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.

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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.

This is slightly inspired by Hurley’s numbers almost hitting the Mega Millions this week.  Did any of you see Jorge Garcia’s opinion of the Lottery?  Very funny.  Check it out here: http://furtherdispatches.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/will-you-people-ever-learn/

I’ve given TV a chance.  Walking Dead shuffled off into hiatus.  Dexter came and went like a silent killer.  Boardwalk Empire was as fast as a group of guys robbing an Atlantic City Casino.  I have not found a single show that stimulates that primal “I need to figure this crap out’ part of my brain the way that Lost did.  I tried to watch the X-files on Netflix, but that just isn’t doing it for me.  It was really cheesy on the outside during the first season.  Don’t You think?

What should I do?

Well, I did buy the entire Lost collection on Blu-ray…

 

“We have to go back!”

 

 

That is it.  I’m going to go back to the island.  I’m going to re-watch from the beginning, and it is going to be in awesome Blu-ray crystal clear awesomeness!  But, I’m not going to attempt to watch it with fresh eyes at all.  Rather, I’m going to watch it with my already filled to the brim Lost theorizing mind and try to explain it as I go.  For every four or so episodes I’ll offer I Always Have a Plan annotated notes.  I’ll connect dots.  I’ll explain actions and reactions that the writers didn’t even know they had at the time of writing.  This show was probably such a happy accident by the end that the writers, producers, and directors had no idea where they were going at the premiere of season 2, but ended up steering an out of control Island castaway, Plane wreck, time traveling, philosophical, action/adventure story on a collision course with TV history.

Please, feel free to watch along with me, start or join the (a) conversation, and maybe we’ll find some theory, idea, or Easter egg that nobody saw yet.  I’ll begin watching this Sunday Jan 9th at 12:00pm EST with a tub of popcorn and a notepad.  See you back on the island.

 

2 more numbers and life would have been so different....

Yesterday I was at the bank.  I made my deposit, went back to my car and was about to return to work, when I thought “I should play the lottery.”  So, back out of the car and across the street I went.  There was a little shop a few doors down that did lottery.

The Mega Millions pot was over 300 million dollars.  I know people say you have a better chance of being hit by lightning, but you know what?  That is a very negative way of looking at the world!  I’d rather think about what I’d do with 300 million.  So I got a ticket.

My first line as you can see in the above picture is 4,8,15,16,23,42… I know, I know.  I’m a super dork for betting the Valenzetti Equation …  Or am I?!  I got 4 numbers!

I wonder how many people nationwide actually play those numbers?

If they hit, it would probably be the most shared pot in the history of the lottery.

Did you play them? Let me know if You’re a Lost dork holding on in some weird way too.

Hurley: A while ago, I was in this kind of psych ward and there was this guy, Leonard. All the time I knew him,all he ever said were these numbers. “4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42”. Over and over and over again. And they kind of got stuck in my head. So when I got out… well, actually a couple months after I got out, I was buying a frozen burrito and thought “I should play the lottery”, and I guess those numbers were stuck in my head, so I played them. And I won… $114 million. That’s when it started happening. My grandpa died, my house caught on fire, the chicken joint that I worked at got hit by a meteor… Well, actually, a meteorite. OK, so, tonight, I see the same freaking numbers on that hatch thing. Just written on the side. And that’s why I tried to stop it, because that thing is cursed, man.

Jack: You were in a psych ward?

Look for a new post tomorrow – – – – – – – – I have new Lost plans.

Part 4 – Where the Wild Smoke Monsters Are – Establishing villains

From the beginning the smoke monster was established as the ominous adversary.  The castaways saw it from afar ripping entire trees out of the ground, probably just going for a walk.  It was an unknown ‘thing’ that would randomly pop into the camp and terrorize, kill, and drag people off.  From a writing standpoint it seemed to be a Deus ex Machina given form, which is pretty funny.  It did become more.  It was given a face.  Actually it was given many faces over the course of the show.  Best of all, it was given motivation.  It was given a reason to be so angry.  It has been a prisoner for thousands of years.  A lifetime sentence has to be pretty rough when you are an immortal sentient cloud.

The purpose of the monster was to act as the antagonist to a group of people that would need to face the greatest threat that not just the world has ever faced, but all of existence.  Their test was such a mind-bogglingly huge task, that people will talk and write books about it for years to come.  Many people seem to see the conflict as being one of good versus evil, as Locke hinted at during season one while teaching backgammon to Walt.  “Light versus dark” was the exact phrase Locke used.  I do not think that is the correct phrasing for this conflict though.  It would be accurate to call the Lost conflict of the Castaways Vs. Smoke monster ‘People versus Evil.”  None of the Castaways were what anyone religious, agnostic, or atheist would ever call ‘good.’  Sayid was an interrogation torturer, Shannon slept with her half brother, and Jack was so conflicted that it drove him nearly to suicide.  The fight in Lost was one of human beings banding together to rise above their vices, prejudices, and petty hatreds to fight something that is beyond even their understanding.

Why did the monster choose Locke?  The monster chose John Locke’s form because very simply, it was a good fit.  John was an adamant believer in all of the goodness of the island and what it could potentially be to him and all people.  This steadfastness made him perfect for a guise that would allow the monster to enact his final gambit to get off that rock.  It is a slippery slope when you believe as strongly as John Locke.  It raises philosophical questions that people constantly ask themselves with regards to whether or not there is a god, like “If god loves us why is there war, famine, disease, hatred, guns, etc.?”  If Jacob loved them, then why was there a smoke monster?  When the resurrected John Locke appeared with a more extreme viewpoint, it was completely believable to the Others.  He was a new kind of leader that wouldn’t take Jacob’s ‘Look-at-me-I-live-in-a-foot-and-tell-you-what-to-do’ crap anymore.  Little did they know, that they were following their sworn enemy on a mission to kill the protector of all that they loved.  Locke’s likeness was a flesh-suit that the smoke monster wore with ease and died even easier while wearing.

“These pretzels are making me thirsty!”

There were other monsters to contend with on the island as well.  Greed.  It is man’s nature to want more than they have or need.  The source represented something that men would kill for.  It was a modern (and also ancient) fountain of youth, that men would travel time and space to acquire.  Men and women have died trying to discover trading routes across the sea.  What would they do to live forever?  Vices.  Charlie literally could not get away from heroin.  It was rather hysterical how much heroin was on the island.  Just when you thought he was clean and sober, another bag of heroin would pop up.  Jealousy. Jack loved Kate who slept with Sawyer who lived with Juliet in 1977 for three years, who fell for Jack.  All four of these people would live and die for each other, but they will always be looking at the other woman or man and wondering ‘what if?’  Infidelity – Sun was on her way to another man when the plane crashed.  Cruelty – Boone’s constant belittling of his sister. 

MURDER!

Murder – How many people did Jack kill on his rampages through the Other’s camps.  What about the people in the past that died in the bomb he dropped down that hole in the ground?  Sawyer was on his way back from Australia where he committed murder.  Kate killed her stepfather.  Charlie killed Ethan.  Desmond killed Kelvin.  Michael killed Ana-lucia and Libby.  Locke’s doubts all but killed Mr. Eko.  None of them were angels.

They all had a monster within, and that is what made them all so fascinating.  They had the capacity for true evil, but chose to fight it within themselves while fighting it externally on the Island as well.

I’m not quite retiring this site yet.  There is more to say, and I will be purchasing the season 6 set in a few short months and re-watching.  I’ll probably have some new thoughts at this point.  In the next few days I will have a new site up (URL TBA) and will post and link to it here.  I’m going to open up my reviews to encompass more than just Lost.

Keep an eye out for one more Lil’ Ben strip in the next few days!

Absolute favorite Finale moment: When Ben apologizes, and he means it!

And lastly, Links to the OTHER parts of this series of thoughts, recaps, reactions, sweet nothings, etc. about the final episode of Lost, “The End.”

And They All Existed Happily Ever After Part 1 – THE SOURCE

And They All Existed Happily Ever After Part 2 – Desmond is the Metal Fork in the Microwave of the Universe!

And They All Existed Happily Ever After Part 3 – The Peripeteia

Thanks for reading!

-Rob

ialwayshaveaplan.lee@gmail.com

Part 3 – The Peripeteia

A peripeteia is a sudden reversal dependent on intellect and logic, essentially changing a person or character’s mind. From Wiki, Aristotle defines it as “a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity.” According to Aristotle, peripeteia, along with discovery, is the most effective when it comes to drama, particularly in a tragedy.

Over the past 6 seasons Lost has been called a brilliant Sci fi show, a moving drama about survival, a time traveling adventure story, and many other descriptions suit it as well. No matter what it was to you or the person sitting next to you, it was dependent on one constant, Characters. Lost was populated with a cast of wonderfully flawed characters. But did these characters reach their moment of peripetia, where they could evolve and achieve a full metamorphosis into something ‘more’ than when they began 6 years ago in their harrowing survival of the Oceanic flight 815 wreck? I think some of them did.

I CAN see my house from here.

Jack Shepherd was a hard-edged man of science. He was confident and sure of himself when in front of others, but fragile and given to vices when left to ponder his actions. Jack desperately wanted the love of a father who died. While traveling home with his father’s remains, flight 815 crashed on the island. He resisted belief in the mystical nature of the island. As a doctor, he could not wrap his rational mind around it. Even through EM flashes, smoke monsters, underwater bases, the endless coincidental connections between the people on the plane, and seeing his deceased father walking around the island, he still declared himself a practical man of science and had every intention of obtaining rescues for all those men and women that would follow him, but he would do it with a phone, and a gun, and a boat or a plane. There was never any consideration given to any of the otherworldly occurrences on the island, or how they could be utilized for escape or rescue.

Jack is reminiscent of King Arthur pulling a sword from a flaming wreck of a plane and declaring that everyone should follow him, but he refuses to admit the powers of Excalibur. The peripety came for Jack in L.A. after the Oceanic six had been saved, in the form of a dead Jeremy Bentham. Jack felt overwhelming guilt over his being home, while his friends remained behind and faced hardship without his leadership. He was a King that abandoned his kingdom. He declared “We need to go back!” But that would not be the only reversal. Jack was the character equivalent of a car doing donuts in a field. He would go back and forth between leader with unstoppable forward momentum and wallowing pill popping alcoholic and even a ‘let’s wait and see’ person. The final reversal came at the end of season five with his sudden determination to detonate Jug-head.

"How is this for faith Locke? I'm going to blow us all up in order to make it all right."

Jack decided to give himself over to fate and faith. Science got him nowhere, and he knew that. The living embodiment of Science, Daniel Faraday, was executed thirty years before he arrived on the island by his mother who had not even conceived him yet! (Which raises a very interesting question: If Daniel died before he was born, was his soul eradicated?) That moment gave birth to the Jack that would lead and ultimately save his friends (the ones still alive at least) in the final season. Jacks transformation from ‘daddy issues boy’ to Arthurian leader willing to sacrifice himself for his people was complete.

What happened was just this. The wind began to switch the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch. Just then this this b!#ch caught me in a net and I've pretty much been here all night...

Ben Linus – Ben was introduced under the guise of a lie. The lie was told to the castaways in the hatch as well as the audience. Nobody knew who this man was. He told everyone that his name was Henry Gale, and he was on a balloon trip around the world with his wife. Their Balloon crashed on the island and his just finished burying his wife. This was a series of half truths. Half true, because they happened to someone else. Henry Gale did crash on the island, but he was already dead. From there, Ben would be established as the ultimate manipulator on the Island. He would do anything, say anything, hurt anyone that got in the way of his ultimate goal, which was to protect the Island at all costs. This duplicitous nature created many enemies for Ben. Even amongst his own people, they were constantly waiting for a sign of weakness to dethrone him as he pointed out in the Season Three Episode where Ben thanks John for Destroying the Submarine. He told him that to let Jack go would have been a sign of weakness, but to kill him would have been unacceptable as well, because that would have been going back on his word. And if they sensed either, his status as the leader of the others would be in jeopardy. Where or when was the moment of peripeteia? I think it occurred during “The End,” but it originated some time earlier in “Cabin Fever” Season 4 Ep. 11, where Hurley shares an Apollo bar with Ben. So, this reversal would actually take years to fully develop.

Up to this moment, not a single character has ever openly shown Ben an ounce kindness. As a child his father got drunk on his birthday and reminded him that his mother died in childbirth. But this exchange between Ben and Hurley placed a glimmer of love in Ben’s heart. In Dr. Seuss terms, you could say his heart began to grow right there, and it had three sizes to grow.

The first growth in size would come during his heartfelt confession to Ilana regarding his daughter and murder of Jacob. He looked within and realized he has made some horrible mistakes, which he would most likely take to his grave with no chance for atonement.

I'm going to do something redefining for my character right now, because you shared a chocolate bar with me Hugo!

Amidst the island ripping itself apart during “The End,” Ben sees a massive tree limb falling towards Hurley. Ben selflessly shoves Hurley out of the way only to be pinned under it. His heart grew one more size when Kate, Sawyer and Hurley work together to save his life.

And the Third Size came just after Jack turned the light of the source back on. Hurley did something which nobody ever did for Ben. He asked Ben for his help. Right then, Ben completed his reversal. He went from rampaging lying monster to nurturing father. He became what he always wanted from his father. He reassured Hurley and told him that he can run the island how he sees fit. How Jacob ran it was not the only way. Ben really had a wonderful story of redemption and the search for acceptance and love.

Part 4 of 4 on Friday.

Favorite Finale Moment #3

When Kate said she missed Jack so much.