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Updated: 2016-03-05T20:00:36.042+00:00


History Repeated by Luhks


In a few short months, the network television show Lost will complete its initial run. As time passes, people will begin to look back on the series from its proper historical context. Lost might be regarded as the biggest cult television phenomenon of its era. However, even the show’s biggest fans must admit that ABC’s Lost most likely will not be remembered as the best dramatic series of its decade. (The cable-television triumvirate of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Mad Men, will take the gold, silver, and bronze medals, in some order.) Within its own genre, though, J.J. Abrams’ Lost probably has ensured its spot on Mount Rushmore alongside Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, and Chris Carter’s The X-Files. Tracing the history of those four shows reveals a great deal about the evolution of the medium. When The X-Files was peaking in the 1990s, writers were beginning to shift away from the same creative mindset that had prevailed since the 1960s, that each episode operates as a self-contained, one-time broadcast. The ambitious X-Files team struggled mightily in their early attempts to convert their Monster-of-the-Week drama into a Grand-Mythological-Saga. Over time, technological shifts have changed fundamentally the way in which the artists are approaching the medium. After syndication, DVR playback, streaming media, and most importantly the DVD market, television programming carries a more permanent life than ever before. Today’s Lost writers operate with the understanding that their episodes will continue to exist long after their transitory time slots. Any fan would be naïve to believe that everything was planned from the beginning, but Abrams and Lindelof certainly understood that their Pilot was a Beginning that would lead to a Middle and an End. Each episode no longer needs to operate as an individual short story within a compilation, but as interconnected chapters in one great novel.Perhaps more so than any other Lost episode, Follow the Leader represents the farthest frontier of this sci-fi television trek away from the original Leader, the Twilight Zone storytelling prototype. Episode 15 continues the trend set by its Season Five predecessors Because You Left and Namaste; it focuses on no character in particular. (Although many people will disagree with me, I would rank these three aforementioned Season Five episodes among the low points of the series.) The game pieces merely shift from one position to another in preparation for this year’s check-mate finale. As always, O’Quinn’s voice describes it best: “You and I have an errand to run, and we don’t have a lot of time.” The script from Paul Zbyszewski and Elizabeth Sarnoff can barely even be treated as a story in its own right. Each element only makes sense in relation to the episodes that it follows, and the episodes that will follow it. Its beginning, middle, and end exist only in the temporal sense, not in the functional sense. If Lost’s final season follows this lead (as well as whatever future successors who step in front of the line), then the paradigm will have shifted too far, and will require some course-correction back to a more stable equilibrium. Many months after that season’s end, almost every reader probably remembers the events of Faraday’s life story in The Variable, but I would expect that many people would need a refresher course for Follow the Leader. The human memory operates less like our home digital recorders, and more like Kirk’s Captain’s Log or Mulder’s filing cabinet. Without some unifying idea, theme, event, or character, the story will tend to fade away into nothing. The attempt to transform Lost episodes into pieces of an enduring novel has resulted in a paradoxical effect. An episode like Follow the Leader exists only to please the tastes of the plot-hungry immediate public, but it does not succeed (unlike many of its great predecessors from Serling down to Lindelof) in telling a complete story that will last forever.BEN: So, which one are you? […] Are you the geni[...]

The Dark and the Light by Luhks


There are only two types of Lost fans: those who watch the show for the Characters, and those who watch the show for the Mythology. The statement I just made is, of course, a false one. It reflects a gross generalization, which oversimplifies the complex motivations of a wide spectrum of individuals into two categories. Look no further than the Season Five finale, The Incident, for evidence that the definitions of ‘character’ and ‘mythology’ overlap each other as to make the classification nearly meaningless. Jacob, the central force lurking behind all Lost mythology, is in fact a character. Nevertheless, that exact thought has probably crossed the mind of every person reading this article, in one form or another, at some point in time. Our world is so complex and chaotic, that if we never made such generalizations, if we never drew such dividing lines, then we could never understand anything. All science, art, and even language depends upon a binary choice between ‘X’ and ‘not-X’. Even when we stare into a random and meaningless abyss, a Rorschach inkblot, we instinctively need to find some greater meaning within it, to find some pattern in the black ink on white background.When presented with a choice between two options, neutrality is nearly impossible. Personally, I know where I stand on most of Lost’s dueling opposites. The characters are more important than mythology. Season One is much stronger than Season Five. Terry O’Quinn is a far better actor than Michael Emerson. Jack is many times more interesting than James. Exposé kicks ass. Jack belongs with Juliet, and Kate should be with Sawyer. I hope that Widmore defeats Linus, and that Jacob loses to his nemesis. Science should always triumph over faith. I prefer one immutable timeline over alternate universes, and I prefer John Locke over everyone and everything. (While I’m at it, Elvis made better music than the Beatles, Manning is a better quarterback than Brady, Batman is better hero than Superman, Latin is more beautiful than Greek, but the Greeks themselves were more interesting than the Romans.) On an intellectual level, I understand the validity of the opposite perspectives, but, on an emotional level, I’m also 100% convinced that my opinions are correct. At its best, Lost presents us with a world of black-and-white dichotomies in perfect symmetry, but then exposes the truth in all of its shades of gray. Along the way, we can revel in the conflicts and enjoy choosing sides. Those who refuse to take sides, in the words of Rose and Bernard in this episode, simply don't care. True objectivity functions no differently from apathy. Ultimately, our reactions, opinions, and preferences reveal more about ourselves than about the artwork itself.The two-part episode The Incident presents two stories in parallel: a science-fiction adventure involving time-travel, electro-magnetism, and a mad scientist hoping to change things with a hydrogen bomb; and a fantasy myth involving mortals enslaved by ancient demigods, trying to change things with a knife and sacrificial fire. (In keeping with the disclaimer introduced earlier, it must be noted that ‘science’ and ‘fantasy’ are terms loosely applied, and that perhaps even the Jacob story might craft a more plausible scientific explanation than the Incident itself.) This work of fiction exists somewhere at the intersection of drama, sci-fi, and fantasy, but wholly within the category of Mythology. The episode’s first images evoke the dawn of human culture, the harnessed power of fire, shelters made of rock, hand-spun clothing and sandals, and primitive tools to gather fish from the ocean. After mankind adapted the necessary technology to survive, his mind began to expand to other pursuits, darkening his bare walls to produce painted images, carving majestic statues into rock, weaving decorative tapestries dyed different colors, telling stories through language, and even building ships to explore the seas (and planes to conquer the skies). Although Stanley Kubrick’[...]

The Hole in the Heart by Luhks


All five seasons of Lost follow a parabola of sorts, with highest points of action at the beginning and end of each year’s collection of episodes. Season Five literally opened with a lot of flash, a razzle-dazzle series of time jumps backward, forward, and sideways. Eventually, the drama settled down into a smoothly-curved valley inside the happy yellow houses of the 1970s Dharma Initiative. Episode 5.13 Some Like it Hoth, which closed with Miles peering into the window of the Chang home, represented the last fleeting moment of domestic tranquility before the Island accelerated back into crisis mode. The Variable revamps the show’s conflict quotient, without using any Because-You-Left-style or Constant-style time travel. Instead, it relies on the old Lost tools of the trade: a tragic series of flashbacks, a handful of twists and reveals, and a desperation plan to get everyone back to where they are supposed to be. Along the way, Jeremy Davies provides the year’s best performance (by any cast member not named Terry O’Quinn), during both his first lead effort and his swan song. The Variable is one of those rare achievements that succeeds both as a character study and as a thrilling piece of plot development.The early minutes of The Variable briefly send the audience back to the season opener, with a literal repetition of the meeting between Chang and Faraday. The limitless energy source beneath the Orchid station served as the catalyst for this season’s grand storyline. The oversized magnet under the Swan dragged Oceanic Flight 815 to its destiny, while the Orchid sent its characters back in time to create that destiny. These pockets of energy represent the epitome of the Island’s natural and supernatural powers. After Daniel arrives in the middle of the night, mankind wages a one-day battle to strike the Island directly in its heart. Faraday’s plan confronts these mighty natural forces using world’s strongest man-made power, the hydrogen bomb (or, perhaps something even stronger, the human will). Faraday, along with his lone disciple Dr. Shephard, briefly becomes Lost’s own version of Dr. Frankenstein, the man of science, driven by emotion to rebel against the natural order. The ultimate outcome remains unresolved, but this episode certainly foreshadows which side will win the battle. By the end of The Variable, Mother Nature reasserts her superiority quite emphatically, in the form of Mother Eloise.LOCKE: And then a light went on. I thought it was a sign. But it wasn't a sign. Probably just you going to the bathroom.Over the past few seasons, Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have produced (in my judgment) the most consistently excellent scripts on the show. The Variable adds another instant classic to their growing resume. Their writing almost always offers more depth beneath the surface than the average episode. Seemingly insignificant details often elevate the meaning to otherwise straightforward scenes. This particular episode uses the recurring image of characters being interrupted by a knock on their door. Daniel’s first stop on the Island is to awaken Jack from his sleep. Shephard had been lying dormant since he arrived in 1977, awaiting further instructions. After one look at the Doc in his Dharma jumpsuit, the audience already knew what Daniel soon told him: “You don’t belong here at all.” Jack is already out the door and ready for action, before he even gets dressed, and well before he hears Daniel’s plan. By contrast, James and Juliet remain inside their home for the entire episode. Three separate times, a character knocks on their door and disrupts the LaFleur household (first Jack, then Daniel, then Radzinsky). The final knocking comes from within the house, when Phil, the skeleton in their closet, finally makes his presence known. Like the Oceanic Six before them, living the Lie is only a temporary solution. Sooner or later, destiny will come knocking, whether from outside or from within.At the end of He’s Our Yo[...]

Nobody's Perfect by Luhks


With only three episodes remaining, the grand canvas of Lost’s fifth chapter is coming into view. Even after several months, the season premiere still seems like a fresh part of the collective consciousness. As with its season-opening predecessors, the first scene of Season Five established the overarching tone for the story that followed. Man of Science, Man of Faith began with button-pusher Desmond peering up from the Swan station at Locke and Jack above him. A Tale of Two Cities introduced trouble in paradise for Ben and Juliet in the Others’ village. The Beginning of the End highlighted the tenuous return to civilization for the Oceanic Six. Because You Left shifted the spotlight away from the core group of characters into the Chang family home. Nearly every element of that scene hinted at the story elements to be explored over the next few months: the inner workings of the Dharma Initiative, the ongoing war with the Hostiles, time travel, the famous Hitler hypothetical, dead characters reborn, uncovering ancient ruins, false identities, domestic tranquility disrupted by crises, mothers, fathers, and children. Episode 5.13 Some Like it Hoth revisits that same family unit of Miles, Lara, and Pierre (and even finishes with the return of Daniel Faraday, the other principal character from the opening scene). Over the first half of this season, the Wheel at the Orchid station caused Lost’s temporal structure to fall out of joint like Chang’s beloved Willie Nelson record. After a period of uncertainty, the past four episodes have returned to the traditional single character-centric format, along with its steady rhythm of flashbacks. Compared to Sayid’s He’s Our You, Kate’s Whatever Happened, Happened, and Ben’s Dead is Dead, the melody of Miles' Some Like it Hoth sounds the most similar to classical Lost tunes. Like many seminal episodes from the first three seasons, this first-ever Miles episode provides a fresh look at the inner life of a character with a tough outer shell. Early in the episode, Miles speaks some words central to almost every character on the show: “I need you to tell me why I'm this way... how... how I do the things I do. And I need to know […] about my father.” (Later, Bram tries to recruit him to his team, by offering that same reward.) Miles does not obtain any easy answers to his questions, but his journey on and off the Island does give the viewer an understanding of how Miles evolved from the infant from Because You Left into the misanthropic hustler of Confirmed Dead.After a streak of considerably self-referential episode titles, the name Some Like it Hoth derives its meaning from two films outside the Lost universe: the classic 1959 comedy Some Like it Hot, from Billy Wilder; and The Empire Strikes Back, the 1980 sequel to Star Wars. Lost is no stranger to Star Wars references, but it has acknowledged liberally the influence of the famous movie saga along the way. For people like Hurley and for the writers of Lost, Star Wars represents more than just a movie series, but a common point of cultural reference as useful as The Bible or The Odyssey. Three decades after George Lucas set out to bring his vision to the big screen, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof approached an ambitious television project with many of the same objectives. The two works exist at the intersection of past and future. Both Star Wars and Lost seek to create an enduring cultural myth, within a science-fiction universe. The heroes still fit many of the same basic archetypes (the prodigy chasing his father's shadow, the martyred mentor, the reformed every-man-for-himself scoundrel, the bumbling sidekicks), and the basic religious and psychological roots remain the same. Whereas Lucas' films pushed the limits of technology in the film industry, Lost has experimented with narrative techniques. Working as a serial ensemble drama, Lost has been able to dig much deeper into the minds of its characters and the substance of its litera[...]

Luminous Beings by Luhks


Three years after the original Star Wars closed on a triumphant high note, the sequel redefined the tone of the series, beginning with this simple sentence: “It is a dark time for the Rebellion.” For financial reasons, the majority of movie sequels are formulaic. Studios want to replicate the box-office success of the original film, so they emulate whatever worked the first time. The opening crawl of this second film, as well as its title, signaled that the next chapter here would follow a much different path. The film that follows lives up to that promise, and offers a fresh and unique experience from start to finish. The Empire Strikes Back does not follow the formula, but instead subverts it in a way so that the two films add meaning to one another. The film’s hero, Luke Skywalker, uses the Force five times during The Empire Strikes Back. In each of those five scenes, Luke is upside-down immediately beforehand. In order to fully understand his world this time around, Luke must literally invert his existing perspective on the world.Although the character archetypes remain the same, the storytelling structure in The Empire Strikes Back becomes almost a complete inversion of the first film. In Star Wars, the Imperials discovered the location of the Rebel base during the final act, which set the stage for a spectacular large-scale battle won by the Rebels. In the sequel, the Empire locates the Rebellion, then wins the movie’s biggest battle, and destroys their hidden base, all within the opening act. In Star Wars, Luke learned about his identity through an early conversation with Obi-Wan, which marked the beginning of his adventure. In The Empire Strikes Back, the entire adventure leads up to a climax of emotion rather than spectacle, in which Luke learns that his self-image was based on a lie. The film’s secondary climax, Leia’s goodbye to Han before he is frozen in carbonite, is also a moment about the lives of two characters, not a key event in the war between the Rebellion against the Empire. Throughout the first movie, different characters sacrificed their own interests to serve the common good; the second movie pushes the collective to the background and then shifts its attention back on the individuals.Size relationships played a major role in the original Star Wars, and The Empire Strikes Back builds on the first film’s philosophy. The film once again opens with a shot of an Imperial destroyer in space. The first character on-screen is a small droid, this time an Imperial probe droid rather than C-3P0 and R2-D2 of the Rebellion. Much like the other two droids did in the first film, the probe droid’s pod drifts down to a barren wasteland on the surface of a remote planet, on a mission vital to the larger conflict. In the ensuing Battle of Hoth, the Rebels defend themselves against massive Imperial walkers by tripping them from underneath in maneuverable snowspeeders. The Millennium Falcon survives the assault of the giant Star destroyers, by hiding rather than by force. After the Imperial starfleet fails in its pursuit of the lone ship, only the bounty hunter Boba Fett manages to track them in an even smaller ship. Little R2-D2 once again foils the Empire’s plans, this time by fixing the Falcon’s hyperdrive at the last moment to escape from Vader’s Super Star Destroyer.The film’s best exploration of its size philosophy, though, comes through the introduction of Jedi Master Yoda. Luke initially overlooks the strange little creature on Dagobah, because he’s looking for ‘a great warrior.’ (Little Yoda's response: "Wars not make one great.") In due course, the tiny green alien turns out to be the powerful master himself. In perhaps my favorite scene of the entire trilogy, Yoda teaches Luke that ‘size matters not,’ and then uses the Force to lift Luke’s X-Wing from the bottom of a swamp. The feat is remarkable for two reasons. First, there is the obvious size disparity between[...]

Size Matters Not by Luhks


I have lost count of how many times I have seen George Lucas’ Star Wars, whether in part or in full. Even after all these years and so many repeat viewings, the 1977 original still retains the power to entertain, amaze, and inspire like few others. The film has been so influential, and so ingrained in our cultural consciousness, that it can be easy to take the film’s virtues for granted and fix your eyes only on its faults. When I watched it again recently, I tried as best as I could to examine it with a fresh set of eyes. It was bound to be an impossible exercise on some levels, but I did discover some new elements in the storytelling, and in the filmmaking craft, that I had never fully appreciated.Perhaps more than any other American movie, Star Wars is an exercise on mythopoeia, the conscious generation of myth. It is no secret that George Lucas consulted mythology scholar Joseph Campbell while crafting his screenplay. Campbell is most famous for his seminal text The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which analyzes the common elements of myths across cultures and lays out a blueprint for the archetypal hero’s journey. Lucas borrowed quite liberally from an even wider variety of sources: Flash Gordon serials, King Arthur legend, Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo, John Ford’s The Searchers, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Lucas’ own 1950s nostalgia piece American Graffiti, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Wizard of Oz, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Freudian psychoanalysis, World War II newsreels and propaganda films, the music of composers Richard Strauss and Gustav Holst, the American Revolutionary War, and religions from both West and East. Star Wars is not merely a work of fantasy fiction, but a key intersection within a massive web of cultural storytelling, both narrative and sensory, that stretches across every direction in time and space.It would be a mistake, however, to regard Star Wars as anything other than an original work. Few films are more imaginative than George Lucas’ seminal work, and one man’s individual personality shines brightly through the entire run-time. Even a mere glance at that list of inspirations above shows a few key insights into how the mind of George Lucas operates. Some of those works affected the film on the large scale, by informing the broad structure of his story; many of those works influenced some very specific details of his film’s production. Lucas’ main strengths as a filmmaker exist on the micro level (the invention and careful planning of thousands of different elements of his universe) and the macro level (arranging those elements into a stylistically and thematically consistent whole). He keeps a keen eye for both the big picture and the small picture simultaneously. Star Wars is a film rich with many layers of possible interpretation, but when I watched it most recently, I was amazed by the central role that size played in the film, both in the screenplay and in the celluloid.Beginning with the very first shot, the film’s imagery conveys the artist’s unique attitude towards size relationships. After the famous opening crawl, the background of an entire universe of stars and planets fills the screen. Slowly, the camera tilts downward, to reveal one small planet on the right side of the screen and another larger one on left of the screen. Then, a third, much larger planet appears in the foreground, dwarfing the other two objects. This simple visual progression dramatically alters the viewer’s perspective on the objects, by suggesting that the first two objects are moons orbiting around the larger planet. In reality, though, the opposite could just as easily be true. Our assumptions about relative size depend entirely on the placement of the camera. As Obi-Wan would eventually say in the final film of the saga: “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of[...]

Kill Ben, Vol. 2 by Luhks


Although it might seem odd to reveal a story's ground rules just before the final chapter, Lost has always thrived by revealing things out of order. The titles of episodes 5.11 and 5.12 make for an intriguing pair. Whatever Happened, Happened recycles the words spoken by Lost physicist Daniel Faraday twice already this season. In due course, the equally redundant phrase Dead is Dead was also spoken by Ben midway through this episode. These two titles express rather explicitly two main rules of storytelling that have been established and tested over the course of the series. In order to maintain the dramatic weight of any chapter, two principles are necessary. First, the past cannot be changed. Second, death is permanent. Only in science fiction do these basic tautologies of life need to be proven. The life-threatening injury to young Ben Whatever Happened, Happened provided a not-so-subtle lecture followed by a not-so-subtle demonstration of that first rule. The main plotline then went to great lengths to prove that Ben’s gunshot did not kill him, but helped transform him into the man he became, even with some unnecessary amnesia ex machina thrown in to eliminate possible inconsistencies. Again, for the second straight week, the powers that be were asked to judge whether Ben Linus had a right to live. As an child in the hands of adults, and as an adult in the hands of Island gods, the end result turned out to be the same.The follow-up episode Dead is Dead used a less direct approach to illustrate a related question. Although Lost characters will not be traveling back in time to prevent historical deaths, could the Island offer some other method to escape from the grim reaper? Dead man walking, John Locke, now represents the main exception to the rule of Island death. Three statements appear to be true simultaneously, which creates an impossible contradiction.(1) Locke is dead. (2) Dead is dead. (3) Locke is not dead. This contradiction might not pose the same threat to the space-time continuum as last week's, but one of those three assumptions must be revised in order for the Lost universe to make sense. When Sun was confronted with the resurrection of Locke, she immediately challenged the first statement. She concluded that Locke’s death must have been staged from the beginning. In the early stages of Season Five, many fans reacted the same way (with some even suggesting that he might have been paralyzed by Dr. Arzt’s Medusa spiders). As Ben knew at the time, and as the audience soon learned, John Locke's body definitely died inside that lonely hotel room. CHRISTIAN: Claire, your mother is alive, but she’s not really living.CLAIRE: What the hell’s that supposed to mean?CHRISTIAN: It means that now may be the time to look at other alternatives.The next possible explanation is to challenge the second premise: maybe dead does not mean dead. Certainly, the Island can heal people from cancer, paralysis, and nearly fatal wounds. The souls of the dead can already communicate to special people like Miles and Hurley, through words and visions. The resurrection of a month-old corpse would stretch the limits of the Island’s healing powers, but the overall believability would not suffer. (At this point, adding another supernatural feature to the Island would be as difficult to accept as adding another name to Ben’s list of murder victims.) Although Locke cannot explain the details of his transformation, he assures Sun that “I’m the same man I’ve always been.” Another way to read the title phrase is to say that “dead” is dead. In other words, if Locke’s body can be restored to life, then the concept of death no longer carries much meaning on this Island. Of course, the third explanation is to refute the final premise: Locke actually is dead, despite the appearance to the contrary. More accurately, Locke is not Locke. The man we now see standing[...]

Kill Ben, Vol. 1 by Luhks


Thus far, Season Five of Lost has been a veritable bloodbath. During the first ten episodes, characters have been slapped, shot, stabbed, scorched, smashed, shredded, strangled, skewered, spinally-snapped, sonically-showered, and stricken with sci-fi sicknesses. Episode 5.10 He’s Our You was one of the most violent episodes in recent memory, not just in terms of its physical brutality, but also the wounds inflicted on the psyche of Sayid Jarrah. The final scene ended with the cold-blooded attempted murder of a 12-year old boy, struck down with a bullet through the chest. The follow-up, Whatever Happened, Happened, reveals the domino effect set off by that event. Episode 5.11 shows no further acts of violence, but instead focuses on the combined efforts to save young Benjamin’s life. On Lost, no good deed ever goes unpunished, and the rest of Ben’s adult life is Lost history. Repairing his body is itself a destructive act. Mr. Linus can look forward to thirty years of lying, kidnapping, and murder on a massive scale. The adult Linus would undoubtedly be back next week to add further crimes to his lifetime total. Of course, if you adopt Hurley’s theory about being erased from existence, then Ben’s personal path of destruction would be incomparable to the harmful effects of changing history, by letting him die. Regardless, though, episode 5.11 provided sixty minutes of relative peace within a season of escalating bloodshed.The story of Whatever Happened, Happened operates on two parallel levels. On the macro level, the episode explains the same overarching principle expressed by the title. As lead writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have done since the beginning of Season Five, they continue to explain the Island rules through the mouths of characters. As if the past explanations provided by Eloise Hawking, Pierre Chang, and Daniel Faraday were not adequate, Miles Straume reiterates those same ideas to Hurley in two central scenes. If anyone had any lingering doubts whether Lost would adopt the multiple timeline approach to time travel, their conversation explained Lost in direct contradistinction to Back to the Future. These elements essentially amounted to a televised producer podcast halfway through the episode. Ken Leung and Jorge Garcia did an admirable job of trying to stay in character, even though they were really playing the roles of Lindelof and Cuse. Lost’s lead writing tandem often employs this same feigned-ignorance, question-answer format during their own promotions. Hurley managed to stump Miles with a possible contradiction involving Ben’s memory. That problem gets resolved at the end of the episode (albeit in the most unoriginal way possible) with some Temple-induced amnesia. Although the reactions of Hurley and Miles are both realistic on some level, their entire exchange took on an undoubtedly patronizing tone. I hope that the remaining episodes of the series can minimize this type of direct exposition to the audience, but the trend is certainly growing (particularly in the Lindelof/Cuse scripts).DIANE: You can't help who you love, Katherine. And for good or bad, I loved him.On the micro level, the episode sets out to answer smaller questions surrounding Lost’s female lead, Kate Austen. Neither the mysteries addressed nor the outcomes revealed here offered much surprise. What did Sawyer whisper to Kate on the helicopter? He told her to take care of Clementine. Where did Kate leave Aaron? She left him with Carole Littleton. Why did Kate go back to the Island? She came back to find Claire. Along the way, the drama generates heated discussion in all four legs of the series’ predominant love quadrangle. Many people have concluded that the long-term commitment between James and Juliet brought an end to the days of on-again, off-again Island romances. In reality, this episode offered no more finality [...]

Natural Born Killers by Luhks


The tenth episode of Season Five arrives with the perplexing, pronoun-filled title He’s Our You. Taken out of context, the name seemed to suggest what many Lost viewers have theorized for years: the existence of multiple timelines. The potentially misleading title of the episode’s main literary reference, A Separate Reality, suggests something similar. This week’s cliffhanger ending, in which Sayid shoots a 12-year old Benjamin Linus in the chest, tested the limits of Lost’s timeline consistency. In the early seasons, moving through time served only as a metaphor for the mental journey of Lost characters, but literal time travel has become the primary plot device of the current season. The concept of symbolic character doubling has also permeated the story since the beginning. If the Lost characters obtain the power to change their past, then the days of Parallel Sayid lording his cowboy hat over Regular Sayid might not be far behind. To borrow two words from Meet Kevin Johnson, Season Four’s similarly themed exploration of human freedom: NOT YET. The beloved Lost universe took one to the chest, but space-time remains intact as long as little Benjamin keeps breathing. The audience must continue to accept the most unpleasant elements of the timeline, because even minor change would erase the good elements along with it. As James reassured Juliet early in the episode: “Nothing’s changed.”For the time being, doubling will remain a metaphor in the story rather than a science-fiction plot point. In due course, James spoke those three titular words to Sayid at the episode’s halfway point, as a succinct introduction to Oldham, the Dharma Initiative’s reclusive psychopath. The narrative of He’s Our You offers a number of looking-glass versions of Sayid Jarrah: Oldham, the intimidating interrogator; Eko, the self-sacrificing sibling; James, the conflicted captor; Roger, the weak-willed widower; Ilana, the proficient professional; even Keamy, the adolescent assassin. Any individual character can be conceived as the center of a panoramic hall of mirrors, in which dozens of other characters each reflect back different aspects of someone’s personality. He’s and She’s frequently come into conflict with other You’s, and create a duel of opposites. These battles extend beyond character showdowns, and into the realm of ideas. Every debate blurs the distinctions between perceived enemies (Us-vs.-Them, empiricism-vs.-faith, Widmore-vs.-Linus, good-vs.-evil, Jack-vs,-Sawyer, past-vs.-future, Dharma-vs.-Hostiles), by highlighting similarities instead of differences. Inevitably, the storytelling of Lost reveals each polar dichotomy to be a false one. The deepest level of introspection in He’s Our You occurs as it reveals the yin-and-yang inseparability between two laws of action, free will and determinism; and two characters, Sayid and Ben.EKO: I did not ask for the life that I was given. But it was given, nonetheless. And with it... I did my best.The first frame of He’s Our You shows a close-up image of a caged chicken, mindlessly bobbing its head and waiting to be eaten. The most recent Sayid story, Season Four’s The Economist, used a comparable image in its final scene: a dog trapped inside it own cage. That episode ended with the revelation that Sayid had become Ben’s personal attack dog, dependent on his master’s will. Due to Lost’s circular timeline, the story of these two allies/enemies makes as much sense when viewed backwards as forwards. In the latest ending, a younger version of Ben unleashes his trained bloodhound onto himself. The fateful shooting becomes another of Lost’s self-fulfilling prophecies, an event which creates itself out of nothing. As a child, Benjamin witnessed Sayid’s violent nature first hand. As an adult, Ben exploited that knowledge of Sayid to serve[...]

Balance of Power by Luhks


Even by Lost standards, Season Five opened with unprecedented degree of Christian symbolism over its first seven episodes. In the first segment of that arc, John Locke watched the Virgin Mary fall from the sky; the final segment revealed his death and resurrection. The past two episodes have borrowed religious imagery from different sources, even further into human history. LaFleur of course embraced a number of ancient Egyptian influences. (In last week’s article, I overlooked another hidden reference. The new Dharma characters, Jerry, Phil, and Rosie, were named after The Grateful Dead, a band named for a passage from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which describes burial rites and the role of Anubis.) Episode 5.09 Namaste shifts its spiritual focus about 3,000 miles east, from the Nile River to the Indus River. The first frames of the episode show the now-familiar Flight 316, with its prominent India-based Ajira Airlines logo. The word ‘ajira’ has several translations in different languages, but it translates from Hindi as ‘Island’. The episode’s title comes from Dharma Initiative’s favorite Hindi phrase. The saying Namaste can express either a welcome or a farewell. Literally, it means: “I humble myself to you,” but, as with so many other Lost titles, this one proves to be more ironic than literal. The episode was filled with different greetings, with characters expressing varying degrees of humility towards each other. Throughout the numerous power struggles in the episode, the prevailing question seemed to be: who is humbling themselves to whom?Hinduism is the world’s oldest surviving religious tradition, and it encompasses a variety of different beliefs. One common idea in Hindu (as well as Buddhist) thinking is that the human sensory experience is ultimately an illusion. Under this view, the temporary division between the individual human self and the rest of the universe is a false impression. All persons are part of the same undivided self. Fittingly, the structure of Namaste embraces this lack of egoism. Although it is not the first episode to forgo the character-centric format, Namaste truly centers on no particular individual. Each scene takes place on the Island, and showcases just about every one fairly equally across its two time periods. Lost has already alluded to the most prominent concepts in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, sometimes directly (karma and dharma) and sometimes indirectly (samsara, the wheel of rebirth). The Dharma Initiative itself appears to practice some combination of borrowed Eastern philosophy and twentieth-century Western science. Dharma is aptly named for this framework, as both an English acronym (Department of Heuristics and Research on Materials Application) and a central idea from Hinduism. The word dharma denotes the law, the code of ethics that describes each person’s set of obligations to the rest of society. The Initiative’s logo borrows the design of a Buddhist symbol for such teachings.(The episode even includes a return to the Flame station, along with its signature cow. Hinduism famously regards the cow as a sacred creature in the cycle of reincarnation. However, Namaste also reminds the audience not to treat Lost’s religious subtext too seriously: the Dharma initiation party includes a feast of flame-broiled hamburgers.)ALPERT: You answer to someone, don't you? You follow a chain of command, right?FARADAY: Yeah.ALPERT: Yeah, well, so do I.Namaste offered a more revealing look at the inner workings of Dharma than ever before. Almost every member of the Dharma Initiative wears a uniform that displays the person’s first name, along with that person’s job assignment. From the glimpses shown here, these positions are prescribed immediately and permanently on arrival. Each person carries his or her i[...]

Nothing Stays Buried by Luhks


As the Lost storyline inches ever closer to its narrative ending, it continues to reveal more of its chronological beginning. Due to the nonlinear storytelling format, The Beginning of the show’s timeline has transferred from one scene to another over the five seasons: Jack’s childhood in White Rabbit (which may have been preceded by scenes of young James and Eko); Ben’s birth in The Man Behind the Curtain; Locke’s birth in Cabin Fever; then Widmore’s flaming arrow attack of 1954 in The Lie. The opening scene of LaFleur, which coincides with the ending of This Place is Death, briefly takes the audience deeper into the Island’s past than ever before. Now, if you placed all Lost on-screen events in chronological order, there would be a new beginning. The first moments in our show’s history, millennia in the past, were the following: Locke fell down deep below the Island’s surface, while Sawyer tried to hold on; and Charlotte’s body gave a few last breaths, while Daniel tried to hold on. Although some even older event might take its place over the remaining episodes, the Lost universe now begins with Death.Episode 5.08 LaFleur marks the halfway point of Lost’s penultimate season. Several elements of this initial eight-episode arc stand out above the rest. All of these episodes, of course, focused heavily on time travel, and examined the subject from every different angle. This momentary detour into an ancient time period offers one of the most notable uses of this storytelling device. Moreover, though, I cannot recall any other sequence of episodes so preoccupied with themes of birth, and death, and re-birth. LaFleur is no exception to this growing trend. The main Island conflict revolves around the deaths of Paul and two Hostiles, an event that leads to the miraculous birth of the child of Amy and Horace. Daniel struggles to cope with the death of Charlotte, as her younger self re-appears before his eyes. James serves as the central character of the episode, as he brings about the death of his Sawyer persona, and the birth of Jim LaFleur. Each of the Season Five episodes presents a slightly different angle on the cycle of birth and death. From the beginning of the episode, burial serves as a common link between each of the storylines of LaFleur. Locke finds himself buried alive in the Island’s underworld, under a mound of dirt deeper than any man-made grave. When he turns the Wheel for his journey to begin the journey to his afterlife, the stone well soon appears on top of those mounds. This collection of rocks becomes an Island-made tombstone to memorialize Locke’s departure from the people above him.MICHAEL: Silent movies, huh? You're not that old, man.LOCKE: I'm old enough.In the time before the construction of the well, the rope in the dirt also marked this fateful spot. When Sawyer held onto the rope, the object simply appeared in the ancient past. (I love the disorienting way in which the rope was filmed: first it is framed horizontally, and then the camera rotates to correct our perspective.) The rope serves as another near-paradox in the story, as a mystical object that links people from our time with people from the origins of civilization. When the earliest inhabitants of the Island stumbled upon this mysterious marker, they must have viewed it as magic, a sign from the gods. Just as Locke once uncovered a piece of buried metal and believed that it was his destiny to find what was inside, some historic man of faith must have stumbled upon this rope and reached the same conclusion. Then, he kept digging until he found this cave, along with its Wheel linked to a limitless energy source. These apparently Egyptian visitors left enough clues for the Dharma Initiative to excavate the same cave in the twentieth century. The Egy[...]

Another Life, Part Two by Luhks


Who is John Locke? There are many different ways to answer that question. The easy answer is that John Locke is the greatest character ever to grace our television screens. While that statement may be true, the answer is not quite complete and certainly not satisfying. So, who is John Locke? When Locke first entered the spotlight in Season One’s Walkabout, he set out on a journey of self-discovery. One would expect that an ordinary man would come to understand himself pretty well after fifty years, but Locke is still trying to find his identity. He features in every scene of Episode 5.07 The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, as he interacts with characters both young and old, around the globe. Each of those characters offers him a different look into the mirror, to help him answer that same question he set out to answer before boarding Oceanic Flight 815. Who is John Locke? As the episode begins, newcomers Caesar and Ilana set out to understand this mystery man before them. He has a name. He has memories. Even after all of his experiences, I doubt that John himself could offer an answer to that question.For a story that focuses so heavily on deconstructing all aspects of John Locke, the title of this episode seems out of place. The audience has known for some time that the name Jeremy Bentham is nothing more than an alias to conceal his identity. Thus, the episode’s title refers to a man who never existed at all, except as an idea. Similarly, the Life of Jeremy Bentham and the Death of Jeremy Bentham are both false events. Bentham’s Life consists of a series of apparent failures, which bring about the ultimate success of his mission. Bentham’s Death of course proves to be only temporary, and Locke’s real Life resumes soon afterward. His first words spoken in the episode affirm the true nature of his identity: “My name is John Locke.” The man resurrected on the Island is not Jeremy Bentham, the weak, pathetic failure shown in flashbacks. Bentham is merely the Looking Glass version of Locke, an inverted image of his ultimate identity. The ultimate Life of the man named John Locke exists in his future, not in his past.The episode opens with two different birth scenes of sorts, both of which correspond to two seminal moments from his life. The adult John Locke was re-born in 2004 on the Island, as shown in Season One's Walkabout. His natural liberty was restored instantly after years of paralysis. By the same token, the newly Resurrected John Locke returns to vitality in the opening scene of this episode. Instead of relying on others to drag him around from one place to another, Locke once again stands on his own two feet, ready to forge his own path. By contrast, Bentham’s Birth scene matches the events off the Island in Cabin Fever. When the infant John Locke was born in 1956 in California, he was helpless and in peril. After surviving a car crash, his life rested entirely in the hands of medical science. He was entirely alone, as his own mother abandoned him without hesitation. Jeremy Bentham arrives in Tunisia under equivalent circumstances. His severe leg injury grants him even less mobility than he had when he was paralyzed. Even with a broken back, he could still use his hands to move around on his own; the pain of his leg makes any movement unbearable. Once again, he must rely on doctors to save his life. Like all newborns, Bentham’s only degree of autonomy rests in his ability to cry out to others for help, but only in a language they do not understand. A powerful figure presides over the event from afar (Richard Alpert in California and Matthew Abbadon in Tunisia), hinting at a greater destiny to come.As an orphan, John Locke lived the majority of his life pining after a relationship with a father figu[...]

Another Life, Part One by Luhks


Legend has it, during Season Three, ABC reached a compromise when they decided on the show’s end date. My memory might be incorrect, or the information might not even have been accurate in the first place. The show’s writers wanted to finish the series with two more seasons, but the network of course wanted to keep its valuable product for at least three more. Their solution was to reduce the length of the final seasons, and divide up the remaining 48 episodes over three years. Then, the infamous writers’ strike complicated matters even further, and the fourth season became even shorter. The fourth season finale, There’s No Place Like Home, ultimately delivered plenty of excellent drama, but it did not provide quite the same sense of narrative finality as its three predecessors. Basically, the Season Four conclusion did not move into any new territory, but it merely filled the gaps created by the superlative ending of Season Three.Many elements have changed over the course of production, and it is impossible to know how much of the story was planned in advance. Nevertheless, I suspect that the original ending of Lost’s fourth chapter probably matched the events of this recent three-part saga: This Place is Death, 316, and The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham. To make this situation even more confusing, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham was originally written as the lead-in to 316, rather than vice-versa. After both episodes, you could make a strong argument for either order. The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham essentially represents an ending, for the Coffin story, as well as the Oceanic Six storyline. 316 represents more of a beginning, with the start of a new Island adventure for our familiar 815 survivors, and with the introduction of Ajira 316, another plane full of castaways. The opening images of 316, showing the return of Jack and company to the Island, might have even served as the penultimate season-ending cliffhanger.The opening scene of 316 transports the viewer back in time to the first moments of the series. A number of episodes have repeated some of the famous introductory images from the Pilot episode (the close-up of the eye opening, the overhead shot of a man lying on his back), but none more closely than this one. 316 recreates the same sequence of shots, depicts the same character in duplicate circumstances, and uses identical music. Jack once again follows the screams for help, and rushes to the aid of Hurley and Kate (who like Claire from the Pilot may be pregnant with another Shephard baby). Some things never change: Jack’s instincts still propel him to run directly towards the cries of help, as reliably as Vincent being hailed by a whistle. These two scenes not only portray Jack’s natural bravery, but they first highlight a sense of isolation. Perhaps the Shephard’s ultimate destiny is to die alone in the jungle, apart from the rest of the group. Many people have guessed that the series would end with the image of Jack’s eye opening, but now the image of Jack’s eye closing seems more likely.The similarities in these two introductions may be obvious, but some key differences deserve mention. The shot of Jack lying in the jungle is not merely a repetition, but an inversion of the original shot. The object in Jack’s pocket has transformed as well, from a bottle of alcohol (his form of self-medication), into the letter with the mystical, open-ended sentence “I wish ...”. When Jack sits up in 316, the camera shows the left side of his face, rather than the right side as shown in the Pilot. This new angle of 316 instead matches another Season One shot, the image of Locke rising from paralysis at the end of Walkabout. Furthermore, the Matthew Fox’s exp[...]

Die Together, Live Alone by Luhks


I have had the privilege of writing about each Lost episode over the past two seasons. The show has produced some excellent episodes in that span, most notably Episode 4.05, The Constant. Desmond’s Season Four time trip (penned by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse) was by all means an outstanding achievement, an emotional and cerebral journey that reshaped the viewer’s outlook on the series. A full season later, audiences now have been treated with Episode 5.05, This Place is Death, written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. This veteran Lost writing tandem brings it own unique blend of dark humor, introspection, and thematic connections to the show. In my opinion, This Place is Death is the finest Lost episode since the ending of Season Three, which concluded with the Kitsis/Horowitz classic Greatest Hits and the Lindelof/Cuse epic Through the Looking Glass. In its own way, this episode similarly alters perspectives on Lost’s past, present, and future. The Island means many things to many people, but quite possibly its most important meaning is expressed in those four words: “this place is death.”The experience of watching This Place is Death nearly defies description. Many people have commented that the episode felt much longer than usual. The storytelling on display is remarkably succinct. The episode managed to compress four meaningful stories (Danielle and the Monster, Sun and Jin, Daniel and Charlotte, Locke and the Island) into a single hour. Rather than feeling disjointed, though, each of these stories links together beautifully, and offers its own take on that overarching theme expressed in its title. Another important sign of a masterful episode is the way in which the actors respond to the script. By my count, the episode included four truly great acting performances (Jeremy Davies, Daniel Dae Kim, Rebecca Mader, and Terry O’Quinn), along with a full complement of strong supporting turns. However, I think the best way for me to illustrate my feelings for the episode is not to praise the writing or the acting, but to make the following confession. For the first time, I find myself utterly intimidated by a Lost episode. As amazing as The Constant was, I still felt fairly confident that I could express my reaction to it in a single article. Not so for This Place is Death. I do not think that my words will be able to do it justice. I will begin, anyway.EKO: If you don't mind, I will begin at the beginning. Long before Christ the king of Judah was a man named Josiah.LOCKE: Boy, when you say beginning, you mean beginning.The first segment of the episode connects two core pieces of Lost mythology that were introduced in the Pilot episode: the Monster and Danielle Rousseau. Part One of the Pilot offered the first glimpse at the power of the Island's supernatural enforcer, the Smoke Monster. In the first attempt to find rescue from the island, Jack, Kate, and Charlie ventured out into the jungle to find the plane’s transceiver. When it seemed as if their mission was accomplished, the Monster attacked for the first time, murdering the pilot and nearly preventing the team from recovering the radio. This Place is Death begins with a compressed version of comparable events, sixteen years earlier. Another strangely familiar group of people crashes onto the same island, and then ventures into the jungle in search of a radio transmitter. The Monster attacks the group on their way, to prevent them from reaching the equipment. Later in this episode, Robert echoes Danielle's memorable phrase that the Monster functions as a 'Security System' for guarding the Temple. Neither the Oceanic search party nor the French research team seemed to pose any direct threat to the Te[...]

Beyond Belief by Luhks


From its inception, Lost has been preoccupied with the idea of revisiting the past. The prevailing episode structure, designed around flashbacks for a single character, explored the connections between a character’s history and the present. As the story expanded, the show began to revisit its own past in different ways, by crafting a web of literal and metaphorical connections between each of its characters. Lost adopts the position that no character can be understood in a fixed point in space and time, but only in relation to other characters and to the collective past. Season Five’s The Lie and Jughead adopt a new format, which contains only a single flashback during the opening scene. The on-island events of the episode still take the viewer into history, but through the storytelling device of time travel rather than flashback. The resulting structure has a contradictory effect on the narrative: the relationship between the island characters and the past becomes quite literal; the relationship between the island story and the off-island story becomes more figurative.Even though the time travel story in Jughead physically inserts present day characters into the island’s history, it also includes many of the story's more traditional space-time connections. The episode begins with the birth of Charles Hume, who joins a quite exclusive club of characters (Aaron Littleton, Benjamin Linus, Ji Yeon Kwon, and John Locke) to be born on the show. Like all children, the mind of little Charlie is a blank slate, an opportunity for a brighter future. His name, however, indicates that he is intimately connected to his parents’ history: both to the man who kept them apart for so long, Charles Widmore; and to Charles Hieronymus Pace, the man who sacrificed himself so that they could be together once again. All people owe their existence to their predecessors, not only our mothers, fathers, and grandparents, but ultimately to every minor event in the chain of causation all the way back to the Big Bang. As Charles Widmore phrases it in this episode, we are all “involved in something that goes back many, many years.” (Anyone who has ever studied Latin, like Widmore, also will tell you that even a ‘dead language’ remains very much a living part of our English vocabulary.) No one can escape the inevitable ties to the past, either the happiest parts or the most unpleasant parts.Desmond and Penelope remain fixed in the present day for the entire episode, but their star-crossed history pervades every conversation. Desmond has received a hidden message from his own past, a memory of his conversation with Daniel Faraday. The incident sends him away on a new odyssey, back to the place where his first journey began. The first present-day scene between Desmond and Penny highlights two opposite reactions to the trip down memory lane. Desmond looks out at the horizon with excitement and a sense of adventure; Penny focuses her eyes solely within their present family. For Penny, this return to their past renews every old wound: the heartbreak, abandonment, years of loneliness, and fear of the wrath of Charles Widmore. Desmond admittedly tries to “leave a wee bit out” of his recollections of his past. (His repressed memory of his encounter with Faraday depends upon this ability to forget certain things.) In their final scene of this episode, Penny convinces him that forgetting is not a solution, so they need to confront it head-on. The ghosts of the past always will re-emerge no matter how deep under the surface you try to bury them.This newest chapter in the epic romance of Desmond and Penelope once again explores the limits of free will and predestination[...]

The Motherland by Luhks


In seasons past, the fathers of Lost have assumed center stage and pushed the mothers into the background. From the opening scene of Season Five, motherhood has started to play a more prominent role of the story. The first character shown on-screen was a woman who may or may not have been the mother of Miles. (The reveal of Miles’ long-term exposure to the island in this episode lends much credence to that theory.) Kate began the season with a pair of lawyers pounding on her door to remind her that she was not Aaron’s real mother. Locke began the season alone, until a statue of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, fell from the sky. The Lie included a small reminder of Sun’s recent delivery, with the throwaway line that Ji Yeon is safely at home with grandma. That epsiode also culminated with an emotional exchange between Hurley and his mother. Thus far, Carmen Reyes is the only non-islander to expose the Oceanic Six Lie, and she accomplished that feat solely by virtue of maternal instinct. The opening scene of Jughead inducted Penelope Hume into the Mothers of Lost Club, and then chronicled Desmond’s attempts to track down the mother of Daniel Faraday. (If you accept the theory that the retro British Other Ellie is the current Space-Time Sheriff Eloise Hawking, then Faraday’s time-jumping may have linked him to his mother in a borderline paradoxical/incestuous way.)The Kate-centric Episode 5.04, The Little Prince, once again highlights issues of maternity. As one would expect from the title, much of the drama surrounds the ongoing battle for custody of Aaron. Three additional mothers make appearances as well, one somewhat expected (Carole Littleton, longing for her lost daughter Claire), and two wholly unexpected (Claire herself, and Danielle Rousseau, pregnant with Alex). The title of the episode, a reference to the French children’s book Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, offered a variety of other connections to the episode’s content. Exupéry himself was a French aviator who survived a plane crash in the Sahara desert, and the narrator in his story does the same. The narrator soon meets the titular Little Prince, a special, young, blond-haired boy who traveled to earth from an (island-like) asteroid. Among other issues, the novel explores the gap between children and adults. The world of narrow-minded grown-ups contrasts against the simple wisdom of a child’s perspective. Similarly, Aaron finds himself wrapped up in the rather silly world of Lost’s adult relationships.Lost's version of The Little Prince provides a classic nature-vs.-nurture debate on the meaning of motherhood, through the question of who rightfully should serve as Aaron’s guardian, in the absence of his parents. The episode offers two reminders that Claire intended to give up custody of Aaron, first from Kate’s words in the opening scene and later from Claire’s words in the revisited birth sequence. Eventually, Claire did abandon her son in the middle of the jungle, for as-yet-unexplained reasons. Claire still would have the strongest claim over Aaron, if she could be located somewhere on the plane of existence. Kate not only delivered the baby, but she has served as Aaron’s parent for almost the entire three years of his life. Can Kate ever become his real mother, and, if so, how many years would it require? Sun undisputedly is a real mother herself, but as far as the audience can tell, she has been spending more time as a cloak-and-dagger corporate vigilante than in child-rearing. Throughout the episode, Sun is the only character with physical possession of Aaron, and sometimes possession is nine-tenths. Jack s[...]

Two-Faced Liars by Luhks


Since the first season, honesty has always been a scarce commodity for Lost characters. For every instance of a character’s confession, it seemed that a few more buried secrets took its place. For every example of sincere cooperation, you could guarantee that a handful of cons, deceptions, and betrayals would soon follow. Things started on a small scale in the first two seasons, with petty crimes and infidelities scattered throughout the flashbacks and island interactions. Benjamin Linus, Juliet Burke, and the rest of the Others escalated the level of deceit as things moved into Season Three, and made the crash survivors look like amateurs by comparison. Season Four then introduced two massive global conspiracies into story: first, the staged flight 815 wreckage at the bottom of the ocean; and then the Oceanic Six cover story (a lie to conceal the other lie). Misdirection has become a way of life both for the characters and the Lost writers, who manipulate perceptions of truth with more skill than Anthony Cooper himself.The second episode of Season Five, with its decidedly straightforward title The Lie, offers perhaps the series’ most thorough examination of this recurring motif. The episode begins by sending the story back to the formative stages of the Oceanic Six Lie. Kate, Sun, Sayid, Hurley, and Jack all respond in subtly different ways to the situation, and each one participates in the scheme for deeply personal reasons. The conversation arrives at a unanimous conclusion: they need to lie, because it’s the only way to protect those left behind from Charles Widmore. In those immortal words once spoken by Dr. Shephard (perhaps the only good thing ever to arise from Stranger in a Strange Land): “That’s what they say. That’s not what they mean.” As Hurley points out straight away, the logic behind their Lie never even made much sense; Widmore would seem to be just as likely to find the island no matter what story they told. The reasons stated on the surface serve as a mere pretext to disguise their true motivations underneath. These five co-conspirators are even incapable of being honest with each other about their collective dishonesty.The sheer quantity of lies on the show places a heavy burden on the cast members. Although acting itself is a more complex form of lying, playing the part of a liar presents an even greater challenge. The actor must present two faces at the same time, each with an opposite meaning. The performance must successfully communicate to the viewer when a lie is being told, but it still must appear genuine enough so that the audience can also believe that other characters would be convinced by it. The proper balance can be nearly impossible to find. By and large, though, the gifted collection of regular cast members excel when placed in these situations. The opening scene offered each of these five stars an opportunity for ambivalence, and the rest of the episode enabled them to explore those conflicting motives more fully.Kate is the first character to agree with the Locke/Shephard cover story, and she definitely required the least persuasion. The physical setup of the scene frames her off to the side, already aligned with Jack, while the other three characters huddle together on a bench. With little hesitation, she simply answers “Yeah” when asked to go along with the Lie. The helpless infant resting in her arms also goes a long way towards explaining why this decision was so easy for her. Of all the characters, Kate stood to benefit the most by participating in the Lie. Kate’s dilemma became a fairly simple choice between accepting her past an[...]

Very Bad Things by Luhks


As a general rule when analyzing an episode, I try to refrain from mentioning Lost’s two executive producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. There are many reasons that I try to follow this rule. First of all, the two producers are students of the Benjamin Linus School of Truth-Telling. Second, I disapprove of the manner in which they promote the show, essentially by declaring themselves as the definitive authority on its interpretation. No artist has exclusive control over the meaning of his work, especially not in an intensely collaborative process like television. Dozens of artists play a role in crafting each episode: creators, producers, directors, writers, cast, and even crew. Each artist himself rarely becomes aware of the full implications of his work. For better or worse, though, no one now can deny that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have appointed themselves as the ultimate auteurs of this massive work. Season Five of Lost kicked off at 8 pm on Wednesday with what may prove to be an worrying sight for the future of the show: these two producers on the television screen, telling their viewers what the show is about. I realize that Lost: Destiny Calls was merely another clip show, intended to draw in casual viewers, but the show itself still struck me as odd. I am fairly sure they have done similar things before in the past, but even still, I cannot ever recall a time when Lindelof and Cuse made themselves such a prominent part of the viewing experience. If the story of Because You Left proved anything, though, it confirmed the age-old wisdom that all rules are meant to be broken. (The show managed to follow Faraday’s immutable laws of time travel only for a few minutes before it introduced Desmond as the exception to the rule. It might not be long before the exception becomes the rule.) Thus, I will break one of my own rules, and begin with a direct quote from Lindelof and Cuse about Season Five: “The show is finally at the point where it can answer more questions than it poses.” Judging by the first two episodes, his statement seems to be true. Over the past few seasons, the storytelling model has transformed steadily from question mode into answer mode. Different fans will disagree about the quality of these different incarnations of Lost. Personally, my heart sank when I heard that statement. The viewers must sacrifice wonder for clarity, and I do not think the trade is even. I have always found Lost questions to be infinitely more interesting than Lost answers. Of course, I would never mention this clip show, unless I also thought it made some relevant impact on the episodes that followed. One of the most notable aspects of Because You Left (as well as its follow up, The Lie) was the way in which the clip show seemed to continue well past 9 pm. The episode’s opening segment was a mammoth 12-minute effort, which included four scenes in three time periods. One of these scenes literally began with a clip of the movement of the island, images ripped straight from the Season Four finale. The makers of the show prefaced this clip, just one of its many narrative time jumps with a ‘Three Years Ago’ title card. (The second episode begins with another ‘Three Years Ago’ tag, which seems particularly unnecessary because the first scene had not even started yet.) This needless flashback, with its needless time stamp, contributed to quite an awkward opening. Because You Left’s titular scene between Jack and Ben included not one, but two, flashbacks recycled from the Season Four finale. The first flashback showed Sawyer and Juliet, in a moment[...]

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Dead people


With all the theories about dead people going around, something hit me. We all know that Richard Alpert doesn't seem to age. We also know that a few dead people are walking around on and off the island (Christian Shepherd, Charlie). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the others could all be dead people, especially Richard. I think that there could be a large group of people on the island who are dead, whether they know it or not.

This group could include: Claire, Richard, Christian, Boone, the kidnapped part of the tailies, and most of the others. Other possibilities are Locke, Jack, and Michael-because for some reason they can't seem to die. What if they were already dead?

Now I know I am out on a limb with this outrageous theory, but what if all the pregnant women on the island dying were already dead? One more idea, maybe all of these people I listed could only be mostly dead, stuck in time like Jacob? Be nice if you don't agree, I am just trying to think outside of the box.(image)

Why We'll Never See Jacob, and the Brothers Lost


We'll never see the real Jacob. I'm basing this in part on Darlton's interview comments stating that the deep mysteries of the show would be ruined if they were to give them away completely (i.e. numbers, what's the monster, who's Jacob).I'm basing it in part as well on the belief that Jacob is not a physical being, but a spiritual one. He inhabits the island, whatever the island IS, but does not inhabit a physical body. Rather, Jacob speaks through others (Others?): Christian, Claire, Walt, Abbadon, and other messengers.The Brothers LostVozzek brought up the idea of Ben and Locke as brothers. Doc Jensen brought up the idea of Ben and Locke as alternate possible versions of one another, with Ben stepping into Locke's shoes when Locke was deemed not ready; both would be driven to murder in name of the island. They're interesting theories. Then there's the already oft-mentioned issue of them both being born to women named Emily.Here's another theory, revisiting Jewish scripture, Buddhism, and the names. As potential Dalai Lama, which is what the item selection test was clearly directing us to consider, Ben and Locke (and Walt in the tests he was doing with Bea Klugh) were being evaluated as potential reincarnations of the Dalai Lama. We've been told that Jacob's name is important. Jacob/Israel is the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, one of whom is led by Benjamin. Sounds simple, but maybe not.Locke was born before Ben, but they're competing for the same inheritance and are functioning, especially in this episode, as sibling rivals. Sounds more like Jacob/Esau to me, where Esau is the firstborn and seemingly rightful heir -- heir, successor, Dalai Lama. Esau is the hunter, and is a simple man, which in Hebrew has a more complementary meaning than it does in English. Ben is born next. Both want to be loved. But Ben more clearly wants power. In the Jacob/Esau rivalry, Jacob is the younger, more manipulative brother. Sound like Ben?Flash to 2005 and onward. We don't know what Locke is up to, but Ben certainly seems back in control. Looks like, as with the original Jacob, he won his inheritance from his older brother. Widmore could be Esau, rather than Locke. Or perhaps both could be evoking an Esau idea, for the purpose of making us think about how Ben is trying to be Jacob.Back in 2004, a hairy (Esau was hairy) Locke-type man in a rocking chair called to Locke, pleading "help me." Ben was freaked and tried to kill Locke.Let's try this theory on for size: Jacob is a spirit and we will never see him in actual human form. But what we saw in that first appearance was supposed to be some version of Locke or Locke's spiritual father, stuck in time, and feeling frustrated at having been manipulated out of the proper destiny.Perhaps course correction will make Ben eat his words about destiny.Posted by lostaficionado [...]

Rules for the Chosen One: Kill Your Own Father


In line with everything people are saying about the similarities between Ben and Locke and whether one is the true "chosen one" or not, I think this sheds light on why Locke had to kill his father and all the others had to see it in "The Brig". I never really understood why Ben made such a big deal out of it, and never really bought his reasoning.Now it all seems to come together. Remember that Ben also killed his father. Maybe the Book of Laws has a set of criteria for the chosen one which include1. Mother's name being Emily2. Premature birth (or birth in difficult circumstances?)3. Killing one's own father (to show dedication to the island??)... and ??? (there must be more, I'm sure you guys can fill some in).So Alpert goes around evaluating possible chosen ones under these criteria. Locke matched some of these things but he failed the test from "Cabin Fever" so they continued to look, later finding Ben. Although they never gave up on Locke (as is we know from his recruitment to Mittlelos), which makes me thing Locke still fulfilled some key criteria that Ben did not.Although it's true that Sawyer actually killed Cooper (even though by getting Sawyer to do so, Locke did lead to his death), what I'm getting at is that all the Others, including Richard, seemed to really want Locke to go through with killing his father, from which I'd conclude that doing so is some sort of sign that he was indeed the chosen one. The Others were excited about meeting him, but disappointed when he first failed to kill his father.Ben set the scenario up as something necessary to show his commitment to the island, saying that his people have to exhibit some sort of 'free will'. But take another island newbie case -- Juliet. She did sacrifice leaving her sister, but not as a commitment to the island. And as far as we know she was never forced to take a similar action that Ben tells Locke is necessary for people who want to join them. That argument doesn't fly for me here.I think Ben hid the real reason Locke had to kill his father. In the same conversation, he saids Locke is not 'ready' to find out more about the island -- and he will be when he kills his father. This suggests that Locke will only be privy to the island's secrets (i.e. access to Jacob) once he kills his father, showing he is indeed a 'chosen one'.As I've been writing this I'm re-watching parts of the Brig, and it all comes together. When Locke fails to kill Cooper while tied to a tree -- and all the Others come out to watch -- Ben turns around and announces "I'm sorry. He's not who we thought he was". Meaning, he's not the 'chosen one', because he didn't fulfill this rule. Of course Ben is thrilled about this inside, as Locke is posed to usurp him as the leader (given his recent tumor, which suggest to all that it's not his turn anymore).When Alpert gives Locke Sawyer's file, he explains everyone has been excited about Locke, who is obviously 'special' because his spine was healed. And he says 'I want you to find your purpose. But to do so, your father has to go.'This is just a little mini-theory, but i think it could form part of the island mythology, which is possibly written in the Book of Laws we saw this week.Posted by R1832 [...]

The episode format for next season


This is what I believe the episode format will be for the next season, S5. I believe that there will be two distinct narrative timelines, one in the island with the remainder people, and one off island with the Oceanic 6, Ben and possibly Desmond/Penny. There will be very few flashbacks/flashforwards, possibly no more than 2-3 for the whole season.

The off-island story will stop being random and out of order, but it will pick up from the S4 finale's flash forward (which will take place after the S3 finale with Jack trying to suicide). From that point on, the story off island will be as narrative and in-order, as the story so far in the island has been.

The on-island story instead will run much faster, and while it will still be presented in order, it will cover a few years of time, just to catch up with the off island story in terms of timeframe (island's time displacement taken into account too).

At the end of S5, we will see the two stories/groups merge again, as the off islanders will have made it back to the island for the final act in S6. I don't expect many flashbacks during S6 either, except maybe a few Dharma-based ones.

Posted by Eugenia Loli-Queru(image)



This is just an idea. They could be in a Tesseract. It's used in alot of sci-fi movies and novels to explain alternate realties, time travel, etc. It could explain how time is different on the island. For example, how the doctor washed up on the shore dead before he was killed or how Walt aged so fast adn Richard dosent age at all. The Tesseract is used in the Novel A Wrinkle in Time and the "The Cube" a Canadian series of horror movies. In the movie Cube 2: Hypercube the Tesseract theory is used to explain the alternate reality contained in one of the rooms in which on of the prisoner sees his own death. I just watched on of the cube movies from on demand and thought it kinda parallels with lost. Also the whole E=mc2, the Chaos Theory, and Quantum Physics could also be involved with what is happening on the island. comments are appreciated!!!

Posted by Alex G(image)

Daddy Not Dead


In recent episodes of Lost, it has come to out attention that Christian Shepard (jack and Claire's father) has been appearing purioticly throughout the show.
Now, My theory is that he isn't actually dead. Let me explain:
When it was revealed that he was dead and that Jack went to see him in Australia to take him home, we saw his dead body. I think, they had the worng body. Christain shepard re-constructed someone's face maybe from Claire's Family to fake his own death.

He went to the Island on the plane ans survived the crash along with the other fusa lodge passengers. When Jack kept thinking he saw Christan, he really did beacuse he was actually alive! Thats why his coffin was empty, Christan saw the coffin and emptied the body out of it. He might've thrown it into the pile of dead bodies of the former Dharma Initiative workers.

When Claire saw him in a recent episode, so Did Miles. Which means he really was there so he must be alive. He lead Claire to Jacob's cabin to wait for Locke in when Locke saw him to.

In the future we see Christian in the hospital with Jack again. So when Jack got off the Island (howevere they do), Christian also snuck on and went back to the land in where he confronts Jack.

That is my theory on How Christian Shepard, Father of Jack Shepard and Claire Littleton, is still alive.

Posted by Daria(image)