Friday, June 30, 2017


Harville Hendrix wrote, "Nature doesn't care that you are comfortable, only that you evolve."

LOST's creators continually stated that the show was more about character development than solving the myriad of  mysteries the writers threw at viewers.

In a typical character development, a person is put into an unfamiliar, often dangerous situation. The person then has to reflect on what is happening around him. He must determine based upon internal conflicts (experience, dreams, goals, etc) on how to proceed. It begins a journey of discovery, enlightenment, change and growth. Throughout the journey, he is tested, choices made, doubts created, strengths pushed to the limit to reach a final realization of one's self.

Weaved in this journey are themes we call life lessons. They can be coupled with moral tones, vices, bad choices, blind spots, naive behavior or self-destructive tendencies. But in the end, the character has to change, for better or worse, of the journey itself was meaningless. And the reader is left with a bitter taste of wasting time investing in a story with no true end.

Did LOST's main character have great personal development?

That remains an open question.

If we start with Locke as a young boy, we find that his life was a journey of mistakes, bad choices, social awkwardness and inability to find his place in society.

He was a miracle premature baby who survived his mother's car collision in rural, 1950s America. He was abandoned by his birth parents to grow up in foster homes as an outsider. He was smart, but wanted to be a jock. But he was not good enough so he fit into neither group. He became a loner. The more he grew up, the more sullen he became since he was missing the one thing other kids had: a family. So he spent much of his time trying to find a family unit. He would bounce from entry level job to job trying to find a permanent connection. But his deep seeded fears of abandonment and mistrust sabotaged most of his relationships. His fears were realized when he re-connected with his parents only to have his father steal his kidney and cripple him for life by pushing him through a high rise window.

So Locke's past contained so much baggage that he was a prime candidate for a character's "hero journey" of evolution. But did he did a hero's ending?

Sadly, no. Locke's sad life turned into a sad death.

The island "magic" apparently "cured" Locke's paralysis when he crash landed with the other survivors. He took it personally as a sign, a "miracle," a chance to be the person he dreamed he was going to be as a boy. Locke wanted to be a respected, swashbuckling, Outback, adventure-loving leader of men and lover of women.

Everyone on the island had an opportunity to shed their past and create a new self image.

In Locke's case, he started strong as being a hunter-food provider. But when the majority of the castaways gravitated toward the charismatic doctor, Jack, for survival, Locke became upset. He retreated to become a gregarious loner. Sure, he got along with many of the characters but most merely tolerated his ramblings. He never received the respect or admiration he thought he deserved.

He had an opportunity to become the leader of the 815 survivors, but Jack and Sawyer were chosen over him. He had an opportunity to become the true leader of the Others, but he could not bring it upon himself to kill his own father. 

Even when he "sacrificed" himself at ghost Shepherd's suggestion, only then did Sawyer give him faint praise after Locke turned the FDW to reset the island time skips.

When he returned to the States, Locke had several choices. He could have turned his back on the island and its harsh surreality. Or he could find himself back living a lonely existence in his new wheelchair. Instead, he was manipulated by Widmore like he had been manipulated by Ben to do someone's else's bidding. But Locke failed in his quest to get everyone back to the island.

In a seedy hotel room, Locke decided to commit suicide, a coward's not a hero's way out. Before he was about to do the deed, he was interrupted by Ben. Ben convinced him that his life still had value. That he was needed on the island. That he had to go back with him to make everything right. He had to go back to save his "friends." But after Locke slipped with the information on how he could get back to the island, through Mrs. Hawking, Ben strangled Locke whose last thoughts according to Flocke was "I don't understand."

Most viewers did not understand why MIB, the smoke monster, needed to inhabit Locke's corpse or assume his identity in order to overthrown Jacob. MIB did take Locke's memories to begin to manipulate the survivors, including those who let live after the Temple massacre. But if there was still a part of Locke in MIB's use of his memories, image or character - - - Locke failed to fight back or control MIB.

In the end, Locke winds up in the sideways church. He seems happy at the reunion, but how could he be? He sat in a pew alone. There was no one special present for him. Not his late girlfriend. Not his mother. No one. Throughout his life, Locke failed to make a special bond with any one person in order to "move on" in the after life. Locke's journey did not end in a hero's quest or salvation but as a sad footnote.

Monday, June 26, 2017


Recently, a Korean television mystery-drama did the unthinkable - - - it fooled its fans with a crazy bad ending.

Queen of Mystery was a standard 16-episode drama. It had typical elements of a standard police drama: an unhappy police officer trying to solve a personal mystery, a civilian wrought by the murders of her parents, power brokers who manipulate the system for their advantage and a spider web of connections between the parties.

SPOILERS ahead for those who want to watch the program.

The police officer was born into a rich and powerful family. However, he sheds his status to become a police officer in order to find the true killer of his girlfriend who was murdered 17 years earlier. The murder was pinned on man with a snake tattoo by a working class cab driver, but the police officer, Wan-seung does not believe the official reports.

Seol-ok, a housewife of a local prosecutor, has turned into a mystery solving sleuth. She uses her deductive skills like Angela Lansbury's character in Murder She Wrote.  However, Seol-ok is really trying to track down the real killer of her parents. She was left an orphan who was taken in my a well-off family, eventually marrying their eldest son. His family does not treat her well, but Seol-ok is such a kind person she lets it all go.

Wan-seung was studying to be an actor. He was in a theater troupe where he met Hyun-soo. He fell in love with her. They planned to spend the rest of their lives together. But Wan-seung's powerful lawyer father did not approve. He wanted his son to join and run the family law firm. But Wan-seung does not care about power or privilege, just Hyn-soo. Then one night, she is abducted and killed. Wan-seung never believes that she is dead - - - that she was forced to leave Korea because she found out something bad about someone in power. Even though the police and prosecutors have closed the case file, Wan-seung is convinced that she is alive (her body was not found).

Wan-seung and Seol-ok cross paths to begin an uneasy partnership in solving other crimes. In one respect, they are both outsiders in both their professional and personal lives.

Throughout the series, their mysteries begin to intertwine. Seok-ok's father was the one who reported the man who killed Wan-seung's girlfriend. As the key witness, he and his wife were killed and their case was never solved. Seok-ok's husband had told her that he would look into it, but he never did. We would learn later that he may be part of a cover-up, orchestrated by Wan-seung's own father.

Whenever they get close to solving it, something blocks them. When Wan-seung finally tracks down the tattoo killer, who asks to meet him to tell all, he finds the perp already dead on the ground. Then Wan-seung is quickly arrested by Detective Go for murdering him. It was a classic trap. In order to get his freedom, Wan-seung has to surrender to his father's will to leave the police force and take over the family law practice. He leaves to study abroad then returns to Korea to begin what it seems to be a new life.

But in reality, he is still trying to track down all those responsible for Hyun-soo's death. His little band of detectives, including Seol-ok, have an off-the-grid command post to try to connect the dots.

Near the end, we see the diligence of the sleuths working together to unravel the conspiracy. Finally, they smoke out another police detective as Hyun-soo's murderer. Detective Go knows he is in trouble when the great "fixer," Mr. Kim contacts him asking to see her body. Go claims that he buried her with his own two hands. But Kim's benefactor wants DNA evidence (not available at the time of the crime) to confirm that Hyun-soo is dead. The benefactor is Wan-seung's father. They all met in the forest where Go has uncovered a shallow grave of human bones. As they take samples, the forest bursts of police officers. They arrest everyone for conspiracy.

Wan-seung goes to the grave to see the engagement ring still on the finger of the victim. He breaks down and cries while Seol-ok watches from the ridge.

It would seem that the two mysteries were wrapped up by the arrest of Wan-seung's father and his associates for the cover up of several murders.

But in the last moments of the last episode, the mysterious Mr. Kim is walking down a hallway when a young woman passes him then stops to ask him if he was looking for her. Kim is confused. Then the woman smirks that she is Hyun-soo. Bam. End of series.

Viewers were stunned by the twist. So much so, that they were angry. Several days later, the producers had to make a statement about the show. They claim they did the ending in such a manner because they were planning on a second season.

Reviewers were quick to point out that K-dramas rarely have second seasons. They are usually 16-20 episodic features (and long run series can go up to 52 episodes). And in the case of Queen of Mystery, the network had not ordered or committed to having a second season.

Viewers felt betrayed by the writers. How can you do a complete 180 degree turn of the story line at the end of the series. Wan-seung found the remains of his long, lost love. (DNA would prove the identity of the body - - - but it was clear that the ring was enough for Wan-seung). Who is this new mystery woman claiming to be the dead Hyun-soo? No one knows why she was killed in the first place. Wan-seung's powerful father is in jail but it appears that he was merely a fixer like Mr. Kim. And why did this mystery woman come after Mr. Kim? Who is he working for? 

It was a mean trick to play on the viewers. If writers give us mystery plot lines and clues, it is their responsibility to provide conclusive answers to those mysteries. Queen of Mystery's ending was actually worse than LOST's. LOST may have not answered all the burning fan questions about the island, its powers, the afterlife, etc. But Queen of Mystery threw the entire series in chaos with a massive new mystery in the last seconds of the show.

Monday, June 19, 2017


The first attempts to bring people back from the dead are slated to start this year.

This controversial plan was thwarted last year in India.
Bioquark, a Philadelphia-based company, announced in late 2016 that they believe brain death is not 'irreversible'. According to the Daily Mail, CEO Ira Pastor has revealed they will soon be testing an unprecedented stem cell method on patients in an unidentified country in Latin America, confirming the details in the next few months. 

To be declared officially dead in the majority of countries, you have to experience complete and irreversible loss of brain function, or 'brain death'.  According to Pastor, Bioquark has developed a series of injections that can reboot the brain - and they plan to try it out on humans this year.
They have no plans to test on animals first. 

Medical science has tight protocols before experimentation can begin on humans. There must be peer review on research, animal trials, then clinical trials. At each stage of the process, the results are published and reviewed by authorities before permission can be granted to proceed. Here, the company is going straight to the end game without any factual foundation. 


1) Harvest stem cells from the patient's own blood, and inject this back into their body.
2) Inject peptides into the patient's spinal cord.
3) Fifteen days of laser and median nerve stimulation - while monitoring the patients using MRI scans.

The patient needs to keep oxygen pumping through the body to  keep the brain stem functioning - for example, by keeping a person on a ventilator. It means that most countries today, including the US and the UK, identify death as permanent loss of brain stem function. The researchers are looking to stop families or doctors from pulling the plug on their brain dead patients.

There is no precedent for what researchers plan to do. It may be a very expensive (the article did not say) method with no chance of success (but some families will pay anything in the hope of getting their loved ones back).  So critics and cynics have raised concerns that the company is not going through normal protocols to test their theories before using human beings as test dummies. That is the reason why the medical boards in India stopped the company from doing work in that country.

The ramifications of re-booting a brain dead patient can be severe. What if it only partially works and the patient only has minimum brain activity (such as in a deep coma state with no communication skills). Is that really a quality life? What if it does not activate brain memories, speech, eyesight or senses but merely pain? Then what happens to the patient? What are the unintended consequences of playing god?

It seems LOST also played fast and loose with medical ethics on the island. It used mind control and chemical weapons experimentation which hit its evil zenith after Ben's coup.  The concept of immortality by regular brain reanimations is in the realm of science fiction. But there appears to be some researchers who dare to try it in real life.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


The curse of the pharaohs refers to an ancient alleged curse believed by some to be cast upon any person who disturbs the tomb of an Egyptian person, especially a pharaoh or king. This curse, which does not differentiate between thieves and archaeologists, allegedly can cause bad luck, illness or death. Since the mid-20th century, many authors and documentaries have argued that the curse is real in the sense of being caused by scientifically explicable causes such as bacteria or radiation.

When a tomb is opened after hundreds of years, it contains dust and bacteria that have not seen the light of day. Those bacteria or dust can contain pathogens that modern man has no immunity form.

The Book of the Dead contained passages to ward off people from disturbing the tombs. Religious beliefs stated that those possessions in the deceased chambers were needed in the afterlife. Grave robbers knew that the rich were buried with vast treasures of gold, silver and gems.

The curse legend grew in the 1920s and 1930s when Howard Carter's archeology team uncovered the best tomb of all time, King Tut's. After excavating the tomb, several members of the team died mysterious deaths, one from a mosquito bite and one from blood poisoning.

For those who still seek a unified theory to LOST's mythology, the curse theory may be the one.

The island was filled with Egyptian references, including columns of hieroglyphs in the Temple to Jacob's textiles. And if you review LOST's elements as an allegory to ancient Egyptian rituals and practices, you can weave a good theory.

In order to protect a pharaoah's afterlife, he would have gathered loyal subjects, his priests, to make continuous offerings and to protect his tomb from raiders. These priests were powerful men in society. Many were viewed to have magical properties and direct contact with the gods.

When people do not understand what they see, they call it magic or supernatural.  The magicians can use unknown science, illusion or slight of hand to deceive, manipulate or shock people. Some people know that one way to control people is to create chaos, fear or expectation of death.

We have Jacob as the island guardian. He is the high priest of the island. The island contains a temple - - - and temples were created for the specific purpose of burial of powerful people.

The smoke monster could be viewed as the deadly dust that is the manifestation of the curse for those foreigners who came to the island to disturb the temple rites.

Why did Jacob allow people to come to his island? Just as in ancient times, a pharaoh, dead or alive, needed subjects to protect him and his remains. The Flight 815 survivors could be unwittingly recruits for the pharaoh's subjects. They were placed in the way of raiders such as Widmore's men who wanted to take control (and plunder) the island.

One can see that the smoke monster's deaths were not indiscriminate. It killed people like Eko because he did not believe in the island's religion. He was wrapped up in his brother's religion out of guilt. As such, Eko had no role in protecting the temple or the island. Eko was then expendable.

Likewise, converts like Locke were used to try to recruit loyal subjects to return to the island. When he failed, he was killed because he had no value to the island high priest.

The one concept that stood the test of the series was that the island had to be protected (from the unknown). That was the reason and excuse for all the conflicting behaviors and story lines. 

Just as in Egyptian mythology, the smoke monster may have evolved to rival the high priest - - - to overthrow him to create his new cult. That is why Flocke did not kill Widmore's men in mass; he used the alleged conflict between the sides in order to oust Jacob from his position of power. Flocke's background was one of science (MIB was into Roman culture and technology as a young man) while Jacob was schooled in the metaphysics of religious beliefs tied to the island's mysterious past. The theme of science vs. religion was common in the series. It seems that it was tested at various stages in time, from the military coming to the island to challenge the inhabitants to Dharma's uneasy truce with the natives. There were two different views of the island. One was to keep the religious tenets in place (Jacob). The other was to abandon the old ways (MIB) and abandon the island.

In some ways, the latter prevailed just like it did in Egypt. Egyptian cult religion or worship its pharaohs died off to be replaced with modern religions in a secular government structure (with intermittent civil wars and political upheaval.)

Just as modern archeology triumphed over the safeguards of tomb construction, LOST's major change was the loss of the island's long standing structure and purpose.

When it was said that the characters had to "let go" in order to be free, it could mean that they had to let go their own past personal principle structures (which commonly is called religious beliefs) in order to embrace their own free will and their thoughts on morality and mortality.

Saturday, June 3, 2017


"There are things that are known and things that are unknown; in between are doors." - - - Jim Morrison.

A good mystery is like a door.

The clues to what lies behind the door (the answers) can be found:

1) by the location of the door;
2) by the type of door;
3) the construction of the door;
4) the kind of latches or knobs;
5) whether it is locked or unlocked;
6) whether it has signage;
7) whether you can hear noises from inside.

Applied to the Island in LOST:

1) it was located in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere north of Australia and west of Fiji.
2) it was a tropical island
3) it contained ruins from past occupants
4) it was very hard to enter the island
5) it was hidden from searcher's view
6) it was so remote that it screamed danger to survivors that washed up on its shore
7) the noises of the smoke monster were loud and horrible.

So what was behind all the island mysteries?

Did we get a clear peak behind the door?

We know the island by its unique physics properties defies both time and space. But we do not know whether it exists in our current earth space-time, or phases in and out, or is another dimension (including but not limited to the afterlife).

We know that throughout the centuries, various people came to the island and built their own structures such as the Egyptian temple to the Dharma laboratories. But we do not know whether these civilizations were necessary to the development of the island or the saving of mankind.

We were told that no one entered the island without the permission of the island guardian. But it is unclear why Jacob would have allowed the US military to come place an atomic bomb on the island then leave it in the hands of power-mad people like Widmore. And if a guardian "needed" people on the island, why were those people's lives so meaningless and subject to frivolous deaths?

We think that the island's defense was the smoke monster and/or the guardian. We are not sure whether the guardian like Jacob was a smoke monster himself, or he had the power to create one. But since Jacob appeared to be immortal (until an unclear change made him give up the guardianship to Jack; perhaps the uncorking of the island), one could presume he was a supernatural being.

We also saw that when Rousseau's crew washed upon the island, the smoke monster was like an attack guard dog - - - killing and possessing them from the moment of landing. However, when the Flight 815 castaways landed on the island, the smoke monster's wrath was tempered to isolated incidents to Ben's "summoning" of the smoke monster by the water device to kill Widmore's men.

Even when the writers opened the door to the island, the interior is still quite dark. Even the answers are shrouded in mystery.