LOST - I've been thinking about Walt

You know what Tennyson said about Spring. It's when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of telepathic children in TV shows that have been off the air for two years. And so, like the swallows alighting upon Mission San Juan Capistrano, I turn my thoughts once again to figuring out just what the heck Walt's deal was on Lost.

We all wanted Walt's creepy is-it-a-superpower control of the world around him to be fleshed out more. The birds slamming into the window of his stepfather's home in Australia, the polar bear that he just might have telepathically summoned, the Others' fascination with him (hello, Room 23) -- all of those things and more made Walt a pretty tantalizing segment of the mythology of Lost.

It'd be easy to say that he had to be written out of the show because he was hitting his growth spurt and the year-after-year filming schedule couldn't accommodate the changes to his appearance and voice considering a narrative schedule of a couple Island days per episode. But I don't think the showrunners, all strapping lads themselves, were so blind to human biology as to not see puberty coming. I take Damon Lindelof at his word: "We've always known Malcolm was going to grow faster than we could shoot the show. And we planned for it. Trust us."

So let's consider what actually made the cut before Walt left the regular cast. There's a specific question that we all found pretty fascinating back then that I think points to what was going on with Walt and the Others and all those tests. Beatrice Klugh, interrogating Michael, asks him about his son, "Did Walt ever appear in a place he wasn't supposed to be?" This just about sums it up if you ask me.

Walt and Michael are allowed to leave the Island at the end of Season 2, just as we find out that people are looking for the Island (most notably, Desmond's gal Penny). Throughout his lifetime, Walt is shown drawing things to him with the apparent power of his mind, or will. Things happen when he wants them to happen, if he really wants them to happen.

What would happen if he really wanted someone to find the Island?

Now you see why Ben and the Others were so terrified of him. First, they wanted everyone to stay on the Island so no one could disclose its location. But then they got wind of Walt. They wanted to test his abilities, discern the liability to their need to keep the Island's location a secret, and then pound it all out of him with Room 23-style brainwashing if necessary. When they found this wouldn't work, they cut him loose -- and in such a way that neither he nor his father could ever reveal anything about the Island.

And at the end of Season 3, when a freighter approached the Island and discovery of its location was imminent, who showed up on the Island, where he wasn't supposed to be?

Boom.

L O S T

(Unless you think the manifestation of Walt standing over that DHARMA grave wasn't actually Walt, but I digress...)

I think it's a great way to write an arc for an actor you know can't last out the full sweep of that arc. In a show full of stories told but never really concluded, I don't know that the Walt story could have been handled any better.

Though, I should probably get around to finally watching "The New Man in Charge" before I say that. I'm just not sure I want the show to end.

LOST - Thoughts and implications

-If, as Non-Locke stated, Jacob manipulated Sawyer and the rest of the "touched" then Non-Locke did the exact same thing. He came to Sawyer at his lowest, at a moment of weakness, and used that vulnerability to manipulate him into doing Non-Locke's dirty work.

-Kate, while touched by Jacob, was not one of the names in the cave. My sneaking suspicion? She's bait. Not a Candidate herself, but an anchor employed by Jacob to keep two other Candidates in place on the Island. After all, what was she up to during Jacob's encounter with her as a little girl? She was leading a boy by the hand, straight into mischief. If this is the case, I suspect she'll be mighty resentful toward both, even if it would be misplaced resentment.

-The ghost boy, or Shorter Ghost Jacob, is destined to be a seed. "You know the rules; you can't kill him." Clearly, SGJ wasn't talking about Jacob-Proper; Non-Locke already killed him (more or less). He was talking about Sawyer, who carries the touch of Jacob. Same is true for Jin and/or Sun, and Jack, and Hurley, and Sayid, and the original Locke, and perhaps even Kate. When these entites reunite at the Temple, I think that will be the culmination of the dying Jacob's last words: "They're coming." Meaning: the Touched are coming, and they're bringing me back. Sort of like (excuse the nerdery) the resurrection of The Master in the recent Doctor Who finale. The Island, and all of the Touched, bear the imprint of Jacob, and these will be combined with the Locke-ness of Non-Locke as well as the energy of Smokey to return Jacob to existence.

-I think, as does Doc Jensen, that Non-Locke is being infiltrated by the original Locke's essence. The "Don't tell me what I can't do" shouted at SGJ was a giveaway, but the point Ilana made about Non-Locke being "stuck" in that visage is also pertinent. I'm wondering if something will give way now that Locke has been buried. I've always held that unburied bodies on the Island are fair game for manipulation by Smokey (see: Yemi, Alex [only partially buried, thus she only appeared underground], Christian).

A great episode, rife with potential meaning and energy.

Top Chef: Masters - "You people have cheeseburgers?"



Sorry. That's just how I'm used to anything LOST-related starting.

We're back in Los Angeles, where another round of generally drama-free high-caliber cooking will take place. The players?

Chef No. 1: Graham Elliot Bowles, Chicago. Graham Elliot Restaurant. His charity will be the American Heart Association. Let's withhold the obvious weight jokes; he's got a nephew on the transplant list. Graham's the youngest competitor, a little punk rock (by his own estimation, which MC Lars would probably tell you is decidedly not punk rock). Neither is naming your restaurant after yourself at 20-something.

Chef No. 2: Suzanne Tracht, Los Angeles. Jar. Her charity will be SOVA, a Jewish food pantry in LA. In his commentary, Jay Rayner describes her as a quintessentially "West Coast chef." This means she looks down on everyone else. No! I'm kidding. It means farmers' markets and fresh herbs and simple recipes, silly. She's a quiet one.

Chef No. 3: Wylie Dufresne, New York. WD-50. His charity, touching once again on members of the chef's extended family, will be Autism Speaks. Everyone knows Wylie. Most people love him. Long, dweeby hair. Molecular gastronomy guy--although he resists that appellation. Good buds with Graham Elliot Bowles, he's a frequent guest judge on Top Chef. Graham does not want to lose to him.

Chef No. 4: Elizabeth Falkner, San Francisco. Citizen Cake and Orson. Her charity will be Edible Schoolyard. A pastry chef! After the dessert Quickfire. Typical. Clearly, she has something for Orson Welles. He may have died in California, but he was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin; he was ours first! She's also appeared on Top Chef in the past, and lost to Iron Chef Cat Cora in Battle Lesbian...okay, Honey. In fact, she was Cora's sous chef for a number of battles.

The chefs get their shocks and smiles in -- I definitely like that they don't know their competitors until the see 'em -- and then Kelly Choi announces the Quickfire. Hailing from Season 2, the chefs will take part in the vending machine amuse bouche challenge.

Graham's thrilled, Suzanne not so much. The winner back in S2 was some friggin' nutraloaf-looking concoction (The picture to the right is of actual nutraloaf). The guest judges won't be children again, they'll just act like them: Betty, Michael, and Ilan--competing chefs and the winner of Top Chef Season 2. Wylie is now concerned; he's afraid of running into former targets of his criticism in dark alleys apparently.

The chefs take their rolls of quarters to the almost completely brand name-free vending machines outside the TC:M Kitchen. I say almost, because wouldn'tcha know it, three of the four chefs choose to utilize show sponsor Dr. Pepper. This challenge not brought to you by Dr. Pepper, but it might as well have been.

Wylie, dork that he kinda is, is fascinated by bags of chips. Suzanne is unfamiliar, but knows the names (which we can't see, but she can say) from her kids: Doritos, Cheetos, etc. California fresh herbs, indeed. Graham grabs some lunch, then does his shopping. Remember, no heart jokes. They head back for their 30 minutes of cook time.

Graham makes a tuna salad with lime juice, pickled shallots, and a reduced orange soda with lemongrass and ginger. Wylie turns his ham and cheese into a grilled cheese with crispy ham (the wackiness!) with a Dr. Pepper (AHEM) reduction and sauteed peanuts tossed in beer powder to make "beer nuts," more or less. Somewhat disdainfully, Suzanne plates fried shallot rings in Frito "flour," and a reduced Dr. Pepper (AHEM) aioli. Liz braises some beef jerky in Dr. Pepper (AHEM) and pairs it with orange juice-lemon-horseradish ice cream.

Wylie's running all over the place, showing good energy but terrible focus. As the clock runs out, he's swearing up a storm. He's plated a pretty dish, and Mikey likes it, but the sauce is overreduced and solidifies on the plate. Suzanne's amuse pleases everyone's bouche, while Elizabeth's wacky ice cream is freaking Betty out. Graham seems like the winner, with his "tuna salad that came from an Ivy League school" (Betty) dusted lightly with beef jerky miso powder. But in the final tally, Suzanne garners five stars to Graham's 4.5, with Elizabeth (3.5) and Wylie (3) rounding out the foursome.

Kelly shoos the chefs out of the kitchen so they can bring in some "very special ingredients"; when they return, there's a table full of sea urchin, boar, plantains, papaya, and other staples of the tropical cornucopia. Get ready, chefs, 'cause for the Elimination Challenge, you'll be cooking for the creators and writers of LOST. Dayum! My two favorite shows -- products of competing networks, I might add -- under one roof.

Suzanne's a fan (I take back everything I ever said about her), but Wylie's never seen it. Wylie, your nerd card is suspended for 60 days. Do not operate a protractor until such time as you receive notice of the reinstatement of your nerd card. Since there's no pantry on LOST -- well, actually, there is, but only in Season 2, unless you count the beach pantry Rose buil--heh...um, sorry. Since there's no pantry on LOST, the chefs will have to make do with $200 to shop off of the DHARMA-approved list of shelf-stable items to go along with the verdant bounty of one smoke-monster inhabited, electromagnetic anomaly-housing, frozen donkey wheel-turning tropical island.

At Whole Foods, it's being made abundantly clear that Suzanne prefers to cook with fresh herbs. Wylie and Graham are running around chattering like frat boys; Suzanne calls them "Mutt and Jeff." If a reference to a century-old comic strip isn't relevant enough for you, think Pinky and the Brain. Or Harold and Kumar. Graham hi-fives the cashier as he leaves. Okay, he's kinda cool. But so not punk rock.
He paid too much for those glasses to be punk rock.

Bravo then proceeds to blaze the menus past us so quickly that there's no way I'll get them typed out the first time through, not even allowing for mis-typing "risotto" as "risoot." Things that are clear during prep: Suzanne's very gender conscious in the kitchen. Wylie appears to have almost no plan, nor a head on his shoulders. But he can talk your friggin' ear off on immersion circulators, which might have absorbed the time Elizabeth ended up needing to apply a little more sauce to her plates. Wylie's total spaz-out is worrisome for people (like yours truly) who were of the opinion that the superstar in each round would have a distinct advantage.

The diners are introduced, and there's Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (aka Darlton), and The Writers (no individual credit given, c'est la guerre). I'm absolutely disappointed that no actors were involved in this, but it's for the best: Damon jokes that the quality of LOST has nosedived since Top Chef started airing and distracting all the writers, and Season 5 of LOST was still filming in Hawaii at the time this episode of Top Chef: Masters was shot.

The servers, wearing DHARMA jumpsuits, bring out the food.

Elizabeth's boar loin with ancho garlic rub, coffee-rubbed sous vide boar tenderloin, papaya yam pudding.

-Carlton doesn't appear to know that people actually do eat boar, but despite indicating that he doesn't think it would normally taste good, he likes it.
-The pudding is not going over well. Baby food-esque and confusing.
-Jay points out that the dish is dry and could use some sauce. Elizabeth is somewhere strangling Wylie with the cord to his immersion circulator.

Graham's tuna trio of maki roll with dehydrated pineapple, niçoise with green beans and kalamata olive oil, and coffee-crusted seared tuna loin over shitake mushroom risotto and hearts of palm

-Damon states that he joked with his wife, "What, are they going to put DHARMA green beans on top of gourmet food?", and then Graham does just that. Well-received playful note.
-Everyone is wowed by the execution on the tuna, particularly James Oseland, who hails it as some of the best tuna cookery he's ever seen.

Wylie's roasted chicken with poached egg, banana mustard, plantain pureè and beets

-To Wylie's pants-pooping horror, Jay's plate has no chicken on it. Poor Wylie looked like he couldn't breathe. But it's okay, because a plate two diners down had two pieces on it--there it is! You can stop looking now.
-The egg, cooked in the shell in the immersion circulator (Elizabeth mutters imprecations in the background), has achieved a kind of gel or pudding state. Sounds a little freaky, but that's Wylie. Apparently this egg is a trademark of his.
-Chicken is spectacular, Jay hails Wylie for continuing to cook "like himself" despite the vagaries of this challenge.

Suzanne's uni (urchin) risotto, mango salad, boar strip loin with oyster beer sauce, baked yam.

-This is a Vegas buffet if there ever was one. Jay is in love with the in-your-face complexity and abundance of the plate.
-The writer (sorry bud, don't know your name by sight) who didn't like boar when Elizabeth did it likes Suzanne's.
-Damon: "Magnificent." Carlton: "Hearty." Anonymous writer nerd: "Phenomenal."

So we can all agree that Elizabeth isn't going to win this round ("DUFRESNE!!"). Her weak, kind of passive-aggressive defense of her dish's obvious dryness -- when it was absolutely true that the servers took the plates before time was up -- didn't do her any favors. And the pudding was a misstep, plain and simple. She notes to Wylie after Critics' Table, "I think we were meaner when we were judges."

Wylie's gel egg impressed everyone, as did his slightly more traditionally prepared chicken. Gael Greene's natural suspicion of chemical involvement in the kitchen was overcome by her appreciation for that chicken. James' stated lack of understanding of molecular gastronomy is ultimately undermined by his statement that Wylie has him "under his spell."

Jay is intrigued by Graham's coffee rub. I guess it's a little unusual for tuna as opposed to pork or venison, but it seems totally foreign to Jay. Graham's anchovy aioli tied things together for Jay and James, who loved Graham's whole plate.

Suzanne explains that she brined her boar in pineapple, Chardonnay, and oil. Jay describes her dish, on first blush, as one that needs editing. By the end of Critics' Table, he was crediting her offering as "vibrant, fiery, with a real generosity of spirit." He was about to thank Suzanne for sending her one begotten son to Earth, but they were up against the break.

During that break, we get a positively darling little vignette of Elizabeth announcing that she can make chocolate chip cookie dough in five minutes. This takes place during Critics' Table discussions, and the four chefs whip up a batch of cookies. Cute, fun, maybe a little sacchariney. Just about right for the tenor of the judging portion of this show so far.

When the scores are announced, Graham leads off the way with 4.5 from the LOSTies, and 4/4/3.5 from the judges for 20.5. Wylie, staging a pretty massive comeback, gets a measly 3.5 from the diners but 5/4/4.5 from the judges to fall just short of Graham at 20. Elizabeth, predictably, gets 3.5 from the diners and 3/3/3.5 from the judges. 16.5 just won't cut it. That leaves Suzanne, who ties Graham's 4.5 from the LOST folk and gets 4.5/4/a very hyperbolic and overwrought 4.5 from Jay to take this week's competition with 22.5 stars.

The Bravo producers shoe-horn her headshot into the silhouette of Hubert Keller's shock of old man hair, and we've got two chefs into the Championship Round. Next week: Rick "Don't call me Skip" Bayless, uttering the great line, "What's a French guy know about a quesadilla?"

*For non-LOST watchers, the title of this recap is from Season 3 of LOST, when Jack is brought a fresh cheeseburger on an Island previously only known for natural food.

LOST - Locke, Jacob's nemesis and the Smoke Monster

IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE SEASON 5 FINALE OF LOST, "THE INCIDENT," YOU WILL BE SPOILED IF YOU CONTINUE READING.

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People have been poring over Season 5 of LOST, looking for some hint that the John Locke who emerged from Ajira 316 wasn't actually John Locke. My only thought was that the shoes had something to do with it. And I still kinda think they might. But that's not my "eureka" moment.

No, my eureka moment arrives by way of the episode "Dead is Dead." The Non-Locke, Ben, and Sun are at Ben's house in the DHARMA barracks. Ben goes to the Smoke Monster Phone Book, aka a dirty drain, and speaks into it. He is surprised that the Monster doesn't appear to be answering his call once he makes it back outside.

Ben and Sun have the following conversation:

BEN: Where did John go?

SUN: He said he had something to do.

BEN: Did he say what it was?

SUN: No, I didn't ask. Jack must have lied.

BEN: Excuse me?

SUN: About Locke being dead? I don't know why he would, but that's the only explanation.

BEN: Jack didn't lie. John was dead.

SUN: Just because he was in a coffin doesn't mean that he couldn't have faked his dea--

BEN: Trust me. I'm sure.

SUN: So you knew this would happen to Locke if we brought him back here?

BEN: Sun, I had no idea it would happen. I've seen this Island do miraculous things. I've seen it heal the sick, but never once has it done anything like this. Dead is dead. You don't get to come back from that, not even here. So the fact that John Locke is walking around this Island... scares the living hell out of me.

::pause::

You may want to go inside.

SUN: Why?

BEN: Because what's about to come out of that jungle is something I can't control.

Out pops the Non-Locke (hint 1). The Non-Locke mocks Ben for the Monster's apparent absence (hint 2). Then he tells Ben that he knows where the Monster can be found (hint 3). They go to the Temple, Ben is led beneath it, and falls through a floor to a sublevel where he encounters the Monster. The Non-Locke is out of the picture.

I said before that this bore a strong similarity to the scene in Season 2's "Lockdown," when Ben circumvents the blast doors to push the button in the Swan station. Except we don't really know for sure what he did at the computer.

Similarly, we don't really know what the Non-Locke was doing while Ben was trapped with the Monster. The Non-Locke could have been controlling it, or giving it orders. Or he could BE the Smoke Monster.

LOST - When we'll see Desmond again

Jeff "Doc" Jensen of Entertainment Weekly has a theory that LOST is folding back in on itself, with seasons 4, 5 and 6 mirroring seasons 3, 2 and 1. Right now, we're in the 5-to-2 paradigm.

It's a strong theory. See tonight as evidence. Sayid, imprisoned. (Young) Ben coming to visit him. A prisoner released by a representative of those holding him. An unexpected death as an immediate result of that betrayal. Instead of Ana Lucia and Libby being killed by Michael after he lets Ben go, we have STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED TONIGHT'S EPISODE.

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Young Ben letting Sayid go, then Sayid returning the favor with a bullet. Whoa. Mind = blown.

So if we're locked into a reversed replaying of Season 2, what do we have to look forward to in the season finale? How about Desmond returning to the Island?

We first saw him in the Season 2 premiere, "Man of Science, Man of Faith." Since we've been told that the Island isn't done with him, and this season appears to be mirroring Season 2, I think the finale will result in Desmond crashing on the Island once again.

What does this gain us, other than deja vu? How about the chance to finally get a proper Libby flashback? Libby gave Desmond the sailboat that originally took him to the Island. Libby showed up unexpectedly in Hurley's Santa Rosa Mental Hospital flashback, and it's presumed that those events took place after she met Desmond and gave him the boat?

What if Libby followed the race that Desmond entered with her boat, only to learn that he'd been lost at sea? There's another person who was hospitalized for grief stemming from feeling responsible for other peoples' deaths: Hurley, in Santa Rosa.

I'd be lying if I said I knew where this whole thing is taking us, but I think we're in for a pretty awesome finale this season.

~

For more of my thoughts on LOST, which are occasionally well-elucidated, click here.

LOST - Holy crap, Britain!

I'm being overrun with Brits clicking through to my blog post on the Estate of Horace from back in 2007. It's crazy! I've set a new single-day record for clicks.

Well, I hope you're all enjoying it, and finding some answers therein. I feel like it's still relatively on-point, even after two seasons of LOST headscratching. "LaFleur" was a hell of an episode, wasn't it?

LOST - Why I think Kate killed Aaron

Last night, we saw Kate return to Jack's side minus the little bambino. Aaron, she told Jack, and specifically his whereabouts, was a hands-off topic. If Jack wanted her to come with him, he was never, ever to ask about what happened to Aaron.

Most folks have surmised that she gave him up, perhaps with the words of Ben (and earlier, Jack) ringing in her ears: "He's not your son." Other folks think she might have been visited by Spectral Claire again, and was convinced to leave Aaron behind rather than "bring him back" to the Island.

Maybe she turned him over to Grandma Littleton. Maybe to her own mother? Social Services?

Nah. I think she killed him.

Dark, eh? This was the first thing we thought of on the LOST Viewing Pedestal (aka the couch) at my house. We've obviously got some unresolved issues.

But think about it. Mrs. Hawking said that the circumstances of Oceanic Flight 815 had to be replicated as closely to the original as possible on Ajira Flight 316. So someone carried a guitar case. Someone arrived in custody. Someone arrived very late.

On 815, someone arrived on the run for murder. Kate. For the murder of a man to whom she did not believe she was related, but who reminded her of terrible things whenever she saw him.

LOST would be awfully daring to introduce such an element, but I think after we've come face to face with time travel, reincarnation, and a fuselage full of rotting, waterlogged corpses, Aaron might have reason to be worried about his future screen time.

ADDED 4/9/09: Clearly, I was wrong. But it would have been awesome, in a nasty and brutal sort of way, no?

LOST - Time as a guitar string

Island nerd-king Daniel Faraday compared time to a string in the season premiere, "Because You Left." I'd like to refine that to a guitar string.

One of the beefs people have with the time flashes this year is that the concept of recollection and recognition seems fuzzy. Why didn't Rousseau recognize Jin back on the beach?, for example.

Very simply, my explanation is this: what happens paradoxically in the past (someone who wasn't there the "first time through" comes in and changes something) doesn't come to bear until the "bleeding edge" of time. Think of time like you'd think of space: since the Big Bang, space has been expanding. That means there's a leading edge, a blast radius or event horizon.

Paradoxical changes in the past only come to bear on the future at the furthest extent of that future. That's why Desmond remembered Faraday in "real time," as opposed to, say, the day Locke pounded on the hatch window.

The guitar string analogy comes in to explain it all thusly: you can wag around a guitar string all you want, but it won't make any noise unless it's attached at both the beginning and the end.

LOST - Daniel Faraday as DC Comics' Pariah

Scientist. Brash self-experimentation in space/time. Allegiance pulled between powerful and opposing forces. Helpless to change the course of time and history.

We're talking about Daniel Faraday, thin-tie wearing nerd-king of the new LOST Island, right?

Or are we talking about Kell Mossa, otherwise known as Pariah? This semi-obscure character from DC Comics isn't nearly as well-known as Superman or even the Flash, but to comic book afficionados, his role in the seminal Crisis on Infinite Earths is significant.

Allow me to quote Wikipedia for effect:

Prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC was notorious for its continuity problems. No character's back story, within the comic books, was entirely self-consistent and reliable. For example, Superman originally couldn't fly (he could instead leap over an eighth of a mile), and his powers came from having evolved on a planet with stronger gravity than Earth's. Over time, he became able to fly, his powers were explained as coming from a yellow sun, and a more complex origin back story was invented. ... There was also an issue of character aging. For instance, Batman, an Earth-born human being without superpowers, retained his youth and vitality well into the 1980s despite having been an active hero during World War II, and his sidekick Robin never seemed to age beyond adolescence in over 30 years.

Note a few key elements in that passage that should have resonance for LOST viewers. Unreliable and internally inconsistent back-stories. How exactly was it that Desmond was "almost a doctor"? How was Buddy Holly's "Every Day" playing on his mother's record player a year before it was to be released? Issues with character aging. Richard Alpert. To borrow from Marvel Comics' Stan Lee's lexicon, 'nuff said.

The resolution to these inconsistencies (perfectly understandable in a mythology spanning decades, whose creators had no idea of the future events that would impact the course of their creation) was to fracture the "universe":

These issues were addressed during the Silver Age by DC creating parallel worlds in a multiverse: Earth-One was the contemporary DC Universe, which had been depicted since the advent of the Silver Age; Earth-Two was the parallel world where the Golden Age events took place, and where the heroes who were active during that period had aged more or less realistically since that time; Earth-Three was an "opposite" world where heroes were villains, and historical events happened the reverse of how they did in real life (such as, for instance, President John Wilkes Booth being assassinated by a rebel named Abraham Lincoln); Earth Prime was ostensibly the "real world," used to explain how real-life DC staffers (such as Julius Schwartz) could occasionally appear in comics stories; and so forth. If something happened outside current continuity (such as the so-called "Imaginary Stories" that were a staple of DC's Silver Age publications), it was explained away as happening on a parallel world, a premise not dissimilar to the company's current "Elseworlds" imprint.

Have we seen real-life staffers appear in the LOST mythology? Anyone remember Rachel Blake? Her appearance at the LOST panel at San Diego Comic Con was a boundary-blending double take. The aborted attempt at another alternate reality game leading up to Season 5 is another prime example. Even the name of the event, "alternate reality game," speaks to what I'm trying to illustrate.

And that is that Pariah, after being saved from his own dying world by the demi-god Monitor, is forced to witness the destruction of multiple worlds in the DC Multiverse. He is able to speak to the doomed, but is unable to alter their fate. If the parallel holds, there's some serious juju about to be laid down onto that Island. And Daniel Faraday, brought to the Island by a powerful being (Widmore) and witness to past and future events over which he proclaims impotence, will be there to watch it happen.

An anagram of Pariah's real name, Kell Mossa: "All's smoke." Nothing is permanent.

LOST - Desmond doing a Motel 6

Down in a hole and I don't know if I can be saved
See my heart I decorate it like a grave
You don’t understand who they thought I was supposed to be
Look at me now a man who won't let himself be


-Alice in Chains, "Down in a Hole"


Something has bothered me about that hatch. Something that's been bothering me since the end of Season 2, when we learned that it was Desmond who heard Locke pounding ("Deus Ex Machina") and flipped the light switch to ON.

In "Live Together, Die Alone," Desmond tells Locke that times were desperate down in the Hatch back then, before it had been excavated by the Losties. Desmond was in a deep despair, thinking no one would come to replace him on button duty. No one coming to relieve him.

Desmond's last-book-before-I-die, Our Mutual Friend, was on the table-top. A gun sits nearby. He'd been told by Kelvin that the world was gone out there, and there was nothing to do but push the button or end it all. Desmond was close to ending it all.

Then Locke knocked on the door. Or more specifically, the window at the top of the escape hatch. Locke wanted leadership from the Island, a sign. He had just let Boone die a meaningless death, and was in an almost equally-deep despair. Desmond heard the pounding. His face brightened. He ran to the panel, and turned on the light pointed directly up the shaft of the hatch. He gleamed, saved and beatific, up at Locke. Locke looked, amazed and with purpose renewed, down at the light.


Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?

-Psalm 130


Except almost none of this makes any sense from Desmond's perspective.

Sure, I can see that a man who had lost all hope of salvation and relief, who thought that the world had died and left him behind, would be reinvigored by the prospect of someone trying to get in.

But with so much at stake, and with so much desperation rattling around in that Swan station, shouldn't Desmond have done something more than just turn on the porch light? Wouldn't you have done something more? Maybe run around to the back/front door (so easy to forget that the hatch wasn't really the front door), opened it up, and shouted "Over here!"?

The preview scenes for the next new episode of LOST indicate that perhaps my questions will be answered. In case you're one of those folks that doesn't even watch the "next week on LOST" bits at the end of each episode, I won't tell you what it was that we saw.

I will say that Daniel Faraday's actions at the surface entrance to the Swan station in the premiere episode ("Because You Left") have specific meaning to this conundrum. What does Desmond's unique position in the space/time continuum have to do with the reason why the mere presence of an outsider would soothe Desmond's despair?


The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place an empty space
has filled the void behind my face

-Weezer, "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here"


Oh, and one other thing. It's kind of funny, the difference between "relieve" and "relive" is only one letter.

LOST - The Island as Boggle dome

Over at The Lost Community, we've been trying to nail down whether the intended effect of the frozen donkey wheel being turned is the same as what's happening on the Island post-turn (the whole record-skipping thing). I think I've come up with a theory that actually brings a little science into the discussion.

Remember Boggle? The little pod with dice with letters, and you shake the pod and the dice scramble, settle into a grid, and you make words?

Turning the frozen donkey wheel is equivalent to shaking the Boggle dome. It results in a noise, and even a reshuffling of the contents of the dome.

But what if some of the dice have been taken out of the dome? Then, when the dome is shaken, the remaining dice reshuffle but their interaction is changed because there aren't the same number of dice to bounce off of. When they settle, the resulting jumble cannot be directly correlated to that which pre-dated the last shake.

It's kind of like a muddle of Brownian motion, quantum mechanics, and a little bit of Schrödinger's cat.

The Island, as a Boggle dome, is trying to find a way to reshuffle the dice to make the grid make sense. It can't, and it keeps on shuffling and shuffling. Only when someone reinserts those remaining dice will the Island stop trying to resolve its error.

The question is, how does the Island determine what the correct number of occupants is? What's the marker? The destruction of the Swan, maybe? Is anyone (or anyone's body) other than the Oceanic 6 off-Island that was on-Island when the Swan went boom? Is Desmond not included in Ben's charge to bring everyone back because the rules don't apply to him? Since the Swan implosion was kind of what triggered his unusual spacetime status, is he not on the Island census as of that point in spacetime?

(This analogy was more fun when I was conflating Boggle and Trouble. I liked the idea of the Island "popping" rather than "shuffling" or "shaking." Oh well.)

~

For more of my thoughts on LOST, which are occasionally well-elucidated, click here.

LOST - the iPod playlist


T-minus ONE MOTHERF**KING WEEK and I cannot WAIT. Shit.

Anyway, I made a LOST playlist for my iPod (a matte black 80GB named Ichabod in case you're wondering) last year, and it seemed timely to share it now. The songs go roughly in chronological order with the events of the series, and I've included salient lyrics for the songs that didn't appear on the show.
  1. Gnarls Barkley, "St. Elsewhere"
    "Anywhere you sit you can see the sun/ Unfortunately on this island I'm the only one"
    "Way over yonder there's a new frontier/ Would it be so hard for you to come and visit me here?"
  2. Pearl Jam, "Tremor Christ"
    "winded is the sailor/ drifting by the storm/ wounded is the organ he left all/ bloodied on the shore/ gorgeous was his savior, sees her/ drowning in his wake/ daily taste the salt of her tears, but/ a chance blamed fate"
  3. Joe Purdy, "wash away (Reprise)"
  4. Bobby Darin, "Beyond the Sea"
  5. The Police, "Invisible Sun""There has to be an invisible sun/ That gives us hope when the whole day’s done"
    "And they’re only going to change this place by/ Killing everybody in the human race"
  6. Modest Mouse, "Missed the Boat"
    "Looking towards the future/ We were begging for the past/ Well we knew we had the good things/ But those never seemed to last"
  7. Bob Marley and the Wailers, "Redemption Song"
  8. Cass Elliot, "Make Your Own Kind of Music"
  9. Three Dog Night, "Shambala"
  10. Alice in Chains, "Man in the Box"
    "I'm the man in the box/ Buried in my shit/ Won't you come and save me?"
  11. Bad Religion, "Come Join Us"
    "Don't you see the trouble that most people are in/ And that they just want you for their own advantage/ But I swear to you we're different from all of them/ Come and join us"
  12. Jem, "They"
    "Who are they?/ Where are they?/ How can they possibly know all this?"
  13. John Butler Trio, "Company Sin"
    "Ben got a job at the mine along the way/ He said everything was fine until that fateful day"
    "It's not his land, they're not his songs/ He can't work out why he don't belong"
  14. Bad Religion, "Them and Us"
    "But he didn't know who they were/ and he didn't know who we were/ and there wasn't any reason or motive, or value, to his story/ just allegory, imitation glory/ and a desperate feeble search for a friend"
  15. The Beach Boys, "Good Vibrations"
  16. A Perfect Circle, "3 Libras"
    "Difficult not to feel a little bit/ Disappointed and passed over/ When I look right through/ See you naked but oblivious/ And you don't see me"
  17. Disturbed, "Land of Confusion"
    "Now did you read the news today/ They say the danger's gone away/ But I can see the fires still alight/ They're burning into the night"
  18. Gnarls Barkley, "The Boogie Monster"
    "I've got a monster in my closet/ Someone's underneath my bed/ The wind's knocking at my window/ I'd kill it but it's already dead"
  19. Buddy Holly, "Everyday"
  20. Trust Company, "Downfall"
    "Stay in place, you'll be the first to see/ me heal these wounds"
  21. CKY, "Familiar Realm"
    "Fortune isn't fame; you've entered a familiar realm/ If they've told you who to be, you've entered a familiar realm"
  22. Patsy Cline, "Walkin' After Midnight"
  23. Beck, "Missing"
    "I dragged all that I owned/ Down a dirt road to find you/ My shoes worn out and used/ They can't take me much farther"
You wouldn't expect there to be anything other than 23 songs, would you? And like a true mix tape dork, I have character associations with all the non-diegetic songs. Now that I'm done cycling through, I'm going to listen straight up. The whole thing just makes me SQUEEEEE!

LOST thoughts

I just want to put these down on "paper," and I'll make them prettier later. They refer to the most recent episode of LOST, "Ji Yeon."

Okay, so the axe embedded into the exterior wall of the Kahana (see Dark UFO screencaps page) is freaky as hell. That, combined with the "problems" in the kitchen and the seemingly-fresh suicide spatter in Sayid and Desmond's room, seems to point to a very disturbed cook.

Two references pop up there.

1) The Hunt for Red October. The spy on the Red October, who tries to subvert the Soviet captain's defection to the US, was posing as a cook. Submarines are very important in LOST, as is the theme of defection. Plus, in the film Below, ghosts pound on the hull of the submarine, causing eerie banging noises. Familiar? To top if off, Gault has a book on U-boats and the Soviet Navy on his shelf.

2) The 1914 murders at Taliesin, the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Perpetrated by a cook, using an axe. His motives have gone unexplained, even through his incarceration. He died of starvation. Freaky, no?

LOST - Who are the Oceanic 6?

If you watched the season premiere of LOST (and if you didn't, shame on you!), you know that at least six people from the Island make it back to the Real. We've only met three so far, but the pacing of this season promises an early reveal.

The three we've met so far are Jack (he of the furry woodland creature), Kate (all glammy and doting) and Hurley (still fat, still crazy, still in love with Charlie).

Back on 1/15, I posted my theory of LOSTie survival on The Lost Community. So far, it's holding up. It's about the promo shot for the pre-Season 4 clip show (here). It's sort of my cryptoquip theory of LOST survival. Here is a re-post, for posterity:



***

We know that Jack and Kate survive to make it back to the mainland. They are both standing, with primarily their right arms visible. We also know that, according to Desmond, Charlie's sacrifice earned Claire rescue. So let's say that standing figures survive.

Standing figures facing to the right of the photo (or their left) get rescued. Standing figures facing to the left of the photo, then, could reasonably be expected to be left behind.

Seated figures, then, must die, although the place they die could still be determined by the direction they face.

The characters with conflicted posture are Locke, Desmond and Sun. Locke's connection to the Island is such that would could expect a strange continued relationship there, spanning a wide distance. Desmond's time fluctuations might add a level of complexity to his fate. And Sun does in fact represent two individuals in this photo, so the fate of her child is unknown.

In summary:

RESCUED, SURVIVE: Hurley, Claire, Kate, Jack, Juliet, Desmond (?)
RESCUED, DIE: Ben
ABANDONED, SURVIVE: Jin, Sayid
ABANDONED, DIE: Sawyer, Sun
?: Locke

***

The main complication is the fact that Ben, Juliet and Desmond weren't on Oceanic 815. Perhaps Rose and Bernard fill in the 6, or Claire's baby. Time will have to tell.

LOST - I have an answer! (sort of)

LOST is living a shell of a life during the strike-plagued hiatus. Mobisodes (or webisodes, if you're not a Verizon customer) are the tiny supplements made to keep us alive until February.

The third 'sode is titled "King of the Castle," and features a portion of a chess match between Jack and Ben. Some verbal judo ensues, and the segment ends with Ben performing a "castle" move, which presumably puts Jack at a significant disadvantage.

Much has been made online of the fact that the move Ben performs is illegal. His pieces are not in the proper position to execute a castle. This has been interpreted, logically, to mean that Ben will cheat with his hands while he swears virtue with his mouth. I can't argue with that interpretation, but I have another. It is rooted in the fact that Ben lauds Jack's chess skill, and yet Jack doesn't appear to recognize the illegality of Ben's castle.

We should consider the possibility that, since both kings are not on their proper starting space, the board was improperly laid out from the start. In other words, Ben didn't intend for the castle to be illegal, and Jack didn't call out the illegality, because both players placed their kings on the wrong space from the start.

The meaning of this would be that both Ben and Jack are operating from a false assumption about the game; the implication being that neither man truly understands what's happening on the Island.

Just a thought.

LOST to air on Sci-Fi and G4 next fall

Hollywood Reporter, well, reports that the NBC-owned Sci-Fi Channel will begin running "mini-marathons" of ABC's award-winning drama LOST next fall. Early plans indicate that Sci-Fi will run the intricate, mythology-heavy drama in weekly four-hour blocks.

In addition to the Sci-Fi schedule, LOST will air on the G4 network, best known for videogaming content. G4 plans to adapt LOST to its popular "2.0" format, which will include on-screen information tickers similar to ESPN or CNN's Headline News. Previous 2.0 versions of COPS and the original Star Trek series have met with wide acclaim and substantial ratings increases.

This will be the first time LOST will be seen off-network, and stands to bring a wider audience to a show that is often seen as too dense and involved to pick up on the fly. LOST has a verifiable track record for post-broadcast viewing; the DVD sets for seasons 1 and 2 have sold briskly, with season 2 topping the VideoScan DVD sales charts during its first week of release.

Woo-hoo!

LOST - I want answers! Volume 2!

In honor of the Season 3 finale of LOST, here are some outstanding issues that don't look like they're heading towards any resolution. But I want answers, dammit!

-Was Rose's recognition of the noise the Monster makes meaningful in any way? Or was it just a nod to the foley guys who came up with the real-life sound to use in representing the Monster?

-Why was Libby in Hurley's flashback?

-Did Ben actually push the button in the Swan when it went into lockdown? If he did, why did he later tell Locke he didn't? If he didn't, why didn't the Swan go into magnet mode? There was a glimmer of recognition when Locke told Ben the Numbers (which makes sense, given what we now know about Ben's history on the Island); what was Ben's plan once he knew what was going on in the Swan? Did he know the full ramifications of not pushing the button?

-You know what? I just want to know more about the Swan. What was its place in the DHARMA plan? Was it unknown to the members of DHARMA that weren't working in it? Was it unknown to the Others? Like Libby, the Swan is no more, but I hope that the producers find a way of resolving some of these issues before the end of the series.

-What did the Others do with Walt when they had him, and why did they no longer want to keep him?

More to come....

LOST - The Estate of Horace

Last week on LOST, viewers were treated to a (less-than-exhaustive) history of the enigmatic DHARMA Initiative. In this history, told from the perspective of the creepy Benjamin Linus, we met a DI worker named Horace Goodspeed. Of course, this is LOST, and names are loaded with meaning; as such, it's easy to see that a last name like "Goodspeed" (like the Goodwin of Season 2) is a tell as to the importance of the name or character to which it is assigned.

But in all the discussion about Horace (and most commentators have realized that it is the first name that holds meaning, not the overtly coded last name), an intriguing potential clue has remained elusive. None to date have discussed Horace's Estate.

LOST Horace may have earned his name from Quintus Horatius Flaccus, a lyric poet of pre-Common Era Rome better known to those without laurels behind their ears simply as Horace. Horace gave the world "carpe diem," without which "Dead Poets Society" could not have become a box office draw. He also contributed a phrase ("Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori") which means "it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country."

(It bears noting at this point that LOST Horace was killed as his settlement defended itself against a hostile invader on the Island.)


Horace, as his fame grew, was granted an estate in the Sabine region of Italy by a wealthy patron. On Horace's own deathbed, he in turn granted his estate to his friend, a certain fellow who went by Augustus in conversation but signed his paychecks with "Caesar."

(It bears noting at this point that "Sabine" has already appeared in LOST lore as both a character name and a mythological tie-in. Sabine the character was a woman who died in childbirth on what has been revealed to be a very inhospitable place for women to bear children. The mythological tie-in involves a Roman myth about the capture of the women of the Sabine region, who were then "used" to repopulate early Rome. This story was told years in advance in the Hebrew Bible, where the captured women were from Jabesh-gilead and the society that needed to be repopulated was the Hebrew Tribe of....Benjamin.)


The gift was apparently intended to be used for "Imperial purposes"; that is, Caesar's own purposes whether they agreed with Horace's use of the estate or not. Caesar was granted the ability to take over the land and do with it as he pleased. And we all know how the Caesars turned out in the end: power-hungry and corrupted.

(Once again, we note that when LOST Horace was killed, his land was taken by Benjamin, the eventual leader of The Others, and turned to their own purposes. We are now seeing that Ben's assumption of power may have led to a corruption of his own tribe's initial goal--although we don't know what it is yet.)


So, we see all these tie-ins with LOST and the story of the poet Horace. They're all pretty interesting, but they don't really tell us anything about LOST. They're just cool little nods to real-life experience and literature. But in the history of Horace's estate, we are offered actual clarity into the truths of LOST.

See, the intriguing connection is that, until the mid-eighteenth century, no one knew where Horace's estate was. Many people searched. Since the fifteenth century, historians, artists and classicists endeavored to locate the estate. The actual site of the estate had actually been located around that time, but was dismissed as a candidate. Over the centuries, Horace's estate became as much a "literary topos" (repeated myth, like the Flood or the myriad hero epics) as an actual location to be found. It became an ancient totem with which to facilitate the expression of a contemporary idea. Think Xanadu, El Dorado, or the Garden of Eden; like those places, Horace's Estate became a label for something rather than a place in and of itself.

LOST columnist Jeff "Doc" Jensen has often speculated that The Island in LOST is a grand psychological/psychic experiment, designed to effect a change on the collective subconscious; recreate a mythological structure to mankind; or (most broadly) save the world of its sins and ills by altering some unknowable and fundamental dynamic of the human condition. The fact that The Island is so difficult to locate only demonstrates that its location is not important; it is The Island's meaning that determines its value.

The Island is "somewhere"; I'm convinced that it is not an ethereal nonplace. It is not Purgatory, or Hell, or Heaven, or any other cosmological locale. But it is the very nature of The Island's place in the machine that is Earth that makes it so difficult to find. Call it the Garden of Eden. Call it Avalon. Call it Atlantis. That's what it is. It's a place that creates meaning by its absence rather than its presence. And it is for this reason--the importance of the activities on The Island and the people conducting those activities--that those on The Island will never, ever leave it.

Even when Horace's Estate was found, it was still most important for having been lost.


~

For more of my thoughts on LOST, which are occasionally well-elucidated, click here.

LOST - I want answers!

Witness the unveiling of a new regular feature on this here blog! For the next few weeks, I'll be posting occasional commentaries on LOST, the TV show that has fully occupied the place in my heart that The X-Files left open.

If you watch the show, you'll know that LOST is on hiatus for over two months. It'll be back on February 7th, because last year was a scheduling debacle. There was no sense of momentum, with new episodes coming sporadically. So this year, we've got a huge break in the series, to be followed by 16 (or 17?) straight, all-new eps.

In the absence of the show, I'll be posting some of the questions I hope to have answered by the producers. I'm not saying these answers should or will be forthcoming this season, but they damn well better be coming by the end of the series. I hope you, Dear Readers, will join me in the comments in discussing these questions.

What do the psychics know?

In flashbacks, we have seen both Claire (the Australian new mommy) and Rose (the older woman with a terminal illness) receive some unusual information from paranormal authorities. Claire visits a psychic, at the urging of a girlfriend, only to be told that a reading is impossible for her. Pressuring the psychic over time, Claire is given foreboding advice. She is told that she, and only she, must raise this child (Claire was planning to give the baby up for adoption). It becomes apparent that the psychic arranged for Claire to be on the doomed Oceanic flight, for the sole reason of ensuring that she would raise the baby.

Rose, on the other hand, was taken to a faith healer by her well-meaning but slightly misguided husband, Bernard. The healer (who charged $10,000 just for the appointment) told Rose that he could not heal her. He was very explicit in pointing out that it was not that she couldn't be healed, but that the energies he was able to channel would not be able to heal her. He even offered to return the money (an act of honesty mirrored by Claire's psychic), but Rose wanted her husband to believe that she had been healed. She wanted him to let go, so they could be happy in the time they had left.

So my question is this: What did the psychic and the faith healer know about Rose and Claire's futures, and how did they know it? Why did they feel so compelled to proactively ensure that the future they sensed, would come to pass?

Again, your thoughts are welcome! If I can come up with a reasonable theory, I'll post it in the comments.