Friday, January 31, 2014


Walt was listed as the last main character in the LOST's writer's guide.  It stated:

Walt has had a nomadic existence most of his life, traveling the world with his mother on business trips. Deprived of the ability to establish roots or friends, he consequently relates to adults better than his peers. Now stranded on the island with a father he doesn't really know - - - and doesn't want to know. 

Every viewer thought that Walt's role in the show would have been bigger. But the writers guide gave him the smallest description and the single mission to reject Michael as his father.

But even in that small description, there are several very LOST themes at play. Loner. Loneliness. Friendship. Daddy issues. Abandonment. Relationships. 

There was nothing in the description that tied Walt's character to the inner darkness of the island, or his ability to make birds commit suicide, or see ghost images or have supernatural powers. It would seem that Walt's role would be that of a disengaged but rebellious 10 year old boy.

Perhaps that is why Walt was an after-thought "main character." The producers did not know how to handle a child in an adult environment that was going to have an adventure, i.e. danger, story engine week to week. There are only so many scared kid in a tent featurettes in a writer's quill.

It may have been foreshadowing of what was going to happen to Walt in real life. The show was going to have a linear time scope where episode to episode would invoke 24-48 hours of real island time. But since the show would only adopt a few months of run time, the real seasonal time would eclipse years. Years in which the actor playing Walt would grow up faster than the series built-in time code. Literally, Walt "out grew" LOST before LOST outgrew his character.  I don't think the writers thought too far ahead with the growing up Walt problem because they put into his back story some major sci-fi elements and tied him to the island as being "special," but failed to explain why. Perhaps the ill-fated time travel loop was going to be a means of keeping Walt later into the series, but that was dreadfully executed that Walt's character never made a meaningful return. So TPTB raised Walt up to a main character, gave him significant mysteries and powers, but dropped him like a cold stone leaving fans to wonder.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


The character of Michael was the living embodiment of the "daddy issues" which plagued many of the other main characters in the show. Michael was picking up his young son from his adoptive father after Walt's mother had died (which again, makes no legal sense). Walt has abandonment issues with his natural father, but also has some sort of supernatural ability which manifests with dying birds. We don't get that story line until later episodes flesh out these characters.

But the writers guide did indicate that Michael would have an important role.

Michael has always known he was an artist, but his course changed drastically when a casual relationship in his twenties resulted in a pregnancy. Determined that his child wouldn't grow up fatherless, Michael married his girlfriend, dropped out of Art School and took a "real"job. But six months after his son was born, his wife abruptly left him and took the baby with her. Although this was the perfect time for Michael to get back to his dream, the security provided by a regular paycheck kept him in the corporate world. Now ten years later, his world is rocked again as he gains custody of Walt, a son he barely knows. Here on the island, Michael must not only learn to be a father, but get back in touch with his inner creative soul in order to emerge in a new role as the group's most capable BUILDER.

The initial description of Michael pretty much follows through in later episodes. He does become the builder of the rescue raft. He does have trouble coping with fatherhood issues with Walt.  Michael becomes an overprotective parent on the island. He tries to keep Walt near the safety of the beach camp. He does not want Walt to learn things from Locke. This begins to create conflict between Michael and the other castaways. It also angers Walt. Part of it may be the insecurity he feels since Walt is a stranger to him, and Walt could view Michael as a stranger on the island. This makes Michael even more obsessive and protective of Walt. His frustration boils to anger at times, which puts off the other beach campers.

It would seem Michael's role as a "builder" would have been bigger than just raft-builder. It was thought that the survivors would have to construct a compound until they found the underground bunker. Michael's construction skills would be a valuable asset, but a limited resource that could create issues between the group's leaders on how best to utilize it. But in the actual series, the leaders never directed Michael to do anything. Michael made the independent decision to build a raft. No one stopped him. Even though his plan was a failure, he did manage to become the first person to receive escape from the island (through immoral means of killing two people and betraying his friends to cut a deal with Ben for a boat and safe passage home.) It would be ironic that Michael, the builder, had to destroy so many lives in order to save his son.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Claire was the character in immediate peril. Her situation was to rope right away  the mothers in the viewing audience. She was the most fragile, the most venerable, and most in need of help. People could instantly put themselves on the beach thinking of what was needed to help this poor girl.

But the writers guide had a different perspective on Claire.

When wild-child Claire found herself in a family way, her immediate instinct to get rid of the baby was overcome by an even greater instinct- to make a sizeable chunk of cash. Taking advantage of the massive market for newborn babies in the States, Claire reached out to a Beverly Hills adoption agency and instantly found a couple willing to pay forty thousand dollars for her unborn child. Denying herself any emotional connection for fear of building a bond she has broken in advance, the last thing Claire wants to be is a mother. Now, she is forced to confront that inevitability as the baby inside her creates a unique connection to the island's MYSTERIES (illustrated by terrifying nightmares)- a connection she is too frightened to share with the others. 

A pregnant woman surviving a plane crash was certainly a unique situation (if we suspend belief and agree that people did survive a mid-air plane break up). But the writer's hint that Claire's womb would be the portal to tell the island's mysteries to the viewers.

Now, that is a sci-fi Rosemary's Baby moment of character development. The guide states that Claire's unborn baby "creates a unique connection" to the island - - - which terrorizes Claire to the point where she can't share her nightmares with anyone. Again, this revelation that the island has a supernatural hold over the people on it was going to be the series story engine. It would seem the most venerable would have the hardest time coping with the island's mental pulls and manipulation. Her mental state could collapse if she believed that she was carrying a monster in her womb.

TPTB are coy about what are the mysteries of the island, or how the characters are supposed to interact with the island (if it is a conscious supernatural being).  But there is clearly a sinister aspect of the island which could harm people.

It is also interesting to note that Claire was not thought of as the helpless, confused unwed mother as show in Season 1, but a clumsy wild child whose unwanted pregnancy was a means to a large pay day in the new born adoption market. Claire would have had no personal attachment or conflict in giving up her baby in LA. Now, crash landing on the island may not have changed her perception that this child would not be a burden to her - - - she did not want it. She could still give it away (perhaps to a barren Sun).  

Now, who can force Claire to become a mother? The island. How? We don't know. Peer pressure from strangers on the beach would not readily change her mind. The guide does not state that any of the male characters, such as Charlie, would step up to the plate to become a surrogate father to raise the child. It is just as likely that after Aaron's birth, Claire would have attempted to abandon the baby so she could return to her party ways, seducing the other male outcasts. Once a tramp, always a tramp. She could have been the temptation to mess with the minds of a Jin, or a guide book Sayid.

The guide does propose that dreams and nightmares are going to be an important aspect of the series. Are those activities fantasy or foretelling of island truths? Does it create madness or bring out madness already instilled in people? 

This idea that the island is speaking through the unborn child to Claire adds a level of spirituality and potential clue to the premise. Since the guide does not say who the father of the child is, it could be the bad seed - - - Satan's child or the next savior of the world. Aaron could be the bridge between good and evil, earth and heaven, or the destructive influence to destroy mankind (which was a later theme during the Ben-Widmore arc).  Having a spiritual equivalent of an atomic bomb in the form of a baby on an unknown island would be a difficult mystery to solve by the castaways.

As we have discussed in many prior posts, the Aaron story line was quickly delegated to an after-thought as the series went forward.  Many thought Aaron's presence would be the key to understanding what the island was and what its connection was to the real world. But the writers did not develop the Aaron story line. In fact, they confused it totally in the sideways world re-birth sequence. How can you be born when you are dead?

Claire fell into the category of a secondary character. Her closest connection with the main characters was the superficial connection with Kate, who also did not want to be tied down or be a mother, but assumed that role during the freighter rescue. But that tangent was more about Kate than Claire.

The writer's guide makes no mention that Claire is somehow related to Jack. It appears that back story element was added much later to raise a connective mystery between the characters.  A connection which did not have any impact in the actual story. 

Claire's LOST story could have easily erased in a difficult child birth sequence (with Jack being unable to save her like with Boone). But once the writers kept her on the island, her role of being fragile pregnant girl was gone once Aaron was born. Then she became basically a background character on the beach since the guide's claimed island connection with Aaron never came to the forefront. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Hurley or Hugo may be considered by a few fans as the most important character in LOST. He was the everyman, our proxy into the show. He was the humor and human spirit that the show needed in order to balance a formulated drama of nonstop deaths and danger.

Hurley was born into a vast Puerto Rican family, instilling him with two great survival skills: a deep, abiding love of food and an amiable ability to wrest peace from the thorniest of family feuds. Unable to attend college (he is not what some may call ''book smart") Hurley parlayed his skills into a career in asset recovery - A REPO MAN able to talk anyone out of anything. 

Hurley's talent landed him in Sydney where hours before getting on the Oceanic flight, he talked a former millionaire into turning over his yacht. On the island, Hurley will be the one who responds to all of the strangeness with the bewilderment of an average Joe - He is the everyman, not to mention the primary source of our COMIC RELIEF.
Hurley was the first character cast, but in the show guide lists him as the one of the last of the main characters. Jorge Garcia had some sit-com roles in his resume before being hired for LOST, so the comic relief talent was a prime motivation for this character from the very beginning.

But the writer's perception of Hurley is totally different from what we saw in the show.

Hurley was not from a "vast" family. From his back story, we believe Hurley is an "only child," whose father abandoned him as a child. As a lone child, he was under the strict influence of his mother. His social skills were below average. If he was from a large family, he would have had the skills described to get along with other people because siblings fight and resolve conflict all during childhood.

Hurley's appreciation for food "is not a survival skill." In the series, it was addiction caused by abandonment issues. If the writers were inferring that his ability to wrangle food at the large family table was cunning, then that would make some sense with his other character trait.

But Hurley was not "a great peacemaker." If he was able to mediate and resolve loud family feuds and passionate, hot blooded arguments, those skills were not apparent on the island. Hurley was a background character who avoided conflict. He wanted to be friends with everyone so he rarely took sides. He would say "chill out bro," but never got heated except for the time he fought Sawyer in an uncharacteristic rage. Hurley did not show us in the series any ability to smooth talk his way out of situations.

If Hurley was a "repo man," he would have the confident swagger of someone comfortable in dangerous situations and the ability to think quickly on his feet. But our Hurley did not have the street smarts of a successful repo man. In actually, the writers changed course and "down graded" Hurley's intelligence for no apparent reason. His guide ability to talk and reason people to calm down or take a specific course of action would not have conflicted with Sawyer's like con-man style of manipulation. In fact, it could have been a even duel between the two characters -  - -  with sharp exchange of barbs and insults.

If Hurley was in Australia to repossess a yacht, he would have been a highly successful businessman since the Aussies have their own legal asset people. Hurley must have been in high demand in certain luxury business circles to have international assignments (much like a John MacDonald character).

Hurley would have been a more important character if the writers kept to the guide's character traits. He would have been in the center of the action, being able to digest all the yelling, screaming and plans, to make an informed opinion to what to do next. As such, Hurley would have been placed quickly into a leadership role in the island community, probably much to the chagrin of Locke or Sawyer.

What was clear from the writer's guide was that the "cursed" lottery winning Numbers man, Hugo Reyes, was not foundation for this character. Hurley was supposed to be a more confident, man-of-action, with a strong back bone in difficult times. For all the fans who loved Hurley as Garcia played him in the show, the guide's formation of the Hurley character could have been more compelling and more interesting than the fragile mental state and meekness of Hugo.

But for some reason, the writers fell toward adding mental issues, such as Daddy issues or socially unacceptable behavior, as the driving motivation of the character stories. It would have been just as interesting to see the guide's Hurley talk Sawyer out of his stash than Kate flirting with Sawyer for some medicine from his stash. Stronger characters could have made stronger stories.

Hurley, even with his guide back story, could have still been a lonely guy. But on the island, with a likeable personality, he could have found a soul mate other than the convoluted way with the mysterious Libby connection. In fact, the way Hurley was written in the series led many to believe, including ABC executives at one time, that the whole LOST saga was in Hurley's head; it was all a fantasy world that he made up at the mental institution.

The non-mental Hurley could have been an interesting character on the show. Again, why did the producers and writers change course so quickly with characters like Hurley?

Monday, January 27, 2014


Jin's character was the outcast among outcasts. He had a language barrier so he could not communicate with his fellow castaways. He was suspicious of everyone around him. He was a traditionalist who wanted his wife, Sun, to obey and follow him. He would have found it acceptable to be on the outer limits of the beach camp, alone with Sun, rather than trying to integrate into the new community. Jin's story is like the story of an immigrant landing in a new country and trying to adapt to a new culture.

The writer's guide described Jin as:

Jin was born into an impoverished family in a fishing village in Southern Korea. After meeting Sun, the spirited daughter of the most powerful auto magnate in the country, ,Jin fell deeply in love. Unfortunately, due to a fierce class system, Sun's father refused to give his permission for the two to marry... unless of course Jin was willing to play ball. The result was a Faustian deal- Jin promising to keep Sun squarely within the strict confines of Korean society in exchange for a high-paying, high-ranking job. While the agreement afforded Jin VIP treatment, it left Sun betrayed. Jin is preoccupied by what he considers a far greater betrayal: his wife's INABILITY TO CONCEIVE. On the island his own inability to communicate with the others is balanced by his knowledge of the ocean  and his knack for capturing marine life for food... but when he realizes he must now rely on his wife, he must choose between attempting to regain her love or fall prey to the dangerous allure of the island's dark influence.
Jin's story was always going to be tied to Sun's story. Whether it was going to be a take on modern or traditional marriage, the issues between couples, or stories of lost loves . . . the two would be paired in their actions and events on the island.

Jin's guide story tracks what was shown in LOST (to a degree): born to a poor fishing family, he leaves his family to find fortune (in Sun's back story in college). He falls for Sun, but cannot marry her without making a deal with the devil, Sun's father. He must change his plans and become a company man in order to marry Sun. Jin bows to tradition. As a result, Jin demands what is expected of his subservient wife, children. But Sun cannot conceive, which Jin considers a betrayal to him (since she married him only to get back at her father and not have a true family with him).

So Jin's dilemma parallels the actual story line show in LOST: his conflict that he apparently married Sun for the wrong reasons, and he was caught like a fish in a trap, at the mercy of others like Sun's father or cultural demands upon him. We also see that Jin's skills on the island were quickly dismissed by the other castaways, who did not want to eat "foreign" food. He becomes quickly isolated, but for his marital bond with Sun.

In the guide, that marital bond with Sun would quickly collapse, leaving Jin totally isolated on the island. He would view from a far when Sun takes her English language skills and becomes an active member in the beach camp. Her happiness of being accepted by new people who respect her and her talents, would make Jin angry, depressed and lonely. His only hope for emotional survival would be to regain the trust and love of Sun. He would have to plan to woo her back.

But the writers add an entirely new element in the guide, especially as it relates to Jin (with application to any other person on the island): fall prey to the dangerous allure of the island's dark influence. The idea that the island has a "dark influence" over people is an agent of change that could dramatically affect relationships, bonds or even life and death decisions. The darkness could be the evil  inside all primordial instincts and fears that could be released in the unchecked lawless society that is the island (survival of the fittest). 

The concept of the characters having an opportunity to "change" themselves and live out their dreams because the plane crash has given them a second chance is a prime motivation to action, but if the island has its own, involuntarily, sway over character actions (dark influence) that could have been a devilish monkey-wrench in any decision making process. For example, crime without punishment. Some may consider this as a vague reference to the smoke monster's ability to shape shift, read memories, and create ghosts on the island to manipulate the feelings and actions of the candidates. That could be a fair assessment of a dark influence, but it would seem that the writers' premise would be that the island itself harbors something that would trigger dark thoughts in any human (i.e. sort of more like the vague "infection" story arc). 

Of course, the motivation of Jin to have a traditional family after being spurned by Sun could have led to the ultimate emotional double cross - -  Jin fathering a child on the island with another woman. Would have Sun felt betrayed by Jin's actions? Would she have had an emotional melt down if Jin found happiness and her new independence was not all that it was cracked up to be? That would have created a more layered story line between these two characters than the one ultimately shown in the series.

In the series, Sun and Jin are not really main characters. They are secondary people whose job is to help more important characters do specific tasks. For example, Jin became Sawyer's deputy. Sun began a gardener and nurse to Jack. Their story lines act more as filler than as key moments in island events. Again, the producers and writers made a conscious decision early on in the series to down play the Jin-Sun story.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


The 9th main character in the LOST writer's guide was Sun. She played out as a rebellious rich girl who wanted to get away from her overbearing father. She did so by marrying a man beneath her status in life and a bold rejection to tradition. The Sun-Jin relationship was a double fish-out-of-water story. Sun and Jin were isolated from the main castaways due to the language barrier. Jin was out of his element when he married Sun, and tried to place tradition back on to her.

The writer's guide described Sun:

The daughter of a wealthy South Korean auto parts magnate, Sun went to college and fell in love with free-spirited fellow student Jin. After their marriage, Jin changed, eventually becoming harsh and distant as he relegated Sun to give up her own aspirations in favor of a more traditional life in other words, a glorified servant). This forced Sun to devise an "exit strategy"- For the past two years she has secretly been LEARNING ENGLISH. planning to ditch Jin in Los Angeles to stay with a cousin, Sun's skills with Eastem Medicine may just be her ticket to a new life. The plane crash has shattered Sun's plan, but not her resolve. Now freed of the cultural and familial chains which have kept her passive, Sun's evolution as an independent woman has officially begun.

The Sun-Jin island story was supposed to be able a "love conquers all" type tale. Even if they were not going to fit into the main group, they would always have each other. And that is all they needed in order to survive or be happy. In some ways, this story was actually adopted better by the Bernard and Rose story line.

The guide did tell of Sun's unhappy marriage, and her plan to leave Jin for a new life in America (even though the complex legal immigration issues were never resolved in any story; you just can't show up and stay in U.S.). 

But her back story changed significantly. First, Sun went to college and fell in love with another free spirit in Jin. In the series, Jin's back story was much harsher: the bastard son of a lowly poor fisherman, Jin had no education - - - he left to the city to become a laborer, a door man, seeking a better life. He was not a free spirit, but a traditionalist. Second, in the guide Sun has her own aspirations in medicine, but in the actual story, we are given no life goal motivation for Sun other than being the heiress to a large fortune, and being rebellious against her father. Her relationship with Jin was more as a stab at her father than actual love. Third, it would seem that Sun "independence" on the island would have strained her relationship with Jin, and her English betray him to further isolation away from the group and her. 

The guide places Sun in the role of the modern woman bucking tradition to follow her own path. It is not a love story but one of personal growth over the expectations of others. Her ideas of Eastern Medicine would conflict with Jack's Western approach, so there could have been conflict in the group on who was going to be the healer. Or, it would have led to another form of frustration, since Jack was a doctor and Sun was a foreigner, her skills would be dismissed out of hand by many castaways. This would have lead to further loneliness in Sun's character, which was a main theme of the series.

The writer's guide begins to shape the lower main characters as having personal "plans" to change their situation in life. In Sun's case, it was not divorce her husband but to ditch him in LA. She would start a new life on her own in a new, strange country, with little means of support except for a cousin. Like many plans, including Locke's, it is more based in fantasy than the practical specifics of reality. The guide does express Sun's emotional state by stating her culture and family were "chains" holding her back from becoming true self. 

In LOST, Sun had bouts of independence, but in the end she reverted to a sentimental character of being Jin's loving wife which was not contemplated in the original writer's guide.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


The 8th main character listed in the LOST writer's guide is the jack-of-all trades, whether it be electronics, communications, military tactics or survival, Sayid.

The concept of throwing a former enemy of Americans as being a necessary evil whose skills would be needed in order to survive is a formula for conflict, drama and acceptance against prejudice. And initially, that prejudice flared to the surface with accusations that Sayid caused the plane crash because he was a foreigner.

But one thing Sayid did do was stand his ground. Well, for the most part. Until his anger and emotions of his training of torture got the best of him, and he needed to get away from the group. It was that transformative side story where he became the victim to Rousseau's torture that balanced out his mental state.

In the guide, Sayid was described as follows:

A romantic forced into the guise of a soldier, Sayid was drafted into the Iraqi Republican Guard just shy of his twentieth birthday. Unable to stomach the moral ambiguity of his duties, Sayid deserted during the first Gulf War and defected to Australia. The most difficult part of Sayid's relocation has been his thirteen-year separation from the love of his life, Talia. Although they have corresponded by letter, the prospect of seeing each other did not seem possible until Talia's family fled to Los Angeles after Iraq's recent "liberation." The sad irony - Sayid was on his way to ask for her hand in marriage when the plane went down. On the island, Sayid's technological skills combined with his desire to - seek and present the truth will put him in an invaluable (and sometimes precarious) position. Of all the castaways, his desire to get off the island is the strongest because it is driven by the noblest cause- LOVE. 

The similar character traits in the guide and the actual story of Sayid were that he was a soldier with a moral center. However, a drastically different back story to Sayid was stated. Instead of a well trained and brutal Iraqi soldier who tortured enemies of the state, Sayid is painted as a deserter who fled to Australia. By fleeing Iraq, he left behind the love of his life, "Talia," who he kept in a long, long distance relationship until he boarded Flight 815 to LA to ask her to marry him.  It would seem that Sayid was going to play the moral barometer of the series.

But what was stated in the guide for Sayid is more the story of Desmond. Desmond was the person most motivated to get off the island because he wanted to return to his love, Penny. Sayid's actual story was one of confusion - - - he pined for a woman, Nadia, whom he tortured as a soldier in Iraq. In reality, Sayid had no real contact with her after leaving their country. It may have been more guilt than love that kept Sayid thinking about her. In all his technical skills and alleged strong desire to leave the island, guide book Sayid never became that man.  In the series, Sayid did not contribute to Michael's rescue boat or even Bernard's SOS sign. Sayid found the island as his own personal hell, a place where he would have to make amends for his past actions. When he tried to change, he reverted to his old self which frustrated him to no end.

The one truth was that Sayid did cut to the chase more often than not. The best scene for that was after Sayid returned to the Hatch to "confirm" Henry Gale's balloon story. Everything checked out - - - the balloon, the grave, but Sayid found clear evidence that Ben was lying to them. Sayid brutally got the truth from Ben, and as a result Sayid decided to leave the camp.

Again, Sayid fell into the theme of a loner trying to change his lot in life on the island, just as Locke tried to do. The writers guide had Sayid having a more tangible purpose and focus (to get to LA to marry the woman he loved) than what we finally saw unwind on the island. After Sayid was shot, we got the supernatural transgression of a "dead" Sayid returning to life hours after his demise. The evil Sayid would become a Flocke follower, a pawn, but do nothing but wallow in his own self-pity. In his final heroic act on the sub, Sayid would actually cause more harm than good by not closing the hatch doors between sub sections, which allowed the entire submarine to sink (and killing Jin and Sun in the process).

It is unclear why the writers changed Sayid's back story so much. But even when they did harp and harp on the Nadia love story, Sayid wound up with Shannon in the end which made many fans frustrated and confused - - - how could Sayid wind up in heaven with a short island fling with spoiled Shannon when he proclaimed his love for Nadia for years on end - - -? A lot of the LOST story lines did not make sense, and Sayid's story arcs are prime examples of that trend.

Friday, January 24, 2014


The 7th listed character of importance in the LOST writer's guide was Locke. For many, Locke was a key character study. He was the first person to have a spiritual connection with the island. He was the first person to scare the other castaways with his outback, knife throwing presence. He always seemed to have an answer or a story. He was the one person who really wanted to lead the castaways to safety. He dreamed of being a hero one day, and the plane crash gave him that chance.
Intelligent, charismatic, driven and considerably more lucid than the Pilot gives him credit for - All these characteristics only begin to describe the enigma that is Locke. Once a faceless, unhappy office worker, Locke's only solace came from amassing knowledge of survival techniques, playing board games and fighting paintball battles... all traits which made him "quirky" in civilization, but now allow him to shine on the island. For the first time in his life, people look to Locke as
a LEADER...and he likes it. The plane crash is the best thing that ever happened to Locke - - in many ways he views it as A SIGN. He has found his purpose... and that's not all. The others don't know what it is yet, but Locke has a PLAN.

But during the course of the series, Locke's character made dramatic changes. Some of which we would learn about in his back stories, such as his knowledge of survival skills, board playing games and his unhappy existence as a bland office worker. (What we never saw was the action-nerd of paint ball contests or other physical sporting events).

But the great back story sign that energized Locke to action on the island is missing in his character summation: his paralysis. Nothing is mentioned that Locke was an invalid dreamer when he boarded Flight 815. Instead, it appears that Locke was going to have a chance to take his dull, normal life and through the will of his dream personality, become a man of action, a leader, and respected member of his new community. This is a the classic ugly caterpillar turning into a giant butterfly story line.

Locke was clearly set up to be a second guesser and strong personality in the beach camp; a foil to Jack's leadership. But his status as the 7th lead character behind Boone and Shannon means that at some point, Locke's strong will would turn off more people, and he would revert to his unhappy, isolation world of fantasy. In some respects, that did happen in the island time line: Locke started off as a respected hunter, who turned obsessively odd with his island spirituality, then turned obsessive when he found the Hatch as the sign for everything, to a re-broken man off-island who died an unheroic death.

There is nothing remotely in Locke's original character summation that he would be turned into a monster, a smoke monster, or a villain called Flocke. It would be more likely that Locke would have a few followers to his way of thinking in the group of 48, such that they would probably break off from the main group to become the island's new "Others." The contrast between how Locke's camp and Jack's main group would cope with the jungle issues could have been the basis of many story lines. For example, if Locke found the vast underground facility before Jack, would he share his good fortune or destroy Jack as a leader?

But in the main series, after Locke found the Hatch, he became more of a secondary cartoon character than an active co-equal in the Jack-Kate-Sawyer story arcs. Because so many viewers could identify with the Locke character, some believe that Locke's story lines were cut short in favor of maintaining Jack as the focal point of all the story lines, including the kidnapping by the Others to the Hydra Station.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


The 6th main character in the LOST writer's guide was Shannon. She was described as follows:

While we may perceive her to be little more than a rich bitch, Shannon is considerably more "complicated. " After too many drunken nights and wrecked sports cars, her wealthy (and incredibly distant) mother finally cancelled Shannon's credit cards. Resourceful in her own way, Shannon solved her problem by seducing a wealthy man three times her age and convinced him to take her to his home on Australia's Gold Coast - a relationship which ended in disaster (as they all do with Shannon) and the arrival of over protective Boone to bring her back to captivity. 

Smart, manipulative, and extremely capable of being ruthless in order to get what she wants, Shannon will be a constant catalyst for conflict in her new surroundings,.. until she begins to fall for the one man on the island even less inclined to play nice than she is- Sawyer.

If Boone was to be a major character, it would make some sense that Shannon, his sister, would be an important person to help the audience realize what was happening to Boone. If they had a close relationship, the sibling bonds could be the only thing that kept them from being tossed out into the jungle to live and die on their own. Such as transformation from the idle rich to having to scrape for survival in a hostile jungle could have been compelling drama.

But the Shannon character was going to have more meat on her plot bones. Instead of the meek, spoiled, do-nothing wall flower we saw on the show, Shannon was supposed to be more aggressive, engaging and manipulative which fits more into her "gold digger" personality than what was shown in the series.

The writers altered the Shannon back story to have her wealth cut off when her father dies, and that the only family she has his half-brother Boone, who is growing tired of bailing her out of bad relationships. The last one in Australia was not with an older man (that plot point appears to have been revived in the bad Nikki-Paulo arc). The writers also down played any alcoholic tendencies of Shannon to make her more a basic, one-dimensional lazy but entitled character cut-out.

The concept of Shannon being attracted to Sawyer actually makes some sense. Sawyer's character was supposed to corral resources from the wreckage to become an important and powerful force in the new island power structure. Shannon would have wanted to side toward someone who would be able to take care of her and give her material things. Sawyer would fit that bill, since Boone was not going to be a protective puppy brother but a moody, unfocused and dangerous mad man.

If the Shannon character was to play out as originally proposed, the group dynamic would have been the center of the series. But for some unexplained reason, TPTB went off to make character back stories and one on one issues more important than group interactions and alliances in the main camp. If the original proposition held true, it would have been like party politics on the beach. Sawyer would have welded power over resources like medicine, food, etc., while Jack and Kate would have had the skills to apply resources to cure the sick and injured or provide a source of food for the group. In the leadership battle for control, Sawyer-Shannon-Boone triangle could have just as much influence as a Jack-Kate alliance, especially if Shannon was allowed to be a slutty manipulator who could emotionally tie up people like Charlie, who was smitten with her during the pilot episode.

But as the real series played out, Shannon turned into a secondary character like Boone. She was used like Boone to create a startling death scene, and to put more emotional pressure on a main character to react to the event. In Shannon's case, it was Sayid's anger toward Ana Lucia and the other survivors that split the group. In Boone's case, it was the hard realization for Jack that he could not save everyone.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


The next main character in the LOST writer's guide is oddly enough Boone. Looking back today, Boone would not have been considered a major or main character. At best, he turned into Locke's short-lived side kick.

Boone grew up in a world of wealth and privilege provided by a vast commercial empire run by his mother, "The Martha Stewart o f the Wedding Industry." Fatherless from a very young age, Boone quickly assumed the role of family patriarch. In one fell swoop, he became the heir apparent and self-appointed guardian of his sister. But Boone has a dark secret - one even Shannon doesn't know. 

Diagnosed with schizophrenia during adolescence, he has since managed his illness with
ongoing therapy and a cocktail of anti-psychotic medications - medications he stopped taking roughly a month before the crash. Ongoing survival crises find Boone at odds with his slipping sanity, leading to an inevitable breaking point which will not only put him at odds with the others, but make him an outright DANGER. 

This character summation is quite different than the actual character shown in the series. First, Boone relationship with Shannon turned from sister to half-sister, with a seedy love-hate relationship context. Second, the idea of Boone being a dangerous schizophrenic was never even hinted at in any episode. 

In a self-contained community of characters, having a psychotic off his meds would be a vehicle to drive conflict among the survivors. How would a group of people forming a new society deal with a person who was mad, a potential danger, a violent person? Do they isolate him, imprison him or kill him when resources run low? In a show whose original theme was to build a society amongst the ruins, how does one deal with an anti-social personality? It is unclear why the writers quickly negated Boone's potential role in the series. It really downplayed his significance to a secondary character.

But it did show that the producers were setting up at least part of the show around character behavior, more specifically mental illness. We have discussed in detail the layers of mental illness themes, including the possibility that mental illness was a major part of the overall premise to LOST.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The fourth main character in the LOST writer's guide was Sawyer. The guide stated Sawyer would be the foil to Jack and the other castaways.

A handsome, roguish con man who goes by a variety  of assumed names (including the one he's currently using), Sawyer finds himself stranded on the island with nothing more than a suicide note in his pocket. What was once a death wish has now translated into reckless abandon. He is a man who doesn't care anymore, and thus, the perfect ANTIHERO. 

He is an anti-social animal forced to be social, a combination that is as dangerous to be in as it is fun to watch. Here on the island, Sawyer is able to put his charm and quick wits to work, forming a one-man BLACK MARKET with goods he filches from the plane. He will do his best to resist forming attachments, but the right woman might just reveal a softer side. Then again...probably not. 

There was an open-ended approach to the Sawyer character. Bad can be good. We have him set up as a con man whose criminal tendencies will continue on the island, to create conflict with the castaway leadership and governing structure that was to develop over the course of the first season.

We are introduced to Sawyer in the second half of the pilot episode. Our first extended look at Sawyer is when Sayid and Sawyer are brawling on the beach. Jack, arriving back from the jungle, rushes to separate the two, as does Michael. Sawyer, who had been informed by Michael about the handcuffs, immediately suspected that Sayid, a Middle Easterner, was responsible for crashing the plane. Sayid is livid at Sawyer's prejudice. Sawyer mentions that the guy sitting next to Sayid did not survive the crash, and also that Sayid was pulled out of line shortly before the plane was boarded. The fight is finally stopped by Kate, who changes the subject and asks if anyone can help repair the broken transceiver.

Sayid volunteers to help, much to Sawyer's chagrin. Hurley tells Sawyer to calm down, and Sawyer responds by calling him "Lardo." Jack tells Sawyer to take a break and Sawyer says "Whatever you say, Doc, you're the hero." A little after the confrontation, Hurley visits Sayid as he works to fix the transceiver. The two discuss Sawyer's intolerance, and Sayid simply states that "some people have problems." They trade names with a handshake. When asked by Hurley how he became so skilled at repairing things, Sayid replied that he was a military communications officer in the Gulf War. Hurley wrongly assumes that Sayid fought for the Americans, and Sayid quietly corrects him and tells him that he was part of the Republican Guard.

Sawyer reads a letter that's been tucked away in his pocket that seems to trouble him for a moment. He notices Kate and the team heading out in the distance and joins them on their difficult trek up the mountain.

Kate's team argues about the right time to check the radio and risk completely wasting the battery. A roaring in the distance interrupts them. Kate realizes that it might be the same thing that killed the pilot. As the creature approaches, everyone runs, but Sawyer stands firm. In the last few moments, he pulls out a gun and fires almost a full clip of bullets. The group returns to discover that Sawyer has killed a polar bear.. Kate questions where Sawyer got the gun, and he reveals that a U.S. Marshal was on the plane, and he took the marshal's badge as well as his gun. Sayid then suggests that Sawyer was the prisoner all along. Kate manages to take the gun while Sawyer's back is turned. She asks how to use it, causing Sawyer to grin. Sayid instructs her on how to disassemble it. She then gives one part to each man, though Sawyer whispers to her that he "knows her type" as she passes him the ammunition.

In the pilot, we do get the view of a troubled Sawyer reading a letter (note), but it is not the "suicide note" that the writers state in the guide. If Sawyer was suicidal when he boarded the plane, that would have significantly changed the way he would have acted on the island; his motivations would have been more reckless since he was going to end his life anyway. He would have been an isolated loner, probably breaking away from the camp all together. One could imagine that that type of person would be a perfect recruit for the Others. If Sawyer was going to end it, the island would have been a good place to do it.  But throughout the series, Sawyer was a selfish self-preservationist, only wanting a ticket off the island by any means. We don't know why the writers made a quick u-turn on the Sawyer character motivation. Even though that happened, it appears that the parameters of the Sawyer character sere followed throughout the series.

Sawyer was supposed to be the bad element to contrast Jack's good element in story plot structure. Kate apparently would be the conflict point between both men; a classic romantic triangle. Many of those story elements did come to pass during the series. Sawyer was also the anti-hero, a con man who tried to charm his way out of situations (and work) but more than not used his sharp tongue to keep people at a distance. 

It is hard for some people to mesh the island Sawyer with the police officer sideways Sawyer. Yes, in the bad time travel to 1970s Dharma, Sawyer was the new sheriff in town, but once a con man always a con man, so he said himself. And a few people question why Sawyer would have wound up with Juliet of all people, an exact opposite more suitable to Jack (as shown in the sideways world as his ex-wife) instead of Kate, for whom he had a passionate island affair. It would seem that the writer's guide had Sawyer winding up alone when the series would end.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Getting back to the LOST writer's guide, the third character summation listed was for Charlie. It stated:

A caring soul wrapped inside a self-deprecating yet wildly amusing wit, Charlie is an addict on a collision course with mandatory REHAB. Completely unable to accept the fact that he is a has-been, Charlie continues to live in the shadow of Drive Shaft. More than a band, but a surrogate family (albeit a dysfunctional one), the last year has been particularly hard on him as the band unraveled due to the ridiculous behavior and raging egos of its singer and lead guitarist, a feud Charlie found himself constantly trying to diffuse. But now the dream is over. Trapped on the island, Charlie faces not only the specter of violent drug withdrawal, but also the possibility of resuming his role as the consummate sideman - maybe someday becoming a trusted aide to Jack and finding in the castaways the family he once thought he had found in his band. 

There are certain elements clearly defined in the pilot episode for Charlie. The guide repeats them with some background clarity. It appears his dream was to be a rock n roll star. He achieved some fame and with fame comes the lifestyle. Things were going well until bad behavior and conflict broke the band.  Charlie turned into a drug user. Though he  was in a popular band, he was not the center of attention. His ego is bruised; he does not want to be second fiddle. In typical rock n roll fashion, there is a band feud between Charlie and the lead singer (who is not described as his brother). 

What was revealing and different is how the writer's perceived a bigger role for the Charlie character (which may have come about because Monaghan was dating Lilly at the time of the pilot episode).  Charlie was listed as the Number 3 character, with the story nexus of becoming a close friend to Jack.

Instead of the entire group of the beach castaways becoming his surrogate family, Charlie gravitates towards pregnant Claire, to give her support in the hope that she would take him in as part of her new family. This is probably more closely related to reality since a man with a big secret (drug addiction) would not be a gadfly in a large group dynamic. 

But as the series unfolded, Charlie's role took on the nature of being a puppy following various people around the island. He followed Kate, then went to befriend Locke, then goofed around with Hurley, then become attached to Claire, who pushed off his advances especially when Locke intervened to help her with a cradle. He was then mostly on his own, with small connections with Eko and then in the end, with time flashing Desmond, who told him he had to die in order to save Claire and Aaron (which really cannot be confirmed as true).

Charlie's role as a main character quickly eroded once he was paired in an uneasy romance story with Claire. He never became Jack's right hand man who had his back (in some viewpoints, Kate took that role). He never found an extended family within the castaways, just a few friends in Hurley and Claire. He was tolerated by some (like Sawyer) more than liked as a strong personality. His celebrity status had no value or currency with the other castaways. He really did not offer that many survival skills in order to be a necessary, dependable component for the new society that the writer's laid out early in the guide. Charlie served as a "red shirt," giving a cliffhanger twist of dying with the words NOT PENNY'S BOAT on his hand.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


A wire story recently caught the world up on what the main characters of LOST have been up to since the series demise.

Josh Holloway (Sawyer)

Before he was hired to lead the new CBS thriller "Intelligence," Holloway had a role in a lukewarm B-movie about street performers.

Matthew Fox (Jack Shephard)

Since anchoring "Lost," Fox has suffered the embarrassment of getting all but cut out of Brad Pitt's "World War Z" and playing a ripped psychopath in the widely panned Tyler Perry vehicle "Alex Cross." 

Evangeline Lilly (Kate Austen)

Lilly took time off to have a child. Then she recently wrote a children's book.  And she is in the big budget movie "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."

Terry O'Quinn (John Locke)

O'Quinnhas a recurring role on CBS' "Hawaii Five-O" alongside fellow "Lost" alum Daniel Dae-Kim (Jin-Soo Kwon), and will be a regular on Fox's new show, "Gang Related." He also starred in the canceled ABC show, "666 Park Avenue."

Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet Burke)

Mitchell stars on NBC's "Revolution." She also can be seen in reruns of sci-fi series.

Michael Emerson (Benjamin Linus)

Emerson stars alongside Jim Caviezel in CBS' "Person of Interest." 

Naveen Andrews (Sayid Jarrah)

He currently appears as Jafar on ABC's fairy-tale spinoff series," Once Upon a Time in Wonderland." 

Emilie de Ravin (Claire Littleton)

Speaking of fairy tales, "Once Upon a Time"  will feature  de Ravin as Belle. (Yes, the Belle from "Beauty and the Beast.")

Dominic Monaghan (Charlie Pace)
Monaghan continues his travel-nature travel series, "Dom's Wild Things," on BBC America.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


One of the original plot points from the network executives was that LOST was going to be like a real life Survivor show. In the game show TV series, contestants are flown off to faraway places to live and compete in bare minimum conditions in the hope of being able to win a million dollars as the last man or woman standing in the end.

The principles of Survivor was Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.

In LOST, we don't know what the characters were actually "playing" for. It could have been rescue, salvation, friendship, adventure, power or none of the above.

Who outwitted the most people? Ben certainly used enough mind games and terror techniques to ascend to the powerful leadership role of the Others. However, Ben was clearly outwitted by Flocke/MIB/Smoke Monster in getting Ben to stab Jacob. But in some circles, it was Jacob who outwitted everyone because he was looking for his "replacement" for centuries. He could not kill MIB or MIB could not kill him, so Jacob played a game with MIB - - - he could escape the island if it killed the island guardian, him. Jacob could only be replaced if he died, and in an elaborate ruse, he got MIB to find someone to do it and another person to slay MIB to take victory away from it.

Who outplayed the most people? It depends on the game. Hurley hustled on ping pong, and Kate bested Jack in island golf. But in the oldest game of all, romance, it was quite the mixed bag. Sawyer charmed himself into the most action, but Kate kept herself in the game as the elusive prize. But the symbolic game of LOST was ancient backgammon, Senet, played by Jacob and MIB and later taught by Locke to Walt. It should have been a more developed element of the story, but in one respect was clear. When Jacob continued to bring candidates to the island, they represented game pieces. The object of the game was to remove all your pieces from the game board (the island). There was a systematic elimination of candidates throughout the series by various means of death. But in the island's end, there was only one candidate left standing: Hurley.

Who outlasted the other characters? One has to assume "outlast" means "survives" the longest, and the ability to remove oneself from the island dangers has to go to the person who left the island alive. Kate and Frank both left the island together twice. They were rescued and if the goal of the castaways was to leave the island in one piece, then they were co-winners. Kate may get extra credit for voluntarily coming back to the island for another round while Frank was hijacked into crash landing a plane. But if the goal of LOST was to make it to the after life with one's "soul mate," then there were several winners: Kate, who got Jack; Desmond, who found Penny; Hurley, who met Libby; Jin and Sun who had each other, and Sawyer who had Juliet.

Friday, January 17, 2014


The LOST writers guide described the second lead character, Kate, as follows:

Considerably more complicated than we originally gave her credit for, Kate is a runner who has no where to run. Raised as a military brat with a single father bouncing from base to base, the cumulative effect of never putting roots down later led to a series of busted relationships with men. 

Kate has what might be commonly referred to as "commitment issues." And that brings us to the traumatic events that made her a fugitive, where the solitude and constant suspicion of life on the run merged with her self- reliance and practicality to harden her beyond anything she ever imagined. 

Her crime itself remains a mystery, a fact made even more intriguing by her refusal to apologize for it. An independent spirit who has problems with authority now finds herself free for the first time in years... but only as free as the island's coastline. Now forced to face her fears, the island reveals the emotion Kate tries so hard to hide and forces her to drop the walls she has built around herself. Even more interesting, she may finally be falling in love with a man she cannot escape. 

There are a few major character trait differences for the original Kate character. Most importantly, she was raised by a "single father" as a military brat moving from base to base, instead of the back story where we find her living in Iowa with her mother and real biological father for whom she despises. A second major difference in original Kate is that in her back ground, she was supposed to have failed relationships with men, caused by the lack of permanent roots (and social skills of a community). But in the actual series, we see very few relationships of Kate: the childhood friendships aside, she was married to a Florida policeman, but left him - - - and she had a bank robbery boyfriend who she used merely to gain access to a sentimental toy plane. Nothing in the series points to a "series of busted" relationships. On the island, she does have commitment issues but those are based on her fugitive status and the internal need to run away from problems (such as relationship issues). 

It is also interesting to note that the producers had no idea at this point of what Kate's FEDERAL crime would have been (the U.S. Marshal has limited jurisdiction over federal matters). In the series, we know the whole Kate legal story line was a factual and legal mess of impossible drivel.  The writers attempt to portray Kate as being free for the first time in her life, but imprisoned on an island she can never leave (sounds like a personal hell).  However, there is an immediate inconsistency in how Kate is to act: the independent, self-reliant runner only has one fear - - - getting caught, so if that is taken away, there really is no "emotional walls" that need to come down. 

Now, the last part of "falling in love with a man she cannot escape" seems strange and nonsensical. If Kate is trapped on the island, escape is not an option. If it is meant to say that Kate finally can't run away from her emotions, and must have a real relationship for the first time in her life, there is no reason why she would not want to embrace that experience. The only thing unsaid in the summation is the possibility that Kate is incapable of love - - - which may be the reason for her heinous yet unknown crime.  It could be that love triggers a form a madness in her - -  something that she is truly running away from as to not to kill again; i.e. she is a monster.

 That would have been a more clever adaptation of the character traits of Kate than how Kate actually evolved on the island. Yes, she played the cute girl next story routine to con favors from men; to keep her secret secret; or to divert attention from herself. She was apt to change sides without a reason. She was the tomboy who preferred to go on missions than stay in the camp interacting at a social level with the other castaways. Kate's character did not grow or expand very much from the pilot episode. She was almost typecast as the bad girl. As for Jack and Kate falling in love, this is weak link in the story. They had nothing in common except for surviving a plane crash. Kate burned Jack on several occasions but apparently he took her back in The End. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


After the pilot, the decision was made to "save" the character of Jack, and make him the leading man in the series.

In the leaked writer's guide, the character-centric sales pitch pictured Jack as follows:

Brave, sharp-witted, powerful and vulnerable, Jack finds himself cast in the role of hero whether he likes it or not... and he's more inclined to go with "not." Despite having shared a story centering on his time as a spinal surgeon and having clearly demonstrated his abilities as a doctor, much of Jack's past is shrouded in mystery. Simply put, it's not something he likes to talk about- but if he did, it would certainly explain his tattoos. Jack's reason for being in Australia is something he doesn't like to talk about either, but we come to learn he was heading back to the States for the funeral of someone who has long defined his path. As the series unfolds, our stories continue to find Jack as the one the other castaways call upon to make the life and·death decisions they are unwilling to make for themselves.

The main writing points to this character:

Brave. We don't really see Jack as a "hero" brave, as his approach would be more conservative, studied in contrast with Locke's aggressive hunter stance.

Sharp-witted. We don't see Jack with any deep humor - - - the sharp tongue went to Sawyer, and the humorous diversions went to Hurley. 

Powerful. It depends on what that means; Jack could fight hand to hand okay. He could have a powerful influence over some other castaways actions, but he did not get his way all the time.

Vulnerable. Most brave, sharp witted and powerful men do not show or act vulnerable. We learned early on that Jack did not want the spotlight, which is counter to what the people around him wanted to to do for them. 

But there is a golden nugget in the summation which I had raised when the series originally aired on ABC. There was always a question of whether the characters we saw on the show were actually who they were shown to be; the question of whether they were representations, egos or transference like avatars was something most people feel uncomfortable to address. It would raise some doubt as to whether the island events were real or surreal.  This hit home after the episode where Jack, as an adult, goes off to a beach in Thailand and hooks up with a mysterious woman.

We were lead to believe that following his marriage's collapse, Jack visited Thailand and started a relationship with Achara, a tattoo artist. She was drawn to him, but at the same time wanted to keep her distance from him. She said she saw him as a leader who, although strong, could also be unhappy. Jack insisted she tattoo him. The tattoo she designed translates to "He walks among us, but is not one of us."

However, there are other possibilities. One, is that Jack was never a surgeon. He was a rich kid who was supposed to be a great surgeon like his father, but he failed out of medical school. He got caught up in drugs and dreamed of the ideal life, but even in those dreams he could never meet the expectations of his father. He wound up wandering the world, landing in Thailand during a binge cycle. Two, is that Jack was a surgeon, but it was he, not his father, that butchered a patient on the operating room table. He mentally shifted the blame to his father, whose pressure to make him a doctor was something he did not want as a child. This notion of significant secret in Jack's past is contained in the guide's key sentence: his time as a spinal surgeon and having clearly demonstrated his abilities as a doctor, much of Jack's past is shrouded in mystery. It can be read in the PAST TENSE of being a surgeon. The mystery would be why he was no longer a surgeon - - - his fall from professional grace. Three, that Jack never had the chance to be a surgeon until he "arrived" at the island (if the island is a spiritual place, and Jack died on the schoolyard from the blow to the head during the bully fight. Since Jack never was able to grow up, his soul was lost in the fantasy of what his life could have been.) 

We get a notion that Jack would be haunted by his father, but the island ghost was actually MIB/the smoke monster taking Jack's memories and using them against him. If the island was a psychological chamber, the connection between Jack's thoughts and actions could be as manipulated as those people forced to be re-educated in Dharma's Room 23. There is something deeply rooted in mind control, in all its forms - - - from peer pressure, to parental mandate, to social norms, to emotional abuse - - - that is a central theme to the show, the darkness in the characters story DNA.

In the chaos of the pilot, Jack did make life and death decisions - - - mostly to save one person, he lost another. But those decisions were random. It was when the other castaways started to make demands upon him, like Kate to let the Marshal die, that Jack suddenly retreated within himself. A surgeon has to have nerves of steel. A surgeon deals with life and death decisions every day. He should be used to it. He should be able to maintain his balance and cool to make intelligent decisions. But the idea that Jack could not cope with the pressure of these basic professional requirements again poses the question of whether Jack was really, truly, the great spinal cutter we think he was on the show. It would seem more telling that Jack as being the fallen doctor, hiding his great secret of his own deadly shortcomings (bad surgeon, drug addict, mental illness or combination of those traits) than putting him on a pedestal from the very beginning as being Mr. Perfect.

But quickly, Jack did not make decisions for anyone. It was clear that there was supposed to be some "order" in the new island community, rules so to speak, but it quickly devolved into every person for themselves. People did what they wanted to do. No one could order someone to do something they did not want to do. People could get along, but not pull together. That was the sense of beach camp. And that culture lead to no sense of urgency to do anything collectively, like systematically think of escape and rescue plans. Jack could not rally the group to any clear path. When he would return to the island, he gave up on trying to lead his fellow survivors - - - he was content on being a janitor, even though he was tired of trying to clean up other people's personal messes.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


The leaked LOST writers guide broke down summaries of the show's main characters.

It would seem that the guide presented the main characters in order of importance to the show's theme's and projected main story line. The guide clearly sets forth that mandate:

The first words etched on the blank white board in the Writer's Room were these - - - "CHARACTER FIRST." 

At the end of the day, LOST will sink or swim purely on the merit of its characters... and taking a page from the successful playbook of Reality Television, we've stocked our island with the ingredients for limitless conflict. No conflict, no drama. 

We can't be the "Adventure Hour" every week - - in fact, many of our stories will feature the simple human drama of being forced into survival dynamics with complete strangers. 

We've worked out fairly detailed biographies for each character that inhabits our island, so here's a . thumbnail sketch of each one to present an idea of not only who they are, but where they're going. 

The guide then lists summaries of the main characters in the following order:

1. Jack
2. Kate
3. Charlie
4. Sawyer
5. Boone
6. Shannon
7. Locke
8. Sayid
9. Sun
10. Jin
11. Hurley
12. Claire
13. Michael
14. Walt
First, not surprising that Jack and Kate are the top two characters as the writers guide clearly indicated that those two characters were going to be the lead focus of the show, and be part of each episode interacting with the other characters.
Second, also not surprising was Sun and Jin being near the second half of main character importance. The idea of having a couple, with the perception of a foreign language barrier, coping or fitting into the new survivor community could be a jumping off point for conflict, miscommunication and distrust, which the show did mildly handle in the first season.

Third, what is surprising was the higher "value" placed on Charlie, Boone and Shannon's characters. Charlie was the drug addict musician who did not seem to fit into island survival mode. Boone and his stepsister were from privilege, and also did not fit into new island realities. But it seems these "fish out of water" character traits is what the writers thought would create the "reality television" vibe the producers wanted to feed the conflict engine: snobby, opinionated, lazy, paranoid, people used to comfort over scraping an existence in the work place.

Fourth, what is also surprising is the lower value placed on Locke and Hurley. Locke would become a fan favorite early on in the series, especially after his mysterious recovery. He would become the leadership foil for Jack (which lessened Kate's role in the original story structure). Hurley would become the fan's proxy on the island - - - in the background as an even keel to help figure out time and place of the events.

Fifth, the strange isolation of Michael and Walt's story line. Recall, Walt became a focal point early on because of his "special" mental properties, i.e. killing birds by thought. Walt was deemed special by the Others, that is why they captured him and tested him. Walt seemed to have a pivotal role to play in the main story line, until he had a growth spurt and literally grew out of the day to day episode format of the show. Michael's character was to center around protecting the son he really did not know from all the dangers on the island, to a point of delusional madness to get off the island by any means.

In the next two weeks we will go through the writers' guide character summary to contrast and compare how LOST writers kept true to the original character studies.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Now, we were told that the creators of LOST had the series pretty much mapped out from the very beginning. However, the leaked writer's guide has contrary evidence. And it had to do with the simple network question about guest stars in episodes.

Guest stars in established series are important to continually renew interest inside and outside the show fan base. Executives want to know if conditions are good in a new show to funnel in guest stars (at times from other network shows) to cross-promote the schedule.

And considering that LOST had promised ABC a vast array of island mysteries, including a vast underground bunker complex, guest stars in either back stories or new castaways seems to be a given.

But the guide matter-of-factly stated:



Despite our initial reluctance to introduce any characters beyond our core cast, we have come to realize that in order to tell compelling stories, we need them (on occasion) to come from the outside.

But let us be clear - it will be rare. 

This is not "Gilligan's Island" where every week introduces a hapless Russian Cosmonaut or Broadway Theater Producer who just happens to have washed upon the same shore. "New" characters on LOST will almost always come from within - that is to say, they are already on the island. 

We just haven't discovered them yet.

So the plan for new characters was simple:

1. They already had to be on the island, so the entire island was going to be "self contained" story engine.

2.  They won't just "wash up" on shore.

But the producers warned that guest characters would be "rare" - -  so much so that they really had not thought about needing or wanting any in the series.

Yet, Desmond "washed up" on the island as guest arc that got latched down into a romantic sub-story. Also, Ben was only supposed to play his character for 2 or 3 episodes, as the Other being interrogated by the castaways, but after a strong performance, Michael Emerson rode out the series to the end. The whole Widmore soldiers invading the island story came from the outside. In fact, one could view a majority of the series being generated by sources outside the "core" pilot characters.

There is nothing wrong in adding to the main story line if the guest characters can add to the central story. But is there any evidence that there was a hard and fast central story line from the very beginning of LOST?

Monday, January 13, 2014


One of the theories to LOST is that the entire show was constructed in someone's (maybe Hurley's) mind.  The idea can be expanded in the sci-fi realm of taking a person's thoughts and transposing them into some form of illusion-reality. There was an episode in Max Headroom where a company was "stealing" people's dreams to create a pay-cable reality channel. 

But now, scientists are trying to tap the mind reading exploits of science fiction.

In 2011, a team of scientists from UC Berkeley discovered a method of reconstructing YouTube videos from a viewer’s brain activity.

Participants from the study watched YouTube videos inside of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The researchers then collected the data from the MRI scans and reconstructed the videos based on colors, shapes, and movements.

Based on changes in blood flow within the brain, the team could determine if the viewer was looking at an actor’s face or an inanimate object like an airplane. From there, the scientists collected YouTube clips that matched the participant’s brain activity pattern and overlaid the scenes on top of one another. The result was a blurry, surrealistic video that featured ghost-like shapes and movements.
The next step in research was to reconstruct people’s dreams and memories into films. Unlike true visual perceptions from watching YouTube videos, dreams and memories were chosen because they exist independently from reality.

In 2013, a team of scientists from Kyoto, Japan was able to do just that. In their study, the group of researchers successfully analyzed and recorded the basic elements of participants’ dreams.
Participants were asked to sleep for three-hour time blocks inside of an MRI scanner. As soon as they fell asleep, the scientists woke them up and asked them to describe what they had seen in their dreams. Scientists then picked basic representations of those descriptions from an online image search. Then, participants were asked to fall asleep again. Except this time, the machine would try to match the dreams with a series of images.

It turns out that the machine was correct 60 percent of the time and could accurately map categorical objects to brain activity, thereby creating a video simulation of the participant's dream.

So it is not as far-fetched to theorize that the island was the construction of a character's mind, as science has now began to extract those hidden imagines from humans. This also would explain how the smoke monster could read people's past - - - through their memories and dreams.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Since the pilot episode introduced 13 main characters to viewers, the network had a question on how the producers and writers would mesh 13 different story lines into a coherent main story.

The guide stated:


It's all about balance. 

Without question, The Pilot platforms Jack and Kate as the leads of the show. The series will certainly keep these two dynamic characters at the front and center of every episode. This leaves eleven characters. Of course, all can't share equal screen time, but over the course of the first six episodes, each and every one needs to have the spotlight on them so we (and the audience) can begin to flag who "pops." 

The operating thesis is this: 

Design stories which FEATURE just three or four of the castaways (excluding Jack and Kate) every week. Instead of trying to cram the other eleven into every episode in a meaningful way, put the castaways who are not in the spotlight in roles that SERVICE the ones who are. The following week, pick four more, rinse and repeat. 

This guarantees that we can stick to an A,B,C story format and that the episode will always be
accessible to fresh eyes. Most importantly, by valuing quality over quantity, we always leave our audience wanting more. 

Additionally, LOST will rely heavily on VIGNETTING. Short scenes which service the overall and on going arcs of island survival; in other words, the "business" of a scene while characters are talking to each other.

If Sayid decides to build a raft (a project which will cover the span of several episodes) we can watch this process unfold even as he deals with "the crisis of the week."

Something else worth mentioning -- The beauty of having such a large (and capable) cast is that with thirteen characters, there are 78 different combinations of scenes between just two people. We could go through two seasons and never come close to exploring all of them. 

The producers sold the idea that a large main cast was an advantage to allow seasons of possible character interactions. But one thing was clear: Jack and Kate were going to be the focus of the story action. The rest of the characters in turn would be supporting or contributing players - - - unless the audience "pops" of likes/identifies/wants more of a character. 

The one thing that the large cast did allow was the audience to immediately identify with characters with people in their own lives (including themselves). It was not mentioned by TPTB in the guide, but the diverse group of characters allows for audience members to gravitate toward people they identify with such as Rose (as losing her husband), Claire (the at-risk pregnant girl), Hurley (the shy loner), Charlie (the secret addict), or Locke (somebody who wants to be different or break away from their dull life). 

The factory script story format proposed was supposed to feature 4 to 6 characters per week, dealing with a new problem at the start of each episode, having to resolve the conflict by the end which was to supposedly add or develop the overall survival-new community theme for the overall series. But instead, the series quickly developed the character-centric, flashback episodic formula. It was a method of letting viewers into a character's secret past or motivations on the island (for example, the twist that Locke was actually paralyzed until he crash landed on the island added mystery and a big question of how could that have happened?) But many of these back stories had no bearing on the development of the survival-new community theme. In fact, most of those stories detracted from building a single community. It showed a more individual, ego-centric, every man for himself selfishness that made trust a new theme. And instead of problem solving in small groups, the format changed to "missions" into the jungle, some which lead to no where. 

It is interesting to note that the writers felt that Sayid would be the catalyst to build a raft in attempt to achieve survival. But in the series, it was Michael who took it upon himself to build the raft to flee the island. Both choices seem odd in retrospect: Sayid's background had no sailing since he was from central Iraq; and Michael's "art career" had nothing to do with the principles of sailing. The idea that he worked as a construction laborer does not equate to being a competent ship builder. But LOST fell into the "convenience trap" quickly and often: if a sudden skill was needed, a character suddenly had it (like Kate's perfect jungle "tracking skills" because camping in Iowa was so similar to the island environment.).

Lastly, the concept that Jack and Kate would be the centerpiece for the series was very inconsistent. Jack was quickly pegged as the "leader" of the camp, but his authority began to wane for two reasons: one, he did not want it; and two, the split in regard to the move to the caves showed castaways were more independent than followers. Kate would shift more quickly between camps, and alliances because she was playing her own game. She had her big secret to hide, but used her charms to get both Jack and Sawyer on her good side. But most viewers would not view Kate as being a co-lead in the series.

The series episode flow from the use of characters was pretty seamless. However, the "A,B, C" self-contained format for each episode was abandoned quickly for a more "action, reaction and new mystery-question cliffhanger" approach to story telling. The latter definitively left viewers wanted more - - - answers.