And so we get to one of my favorite dysfunctional couples on TV, Jin and Sun.  This episode continues the eye-opening Motif, but this time with Sun opening her eye in close up as she looks on at her husband fishing for their daily meal.  But then, what’s that?  She looks off to the right at Jack and Kate who are preparing to hike up to the caves….  Sun seems to understand them?  But how is that possible, and why would she hide her English skills?  This is a truly eye-opening moment for the audience.

I’d like to take a moment and point out that the production team (Writers, Directors, Producers) were extremely daring to have two characters like Jin and Sun as primary protagonists on a mainstream show, not because of their nationality, but because they spoke their characters’ native tongue on the show.  American TV is too often close-minded to the fact that there are many nationalities besides Californian (Which is a tall, toned, tanned, US West Coast creature) and Lost strove to explore diversity even as it cut its characters off from the rest of the world.  Bravo!

This was a transitional episode.  A lot happens, but it is really sort of fragmented.  We get a part of Michael’s NYC attitude, a splash of Jin’s frustration, some Jack and Kate flirtations, and a Charley revelation.  While the Jin/ Sun flashback storyline is integral to their development, the on-island story was really just filling in a few blanks, wrapping up a few loose ends from the last few episodes, and planting a few new ideas.

The subtleties are one of the things I love about this show.  There was a teeny tiny moment which was very telling about Jin’s character during a flashback.  It was when he exits Sun’s home after asking for her hand.  He very naturally misleads her for a moment, making her believe that the meeting went poorly.  This masking of himself will become invaluable as he slowly becomes swallowed by the dark and dirty deeds that Sun’s Father will have him performing.  Like a superhero, Jin has assumed an alter-ego.  This alternate persona will work for Sun’s father and do what needs to be done to earn her hand and love.  The problem is that this new Jin, created out of necessity, will encroach upon the nice sweet boy persona that Sun fell in love with.  Sun, taking a cue from her husband, will create an alter ego for herself.  She will create a person full of hope and new beginnings who learns English in secret.  This person will plan to run away from her father and the man she on occasion loves but simultaneously grows to fear.

There was a wonderful use of a Hitchcockian plot device in this episode, known as a MacGuffin  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin).  A MacGuffin is plot element that drives a work forward, but loses importance as the story continues.  It can really be anything.  It simply has to be something that the characters desire, causes conflict, reveals character and motivations.  It is simply a story catalyst.  To name a few MacGuffins in Hitchcock’s films:

The stolen money in Psycho

The Secret Plans in the 39 Steps

The Microfilm in North by Northwest

A few more modern MacGuffins:

The rug in The Big Lebowski

The briefcase in Pulp Fiction

The Rimbaldi artifacts on the show Alias.

In this episode of Lost, the MacGuffin is the Rolex.  The watch serves as the catalyst that sets all the episode’s conflicts in motion, but loses importance in favor of the character developments and their interpersonal relationships.

Please enjoy this humorous Hitchcock explanation to Francois Truffaut of what a MacGuffin is:

It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin”. The first one asks “What’s a MacGuffin?”. “Well”, the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands”. The first man says “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands”, and the other one answers “Well, then that’s no MacGuffin!”. So you see, a MacGuffin is nothing at all. – From Hitchcock/ Truffaut

And here is a great clip from an interview where Hitch explains how to handle actors, editing, suspense, and suitcase bombs.  Enjoy!

Again… we open with an opening of an eye.  But who’s eye this time?  Jack’s eye.  Again.  But this time it is young flashback Jack in a schoolyard, just after getting punched in the face.  This is the furthest into the past a flashback has gone yet, because we need to go further into the past to pave a way to the future.  To understand these characters, we need to know them intimately.

This episode is wonderfully Shakespearean.  All of the elements of a great play of the Globe are present.  An unsure leader is literally haunted!  Sins of the father are visited upon the son!  Insanity plagues the hero!  Magical islands!  A clandestine meeting with a wise old man in the woods!  It is all here.

“Stay down! Your choice. Walk away now and you won’t get your ass kicked.” Jack of course doesn’t listen.

From the schoolyard, we cut to present day on the beach.  Charlie runs up screaming for help.  “Somebody’s out there!”  He points to the water.  Jack being the hero that he is, without thought to his well-being, rushes into the sea as Charley eerily mumbles to himself “I don’t swim.”  We’re all going to find out the extent of your swimming capabilities soon enough Charlie…

Jack makes it to the thrashing person who is revealed to be Boone.  Momentarily satisfied with his heroism of the day, he is about to make for shore, when hark, he hears another scream.  Another person is even further out.  A woman.  Jack decides to bring Boone to shore before going back for the woman.  She drowns.  Her name was Joanna.

Jack has already established himself as the hard decision-making-leader…  He will do what it takes to keep the camp safe.  He will do what he can for people right up to and sometimes beyond rationality.  At that point he has proven that he is  willing to cross lines that doctors generally won’t.

In the next scene we see the foundation for Jack’s often times crippling fear.  His father Christian commits a horrifying crime in the study with his words, by offering the most terrifying advice to a young black-eyed Jack.  “Don’t choose Jack.  Don’t decide.  You don’t want to be a hero.  You don’t want to try and save everyone, because when you fail…   You just don’t have what it takes.”  Wow.  Talk about a mind screw.  Worst Father of the Year Award goes to Christian Shepherd.  What path would this encounter put a person on if they are experiencing a Joseph Campbell story arc?  The redemptive path to prove themselves worthy?  A path to prove he has what it takes.  I’ve been on that path of proving yourself to others, and it can bring you  far, but the aggressive fires of proving your self don’t last as long as fires created by positive enthusiasm.  Jack seems to, from this moment, take the path of proving himself, just to spite his father, and it leads to multiple complete emotional breakdowns as he tries to prove that he can be the hero who has what it takes.

Dad?

When the man who you NEED to prove yourself to is dead, what do you do?  You hope to crash on a magical island of course.  Jack has seen his dead father twice on the island.  Why has he not talked about this?  He is a man of science.  He thinks it is a head injury or post-traumatic stress.   Like Hamlet being led by the nose and the words of the specter of his dead father, Jack follows Christian into the jungle.  Rather than looking for words of wisdom, I think Jack is looking for a showdown.  He wants answers.  He wants to know:

1. “How did you die?”

2. “Why did you leave mom?”

3. “How are you alive?”

4. And that which he’ll never ask at this point in his Island life, “am I good enough for you now?”

The phrase “The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son” can be translated and interpreted many ways.  I like to think that it simply means that children learn from and mimic what they see in their parents, thus are doomed to repeat their mistakes.  Jack spends his entire life fighting this very natural urge.  He does follow his father into adulthood by becoming a doctor, but he wants to be more than a mender.  In one way, he simply wants to surpass his father, and prove that he is better than he.  At the same time, he wants to be a hero to his patients.  He wants to dispel the darkness others feel, and if he fails because he doesn’t have what it takes, he’ll deal with it.

John "Prospero" Locke

The use of a family squabble is wonderfully Shakespearean.  Every great play written by the Bard, at its heart, is simply a family squabble.  Some are more serious, like Hamlet, Richard III or Romeo and Juliet, but others are playful, like the Taming of the Shrew.  Like Hamlet, Jack can’t live up to the vision he thinks his dead dad had for him.   There is a plane crash in a far off land, which is very much like Twelfth Night, where people try to assume new identities and cast away old skins.  Also in the Twelfth Night, we had siblings that were separated for so long that they no longer recognize each other at first glance, similar to Claire and Jack.  The island is a magical place where transformations take place as they did in a Midsummer’s Night Dream.  Some can even harness the magic as Prospero did in the Tempest, or like Locke to heal his legs.

"...God knows how long we're gonna be here. But if we can't, live together... we're gonna die alone."

The Alice in Wonderland references of “chasing a white rabbit” were a little blunt, but perfect at the same time.  It is a universal story that evokes a very broad reaction, whether it is Hunter S. Thompson yelling “White Rabbit!” uncontrollably or John Locke speaking calmly in the woods like a kind grandfather, we get the point.  We are all searching for something.   It really was a perfect way to spell it out for the audience, because who doesn’t love Alice in Wonderland or  feel like they are on the other side of the Looking Glass and looking in from time to time?

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Added bonus! (sort of)  In 1999 I chased a white rabbit that led me to making the short film Alice Underground.  It was an experimental film shot entirely in still photography.  We used actors and print models to transmute Lewis Carroll’s tale to the streets of NYC.  It screened at various film festivals between 1999 and 2010, including The Hampton’s International film Fest.  Here is the trailer for that film, because I won’t torture you with the whole thing.

Walkabout S.1 Ep. 4

I had a bit of trouble coming up with a theme for this episode.  The obvious ones are there of course.

– Don’t tell me what I can’t do!

– Destiny

– Miracles and the magic of the island

None of them seemed entirely right to me, until I stopped and thought about Sayid’s side-story in the  episode Walkabout…

Sayid had a problem with what Jack decided should be done with the bodies of those that passed away in the crash.  At dusk the following day, the castaways will burn the fuselage to dispose of / in remembrance of /  those that died.

Sayid, not wanting to take part in that, because it disrespected the 815 dead’s possible and completely unknowable final wishes, decided to focus on a side project.  He removes wiring, electrics, and metal from the wreckage to build antennas, which will work with a repurposed transceiver to triangulate the mysterious signal left by Rousseau.

The idea of repurposing has often occurred to me while watching Lost.  I’ve always had this thought, that I’ve mentioned in a few other articles, that the island exists outside the dimensional plane of the rest of the Earth.  That is how and why things like the flashes, time loops, teleportation, etc. seem to not affect the rest of the planet.  i.e.  It isn’t so much that you teleport to Tunisia when you turn the wheel, so much as Tunisia is the closest place on Earth to the island’s dimension, when you open the “door.”

So, if you accept that the island exists in its own dimension, with its own rules governing time, space, distance, etc. then the rest of this won’t be that crazy.

I’d like to suggest that when a person crosses over to the island he or she leaves their destiny behind.  They skew from the destiny that they were heading for and embrace a new one which includes time spent on the island, thus drastically changing their life-course.

What if all the characters had very specific destinies?  What if they all had a purpose back in their lives before the crash?   What if, by leaving, and crossing over to the island, these destinies were interrupted, changed, or diverted? (Course correction is a big theme later…)

I propose that Jacob, just like Sayid repurposing a few wires and circuit boards, repurposed the survivors of flight 815.  He took their destinies that were set in stone, and changed them.  It is no coincidence that in the season 5 finale we see that Jacob uses an ancient looking loom to weave tapestries.  Many ancient mythologies compare fate and reality itself to the act of weaving a tapestry.

Three examples from wiki:

Navajo:

Many of the world’s people believe that the world is woven and that a weaving Creator wove its designs into being. Compare the Navajo legend of the Spider Woman, of Teotihuacan origin.

Greece:

In Greece the Moirae (the “Fates”) are the three crones who control destiny, and the matter of it is the art of spinning the thread of life on the distaff.

Egypt:

In pre-Dynastic Egypt, nt (Neith) was already the goddess of weaving (and a mighty aid in war as well). She protected the Red Crown of Lower Egypt before the two kingdoms were merged, and in Dynastic times she was known as the most ancient one, to whom the other gods went for wisdom.

"It takes a long time if you're making the thread." The thread are the castaways. The tapestry is the whole story.

By pulling flight 815 to the island, Jacob removed these people from one tapestry and added them to another.

Jack, destined to live in the shadow of his father, even after his death, was given the chance to be his own man after Jacob crashed 815.  The island made him a doctor not just for individual patients, but a doctor for the whole planet.

Sawyer was on the road to vengeance since his namesake caused the death of his parents.  The island would give him a focus for all that anger and rage.

Sayid was full of regret for the pain that he’s caused and was seeking his true love.  If he had not been one of the “Oceanic 6” would he have ever found her?

Through her island experiences Kate was finally able to stop running from her past mistakes.

Charley?  In season 6 he declared on the plane “I was supposed to die!”  Was THAT his destiny back in the ‘real’ world?  Would he have just been another rocker that overdosed in a hotel?  Probably.  The island, through Jacob, gave him a grander purpose, and made his death mean something more than a TMZ headline.

Hurley experienced the grandest change to his destiny.

Then there was John Locke.  John was destined for tragedy and heartbreak at every turn in his life.  Betrayed by his father and constantly harangued by his co-workers, John was given a new destiny by Jacob.  Jacob brought him to the island, and gave him what he always wanted, adventure, purpose, and family.  In this episode we got to see the very first glimmer of this new destiny John is in the process of embracing.   In this new place John is a strong and mysterious man.  He carries knives and hunts for his food.  He is trying to actually become the man that he merely pretended to be in his war games back at the box factory in California.

Walkabout was a terrific episode.  I’m sure there are dozens of other topics we could pull from this fantastic example of scripted television, but this was the one is pulled.  I repurposed an idea and made it fit into my Walkabout post.

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Further Jack/ John visual references hinting at the conflict to come:

John Locke and Jack Shepherd are set on a collision course right from the start, which never fully culminates until after one of them is dead and ends with the other dying.  This conflict was hinted at right from the beginning by drawing visual parallels.

From the first image of this episode we get a familiar visual reference.  A Close-up of John Locke’s eye as it bursts open, just as we saw Jack in the first image of the pilot episode. Then the camera movements are similar.  We go from the close-up to a wide shot angled straight down at the body as it twists around almost like a spirit floating above.  A very similar movement was used to show Jack’s location in the pilot.

They both lost consciousness, and when they came to they found themselves on a new road, with a new destiny, reborn.

The primary difference between Jack and John’s re-birth just after the accident is that Jack is reborn into the peaceful bamboo forest, while John is born into pain, screaming, and anarchy.  In the midst of this anarchy though, a miracle occurs.  John wiggles his toe.

I love that his soles are completely unworn! I guess you could say John has got sole?.... That was terrible.

Tabula Rasa is possibly the most over used episode title in the history of television.  There was an episode of Buffy that used that same title where the Scooby gang suffered from temporary amnesia.  Then there was a Battlestar Galactica episode, a Law and Order episode, Criminal Minds, Justice League, Stargate, and even Heroes.  I’m sure there are even more.

Why this fondness for the title? Is it because it sounds cool?  Well, I think it is particularly apt in the case of Lost.  Tabula Rasa means ‘Blank Slate.’  As far back as the fourth century Aristotle wrote of the unscribed tablet, or blank slate with regard to the human mind in his De Anima.  However, it wasn’t until, no surprise here, John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in the 17th century, that the idea became popular in modern philosophy. Simply put, the theory states that at infancy we are a blank slate.  Our personality, behavior, and intelligence are products of the many experiences that we absorb and make part of ourselves over the course of our lives.  Basically he believed that from birth we have all the potential in the world, we just need to strive to do better and be better.

Interestingly, over on good old Wiki, I was reading about the Roman tabulas, which were made of wax.  After use, these tablets were heated and wiped clean so they could be used again and again.  Is this more applicable to our castaways?  Were they wiped clean by the fires of their ordeal?  I think they were.  Like human etch-a-sketches, their sins were shaken away by the turbulence and crash.

The focus of the flashbacks in Tabula Rasa is Kate.  Kate desperately wants a go at a new life.  She can’t have that blank slate though. There are two loose ends that tie her to her past, Agent Mars and a WANTED flyer in his pocket.  She is so close to her fresh start when Mars opens his eyes and starts talking to Jack, that it must be infuriating!

When she returns to camp, as a viewer you start to wonder which side of “Right” Kate is going to fall on.  The one man who can spoil her chance is at death’s door.

Kate goes to Jack and asks him “Can you put him out of his misery?”

Just the suggestion gets Jack’s goat!  He stomps right up in her face and taunts her.

“I saw your mug shot Kate! I’m not a murderer!”

Has Kate Lost Jack’s trust?

The episode progresses to the last few minutes, where Kate talks to Mars alone.  She wants to make sure that Ray, the man who turned her in, got his reward.  Through this moment, we see the redemptive qualities of her character.  She’s done something horrific.  Something so bad that it caused her to run all the way to Australia, and for someone to go after her!  Still, she still has the capacity for caring, love, and understanding.  She can’t be THAT bad.  Can she?

But then Mars asks if he is going to die?

Kate, tears appearing a little, replies “Yes” while nodding.

With the question “Well are you going to do it?” Mars establishes what he thinks of Kate’s capabilities.  He thinks a mercy kill should be easy based on whatever she’s done.

The climax comes when Jack realizes that Kate is in with Mars, and she has a gun.  He suddenly thinks the worst.  He thinks that she’ll do anything to protect her secret.  Running to the tent, he sees her casually exit.  Relief washes over until…. BLAM.  A shot rings out and Sawyer exits the tent declaring that he’s done what Jack couldn’t while territorially peeing all over the camp.  He claims that Mars “Wanted it, and hell, he asked me.”

What’s that?  Then they hear a gurgle from inside the tent.

Mars is still alive.

Crap!

Jack enters the tent and does what needs to be done.  He euthanizes Mars with his bare hands.  Jack once again proves that he will always do what it takes, even if it eventually leads to horrible beards and too many pills to dull the atrocities he will commit in the name of doing the right thing.

In a cathartic moment the next morning Kate offers to tell Jack what she did.  She wants to come clean.  Jack stops her, saying “I don’t want to know. It doesn’t matter Kate.  Who we were… What we did before this…Three days ago we all died.  We should all be able to start over.”  So, their tabulas are rasa’d.

I’d like to take the musical montage at the end and break down the just visuals for a moment.  The song is ‘Wash Away’ by Joe Purdy.

Watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmWDN9-ySyk

Lyrics here:

I got troubles oh, but not today
Cause they’re gonna wash away
They’re gonna wash away

And I have sins Lord, but not today
Cause they’re gonna wash away
They’re gonna wash away

And I had friends oh, but not today
Cause they’re done washed away
They’re done washed away

And oh, I’ve been cryin’
And oh, I’ve been cryin’
And oh, no more cryin’
No, no more cryin’ here

We get along Lord, but not today
Cause we gonna wash away
We gonna wash away

And I got troubles oh, but not today
Cause they gonna wash away
This old heart gonna take them away

The lyrics are a pretty perfect fit with the tabula rasa motif.

We start with Hurley.  He is literally washing something, pouring the sand from his shoe.  He is serving a dual purpose here.  Hurley is listening to the music in this scene which makes it diegetic, meaning that it is within the narrative and not external to the story.  So, by listening to the song, he seems to have control of the environment, like he will in the END….  really big stretch I know, but who’s to say they didn’t have the basics to the end figured out right in the beginning.

Cut to a nice tracking shot of Jin.

Jin walks up to a sleeping Sun and shows unconditional love for the first time.  Why can’t he do this in front of others, or even in front of her?  The relationship is so strained, but you see a slim chance for happiness for the first time.  Are Jin’s troubles rasa’d and washing away?

Cut to Shannon in a medium shot sitting on the beach.

Boone gives his sister a pair of sunglasses the he repaired for her.  They too have a chance at happiness.  What would make them happy? I don’t know.  But it seems that there could have been a chance.

Cut To Sayid walking.

Sayid throws Sawyer an apple as he walks past.  They might hate each other, but there is a respect that Sayid has for a person that does what needs doing.  He respects Sawyer’s willingness to act.

Cut to.

Charley changes his writing on his fingers from “Fate” to “Late.”  What is late?  His self-respect?  Him getting to California?  Is he late for a date?  I know he’ll be late for his destiny… or at least put it off for a bit.

The camera pans down to Claire.  Maybe he feels that he was meeting her too late?

Cut to:

A beautiful family reuniting.  Michael walks up with Vincent the dog on a leash.  Walt is ecstatic!   They frolic for a moment in the island sun and everyone is happy!  BUT, this is a tainted reunion.  Michael has established something about his character.  He is weak.  He has taken credit for this ‘miracle’ of finding the dog.  He is willing to live a lie as long as it gets him what he wants.  In this case, it is the love and respect of Walt, but later it will be a lot more, and it will cost other characters A LOT more….. and someone notices this.

Cut over to and track around a pensive Locke.  Locke orchestrated this beautiful family moment, and he doesn’t seem to care for it.  He seems to see what his meddling has done.  He sees that Michael might be useful to him…   He might even know at this point that Walt is special.  After all, the island talks to John.

Side note:  As I watched this episode I kept feeling Deja-Vu.  I finally figured out what it was after a bit of brainstorming…  It reminded me of the Gilligan’s Island episode “Not Guilty” when a crate washed up in the Lagoon that had old Honolulu newspapers as wrapping for coconuts.  On one of the pages was a story stating that each of the castaways is wanted for questioning in relation to a murder that took place the day that they left!  I wonder if the writers’ room talked about the parallels while they were brainstorming?  That would be funny.

Part 2 of the Pilot.

What we get in this episode is Character development, and a lot of it. So much information is crammed into 45 minutes, that I feel a bit Like Alex Delarge after watching it again. With this info comes a bit of foreshadowing, some of which doesn’t pan out for two, three or even five seasons.

What sort of character development? Well, It seems Kate is some sort of criminal. They keep it vague enough to fix us at the edge of our seat, and employ some wonderful editing, crosscutting from Kate relieving Sawyer of the only gun that they know of on the island, to her on 815 during the crash turbulence, then to Jack’s discovery of her criminal past, and back over to her on a mountainside leading a signal search party. We are barely told anything, and are left with the mystery of what this woman who seems inherently good could have done to be in so much trouble…

Charley is a drug addict. This was really no big surprise. The rock star drug addict is a bit clichéd but Dominic Monaghan pulls it off in such an endearing way. I love that Charley feels the need to interject “Ever heard of Driveshaft?” into the first thirty seconds of any encounter. Charley’s addiction storyline seems to be a personal demon story arc at first, but as anyone that has ever known a person with any sort of addiction issue, it will spiral out of control and suck in all the people around him or her…. Terrific set-up here for a redemption (song) story.

Shannon can speak French! There were so many moments where Shannon shied away from the group, claiming that “the boats will be there soon,” she doesn’t need to help, “there will be people for that,” establishing her as the epitome of a rich brat. Her brother Boone, the yin to her yang, is constantly trying to help, sometimes to the point of making a nuisance of himself. Their polar opposite personalities makes me think of a horrible Paula Abdul song for some reason….. which is then more blatantly referred to by Claire when she asks Shannon “Is he your boyfriend?” about Boone. Ewwwwwwww, I’m getting a Luke and Leia Star Wars vibe here.

Back to the French though. Shannon listens to the recording left by Rousseau over 16 years ago. This small but powerful moment will not completely play out until the final season. Bits and pieces of what is said will be explained and revealed over the six seasons.

A few other hints of future events peppered throughout the episode were:

– Jack Lies to the others on the beach about not finding any survivors in the cockpit. He begins making those hard decisions right away. HE decides what they NEED to know. He places himself in a leader role because he believes he needs to.

– The polar bear in the woods leads directly to the Dharma storylines and experiments that have gone on here.

– Sawyer, emotionally reads his letter that he keeps in his pocket. What is it? Who is it to? Who is it from? Mystery!

"These are my words."

– The line is drawn in the sand as early as this episode between Jack and Locke. They haven’t even shared more than ten words, but editing tells me that the central conflict will be between these two characters.

How?

I’ll show you.

While talking to Michael, Jack searches for a blade to operate on Federal Agent Mars. He finds a straight razor in a shaving kit, and when he pulls it out, it is featured menacingly in its own close-up. A close up like this is always used to bring the object to the attention of the audience. This shot says to me “Keep an eye on this blade! This will be important.” Or it is symbolic. This is a tool that can be used to heal or kill. How will it be used?

CUT TO: a Close up of a Backgammon set in the sand. John Locke’s hands come into frame setting up the game. Walt approaches to ask about the game. John explains the nature and history of Backgammon. Light and Dark. Conflict. Good and Evil.

A transition like this is not a happy accident. This is masterful writing. Without even knowing it, the audience knows who is against who. A weapon was brandished followed directly by a conversation about good and evil.

The stage is set.

Lastly, Charley got to utter the exact words that spell out THE mystery that lasts until the very last episode and even beyond, “Guys, where are we?”

So we have conflict, multiple mysteries, plot threads established, and only barely scratched the surface of just how damaged this ensemble cast of characters is. What a great show.

Well, this is LOST, there are no rules really.

I was discussing what I am doing with this site with my wife over the weekend, and she made a very good point.  She told me to be careful not to spoil anything for people who might be watching Lost for the first time on DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes or whatever.  She told me I should have a Jerry McGuire style Mission Statement, so, well, here it is:

I Robert Lee of frenzied mind and exhausted body, do hereby promise to re-watch every episode of LOST.  I will write about this show as I view it.  Any and all writing will assume that you, the reader has seen Lost all the way through to the end.  My writing will be done from the standpoint and presupposition that you know that:

–  Desmond and Penny are in Love.

– Daniel Faraday is a brilliant mumbler.

– The Numbers are Bad!

– The Dharma Initiative is awesome and accepted applications at Comic con.

– Jack likes to drink and take pills sometimes.

– Henry Gale is more than just a character from The Wizard of Oz.

– Time Travel is a real and present threat.

– Submarines are a practical mode of transportation.

– G.I.Joe style underwater bases are not silly.

– You can’t escape your fate, but you can run from it for a while.

– Deja vu can be a real pain in the ass.

So, If you’ve never watched Lost, you might want to leave this site for later.  This is not Spoiler Free.  In fact, this entire site should now be treated as a massive LOST spoiler to those that have not watched it yet.  Bookmark it, and come back after you’ve reached the end and want to go back and see how a crazy person like myself has waded neck-deep into good TV.  Thank you for you Time.  If you do continue on, I only ask that you join in on discussing the crazy thoughts that I have rattling through my head regarding this show, and feel free to share yours as well.

Thanks!

Robert Lee

 

They come, fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same."

It begins again.  Eight months later, I’ve gone back to the island with the knowledge of everything that is to come.  While re-watching the pilot, I paid close attention to two elements: Introductions and the concept of fate as applied to the castaways.

1. Introductions – I wanted to keep a close eye on who latches onto who first.  Boone and Jack saved Rose’s life.  Jack paired Hurley with Claire so Hurley could keep her safe.  Sayid enlisted Charley to build a fire.  Shannon took care of herself and her own needs.  Locke, on his new magic legs, rushed to help Jack pull people from wreckage.  And when the dust had settled, Jack wandered off into the woods like a hurt cat so he could tend to his own wounds.  That is when Kate comes walking out of the forest to complicate the rest of his life.  And, of course, the Smoke monster was heard but not seen going for a walk through the jungle.

"Kate, meet the Smoke Monster. Smoke Monster... Kate."

2.The Idea of Fate – The first night on the Island Charley writes the word FATE across four of his fingers on pieces of white tape.  People often associate fate with something bad.  The phase “accept your fate” carries with it a connotation that you have to accept something less than desirable.  This is because so few of us actually have a fate in store for us that is something like, say, King Arthur.  He needed to accept his fate after freeing Excalibur, but of course his fate meant he got to be king, marry Guinevere and rule from Camelot.  His fate also entailed his wife cheating on him with his best friend, having an incestuous bastard child, and then killing that child.  It was a tough life and a sorry fate but a grand fate nevertheless.

While paying attention to the featured characters in the first part of the pilot, I noticed that regret and acceptance are huge plot points.  They all seem to have a guilty look about them as they tend to their wounds.  What do they have to feel guilty about?  Well, maybe EVERYTHING!   They all think the crash is their fault in some sort of karmic way.  Hurley believes that the cursed numbers crashed the plane.  Sun believes that her cheating led her to this place and she deserves all the horror of the island.  Claire thinks that she is on the island because she chose to give her child away.  Kate is on the island because she is running from her crimes.  Locke believe this was the price to regain his legs.

Then there is Jack.  Jack carries the literal weight of the world on his back.  He is the King Arthur of this story right from the start.  He might not believe that it is all his fault, but he believes he can fix it all.

In an ensemble story, it is always important to introduce your characters early.  If I’m writing a screenplay I like to get all my primary characters into the first five to ten minutes.  Sometimes it is difficult to do that.  To convincingly weave all of your characters into a story efficiently and quickly might feel contrived.  One tool that I used recently was having all the primary characters in their various homes, jobs, offices, all watching the same television program about the main character of the story.  So, I was able to link all of their interests and knowledge of the subject, and as they meet, it is already established that they have this common thread.

Lost introduced all the primary characters with organic ease.  All of their quirks and traits were prevalent right from the start.  Using the crash as the event that relates all the characters is brilliant in that the writers can constantly go back to that one moment and tell another character’s story of who, what, where, when and how they found themselves on flight 815.  All at once it is simple and brilliant.

I’m going to have fun re-watching.

I have a new Lost theory…  I know it doesn’t matter anymore…  but who cares.  I’ll share it after watching part two of the pilot.

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