 10, and the remaining 6 episodes are used to explain what happens to all of our LOSTies after everything gets all wrapped up.  Yeah, kind of an anti-climactic way to end the show, isn’t it?  But what if you felt as though you had to explain how the characters ended up, to give final resolution to the show?  Perhaps a solution to the dilemma is to show the ending in parallel to everything leading up to it.  Perhaps this “alternate” timeline isn’t alternate at all…perhaps some major event happens at the end of the show, and these flash-sideways are an explanation of what happens after that event.  It’s just being shown to us out of sequence.

Sayid chooses not to be with Nadia in the flash-sideways

This theory seems highly reasonable to me, but the event at the end would have to be pretty amazing in order to create the events we’re seeing in the flash-sideways.  Not my favorite theory, because it creates aother escape mechanism for our LOSTies, but it’s certainly a pretty clever twist if they use it.  It’s also a fun theory to keep in your head as a sort of “play along” as events unfold in the flash-sideways.

Theory #5: The alternate timeline is really the main timeline

So here’s one last theory that’s a bit off-the-wall.  Perhaps this whole alternate timeline thing is actually not an alternate timeline at all.  Maybe what we’ve watched for the past 6 years is the alternate timeline, and the timeline we’re seeing this season is what really happened.  When we get to the end of the “alternate” timeline, some major decision point will come into play that will either propel the LOSTies into the timeline from the last 6 years, or allow the non-island timeline to stick.

Ben works at the same high school as Arzt (and Locke) in the flash-sideways

Of all of the theories I’ve heard, this is the one I’m least fond of.  It basically invalidates the entire storyline from the last 6 seasons, and is even a bigger cop-out than the merging or transferring theories.  But it certainly would be a twist of epic proportions, and something that would be talked about for some time to come.

What’s your favorite?  What did I miss?

Miles and James Ford (Sawyer) are cop partners in the flash-sideways

Alright, so that’s how I see it…but I’d love to hear what you think!  I title these posts “LOST Discussion”s because I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to write in the comments and talk about the details with all of us.  So don’t be shy if you’ve got something to share!  Let’s see if we can figure it out together before the big reveal happens!

8 Days Until The Final Season Premiere: Are You Ready?

25 01 2010

Howdy everyone!

I know that it’s been ages since I’ve posted, but hey, why post for the sake of posting?  I thought about doing a few list posts leading up to the premiere, or writing about a few of my favorite theories, but it seemed like so much fluff and filler.  I’m much happier to post when I actually have something worth writing about.

And so here we are, just over a week away from the return of our favorite show.  For me, it’s genuinely difficult to not feel a good bit of bittersweet taste mixed in with the overall excitement of the show returning.  I have incredible faith in Team Darlton to deliver the goods and make this season of LOST everything we’ve been hoping for.  But the fact of the matter is that by the end of May, LOST as we know it will be gone forever.  TV simply has not ever been this good (IMHO), and I have my doubts as to whether it ever will be again.  So the question is, are you ready?  Are you ready for all of the old characters to return?  Are you ready for all of the answers you’re going to get?  And are you ready for LOST to leave the airwaves forever?  If not, here are a few things to get you in the right mindset.

First of all, Team Darlton says that they best way to prep for Season 6 is to re-watch Season 1.  And what better way to do that than to see it all in chronological order?  Oh yeah, you read that right.  Fellow LOST junkie and work colleague of mine Dave stumbled across an amazing project on the Lostpedia forums.  Someone with a ton of ambition is trying to do what I (and probably many of you) thought would be a fantastic thing to see: edit all of the scenes so that they’re in chronological order.  It’s called LOST Chronology, and you can check it out here.  They start on the day of the crash, which is somewhat disappointing (I would have started earlier), but it’s still quite amazing.  I’ve only seen the first 2 “episodes” so far, but it’s incredibly fascinating to watch.  I highly recommend it as a way to get caught up with the first season, or as a new way for you LOST addicts to get your fix.

Also, for any of you that might need a refresher but don’t want to sift through multiple episodes, there is a new version of the classic “LOST in 8:15” that captures everything up to Season 5.  You can view that below.

Finally, I wanted to share with you a funny tidbit from The Onion, spoofing us LOST fans and what it must be like for our non-LOST friends:


Alright, well that’s all for now.  I’d love to see your comments below regarding what you think of the above links, what you expect from LOST this season, or what you think you’re going to do when it’s all over!  I’ll be back next week with the first LOST Challenge of the final season!

Comic-Con, here we come!

24 07 2009

Hey everyone, Comic-Con is in full swing, and yours truly is getting pretty excited about making the trip to the convention center bright and early tomorrow morning to get in the line for the LOST panel.  I’ve heard stories about getting turned away if you’re not in line by 6:00 am, so I’m going to try to get in line around 3:00 am to make sure I get in.  I’ll be posting to the blog on Sunday with a full recap of my experiences(both of the LOST panel and the Con in general), hopefully with a ton of photos and maybe even a video or two.  And of course, most importantly, I’ll have the latest news from the panel, and my take on what any of it means.  If you haven’t already heard, Team Darlton will be there (showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse), as well as Jorge Garcia (Hurley) and Michael Emerson (Ben).  There will also be a special guest…whoever that may be.


I’ll also be tweeting from the Con, something I really haven’t done much of before.  But I had to sign up for Twitter to get the latest info on the Comic-Con tickets themselves, so it only seems reasonable to go full circle and use it to update everything I see at the Con as well.  I’ve added a Twitter Updates section to the front page of the blog, and it seems to update fairly regularly.  But if you want up-to-the-second updates on what I see at the LOST panel, subscribing to Twitter itself and following me is the way to go.  If you do that, my alias on the site is @hablodepablo.  I look forward to sharing everything I see with you!


By the way, it seems as though a LOST nugget has already been unearthed via the Con.  There’s a new ARG-type game for LOST that appears to have just been launched.  Typically, I’m not one to play along with these, but two things make me think a bit differently about this one.  First, it’s the last season of LOST.  This is the last chance we’re going to get for anything new related to the show, so I’m going in with reckless abandon.  Second, it actually looks like a bit more fun than what has come before it.  (That might just be me though.)  In any event, I’m going to give it a shot, and you can check it out too, by going here: http://lostuniversity.org/index.php


That’s about it for now…check back in a couple of days, or feel free to follow my tweets!

LOST News and some off-topic analysis

2 07 2009

Hey everyone, July is here!  For me, that means a day off for Independence Day, my wife’s birthday at the end of the month, and Comic Con on the horizon!  Yep, with the Season 5 finale almost 2 months in our rear view mirror, it’s time to start looking ahead.  The premiere of LOST’s 6th and final season is now about 7 months away (that still seems incredibly long, doesn’t it?), and Team Darlton has promised to reveal a bunch about how Season 6 will play out at LOST’s final Comic Con panel later this month.  I’m still frantically trying to secure tickets to the sold out event so I can bring you the latest news from the panel, as well as share with you what I believe will be a very interesting and possibly strange experience.

But even before we get to Comic Con, it’s actually been an eventful June for LOST.  In fact, I’d have to say that it’s probably been the most eventful June (at least that I can remember) in the history of the show.  For those of you that don’t want to know anything about the final season, avert your eyes now.  For those that are eager for any tidbits of info available, here’s what happened over the past month (some or all of which you may have already heard):


First, Matthew Fox confirmed to an audience in Monte Carlo that he indeed knows the endgame of LOST, and that he’s excited about how it’s going to end.  He mentions that the resolution of the Season 5 cliffhanger will be “surprising and probably fairly confusing”, that at some point in Season 6 there will be no more flashbacks, that he knows that Jack is going to go head-to-head with Locke again in the final season, and that he thinks the final scenes of the show will be “incredibly powerful, very sad, and beautiful”.  He also hints that after LOST, he’ll be done with TV, and will focus almost exclusively on movies.

Next, Team Darlton has confirmed that Emile de Ravin (Claire) will be back for Season 6 as a show regular.  That bit of news was informally known for quite some time, but the producers have now made it official.  You can read the full article here: http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2009/06/ask-ausiello-spoilers-on-lost-the-closer-weeds-true-blood-burn-notice-the-office-and-more.html

After that bit of good news, we were hit with the even better info that LOST’s final season has been bumped from the original 17 hours planned to 18.  The season will be bookended with a 2-hour premiere and a 2-hour finale.  (LOST viewing party at my place!)  You can read the full article here: http://www.thrfeed.com/2009/06/final-lost-season-gains-an-hour-.html

Finally, Team Darlton admits that they’re trying to get all of the original cast back together for some portion of the final season, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko) has expressed remorse about the circumstances in which he left the show, and is lobbying for a chance to return and give his character closure. 


When Adewale originally left the show, he was dealing with the deaths of both of his parents, and he wanted to return to London to do some directing. 


However, my impression of the split was not one that seemed to be very amicable.  I think that Adewale might have some fences to mend if he’s going to come back.  In any event, here’s hoping that they find a way to bring him back.  I’d love to see a few more scenes with Mr. Eko.


Off-topic Discussion

Alright, so I know that this is a LOST blog, but I’m going to take a slight tangent away from my favorite TV show, and discuss something else in the entertainment industry.  None of what follows has anything to do with LOST, so if you don’t care, feel free to check out here and not be concerned about what you may miss.

Still with me?  Cool.  Let me give you a bit of background before I get too far into it.  When I was younger (I think it started around 11 or 12), I remember one of my favorite events of the week was to listen to “American Top 40” with Casey Kasem.  I faithfully tuned in right at the start when Casey kicked it off with #40, and listened all the way through to #1.  Typically I was doing other things while I listened…watching a ball game, playing a video game, maybe even doing homework…but I always loved to tune in to the show.

Later in life, I began to grow reminiscent of those times and those songs.  I had a pie-in-the-sky dream that perhaps one day, when I had enough money, I’d go back and buy all of those old songs so I could listen to them whenever I wanted to take a trip down memory lane.  Of course, through the tail end of the 80s and throughout the 90s, that pie-in-the-sky dream was just that…a dream.  To go back and try to buy old catalog albums for just one or two songs…well, that would cost a fortune.

Enter iTunes.  When I heard about the theory and business model of iTunes, I couldn’t believe it.  I could finally go back and cherry-pick all of the songs I wanted for my life-long dream.  And instead of costing me $10-$15 per song I wanted, it would only cost me 99 cents!  With a cost-effective method in place for purchasing the songs, I now only needed a methodical way of accessing the old charts.  After a bit of digging, I found some books by Joel Whitburn that reprodcued all of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in a decade-long segments.  You can find them here: https://www.recordresearch.com/billboard_chart_collections/billboard_hot100_charts_the_eighties.php

Of course, I snatched them up for the 80s and 90s, started the same process for the current charts, and was on my way.  It’s been a great hobby, and I’ve now collected all of the songs that have ever hit the Top 10 for all of the 80s.  My goal is that by the end of 2010, I’ll have every song that cracked the top 10 of Billboard’s Top 100 from 1980 through 2010.  That may seem anal retentive or overkill to some of you, but to me, it’s pretty exciting.

Anyway, why the long-winded background story?  Well, I wanted to make sure that you understood the level of fanaticism I have about the Billboard charts.  My interest in what appears there is not just a passing fancy…I’m probably what you would call a “student” of the charts and its history.

Which is why it troubles me so much that the folks at Billboard have made what I deem to be a nearly arbitrary decision regarding excluding Michael Jackson from the charts this week.

You may have heard, after Michael Jackson’s death last week, his songs have been generating incredibly high levels of air time.  In addition, his catalog songs and albums have been selling like hotcakes, both at storefronts (where retailers are running out of his work), and online through digital downloads through sites like iTunes.  But despite the increased airplay and song purchases that would certainly put his music on the current charts, Billboard has stated that both The Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts will not track Jackson’s renaissance, because those charts are for “current” music.  http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/chart-beat-bonus/chart-beat-dierks-bentley-seether-heidi-1003989497.story

Say what?

First of all, I’ve got a problem with the way in which they’re defining “current”.  Isn’t what the public chooses to buy and listen to at the present time the true definition of “current”?  Trying to define what’s “current” based upon what’s recent;y been released is an exercise in futility.

Didn’t remakes of “Auld Lang Syne” by Kenny G in 2000 (to bring in the new millenium) and “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston in 1991 (for Super Bowl 25) become “current” enough to chart on the Hot 100?  (The answer, by the way, is yes: “Auld Lang Syne” peaked at number 7 in 1999 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_G#Singles, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” cracked the top 20 in 1991.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston#1987-91:_Whitney.2C_I.27m_Your_Baby_Tonight.2C_and_the_.22Star_Spangled_Banner.22 ) 

But what I think is the biggest indictment of Billboard’s decision is the fact that several different songs have re-charted at different times, based upon “current” popularity.

  • “The Twist” by Chubby Checker hit #1 in 1960, and then again in 1962.
  • The Contours hit the top 20 with “Do You Love Me” in 1962, and then again in 1988
  • “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers charted in both 1965 and 1990
  • Queen cracked the top 10 with “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1976, and then again in 1992

For each of the last 3 occurences, the re-chart came due to a song being part of a famous movie’s soundtrack.  But even if that were the mitigating factor for allowing those songs to chart but not MJ’s, it’s easy to make the argument that in this day and age, a re-release is not needed.  Digital downloads are as much a part of today’s culture as vinyl, tape, or compact disc was in their respective times, and the availability of Jackson’s work via that format should suffice.  In fact, Billboard does use digital download statistics in their figures for compiling the Hot 100, but apparently only if the music is “current”.

Of course, I do have one last example which cannot be explained by any of Billboard’s smeantics.  And that’s “Into The Night” by Benny Mardones.  For those of you that may not be familiar with the story, “Into The Night” was released back in 1980, to modest success, as the song peaked at #11.  In 1989, the song once again received heavy airplay, simply because DJs in Phoenix and LA wondered what happened to “the guy that sang ‘Into The Night'”, and started playing the record on-air for nostalgic purposes.

Billboard allowed “Into The Night” to re-chart in 1989.  Billboard has not allowed any of Jackson’s songs to re-chart, despite having 6 of the 10 most downloaded songs of the past week. 


(note that this chart will be outdated with respect to this post on 7/9/2009)

Airplay figures are hard to decipher relative to the Top 100 since Billboard does not produce a comprehensive airplay chart in a similar fashion to downloads, but that’s the point here.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how Jackson’s song’s resurgence *would have* played out on the charts?  Wouldn’t it have been interesting to see if he could conquer the charts posthemously?  (We know for a fact that we would have topped the Billboard 200, it’s much less clear with the Hot 100.)

Even if Billboard felt as though they absolutely had to stick to their guns regarding their chart methodology (which I’m not convinced explicitly excludes this situation), couldn’t they have paid homage to Jackson by providing us with a “What If” chart, showing how he would have done?

Overall, I’m simply disappointed that Billboard could not find a way to intgrate this unique situation into their charts as a way to provide a historical record of this event.  While Billboard struggles to explain their arbitrary decisions to audiophiles around the country (and even the world…Jackson has popped up all over the UK chart, which does not have the same restrictions that Billboard does), it seems to me that Michael Jackson, even after his death, is the one that’s showing Billboard exactly who’s “current”, and who just might be irrelevant.

So ends my rant, but if you want to read more on the charts, and specifically, this week’s Michael Jackson controversy, I recommend “Chart Watch” on Yahoo.  http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/chart_watch/35893/week-ending-june-28-2009-hes-still-setting-records/  I won’t be blogging about the charts anytime soon (at least not until after LOST is over, and probably not even then), so if this was at all interesting to you, I recommend you run on over there for a weekly fix.

That’s it for now, hopefully I’ll be back in about 4 weeks with an in-person report on the LOST goings-on at Comic Con!

LOST Discussion: Top 10 Dangling Threads

25 05 2009

Hey there everyone!  Not sure about the rest of you, but I’m still riding the buzz of the season finale from over a week ago.  It still feels like there is much to be interpreted, and of course, we have no idea where the show is going to go after the shocking turn of events in the finale.

But as you all know, next season is the last season of LOST, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep things fresh for all of you during the hiatus.  My goal is to come up with at least one intriguing post every month during the show’s break, and hopefully more.  We’ll talk about interesting events, where some of the characters have come from and where they may go, and I’m even hoping to try to go to Comic Con this year, and give you a first-hand report of the LOST event.  And if you’ve got anything you want me to break down in detail before the last 16 or 17 hours of LOST airs, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!  I’d be happy to give you my unique take on things.

In any event, I’ve got something a little different for you in this post.  About a month ago, I gave you my top 10 list of unanswered questions.  Some of those have actually been answered in some way since the finale aired.  But in this post, I want to do something just a slight bit different.  I don’t want to ask questions about some of the larger plot threads, like what happened when the bomb went off, or what’s going to happen now that Jacob got stabbed.  No, this post is going to be about some of the smaller dangling threads that the writers haven’t yet answered.  You know, some of the things that you may have forgotten about with all of the chaos of the finale.  And maybe, just maybe, if we pull on them and unearth the answers, they may just tell us something about the larger plot overall.  So let’s get to it!

10. Why can’t Ben and Widmore kill each other?


As I asked in my finale recap, did you actually miss Widmore in the finale?  Would you have even imagined that the finale wouldn’t include him, and that you wouldn’t have even noticed?  But really, he’s been much too prevelant to the storyline both as an Other in the past, and as Ben’s adversary in the present, to be completely absent from the sixth and final season.

But what is he up to?  Is he destined not to ever return to the island?  And more importantly, what’s the deal with he and Ben not being able to kill each other directly?  Is it the island protecting them both?  Or is there more to it than that?  By any chance is their relationship tied into the relationship of Jacob and Man #2?  I’m not going to venture any guesses like I did in the top 10 questions column, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing some of your theories in the comments section below.  Regardless, I don’t think this thread will be dropped, so keep it in mind as Season 6 unfolds.

9. How did the statue turn into a lone 4-toed remnant?


The statue became a great focus of Season 5, and amazingly, in the finale we discovered that the base of it is actually Jacob’s home.  Most of the questions surrounding it now are about what it may or may not be, and what that means with respect to the overall mythology of the show.  But what is just as intriguing to me is how it was reduced to a single 4-toed foot.  Did it happen when the h-bomb went off?  Did the Black Rock fire upon it?  (They had lots of TNT, right?)  Or is there some other explanation?  Regardless of what the answer is, I’m suggesting that you don’t lose track of that point while discussing how much sense it makes for it to be Tawaret.

8. Walt’s dream/vision of Locke


So, how many of you remember this?  In the episode, “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”, Locke visits each of his island friends back on the mainland.  One of his earlier visits takes him to Walt, who warns him of some impending danger: “I’ve been having dreams about you.  You were on the island, wearing a suit, and there are people all around you.  They wanted to hurt you, John.”

While I won’t go as far as to say that Walt’s dream will inevitably come to fruition, I will say that you John Locke fans have a little bit more evidence to point to that the Locke we’ve always known will be back somehow in Season 6.  Beyond that, maybe we’ll get to see Walt return to the island in Season 6?  Just thought I’d remind you of that so you can have it in the back of your mind as things unfold next year.

7. Richard Alpert’s 3rd pre-1977 trip off-island


In the finale, Richard says, “I’ve gone off the island three times, two to visit him.”  The interesting thing to note about that statement is that it comes in 1977.  Since we can rule out his trip to Mittelos Bioscience to recruit Juliet, we know that we’ve seen both of those trips: once when Locke was still a baby in the hospital, and the other when Alpert gave Locke the Dalai Lama test.  While I can’t think of anything that would be of any significance to the overall LOST mythology, it’ll still be interesting to see if we’re shown that third off-island trip, and anything else about Richard’s background.

6. Hurley’s / Jacob’s guitar case


Alright, here’s one I have no clue about whatsoever.  Actually, scratch that.  I have *almost* no clue about it.  What I do know is this: we’ve seen it enough, and Hurley has gone out of his way to keep it with him, that it will absolutely come into play in some fashion in Season 6.  Maybe he’ll see Charlie and get to give it to him.  Maybe there’s something in it that will help Jacob out.  But whatever it is, look out for it next year…I’m sure it’ll play an integral part in a scene somewhere.

5. Why didn’t Sun go back to 1977?


I raised this question as soon as it happened, and have to admit that I almost forgot about it myself.  Just in case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, let me give you a quick reminder: when Ajira Flight 316 came into the vicinity of the island, Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid were all flashed off the plane and sent back to 1977.  The question is, why not Sun?  She was part of the Oceanic 6, she was part of the group that were touched by Jacob…why did she stay in the present?  I’m not sure if this will ever get answered, or even if it does, if it will mean anything in the overall mythology.  But I’m definitely curious, and it’s something that I’ll be looking out for in Season 6.

4. Jacob’s touches and visits to the LOSTies pasts


OK, here’s where things start to bridge the gap between simple dangling threads and items that more deeply impact the overall mythology of LOST.  On top of that, I’m sure this isn’t something that has left your mind since the finale aired.  But at the same time, it’s a great specific question to ask, even if we don’t have the answer.

And while we don’t have the answer, I will tell you two things that I definitely think it’s *not*.  First, I don’t think it has anything to do with the LOSTies getting on Flight 815.  While Jacob did touch many of the LOSTies prior to the flight, he also touched both Sayid and Hurley *afterwards*.  So it’s not about targeting them for the flight.  Additionally, it’s not about them being targeted for return to 2007 from 1977.  Remember, Sun was also touched, and she’s already there.  I’m sure there’s something more to it, but I have no clue what it is.  If you have any guesses, please leave a comment below!

3. Gunfight on the canoes


Not sure if you all remember this, but earlier in Season 5, when Sawyer & gang were flashing through time, they found a campsite with an Ajira water bottle.  They needed transportation to the Orchid, so they took one of the canoes instead of trekking across the island directly.  They were then immediately followed by an unknown group, apparently in an attempt to get their canoe back.  However, knowing what we now know from the finale, there certainly may be more to it than that.  And remember, Sawyer was able to shoot one of them…

There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll see this scene again, this time from the opposite perspective.  I can’t wait to see how it plays out with some more information about what went on…

2. Ben’s trip to the Temple / the Temple in general


Despite all of the answers we got throughout Season 5, the most we got about Ben as a youngster was that he was taken to the Temple by Richard.  And in fact, we still haven’t seen the actual Temple itself yet.  So, the question is, what *did* happen to Ben during that trip?  And what the heck goes on at that place anyway?  We’re pretty sure it’s tied to “The Sickness” somehow, but rest assured, when we do get to see the Temple, and what goes on in there, it will be a big reveal indeed.

1. What’s up with Claire?


So…have any of you actually forgotten about Aaron’s mom with all of the excitement from this season?  While I don’t think any of you would, I certainly couldn’t blame you if you did.  She’s flat out disappeared this past season, with only a couple of references regarding her whereabouts.

Remember, back in Season 4, Keamy from the freighter appeared to blow up the house she was living in at The Barracks…while she was in it.  Next thing we know, she’s abandoning little baby Aaron, on going off with apparition Christian to Jacob’s cabin (which may or may not actually have been inhabited by Jacob), and pretty much acting about as strange as could be.  Since then, she’s been gone, with no physical appearance at all in Season 5.

But two things that happened this season lead me to believe that we’re going to see her in some form in Season 6.  First, she’s the whole reason why Kate returned.  Kate’s story doesn’t reach its conclusion unless she finds Claire, and I expect that she will.  Also, Sun managed to discover Charlie’s DriveShaft ring in the finale, and that story also doesn’t come to its conclusion unless she’s able to pass it along to someone that matters…namely, Claire.

Finally, don’t forget that Desmond had a vision of the future that included Claire getting on a helicopter and leaving the island.  While the thought was that the helicopter he was referring to was the one Lapidus came to the island on, that certainly doesn’t have to have been the case.  There’s still a chance for his vision to come true, and I expect it will prior to the end of the series.

So that’s my list!  I’d love for you guys to comment on any part of it, or to come up with some other topic for me to write about next.  Either way, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you all again soon!