Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Case of the.... Lost - Episode 5-5 Revisited

Before getting to the reader mail, I’d like to bring attention to the Reader’s Jeer of the Week in the latest edition of TV Guide:

Jeers to Lost. My wife and I have been avid followers since Episode 1, and now we are lost. It’s too convoluted. The long breaks between seasons didn’t help matters either. We want to be entertained, not challenged to follow the story line. The producers have ruined a really good show.

Comments such as these irk me. When people started watching this show, did they think all of these questions were going to be answered with a simple “A wizard did it”?

Click the "Read More" link for the full column.

People have been complaining that they want answers, and now that they’re getting them they complain that it’s “too much”? That’s B.S.

Quite frankly, the allure of Lost is that it DOES challenge you to think. In fact, this show practically reinvented the model for episodic television. Admittedly, 24 set the stage for the concept of having to watch every single episode in order to follow the story, but it was Lost that changed the storytelling formula altogether.

And why must the idea of being challenged to think and being entertained be mutually exclusive? The fact that Lost airs Wednesdays, and I’m STILL discussing it with people the following Tuesday, adds significantly to my enjoyment of the program. I love 24, but I’m very rarely picking apart the scenes and discussing new discoveries up until the next episode airs.

It’s been said before, but I think it’s poignant and accurate: At this point, Lost is being written for the viewers that have stuck around. To be harsh, the show was arguably “dumbed down” for casual fans. With that audience gone, that’s no longer necessary. And personally, I applaud the producers for sticking to their vision and not giving into pressures that may have secured them with a larger audience.

Ever since this show garnered mainstream attention, people have doubted if the writers have any idea of where the show’s going. Now people complain that they’re not altering the story to accommodate the audience. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Moving on….

InsidePulse alum Andy Campbell chimes in again with some thoughts:

I look at Christian Shephard as a "prophet" of sorts, in that he can speak for himself ("Say hello to my son for me") and also for the "higher power" (Jacob).

As for the "rules" of time travel... whether people remember meeting someone far in the past... I think they can, but that it's very cloudy and takes something specific to trigger it. That's why it took so long for Charlotte to remember meeting Daniel as a child. That said, I think Richard is outside those rules (as he seems to be outside LOTS of rules). It's clear he remembers meeting Locke, since he went to witness Locke's birth (at the request of Locke himself) and followed up with a visit when Locke was a boy.

Speaking of Charlotte: given what we learned in this episode, it seems to me that she is probably Annie, Ben's childhood friend. The timing is right, and it makes sense that she left the island, because there was no mention of her dying in Ben's "purge."

I liked that we finally got a glimpse of the famed Temple, and another of the Cerberus vents. If I recall correctly, the only other Cerberus vent we saw was when Locke was pulled into one by the Smoke Monster. Did they show another when Ben summoned the Smoke Monster from his "Batcave"?

I can easily see Christian as a prophet of sorts. What I’m most intrigued about, however, is how much of Christian is Dr. Christian Shephard, and how much is Jacob? Granted, the only time we’ve ever seen Christian during his lifetime was through his interactions with other people. Therefore, arguably, we can only judge him based upon how he is perceived by others. Yet there does seem to be a distinct difference in overall behavior and tenor between Dr. Christian Shephard and the spiritual entity we’ve seen on the island. The former is moody and can be vindictive and abusive. The latter, on the other hand, appears to be a patient, helpful guide. That’s part of the reason why I am so fascinated with the “say hello to my son” comment. For the first time in four seasons, I felt like I was seeing Dr. Christian Shephard.

Regarding the “rules” of time travel, somebody did a pretty nice job explaining it. For example, why does Charlotte remember meeting Daniel in the past, but Daniel doesn’t? Simple: It’s part of Charlotte’s past, but it’s Daniel’s future (since he hasn’t gone into the past to warn her yet). That’s why, in all likelihood, Alpert does recognize Locke when he arrives on the island (while Locke has no recollection of ever meeting Alpert). It’s also entirely possible that Rousseau remembers meeting an Asian man when she first arrived on the island. But seeing some random Korean guy again after sixteen years – during which time she saw her friends get possessed and killed, had to execute your lover, had her daughter kidnapped, and had to survive against Others and a Smoke Monster – probably isn’t even a blip on her radar.

By the way, I’m not entirely convinced that Alpert is outside the rules of time travel. There’s obviously something special about him, hence why he doesn’t appear to age, but he also seemed out of the loop during the 1950’s discussion with Locke.

We do know that Desmond doesn’t follow the rules, however, and I’m interested in seeing if he and Ms. Hawking acknowledge their jewelry store meeting. For that matter, I haven’t really discussed the pre-island connection between Desmond and the Faradays. There’s the aforementioned jewelry store encounter with Ms. Hawking, the time trippy visit to Daniel at Oxford, and, if you recall, Ms. Hawking’s other son was one of the monks at the monastery Desmond once resided. Most significant of all: Each of these events led to Desmond’s arrival on the island.

I can buy the idea of Charlotte being Annie, but I’m perhaps even more interested in another idea I read: That Charlotte is actually the daughter of Ben and Annie. Of course, this is a bit harder to believe, given the presumed slim age difference between Ben and Charlotte, but it would explain a few things. For one, it would make sense of Charlotte’s comment about her dad going crazy (Ben did orchestrate the purge that killed all of the Dharma Initiative, after all). The absence of his daughter could also act as the motivation for why he eventually kidnapped Alex and raised her as his own. Whatever the case may be, I look forward to the eventual episode where we do find out what happened to Annie.

I'm not sure what to make of the Smoke Monster and the Temple, but I definitely want to know more (I can't wait for that episode in which we find out more about Smokey). Interestingly, if you recall, the Others retreated to the Temple for safe haven when the freighter folk arrived. Perhaps the Temple is somehow connected to why they aren't time traveling with the island?

If I can go back to the topic of time travel, I am curious how forgiving fans will be if the writers choose not to explain every single apparent paradox. For example, what if the show never explains the fact that Locke set in motion the whole idea that he’s destined to lead the Others, when he only believes that because of what the Others had told him? If the finale of Lost is satisfying and fulfilling, will the typically high maintenance sci-fi fans overlook the fact that not every single relatively inconsequential time traveling question mark?

And for what it’s worth, I don’t believe that the compass is a paradox. People argue that if Alpert gave Locke the compass in 2005 (or whenever it was) and Locke gave it to Alpert in the 1950’s….where did it originally come from? As far as I’m concerned, the compass originally came from Alpert. If you rewatch the scene in which Locke presents the compass to Alpert, he gives no indication that he doesn’t recognize it. He’s simply perplexed by the concept that he had given it to him in the future. In my mind, Alpert would HAVE to recognize the compass in order for him to even humor Locke’s story. Crazy island or not, if some dude just walked up to you and handed you something you had never seen before, claiming that you gave it to him in the future, what reason would you have to believe him?

Enjoy the new episode. And keep the e-mails coming, people!

Update: Also enjoy the latest edition of the highly entertaining Lost! Untangled, which I will be adding to my Lost: Revisited blog entries from this point forward, once they become available:

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