Monday, September 30, 2013

LAND OF DEAD ENDS

The drama of the series was to create believable story lines - - - conflict that the characters had to deal with - - -  in order to find a real climax and conclusion to the series. There were so many diverse story arcs that seemed to have real significance that turned out to be story dead ends.

With all the Dharma hatches, orientation films, and sci-fi experimentation, we thought that all those different stations would be pulled together into a cohesive explanation of all the island mysteries. Many people thought the greatest clue of all time was the Blast Door Map. But we were wrong. The stations were merely stages and they had no real impact in the final season.

The Season 5 cliffhanger with Juliet pounding away on the atomic bomb, hoping that it would blow everyone up (to allegedly reboot the time on the island). That was the debate: did the bomb go off? Did the bomb explode in the white light? Did the island re-boot the time line because of Juliet? Why would a nuclear device change time? The whole Hatch, Incident, and time travel story lines had no impact on the sideways world. It is fairly clear that these were edgy and emotional moments, but they did not matter in the series final "battle."

The major story line around Juliet and Claire was the island's failure to allow women to give birth. The infertility problem was supposed to be a big clue of what the island was - - - and the deaths of pregnant women was the key. But we got no answers to that story line either. When Locke was trying to ascend to the leadership of the Others, we only got a mild sideslap by Alpert who considered Ben's "projects" a waste of time and away from their real purpose, a purpose that was never disclosed to us.

The whole spiritual-religion-ritual Egyptian temple stories, including the smoke monster invading the sanctuary of the temple as crazy Claire was trapped in a pit, made reference to life and death, but in such in indiscriminate and unreal fashion. Why did MIB have to kill all the temple people? That action did not "free" it. In a Star Trek analogy, many of the final seasons contained stories like this: red shirts on missions being wiped out by violence. For no apparent reason except some emotional visual on the TV screen.

Even the love stories seemed forced, unrealistic, and not warm and fuzzy. It still makes no sense that Kate winds up with Jack. The idea that Sun and Jin would be divided by time in order to fall back in love seems, universal physics in suspense,  unbelievable.

But the greatest high speed highway exit ramp dead end was the Jacob and MIB story. It was the main focus of the last season. It's set-up was a battle between supernatural beings, but the reasons never stated except that they had been on the island for thousands of years. The light and dark, good and bad, moral and evil symbols had no final meaning in the end. We still don't know what Jacob or MIB were, or what they truly represented to the story foundation. It is not like their story line was the final gate to break through a video game level to be "rewarded" with a sideways happy ending.

If you trace the "big" plot lines of the series, you will find a tangled spaghetti bowl of inconsistencies, hanging stories, continuity errors, and lack of an overall story dynamic. I think many people were drawn into the complexity and layers of different stories because they had been promised by TPTB that they would find out what it all meant in the end.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

WINDFALL CURSE

Forbes magazine had a recent article that hit upon an old topic: the curse of lottery winnings.

Historically, the vast majority major lottery winners go bust within 7 years of their happy day. The reasons follow a typical pattern: joy of new found wealth; quitting work; spending on new houses, cars, etc; family members wanting a share; friends hanging about like a posse; bad business decisions; lawsuits and eventually losing it all - - - the money, relationships, family and friends.

The article went through several examples of winners feeling that they were cursed. They complained about intense media coverage, loss of privacy, family members they never heard of asking for money and favors, shady investments, bad advisors, to being robbed, having addictions, drug abuse, intense gambling issues and the pressure to be somebody you are not.

Sudden wealth to most naive people means Christmas every day. But that feeling is not sustainable. It blurred the reality of the situation. There is a dramatic honeymoon period when everything is great. Then the pressures of spending the windfall come to bear. It is a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other – from joy, excitement, and happiness to emptiness, resentment, and sometimes even despair. At a certain point the money begins to control the winners' lives. Things can get out of control quickly.

In LOST, likable Hugo Reyes was the big winner. He won the lottery jackpot. He immediately knew it would change his life, but not for the better. That is why he tried to keep his good fortune a secret. But that secret ruined his relationship with his best friend and his potential girlfriend. And once he claimed the prize and went into the public spotlight, tragedy after tragedy hit him.

One of the snake bites was his father returning just to get a piece of the lottery action.

Hurley never really felt the joy, excitement and happiness of being a winner. The lottery was so overwhelming to his simple way of life as to cause him to faint, then retreat into himself. He resented winning the lottery. He resented that people only looked at him one way: as a sucker money bag. He fell into despair because he was in deeper in an emotional hole than when he was simply poor. That depression caused him to search for an answer to his misery. And he then believed that the Numbers he used were cursed. Therefore, he was cursed. And everyone around him was cursed. And bad things happen to cursed people. 

And that layer cake of being cursed followed Hurley throughout the seasons. He could never get away from it. He digested all of the events around him through the filter of his lottery curse. He kept his winnings a secret from the survivors, until he could finally trust. And even then, they did not believe him. In an odd way, that made Hurley feel better because his friends liked him not for his money, but for Hurley.

But in the end, Hurley never got free from his curse. He only found happiness in death - - - being reunited with Libby in the after life. Which meant that all the empty time between the island and the after life, Hurley found no one else to share his life with (otherwise that person would have been with him in the sideways church). One could conclude that even though Hurley left the island alive, he remained dead inside. He fostered his curse for the rest of his life. Which is a sad, sad commentary for one of the most liked characters on the show.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

CHANGE


When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny. — Paulo Coelho

Change is a difficult concept to comprehend. People are creatures of habit. We tend to have self-loathing aspects to our daily routine. Some call this personal introversion of suffering just life. Deal with it. One can scuttle along with their own dark cloud overhead without any one else noticing it. And if they do, they claim it is your own choice to live an unhappy, unfulfilled, unrewarding life. You created your own situation. Only you yourself can correct it.

It is hard life lesson that many people will avoid. They would rather keep the comfort of their miserable surroundings than risk the unknown that material change could bring. If one has lived in a bad place for so long, he only thinks that bad things will happen - - - even in change. The bad misery is his destiny. It is his fate. It is his demise.

There is nothing harder than getting out of one's rut to do something different. And even if one tries a little, in a short time one reverts back to the old mean. The classic example of this is dieting. People know they should avoid fast food, eat healthy, avoid fatty foods and alcohol. But those temptations are so easily accessible. The pleasure sensors in our brain find joy in consuming such unhealthy fare. So even when one realizes that change is needed, it is first the toe dip in the pool. Then it may be a small baby steps of substituting something good for something bad. You get on a program to help you along, but programs are like nagging mothers and one drowns them out after a while. You get on an exercise routine until some other activity, such as work, becomes a timely excuse to cut back on the exercise. And then suddenly, the downward spiral is back to the beginning. Some people would justify it as "that's the way things are supposed to be." Others will be depressed by the failure, which reinforces the anti-change thoughts they will have in the future.

It is only through trusted positive reinforcement will one latch on to change to make it work. Families are the hardest critics. They have the harshest words when things are not best. But, at the same time, their compliments hold more water than a stranger's, like a paid fitness instructor who says "good job" after every feeble station on the universal machine.

Why so many LOST characters never changed in the series is simple: they had no trusted person who would give them positive reinforcement in order to seek change. All the main characters had flaws and broken spirits. They were all pigeon-holed into a way of life that some of them resented to the fullest of their internal mental faculties. More and more they would recede into their own private worlds. There was some comfort to shut out the outside world, including your naggy family, to be left alone. 

But loneliness is one of the worst aspects of life. It puts some on the same mental level as inanimate objects like stones. They are mere background set pieces to the people around them who seem happy, energetic . . . alive. The farther one seeps into the shadows, the less likely it is that they will even recognize other people's happiness. This is where they become totally lost in their own dark angst.

And that is why LOST ended on a shadowy thud. The main characters did not have a moral, ethical, or spiritual upheaval and change in personality that made any sort of difference in how the various story lines ended in the sideways church. Their actions had no consequence in the big picture. They were all pretty miserable at the beginning through to the end. There was no real change in the characters, even though the TPTB still claim that the series was all about a character study. The main characters merely showed up for the cast wrap party reunion.

Friday, September 27, 2013

DISASSOCIATION

There has been a trend in Japanese society where its youth disassociate themselves from their culture to escape into their own fantasy worlds, such as anime. It may be based upon economic conditions, the lack of work, or burn out from educational stresses to pass exams. America had a similar bout with a "drop out" culture.

While this may be a temporary delay in finding oneself, it does have the possibility to create self-delusion.  While extreme self-delusion within literature certainly dates back to at least Miguel de Cervantes’s 1605 novel Don Quixote, the recent prominence of anime that specifically concentrate on the the tendency of Japanese youth to disassociate with reality or create false personas has to be accepted as a deliberate observation of an existing trend. People are trying to find out what is  motivating Japanese youth to disengage from everyday reality. Is it willful psychological disassociation?  Or is illustrating real-world causes and impacts to a teen's cognitive disassociation?

As a matter of social commentary,  LOST did not hit the big pivot points like poverty, environmental issues or morality. Since TPTB keep saying that it was all about the study of the characters and character development, it may mirror the functional disassociation within American society norms.

The series did contain more than one psychopath. The unyielding quest for unmentioned and unobtainable power drove many characters like Ben and Widmore into killing rampages. Megalomania is a form of psychological transference of one's meek reality into some grand self-righteous plan (usually with the tenor of a destiny or a righteous position to uphold). When Ben kept telling us he was one of "the good guys," did we ever believe his banter?

Many of the characters were disillusioned by their mainland lives. Collectively, most of them were going no where fast. There was no mention of an American Dream goal. And even if they had a chance to start one, like Kate in Florida with her husband, she screwed it up and fled at the first hint of trouble. Criminals have a built-in distaste to follow the norm placed on individuals in society. Likewise, creative people seek to break the normalcy to shock people into recognizing their self-belief genius. Some succeed, but most fail. It used to be that failure was a good thing (you would learn more from your mistakes) but in the new uber-competitive sports culture, failure is no longer an option. You have Tiger Moms creating home educational sweatshops so their child can get into the "best" schools. You have Soccer Moms treating their athlete kids like full time professional ball players. Society's value system can easily be skewed from generation to generation.

The island really had no value system. It did not value life over death. It did not value trust over distrust. It did not value success over failure. If the island was a brain of a teenager, it would be an apathetic, escapist video game console.

What is really sad is that the characters in LOST thought that their miserable time on the island "was the most important part of their lives."  How shallow and desperate is that conclusion? The prospect of being killed in a horrible place trapped by monsters and demons was more appealing than an American middle class upbringing to the freedom of young adulthood?

The island did give some characters the ability to "re-create" themselves in their fantasy images, such as Locke as the outback survivalist. But it also allowed others such as Kate to re-stage herself as the "girl next store" flirt to cover her criminal secrets. Both Locke and Kate disassociated themselves from normal society long before they landed on the island. In some respects, they had already given up their lives prior to the crash. They did not take the crash as an opportunity to change their lives, but to fantasize what could have been. Escape to an island where one's own perceived genius and wit can outsmart and out maneuver anything that comes in your way is a compelling fantasy scenario for those persons who have lost their will to become a productive member of society.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ANGER MANAGEMENT

"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in cage!" Smashing Pumpkins

If there was one universal trait in the LOST main characters it was "pent up rage."

Jack had a burning pit of anger about his father's treatment of him. Christian refused to acknowledge his accomplishments; failed to treat him as an equal; belittled his leadership qualities.

Sawyer had an active volcano of rage in his sole life goal to avenge his parents deaths. That rage changed an innocent young boy into an adult murderer.

Kate had a sea of troubled emotions. It seems that she felt smothered by her rural upbringing. She became quite upset with her stepfather's treatment of her mother. Her emotions turned to psychotic rage when she blew up the house in order to "save" her mother from future abuse. But when her mother rejected Kate and Kate's reasoning, Kate seethed inside.

Hurley also had a mountain of bitterness induced by chocolate candy bars as a substitute for his father abandoning him as a child. Without his father's influence and direction, Hurley never finished anything in his life. He was angry about it, but so depressed by his fate he did nothing about it. Instead he developed the excuse that he was cursed.

Locke was angry at the world. He also had abandonment issues. He never fit into the foster homes. He never fit into his school teacher's vision of his career path. As a result, Locke had no path. He wandered from meaningless job to meaningless job. His anger made him a loner because he could not keep friends or girlfriends, which made him even more upset. His anger led him to become selfish - - - believing his only self-worth was to get his own way (no matter how crazy it seemed, such as being wheelchair bound in the outback desert.)

Even Bernard was an angry man. He was upset that after a very long time, he found a woman, Rose, who loved him. But soon after, fate gave Rose cancer. Bernard was angry that the cancer was terminal and he would in a short time lose her forever. At some point, Rose herself, was mad about her medical condition. She took all the treatments, but nothing worked. It was after the plane crash, when she was sitting alone on the beach, that she came to terms with her plight.

And this may be the symbolic or allegory of the series.

The plane crash was a symbolic mental crash inside the characters to get them to focus in on more important things - - - like survival, their fellow man, people who need them. The island was symbolic of a treatment plan, alternative therapy or mental reconditioning protocols which gave the characters the tools in which to deal with their rage issues. As the series wound down, the characters were not self-absorbed with the issues that caused their internal rage, but they were focused on helping each defeat their collective demons and get off the island.

There is a corollary to this anger management resolution.  As I have written in the past, I always thought that when Rose was sitting alone on the beach, she came to terms with her plight and knew everything would be alright because the pain of her cancer was gone. Rose at that moment knew the only release for that pain was her death. She came to terms with her death immediately. She then knew that the others around her had to deal with their issues in order to come to terms with their deaths, in their own way. So with that knowledge, she went along in the background knowing that she would be okay in the end.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

THE DAYS TO LIVE THROUGH

We have more days to live through than pleasures. Be slow in enjoyment, quick at work, for men see work ended with pleasure, pleasure ended with regret. ”
— Baltasar Gracian

 
Depending on one view's the time travel spokes in the time line the show, the 815 survivors were only on the island for a short time period.

In reality, the real mean time was only around 116 days: 101 days through December of 2004, and about 15 days on the re-emergence in 2007 (or that is what we assume the date was based upon Rose and Bernard's alone time in their camp.)

If we look at the time the characters had on the island as their last time on Earth (so to speak), who had the most pleasure in their island time?

Locke certainly loved his new outback persona. He thought of himself as a leader who could control the situation. People listened to him for once. But those pleasurable moments were fleeting for Locke.

Sawyer had his own personal moments of joy. He was at home being the lonely island troublemaker. People had to come to him to make deals for necessary supplies. He had no desire to belong to the group, especially when he got fringe benefits from Kate. If not for the Jacob-MIB dogma, Sawyer may have been content to be a Robinson Caruso island resident for the rest of life.

Hurley was comfortable on the island. It is interesting to note that he never really spoke about his mother or father on the island. He kept his wealth a secret until he made what he thought were trustworthy friends (and then they did not believe him). Hurley's new friendships made his island stay more than bearable. He was surprised that people accepted him for himself. His island time was really a vacation from the stresses and anxiety of his real life.

On the flip side, no one can say that Jack had a very good time on the island. He was under constant stress to be the leader. People wanted him to make decisions for them. He had to treat their wounds, maintain their safety, and hear their complaints. Over time, it beat Jack's psyche down to being comfortable in the role of Dharma janitor.

Sayid was quietly comfortable at first in the beach camp, but he felt the prejudice and distrust from the survivors early on. He was brought up in an emotional and confrontational culture. He knew he did not fit in, but he stayed on the edge of the group because he was useful, resourceful and a means of protection. Sayid enjoyed that role of protector, until his inner evil turned him back into a mindless torturer. At that time, Sayid became depressed and useless waiting for a means to end it all.

Rose and Bernard probably made the most of their extended time together. Rose had no use for most of the survivors. She hated the politics and whining in camp. Bernard was just grateful for the extra time he had with his wife. Once they left to have their own camp, they were a happy couple again.

But all these impressions and actions of these characters happened in a short time frame. One either quickly accepted your role on the island or you were miserable and your fate was sealed by the island. It could be viewed as the countdown to execution that condemned prisoners would have prior to the gallows. The visitors to the end may or may not realize that their days are numbered, and that their lives were about to be extinguished so the island is the last playground they will ever know. Some left the island with regrets. Some left the island with pleasurable memories and friendships. Some never left the island.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

THROWN AGAINST THE WALL

There has been a resentment in some circles to how LOST was structured as a series.  Many people believed that the writers merely threw plot twists, traps and mysteries against the wall to see what stuck in the hearts and minds of the fans.

 Humans have the brain capacity to be curious about their surroundings. We have the intelligence to apply knowledge to problems to find solutions. That is why we are at the top of the food chain. And that same basic mental framework is how we view our information and entertainment.

Even before we can walk, as babies, we want to put the shaped blocks through the right holes and into the bucket. That is why a few of us still continue to think whether there is (by accident and not even design) some unified explanation for the layered, complex and engaging story lines of the series.

Or, do we have to come to the final conclusion that we were duped by a canvas of splattered paint instead of coherent statement of words and actions.

The unease comes from the fact that many of the major themes and consequential moments (at the time) were rendered meaningless, irrelevant and immaterial in the conclusion of the series. For example, could the castaways gotten to the sideways church without the smoke monster story lines? Apparently so. What did the island time skipping have to do with the reunion in the church? Nothing. Did Juliet set off the bomb? It did not matter. What happened to all the deep and detailed ancient Egyptian ritual and hieroglyphs that expanded in scope as the last season unfolded? It turns out to be mere artful misdirection.

That is why so many people cannot grasp the significance of the ending because it was not foreshadowed by any of the action of the main characters. It was an off-ramp to a quiet side alley when the story was a super highway rushing to the final toll booth of answers.

All art, including storytelling, can many different variations. It can be mystery, drama, comedy, surreal or even absurd. It is just like in fine art painting. You have those artists who use the medium to express realistic portraits, impressions, illusions to reality, abstractions to comment on life, to surreal merger of mismatched items like a Dali creation to shock to viewer into wonder and personal reflection.

As I said above, a criticism has been that the LOST writers were merely throwing plots on the wall without any reason or structure in order to move the series forward. In the art world, this splatter approach was made famous by Jackson Pollock, who spilled, sprayed, flicked and tossed random colors on large canvases to make his art. Some people adore the freedom of expression, other people hate it as a mess, and many are just indifferent with the result. Sounds a lot like the reactions to the end of Season Six.



The strength but also the problem with the Pollock drippy style is that is it is "easy." It is easy to create because it is abstract. The result is all in the eye of the beholder. The artist does not have to say anything about the subject matter (even if there is one in his own mind). There are no rules. Structure is abandoned. Convention set aside. Recognizable symbols or shapes are not used to convey any message.  I did the above graphic in a matter of minutes. If 100 people look at it, you would probably get 100 different responses to it. It is both nothing and anything. I had no concept of what I would be drawing; I only threw dashes of color and lines on a blank piece of digital paper. To me, it is just an abstract drawing.

To viewers of LOST, they do not want to see their show as an abstract nothingness. They were led on so many paths, experienced so many key moments to have the final reveal to be a Pollock-style painting. That is why a few keep searching for the hidden brush strokes.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

DARK MESSENGER

In various religions, messengers from the heavens can be considered good, bad, mischievous or indifferent. The character called Matthew Abaddon fits into all those categories by design or mistake.

He played a hospital orderly, an airline lawyer, a recruiter for the freighter mission, and a chauffeur for Locke in his quest to get the O6 back to the island. It is believed that he was an agent for Widmore who needed to move people "to where they needed to be" like pieces on a chess board.

Chronologically, he was first seen suggesting to Locke (after he was crippled by his father) that he take a "walkabout" in Australia (which he said he had once done) in order to find his "purpose in life." This advice ultimately led Locke to the Island aboard Flight 815.

Later, Abaddon was the recruiter who put together the "science team" for Widmore's freighter crew: Naomi would be the point person, along with pilot Frank, Daniel Faraday, Charlotte and Miles. The alleged purpose of the science mission was to find the wreckage of Flight 815. Abaddon told Naomi that there had been no survivors.

Sometime after the rescue of the O6, Abaddon posed as a representative for Oceanic Airlines when visited Hurley at the mental institution. Hurley had cut himself off from the world. Abaddon coyly asked Hurley if "they" were still alive.  This was done to start the "guilt" process to get Hurley to return to the island.

Sometime later, Abaddon was assigned by Widmore to take Locke around the world to convince the people who had escaped the island to return with him. While Locke's attempts to persuade Sayid, Hurley, Jack or Kate to return to the Island were unsuccessful, Locke remained persistent as they traveled to see  Walt and "to find" Helen his old girlfriend. Locke was taken to Helen's grave.  There,  Abaddon posited that Locke's fate, and his death, may be predestined. Locke argued that he didn't want to die, and if it was predestined then that would remove the choice. Abaddon, ending the conversation, simply remarked "Hey, I'm just your driver." As they were leaving the cemetery, Abaddon was in the midst of a pep speech that Locke should keep going when he was assassinated allegedly by Ben's operatives. Ben would later tell Locke that it was he who had shot Abaddon, who he claimed was "extremely dangerous" and would have tried to kill Locke in due time (but that makes no sense within the story since both Abaddon and Ben wanted Locke to succeed in bringing everyone back to the island.)

In all these situations, Abaddon is surrounded by pain, suffering and death. Many people quickly realized that Abaddon's names comes from the Bible as a reference to "the Angel of the Bottomless Pit, " whose job it is to take souls to their destination in the Last Judgment. Many viewers believe that was Abaddon's  role in the series.

Greek for "destruction" or "the destroyer,"  Abaddon the Angel is pictured as a human sized locust, and is known as the lord of pestilence. The root for "Matthew" in Hebrew is "Gift from God." Additionally, in Hebrew, Abaddon is synonymous for Hell or destruction. Very loosely translated "Matthew Abaddon" can be read as "Gift from the god of hell." Jesus refers to God the Father as "Abba" while "-don" is the first three letters of "donate," which comes from the Latin root for "give." The name of the character in the episode referred to by the press release using the spelling "Matthew Abbadon" might be interpreted "Gift of God/Father Gift."

Abaddon as a dark angel makes sense. His first appearance is after Locke should have been killed from the multiple story fall. If Locke had died, Abaddon may have been "collecting" his soul for a trip to the underworld playground called the Island. MIB called Jacob "the Devil." Dogen called MIB "evil incarnate."  The island was certainly a living hell for those taken to it.

There is a possibility that Abaddon was a version of the smoke monster as ghost Christian was a version of Jacob when Jack was back at the hospital after his rescue. There is no known rule that prohibits either Jacob or the smoke monster from materializing off the island. Jacob had been seen in many places, in LA, Korea and on the freighter. Immortal spirits such as the devil or his dark angels could haunt the living as well as the dead.

Abaddon's character is a strong clue that LOST was more about death than life. It was about dead souls attempting to cope with a journey to their after life reunion in the sideways realm.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ALTERNATIVE LOST

One of the perplexing elements to LOST was the Island. We still don't know whether it was real, surreal, spiritual or supernatural. It seemed to be an important element of the story until The End
where the series was "resolved" in the sideways realm church.

If the Island was not a critical component of the LOST saga, I have imagined an alternative setting which could have clarified to basic character story lines and concentrated the drama.

First, we need a means of gathering up the diverse people into one place. In the original series, it was a plane flight from Sydney to LA. In this alternative LOST, it is a cross country passenger train speeding along in the evening across the deserted plains.

Second, we need an incident that throws the passengers into chaos. In the original series, it was the plane crash on the Island. In this alternative LOST, it is a train derailment out in no where. A train wreck has the same elements of the plane crash: death, smoke, fire, twisted debris, dazed and confused people, and heroic first aid. It also removes one element of debate from the original series that doubted that anyone could have survived when the plane broke a part at high altitude.

Third, we need the chaos event to change the lives of the survivors. In the original series, the Island trapped the survivors who went from the hope of rescue to being pawns in various power struggles. In this alternative LOST, people, cargo and debris are thrown around the tracks. Jack would still run around giving first aid to the wounded; Kate would still release herself from her hand cuffs; Rose could still be searching for Bernard who went to the restroom just prior to the crash; Charlie could be in a temporary shock and high from his habit; Claire could be going into false labor; and Locke could have miraculously regained his ability to walk.

And here is where the story setting takes a significant change in direction. Since the train derailed in no where, it will take some time for emergency vehicles to get to the site. Jack will make his way to the front of the train, and speak briefly to the engineer who will tell him that the radio is not working and that he has something important to say with his last breath, but expires before telling Jack.

Some time later, the survivors are in the cold and pitch darkness, lights appear on the horizon. It is the first responders. Several ambulances and vans arrive on the scene to the relief of an anxious Jack. Everyone is gathered up and sped off into the night toward a hospital facility.

The survivors arrive through the large gates of a large white government facility which itself is out in no where. The wounded are rushed into the lobby of the building which looks and feels like a hospital. There are doctors and orderlies moving patients to gurneys and down hallways to rooms.

The main cast who are not hurt gather in a corner of the lobby. They are greeted by Ben, who introduces himself as the Director of the facility. He tells them that his staff has a handle on what needs to be done. Ben tells Jack, who explains that he is a spinal physician who may be needed further, that everyone is being cared for - - - to relax. "You have done more than enough," Ben says patting him on the shoulder.

Ben then reveals that the survivors are hundreds of miles from the nearest town, but not to worry Ben has an entire wing of beds for them. Ben directs Mr. Friendly to take the group to their overnight accommodations. Rose asks if there is a phone she can use to call her husband's cell phone, but Ben says that a tornadic storm came through earlier in the night and the damage cut off all phone lines. Ben comforts her that when Bernard is found, he will reunited them. Mr. Friendly takes the group down a side hall way. Ben follows far behind until the last person crosses that threshold. He then closes the double doors and locks it with his key. He slowly turns back to the camera with a bug-eyed evil grin on his face.

The camera would then pan up the lobby two stories to a catwalk that is encased in a fine chicken wire mesh. In the middle of the cat walk stands Hurley, looking down on the people in the lobby. Hurley is wearing a brown jump suit with the words "STATE ASYLUM" across his left breast pocket.

Instead of the original setting of the Island, the LOST survivors would be trapped in a closed state asylum run by a madman named Ben. No one would know where the survivors are at because they would be presumed dead in the horrific fire Ben's people would set in the train cars to cover their abductions.

The alternative series would continue unfold with power struggles of the various facility factions. Ben and his people (the Others) are in control of the facility and take charge bizarre experiments and treatments (like Room 23) to keep people in line. Eloise may be a researcher in the hospital wing of the facility whose staff (including Juliet) try to think of ways to overthrow Ben's regime. The hospital wing could contain the Tailies (injured people from the crash) who want answers through their leader, Ana Lucia. The pysch ward survivors led by Jack take longer to realize that they are being held against their will. (Jack would be in an interrogation room when Ben come in. Jack wants to leave to get back to his practice in LA. Ben says "you believe you are a doctor, Jack?" Jack is furious and lunges at him, but is stopped by guard Mr. Friendly. Ben explains to Jack that "it's all in his head," gets up with his chart to leave. But as he is about to shut the door, he turns and smiles "or is it?")

The last faction would be the old inmates of the facility: Hurley, Libby, Leonard Simms. They have been there a long time as mental patients when the facility closed and "changed hands" by being purchased by the Dharma Pharma Research Group.  Hurley's group were not processed out to other state mental facilities (falling through the bureaucratic cracks). Due to their mental conditions and drug medications, this group merely accepts their fate as lab rats until they see the new arrivals want to rebel and escape. The struggle that this group needs to overcome is whether they will sheep in the place they call home or take a big chance to leave the asylum to challenge the real world which doomed them in the first place.

In this setting there is no need for gimmicks like smoke monsters, immortal beings, time travel or outside armies of Widmore's men invading the facility. It is all set in a confined space. It is pure evil against the strength of the righteous. All the character back stories, secrets, desires and fears could be used in this alternative story. Viewers would not have to guess where the characters were in time or space. There still could be mysteries about this Area 51 of mental institutions, but there would be cleared demarcations between the original story premise and the story lines leading to one final resolution (however it would turn out).

Friday, September 20, 2013

THE NON-ENDING

TPTB once remarked they liked the ending of The Sopranos. Most Sopranos fans were literally left in the dark as the show abruptly ended. Critics now view this as a non-ending to an otherwise great series. A non-ending does not resolve the series or character development. It leaves the viewer in state of confusion, introspection, and disbelief.

The non-ending is not to be confused with the bad ending. One of the most popular series in TV history, M*A*S*H, ended on a dour and sour conclusion when the main character, Hawkeye, is revealed to have been institutionalized for mental breakdown. He returns to say goodbyes as his hospital unit is dismantled forever. It was a total reversal in the series focal character that it left many people wondering what that was all about. Was it a sledgehammer that war can ruin even the strongest of minds? It was unrealistic and not very rewarding end to a landmark show.

But then again it is difficult to achieve "perfection" in the ending of a television show. Bob Newhart's second comedy series, Bob, ended in such a unique way that it still talked about in television circles today. In Bob, Newhart played an owner-operator of a small New England resort inn. There were many odd characters and quirky situations. This show ended with Newhart waking up in bed, not with his current TV wife, but with Suzanne Pleschette, his original sit-com wife from The Bob Newhart Show.  It was so unexpected it was a stunner to the audience who knew of the old series through current syndication.

Then there are endings that are just sad endings. In Cheers, the characters that made us laugh in the quaint Boston saloon left for the last time, we were left with owner Sam Malone alone behind the bar. In all the years that Malone and his buddies entertained us, and for all the women that Malone had relationships with, in the end he was left alone in his own thoughts. It made one pause to think that throughout the series, the main character was always alone but he was just surrounded by boisterous people.

The LOST finale fits into the sad ending, the bad ending and the non-ending categories depending on one's point of view. Even for those to accept the sideways world conclusion as a "happy" ending for their beloved characters, the situation was clear that all those beloved characters were dead. Dying is sad at any level. For those who did not like the sideways church conclusion, the ending was bad. It did not resolve any of the issues presented in the six seasons leading up to the last episode. Then there are those who do not know what to believe. The ending was a non-event to them. It was a reunion, but with people who should not be together. Was this ending a literary double cross or was this vision of the ending from the very beginning? If so, why were the brilliant illusions to science, literature and dramatic themes that enveloped the series mysteries set aside for the reunion? The ending resolved none of the major questions. It left viewers to their own thoughts and opinions which split the fan base even more.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE END OF THE WORLD - - - AGAIN

WIRED.com reports that a LOST herder has a new HBO series. HBO has ordered a ten-episode first season of the show, but no news yet on the premiere date.

Writer and producer Damon Lindelof's new project is called The Leftovers, which is about what happens to the people left behind after a Rapture-like event.

As WIRED reports the television series is based on the 2011 Tom Perrotta novel of the same name where the world discovers the Rapture has taken place, but it wasn’t exactly the one that Christians had anticipated would occur since there doesn’t seem to have been any logical rationale to who was taken, with other faiths — and even atheists — disappearing, while some deeply devout Christians found themselves left behind. In addition, no one on Earth is exactly sure what really happened, even three years later.

 So it appears that some of the LOST elements have been ported to this new series. Instead of just an island, it is the entire planet. Instead of unexplained smoke monster and light source, it is unexplained vanishing removal of people from the planet. One wonders if The Leftovers will have any left over LOST story arcs.

Perrotta’s disquieting take on the aftermath of a traumatic and mysterious worldwide event is likely to remain influential on the show, particularly considering that he co-wrote the pilot episode with showrunner Lindelof.

A departure from the LOST series is that the initial cast includes recognizable names like former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston, Justin Theroux and Liv Tyler.

I have not read the source material, and would not research it to spoil the event for others. But the pitch for this show has an overwhelming issue that needs to be answered: what happened to all the people who vanished from Earth?  It needs to have a rational mythology which viewers can identify with and accept. Once that mystery is revealed, the series could continue on with the characters coping with that knowledge and trying to reverse, re-boot or sustain the events in question.

FAVORITES

Every viewer had their own favorite character. That is the charm of an ensemble cast. There will someone you can identify with even if that character is secondary or in the background. For example, a few teachers immediately gravitated toward Artz on a professional level. But the series was not kind to his purported knowledge of dynamite.

If there was a consensus of the most popular characters, it probably would be:

1. Hurley. Just like in the original Survivor series, the happy-go-lucky Rupert, who was not into the back stabbing politics of the game, came off more likeable and friendly, Hurley was the de facto eyes and ears of the fans within series. He was our proxy. We could identify with his reserved demeanor. We could understand his cultural references and his humor. He did not have any hidden agendas or bad intentions against any of his fellow castaways.

2. Ben. It may have been Michael Emerson's intense big eyed but stoic acting style, but Ben became a fan favorite by his cunning manipulation of the castaways. People like good, evil characters. Ben embodied all the traits of a great villain: cruelty, intelligence, warped sense of purpose, absolute authority and Machiavellian principles. Ben's immediate popularity took a three show guest shot into a full time character that made it to the end.

3. Desmond. For some reason, the hopelessness of Desmond's lost love turned many women viewers into die hard Dez fans. The Penny-Desmond love story was a highlight moment for many when Desmond finally connected with Penny on the freighter radio. Despite her father's interference and Desmond's lack of confidence, they were meant to be together. It was a classic princess and the pauper story line. Despite all the obstacles, Desmond would be reunited with the love of his life.

4. Ford. Then female fans also were attracted to the series "bad boy," Sawyer. There is something about a good looking, charming, rebellious man that sparks imagination in women. It is a cultural constant since the 1950s with James Dean.  It is an American fairy tale of the loner underdog who society believes has no future, finds one with an innocent lovely girl-next-door.

5. Jack. Nearly half of the fans believe the LOST series was all about Jack. It started and ended with the heroic doctor. He was smart, skilled, practical and handsome. He took charge of the beach like an ER triage. People are drawn toward powerful men because most people believe they have little control over their own lives. Jack became the focal point for the main characters because of his character's low key leadership. Since Jack became a story focal point, fans of the series made Jack their focal point. So why is Jack in fifth place? Because some Jack fans thought the heroic doctor's change in the O6 arc (into the drug induced, suicidal cry baby) ruined the character for them. And when Jack returned to the island to become a meek, non-action figure like Ben's janitorial father, it lost even more fan support. Then there were the neutral Jack supporters who lost it in the last episode that tried to wrap up the series at Jack's father's funeral in the after life.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DISTRUST

 “ Self-distrust is the cause of most of our failures. In the assurance of strength, there is strength, and they are the weakest, however strong, who have no faith in themselves or their own powers. ”
— Christian BovĂ©e

Distrust was a common theme in LOST. Throughout the series, it was a common refrain, "Trust me," especially when one character was trying to get another character to agree to their position, mission or action.

Self-distrust is an interesting sidebar to this discussion. If one cannot trust herself or himself, then how can that person trust another person? In real life, the biggest trust factor is in a committed relationship like marriage. If one cannot trust one's spouse to be loyal, then the bonds between them are weak. But if one cannot trust one's self to be loyal in that relationship, there is added anxiety and stress - - - even if the other spouse is not at fault.

There were a few characters who had no faith in themselves. They could not call any inner reserve to change the course of their life. Desmond was a person who could not trust his decision making process or even his instincts, especially with his relationships with women. He calls off his engagement to join the military as a means of avoiding a commitment. But when Penny rejects him, instead of trusting himself to win her back, Desmond goes off on a crazy mission to impress her father, Widmore, instead of working on his personal relationship with Penny. He ran away instead of trusting his own feelings and strengths in order to win back Penny.

Hurley was another character who could not trust himself. He could not trust himself in relationships with women. His shyness and abandonment issues led him to cower in asking a girl out on a date. When his best friend wound up with his first crush, then put Hurley into a distrustful hermit mode.  His continued depression which started with his father's abandonment led him to body imagine issues. Like Desmond, he ran away from his problems, but instead of a suicidal boat race, Hurley took to food. On the island, he could not trust himself to be the pantry keeper. He could not fathom rationing food when he craved the the very thing he was meant to protect.

Sawyer had a distrust of everyone. Growing up as a loner, he made sure he could only count on himself. He did not trust even his partners in crime. When he let down his guard, his partners took advantage of him with disastrous results. But Sawyer distrusted himself in regard to his own personal relationships. He saw people he met as "marks" and not friends or potential lovers (until he time traveled and became close with Juliet.) Sawyer somehow distrusted the "normalcy" that a normal relationship would have on his psyche, which was solely devoted to revenge for his parents death.

In Sawyer's case, when he began to "care" (in his own way) for his fellow castaways (when Jack, Kate and Locke were gone), this opened the door to care about other people . . . to open up to become involved in a real, adult, committed relationship.

In Hurley's case, he had to be literally dragged off the edge of insanity by Libby in order to learn that non-family could love him for himself and not for his money.

In Desmond's case, he never proved to himself that he trusted himself to be with Penny. It was blind luck that it was Penny's boat that rescued him when the island disappeared (and the O6 was created to deceive the world).  Penny's will had more to do with Desmond returning to her than anything Dez did. Further, Desmond did not trust his own inner strength because he kept himself and Penny away from them - - - hiding from the ridicule that Widmore would heap upon him for being a coward. Desmond's weakness that he would not be accepted by powerful people kept him in a state of confusion and on the run for his entire life.





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WORK OUT

If you ever have worked in a shipping/receiving department for a factory or warehouse, you know that it can be quite a tedious job. It is repetitive. It does not challenge workers on an intellectual level. You process boxes, sort them, post them, and ship them out. Hour after hour; day after day; week after week, etc.

So what if this concept is overlaid onto the LOST story?

What if Jacob and his brother (some reports thought he was to be called "Saul") are merely shipping/receiving workers but instead of handling parcels they handle "bad souls?"

There was a constant stream of "visitors" that come to the island. From what we have learned, most of the visitors came to the island for some "special" purpose, but MIB said they lost their way and "corrupted" the system. What system?

If the characters coming to the island were lost souls seeking redemption, the island is the sorting facility to determine whether they should be accepted and move on to heaven or be rejected and destroyed by the island.

The concept would simplify the story lines.

The main characters all came to the island with troubled pasts, infidelities, sins, crimes and personal issues. If the island was to test their inner resolve to see if they could be reclaimed by a higher entity (god), then the taskmasters would be Jacob and MIB.

Jacob and MIB would be devilish minions working in the after life. Their job was to determine whether a person's soul had enough qualities to be saved. In order to make that determination, Jacob and MIB put those souls through a series of tests which mirrored their prior back stories to determine whether those dead souls could change. Change would be the key to salvation.

But after thousands of years, Jacob and MIB got bored with routine soul searching and devised a more elaborate system. Some of it involved cult worship; some of it involved horror and power struggles. Instead of change for salvation, the motivation to release souls to the after life plane was to see if the mere human souls could outsmart, outwit and outplay their superiors (which is very Survivor like). Those who played the game very poorly turned into whispers (trapped spirits). Those who played the game so-so turned into the Others, fodder for the next group of souls. Those who actually defeated Jacob and MIB got their release to the other side.

Monday, September 16, 2013

SOUL CONCEPT

In the trailer for the new Italian animated film, The Art of Happiness, it is postulated that there are only a finite number of human souls. Souls are then recycled in a seemingly endless array of new lives. It is inferred that perhaps those recycled souls begin to retain some of their past lives, which in a cumulative affect, would drive a person mad.

If that is the premise of the movie, it is an interesting, concise and clear story line anyone could follow.  It adds an element that our organic bodies, which are bio-chemical machines, are just that - - -  machines. It is the spiritual soul that is the actual "living" intellectual being that runs the human machine.

Bill Murray became intellectually and emotionally greater in Groundhog Day by the mere fact that he repeated the same day over and over again; the premise that time stood still for him drove him to the depths of madness until he came to terms with his plight.

LOST had its own seemingly immortal characters in the same perplexing situation of being an endless stream trapped in time and place.

Jacob is the prime example. He appeared to be the longest living resident on the island. He came ashore in vitro to be born on the island during the ancient Roman period. He and his brother lived into early adulthood, until Jacob caused his brother's death. As a result, Jacob spent thousands of years alone on the island - - - haunted by the smoke monster who took the appearance of his dead brother.
Jacob's and MIB's presence on the island was locked in stone. It had to drawn them into forms of cruel madness. Jacob wanted desperately to give up his guardianship position so he brought human souls to the island. MIB only wanted to leave the island - - - escape its bonds. But through the centuries they could never achieve any of their goals.  The situation always turned sour ("corrupted") and they would have to start again.

For some reason, Alpert was spared the wrath of MIB. He became Jacob's immortal liaison to the people brought to the island. Jacob would influence the visitors indirectly in order to find his replacement. MIB on the other hand did not want Jacob to achieve his goal, so he recruited the same visitors to sabotage Jacob's plan. MIB recruited Alpert to kill Jacob, but Jacob turned Alpert to his camp.

Alpert was another person trapped on the island via immortality. He spent centuries in the service of Jacob, watching people come to the island and perish. It is strange that Alpert was allowed to leave the island to recruit for Ben. Alpert always returned to the island. He never thought of escaping it. He was the one former human who knew the powers of the island first hand - - - because he never aged a day because of the island. Alpert never got a promotion for his service. He was always a messenger.
It was only after his contact with the 815 survivors that he found some desire to move on from his plight in the island.

One of the mysteries unanswered is what ever happened to Jacob, MIB or Alpert. Were they trapped human souls on a purgatory island? Were they always supernatural spirits whose sole purpose was to direct human souls in the after life? Or were they trapped in a direct but personal time warp? Or did their troubled souls get recycled into the sideways world?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

LIMITATIONS

The sky has never been the limit. We are our own limits. It's then about breaking our personal limits and outgrowing ourselves to live our best lives. — Unknown

The strengths and weaknesses of any character is his or her strengths and weaknesses. Those characteristics are either physical, emotional, cultural, environmental, chemical or mental.

What were the personal limitations of the main characters?

Jack's potential seems to have been met when he became a highly qualified spinal surgeon. However, his personal and emotional state was in question based upon his failed marriage and strained relationship with his father. As a result, Jack had no strong support group of family or friends.

Kate's potential seems to have never been met. She was a tomboy turned tom cat. She never made much of her life. She had no career. She had no real job. She was self centered and looked to an easy way to charm herself out of difficulties. The time she lashed out of her status quo, she blew up her house and father, which did not lead to any personal growth but a long criminal record. She was a loner who would rather run than stand up for his actions.

Locke's personal growth was stunted as a boy. He was intelligent enough to become a professional but he wanted to be liked more by his peers than to accomplish anything for himself. As a result, he wandered through his life in meaningless jobs. He never broke through his personal limits because his self-induced depression led him to fantasy diversions. He was a loner.

Hurley's personal growth was like Locke's. It was stunted as a young boy when his father left the family. He was raised by a religious mother. Unlike Locke, Hurley accepted what he was told to do. But he was shy, overweight, introverted and not good at anything in particular (academics, sports, arts, etc.) Hurley was basically stuck in a fast food worker minimum wage rut. He seemed to have accepted his limitations because he rarely tried to stand up for himself. He was a loner.

Sawyer's personal growth also ended when his parents died. His family life after his parents' deaths is unclear, but Sawyer's deep rooted revenge ethic morphed into the adult con man whom he had hated as a child. He did not have any earth shattering dreams or ambitions. He was self-centered, self-reliant but extremely lonely.  He maintains his loner status even on the island.

Sayid seemed to have detoured when he joined the wrong crowd, the Iraqi Republican Guard. In a closed dictatorship run by madmen, it is hard to imagine that a young boy would have the ability to name his own development course and career path. As a result of being a soldier, the dark side of Sayid's character came out. He did what he had to do. That meant torture and murder. That meant that he became a human tool to do other men's dirty work. His own personal goals and aspirations were killed long before he came to the island. He was also a loner amid the group on the island.

By far, Jin broke his personal limitations of being a poor fisherman to marrying a wealthy heiress, Sun. He outgrew his limited education to become a respected person in society. But his success was tempered by the fact that Jin also became a tool for a power man, his father-in-law. Jin wanted wealth, respect and power - - - which he achieved, but at the personal cost of any emotional stability in his marriage. As a result, Jin housed an inner bitterness that his early dream had turned into a waking nightmare.

Only Jin had the hope of outgrowing his situation by growing together with Sun. The rest of the above characters did not have anyone to help them on any path of self-discovery or change. Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, Locke and Sayid were all destined by their pasts to live out meaningless lives alone. So the one thing that the series allegedly resolved was this deep loner status of these characters. The island was the opportunity for them to "find" someone to re-direct them on a better path to a more fulfilling life. 

Maybe that is the one lesson from the end: in order to break one's personal limitations, you need another person to share your pain, sorrow and dreams.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

TIME TRAVEL RULES

The component of time travel in the LOST story line was probably one of the most debated elements to the series. Many considered it a "jump the shark" script moment. Others thought that it could lead to The Answers of the Island's mysteries.

Even though LOST is fictional, writers and physicists have discussed "realistic" attitudes toward the genre of time travel in literature. In any time travel story, one needs a solid starting point to explain the trigger or reason for the time travel. For example, in the novel,  The Time Traveler's Wife, which tells the story of Henry DeTamble, a man with a rare genetic disorder that causes him to skip around in time. Or a widely seen film series, Back to the Future, in which a tricked-out DeLorean must reach 88 mph with a massive jolt of energy to jump into the past.

Physicists have many theories about how time travel should work. In 2009, a Toronto Star article indicated that physicists theorize a way to exploit Einstein's theory of general relativity to come up with "practical" models of time machines. Kip Thorne, in Black Holes & Time Warps, describes how wormholes can be successfully used to travel back in time, while in Time Travel in Einstein's Universe, J. Richard Gott does the same with gargantuan cosmic strings – threadlike concentrations of matter of almost unimaginable density and length – moving at close to the speed of light.
Quality fiction, like science itself,  still needs to abide by a few fundamental ground rules. Time travel needs a foundational base in order to have viewers or reader's to "buy in" to the premise.

Generally speaking, literary guides come up with the following fundamental rules.

1.  We are in only one universe.

Experts point out that there's no evidence to support the notion that parallel universes exist.  More importantly, Einstein's theory of general relativity – the branch of physics that might make time travel possible – doesn't take kindly to the idea. Every solution to Einstein's equations involves just a single universe.

On the flip side, in 1957, physicist Hugh Everett proposed what has become known as the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics was one of the great breakthroughs of the 20th century, and it predicted, among much else, that the motions of electrons and other small particles are fundamentally random. Everett, then at the Pentagon, wondered whether the universe wasn't branching off into two nearly identical copies each time one of these random events occurred. Since there are lots of particles in the universe and they move around and interact very quickly, these parallel universes would multiply almost without limit.

The problem with the parallel universe concept in fiction is that the events in the main universe time line become irrelevant or less compelling because it does not matter what action the character does, the parallel universes will balance things out.  Human beings believe that they have one body, one mind, one heart and one soul. We do not have a core belief that we are concurrently "living" in multiple universes.

 2. You cannot go back in time to a time "before" your time machine was created.

In  Einstein's universe, space and time are curved and very closely related to each other. This means that traveling through time would be much like traveling through a tunnel in space – in which case you'd need both an entrance and an exit. As a time traveler, you can't visit an era unless there's already a time machine when you get there – the " an off-ramp" required for any time destination.
This time-machine construction clause is one of the most often overlooked of the rules of time travel. The movie Terminator proposed a single historical line (or loop) with no alternate universes. Machines along the time loop would act like stations on a subway.  The Time Traveler's Wife is more clever as the main character "is the time machine," his time travel is limited because he can't visit any time before he was born.

In time travel fiction, you need some real guideposts or barriers in which the characters must travel in order to make the concept believable to the average reader.

3. The standard paradox: You can't go into the past and kill your own grandfather
If one goes back into time and kills a grandparent or parent, then the normal time line would be altered so you would not have been born, which means you couldn't have killed your grandfather, which (logically) means that you will be born. This "grandfather paradox" is hard to resolve.

In 1985,  Igor Novikov of the University of Moscow used quantum mechanical arguments to develop what has become known as the "self-consistency theorem." Quantum randomness must obey well-established laws, and Novikov showed that the probability of producing a different future with a time machine was zero. The theory is that you might "try" to alter past events, but time itself will not allow you to change any history. All of your attempts would be thwarted by the rules of the universe. You would be the coyote to the road runner.
If you can never change history, this would mean that choices in the present set in concrete that could never be changed.  Concurrently, one could argue that time travel itself would do nothing to change the future because the past is irrevocable. Nothing you would do in the past would be applicable when you returned to the present since the past had not changed. If you use the wisdom, knowledge or events of the past to make current decisions, one could also say that choice was influenced by the experience or still random causation which may or may not have happened anyway.

4. There are limits to a person's free will.

If one cannot change the past, the same would seem to be true in time travel to the future. This would mean that the time history line is already be written - - - fate, predetermined by the universe, and not by any human decision. Future events are predetermined in the single universe theory.

People must succumb to their destiny even if  you don't know what the future will bring; it certainly seems like you've got free choice in your life actions.  But if you traveled in time to see the future, the time traveler has already seen what his destiny is, then the future is already written.  The future is then locked in stone. Making that self-consistent future play out is one of the great challenges of time-travel fiction. 

Theorists compare this to the grandfather paradox. The pool ball example is cited as a paradox. If you shoot a pool ball into a time machine and it returns just a moment before you make the shot, it would block your original shot thereby preventing the original action (shot) from entering the time machine in the first place. But since the ball made it to the time machine means that it will return without interrupting the shot (such as coming back at a slightly different angle.) As a result, pool balls are forced to succumb to their destiny, so can people. Time travelers may have a feeling of free choice where none really exists.

It seems that LOST broke all four of these fundamental time travel rules. LOST showed us a parallel or alternative sideways universe. There was no explanation of when the island time machine was created when our Losties began to time skip from the 1950s to the 1970s back to the present. The frozen donkey wheel was thought to have been the mechanism to "hide" the island or move it in space, but not necessarily in time. The wheel being stuck (causing the skips) would mean that Locke may not have been able to get back down the well to a relevant time period (because he was alternatively skipping) that would allow time to return to normal. This time skip only affected a few but not all of the people alive in the same place as the time travelers. The time travelers went back in time before they were born. Daniel was killed by his mother which should have been a paradox where Daniel would have never been born or arrived on the island. And the concept of free will is nullified in time travel to the future since things are set in stone. None of the time travelers can change their fate. There was no free will vs. faith choice. The events in flashback 1974 could not have influenced or changed the island present. But it seemed it did.

And that is the problem with the LOST time travel arc. It is a mess. If you are going to promulgate a non-standard time travel theory, you need to clearly explain its rules so it makes some logical sense.  You can have a series that breaks or changes these rules. For example, Doctor Who proposes multiple independent universes. The Doctor's machine, TARDIS, can displace time and space. He can influence and change outcomes of events  both past and future (so it seems) but there are certain "fixed" points in time that even he cannot alter. But the key piece of the story is that the Doctor has special wisdom of a Time Lord who is the master, guardian, gatekeeper and overlord to the time continuum. That gives that series the mythological structure to fly off on acceptable time adventures.

LOST's time travel arc was disappointing on all levels. It did not take into consideration standard time travel methodology. It failed to explain how it worked. It made huge inconsistencies in how it affected individual time travelers and the people around them in an illogical fashion. And worst of all, the time travel story line had no impact on the ending.

Friday, September 13, 2013

THE FUTURE

The best way to predict the future is to create it. — Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee

After the pilot episode, the story engine was simple. There were only two things that needed to be accomplished by the 815 passengers: survival and rescue.

Survival was complicated because there were a diverse group of passengers, each with their own secrets and faults, who would not work well together. They had landed in a mysterious place which made no perceptive sense (the smoke monster's roars and polar bears). 

Rescue was only on the mind of a few people (Michael and Jin). The rest first believed that they would be rescued in a few days. But once a week had past, Jack realized that no one was coming to rescue them. He had to bring together those whose hopes of rescue were dashed with those who who more concerned with their own survival.

LOST had two conclusions set up at the end of the pilot. The 815 people would either live or die on the island. The 815 people would either be rescued or live out their lives on the island as castaways.

 How did those primarily conclusions work out?


Plenty of people lived and died on the island. A few people got rescued (a couple even twice) but we would learn that the island was a trap, a snow globe, an extraordinary place where the island visitors were pawns in a vague, ancient game between two supernatural powers.


No was was retrieved from the island without deep scars. No one was truly "saved" from the dangers of the island confines. The reason is that the story engine took a sudden series ending U-turn into a parallel universe axis which had little bearing on the original crash and survival story most people thought was the premise for the show.

If one tries to connect these diverse realities, one notion is that all the island events somehow influenced the sideways world in such a fashion to create "the happy ending." But the sideways world did not involve the 815 passengers having to suffer through the crash, the island tortures, the hardships or even the emotional turmoil of life and death struggles with opponents. The sideways world was for the most part a plain vanilla, milquetoast, nice alternative reality. The question is then how or why did the sideways dream/fantasy world come into existence?

Was it the creation from the dreams and life's promises of the passengers in the three minutes from the time the plane broke a part to the passengers falling to the sea and ground? Was it created as everyone's life "flashed before their mind" in the moments before almost certain death? Christian said the sideways reality was created by everyone. It had no past, present or future; it was just "now." It was a Polaroid moment in fixed time or collective memory. When Christian said the people in the sideways church all were dead, and that some died before and after Jack, he did not put an actual time frame on that statement. It could have been seconds to minutes - - - or the feeling of an eternity when you are the highest anxiety levels when your mind knows that you are going to die when the plane hits the ground.

In those final moments before impact, the sideways world had to be created by some supernatural force. As the actors and many critics found, the writers resolution that turned to a "spiritual ending" reinforces the idea that the main characters perished on the island. But before the characters perished, they dreamed of their dreamed of what their lives would have been - - - what could have been - - - as a means of coming to terms with their peril.

The plane crash was the crossover point between human existence and the spiritual world. There is no other logical conclusion to make common sense of the relationship between the island and the sideways world. In some ways it is Wizard of Oz in reverse. Instead of human Dorothy being swept away into a fantasy world, it was the passengers souls being trapped on a real island unable to cope with their own deaths . . . so they continued to live on as if they were "alive." For some, this was a chance to live their dreamed futures. For others, it was a chance to become something better than they were before the crash; soul searching so to speak.

This concept does not go over well with a majority of original LOST viewers. They still believe what the TPTB stated in the first year that the show was not about purgatory. But in a show filled with character lies, half-truths, emotional manipulations and confidence games, TPTB had a biased, vested interest to keep the series going as long as possible; to keep the viewers in the dark with mysteries as long as possible.

The sideways world dream reality (the second chance for the dead passengers) makes sense from its own internal construction. If we believe in the backstories of the 815 passengers during the island time, then the sideways world does not fit into that past. For example, in the sideways world Jack was not married to Sarah but to Juliet. Jack was divorced, but in the sideways world he has a son named David. In the island time, Juliet is unmarried. Her lover was killed by a strange bus accident. As a result, she was whisked away to the island - - - and away from the most important person in her life, her sister (who does not appear in the sideways story line).

There are major story inconsistencies in the sideways story arc based on just those factors alone. One could say that the sideways world was "the truth," and the island and its backstories were the dream alternative of the sideways souls living out a trite existence in purgatory. In the sideways world, Ben is a meek teacher. But in the island realm, he is a ruthless, powerful leader (something he dreamed about in his confrontation with his principal). In the sideways world, Locke is a crippled substitute teacher. But in the island realm, he is the outback survivalist leader. In fact, in the sideways world all of the characters seem to be good people. In the island realm, their inner demons are unleashed.

So how could sideways souls kept in a suburbanite purgatory story loop be transported to the island? Their Flight 815 landed safely in LA. How could their current memories be overridden by the harsh trauma of the island events when they could not remember them in the first place? 

Another answer follows the ancient Egyptian belief that upon death, a person's spiritual existence is split into various components to journey into the after life planes. The ba and ka are separated and have to travel a part until a point where they are reunited in paradise or destroyed at the moment of judgment. This parallel religious belief does mirror the possible parallel after life story lines of LOST. The evidence of this possibility was clearly represented in the temple, statue and hieroglyphs shown throughout the series.

The bottom line is that dead souls, at some point, dreamed of a better existence for themselves. They dreamed of a better future, one lost during their real life time. They were able in a supernatural world to live parts of their lost dreams as a means of coming to terms of their own individual deaths. It was only when they came to terms with their death (and the regrets of their lives) did they awaken to a higher spiritual plane.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

11 WORDS

I re-read a couple of posts from 2010 in regard to the "legacy of LOST."  One had the positive outlook that LOST would spur on more "intellectual" science-fiction-fantasy shows, which are risker to produce but more rewarding to an audience if done well. The other one had a negative view because the ending of the series so was disjointed in the "banal" non-denominational church to the events on the island to be a major fail.

How did LOST wind up at two extremes in viewpoints from the same ending?

Was it like the critical poster thought that LOST had so many intertwined elements that the show could have been the greatest of all time if those main story features were central to the ending of the show. The last episodes negated the five years of previous loyal devotion to unraveling the mysteries, answering the questions, or speculating on future events. Character development is a great ideal, but characters can only ride the wave of good story telling in order to be great characters.

So was LOST's plot, premise and story tangents so random as to make the average viewer head scratch?

I devised a simple experiment. I would go to the web to find 11 random words to see if the results matched the LOST story, themes, plots or premise cues. Yes, this sounds like the old joke that you can fill a room with monkeys banging out letters on typewriters and get a movie script in the end.

So without comment, here are the results of the random word experiment:

vituperate
Blame or insult (someone) in strong or violent language

orotund
(of the voice or phrasing) Full, round, and imposing.
(of writing, style, or expression) Pompous; pretentious

averred
State or assert to be the case: "he averred that he was innocent of the allegations".
Allege as a fact in support of a plea

opined
Hold and state as one's opinion: ""The man is a genius," he opined".

radiance
Light or heat as emitted or reflected by something: "the radiance of the sunset".
Great joy or love, apparent in someone's expression or bearing

hieroglyphic
Writing consisting of hieroglyphs

august
Respected and impressive: "she was in august company".

exigencies
An urgent need or demand

conflagration
An extensive fire that destroys a great deal of land or property

squatted
Crouch or sit with knees bent and heels close to or touching the buttocks or the back of thighs: "I squatted down in front of him".
Crouch down in such a way and rise again while holding (a specified weight) at one's shoulders: "he can squat 850 pounds".

squall
A sudden violent gust of wind or a localized storm, esp. one bringing rain, snow, or sleet.
Verb:
(of a baby or small child) Cry noisily and continuously

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WOULD IT WORK TODAY?

Could LOST be sold to network television today?

Maybe. JJ Abrams still gets his shows picked up off the pilot heap each year.

Science Fiction TV-shows airing in 2013 as well as those in pre-production:

Warehouse 13.
This show starring Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelley is well into its fourth season but critics find the plots and characters muddled and uninspired so the series limps along.

Person of Interest.
Critics have found some upside to the stories of Mr. Reese (James Caviezel) and Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) when they contrast the realism and action sequences to that of other sci-fi efforts such as Alphas or Revolution. However, the science fiction elements are thin and inconsistent to be a solid sci-fi show.

Continuum.
Some critics believe the only current  hard-core Science Fiction series airing at the moment is Continuum. It’s relatively short first season was tightly written though it had a hard time deciding whether it would be procedural in nature akin to Person of Interest or more of a serial drama such as Revolution as a mixture of  Sliders and Total Recall.

Revolution.
Expectations for this series was high, but  it's plot has been weak, its mythology underdeveloped and its characters bland. Former LOST cast member Elizabeth Mitchell plays Rachel Matheson whose character has changed from damsel in distress to a harder, action figure.  Abrams is the producer of the series, but  it has no resemblance to Lost when it comes to the quality of narrative or driving story lines.

Tron: Uprising.
This anime show on Disney XD  has good overall quality  but the ratings have been quite abysmal. The criticism is that episodes tend to  jump the shark to keep the action going.

Haven.
Haven is more of a ‘supernatural’ show than science fiction, an issue that most networks consider to be the same type show/audience. BBC America has its own show called  ‘Supernatural.’  Haven has a lot of mystery and mythology building behind which was thematic of LOST. But again, the series fails to connect any dots or explain itself in a coherent fashion.

Dr Who.
Dr. Who is the longest running science fiction series in television history. This season marks the 50th Anniversary. As a British show, it's American revival on BBC America has drawn in the Comic-con crowd into the stable mythology of the show about the last Time Lord saving planets and species from disasters and monsters. For fans of the series, it is the British cousin to Star Trek series.

There are other shows on the fringe of pure sci-fi, including Fringe, Arrow, Orphan Black, Being Human and other Abrams projects such as Defiance and Human.

The problem with selling a long serial science fiction series is that viewers are less and less engaged in viewing series as a collective fan base. They have shorter attention spans. The internet, tablet games, web surfing, on-line gaming and texting divert attention required to really watch and digest complex shows (with highly theoretical elements such as quantum physics, time travel, etc) such as LOST. In this weakened attention span of viewers, many networks (including SyFy) have defaulted to the reality show format. One, it is cheaper to produce. Two, people seem to like one shot episodes that have resolution at the end so they don't have to be lost if they miss an episode or two in a season.

The other alternative/fad in the entertainment industry is the franchise brand. Networks are more comfortable throwing out a series based on something well known like a famous comic character or old movie (such as Tron or Star Wars) because their is an audience that may gravitate toward it based upon past experience. Most of these reboots are weaker, diluted creative projects but that is the standard for most television series.

Further, the changing dynamic of how people consume their entertainment (video streaming, binge viewing, time shifting DVR) makes it difficult for a network to commitment a series for several seasons. Network executives are shuffled in and out of power more quickly these days. Project loyalty is tenuous at times.

So if LOST was pitched as a Survivor Meets Science Fiction Mystery series today, I don't know if it would get green lighted since so many current science fiction programs fail to deliver the basic solid sci-fi story telling that most fans of Twilight Zone, Star Trek, etc. are used to and expect. Sci-fi shows historically have a lower viewer base than a regular sit-com. It is a tougher sell even if the market is trending toward fantasy super hero franchises. And even if the first season was made today, I don't know if new fans would have the time and energy to make it into a cultural icon.

GATEWAYS

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many LOST fans were sent on their own personal voyages of discovery, pushed along by the tangential winds of the story clues, island mysteries and plot twists. Along my path, I learned much about ancient Egyptian culture to the point of interpreting hieroglyphs on background objects as part of fan discussions between episodes. I also learned that the Internet community can galvanize around a show to have intellectual to emotional discussions about fictional characters in fictional realities. It was a nostalgic return to the old college late night bull session. 

The mysteries of the series opened gateways to research, plot dissection, speculation, theories and projections from die hard fans. It spawned a few cottage industries and writers publishing their own LOST manifestos. But from today's perspective, there is no avid Internet show discussion board anywhere close to the peak of the LOST years.

Just like minor skirmishes before major Civil War battles fade into the footnotes of history, so has the LOST communities and fan threads. But just as the fan base has moved on to other things, the main character actors have faded slowly into the background as well. One would have imagined at the height of LOST hysteria in six critically acclaimed seasons, the actors would have launched into more high profile careers. But that was not the case.

Matthew Fox (Jack Shephard): He went to do a play after the series shut down; he was no eager to get back into television roles. His claim to fame was a drunken altercation with a Cleveland bus driver during a film shoot.

Terry O'Quinn (John Locke): He was reportedly set to team up with Michael Emerson (a.k.a. evil genius Ben Linus) on a pilot called "Odd Jobs," which never made it into production. He also had a sci-fiction horror drama set in NYC which was cancelled after one season. Emerson plays a quieter version of Ben in a current television series.

Josh Holloway (James "Sawyer" Ford): He had a role in 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.' He next project out this month is a movie about break dancing, which looks like an odd choice in viewing the trailer.

Evangeline Lilly (Kate Austen): She starred with Hugh Jackman in 'Real Steel.' And she is currently cast in the next Hobbit movie.

Jorge Garcia (Hugo "Hurley" Reyes): He has had a few guest appearances on TV, and was a cast member on Alcatraz, a sci-fi series that was cancelled in its first season.

Daniel Dae Kim (Jin Kwon): He is a cast member on CBS' reboot of  "Hawaii Five-0."

Harold Perrineau (Michael Dawson): He appeared in various projects including  the Nicolas Cage vigilante thriller 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps'  and Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") in the dark comedy "Cooler" and James Caviezel in the crime drama 'Transit.'

Dominic Monaghan (Charlie Pace): He hosts a adventure nature series for BBC America.

Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond Hume): He has made a few guest appearances on TV dramas.

Naveen Andrews (Sayid Jarrah): He appeared  2011 film drama 'Hullo.'

 None of the main cast members of LOST has moved into the lead role in either a major film or ground breaking television/cable series. But that is the nature of the entertainment business. There are steady work as character actors and then more hit or miss work for those who believe they should headline. Headliners are only as good as their box office/ratings.

The LOST series probably did open up casting doors for the main actors for future projects. But fans of LOST seem not to have migrated with the actors to view their new ventures. In some respects, the LOST actors have been stereotyped in their LOST character roles. Some have speculated that the ending of the series may have soured fans and executives on them (classic blame the messenger situation). But this is not unusual for high profile television actors to find it difficult to find further high profile work in the industry.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

DREAMS OF BAD ROBOTS

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. — Eleanor Roosevelt

Fionnula Flanagan played Eloise Hawking in only 7 LOST episodes. As discussed previously, her character seemed to have complete knowledge of everything both on and off the island, including the unique island properties and time travel.

She also guest starred in Star Trek:TNG in the episode called "Inheritance." She played a scientist, Juliana Tainer, on a planet which has its core that is cooling which would cause the death of all the inhabitants. The Enterprise is sent to the planet to find a solution.  Juliana claims to be the former wife of Data's creator, Professor Soong. 

Data can only find one Juliana in his memory, a Juliana O'Donnell. She explains that protests from her mother caused them to elope. She explains that his early memories were wiped and replaced with memories of the colonists and he was about to be reactivated when the Crystalline Entity attacked.

During the episode, Data observes remarkable qualities about Juliana, and asks Dr. Crusher to examine her medical records. That is interrupted when Data is called to the planet to repair the plasma infusers, the solution to the core cooling problem.  Data and Juliana complete their task and return to the transport point, but find the pattern enhancers have fallen down a cliff. They must jump to safety. When Data jumps, he takes Juliana over the cliff with him. Data lands safely, but Juliana is knocked unconscious and her arm becomes detached from her torso. Data observes a network of circuitry and it becomes apparent that Juliana is an android.

Juliana is unaware that she is an android. After the Crystalline Entity's attack, Juliana was injured so Professor Sooong created a new android and used synaptic scanning to place Juliana's memories into it. After the real Juliana died, Soong activated the android and she awoke believing she was human. She later chose to leave Soong and he let her go (after installing the chip), sadly admitting that the real Juliana would have left him too. Soong pleads with Data to let her have her humanity.

Data replaces the chip. When he closes Juliana's head, she awakens. He tells her that she fell from the cliff and broke her arm, but Dr. Crusher has repaired it, and everything is fine. Data kept the secret of Juliana's humanity.

There are similar elements to this story and the LOST saga. The island survivors were attacked by a smoke monster. Many of them were wounded or killed. Their humanity was put into question: how did they view themselves as persons of faith or science.

This raises a new theory and premise to the show. Just in this Star Trek episode, what if the main characters thought they were human but were not. This goes beyond the idea that the 815 passengers became spirits after the plane crash caused them all to die. What if all these "humans with personal issues" were actually defective robots. Instead of Dorothy teleported to a fantasy world of Oz, these androids were sent to the island, a fantasy world that mimicked the humanity that they were supposed to have been programmed with; a Westworld reconditioning camp for computerized beings.

Human beings are in essence highly complex organic computer systems. It is easy to transfer those elements into a science fiction story world. What are the dreams of androids who don't know they are computer units? What are their fears? What happens when their prime programming gets corrupted? Can they be saved? Or do they get tossed away to be recycled?

If the LOST characters were androids being shipped away from their society, it would be a brand new point of view for the series.