Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Three-Sentence Theory Challenge...

I got this idea from a poster on the fuselage.com. Can you express your theory of what's happening on Lost in three sentences or less? Aphorisms, metaphors, and analogies are welcome, run-on sentences are not. Here's my own attempt:

1) None of this was supposed to happen, but all of it must or "every single one of us is dead."

2) Both players, light and dark, must die to end the game for good.

3) Aaron and Ji-Yeon are the Omega Point.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thoughts on the Incident...

I love so many things about Lost. But what I appreciate most is the way it always stays fresh by shifting ground just when I've found solid footing. Think Ben talks with Jacob? Wrong! Believe Bram and Ilana are the next generation of DHARMA? No soup for you! Suspect that Charlie Widmore's war will be between DHARMA: TNG and the Others? System Failure! Like some reality-tv cliche, I've been boldly proclaiming that I see the picture on the box of the show. As the Donald would say:

Let's begin at the beginning because the game changing scene for me, like many of you apparently, was the very first one of the episode. A lot of people are calling the Man in Black "Esau," which makes sense given the biblical connection to Jacob. But my suggestion for the Man in Black's biblical nickname would be the "Accuser" given his resemblance to the Accusing Angel (in most translations, Satan) who appears throughout the Old Testament as a persistent doubter and critic of humanity.

A great example is the Book of Job, which is framed by a divine wager over human worth. God brags about the devotion of his subject Job. The Accusing Angel counters that Job is so devoted because God has rewarded him with many possessions, a family, and good health. Ever the pessimist, the Angel bets that Job will renounce God if these things are taken from him. Eager to prove him wrong, God accepts the bet and gives the Angel permission to get "Guantanamo" on poor Job.

Remarkably, Job refuses to break even after his property is destroyed and his children are slaughtered. The Accusing Angel cynically notes that a man will give up everything to save his own skin, prompting God to authorize still harsher measures. The Angel takes Job's health, covering him from head to toe with painful boils. Job resists but eventually cracks, cursing the day he was born. Job's friends rebuke him, insisting he must have done something wrong to deserve his horrible plight.

Finally, God appears as a whirlwind and admonishes them all for presuming to understand his motives. In a series of brilliant yet disturbing passages, God illustrates the inadequacy of human metaphors to describe his divine design. The lesson is that bad things sometimes happen to good people for reasons our puny human minds just can't comprehend. His point made, God restores Job's lost health, family, and possessions, plus a little extra for his pain and suffering.

Like the Accusing Angel, the Man in Black is apparently cynical and pessimistic and about humanity. He seems convinced that our nature is to fight, destroy, and corrupt. Like God, Jacob is seemingly optimistic and determined to prove the Man in Black wrong. There's even a Jobian parallel in Ben, who becomes leader of the Others only to have his people, family, and health taken from him in horrible ways. No wonder Ben finally attacks Jacob like Job rebukes God.

The Man in Black accuses Jacob of bringing the ship -- presumably the Black Rock -- that we see off in the distance. Not surprisingly, Jacob doesn't deny the accusation. Like the Eye of Horus in his tapestry, he reaches out and touches people, drawing them to the Island. And why does Jacob do this? I think a clue to his motives can be found in his comment that the world "only ends once" and "anything that happens before that is just progress."

Jacob and the Man in Black are debating the fate of humanity. Without Jacob's intervention, the world would surely end, it's just a question of when. The Man in Black wants Jacob to stop postponing the inevitable because humans just aren't worth it. Jacob insists we're capable of progress and keeps bringing people to the Island in hopes of finding the Omega Point, which will save us once and for all. I'm guessing this is a very old debate between them -- one the Man in Black knows will never end unless he kills Jacob.

Jacob's conduct throughout the episode is consistent with this reading. He touches our Losties at pivotal moments in their lives to keep them on course for the Island, where they have roles in his plan to defy fate. Notice how several of the people he visits -- i.e., Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, and Sayid -- play key parts in causing the Incident. The Sawyer encounter is particularly instructive. If he doesn't finish that letter, chase the real Sawyer to Australia, crash on the Island, travel back in time, and pull a Han Solo, the assault on the Swan site probably fails.

Notice as well how closely the Incident resembles the Swan implosion, right down to the flying metal objects and bright flash of light. That's more than mere narrative parallel. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn that Desmond's activation of the Fail-Safe generated an electromagnetic pulse much like Juliet's detonation of the fission trigger. Bottom line: both events saved the world against all odds, in defiance of the Valenzetti. That's two we owe Jacob...

So who are Jacob and the Man in Black? I have some ideas, but first let me note one more relevant Old Testament connection. In the Book of Genesis, the biblical patriarch Jacob wrestles with a mysterious figure (sometimes said to be the aforementioned Accusing Angel) on the night before being reunited with Esau. The story of their battle is often interpreted as a metaphor for Jacob's internal struggle with his own doubts and mental demons. You might say Jacob was wrestling with his bad twin.

Here's where things get a little whackadoo. I'm sticking with my speculation that the Island is sentient, like Stanislaw Lem's Solaris or Philip K. Dick's VALIS. The twist is that some ancient trauma damaged the Island's giant brain. The result was two distinct personalities: one light, one dark. Jacob and the Man in Black are avatars that represent these two opposing sides of the Island's identity. (And before you say avatars don't eat, remember that Dave craved tacos.) Jacob was right that Hurley isn't crazy. It's the Island that's lost its mind...

This brings me to the other people whom Jacob visited -- Ilana, Locke, Jin, and Sun. Since none of them played a direct role in causing the Incident, I suspect that Jacob has other parts in mind for these four. In fact, I think we've just witnessed Locke's real purpose, which was to provide a loophole for the Man in Black to kill Jacob. You read that correctly -- I think Jacob wanted to die. He saw the Man in Black's move coming from a mile away and exploited it for his own ends. Hence the Obi-Wan Kenobi quality to Jacob's death.

I think Jacob has concluded that the Omega Point can't occur until they're both dead. The rules prohibit them from killing each other. I'm betting, however, that whatever loophole the Man in Black exploited to kill Jacob now leaves him vulnerable to a similar fate. He's standing in the shadow of the statue, having just orchestrated the murder of the Others' beloved leader. Someone loyal to Jacob will eventually figure this out and avenge Jacob's death. I'm guessing that part is reserved for Ilana.

That leaves Jin and Sun. Notice how they're the only ones Jacob visits as a couple, at the moment of their improbable union. It's because their role in his plan necessarily requires two actors: conceiving little Ji-Yeon. Jacob realizes that the only way to cure the Island's madness is to substitute two new avatars who somehow transcend their opposition. One will be Ji-Yeon, who was conceived on the Island but born off it. The other will be Aaron, who was conceived off the Island but born on it.

Mark my words, those two will eventually meet and fall in love. Everything that rises must converge on a Lost wedding between Aaron and Ji-Yeon some time before 2031. And while I'm making predictions (you'd think I'd learn my lesson, but no...) here are a few more from the Whackadoo Well for your reading pleasure:

Whackadoo Prediction 4: Richard is from the Black Rock. He may be its Captain, Magnus Hanso, but more likely he's the first mate based on his apparent role as advisor to whoever leads the Others. The Black Rock's arrival is the first step in Jacob's elaborate long con of both destiny and the Man in Black, as symbolized by Richard's ship in a bottle in Follow the Leader.

Whackadoo Prediction 8: Nothing we've already seen on the show has changed as a result of detonation of the Jughead's fission trigger. Flight 815 crashed on the Island just as it always did -- there is no reboot yielding a grandfather paradox. If that's where the show were going, I believe we would have received some small but clear indication of its direction. Something like Cort's Cuthbert's horn -- those of you familiar with the Stephen King's Dark Tower series will know what I mean. Instead, we got just the opposite in Miles's sardonic comment that Jack and Co. might be causing the Incident by trying to prevent it.

By that same token, it's equally wrong to say this was all simply a case of whatever happened, happened. I maintain that our Losties, like Desmond, changed what was supposed to happen. It is this altered timeline, in which they save the world, that we've witnessed thus far. Because neither the Incident nor activation of the Fail-Safe was supposed to happen, the general rule of course correction doesn't apply. Both events must thus be actively preserved. If anything changes, as Ms. Hawking said, every single one of us is dead.

Prediction 15: Some of those present for the Incident will survive, having been transported by the blast back to Island's the future. That's why Jacob's last words were: "They're coming..."

Whackadoo Prediction 16: Juliet will wake up naked in the jungle just like Desmond did following the Swan implosion. Okay, that's probably some wishful thinking on my part, but the Desmond parallel gives me hope that she, too, survived the blast. If so, look for her consciousness to time travel like Desmond's, and for her to join those who meet Jacob at some pivotal point in their pasts.

Whackadoo Prediction 23: Sayid is dead. Yes, the Island has healing powers. But even on the Island, you don't come back from a gut shot -- ask Ana Lucia, Libby, and Colleen. I wish it were otherwise, but I've had a sinking suspicion for some time that Sayid's story is basically done.

Whackadoo Prediction 42: Hurley survives but must make a pit-stop in 2004 before quantum leaping back to the future. His job? To actively effectuate events we've seen by hanging Charlie's guitar from a tree branch, where Locke will tell Charlie to look, as he did back in Season 1 during House of the Rising Sun...

That's all for this recap, you all everybody. Thanks again for your incredible comments and participation, which make running Eye M Sick so rewarding! Be sure to check back here during the hiatus for further whackadoo speculations. I'll also be posting over on I Hate My DVR my new blog about television generally. If you like shows like Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and Breaking Bad, I suspect we'll have lots to talk about...

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Lost Drinking Game...

Thanks to my friend JZ, here's a great Lost drinking game to play while you watch the season finale:

Take a sip when…

  • Someone’s got daddy issues

  • Juliet makes that smirky face

  • Desmond says “brothuh”

  • Sun says “husband”

  • Sawyer gives a nickname

  • Hurley and Myles talk about time travel

  • We get a close-up of an eye

  • You want to punch Jack

  • Smokey shows up

  • Roger knocks something over

  • Horace backs down

  • We see or hear either the numbers or the name Valenzetti

Take a long drink when…

  • Anyone other than Sawyer gives a Sawyer-esque nickname

  • Anyone dead shows up (NB: not Locke)

  • We see the undestroyed statue

  • Locke kills anyone

  • Sayid kicks some ass

  • A hydrogen bomb goes off

  • Geronimo Jackson music plays

  • Characters skip through time

  • Chang/Candle/Halliwax gives a different name

  • Ben employs irony

  • Walt or Aaron show up

Finish your drink when…

  • Bernard, Rose, Vincent or Claire show up

  • We get an “other” flashback (including Richard)

  • We get a major “reveal” involving Widmore

  • A polar bear shows up

  • Any character meets him/herself

  • The writers wink about a continuity error or use technobabble to explain something

  • Anyone speaks Latin. Or Egyptian

  • Zombie Christian changes shoes

Finish the bottle when…

  • Richard takes a cotton ball and wipes off his eyeliner

  • Anyone mentions Daniel’s tie

  • Any of the O6 dies

  • Kate becomes at all worthwhile

  • Nikki, Paolo or Libby show up

Take a hit when…

  • Cheech or Chong show up

Monday, May 11, 2009

Season Finale Speculations (Minor Spoilers)

I'm still in the middle of work hell, but I wanted to share a few quick whackadoo speculations about the finale and future direction of the show. Some of these are actually based on some mildly spoilerish comments from the cast and crew. Nothing major, unless you count the return of Daniel Faraday (I keed! I keed!) but consider yourself forewarned.

In a recent interview, Team Darlton described the Valenzetti Equation as predicting with 100% probability that the world would end within 27 years following the Cuban Missle Crisis (i.e., 1962). To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time they've ever given an actual time frame for the Valenzetti's prediction. What's really interesting is that 27 years after 1962 is actually 1989, one year after Danielle's arrival and right around the time of recent estimates of the date of the Purge.

Do you suppose the Others purged DHARMA because the latter's presence on the Island was the threat predicted by the the Valenzetti? This fits with my belief that DHARMA is supposed to cause some cataclysmic event that our Losties will avert by causing the Incident instead. And just how will our Losties do this? Hydrogen bombs like the Jughead use a small fission bomb as a trigger to ignite the fusion reaction that creates the actual explosion. Our Losties will detonate just the fission trigger, generating an electromagnetic pulse that neutralizes the Island's electromagnetism enough to be contained by the Swan button protocol.

Speaking of the Incident, I can't shake the suspicion that it's linked somehow with destruction of the four-toed colossus. My more "plausible" speculation is that the Island will somehow channel the explosion backwards in time, destroying the statue in the past. But if you really want to follow me down the Whackadoo Well, consider the possibility that our Losties will make some change to the timeline that results in the statue's resurrection. I can see it now: Bram and Ilana are blinded by a purple flash. When their vision clears, they look up and realize they're now standing in the shadow of the statue...LOST.

Finally, on the subject of the statue, Taweret fans take note. According to a recent interview, Michael Emerson did some research on our favorite fertility goddess after seeing her depicted in various Temple reliefs. He's convinced, based on this research, that the colossus is indeed Taweret. But what really caught my eye was the cryptic comment about "whom Taweret mates with, and when." I did a little digging myself and found that, according to some legends, she's the demon-wife of evil Apep, who I speculated might be Smokey in my recap of Dead Is Dead. So count me among the converts to the cult of Taweret!

That's all for now, you all everybody. Enjoy the season finale, and be sure to drop by next week for Three Black Swans, my brief but comprehensive explanation of the show in view of recent events.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thoughts on Follow the Leader...

Unfortunately, I don't have time for a full recap this week due to work obligations. I'm confident you all everybody will find plenty to talk about without my usual three-dot thoughts. I do, however, want to share one whackadoo speculation I have about the origins of Jacob, then expand briefly on the possibility I raised in my recap of the Variable that our Losties will paradoxically cause the Incident by trying to prevent it.

When Locke walks into camp with dinner, Richard is working on a ship in a bottle. My first thought was that Alpert's nifty craft project was a metaphor for the Island or maybe even the Black Rock. But then I remembered that Ship in a Bottle is the name of one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: TNG. In it, a character from a holodeck simulation, Professor Moriarty, becomes self aware and engages in an elaborate ruse to transform himself into a real person.

I suspect that Jacob aims to do something similar. Let's say the Island is sentient like planet Solaris and creates avatars of the dead to communicate with the living. Jacob may be one such avatar who became self aware and seeks to exploit the Island to reincarnate himself physically. Perhaps that's why Zombie Christian now occupies the Cabin and speaks for Jacob -- the former is the Island's attempt to reassert control over itself using this new avatar.

In fact, if you really want to follow me down the Whackadoo Well, consider the possibility that Jacob is fictional just like Dr. Moriarty. The precedents of zombies like Christian and Yemi suggest that Jacob is someone deceased. But what if the Island's ghostly patriarch is really the product of so many people believing in his existence? Maybe the Jacob avatar popped out of the Island's magic box like Hurley's imaginary friend Dave did.

Many, myself included, have been struck by the seemingly circular origins of Jacob's influence on the Others. When Locke first invokes Jacob's name back in 1954, it's not entirely clear that anyone, including Richard, gets the reference. It's possible that Locke unwittingly planted the seeds of Jacob's legend himself. Like Richard's compass, therefore, Jacob may originally be one big ontological paradox birthed by the time loop we've witnessed.

I think the foregoing possibility has occurred to Locke, as well. John doubts that Ben has ever spoken with Jacob because he suspects Jacob is a hoax perpetrated by Ben to control the Others. That's why Locke is so adamant about taking the Others to see their leader. When John says he plans to kill Jacob, I think he expects to reveal the latter as a lie. What Locke forgets is that the Island is a place where even fiction can sometimes become reality.

Before closing, let me follow up briefly on my suggestion from last week that our Losties will cause the Incident by trying to prevent it. I'm increasingly convinced that the Island is itself the threat of human extinction predicted by the Valenzetti Equation. The DHARMA scientists are supposed to cause some cataclysmic -- perhaps even extinction level -- event by drilling into the Island's pocket of exotic energy at the Swan site.

Our Losties will change what's supposed to happen by substituting the less cataclysmic Incident in lieu of our total annhilation. But they will succeed mainly in delaying the inevitable, resulting in the button protocol, which will again threaten to destroy the world. Desmond will avert this threat by activating the Fail-Safe, but as I mentioned last week, I think Bram and Ilana's presence on the Island has already restarted the countdown to Armageddon.

All of this is building to the realization that the Island was never supposed to be on Earth. It crashed here long ago, whether from the future or the stars, disrupting the course of human destiny. No matter how many times someone saves the world, the change will only be temporary. As long as the Island remains on Earth, people will keep exploiting its miraculous properties, pushing us back on track for extinction.

I'll elaborate on this possibility in a subsequent post (hopefully in advance of the season finale) but I'm afraid that will have to be all for this recap. Like I said, no three-dot thoughts this week, so your own thoughts and reactions are particularly appreciated. As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!