Saturday, April 24, 2010


"Life must be understood backwards ... but it must be lived forwards."-Soren Kierkegaard
We've been through a lot these past six years, we LOST fans, since we first met 14 plane crash survivors on a deserted tropical Island.

We've flashed forward and backward and sideways and all around the timespace continuum.

We've experienced the hatches and the cages and the purge and the nosebleeds and the flaming arrows and the visitations of ghosts. We've travelled on the outriggers and the raft, Ajira Flight 316 and a Beechcraft full of drug smuggling Nigerian priests, the Black Rock, the Elizabeth, Penny's Boat and Not Penny's Boat.

We've been through pushing the button and not pushing the button and how the Donkey Wheel blooped away the Island and how the pendulum in the Lamppost showed the way to get blooped back on to it. We've been to Jacob's cabin and his lighthouse, the cave of numbers, the above ground Temple, the below ground Temple, the inside of the giant four toed foot. We've played I Spy with the numbers and the hieroglyphics, the mirrors, the Virgin Marys, the snowglobes and polar bears, black and white rocks, White Rabbits!

We've picked through the cultural detritus of Enlightenment philosophers, quantum physicists, Joseph Campbell, Stephen King, Star Wars, the Matrix, evil twins and bad daddies, Faustus and Satan and Job, Genesis, Exodus, the Book of John.

And we've wondered and wondered about all the many mysteries. About how the Island gave John back his legs and made him special. About Walt's secret powers and why Aaron couldn't be raised by another and why the super!sperm! made babies that consumed their mothers from within and whether dropping the atomic bomb caused the Incident or prevented it and why Jack's dad's body wasn't in the coffin but was wandering about the world looking for ways to make Jack cry.

Our heads are spinning. How could they not be? If the ultimate intention was to make sure the audience entered the finale sequence as LOST as a bunch of disoriented drunks who've just been strapped to a chair in Room 23, then they've succeeded.

Mission Accomplished, dudes!

We all knew this time would come, when our individual visions of what LOST could be or should be or might be would inevitably have to yield to the oncoming reality of what LOST actually is.

It's time to recalibrate our expectations and prepare for landing. I think we've all realized by now there's no way LOST is ever going to come together like a clock. If you had any doubts, just check out how Sun (injured the day after Flight 815 landed) and Locke (injured at least a week after Flight 815 landed) ended up side by side on stretchers in the emergency room.

When did they stop trying? I've stopped looking for an overall design or even any kind of coherent theme. Not with Jack the Man of Science becoming a Man of Faith who swims back to be with the Monster who engineered the murder of the actual Man of Faith. What the hell does he have faith in exactly? Becoming another sucker?

Is there any way Fate v. Free Will can come out of this garble meaning anything? Is Redemption still a concept with any definition in this tale where "justice" is so random and never lands on the right people?

To make matters more muddled, the Sideways Reality, which initially felt like an amusing puzzle, has gradually devolved into a mindless child's fantasy where no one dies and Twu Wuv hits you like a lightning bolt from a star many galaxies away. I'm waiting for the teddy bears and pink unicorns to appear any episode now.

There have been times in the past few weeks when I've felt like this whole warm and fuzzy ending they seem to be dumping on us feels about as profound as when the Brady Bunch took that awesome vacay in Hawaii.

But I've come this far. I'll slug it out til the end. I can't imagine what a daunting prospect this endgame had to be for Darlton. There's still an element of suspense involved here. As Carlton Cuse said recently, no one knows yet if they're going to belly flop or whether there's still a way they can land this baby without making an absolute mess.

Either way, I'm going to speak my mind. That's the beauty of having your own blog and no boss to answer to. So read on at your own risk and if the things I write piss you off, then I don't really know what to say. Except this:

That being said ... I liked this week's episode. LOL. It was fun. I was surprised and sad to see it end. It wasn't a brilliant episode, but it entertained me. Maybe it's because no matter how inane the storyline, LOST is always such a beautiful visual experience. Or maybe it was because, like the Locke Monster said, it was just so nice to have everyone all together again.

No, I don't think it brought us any closer to understanding anything, but I've learned something over my little mini break. Most of us dweebs still left haunting the LOST online community - and there aren't that many of us left, if you notice - have obsessed each week over the minutia. The Easter Eggs and book titles and odd surnames of the side characters we otherwise wouldn't give a shit about.

Forgive me if I'm late to the party, but I've just come to the realization that, aside from the fun factor, none of that means anything. Chasing down those dead end rabbit holes is how we wind up getting so lost. This episode was pretty Easter Egg lite, for example, and I've noticed how much that frustrates a lot of the fandom. They want Easter Eggs. They think they need them to understand LOST. But I think they're wrong. Take, for example, this apple.

A lot of people latched on to the apple in this scene and jumped, predictably, on to the Adam and Eve bandwagon. Might Sawyer and Kate be Adam and Eve? What was the significance of Kate not taking the apple? That means she can't be Eve, right? Cause Eve took the apple. So Sawyer must be the snake! Satan! He's tempting her!

And she's refusing! She's redeemed!

Uh, yeah ... except, you know ... Not.

I know this is a difficult concept for LOST fans, but I think it might be worth considering. Sometimes an apple is just an apple. James isn't tempting Kate. He's bringing her a freakin' snack. Think of it as an apple shaped fishbiscuit, if you like.

In any case, the apples were beside the point entirely. They were only there to give the most nerd-afflicted among us something to fixate on while they ignore all that nasty sexy chemistry Sawyer and Kate can generate in a world without Ghost Juliet haunting them. (Some day I really want someone to explain to me why fanboys hate sexy hot chemistry.)

Since I'm trying to leave minutia behind, I won't comment overly much on the symmetry of the two characters. The way they're dressed the same.

The way they cock their knees up when they talk to one another, while those tempting Easter Apples sit there in between them, being distracting.

The way No. 15 and No. 51 can't help but flirt with one another, even under less than ideal circumstances, in this Mirror World they're in.

The way, as Det. Ford so astutely observes, it's like "someone" is trying to put them together. I read this week that Vozzek thought this scene was all but pointless. Seems like there's a lot What Vozzek Didn't Notice. Like the way that Kate can read Sawyer in any universe, even a universe where he's never been Sawyer.

She knew he helped her in the elevator because he wanted to keep his trip to Australia secret. OtherKate knows James the same way Kate knew Sawyer on the Island. Intuitively. She sees into him without even trying. Even though she just met him for the first time ... if there is such a thing as a "first time" in OtherLOST.

If you followed the bouncing Easter Apple, you'd see the other half of this puzzle clicking into place in the Island storyline. Sawyer, who was looking mighty fine as the take charge manly-man this week, was keeping his Freckles close to his side at all times.

He made a unilateral decision that Claire wasn't coming with them - because she'd tried to kill Kate.

For those of us not wearing our Suliet goggles, it was made redundantly clear that Sawyer's priority has shifted back to protecting Kate. And Kate knows it.

In order to get Claire on to the boat, she gives Sawyer an ultimatum she knows he can't refuse.

If he doesn't let Claire on the boat, she won't be coming with him either. Game over. Kate wins. She knows that, when it comes to Sawyer, she is still the only bartering chip that matters.

Same as it ever was.

So what does that mean about where the story's headed, about where the Lurve Triangle is headed? Danged if I know. I'm just observing it, not predicting anything. Hell, if Hurley can experience a mind meld from a kiss on the cheek by a doppelganger of the crazy lady who tried to help him with his eating disorder four (?) years ago in a different dimension (?), then all bets are off. Kate may end up being the person who conned Sawyer's parents .... and no, it won't matter that she wasn't born yet at the time. Only fools are enslaved by time and space, baby. You should all know that by now.

This episode, like all Season Six episodes, was designed like a tapestry, a quilt of nostalgic building blocks. I think every viewer has finally grokked to the patterns of Season Six. There is very little that is new. It's all about revisiting the past, remembering things we loved and lost.

No matter how I feel about LOST this season, it will always have a piece of my heart. And all season long, whether we've been aware of it or not, they've been giving us our last chances to hug and kiss LOST goodbye.

The Elizabeth returned,

after not having been seen since Season Three's Glass Ballerina.

OtherJack found out he had a sister,

and he reacted the exact same way he did the other time he found out he had a sister. Head pinch!

OtherJohn ended up face down with his spinal column filleted open like a fish's.

Just like Ben, John's mirror person, did in Season Three's I Do.

Although in this season of old home reunions, I can't believe they didn't have Big Gay Tom show up as one of the male nurses in Jack's operating theater. Talk about your missed opportunities!

Locke's dural sac was "obliterated". Dural sacs are the body parts Jack operates on during moments of self discovery.

Just like he was doing when his dad taught him about conquering fear through the Power of Five.

Jack finally took that leap of faith that Eloise had been urging on him in 316.

And even if it was kind of dinky and ... uh, lame,

it was meant to remind us of the far, far greater leap his Lurve Triangle buddy took in Season Three.

Poor Jack. He just can't look cool no matter what he does, can he? I mean, how bad did he need that knapsack? And wouldn't it make more sense to jump off the back of the boat?

When Jack washes up exhausted onto the beach, his new master, The NotJohn Monster, greets him with the words "Nice day for a swim."

The very words Juliet used when Sawyer made the same (but yes, cooler) kind of beach landing in No Place Like Home.

Other phrases are repeated.

Ben tells the ambulance attendant "His name is John", the same Biblical phrase Locke's teenage mother used when she gave him that name.

But we're not really looking back as much as it might appear. When Kate asks Sawyer "When were you planning on telling me this?" - just as she did in the cages -

Sawyer doesn't answer "Never", as he did back then. He says "Now."

And when Kate repeats the famous chorus of "We have to go baaaaaack", Sawyer makes it plain he's had enough of that shit.

"We're done going back."

We can only hope that line turns out to be true, because the time has come. It's nice looking back at old seasons and episodes and faces and places and phrases and such. But we're running out of time to wrap this thing up. All this self referential perpetual looping isn't going to get us any closer to the solution to our puzzle. Unless, of course, the solution is that there isn't any solution. Maybe the whole point was just to get us lost, and if they ever let us get found, the whole story will evaporate from its own lack of weight. Maybe they can't give us the solution because the big secret is they don't have one.

I can't blame them for dallying, because it's always sad to see a long trip end. But LOST has become like a too long road trip in a too small car. The fandom is cranking on each other's nerves (not to mention leaving really nasty comments on recappers blogs). For better or worse, for richer or poorer, we need to finally get to our destination.

We were reminded again recently that the intent was to focus the story on the characters above the mythology in this final season.
The executive producers of Lost have explained that they always wanted viewers to engage with the show's characters....Cuse continued: "By not having the audience talk about the mythology, then people are engaged in, 'Is Kate going to end up with Sawyer?' and, 'I'm really compelled by the complexities of Benjamin Linus'. Those are the things we wanted the audience to obsess about, not whether the Valenzetti equation had any relevance to the functioning of the island's magical time travel properties. ... Meanwhile, Cuse's co-creator Damon Lindelof explained that the narrative of the series had been driven by the characters."
I like to think that's true. I like to think the characters will come to conclusions that feel real, even within this fantasy world. I don't want it all to hinge on a trivial gimmick. I'm not a fan of the WTF-Gotcha! style of storytelling. I can admire the brilliance of a long con done right, but I'm never impressed by cheap tricks. I want to believe Darlton when they say it's the characters that matter most to them. So I will.

This episode might have been subtitled "Catching Up", a phrase that was repeated twice.

Two long awaited character reunions shared the spotlight. First there was the awkward, but sweet, reunion of Christian's two kids. In both worlds.

I'm not going to nitpick and say it would have meant a little more if it happened a little sooner. Or if Jack had ever given the smallest indication that he gave a fiddler's fart about Claire.

Or if there seemed to be any actual point to them being brother and sister. I'm not even going to comment on the fact that, within an hour of this grand reunion, Jack was already bailing on his crazy haired kid sis.

Because, you know, big brothers will do that kind of thing. Sad, but true. They never want their baby sister around when they're hanging out with the kool kidz.

And I'm not going to quibble about the quality of the looooooooong awaited reunion of Sun and Jin either. It has been so long since that fateful day.

I had almost forgotten how vibrant their storyline once was, how real their loss once felt.

It was good just seeing them in the same frame again.

Kissing in front of an admiring audience and speaking ... English.

OK, so it was a little less intimate, a little less authentic, than we might have wished, but you'd have to have a heart of stone not to tear up just a little.

And if nothing else, it was a great relief to see that neither one of them got fried by the electric fence.

Claire and Kate's misbegotten relationship took another baby step forward this week.

Kate had agreed to leave Claire behind when she swam out to the boat with Sawyer, but you could tell she didn't really want to. When Claire put her on the spot, she spoke from the heart.

She didn't mention that Claire was the one who left her baby lying around like a juicy hamburger in a boar infested jungle. She just took all the blame. And then, just to be safe, she also took Claire's gun. Trust, but verify.

I also enjoyed Jack and Sawyer's confrontation in this episode. I agreed with Jack that he didn't belong on that boat. But, dude, if you love the Island so much, why did you get on it in the first place?

Jack has become a total Moonie. It's not just the Island that has cast its spell on him. He's also under the spell of Big Bad NotJohn.

As the group sails away on the Elizabeth, Jack sits in the prow, doing his Man of the Island pose.

The one he was practicing after his encounter with Jacob's Lighthouse.

Jack and Sawyer are switching places. Hell, there were a few times I almost wondered if Jack was switching genders.

Jack has obviously become Locke, but I wasn't seeing Sawyer as the new Jack. To me, this week, he was all Han Solo.

Not just Han Solo. When he ordered Jack to "Get off my ship!", he was channeling his namesake, Harrison Ford. Dig it.

Sawyer isn't taking any shit from anyone anymore. He's had it, he's fed up, he's done.

GTFO, Jack. Time to paddle away and embrace your inner sucker. And, of course, in keeping with the total snowjob they've done on Jack and Kate's relationship this year, Jack doesn't even bother to throw Kate a parting glance, let alone plant a spectacular kiss on her. Sorry, Kate, looks like he's just not that into you. Turns out that Jack's true love is the Island.

Before he took his little dump into the drink, Jack spoke hypnotically, reverentially, about the Island he'd just tried to blow up a few days before. He confessed to James - calling him "James" just like Locke used to do - that when he'd left the Island, he felt a part of himself was missing.

I laughed when Sawyer told him there were pills for conditions like that. Ha! As if Jack doesn't know that. He's a doctor. Duh.

The true "ultimate relationship" of LOST has become a bit of a muddle, along with everything else.

It's still all about Jack and Locke. Except now Jack is Locke, and Locke is ... no more.

I'm not sure what the characters of Jack and John represent any longer, since it's not as if Locke himself ever had a meaningful identity in the first place. Sucks to be called a sucker by the alien being that made you believe you were special just so he could get you killed and make you into his meat sock, doesn't it?

Identity has always been a flexible concept on LOST.

The Oceanic Six pretended to be heroes and wore that false identity with flair.

Kate took on the identity of being Aaron's mother and really seemed to believe her wishes could make it be true.

Sawyer pretended to be LaFleur, which goes to show how fragile identity really is. If they could turn a hot badass like Sawyer into a happy housepet, then it's as if anyone can be anybody. There are no limits.

They're certainly pushing the envelope with this season's absurdist journey into OtherLOST. Are we really meant to think that the OtherPeople we've been meeting are the same people as the Island Losties we've known for so long? Is this kindly gentleman helping John in the ambulance

the same person who strangled him dead on the floor of a hotel room?

Is Jack, the father of David,

the same person who has lived 40 some years in a world where his Mini Me doesn't exist and never will?

I have the feeling the only way I'm going to understand the ending of LOST is if I turn off my brain and just enjoy the detour from Crazy Town onto Stupid Street. I'm starting to think they want us to embrace OtherLOST because it's a shinier and happier world. Who cares if it's fake and has nothing whatsoever to do with the story we watched for five years? We get to see Jack has what it takes to be a great dad! Isn't that what it was always all about?

I'm starting to wonder if the man who once described a happy Harry Potter ending as cowardly is honestly going to let his story end in a world so treacly sweet that it will send us all into diabetic shock. Dead people will come back to life! Twu Wuvs will kiss and get their memories back! It will be like a Disney cartoon. You'll be able to bring the kiddies.

I won't go into the philosophical detail I did last time trying to explain how counterfeit this kind of ending would be. But I do have one question: If they all remember their lives from the original timeline, what happens to the memories they already have?

Does innocent little Claire raise her baby with a memory of the time she wasn't raising him, but was putting axes in people's bellies instead?

Do they all get diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and spend the rest of their lives together in Santa Rosa?

I have a few other questions.

Like why did an un-fridged Ilana stop being Russian?

Does Frank's continued survival mean we may see Ajira 316 fly again?

How did the well shrink?

I know Sayid didn't kill Desmond, but does Sayid's ability to decide against the Monster's orders mean he's getting his soul back?

What was it that Desmond promised him? Was it better than what the Monster promised?

OtherDesmond has become OtherJacob.

He's stalking all the Losties, in that same inappropriate personal space invading way that Jacob had.

I'm not sure what the method is to his madness. It seemed like he was an interdimensional Suzy Matchmaker, but now he's also reading minds. He knew about Libby and Hurley's picnic, for instance, which made no sense, since the only thing he ever knew about Libby was that she had a boat she wanted to get rid of.

And now we see he somehow knew the secrets of Christian Shephard's will and was making sure to put his longlost children together.

Is that going to trigger a flash for someone? What triggers the flashes anyway? The past few weeks made it seem like the flashes were the lightning bolts of true love, but that doesn't match with what we saw this week.

Why didn't Sun flash on Jin or Jin flash on Sun or one of them flash on little abandoned Ji Yeon? WTF does it mean that Sun flashed on John Locke?

Have we been deluded all this time? Was it really Locke and Sun we should have been shipping? What would we call that? Socke?

NotJohn tells Jack that yes, it was him that appeared to Jack on the Island as his father.

That's not a stretch, but it's also not a perfect fit. I can buy that this was the Monster.

It was consistent that the Monster would be leading Jack to water. We saw that the Monster likes to hydrate his candidates before he recruits them.

But who was that guy appearing to Michael right before the bomb on the Kahana blew?

And who was the white shoed apparition sitting in the lobby at St. Sebastian's in LA?

If the Monster could be Christian, why did he have to wait for Locke to die? And where's Christian's body? And who took his shoes off?

How long has the Monster looked like John to Claire? She seems so protective of him, like a little girl who loves her daddy, but isn't it true that he's only looked like John for the past few days?

Ah, fuggedaboutit. Time doesn't mean anything on LOST. We still have no idea what happened on the Island between 2004 and 2007, when no one we know was living there. And we're never going to know. My guess is they're all going to die on the Island, but before they do, they're going to mind meld with their OtherSelves and all the dead will live again and it won't make any sense but no one will care because it will finally have ended. It makes me sad that it's looking like there will be no intelligent metaphor for us to mull over when it's done. A world where gimmicks can erase death isn't a metaphor that means anything to me as a thinking adult. Sorry.

I admit after all this time I expected something more formidable from this ultimate season of LOST. But the road trip's almost over. It will all only end once. And in the meantime, as we near our destination, I'll try not to obsess over the fact that the travel brochures kinda lied about where we were headed. That always happens. I'll just try and sit back and appreciate the fact that, no matter what, the scenery has always been pretty. We've had a lot of fun, made friends, laughed our asses off. And I've learned a lot writing about this show, dug into some interesting topics I'd never much thought about. I remembered, and discovered, some great film and literature as well, thought a lot about the creative process and what goes into making a truly great story. LOST isn't going to rise to that level, I don't think, but that's ok. It still reminded me that such stories do exist and that's a lot more than most tv shows are able to do. The really important thing right now is this:

Also ...

We're not all the way to happily ever after, yet, but we're getting there.