Hello (and goodbye), Dr. Nick! "Lost" – The Final Word

 
By Nick Gorini
 
They say good things come to those who wait. I don’t know who “They” are, and I’ve learned that occasionally, patience isn’t always a virtue.
 
But waiting almost always gives you one thing: perspective.
 
It was never my intent to document my immediate, visceral reaction to the ending of ‘Lost’. Going into Sunday night, I knew whatever my initial feelings may be (“That was PERFECT!” or “How could they have done this to ME?”), I needed time to reflect on the ending in the context of the entire Lost experience.
 
I mean, that’s what it has become for those of us who love this show, right? It was more than TV – it was a journey, a ride that for one hour a week put us somewhere else. Not just on the screen, but in our own noggins’. And if you believe in some of Lost’s theories, it may have been our collective consciousness-noggins, otherwise known as “col-coggins”.
 
Maybe at the end of our lives, we will all meet at some alternate bus depot in the sky (don’t call it Purgatory!) that we created out of our own desire, the desire to figure out every remaining Lost mystery. So, so many…
 
We can spend our oddly-houred days kissing strangers or beating the crap out of them with no repercussions. Heck, in some cases, they may even THANK us, even after running them over with our car. Then we can meet in a balmy, tropical Catholic Church with non-denominational stained glass (we wouldn’t want to exclude any of our viewers), hug it out one last time, and realize that the mysteries aren’t what mattered in the end.
 
What mattered is that we all experienced Lost, for better or worse, with joy or frustration, together.
 
Before I digress into any specifics of the finale, I want to say something that is all too obvious, but needs to be heard, so bear with me:
 
Network television is dying.
 
We all know it. The viewers know it, the advertisers know it, the executives know it, the cable companies and satellite/Direct TV entities know it, the writers and actors know it, too.
 
It may take a few years before the last rites are read, but network television is like Lost’s Michael, wandering around a magical wonderland, unable to move on because of it’s past indiscretions, haunting us with cheap reality shows, tabloid news and crappy copies of “Lost.”
 
“Lost” snuck under the radar. It remains one of the most expensive shows ever produced. Cinematic in quality, epic in scope, complicated in plot, and deep, deeper than most anything found in popular culture today.
 
Apparently, we hate that kind of stuff. That’s why we get endless seasons of Dateline NBC, C.S.I., Two and a Half Men, The Biggest Loser. Dumbed down and cheap. You want intelligent? You want challenging? Watch AMC, HBO or Showtime. Read a book.
 
Network television, still free. For a limited time. And it gave us Lost. How did J.J. Abrams ever convince, coerce or blackmail ABC into putting this show on the air? Is Abrams the modern day Robert Johnson, selling his soul at the crossroads so the devil may gift him with unworldly talents? Or was it that mysterious elixir of talent, luck, timing and connections that got this gift off the ground?
 
If J.J. Abrams was a character on Lost, he’d be asking himself if it was his destiny to bring Lost to the masses, something he was always fated to do, or if it was hard work and sheer determination that put him into that position.
 
Whatever the case may be, Lost is like network television’s supernova, a final, bright hot burst of energy and beauty before the final, slow sputtering of a dead star.
 
Blah, Blah, Blah. What did you think of the finale?
 
The finale was overwhelmingly satisfying on an emotional level. But like Icarus, I think Lost may have flown too close to the Sun.
 
(Yes, just one paragraph ago, I called Lost a sun, more or less. But it’s the internet, and I can mix my metaphors. Writing on the internet is like the Frat Party Jungle Juice. It could be good, but there’s about 18 different flavors in it, and no one’s really sure what all’s in there. Just drink it.)
 
Before I explain what didn’t work for me, let state for the record, that Lost is still my favorite show of all time. Well, okay, top five of all time, for sure. It’s given me so much, and will continue to do so for many, many years.
 
In an effort to mend this dichotomy, and to heal my lost, broken heart, I have suddenly split off into two equally annoying bloggers (me, and me). Each will give his thoughts.
 
The Original Timeline Blogger
 
Oh gee whiz! What’s not to like? Some of my favorite moments:
 
· Naturally, all the enlightenment moments were incredible, especially Juliet/Sawyer’s, and Jin/Sun’s. What these couples went through to get… What? They’re dead? Oh man, that breaks my heart even more. Makes those scenes even more poignant.

· The Island as a real place. A daring move. And keep Locke/Smokey as a villain all the way to the end. No mystical spiritual wake-up call. Just a bad man needin’ some killin’.


· Kate finally having her kick-ass episode. She iced the Smokey Monster, kissed the boy, enlightened her dead boyfriend, saved her friends, and reunited Aaron and Claire. Way to go out on top, lady.

· Setting up a guilt-ridden Sawyer to pull a self-sacrifice, but saving him. Why? Because he has some soul homework to do, man.

· My man Lapidus lounging poolside, waiting for the outrigger pick-up. Waiting to fix and fly some survivors home. And phew! Alpert and Miles made it to the end.

· Thanks for not killing Desmond. He deserves some Penny and Little Charlie time. Good job keeping us guessing about his motives in both timelines right until the end. It was a great island twist for him to uncork the island, expecting some wonderful thing to happen, but nope! Stuff a cork (back) in it, Bruthah!

· Nice re-intro of Rose, Bernard and Vincent. Hope they’re enjoying their remaining island lives. Maybe now they’ll be a little more involved, with Hurley at the helm.

· Hurley, the new number one! That was nice – his heart was always the most loving, and in that regard, he makes the ideal new leader. I also like that Ben told him that Jacob’s didn’t have to be the only way. It could be a kinder, gentler island-nation.

· Speaking of Ben, he had an awesome, awesome episode. His island end was perfect, and I understand why he felt the need to work out his pre-afterlife purgatory-time a little longer. He and Locke exchanged what needed to be said from both people.

· Embracing controversy, you chose to make the suspect sideways timeline the afterlife, knowing millions of fans would likely freak out. You did it because it was what the arc of the characters dictated. And you were telling us that there are bigger issues to consider than The Numbers, Jacob’s Cabin, The Ash, or Who Keeps Dropping Dharma Food And Beer From The Sky.

· Speaking of the sideways world, it’s hard to see how anybody could be shocked. You guys dropped hundreds of hints this past year, if anybody looked hard enough. No one dying, timelines all screwed up, everyone bumping into each other… Yes, these souls are meant to be together. Not necessarily the living bodies, but these souls are the community that needed to learn how to live together, or die alone. And of course, they end up moving onto something greater together.

· Once you made it formal that it was the afterlife, my mind started racing through all the scenarios. Faraday and Charlotte will gain awareness and move on together. Eloise will have to follow. 
Ben may take a little longer. I remembered poor Dogen in the sideways world speaking of the importance of love between parent and child, and remembered that Dogen’s drunk driving caused the death, or near death of son. I thought about him getting to resolve that shame, guilt and pain in this after-death waiting area, and I thought, maybe this sideways world WAS Jacob’s gift in return for island service.

· I still don’t think Jughead ever went off. It was just the act of faith from Jack and community that caused or gave Jacob cause, or whatever powers that be cause this sideways split.

· Nice to watch Jack have such admiration for Locke that he tells Smokey he’s doing a disservice to the man for wearing his face.

· And man, it doesn’t matter who or what Terry O’Quinn portrays: weak or strong, powerless or omnipotent, good or evil… He just does it all so well. Did you know that he was the only guy that was cast without an audition? They knew they had their Locke before they even completed the very first script. That tells you that these guys knew what they were doing.

· Of course it had to be Christian’s coffin that gave Jack the awareness he needed. And of course, the scene between father and son finally putting away old hurts (remember, it was Jack who sabotaged his dad’s redemption path at an AA meeting, so they both got their lashes in) held great power. Man, you guys gotta get me choked up again?

· Jack’s overt Jesus symbolism (being lethally pierced in his side by Smokey) added to the impact of everything you reached for as story-tellers.

· Jack’s final sacrifices and his death, right back where the show began? Now that, that was perfect. And just when you can’t take any more, Vincent has to lie down next to Jack?… Break out the hankies, people.
 
The Sideways Timeline Blogger
 
Man, that was an awesome ending, except for the following:
 
· Dude, it’s totally purgatory. You told us it wasn’t, only it is. And yes, you said everything on the island really happened, but the island still served as a dang living purgatory, for these people to fix themselves before they go to the non-living purgatory, to meet again, to go to the next place.

· So on the island, you kept Smokey as Smokey. Helluva villain. But you spent all season giving us hints that Locke’s consciousness was still alive within his old body. Remember when Smokey started shouting lines that Locke had shouted in seasons past? You were you just pulling my chain? Wasn’t Locke supposed to reawaken in some form on the island?

· So, Michael and Walt weren’t good enough to meet in the sideways world? Walt never hurt anybody, and Michael tried to do a lot of good things. The Others kidnapped his son, for crying out loud.

· So, nearly every sideways character had a special someone to meet n’ greet before heading to the other side. Except for the Boone. Boone, whose enlightenment we didn’t see. Boone, the best looking guy on the Oceanic flight, who was nice to everyone and who’s only fault was crushing on his step-sister, doesn’t get purgatory playmate?

· A literal cork, in a literal drain? The island as a metaphor worked plenty fine, especially as described so excellently by Jacob in Ab Aeterno. A literal cork is keeping Hell at bay?

· What have you guys got against kids, anyway? Aaron stops serving a purpose, so he kind of disappears as a character, and is only used as a plot device? After you spent several seasons hinting at how special he was? Same thing with Walt, too. And man, I understand that David was a manifestation of Jack’s heart-wrenching need to fix things with his father, but to introduce us to this sweet kid and then have him so easily dismissed as not real? That sucked, and I didn’t buy it.

· You know what else I didn’t buy? Sayid hooking up with that brat Shannon. Never did. And to find that, after all those years searching and pining for his soul mate Nadia, and to lose her in tragic ways numerous times, Sayid is going spend his afterlife with a Ditzy McBitchy? What a disservice to an awesome character.

· You were the ones who introduced us to the fact that Eloise Hawking knows all. How? When did she become enlightened? I understand that now she and Ben (who’s going to stay awhile, to work some things out) can run around, enlightening the remaining crew, but c’mon, man.

· Speaking of Ben, who had a totally awesome finale in many ways, could you not have hinted at how he’s going to try and resolve things with his pseudo-only-in-purgatory girlfriend and daughter-figure? When you guys do the DVD extras (which by the way, are apparently going to have a 14-minute Coda, or epilogue that shows us Hurley and Ben running the island – think I’m kidding? I’m not. It’s true), will you include a scene where Rousseau realizes who she’s sleeping with?

· You guys were missing an episode that explained why Claire hung out at Jacob’s cabin and didn’t seem concerned that little baby Aaron was at the beach without her. And why she was so pissed when she found out Kate saved Aaron.

· I can totally forgive most of the unsolved mysteries, because I understand your intent to challenge us to let go, but you spent so much build up with Jacob and Smokey that all of their stuff felt a but like a waste of time when compared to all the other awesomeness that went down.

· And not to over-think it again, but the way it played out, if Jack had ignored everything and stayed on the mainland, he’d be married to Kate, raising his nephew, hanging out with Hurley, visiting home-building Sayid, etc. Locke’s body would’ve never made it back to the island to be possessed by Smokey. Jin would still be alive, Jacob would still be alive, Juliet would still be alive, Sun would still be alive, Desmond would still be with Penny, Ji-Yeon wouldn’t be an orphan, etc. Jin may have eventually found a way off the island and back to his family, etc. Some of the time travel stuff would’ve happened, but Faraday probably would’ve lived, too. I don’t know. Sounds to me like Jack should’ve never come back to island…

· I like that on the island, you actually left some open-endedness. Hurley, Ben, Desmond, Rose and Bernard still kicking it tropical-style, Jack getting his proper sending, and a plane with Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Lapidus, Miles and Alpert making it back home. I like that at least four of those in-flight characters still have a lot of inner turmoil to work through (Sawyer, Kate, Claire and Alpert), but I still thought these six characters deserved a more fitting goodbye. It all felt so rushed and forced.

· Lastly, and this is the softie in me, now that I know Sideways Jin and Sun were also dead Jin and dead Sun, I think they should’ve been on the plane, flying back home to Ji-Yeon, man! How could you do that!? You guys are cold. And I think the airplane scene would’ve had much greater impact if we’d seen those two sharing a seat, bruised, battered but very much alive, ready to head home and be a family. Those characters more than earned it. I know I’m not supposed to tinker with the creation – I myself have been bashing on people who think they have right to tell Cuse and Lindelof how the story should end, but well, here I am doing it. Damn it! I insist, well more like beg and plead, that this is a story-telling error!… Ahem, I’ve regained my composure. Sorry about that.
 
And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make
 
You know what I will always remember about this show? Not the finale. I’ll always remember the mood, the pitch-perfect music, the feeling I ALWAYS got five minutes before an episode began, and that incredible feeling I had when that episode ended. “Oh God! I have to wait a w
hole fricking week?!”
 
I’ll always remember Charlie and his death, polar bears in the premiere, and Eko building a church. I will never forget Benjamin Linus and will think of him every time I try and weasel my way into or out of something (WWBD? What Would Ben Do?).
 
I’ll always remember jaw-dropping backdrops, and how my family put up with me when we went to Oahu last year and I brought a map of Lost shooting locations. By the way, Waimea Falls rarely looks as pristine as it did when Sawyer and Kate went for a dip. Still beautiful, though.
 
I won’t forget the hatch, Hurley’s numbers, funky Faraday and Jeremy Davies’ unique line readings, or how Sawyer started off as my least-favorite character and ended up being one of my favorites.
 
Who can forget Juliet, in my mind the most complex and compelling female character on the show? And I won’t even forget Mr. Friendly (I was looking for you to pop up in the sideways world all season), Patchy or all the other pseudo-villains that strolled through the island.
 
I won’t forget that Michael got a raw deal, or how quickly we all became hooked on the cool sincerity of Desmond. I also won’t forget that after doing a horrible job introducing new characters, they got it right the following year with Miles, Faraday, Charlotte, etc. parachuting in.
 
I won’t forget the guys who portrayed Jacob and Smokey, who either deserved more screen time or maybe shouldn’t have been seen at all. I can’t decide. Oh! And I won’t forget that Richard Alpert was rewarded with one of the finest hours of television this year.
 
I will always remember how awesome Kate could be, but that the writers seemed to struggle with her character at times. I think Evangeline Lilly rose above and beyond the occasion, making the character better than what was sometimes on the page.
 
I won’t forget all the laugh-out-loud humor we got from Sawyer, Miles, Hurley and Ben. Even Lapidus had some good zingers. Remember when Ben told Jack that the secret of the island was an enormous underground hamster wheel? And that wasn’t far from the truth?
 
I will remember all the nights I spent online in the Lost rabbit hole. This show got me to read about things I NEVER would have otherwise, and I think I burned a hole in my Wikipedia.
 
And I will always remember all the arguments, debates and struggles between Jack and Locke. Two characters that represented the warring entities in us all. Such tragic people, with so much of that tragedy by their own design, trying so hard to find themselves. And that ultimately, they needed each other do it.
 
Sigh. So many other things I will always remember and cherish about this flawed, yet kinda perfect show.
 
In the end, it seemed like they wanted to tell us something basic about our lives, something like:

1.   What you do matters.
2.   Everyone makes messes.
3.   Life gives you chances to fix these messes.
4.   There are no easy fixes for messes. You have to put in the work.
5.   No one fixes all of his or her messes before departing this world.
6.   What important is that you try, and you tried.
7.   What survives? Love. Love is the only thing that carries forward.
8.   To move on, you need to let go of those messes and embrace that love.
 
Folks, it has been an enormous pleasure to write about Lost. If you read any of my posts, I just want to take the time to thank you so much. And many, many thanks Peter Carlin for giving me a virtual soapbox and a small plot of his internet stoop to shout out to the world about Lost.
 
Thanks for reading and for watching.
 
Catch you on the Sideways
 

"Lost" in Translation: The End of the End

The father, the son and the holy hottie

In the end there were no fireworks. No yelling and screaming. No fingers in the chest nor recitations of missed ballgames, withering slights, alcoholic screw-ups or Oedipal murderousness. The surface anger melted and all that remained – in the sheer white light outside the Unitarian church – was a father and son sobbing happily in one another’s arms.

Their friends sat in the pews, unbloodied and unbowed. And, finally, together.

The island, with its heroes, villains, monsters and constant life-threatening struggles, was less a literal place than a stage for a greater emotional battle: a thrill-ride version of psychotherapy:, where the patient is made to confront, engage and then move beyond the obsessions and weaknesses that have defined his/her life.

Everyone’s answer is different. For Jack it was accepting surrender; for Hurley it regaining self-confidence; for Miles it had something to do with discovering his faith in duct tape.

What matters is that what once were lost are now found. And what was “Lost” is now a memory. A long series of memories, actually, packed with action and adventure and dark humor, but also yearning and heartbreak and frustration and all the stuff of human exerpience. But no matter the blood and bombs and bad-ass thugs and monsters and on and on, the source of all that white light  came from within the characters themselves.

The mythology, as cool and confusing as it could be, was exactly like the cool, confusing mythology we all weave for ourselves: A Hollywood-style animation of the internal drama flickering behind all of our eyes.

Are you ready to move on? That’s always the question. And for most of us, pretty much most of the time, the answer is emphatic: Helll, no. Thus psychotherapy, if you’re a secular urban mod with health care and/or expendable cash. College kids can take philosophy classes, and engage in dorm room bickerfests about reality. Everyone else gets religion, or worst case, primetime tv. And just in case you wanted to wrap it all up in one tidy package, these last six years have also given us “Lost.”

A simplified version of the bigger versions, of course. But also free(ish) and pretty to look at, and way more often than not, some lovely combination of thoughtful, mysterious, action-packed and hilarious.

So much to love, hate, watch and debate over the years. But as we hit the final moments yesteday – in the church with all the central characters (but no Mr. Eko! Where the hell was Mr. Eko!?! Or Michael? Or Walt? Or Aaron?), the stained glass-of-many-religious-symbols and the sheer white light outside, was that specific answers to specific plot points weren’t the point of the story. Like every mythological story (see also: the Bible, political speeches, etc) they were parables about bigger problems and bigger ideals. Animations of the spiritual pursuit that gives meaning to everything else that happens in our lives

Everyone has unanswered questions. Why the Egyptian statue? What did it mean for your sideways life in L.A. if you got killed on the island? What did it mean for your island life if you got killed in L.A.? (wither the mortal soul of Keamy?) Was the island purgatory? Or was purgatory actually in the sideways world in L.A.?

You could debate all these questions, and about 100 more, for the rest of eternity. You could branch off into different faiths and sub-faiths, you could create philosophical schools and vast cultures based on your reading of the “Lost” mythology. It’d be ridiculous, but anything plus about a millennium can seem to add up to that much. Then you could take up arms and try to wipe out all the heathens who took up with the other faiths.

For now the “Lost” world will just divide into different critical camps, write reviews, post on the internet, and etc. But the root impulse – the reading of liturgy, the interpretation, the delineation of right, wrong and arguable – follows in the grand tradition of all faith-based reasoning. Is it ridiculous to take a tv show so seriously? Certainly. But wait a thousand years and. . .

I loved the ending, myself. I was always in for the internal story, anyway. For me the action itself mattered way less than the way it was reflected in the characters’ eyes – or, more accurately, how it sprang from the characters’ internal conflicts, flaws and aspirations. I may not have understood exactly where that big stone bathtub plug came from, or why the Man in Black got smoke-ified in there, while Jack emerged alive, only to fall victim to the gash in his side (did anyone miss the stigmata reference?) and then to die, happily, in the same bamboo jungle where he arose at the start of the series, determined to face down the smoke and flames and fix everything and everyone in his path.

Now the time for action had gone. He had finally fixed something within himself, and with his friends safely airborne, a sweet dog at his side he could rest. The journey was over.

Hello, Dr. Nick!: In which our expert "Lost" myth-buster teams up with Beavis, Butthead and the Smoke-dude.

You said Jack. Heh-heh.

By NICK GORINI

Howdy, gang. For my readers out there (all four of you) who were wondering why I didn’t post any thoughts about last week’s polarizing Beavis and Butthead back-story, let me tell you something:
 
After reading about twenty articles, twice as many blogs, and endless other forms of barely digestible media, I sat down at my computer, started to type, and realized, I HAD NOTHING TO ADD TO THE DISCUSSION.
 
So many people had vociferous opinions, diatribes, and post-traumatic stress-posts…. Look, either you hated it, or you really hated it! HA HA ha…. I keed, I keed. Seriously, though, while the episode left me a little underwhelmed, I don’t think it deserved even half of the hate mail volleyed in its direction.
 
I understand some of the criticism: The writing was a little stale, the mythology seemed too little in comparison to the big picture, and Jacob and his bro seemed to be a little on the immature side. But, it had great acting, it deepened the moral dilemmas without offering cheap resolutions, and the Lucky Charms Leprechaun never danced out of the glowing golden cave.
 
And, after watching this week’s fireside chat with Jacob, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many of you most vocal critics might have secretly (no one ever admits they’re wrong anymore – ever! Have you noticed?) felt a little sheepish.
 
Nevertheless, this week, it was good to be back on track with the crew in whom we have invested so much emotion. For what it’s worth, if I had been Carlton and Damon, I would’ve just aired the Jacob/Smokey episode much earlier in the season. It’s just a little too late for us to get invested in that stuff.
 
ONWARD AND UPWARD, OR OFFWARDS AND DOWNWARDS

 
Despite Jack’s mystery shaving wounds, things are going his way. His kid’s hanging out at home, his newly-discovered sister and impending messiah/nephew have moved in, hey! Oceanic found dad’s coffin! All part of a healthy breakfast.
 
Only, it’s that sunny trickster Desmond, up to his tricky-tricky-trickies. But when he’s not making prank calls, Desmond’s also busy beating up teachers in parking lots. He smacks Ben around, telling him he was trying to get Locke to “let go”, but we know Desmond is beating the almighty island timeline into Mr. Linus, who it turns out, likes this sorta thing. Thank you sir, may I have another!
 
Ben shares the good news (you know – guess what! That dude that rammed his car into you slapped me with the ugly stick! I like him! He seems like a nice fellow!).
 
I tell ya, people with English, Irish or Scottish accents get away with bloody murder here. As an American, I thought the reverse would be true, too. Come to find out, when Americans travel abroad, we’re told we “sound funny.”
 
Anyway, we quickly move to the jail, where Desmond surrenders to Miles and Sawyer, who I bet will have their own mid-season, sci-fi cop show premiering on ABC sometime in March.

Get some back-end points on the new Miles & Sawyer series, and follow the jump. . .


 
Desmond confesses (nice touch) and gets thrown in the flimsiest jail set this side Molokai. Of course, Kate and Sayid are there. After Kate tries to convince Sawyer of her innocence, which we all know is going to be true, Desmond later arranges a prison escape using Ana Lucia and Hurley (Nice scene with Hurley seeming to know everything about both worlds, and Ana Lucia not having a clue). Sayid and Hurley speed off (without spoiling who, I can tell you that are going to go pick up another character from the past) and Desmond takes Kate. Apparently, Desmond is intending for every person who every appeared on Lost or worked for the show to appear in a single scene. Wow, man. Michael will NEVER find Walt in that crowd.
 
Meanwhile, Locke comes back to Jack to initiate the surgery. A great scene, of course, with an interesting touch that in this sideways world, Locke is back to embracing faith, and Jack is still carrying his science with him (“Don’t mistake fate for coincidence”), while on the island, Jack seems to have fully embraced the unknown.
 
Oh, and Ben gets a girlfriend, and it’s Rousseau! Alex’s mom.
 
Now, on the island, which retains most of it’s dark tone (by contrast, the sideways timeline is turning decidedly sunny), we start with our puffy-eyed heroes getting stitched up and talking revenge. Ji-Yeon’s newly orphaned status is mentioned, and it becomes clear our four remaining friends are accepting that to kill Smokey likely means a suicide mission.
 
So, off they go to get Desmond, and Sawyer gets some great screen time with a genuinely wounded discussion of being responsible for killing friends on the sub. Only Jack, newly peaceful, reassures Sawyer that he wasn’t responsible (never mind the fact Sawyer’s been rubbing Juliet’s death in Jack’s face for about ten episodes). Meanwhile, Wee Willie Jacob snags his ashes from Hurley and uses them to start his final fire. Not sure why it had to be wittle Jacob showing up first, but what the hell.
 
Now, everyone can see Jacob, and he’s ready to give some answers – FINALLY!
 
What progresses at the final fireside chat are some wonderful moments where Jacob explains why these folks were picked, why he’s using them to right his own wrongs, and that while he brought all of them to the island, once there, they can do as they please. But, uh, could one of you please take my place as the eternal savior of the light on the island? I mean, I’m not MAKING anybody do it, BUT, you know, all of humanity hangs in the balance and stuff.. Oh, and Kate, you can do it, too… And when this fire goes out, I’m gone, brother.
 
Of course, Jack signs up and he gets the creek-side ritual and drinks the water straight from the river! Where’s a Brita filter when you need one? If you become immortal, can you still get intestinal parasites? Not sure, but there may have been some polar bear scat along the river bed…
 
Sawyer gets in a nice line (‘I thought that guy had a God complex before’), but the humor of the moment dies quickly. Jack’s ready to roll.
 
Now, the best of the three sub-plots this week was Ben and Smokey’s, by far. While all three were great (sideways world, Jack becoming Jacob), the scenes with Smokey and Ben were like our last classic Lost episode. Humor, action, horror, great dialogue, everything.
 
We finally catch up with Ben, Miles and Alpert as they get to Dharmaville to pack up some C4 in Ben’s place. Miles’ line about Ben’s secret close having a “Secreter” room is awesome.
 
We get to see Miles sense Alex’s presence, where Alpert buried her body. Underneath the swingset that Ben used to push Alex on. Ben swallows that pain down in that Ben way and pretty much confirms for us in his lines that it was Smokey in Jacob’s cabin all that time, manipulating him, manipulating the Dharma Initiative, and at times, manipulating some of The Others.
 
A too-calm Widmore and that soon-to-be-dead Zoe pop up and add some tension. Widmore tells Ben that Jacob visited him after the freighter explosion to help him see the error of his ways. Too bad Jacob didn’t tell Widmore to be a little less of an arrogant prick.
Moments before Smokey shows up, Miles takes off on his own, and Ben seems to be ready to die, to get ‘the whole thing over with’. Alpert opts to reason with Smokey, which results in Alpert being stomped and tossed like an empty beer can. Still think he’s alive, though. Miles will probably find him next week.
 
Ben sits down on his porch and waits for Smokey to
show. Of course, he offers him some lemonade, but rather than being met with murder, he gets his old island-ruling offer back on the table. He takes it (or does he?) and flips on Widmore and Zoe.
 
Smokey doesn’t waste any time and slits Zoe’’s throat (a LONG time coming for an annoying character), and threatens to kill Penny if Widmore doesn’t tell him why he’s back. Widmore, who really does seem to be asking for an anti-climactic death, offers to tell Smokey only if Ben can’t hear it firsthand. So, he whispers to Smokey about Desmond being Jacob’s failsafe, due to his invincibility to electro-magnetism.
 
Ben slaughters Widmore – he doesn’t get to save his daughter. Smokey tells Ben, “You never cease to amaze me.” It’s almost as if Smokey, who’s cynicism regarding mankind has hit its nadir, still finds new depths of depravity in Ben. Worth keeping him around, if you ask me.
 
With Ben as his new candidate assassin at his side, the two make way to what turns out to be an empty well, with a rope. Smokey tells Ben that he likes walking on two feet because it reminds of being human. Ahh, weakness!! Anyhow, Smokey reveals his plan to use Desmond to destroy the island. BOOO HOOO HOOO HA HA HA HA!!!! ß twirls moustache…
 
ORTS OF GOODNESS AND THINGS WORTH NOTING
 
· Jack’s neck wound, which we saw when awoke in the season premiere. Originally, Jack got the neck wound during the Jughead (explosion, or not?) shootout in ’77. Are we getting ready to blow something up?
 
· Sayid told Jack he left him in the well. So who helped him out? If you don’t already have a good idea, I encourage to just sit, and think about it for about five minutes. You’ll come up with the answer, I’m sure.
 
· Just where does Miles think he’s going, anyway?
 
· Alpert isn’t dead. Not because this show won’t kill him, but because he deserves a better send-off than being punted like a beach volleyball.
 
· I am very, very glad that it looks like in both storylines, Ben’s got some juicy stuff to work through. What happens when his two worlds merge? Will he remember losing Alex? Will he remember kidnapping her from his new girlfriend? Oh crap! Will Rousseau remember? If Ben’s not careful he might step in a bear trap when he gets out of bed to take a leak. On the side note, is Ben back to being bad, playing a con on Smokey, or is he just back in his old pragmatic survival mode?
 
· NOTE: Time for the Stupid Award. What was stupid this week? Not much, really, but was more than a little bummed that Charles Widmore, a great character played by a great actor, got such an unceremonious send-off. Yes, it was good that Ben did the killing, but no actorly soliloquies or parting shots from this master thespian? We know you guys ran out of time for a lot of your story, but the iconic Widmore deserved a little more. Kinda too blatantly tying loose ends, and kinda stupid.
 
 
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO BE ASKING OR THINKING ABOUT BEFORE SUNDAY
 
· Smokey wants to destroy the island, and our remaining heroes need to stop him. Don’t forget that we saw the island underwater during the season premiere. Could it be that Smokey ends up succeeding? Could it be that destroying the island is a good thing? Could it be that the “light” that used to exist in every man (so sayeth Jacob’s nutty mom) was somehow imprisoned on the island, and that the best thing that could happen would be to free the light, bring it back to every man?
 
· How long do you think Jack will keep his new job? Given the fact that we see free will being a very important aspect of island life that Jacob wants to impart, are we really so sure that Jack is where it’s at? We still have more than two hours for any of these other viable candidates to jump in. And that includes Ben, Alpert, heck, even Miles.
 
· Desmond was brought to the island for more than a few reasons, obviously. And was he Jacob’s failsafe, or part of some even bigger plan spawned by powers beyond this chessboard?
 
· Based on what you’ve seen this year, do you really think Smokey can be killed? And if he can, what do you suspect would be the weapon (my guess? Love. That is, if he can even be killed. I’m not sure he can).
 
· My cohort Peter suspects that Ben is the new Man In Black. But I would say the odds are better that he’s the next Jacob, if we’re playing that game. But I’m thinking along these lines: Jacob once said, “It only ends once. Everything else is progress.” I don’t think the master plan is to keep a new Smokey and Jacob locked in for 2000-year max deal with no-trade clauses. First, it puts them WAAAYYY over the salary-cap. Second, I think bigger powers are ready for this thing to be done, finito, kaput.
 
· So, redemption is key, but in a recent interview, Carlton and Damon reiterated that true redemption comes from within and comes on behalf of a community. The old “Live together or die alone” line is of utmost importance. Keep this line in mind with all of Desmond’s doings.
 
· We also know that Jacob and Smokey are not all-knowing. They DON’T know all the secrets of the island, and they too are lost souls looking for hope and redemption. Maybe that’s what ticked some people off last week – I don’t know. But I liked that. It also tells me that if you’re looking for the wizard behind the curtain on this show, you will be disappointed. Just as it is in life – we can speculate, pray, ignore, deny, embrace, fear or love what is beyond here. But, we can’t know until we know.
 
So enjoy the ride while you can! Thanks for reading and for watching!

"Lost" in Translation: Have you heard about the Midnight Rambler?

The shoot-em-dead, brain-bell jangler/The one you never seen before. . .

There’s this badass in your neighborhood named Stagger Lee. He does all manner of wicked shit. Rolls dice. Talks trash. Steals your woman. Slits your throat. But on the other hand he has a really cool hat and slick clothes and does whatever the hell he wants to, virtually all of the time, and so you can’t help digging him. Dude plays by his own rules, yo, and no cop or uptight civic hero is going to mess with his party.

It’s a black thing — an African-American thing, I mean — the by-product of centuries of slavery, institutionalized racism, and more. Centuries of scary badasses, from Stagger Lee to Mick Jagger to NWA to Jack Abramoff to Ticketmaster and on and on. They are the living animation of our own worst instincts and straight-up evil actions. Bombs bursting in air, stolen civilizations, burning villages, crazy-eyed parents, the foreclosing of any pure-hearted person’s free will.

The story of civilization, and now the undergirding of “Lost.”

Which is why Jacob created the Smoke Monster, whose (not entirely ill-placed) anger begat centuries of evil, which begat Jacob’s need for Richard, who created Ben, whose flaws begat Jacob’s need for Jack, whose righteousness infuriated Ben so much he has been pushed to the threshold of becomingm yes, that’s right, the new Man in Black.

follow the jump and go easy on your cloak and dagger

By now you’re either thrilled by, or infuriated with, this increasingly dizzying ride to the bottom of the proverbial glowing cave. Even I, the conscientious objector to all “Lost”-bashing, no matter the occasional cracks in its foundation, felt a little underwhelmed by Jacob’s fireside exposition party. Wasn’t there something just a bit existential about his revelation that our particular group of heroes might as well have been any random selection of screw-ups? (which, btw, doesn’t quite explain all those surprise/coincidencidental connections they didn’t realize they had ’til they got to the island) But on the other hand you could also argue that there’s something reassuring in it, too: We’re all capable of greatness, assuming you can nut up and follow your better instincts. For once.

Until you realize that all your better instincts and best efforts still don’t put you over the top. You get so close to the golden light – maybe even get tossed bodily into it, if only to be shown exactly how much you lack. At which point ambition can curdle and turn wicked. A surfeit of goodness somehow leads to evil. Weird, huh? And yet, somehow, an essential, inescapable truth. The white side must have its dark other side. Yin and yang. Up and down. The Beatles and the Stones.

The Man in Black is, at heart, kind of a cool dude. Jacob can be a bit of a manipulative dick. Jack, as we’ve seen so vividly over the course of six years, is simultaneously heroic and foolish. Ben is capable of kindness and murder, and a stickler for keeping his word. And did you notice when Smokey convinced Widmore to spill his secrets, telling the wicked/good industrialist that he could count on saving his daughter’s life because “I’ll give you my word”?

This is all a very long way of explaining what I realized last night: Jacob will live on in Jack. And when Smokey gets dispatched, as he certainly will come Sunday, he will live on, too. Only now he’ll be Ben.

Which takes us back to Mick and the Stones, and particularly to their great reiteration of the Stagger Lee myth, “Midnight Rambler.” You know, the one you never seen before. It’s an old-fashioned blues riff, played with wicked intent by a smack-addicted Keith Richards, while Jagger (paint it black, you devil!) struts and moans, both warning of and celebrating the awful wonders of the Midnight Rambler, who may also be the Boston Strangler, or Jack the Ripper, slipping down your street in his cap and cloak, climbing your garden wall, leaving his footprints up and down your hall. You never see him, you never hear him, you never feel him. Not until you feel the sudden slice of his blade on your throat (see also: Smokey and Zoe). He’s a monster. But also awesome. And charming enough to steal your missus from under your nose.

It’s a nightmare. Only “Midnight Rambler” also rocks. And when Jagger was at his height he stalked the stage, snarling and sneering and ripping off his sash to whip the spotlight, with a nastiness that was both terrifying and spellbinding. Dude took what he wanted and stomped on the rest. He looked frustration in the face and slit its throat.

Not the sort of thing I tend to do. But a nice, middle-classed boy can dream. Especially in a traffic jam. When stuff doesn’t go his way. And all he wants, for once in his life, is his own damn way.

So go easy with your cloak-and-dagger, he’ll stick his knife right down your throat, baby. And it hurts.

"Lost" in Translation: Sympathy for Goofus


Mom always liked the Marx Brothers best, actually….

Another hour closer to The End (but please, please, please, ABC, can we NOT set the whole 2.5-hour climax to the dull-witted college-boy philosopher drone of Jim Morrison?) and now comes an episode-long peek back in time takes us to the birth of Jacob and his mysteriously unnamed dark-eyed twin, and then to the glowing (literally!) headwaters of some of the most crucial riddles at “Lost”‘s heart: Is there a connection between the golden light of faith and the piercing Klieg light of science? How will the show be able to explain the distinction between the two, and the bond that links them?

More questions: Are Jacob and his twin brother merely fancier versions of Goofus and Gallant? Why are the show’s good guys just as capable of lying/murdering/pillaging as its antagonists? How will they ever bring the most intellecutally, philosophically and sc-fily sprawling series in the history of American tv dramas to a satisfying conclusion?

Forget about that last one. Already this morning the blogosphere — including the level-headed James Poniewozik at Time, who is always my go-to guy for day-after recaps — is bristling with crankiness over the episode titled “Across The Sea,” musing on the line between too much information and how-the-hell-could-they-NOT-resolve. . . .

JP raises excellent questions, as ever. Still,  I just can’t kvetch about “Lost” with a lot of conviction, no matter what happens in the next two weeks.

And, by the way, I also thought “Across the Sea” did a fairly miraculous job of explaining a lot of the series’ most complicated moral, philosophical and sci-fi-intific assertions. Let’s take them one-by-one…

but after the jump.

Jacob and the Man in Black’s creation myth: Turns out their mother was a sweet-faced dark-haired woman (see also: Rousseau) who washes up at the island heavily pregnant, only to be greeted and cared for by CJ Cregg from “The West Wing,” who turns out to be the worst mid-wife ever when she ends the birthing process by bashing mom’s brains out with a rock. She seems a bit melancholy about the whole thing — even apologizing before she goes after the helpless and nice-seeming mom — but also entirely confident of the moral purpose behind her frankly psychotic behavior. See, she’s responsible for protecting the island’s unique powers, and keeping the inherently wicked humans (“They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt and it always ends the same”) at bay. Though when it comes to fighting and destroying it’s awfully hard to out-do a murderous midwife, now, isn’t it? And why, exactly, does her goal of finding the next Island Protector mean more than another woman’s right to live? We’ve been running through these questions ever since “Lost”‘s pilot episode. And also in millennia of real-world events, e.g. the mysterious chain of mass murders currently taking place in China’s schools. Is there an Island portal somewhere in the People’s Republic?

Black/White; Good/Bad, and why there’s often no real distinction between them: Because often it’s the biggest self-described do-gooders out there (CJ, Jacob, Pope Benedict, name your favorite religious extremist here, plus also the good old United States of America) who end up doing exceptionally vile shit in the name of truth and justice. While the black-cloaked smoke monsters among us (Man in Black, etc.) have their reasons/justifications that also kind of pencil out. And when it comes down to it, who would you rather hang out with: The pompous, fruit-sharing, door-holding Gallant or his bad-ass, wickedly funny brother Goofus? Which one has the good collection of Stones records? And which one only has Michael Bolton cd’s in his Prius? I think we both know the answer to that one.

The connection between faith and science: Seemed to me they did a brilliant job with this one: Denied access to the golden waters of the river of faith, the MiB figured a whole other way of accessing the same energy: through the practical, unsentimental processes of science. Thus the stone-and-wood versions of the Dharma Initiative’s hatches and gravitational-power sources. The kvetch on the Internets is this revelation somehow crossed the line between too much info and the crucial magical realism that needs to be left mysterious. But just imagine the shitstorm of invective that would follow the finale if they DIDN’T reveal this one. See also: “Aha, they really were making it all up as they went along!”

Bad parents and everything else: Your high-functioning types always seem to be working through some serious parental bullshit – disconnection; emotional dysfunction; etc. –  and so no surprise that even the twin personifications of dark and light have inner childs with matching scars from their own self-appointed step-mom, the well-intended psycho-killer who lies, cheats, mass-murders whole villages and bashes the brains out of everyone who seems to stand in her way, including her adopted kid. . .whose name she never, ever utters, and if you think THAT isn’t kind of hurtful, well, just think about it more.

Self-determination? Not so much: Original sin. Weird parents. Emotional scars. These are the only constants that can move through time without getting their noses bloodied. Do what you like, try as hard as you might. Treasure the rare moments when you actually do seem to have some measure of control. You’re still working with the raw genetic material, and rawer-still parental/situational experiences, that someone else handed you when you stepped off the boat. Mom always liked someone better, didn’t she? Gallant will never stop handing out orange slices to prove he’s the rightful heir. And Goofus will always get crap for taking the apple. But apples don’t come pre-sliced and easily shareable. And maybe you didn’t want an apple, anyway. Maybe you and Goofus were planning to get a Slushie, or a case of beer. No matter, Goofus is taking the fall. He can’t win, but that’s how it goes in the bifurcated universe of black and white. And at least Goofus is a beautiful loser.