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Lost: A New Season

Hurley's bitchin' Camaro car chase is a nice metaphor for how season four premiered compared to past seasons. The first three seasons always began with the focus on a new group of islanders, and it would take an episode or two to really pick up steam. This season's premiere blew past all that and began where season three left off — in a weird, disorienting place. We're starting in a flashforward, but it's prior to the flash-forwards seen in "Through the Looking Glass." Future Jack's proclamations to Future Kate that they need to go back are at odds with what pre-beard Future Jack says to Future Hurley, "We're never going back," which suggests we're in store for a slew of Future character developments. The standard eyeball shot didn't even come until half-way through, when Hurley peered into Jacob's shack and someone else peered back. Christian's not the only walking dead anymore, and it seems Hurley will be a more pivotal figure in events to come, while Ben's role is diminished to something of a punching bag. But amidst all the disorientation, the fierce symmetry of the narrative remains. I don't think too many in the audience were displeased.

The episode did more to raise questions and set the playing field for upcoming episodes than it did to answer any questions. We still don't know what Naomi and the freighter folk are about, or what work Walt thinks Locke has to do. So let's get some of the questions out in the open:

Why was Christian Shephard in Jacob's rocking chair?

If Charlie is a figment of Hurley's imagination, why did the other mental institute patient see him?

Corollary: Why is Charlie appearing in the first place? When he appears against the two-way mirror in the interrogation room, did the writing on his hand — "they need you" — refer to the rest of the Oceanic Six, or someone else?

Corollary to the corollary: A two-way mirror seems like a suggestive symbol.

After Jack, Kate and Hurley, who are the other three of the Oceanic Six, and what are they hiding? Is the man in the coffin from "Through the Looking Glass" one of the six?

What does Ben know about the people on the freighter?

Corollary: Is that the same ship that Sam Thomas from the Find 815 game is on? The Oceanic commercial that aired after Lost suggests the auxiliary game that usually occurs outside of the regular season will be continuing during the season, making that ghost limb of the narrative much more real. (With Thomas, we also have Tom and twin again, and the auxiliary games have become a kind of twin to the standard narrative.)

Yet another corollary: Just how much damage can Ben take? Is the island giving him a healing hand?

What do the freighter folk want with the island, and who is Naomi's sister? Is she on the boat? Does she really have a sister?

Subtle literary reference corollary: Naomi's trick of back-tracking on her blood trail is what Danny Torrance used to fake out his mad dad at the end of Stanley Kubrick's film version of Stephen King's The Shining. Danny realizes he's leaving a trail of tracks in the snow while rushing through the hedge maze, and carefully goes back over them, stepping into his previous tracks, to make his trail look like it just comes to a dead end. Jack Torrance follows the wrong trail, as does island Jack, and in both cases it's the woman who finds the trailblazer; Danny's mom Wendy finds Danny at the mouth of the maze, and Kate finds Naomi out in the jungle — or Naomi lands on Kate. But from Naomi's doubling back to the Oceanic Six's hiding something from the public, covering tracks is becoming somewhat of a theme. This isn't the first time we've seen a Kubrick nod, either.

Might the fact that Charlie is appearing again, and that Christian Shephard is seen all over the island, have something to do with the leaked DHARMA Initiative orientation video for the Orchid Station?

Corollary: Dr. Edgar Halowax (i.e. Marvin Candle/Mark Wickmund from the previous orientation videos) is seen holding a white rabbit with the number 15 painted on it. He mentions how the island's unique properties creates a kind of Casimir effect that allows them to — and that's when another version of that rabbit falls into the room behind Halowax, and the good doctor has a minor fit, yelling to keep the two rabbits away from each other. It's two rabbits, but they're the same rabbit. We don't find out what the Casimir effect allows them to do (yet).

Corollary to that corollary: The Casimir effect, laid out by physicists Handrik Casimir and Dirk Polder in 1948, basically postulates the possibility of vacuums existing at the quantum level. This creates a subtle physical force between all matter that can only be measured at the sub-micrometer scale. The Casimir effect was proved in 1996 by Steven Lamoreaux at Los Alamos Labs. Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne have suggested that if you could get your hands on something they called exotic material (aka virtual particles) and employ the Casimir effect, you could theoretically create a wormhole, those hallways in time. We already know about Hawking, black holes, wormholes, electromagnetism, and how they're subtly being worked into the Lost narrative. So are we really dealing with ghosts, or are we dealing with the same Charlie and the same Christian, but from some other spacetime, like the same rabbit appeared from some other spacetime? And is the use of the name Thomas (meaning twin) a subtle hint in that direction?

Yet another corollary to that corollary: If the above corollary holds, perhaps Drs. Marvin Candle, Mark Wickmund, and Edmund Halowax are not the same person as we think of it, but three versions of the same person from different spacetimes. Interestingly, there has been a surge in academic work this past year, particularly by Oxford physicist David Deutsch, mathematically showing that yes indeedy, there most likely are parallel universes to our own existing right along side ours, and we just can't access them.

How did Hurley come across Jacob's magic shack? In what was the episode's central scene (thematically and temporally, it's in the center), Hurley's encounter with the shack is very suggestive. First, there were the whispers again. Does Jacob have something to do with those whispers (and has anyone gotten an amped up audio of those whispers)? Second, when Hurley peers into the shack in that very carefully framed shot and sees Christian Shephard, an eye appears on the other side of the broken window, an eye that looks suspiciously like the eye seen in "The Man Behind the Curtain" after Jacob called out "Help me" to Locke. If that eye is Jacob's, that means there's at least a third person on this island who has seen/heard the man himself. And third, Hurley runs away and when he looks up, there's the shack in front of him again; maybe that circle of ash in "The Man Behind the Curtain" was meant to hold the shack in place.

Corollary: This means someone brushed away the ash from around the shack. Given that Locke is the one who found Hurley out in the jungle, I think we have a good candidate.

Yet another corollary: The shot of Hurley peering into the shack is very carefully framed. The window is broken in just such a way as to make a circle around his eye and leave a small square space for his face, framing just his eye, nose and mouth. It's that kind of careful attention to structure that hints to the audience the writers/producers are not winging anything — the smallest detail is carefully crafted.

Even when the narrative seems to be getting off in a dizzying number of directions, there's still the visual and narrative symmetric echoes to offer a sense of shape and direction. For instance, in season two the Tailies joined up with the Lostaways, so all the survivors were together again; here, however, we have the survivors splitting apart again, some going to the barracks with Locke, some going to the beach with Jack — it's the opposite of what the first half of the narrative was about. Future Hurley finds himself at rest in the same sanitarium he once stayed in; Past Hurley had conversations with a (seemingly) imaginary Dave, and Future Hurley once again has a conversation with a (seemingly) imaginary Charlie. The flashbacks of the previous three seasons will be counterbalanced by the flashforwards of the other side of the narrative. And whereas the action hero types took central leadership roles in the first three seasons — Jack, Locke, Sawyer — happy, hurting Hurley is now grabbing some initiative and making determinations for the group (like throwing Sawyer's radio into the ocean). He's doing what he can to honor Charlie's memory and what Charlie died for.

There will be plenty of speculation about what's going on in the coming weeks, but the auxiliary material may help somewhat. Take the mobisodes, the miniature unseen scenes released for mobile phones before they were made public on the web. In the twelfth mobisode, a flashback of Juliet making muffins in the barracks, she has an envelope that contains some damning information about Ben. Let's see if that has anything to do with the freighter folk. Maybe the most intriguing of the (admittedly uneven) mobisodes was the thirteenth and last one; it takes place just after the initial crash of Oceanic 815, and starts from Vincent's point of view as he romps through the jungle. Someone is calling him; he has white shoes; he's wearing a suit; it's Christian Shephard, and he tells Vincent to go wake up his son because he has work to do, just as Walt tells Locke he has work to do This all takes place just a minute before we first see Jack's open eye in the pilot episode. One thing to keep a watch on, then, is how each upcoming episode is structured in comparison to previous episodes — recall how Locke's waking up in the jungle after the Swan Station implosion mirrored the opening Jack sequence in the pilot episode. Now that we've reached the crux of the narrative and the flashes have switched from flashbacks to flashforwards, and given the show's intense attention to detail and mirror symmetry, we may see scenes which recall parallel episodes from the first three seasons in that mirror-twinned fashion, equal yet opposite.

(Did you notice all the close-ups of Kate's face? Those once prominent freckles are still just not there...)

Books mentioned in this post

J. Wood is the author of Living Lost: Why We're All Stuck on the Island

53 Responses to "Lost: A New Season"

    Joe Hogan February 1st, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Welcome back J. It is comforting to know we will have your provocative insights to mull over for another season of Lost (no matter its length).

    In this episode, I would like to focus on the scenes at "Jacob's Cabin". I agree with you. It was a central event in the episode. I thought it was striking that there was no shot taking note of the famous ring of ash. Was it gone? Had it been cleared by Locke in response to Jacob's request for help? I like to think so.

    Now Hurley encounters a cabin which has no Jacob in it. Christian Shepard, and I believe John Locke, seem to have taken up occupancy there. Not only is Jacob no longer bound in that spacetime locus, the cabin itself seems to be bouncing around the dimensions a bit.

    Will a now free Jacob play a role in future events? Does he aid in the departure of The 815 Six back to the "real" world? Will he facilitate their return to the island? Will he mediate the coming conflict with the people from the freighter? Will he become the central figure Ben painted him to be or was Ben simply dishing out his usual line of bull? Was Jacob simply another prisoner trapped by the island and its caretaker, Mr. Linus?

    I can't wait to see the developments ahead on the downhill run to the end of the series.

    Jeffrey February 2nd, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Seeing that shack appear then reappear again reminded me of the barracks in "The Third Policeman" - the inevitability of fate. I thought the eye in the shack was Locke's (only after I had seen Locke waking up Hurley which might have been suggestive). I'm a huge Kubrick fan and this doesn't mean anything but I think it's interesting that John Terry as Christian (sitting in Jacob's chair and father to at least 2 Losties) was in "Full Metal Jacket" and had the memorable lines that "I did my time in the bush, can't say as I liked it much" and that "I'm in the rear with the gear" both statements very true of Christian esp. as a corpse in the hold of the plane. And speaking of Kubrick, I haven't been able to confirm that Peter Sellers was impersonating Kubrick in "Lolita" but Clare Quilty sure sounds like him.
    Thanks J. and Powell's for continuing this incredibly informative blog!

    yogi February 2nd, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Great to see you back J. Wood and the rest of the crew, look forward to all your insight. I had to laugh when Ben was tied up arms behind his back and dragged around the juggle, I fully expected him to start coughing *GOLLUM, GOLLUM*.

    David February 2nd, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us again this year, J. I look as forward to your recaps as much as the episodes themselves!

    Philip February 2nd, 2008 at 2:14 am

    I'm so glad you're back. I, too think the circle of ash was broken by Locke and allows Jacob to visit others like Hurley. Also, I am completely with you on the spacetime/parallel universe disruption and although chaotic, I feel it will resolve somehow by the end of the series. May that is just the romanticism of hope in me.
    By the way, is there anyway to get a complete list of all literary references that you find in the show? As I reach my 30s, I am finally finding a passion for literature. Your references are extremely intriguing since I am completely obsessed with this show.

    gator108 February 2nd, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Another great write up. Thanks for all you time and energy. Looking forward to a fun three year ride.

    Miss Gretchen February 2nd, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Hey to J and everyone, wasn't the opening scene a hoot? At first glance I thought "is this an episode of "Expose?" (in the season 2 extras, they mentioned that they plot out episodes of "Expose" as a stress reliever when working on "Lost.") Then when I really caught a look at the Camaro I exclaimed, "It's Hurley!"

    How many people have ever had the thought that Christian Shepherd might be John Locke's natural father? That way, Locke would have both a "real" father and a "false" one. Many of his problems in the past would be the result of "worshiping" the false father (Cooper.) I think this is a theme which will become more prominent in the coming seasons.

    (Thank you Kyle for pointing out my mistake in referring to the freighter who comes to the island as "the Christiane," I wasn't paying such close attention. The last novel I was reading when the season began was Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, so it will take me a few moments to twist my head around to doing such close reading! I'll be sure to look for parallel scenes when viewing the flash forwards, thanks to J.

    Jacobs Man February 2nd, 2008 at 11:45 am

    No one can just go and visit Jacob, you must be summoned. If what Henry Gale said is true, than Hurley was summoned, and for some reason, I feel will be the hero of this season, Jack and Lock have successfully gone apesh*t.

    BeefJello February 2nd, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    J. -

    I absolutely love this blog. It makes me think of Lost on so many more levels than I could have ever done on my own. Thanks!

    I had a question about a Mobisode and its link to both flashforwards (TTLG and this current episode). In King of the Castle Ben tells Jack - 'there may be a time when you want to return to this island' and 'if you do i want you to remember this conversation.' Jack essentially says I never want to come back to this island. And finally Ben retorts 'never say never.' Well, Hurley says the same thing at the end of S4.1 to Jack when Jack issues the same sentiment to Hurley. So, does Jack - at that moment recall the conversation with Ben?

    Lastly, does that put ben in Coffin? Even though he wasn't part of the Oceanic passengers or crew - he could have easily assumed the identity of one of the people on the plane and been forced back to 'civilization.' Ben is the only one who Jack thinks can get him back to the island, so of course he is devastated to find the news in the paper.

    Anyway, just wanted to know your thoughts on that particular link of never going back versus never say never. Keep up the great work.

    Kyle February 2nd, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    I was very enthused, last year, about the possibility of the ash circle around Jacob's cabin being a dormant Smoke Monster. The thought of a psychically-controlled noncorporeal form was very appealing.

    I realize now that it's more likely the case that the circle was, as you speculated, J, a circle of restraint (I was actually just talking about this idea with a friend today). Very occult. I wouldn't rule out the ash being corpse powder. Ben certainly had enough corpses on his hands (literally and figuratively) that he would have had ample supply.

    I hope that the freighter and the Christiane do in fact come into play together. It would be pretty amazing to have the freighter, the Christiane I, and heck, even Michael and Walt's little boat, all come crashing back to the Island during the aftermath of the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

    Incidentally, the actor who portrays Oscar Talbot (from Find 815) is a dead ringer for Josh "Sawyer" Holloway. Twins, indeed.

    Lesley February 2nd, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks J for you enlightening comments. I look forward to you analysis almost as much as I look forward to each episode. Dark UFO posts all the whispers but currently the most recent cannot be accessed. It seems that more of our Losties are special, not just Locke. And won't Ben be surprised! I expect the ultimate mirroring will occur if our survivors become the replacement Others in the end. What a fun ride it is so far.

    Juno Walker February 2nd, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Joley - thank god you're back!

    I just wanted to add my two cents:

    "If Charlie is a figment of Hurley's imagination, why did the other
    mental institute patient see him?"

    - If the Casimir/wormhole theory is true, then the Charlie that Hurley
    and the other patient see is really the smoke monster à la Yemi, etc. I
    think that raises interesting possibilities for other persons not just
    in the flashforwards but also in the flashbacks. Are Mrs. Hawking and
    Desmond's mentor monk incarnations of the smoke monster as well,
    "guiding" Desmond to the island?

    "Just how much damage can Ben take? Is the island giving him a healing

    - If Jacob is now truly free to roam the island, he may have more power
    over Ben and is thus punishing him....

    "If that eye is Jacob's..."

    - I like the idea that the eye is Locke's; that's what I thought when I
    saw it. If Locke truly helped Jacob by removing the ash, it would make
    sense that Jacob would welcome Locke into his "inner circle", so to speak.

    Oh, and since Hurley doesn't know who Christian Shephard is, the image of him in Jacob's chair was clearly for OUR benefit and not Hurley's.


    Brian February 2nd, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Let's look at the Hurley/Jacob Shack scenes again.

    In the first, Hurley approaches the shack warily and it is quite ominous. In fact, the only way he can "enter" is to peer through a cracked window (where he sees the lantern Locke broke on his exit at the end of last season fully intact again...) he gets scared off, and runs screaming.

    He sees it (or, rather, it appears in front of him) the second time, only it is not ominous now, and the door opens for him - invitingly.

    He then refuses to believe in it, and Locke shows up, or is placed in his path.

    Any rationalization for this? Especially given the same set of circumstances surround Hurley/Charlie. (First time in ominous - swimming in on him. Second time is welcoming - at Santa Rosa. He then refuses to believe in him, and Jack is thrown into his path.) Could the "it" Hurley refers to be doing the same thing again to seek a same or different outcome?

    Laura February 2nd, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    I went to YouTube and watched the Hurley cabin scene over and over. The eye does not look at all like Locke's. It does, however, look a little like Desmond's..

    Branden February 2nd, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Hey J, just wanted to let you know -- in the 12th mobisode, the envelope that Juliet begins to show Amelia actually contains Ben's X-rays. It was a deleted scene from the first episode of season 3 that was intended to foreshadow the fact that Ben had cancer. Damon Lindelof confirmed this in his commentary of episode 301 on the DVD. I'm pretty sure this mobisode was the only truly "deleted scene" out of all the mobisodes, the rest having been original material that fell within the Lost timeline. Just didn't want you waiting for a revelation that wouldn't come. I love the blog. Looking forward to a great season.

    Jeffrey February 2nd, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Given the LA low-rent vibe of this episode did anyone (BeefJello) recall the Romeo Void song "Never Say Never"? I thought of it when Hurley said that and checked out the lyrics - the first stanza was interesting. Also if you remember what the lead singer looked like (Hurley's sister) it makes some kind of sense. Or not.

    Thea February 2nd, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    J -- So glad to have you, your excellent analyses, and your inspiring literary insights back! Nice to see familiar comment-ers back too.
    I wonder what effects the mysterious properties of the Island will have on the Oceanic Six!
    Charlie's drowning at the end of S3 was distrubing. I had a feeling he would reappear in S4 in some manner--as a ghost or otherwise. I was happy to see him again. But how did he do that? Or is it Hurley projecting "Dave" again?

    bikerbakr February 3rd, 2008 at 9:11 am

    How is it that on a bookstore blog the most as well as the longer comments I have ever seen. . .is about a TV show written by a committee. Such a comment! I have a suggestion. .get on your bikes, get out of city and get lost!

    jfey February 3rd, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    another subtle parallel: kate and jack's arguement over whether or not naomi was leaving a false trail is an exact mirror of their conversation in season 1 when they were tracking ethan. in the original, jack was a lot more friendly and open to kate's suggestion.

    KA February 3rd, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    The interesting coincidence is how the group splits up in many ways like a chess game, hearkening back to the chess matches between Jack and Ben. The game and their discussion have become manifest.

    And @ Bikerbakr:

    Hmmm... a guy writes a book about a television show that draws heavily on literature for its source material and then writes a blog for an online bookstore that sells his book and in the process probably talks more about literature and its influences than most of the blogs on this site. Now who is being lazy?

    Perhaps you should endeavor to pedal your bike more to stimulate blood flow to your brain and either come up with a better troll or actually examine something before you comment on it,

    valis February 3rd, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I predict that the last two scenes of the entire show will be a mirror of each other. One will feature Jack leading five other survivors off the island, the next will feature Jack (or possibly Hurley?) coming back to the island in the future.

    Reel Nerds February 3rd, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    It has been suggested that Hurley's mental institution friend (the one who told him that Charlie was approaching) is also a hallucination, similar to Dave. That's why he can "see" Charlie.

    DTinMB February 4th, 2008 at 12:21 am

    You're onto something, J. I am definitely of the "same Charlie, same Christian, same rabbit, same Halowax/Candle/Wickmund" school of thought. It fits with so much. Same people/rabbits, different timelines and/or spacetimes. Mix some electromagnetic hoo-ha with that darn space-time continuum and you never know what you'll get. When Charlie says, "I'm dead, and I'm here," maybe he's a Future Charlie who knows one of his lives, in the space-time of the island, has ended. Maybe, like Mrs. Hawkins, his job now is to make sure things go on the right course. The less course correcting the better I would think. If saving Charlie changed so much, imagine the havoc of saving all those people on the plane. And hey, if we're going to have multiples bumping into each other, wouldn't it be neat, if in the coffin is the best "neither friend nor family" candidate there is? i.e. ... wait for it ... Jack Shepherd?

    Cindy February 4th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    When Jack is asked if he's friend or family, unless he's so messed up he can't be bothered to pronounce his consonants, he definitely says "either," not "neither." Who's his friend AND family? Claire and Aaron, but if it were Claire, I doubt Kate would have responded to Jack with such disdain when he mentioned going to the funeral home. Who else is part of Jack's "family"?

    Because Future Kate is not in prison, there is the possibility that she snuck back into the U.S. under an assumed identity and is not officially considered one of the "Oceanic 6." Maybe there are four more to be uncovered . . .

    Lastly, while the other patient might exist only in Hurley's imagination, or can see dead people as well, it's also possible he was referring to the man visible over Charlie's right shoulder.

    Thanks for the great blog!

    Messenger88 February 4th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Speaking of white rabbits, I am reading Stephen King's "On writing" (again) and imagine my complete suprise when I come across a passage about telepathy where Uncle Stevie is sending me a message from 1997 and he asks me to imagine a white rabbit with a number 8 on it's side...I had to read it again just to make sure I was not hallucinating. Of all things, a book about the craft of writing offers me up a section on telepathy and gives me a scene I've already seen...on t.v.! In this century! Please keep the literary references coming--it seems the more you give, the more I find. Kind of like the mysteries of LOST...

    Dave February 4th, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks for the great analysis, J. Personally, I'm wondering if perhaps Locke has been communing with Christian Shepard off and on since season one. In "Walkabout", Locke had some sort of encounter with the monster (which, it seems, is likely connected to Christian in some way). Then, in the very next episode, "White Rabbit", Locke shows up to rescue Jack from falling off the cliff, right after Jack had been seeing Christian. Locke tells Jack that Jack might not be crazy, but may actually be seeing what he thinks he is (Christian); it's almost as though Locke knew who Jack was seeing, so he knows Jack's not crazy. Then, in last week's episode, right after Hurley sees Christian in Jacob's cabin, Locke shows up. It seems that Locke's first encounter with the monster may have also involved an encounter with Christian -- perhaps similar to how Vincent encountered Christian in the final web mini episode? Whether or not that was Locke's eye that popped up and spooked Hurley in Jacob's cabin last week is irrelevant to this argument. Based on Hurley's sightings of Jacob's cabin, it would appear that Locke helped Jacob, as requested. Jacob and his cabin now appear to be free of their previous constraints, and Christian appears to be part of that equation, as well, since we saw him sitting in Jacob's rocking chair. Perhaps the Island is a place of redemption for Christian, too, just like it has been for many of our crash survivors. Seems that he and Locke could definitely bond over such a topic.

    barry February 4th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Great to have you back J i look foward to reading your blog every week we have a new episode, great work and i will be looking for the mirroring of episodes this is going to be fun.

    Jane February 4th, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Hooray, the Woodman is back!

    Last season I was completely skeptical about all the time-travel multiverse nonsense. Humbug, I said.

    I was wrong.

    I think the conceit of mirror-twinning will explain everything. The juxtapositions, the ghosts, the weird use of Water, the mirrors, the twins, and even every single time discrepancy noted on the show. It all comes down to mirror twins.

    Two sides. One light. One dark. We are one side of the mirror. The mirror-verse is on the Other Side. The Island is the Nexus, a place betwixt and between the two worlds. The Other Side is starting to breach through to ours.

    Only 4% of the Universe is made of "light" matter and energy. The remaining 96% of the Universe is made of dark matter and dark energy. We now know our fate. The Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Everything will be spread out thin, like too little butter on too much bread. The Universe will go cold and dark, endless motes of dust suspended in nothingness.

    The other eye in the cabin was also Hurley's. The eye of his mirror-twin. With its own "point-of-view".

    I love this show.

    The Whispers are Beautiful.

    Green Drake February 4th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    J: thanks for the weekly diversion and welcome back. You said: It's that kind of careful attention to structure that hints to the audience the writers/producers are not winging anything — the smallest detail is carefully crafted.

    So is this a mistake or is it intended: When Jack asked Minkowski if he could get a fix on his location in the last episode of last season, Minkowsi said something like, "Hell Yeah, I can." But in last week's first episode of the new season (during the recap at the beginning) Minkowski uses another line in response to that same question.

    kool February 4th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Great blog. I love your insights into the show, the theories, the literary references, etc.

    Lost is by far the best show on television. I can't wait to see the next 3 seasons and see how the show ends...but at the same time I dread the day the show goes off the air.

    Leah February 4th, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    I have a question sparked by the comment that Ben has been reduced to a punching bag (last week's episode). Ben seems to be the devil, but at times we're left wondering about him in so many ways. Why he does and says a lot of things, why he won't let the survivors (and others) leave, etc. In the first hour of the "Lost event," he was the narrator, if I'm not mistaken. That was obviously intentional. So I wonder about the significance of him telling the story up to this point, especially if he's been reduced to the punching bag. I also get frustrated with the catty way he and others (John Locke, Juliet for awhile, Others) deal with the survivors. They give mysterious, infuriating responses to direct questions. If John knows Naomi isn't who she says she is, and Ben knows everyone living will die, why don't they just tell everybody what they know? Yeah, suspense and all that, but it's also a little lame. If someone answered my questions that way I might hit them (which Jack does).

    Mrs. Friendly February 4th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Welcome back J, and thanks as always for exposing us to some fascinating ideas. I'll be looking for the mirrors of the first three seasons ...

    And yes, by all means bikerbakr, stay on yer bike, and peddle away through the rocky roadsteds, meditating on the works of de Selby. And when you can no longer feel your extremities steering and peddling, you will know you are one with the bicycle, and you'll come to an all too personal understanding of J's somewhat challenging reference to the Casimir effect.

    Hee hee ... sorry all, it was too tempting. Biker, hope you have a sense of humor.

    Death Metal Gary February 4th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    "It's that kind of careful attention to structure that hints to the audience the writers/producers are not winging anything — the smallest detail is carefully crafted."

    this is a massive farce. if anyone listens to podcasts of Jorge Garcia talking about his parts in the show in reference to the script, there are numerous times he mentions how things are added/dropped. like for this episode he was actually filmed in the chair himself.

    also, he mentions how a take was cut where something with the ash was involved. this kind of debunks your ash/shack theory. see Jay and Jack's latest podcast for the details where Jorge is interviewed over audio.

    lastly, we all know the characters are NOT planned since the producers themselves said they had no idea how big Ben would end up being. once he got a positive respond, they built a more solid story around him turning him into a figurehead "leader".

    theres tons of winging in this show (and gaps left ambiguous so they can be filled in later), ASIDE from their heavily calculated storytelling. i think its a mix of both.

    i also see NO direct reference to the Shining except in the idea of making a dummy trail. the dummy trail done in the Shining is extremely well done where Danny is creepily walking backwards with steady feet as Jack is behind him in the distance screaming. the view of the reversed steps gives it the effect of being strange and mysterious... just like when you see things filmed in reverse on purpose. i dont see LOST's dummy trail being ANYTHING close to this except for the fact that they used a dummy trail as a "Tactic". completely different outcomes.

    and give me a break. if this show was so heavily calculated. how could they make us believe that Naomi takes an 8 inch hunting knife into her back. Jack being a doctor doesnt even check her pulse, or entertain the thought of checking her over to see if she's even still alive or in pain... or to console her in her final moments. then they pull a Jason Voorhee's trick where she just magically disappears and his running through the woods dripping blood everywhere and climbing trees for that "one last calculated ambush... i mean, one last calculated waste of time to delay moving the real story along." if those kind of events are "calculated" they should stick to writing Comic Books, instead of a Comic Book made for TV.

    DS9Sisko February 5th, 2008 at 12:21 am

    NOT A SPOILER, but merely speculation:

    I am firmly convinced at this time that the person in the coffin is/was (ha!) Bernard. You can read the obit Jack read from "Through the Looking Glass" here:

    But how and why? Rose & Bernard go with Locke to the barracks. Yes, but what if something happened to Rose (maybe she got sick, maybe she passed away?) in the time between when both groups' split and Bernard (with a sick Rose or alone if she died) decides to go back home, having nothing to stay for on the island. Once back home, Bernard (after Rose's eventual passing either way) becomes depressed and kills himself, leaving behind a teenage son from a previous marriage or relationship or even a stepson through Rose (heretofore unmentioned).

    The reason that Jack responded the way he did by saying that the deceased was "neither" or "either" (depending on your sound system) friend or family is because we now know that at least two of the Oceanic Six are lying about the fates of the other people or even about knowing them at all.

    I dare not say which people, though. Abbadon wants to know if "they" are alive. They could be the survivors of 815, the Dharma Initiative, Naomi's Not Penny's boat, Richard's group (descendants of the Black Rock's crew ... or even the BR's crew itself?) or possibly someone we haven't met yet. But whoever "they" are Abbadon is inquiring about, Hurley is clearly lying about their status (as he clearly did about knowing Ana Lucia).

    I'm willing to bet that Future Bearded Jack (already an emotional wreck) went to pay his respects but eventual came to the conclusion that he could trust no one either so, when asked about his relationship to the deceased, Jack lied.

    Why was no one else at the funeral? Because everyone associated with Jack & Hurley who had gotten off the island had likely agreed to not give away each others' secrets or new identities, as we don't know if the Oceanic Six are really just six people. (Remember, they are KNOWN as "The Oceanic Six," which means that the six people who got off the island are officially known to exist. But who UNOFFICIALLY got off the island, too?)

    All in all, I'm usually wrong about these things, but it is fun to speculate.

    DS9Sisko February 5th, 2008 at 12:27 am

    CORRECTION: Rose and Bernard Go with Jack, with Rose not trusting Locke anymore. My bad.

    Jeffrey February 5th, 2008 at 9:07 am

    In the epilogue to "The Devils of Loudon" Huxley makes a classification of self-transcendence being downward, horizontal, and upward. Pre-island, the Losties were lost in the downward of their sins and on the island they have the horizontal group cause of finding a way home. But, according to Huxley there will always be evil in our good causes as long as the self-transcendence is merely horizontal. He quotes Pascal: "We make an idol of truth itself; for truth without charity is not God, but His image and idol, which we must neither love or worship." Their cause of leaving the island with Jack as a benevolent demagogue allowed the evils of murder and betrayal to be made manifest and perhaps far worse in the future; Locke, through Jacob, Walt, perhaps Christian understands how close they are to achieving good without evil and "self-identification with the Ground of all being." It is wrong to leave the island without the upward self-transcendence for "every idol, however exalted, turns out, in the long run, to be a Moloch, hungry for human sacrifice." What idol (4-toed) do the Others serve? And why does Ben - destroyer of the Dharma Initiative- understand this as well? Whatever fall from grace brought them to the island, every inhabitant must make that choice; except the Others, who are probably fallen angels that had made the choice long before.

    CHoward February 5th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    @ Death Metal Gary

    I'm not quite understanding how your naysaying holds any water. The story is well crafted, whether or not there are elements that are shot multiple times, cut, or edited.

    It's likely that Hurley was shot in the chair in order to keep the cast and crew wondering what the real story was. This is a tried and true ploy on the part of writers and directors to throw spoiler folks off the scent.

    Damon and Carlton made it clear in a podcast (forgive me for not finding it and linking to it here) that while Ben was not necessarily supposed to play the role he has ended up in, there was a character, heretofore unnamed, who was meant to serve the same purpose as Ben Linus.

    I applaud their adaptative creativity, in the greater scheme of an incredibly well crafted tale.

    In any case, love the blog and the comments here. Thanks for keeping up the great work.

    Christian Shephard’s Third Glass of Bourbon February 5th, 2008 at 11:56 am

    What's up with HaloWAX, WICKmund, Candle, etc.?

    What could that be about?

    It’sALittlePitchyDawg February 5th, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    In response to "Death Metal Gary":

    THANK GOD!!! I thought I was the only person who thought that "The Incredible Naomi and her Magical Knife Wound Healing Skills" were crafted from a plot hole so big you could safely land a 777 in there. First she's dead. Good and dead. And then *poof* even though she was spitting blood, she had the strength to run away, create a dummy trail, climb a tree, ambush Kate by dropping from above, wrestle her, WIN, hold a knife to her throat, then with her last ounce of super strength call for help. Unless the "brilliant writers" at LOST show us this series of events again and this time flash "A wizard did it!" across the screen I call b*llsh*t on this entire show being cleverly crafted in any way, shape or form.

    Death Metal Gary February 5th, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    "Damon and Carlton made it clear in a podcast (forgive me for not finding it and linking to it here) that while Ben was not necessarily supposed to play the role he has ended up in, there was a character, heretofore unnamed, who was meant to serve the same purpose as Ben Linus."

    exactly, ive heard the comments made by the producers... which to me means the show isnt AS calculated as it seems: except for the ultimate arc (which i briefly acknowledged in my first post by saying its half calculated [the total arc vs. the crap they do to waste time and extend their story longer than it should be.]). its just laid out in storyboard form and they attempt to chunk pieces and the characters in as theyre going along. see Paulo and Nikki as a PRIME example of this. theres no doubt the writers didnt have the balls to stick to their guns on that one when everyone started whining. so how calculated were those 2 characters? calculated enough to run a one show episode that mirrored the comic book structure of Damon's "wolverine vs. hulk" comic? whatever. its easier to look like a genius when things are left ambiguous and filled in later. and seriously, if you think this show is so well calculated: the dialog would be a lot more elaborate in exchange instead of ambiguous nonsense to keep their "secrets safe." how long has Ben been in captivity and no one seemingly asks him what the hell the Smoke Monster is after it terrorized them how many times through the past few months?

    "It's likely that Hurley was shot in the chair in order to keep the cast and crew wondering what the real story was."

    if thats the case, they should waste more time on real stories instead of tricking their own cast and crew. what a waste of money and time to be shooting scenes that "Trick" the cast. theyre doing a great job of tricking everyone since elaborate spoilers are released WEEKS before the episodes come out.

    please. make up all the excuses you want to lick these guys boots cause theres nothing else to do on Thursday night.. but get real. its not genius.

    Jane February 6th, 2008 at 8:34 am

    For those who doubt the influence of The Shining on Lost:

    burnt_to_a_crisp February 6th, 2008 at 11:00 am


    Nice to know there are "otheres" out there with the same feelings about certain aspects of this show.

    J Wood (Post Author) February 6th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Some quick points:

    Yeah, the x-rays; right on that.

    jfey: Also right on the parallel to Ethan's blood trail. This is the sort of thing I think we'll be seeing more and more of, that kind of internal mirroring.

    Third Policeman: Nice call on the barracks. The police barracks were sort of out of time and space as well (but in the book, the barracks was located in the afterlife). We'll have to watch the shack.

    Death Metal Massive Farce: First, as far as trusting the actors goes, take the case of the writers submitting differing information to Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim when they were building up the back-story to Sun's pregnancy. The actors didn't know they had different info until after the shooting; it was designed to elicit a particular kind of response from the actors.

    So you can choose to believe what Jorge Garcia says, or keep a somewhat skeptical mind on what's being put out by the actors. They're only a script or two ahead of us, and throughout the history of the show, the narrative development has been managed to keep the actors about as in the dark as the audience.

    Oh -- and shooting Jorge in the chair or with the ash really doesn't mean all that much. It wouldn't be surprising to see some of that footage later on. That's how television/film works: Once you have a set established, you get as much possible footage as you can. We've already seen some past footage from different perspectives brought back (Exposure), and the mobisodes showed unaired footage. Depending on where the story goes, they may need a shot of Hurley in a rocking chair.

    Also, I didn't say the entire narrative was structured that carefully -- I was speaking specifically about that shot and this episode. In case you're new to this discussion: One idea laid out from the beginning is that the story itself has always been flexible -- like how they made Ben's character more important. That's never been in dispute, and I wrote about that in the book as well. The writers/producers had some specific narrative benchmarks they've wanted to hit (and they've talked about this), but how they get from A to B is a little open. They've even used audience discussions like this in developing the overall narrative. However, that doesn't change the fact that they're putting a hell of a lot of detailed work into crafting each episode. Just because they don't know what episode 4 of season 5 will be doesn't mean they can't carefully craft season in episode 1 of season 4.

    But the difference is you're assuming the argument is that everything is laid out firmly ahead of time, which was never claimed. When some new direction has been taken -- like the Ben Linus story, which you point out -- they've added a great deal of texture and detail, and worked that element back into the overall narrative fairly seamlessly. So its not really clear what you have a beef with. I do still hold that scenes like Hurley's scene at the shack was very carefully shot and edited. Whether they used all the footage they shot is irrelevant -- no director or producer would only shoot one take and only use that, and no studio would let a chance to get as much potential future footage shot as possible when you're in position to shoot it.

    By the way, if we're nitpicking about the Shining, we're talking about Kubrick's version. Kubrick was also known for feeding his actors all kinds of mixed info in order to elicit specific reactions, most famously with Shelley Duvall in The Shining (made her redo one take over 120 times until she about broke down -- and that's what he wanted on camera). So if you heard an interview with either Daniel Dae Kim or Yunjin Kim about their backstory at a certain point of the series last year, you'd have gotten wrong info because they had wrong info, but it wasn't designed to throw he audience off any trail, it was there for the actors.

    I'll agree that the Naomi surviving thing stretches credulity a bit, and they always have that "island healing" out. But did anyone see a knife go 8 inches into her back? Looking at that scene, there's a whole lot of knife that's not in her back.

    steveb February 6th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Jacob's shack reminds me of the "Black Lodge" in Twin Peaks. A place for the "undead" or lost to mingle.

    preet February 7th, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Welcome back J. Great read as ever and a great episode to start the season as well.

    I am content with all your answers to Death Metal expect one; why didnt Jack check for Naomi's pulse after she was struck with the knife. I doubt there would be any doctor in the world who wouldn't rush forward and check the fallen person instinctively. And since the knife was thrown in the back it makes it more probable that she wont die instantly and Jack as a super-doc should know that.
    It's one of the very few 'holes' I am not able to fill. Writers being human I can attribute this as human error and secondly it doesn't really affect the overall story anyway so I am fine with it.

    KA February 7th, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Yes I must admit I found the knife thing totally unbelievable. A plane breaking up thousands of feet in the air and anyone surviving, a fellow surviving an electromagnetic explosion and waking up being able to see the future, a bizarre high tech smoke monster that can scan peoples minds, fine. But not a woman crawling away with a knife wound. Too much.

    Good thing the strike will be over soon and you can go back to watching Desperate Housewives. Oh wait, five milfs living on the same cul-de-sac, totally implausible. Grey"s Anatomy then.

    KA February 7th, 2008 at 5:28 am

    And I suppose I should contribute something constructive to the argument. There is a thing called directors. They are very important to both movies and tv shows as they orchestrate and experiment bringing the show to life. If something doesn't work visually, they change it so that it does work. Even the best writer's vision doesn't appear on film as it is on paper. Thats what directors do. Its a fluid process. Like this blog. DMG 's argument is based on a false premise about how the industry works.

    J Wood (Post Author) February 7th, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Here's a quick bit Doc Jensen got out of Jorge Garcia about the rocking chair (not sure if the html tags will work):

    I understand when you shot the scene in which Hurley looks inside Jacob's shack, he didn't see Christian Shepherd in the chair, he saw...himself! True?

    True. John Terry [the actor who plays Christian] did not work when I shot that scene. They shot me in the robe and slippers from [the mental hospital]. I didn't know if they were going to change it, or if the plan was to change it. [But] I don't think they would have shot it if they knew it wasn't going to be me, because I can't imagine them doing it just to throw you off the scent.

    So perhaps the writers decided to go another direction. But when you shot it thinking it was you, what was your theory for why Hurley would be rocking in Jacob's chair?

    Not to overdo the Star Wars references, but it had an Empire Strikes Back quality to it, when Luke's in Dagobah and he finds himself under the Darth Vader mask; I kinda had this feeling that Jacob — we kinda project the image of Jacob ourselves. Like, everyone sees their own Jacob, in many ways. However, the premiere kinda threw it out the window for me, seeing it was Jack's dad, because I don't see how Hurley would ever have known who Christian Shepherd was, because he's never had a run-in with him. At least none we've seen.


    I'm still wondering if they'll use that Hurley in the chair footage.

    J Wood (Post Author) February 7th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Naomi did survive that tree branch through her side when she parachuted down onto the island.

    I'm still not sure why she made it past that, and either A.) didn't make it past the knife (island healing and all that), and B.) didn't die immediately if the knife was going to kill her.

    Ben was once healed by the island, it seems, but then wasn't. Locke hints at something like that when he asks Ben why Ben's in a wheelchair and Locke isn't.

    Preet has a point, too; that may be one of the first times Jack didn't run to someone's rescue. Then again, everyone seems to be acting a bit differently, but still...

    Miss Gretchen February 7th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Something to while away the time before tonight's episode, for those who haven't seen it:

    On the Blu-Ray version of season 3 DVDs, there is an interview with Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, here transcribed by Lost-TV member Spooky. Now, the first time I saw one of these interviews I got so depressed by the idea that these two bozos were in charge of writing the show that I almost stopped watching. But this blog kept me going, and now I kind of like the kooky Darlton moments. It reminds me of sitting and listening to my nine year old nephew tell me a story about one of his mangas, where I must listen real carefully about how MegatronRoid battled GalacticarPhizz and all the ways he defeated him. This can go on for an hour, and my eyes are very glazed, but I have to admire the passion which lies behind it all. The interviews are something like that.

    Mrs. Friendly February 8th, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Dr. Marvin Candle might have some association with our modern day physicist Farraday ... Michael Farraday gave a series of lectures on The Chemical History of a Candle (among other things).

    Allison February 8th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I'm continually amazed with Lost.

    J, I've been reading your blog since it began, and your insights make the show even more enjoyable. I think it's amazing that some viewers can watch lost and enjoy it on the surface (like my parents), and then there are others who can really delve deeply into the shows references and hidden meanings.

    I am most interested to see how this idea of time/space and parallel universes play out. So interesting and exciting. I also heard earlier today that the writers' strike may be ending in the next day or so. Which could mean a longer 4th season than just 8 episodes. I'm hoping!

    DTinMB February 8th, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Perhaps they filmed Hurley in the chair because the plot required him to look inside the cabin and see himself. Or, if the plot required him to see two people -- Christian and himself -- it might not matter who was standing and who was sitting. A Christian-sitting version might have been preferred because it could fuel the most speculation (high forehead like Jacob, etc). It doesn't surprise me at all that they filmed both versions.

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