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Lost

Post  RiverThames on Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:41 am

All right, so... inspired by both the AV Club's current coverage of LOST, and by the fact that it debuted 10 years ago, I decided to start a re-watch. I hadn't really watched almost any episode more than once the first time around, or seen it since it ended. So I'm currently about 2/3rds of the way through the first season.

Here's one thing I was pleasantly surprised on-- it's still pretty engaging. Like, I presumed I'd find the first season boring to slog through, since so much of it is about character revelations-- and since I know those things, would it really still work? Turns out it does. The performances are dynamic and it's interesting to note how well they wove stuff in throughout.

What's clear to me is that the writers had a very strong sense of the characters going in. Like, I believe pretty early on, they had a clear idea of what each person's flashback story was. And a good chunk of what the first season does is take those characters, give them the fundamental stresses of surviving on the island, and let that all simmer. Boom, good drama.

In terms of the island mysteries, it's pretty clear they were doing a lot of plot jazz, and those in and of themselves were not a priority for the writers at this point. It is kind of fascinating how much stuff doesn't quite fit cleanly into later revelations. Not so much contradict, but does make it clear that ideas they had at this stage were probably superseded later. Case in point, in the pilot a group of people hike up the mountain to get the transmission. But up on the mountain they don't see any of the structures that are later pretty noticeable. Also, it's implied that Rousseau mapped a fair amount of the island, but never saw the Others. The Hatch, initially, seems to be a good distance away from the beach where they all camp-- Locke and Boone find it deep into the search for Claire, so several miles. But once they're in there, it's other entrance seems to be just a stone's throw from the camp.

Also, how many times they play "LOCKE KNOWS THINGS! LOCKE IS MYSTERIOUS!" notes, which in retrospect seems really fascinating.
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Re: Lost

Post  Shalamar on Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:53 am

it debuted 10 years ago

GAH! *is old*
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Re: Lost

Post  laddical on Thu Sep 04, 2014 11:47 am

Shalamar wrote:
it debuted 10 years ago

GAH!  *is old*

Oh, please. I was a junior in high school when "Deep Space Nine" premiered and that was 20 years ago last year. Blergh.
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Re: Lost

Post  Corvus on Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:20 pm

College degree was three years old when Next Generation premiered. You can all get off my virtual lawn.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:23 pm

All right, now I've finished re-watching Season 1.

It's fascinating how they spent two-thirds of the season building up Locke's mystique, to explicitly shatter it in "Deus Ex Machina".

I now can also see why some people gave up after Season 1 and/or hated Season 2. In a lot of ways, Season 1 is a character-based hang-out show. Yeah, there's some island mystery stuff in there, but on the whole, it's really just about these people interacting and surviving in a challenging environment. Serious stuff happens, but it's mixed in with lighter "meanwhile, Hurley goes fishing with Jin and steps on an urchin" or "Sawyer needs glasses" stuff. A few years earlier in TV history, further seasons may well have been essentially more of this pattern. If you read the original presentation-to-the-network documents, that's what it was sold on, and if that aspect was what you liked about Season 1, then further seasons would be hard to enjoy, as they get more What Is The Island plot-based.

Also, watching it with full knowledge, it's still pretty hard to justify the Others' behavior. I mean, in theory, The Others, self-proclaimed "good guys", are working for Jacob's agenda. But all they really do is terrorize the survivors (and even more so to the tail-end passengers in S2). I'll have to see as I go, but I don't recall anything being revealed that really justifies or rationalizes those things. I recall at points Ben acting like the death of Ethan (and Goodwin with the Tailies) was proof of how the Flight 815 survivors weren't good people, but it doesn't wash given how the Others, especially Ethan, behaves toward them.
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Re: Lost

Post  Shalamar on Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:44 pm

I was a junior in high school when "Deep Space Nine" premiered and that was 20 years ago last year. Blergh.

I was 29. I win! ... wait.
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Re: Lost

Post  laddical on Sun Sep 07, 2014 2:50 am

It's the Others and their irreconcilable retcons that make this show something I don't think I'll be visiting again. Which may be specious since I still love Battlestar Galactica despite the Others and the Cylons both having studied at the "We Have No Idea What The Fuck We're Doing" School of Strategery. I think it's a question of which cast I'd rather watch tread through half-assed plotting, and EJO and Mary Mac beat literally everyone in the cast of Lost without breaking a sweat.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Sun Sep 07, 2014 2:21 pm

Heh. Conversely, I don't think I could bring myself to a BSG rewatch.

Here's the main thing I can think of: Ben was, for all intents, the "Leader" of the Others, who all had an intrinsic mistrust of outsiders. Ben had always been largely corrupted by the Smoke Monster (as had Locke)-- both mistaking it for being the will of the Island itself. Between Ben leading and Locke's time-travel influence on Richard, the Others were really doing what the Smoke Monster wanted. The Smoke Monster couldn't directly kill anyone Jacob brought to the island, because of the rules, but he could have Ben and Ben's people do things to set them on each other.

One thing in the long run I thought was an interesting choice-- and I'll see if this holds up over the rewatch-- is that in Season 2, the Dharma Initiative is presented as a source of answers, but in Season 5 it's revealed that they were really just as confused and unaware of the reality of the island as anyone else.
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Re: Lost

Post  caltrask55 on Mon Sep 08, 2014 7:07 pm

Ooh! I started my 4th rewatch last month! I am just starting season 6. I love it even more now than I ever did before. And I freaking LOVED it when it first aired.

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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:39 pm

I've now re-watched up through "Two For The Road", the Ana-Lucia-gets-killed episode. You know, I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now: why did viewers hate Ana-Lucia so much? I'm wondering if it's tied to that same shift in Season 2-- the show stopped being a Character Hang Out and became more about Island Plot, and in a very real way Ana-Lucia personifies that shift.

Though it's interesting that Ben accuses her of both Goodwin's and Ethan's death, and he explicitly states, "Good people who were doing nothing to you!" as proof that Ana-Lucia (and the rest of the survivors by extension) are the "bad people", when that characterization of Goodwin and Ethan is decidedly false.

It's fascinating how comfortable they present the 815 survivors on the whole. In general, the 20-something non-lead survivors appear to be happy to be living on the beach, taking it relatively easy. I mean, not even addressing the questions that the hatch and the pallet of Dharma food represent, but... they're not even interested. Like, "Hey, there's this place right over there that has a shower and a toilet and actual beds and a kitchen with a blender and laundry machines and a record player." "Nah, we're all good on the beach. We'll just let Jack and Locke have that." How was there ever a point, with 40-odd survivors, that there would be only one or two people in the hatch? They kind of tried to use Rose as the justification-- having her be at peace with the island and being on the beach and all that... and that worked for her (and by some extension Bernard), but that doesn't fit everyone.
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Re: Lost

Post  caltrask55 on Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:32 pm

Correct me if I am wrong but didnt they keep the hatch and the button pushing a secret from most of the beach people?

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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:49 pm

caltrask55 wrote:Correct me if I am wrong but didnt they keep the hatch and the button pushing a secret from most of the beach people?

By the end of "Everyone Hates Hugo", the hatch is public (as Hurley distributes the food to everyone), and Locke mentions that "everyone" will work shifts pressing the button.  Once they have Ben captive, then that is a secret, so they keep everyone who isn't supposed to know out of the hatch, but other than Locke telling Claire that moving into the hatch with Aaron is a bad idea (what with the alarm every 108 minutes), it isn't shown as a problem keeping people out of the hatch to maintain that secret.

So, now I've gotten past Cage Sex and Bai Ling (actually through "Tricia Tanaka is Dead"), so I'm through the "worst" of it.  And, actually, it isn't even that bad, not even "Stranger in a Strange Land".  I mean, I get why it frustrates.  Season Three actually starts out with a lot of confidence in what it's doing: first episode is dedicated to just Jack, Kate and Sawyer, and we don't get back to Locke and the others on the beach until episode three.  But week-to-week, with only six episodes before a long break... I can see how the show would feel like it's biding its time instead of taking its time.  This really stands out in the flashbacks in the first half of season three.  Where in season one, it felt like we were getting a certain degree of revelation, here it feels more like trying to stretch out details from throwaway lines in earlier seasons.  ("I Do", Kate had mentioned a marriage that "Didn't take", so we see that; "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead", Hurley had mentioned the meteor hitting the chicken place, so we see that; "Stranger...", Jack had mentioned getting his tattoos in Phuket, so we see that.  And so on...) But I think that's part of why Bai Ling herself gets the most hate: like Ana Lucia represents the end of Fun And Games on the beach in S2, Bai Ling is the avatar of Waste Of Time Flashbacks. (It probably didn't help that "Stranger", at the time, promoted itself as Answering Big Questions, when "Why did Jack get his tattoos?" was not a big question anyone was burning to have answered.)

As I mentioned earlier, there are ideas about "The Others" that come up here that kind of gets lost along the way.  There is definitely a sense in this stuff that they're almost a cult, very ritualized.  With that comes their sense of righteousness-- when Jack calls Tom out on the stuff they've done, Tom is all, "You want a stone, Jack, because you're in a glass house"... which is a lot of bullshit.  Pretty much the only "bad" thing Jack did or condoned without deliberate provocation from the Others was not stop Sayid from torturing Sawyer.  Ben even throws in a shot when Jack says they should have a decent surgeon. "We had one. His name was Ethan."  As if Ethan didn't kidnap Claire, leave Charlie for dead, kill Scott, etc.  Plus there's Isabel, the "sheriff"; the "marking" of Juliet; the white robes for the funerals; the sense that they have active connection to and worship of Jacob... stuff that, in terms of tone, never get justified later.  Not quite contradicted, mind you... but doesn't quite align properly.

But I wonder if it's this stuff, the things that they're doing when they're still treading water (it's about two-thirds of the way through the season when they lock down the deal for the show to be done in six seasons, a deal that was unprecedented fro TV at the time), is the stuff that they're most willing to jettison when it's time to tighten the screws.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:26 am

And because I can't resist: WAAAAAAAAAALLLT!
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Re: Lost

Post  queenofdenile on Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:27 pm

I've begun my own rewatch (all thanks to RiverThames, thanks a lot!) and one thing that strikes me is, despite all the fan whining that Jack was perfect and always right…he's really not, and he wasn't portrayed that way. His flaws are there and present from the very beginning, and he doesn't solve every problem. He was wrong to not believe Claire that someone was after him. Sun was the one who helped Shannon during the asthma attack, not him. Hurley's the one who makes the survivors relax with a golf game, not Jack.

There are also times when people SHOULD listen to Jack and don't, like when he tries to stop Michael from beating up Jin in "…In Translation," and supposedly cool-headed and wise Sayid tells him not to interfere because the conflict is "between them." And the survivors somehow think it's a good idea for two people who don't speak each other's language to work out their conflict.

I mean, I understand viewers finding other characters more compelling than Jack, but the assertion that he's presented as perfect is really not true. I personally do find him compelling. Kate's the one I'm struggling with right now, because while Evangeline Lilly is strong in the really dramatic moments, she wears the same pained expression about 75% of the time. And unfortunately, the love triangle isn't any more interesting the second time around.

If anything, Locke is the one who's presented as the all-wise, all-knowing one, with great attack plans in each episode and wisdom for almost every single character going through something. He advises Jack, Walt, Michael, Sawyer, Charlie, Boone, and Shannon, and he's right every time. The only reason it works is that we see very early on how pathetic he was before he came to the island. Smart of the writers to put "Walkabout" so early in the show's run.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:47 pm

"We have to go back!"

So, finished with Season 3.

First of, Nikki and Paulo.  Honestly, I have to ask: why the intense hate?  I mean, seriously, I do not get it, and from my recollection, it was immediate.  Why?  Frankly, up until "Exposé", they had maybe twenty-five lines between the two of them.  Take away "Cost of Living", the only other episode where they have any noticeable presence, and that drops down to about ten.  Really, two characters with about twenty-five lines in the thirteen episodes they're credited in (though they actually only appear in five) before they are killed in their "spotlight" episode.  And they were killed because people hated them.  HATED.  And I honestly don't get that, because they were little more than extras-with-lines.  Seriously, take "Exposé" out of the picture, and their presence is almost rivaled by Scott and Steve.

That said, I kind of love "Exposé" as a meta-treatise on the uselessness of the other twenty-something 815 survivors.  

The justification of the Others, beyond "Protect the Island" is something that I don't feel pans out.  You can look at it a bit sideways that Richard says something along the lines of Ben is having them focus on things that don't matter (like the pregnancy issue)-- but then you have to ask yourself why Richard is ceding authority to Ben.  And throughout Jacob is spoken like he's a real presence to the Others-- and we know he is to Richard-- but not to Ben.  Mikhail definitely speaks of Jacob like he's someone he's familiar with.  Also of note: Mikhail explicitly tells Kate, Locke and Sayid that they are not on Jacob's list... but we know that isn't true.

There is an undercurrent to both Ben and Locke, that both essentially do the right thing the wrong way, for the wrong reasons.  They also both incorrectly make claim to the island, and thus they're the ones manipulated by the Man in Black in the end.   But Ben is never truly part of the Others the way he wants to be.  

Of course, the magic-ness of the Island is more explicit here-- it's healing powers, for example.  It's kind of fascinating the way it plays: you can still die on the island, but if an injury is something you can recover from (or you're treated to the point where recovery is possible)... then recovery is very quick.  Hell, Locke is shot through the gut in the end of "The Man Behind the Curtain", and lies in the pit for at least a day, but by the end of "Through the Looking Glass" (or at least by "The Beginning of the End" in S4, which is only a couple hours after "Looking Glass"), he's just fine.

But you really can tell that they know when the series will end, and it does breathe some life into things.  I read a recent article when Cuse and Lindelof admit that the flashbacks in "Stranger" were the worst, and it was because of that episode that they pursued the, "We're done with Season Six" deal.  

And unfortunately, the love triangle isn't any more interesting the second time around.

That's the truth.  Which is a shame, because it makes Kate just seem wishy-washy, constantly making pining-face at whichever one she's not with at any point.  Also it ends up taking its two strongest female characters-- Kate and Juliet-- and making one the prize and the other the consolation.  Which is strange, especially, because Lost tended to be better than most shows about female characters.  Which isn't saying as much as it could, unfortunately.  Claire, in particular, ended up often just being Baby Tending Object to be cared for or looked after while other people did stuff.  "Par Avion", in this season, gives her something active, but that's about it.  Definitely in each season finale, everyone breaks into Subplot Groups, and Claire is just sort of there.  Here her sort of there is vaguely worrying about Charlie.

At least in Season Three, Danielle transitions from the Crazy Lady of the Island to probably the most sensible person there. I always love it when she shows up, and that's in no small part to being an old school Babylon 5 fan.

That said, one of my favorite elements in the end of Season Three is Charlie.  There's something really lovely about how he's made peace with his upcoming death, which means in his scenes with Bonnie, Greta and Mikhail on the Looking Glass, he just gives zero fucks about what they might do to him.

And there's the Flashforward.  I'll admit, back when I first saw the episode, I sussed it out about halfway through, in that it was the only thing that made sense.  The idea that Jack had a period of being THAT broken before the island just didn't track, so it had to be after the island.  

Which leads us to Season Four: The Season of the Freighter.  It's probably the tightest season, it's the one that has the strongest idea of what it's about.  That said, there are timing aspects I have serious questions about, which I'll get into after I rewatch it.
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Re: Lost

Post  queenofdenile on Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:28 am

I'll have to wait until I get further into the series to make a judgment about whether or not the actions of the Others holds up. But I feel like the flawed nature of Jacob himself, combined with the cult-like aspect of the Others' personalities might go a long way to explain - or at least hand-wave - a lot.

Earlier moments in the series indicate that there's eventually going to be an epic battle between good and evil, but then we get to know the backstory of Jacob and the Man in Black, and it's clear that it's not as simple as good vs. evil. The Man in Black is a force of almost pure evil by the time he's wreaking havoc with the crash survivors, but he has a pretty sympathetic backstory, and Jacob is kind of a dick - not evil, but kind of a dick.

Jacob also doesn't seem overly concerned with the individual lives of people on the island. He cares about the greater good - protecting the heart and stopping the Man in Black from destroying the whole world - but doesn't care what collateral damage comes along with that.

Now, does that explain the way the Others - followers of Jacob - treated the survivors? Not so much. A lot of their actions don't seem to have anything to do with the ultimate agenda about protecting the heart. In fact, their actions play right into the Man in Black's theory about mankind being inherently corruptible. On the other hand, sometimes it seems like Jacob is the god figure who sees the survivors as Job figures, and is fine putting them through all kinds of trauma to see if they will eventually lose their faith.

Or not. I'm not sure. I'm still at the end of season 1.

And they were killed because people hated them. HATED. And I honestly don't get that, because they were little more than extras-with-lines.

I'm kind of fascinated with the show's relationship with its audience, because for all the complaints that the audience was gypped out of answers, the producers caved to fan demands in ways that I don't see very often. Fans hated Nikki and Paolo? They killed Nikki and Paolo. Fans whined that the schedule was confusing even though it was literally the same schedule as every show on TV, with a string of new episodes followed by a few repeats until sweeps? They changed the schedule so there were no repeats.

I mean, there were some circumstances where I think fans were justified in complaining. (The beginning of season 2 should have been the ending of season 1 - having Jack and Locke look down a hatch to see nothing but a broken ladder was pretty weak.) But viewers were catered to a lot.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:36 pm

I do think the Others having some sort of cult-like group whose zeal in what they're doing does give them some handwaving leeway. And perhaps if we got more of a sense that Jacob wants to test people through trials. (And there is a recurring theme in Season Two of people being tested-- Charlie with the heroin being the most obvious.) And you might have a better time justifying them if it weren't for some of their earliest acts-of-hostility-- Ethan leaving Charlie for dead or killing Scott, or Goodwin killing Nathan.

Fans whined that the schedule was confusing even though it was literally the same schedule as every show on TV, with a string of new episodes followed by a few repeats until sweeps?

I have to admit, I found that fascinating at its height (season two), because, like you said, it was an extremely typical 22-episode-season schedule at the time. But people acted like it was some sort of crazy unprecedented thing. However, it contributed to shifting the scheduling landscape so now uninterrupted stretches and not being locked to the Sept-May paradigm is more common.

Halfway through Season Four now, up to "Meet Kevin Johnson". I know this was the season that was impacted by the Writers' Strike, though it only ended up being two episodes shorter than originally planned. I wonder if the freighter side of things was where that impact was felt, as it seemed like they had bigger plans that never quite came together, especially with casting Fisher Stevens, Zoe Bell and Grant Bowler to do almost nothing. Though, on some level that was one of Lost's overall strengths, that they would give small roles to actors who could make a lot out of them, possibly on the idea that they were doing plot jazz, and never quite knew when a minor characters might need to step into the spotlight.

There also is a fair amount of plot-yoga done by the show to sell to us that Daniel, Miles, Charlotte and Lapidus are fundamentally good guys while casting the freighter on the whole as bad. Though I liked the idea that both sides (the overall Jacob-Followers Worldwide Network and Widmore's group) present the idea that the other side engineered the false-Oceanic 815, and use that as evidence of the power and danger their opposite represents. And I don't think the audience ever really learns the truth about that. Or if Ben or Widmore is "right". Now that I think about it, Jacob has Jack and Hurley do the Lighthouse Mission in Season 6 so Widmore can get to the island.

Of course, probably the aspect that works the least for me is the timing involved in "Meet Kevin Johnson". Audiences at the time probably didn't question it too much (and I didn't), since we hadn't seen Michael in a year-and-a-half. But if you think about it, for everything to work, the following has to occur in about 7-10 days worth of time: Michael and Walt have to get picked up in the middle of the Pacific, find their way back to NYC from there, Michael leaves Walt with his mom, bottoms out emotionally and attempts suicide-by-car-crash, more or less recovers from that, visits his mom again and gets rebuffed, sells Jin's watch and buys a gun for another suicide attempt, meets Tom, goes back home and sees the 815 news report, meets Tom again and gets out to Fiji. Plus, you have to buy that Tom popped off to New York between "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Par Avion", a period of time where supposedly the Others had lost touch with the mainland and leaving on the sub was a one-time deal that no one could return from.

"The Other Woman" is the only episode in this block with a proper Old School Flashback, which does reveal some interesting things about what The Others were doing to the 815 survivors, that the people taken from the Tail Section survivors were the ones worthy of recruiting via "Jacob's List". Which means more than half were worthy (one could argue they thought Eko was, but in killing the two who tried to grab him, they decided he wasn't), but they decided to grab Cindy after the conversation where Juliet and Ben said that they were done with the Tail Section. Of course, thinking back to Season Two, I don't think they ever explained or justified the Creepy Shoeless March in "...And Found". The other thing in "The Other Woman" was the comment that Ben has a crush on Juliet because she "looks just like her", playing the pronoun game that never gets a proper conclusion. Of course, it's possible that it gets answered in season 5 without explicitly calling attention to itself: the person Juliet looks just like is, in fact, Juliet, who tended to Ben when he was wounded in 1977.

Speaking of, this season makes the Time Wonkiness of the Island explicit, both with "The Constant" and stuff involving Daniel. I think the show plays its cards a little too close to the vest, in that Daniel clearly knows more than he lets on. Or perhaps knows more than he understands. There is the bit where Charlotte is testing Daniel with the cards-- he gets two out of three right-- but it isn't clear if he's addled and having a hard time remembering cards he recently saw, or if he's supposedly "remembering" things from having been in his future and back. There is definitely an idea behind him being partially out-of-time-- crying over seeing the 815 wreckage without understand why it's upsetting him-- but I don't think they fully followed up on it.
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Re: Lost

Post  queenofdenile on Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:12 pm

About halfway through season five now and trying not to let all the time travel wonkiness throw me off.

It's interesting to see how plot points that bugged the crap out of me the first time I watched the show don't bother me at all now that I know how it's going to end. I *hated* when Juliet and Sawyer paired up the first time around - she was one of my favorite characters and he was my least favorite, I always thought she was too smart for him, and mostly, I was convinced Juliet was just a time-filler until the eventual Sawyer/Kate endgame. Knowing now that Juliet, not Kate, really was the love of his life makes the pairing a lot more palatable to me, since she no longer seems like a consolation prize. I also think Josh Holloway did his best acting when interacting with Elizabeth Mitchell, and objectively speaking, they probably did have the healthiest, most stable romantic relationship on the show, even if Desmond and Penny beat them in epic-ness.

That still doesn't mean the quadrangle nonsense is worth the time, or that the mystery of who Kate will ultimately choose is worth dragging out to the very last episode. Kate herself, on the other hand, is a lot better to watch once the Jack-vs-Sawyer stuff takes a backseat to her mother's love for Aaron and determination to find Claire.

One thing that I'm not sure will hold up for me over time is the eventual redemption of Ben Linus, no matter how great Michael Emerson is in the role. I just don't know if I will buy it. I barely bought it the first time. That Michael is stuck on the island in some kind of purgatory for his sins but BEN, of all people, gets invited to move on...

Another thing I think the writers dropped the ball on has to do with the characters' family members that lived off the island. Most of the crash survivors/island inhabitants didn't have anyone to really go back to since they had crappy lives before the crash, but it still bugs me that Juliet never goes back to her sister (and never mentions her again) and that the writers and Jin/Sun all seemed to forget entirely about Ji Yeon. At least with Hurley, we get the sense that, as Island Protector, he could come and go when he pleased.

Also, I just absolutely adore snarky sexy Miles.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:44 pm

Now I've finished Season Five.

On some level, I find Season Four to be pretty tightly plotted. The most glaring "missing piece" is there is build-up for a Freighter Flashback that never happens, especially given the upcasting of people on the Freighter. I know Season Four was hit by the Writers' Strike, which caused them to lose two episodes of the planned sixteen. I've recently heard conflicting reports of what those were supposed to be. One is clearly the Freighter Flashback, with some intention of it being Daniel-specific, tying into some of the elements of his backstory that got used in Season Five's "The Variable". As for the second episode, I've heard that it was supposed to be a Claire-Flashback (to give more detail on where she vanishes off to, but I think that she just goes off into the woods, combined with her creepy appearance in "Cabin Fever", is far more effective). The other things I've heard was that it was supposed to be a Miles-Flashback, which was later reworked as "Some Like It Hoth", or that it was to use Miles as a backdoor for a long-overdue Libby-Flashback. I think this is an interesting idea, especially since it seems odd that they got Cynthia Wattros to show up for a single shot in "Meet Kevin Johnson".

One thing that annoys me a LOT in Season Four, though, especially in light of Season Five, is the use of the name "Jeremy Bentham". Several people: Kate, Jack, Sayid, Hurley and Walt, all either use or recognize the name, and use it in a way like it had become the way that they thought of the person bearing that name. It's all a bit of handwavium, as Bentham is really Locke, of course, but the writers didn't want us to know that until the reveal at the end. However, in Season Five's "Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham", we see that the name "Bentham" is little more than an alias on a passport so Locke can travel around, rather than a name he actually takes on. The only one of those five people we see him use it with is Sayid, and only in the sense of, "I'll be at this hotel under the name of Jeremy Bentham". Hardly a usage where Sayid would think to say, "Bentham is dead" and expect Hurley or anyone else to know who he's talking about. In fact, we see the entire exchange Locke has with both Hurley and Walt, and there's no way they could have known the name. Probably not Kate, but we don't see the beginning of his conversation with her; he's already in the kitchen. He doesn't tell Jack, but Jack may have seen the name on the hospital paperwork, which would explain him recognizing the significance in the obit. The point is, the use of "Jeremy Bentham" as an understood alias in "No Place Like Home" makes ZERO sense. (And don't get me started on timing of Bearded Breakdown Jack in the "No Place Like Home" and "Through The Looking Glass" flashforwards with the timing of Locke's meeting with Jack and subsequent suicide.)

I do think it's fascinating that Locke is completely wrong about why the Oceanic Six need to come back. He assigns blame on the fact that they left for the time-skipping, but that was really due to Ben not turning the wheel properly, and then it was fixed when Locke realigned it. The act of realigning the wheel fixed the problem, so there was no need for Jack et al to go back. In fact, we never get a reason why Jack reached that "We have to go back, Kate!" place. There's a vague sense that he wants to help the people who were left behind, but that isn't the same as why Jack feels they should have never left. What I'm getting at is the Flash-forward sting at the end of "Looking Glass" hints that Jack understands something about the island NOW that he didn't when they left, and that never pays off. I think this ties to the fact that despite him being the champion of "We have to go back!", once he's there, he has no sense of what he expects to do. He mostly just gets annoyed with Sawyer for not doing more, but he doesn't really have anything of his own.

I don't have much more to say about the stuff in the past. In general, I like that the Dharma Initiative is not a source of Answers About The Island-- they approached it with Science, but they didn't understand it. I did read a theory that I rather liked, which is this: the reason why the Dharma Initiative is so mysterious, with fake names for Dr. Chang and initiation films that show a certain sense of need-to-know paranoia all ties to what the Oceanic Survivors do in the past. From their point of view, they were infiltrated long-term by a group of people who became trusted members of their organization, including head of security. These infiltrator then sneak in more people; people who team up with the Hostiles, kidnap a child, shoot at and kill several people, and then finally attack the Swan site, causing some crazy incident before vanishing into thin air. No wonder the DI acts so strange.

I remember always being puzzled about why Sun alone of the Oceanic Six stayed with the rest of the Ajira people. And there isn't an in-story reason, only storytelling reasons. One is the obvious "Keep Sun and Jin apart for drama" aspect. The other is to give an audience-trusted POV character in the 2007-on-Island scenes, as Frank, Ben and Not-Dead-Locke don't count. However, it does create an interesting dynamic. Sun had never been part of the Island-Mythology stuff, so she tends to take the role of the Person Who Asks Questions, usually to Ben. And what's fascinating is, as far as I can tell, once their on the Island, Ben answers every one of Sun's questions completely honestly.

The big thing I wanted to determine here was if it felt like Locke-as-Smokey was clearly intended in retrospect, or if it was something the writers decided on the path to the end of the season. In watching this, I feel like it was decided late in the game. This is largely because elements of "Dead is Dead", which mostly gives credence to the idea (Locke coming out of the woods when Ben summons the Smoke Monster, being absent during Ben's experience), it also does several things that feel contradictory to the idea. For one, the Ajiran Acolytes of Jacob already have their Big Important Case that they reveal, later, has Locke's Body. It's on the beach when Ben and Locke get in the outrigger and head to the main island. But at that point no one says, "Hey, why's your body in here?" Probably because the writers hadn't decided that yet. The bigger reason, though, is the fact that Ben expects judgment from the Smoke Monster for breaking the rules. This tells me that, at this point, the writers were working with the idea that the Smoke Monster was an integral part of the Rules of the Island. For Ben to expect that as the way things worked, it would have to be part of the Others' dogma, and the Others serve Jacob. Ergo, at that point, the Smoke Monster can't be Jacob's Adversary, it's his Hand of Justice. I think the decision to make Not Dead Locke be the Smoke Monster occurred in "Follow the Leader". That's when the Ajiran Acolytes show Frank What's In The Box (but not us), and it is definitively where O'Quinn's performance shifts. Up until then, he's still essentially playing Locke, but with a certain Zen calm of understanding-- like he now KNOWS things he earlier just believed. But in "Follow", it becomes more aggressive, more of an undercurrent of anger, more of a sense that he's telling people things to manipulate them. Though they may not have even decided he was the Smoke Monster even at this point. That explicit reveal isn't made in Season Five-- the only thing that was made plain was that whatever is wearing Locke's face is the same as the Man In Black Titus Welliver plays in the opening flashback. So it may even have been they intended for there to be a different person to be Jacob's Adversary, but decided in Season Six for it and the Smoke Monster to be the same for simplicity's sake.

In general, I feel like the Season Six they had in mind when in the process of Season Five was significantly different from the Season Six we actually got. There are a lot of little things they set up which they don't do much with (a lot of Factions Who Are Interested In The Island), choosing instead to make the final season more about the mythic battle between Jacob and his Adversary.

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Re: Lost

Post  queenofdenile on Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:00 pm

The bigger reason, though, is the fact that Ben expects judgment from the Smoke Monster for breaking the rules. This tells me that, at this point, the writers were working with the idea that the Smoke Monster was an integral part of the Rules of the Island. For Ben to expect that as the way things worked, it would have to be part of the Others' dogma, and the Others serve Jacob. Ergo, at that point, the Smoke Monster can't be Jacob's Adversary, it's his Hand of Justice.

But does that mean that the writers had the Smoke Monster as part of the Rules of the Island, or just that Ben *thinks* that's the case? After all, Smokey-as-Alex told Ben to do whatever John Locke said, and what does Smokey-as-Locke tell Ben to do? Kill Jacob.

Of course, the writers not deciding until season six to make Smokey/Man in Black one and the same would more easily explain why Richard is fooled by Smokey-as-Locke, since while I can understand Ben making that mistake, Richard is supposed to be the most-informed person on the island.

One thing I really like, and had forgotten, is that it was Smokey-as-Locke who had Richard tell the real Locke to bring everyone back. The fact that the main villain of the story convinced the Oceanic Six that they needed to come back to save everyone is deliciously ironic. But at the same time, they DO really need to come back, because Jacob's plan can't work without the candidates returning. So both the bad guy and Jacob needed them back for their plans to succeed. I really like that twist.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:27 pm

queenofdenile wrote:But does that mean that the writers had the Smoke Monster as part of the Rules of the Island, or just that Ben *thinks* that's the case? After all, Smokey-as-Alex told Ben to do whatever John Locke said, and what does Smokey-as-Locke tell Ben to do? Kill Jacob.

While that's a pretty easy fanwank, I can help but get caught up on the idea of Why Would Ben Think That? He references Rules like they are pretty concrete things, which he must have gotten from Richard or Widmore, so the idea that it was some elaborate trick on Smokey's part is hard to swallow.

Like, what's the story with the Cabin? Ben says in either "Follow the Leader" or "The Incident" (I forget exactly where) that it was just him messing with Locke, and he was as surprised as anything when things started flying about. But while that matches how Ben behaves in "The Man Behind the Curtain", including freaking out over John hearing something, it doesn't fit at all with how Ben treats the Cabin in Season 4, where he very much treats it as a real and legitimate source of authority, reacting when Hurley finds it, insisting Hurley comes with them, sending John in and treating the "we have to move the island" as if it is the word of God. Hell, he's even crying as he turns the donkey wheel, saying, "I hope this is what you want, Jacob." John can't see him, so it isn't a show he's putting on. (And who said "Help me"? It wasn't Jacob or Smokey. And what was with the vision of Walt that Locke had? Was that actually Walt, or something else?)

One thing I really like, and had forgotten, is that it was Smokey-as-Locke who had Richard tell the real Locke to bring everyone back. The fact that the main villain of the story convinced the Oceanic Six that they needed to come back to save everyone is deliciously ironic. But at the same time, they DO really need to come back, because Jacob's plan can't work without the candidates returning. So both the bad guy and Jacob needed them back for their plans to succeed. I really like that twist.

That is pretty cool. But it's also that Smokey-as-Locke gets to pull rank as "the Leader" because he gave Richard those instructions to tell the Real Locke, and the only reason why Richard considered Real Locke "the Leader" is because Locke told him he was in the 1950s. So Smokey essentially managed to sneak in a fake Leader that he could manipulate.
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Re: Lost

Post  queenofdenile on Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:21 am

Like, what's the story with the Cabin? Ben says in either "Follow the Leader" or "The Incident" (I forget exactly where) that it was just him messing with Locke, and he was as surprised as anything when things started flying about. But while that matches how Ben behaves in "The Man Behind the Curtain", including freaking out over John hearing something, it doesn't fit at all with how Ben treats the Cabin in Season 4, where he very much treats it as a real and legitimate source of authority, reacting when Hurley finds it, insisting Hurley comes with them, sending John in and treating the "we have to move the island" as if it is the word of God. Hell, he's even crying as he turns the donkey wheel, saying, "I hope this is what you want, Jacob." John can't see him, so it isn't a show he's putting on.

I feel like that could be explained as Ben changing his mind once he receives evidence of something. He was full of it in "The Man Behind the Curtain" and was just trying to psych out Locke, but when Locke actually heard something, Ben realized that the Cabin was actually a big deal after all, which is why he treats it with reverence in season 4. He could've been crying because he was upset that Jacob revealed himself to Locke after Ben had been serving him for so long, or crying because he still felt compelled to follow Jacob even though following him ended with Alex's blood on his hands.

"Help me" and Taller Ghost Walt, I still have no idea.
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Re: Lost

Post  RiverThames on Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:00 pm

So, two-thirds done with Season Six. Big question I asked myself: how do the Flash-Sideways work knowing that they are really the afterlife? Do they hold up?

Frankly, they TOTALLY hold up. ESPECIALLY in "LA X". Now looking for that instead of the "Alternate Timeline" which they distracted us with, it ALL MAKES TOTAL SENSE. Especially, say, Rose and Bernard already being "aware" from the get go. But things like Desmond being on the plane, Kate and Claire forming a bond despite having no reason to, Charlie believing he "should have died" when Jack tells him he's alive, Sawyer's "magic word" to change from con-man to cop being "LaFluer" (and being partnered with Miles), Hurley being a great man who did so much to help people.... It all works.

Which is good, because the stuff on the island doesn't. I'm now quite convinced that they knew they had WAY too many balls in the air, and decided to make NotLocke=Jacob's Adversary=Smoke Monster for the purpose of simplifying the complicated mythology. Same with "Richard arrived on the Black Rock which smashed the statue". Both are multiple questions answered in a fell swoop. Simplify. Of course, it ends up sort of like a jigsaw puzzle where you jam pieces together and declare it done. And it's interesting, between splitting people into multiple groups and the Afterlife-flashes, how little actually, you know, happens in Season Six. A lot of the "plot" stuff is pretty basic. Again, simplified.

Only a few more episodes to go, including "Beyond the Sea", which in retrospect might be the worst episode there is. More when I get there.
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Re: Lost

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