Monday, July 27, 2009

See You in Another Life...

Sadly, my 98-year old Grandmother Shirley passed away over the weekend. She was a real cool lady, and a fan of Lost, at least until the facacta time travel started. Rest in peace, Gram. I'll see you in another life...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thoughts on Comic-Con...(Spoilers)


The LOST panel at Comic-Con takes place this Saturday. I'll update this post with any videos, along with my analysis, when they're available. In the mean time, I wanted to share some quick thoughts about what I hope to see when Team Darlton take the stage one last time to turn our whackadoo wheel off its axis.

First, I'm confident we'll see characters like Shannon and Charlie who have died on the show. Rumors have taken wing that Lost is inking deals to bring back former cast members. Many take this as evidence of an impending reboot of the timeline. As I suggested in A Little Push, however, I think it's actually the reverse.

I believe Hurley and Co. will flash back to 2004, permitting the show to revisit some familiar post-crash scenes from their perspective. We may even see them actively effectuate some of these scenes -- e.g., Hurley will plant Charlie's guitar, Jack will leave the stones with Adam and Eve, etc. -- while dodging past versions of themselves.

Second, and more speculatively, I hope to see some reference to DHARMA or the Hanso Foundation. As I also suggested in A Little Push, I think the defining conflict of the show is Jacob's Tapestry vs. Valenzetti's Equation. If that's right, we should see some reference to Ann Arbor, MI or Copenhagen, Denmark.

On that note, has anyone seen the new Lost University website? It looks official -- could it be the start of a new ARG? That's it for the preview -- stay tuned for updates and analysis!


So much for the last LOST panel at Comic-Con. To be brutally frank, I expected more. Despite the not-so-subtle hints of an alternate or rebooted timeline, I'm more skeptical than ever of that possibility. In fact, Saturday felt to me like a big joke at the expense of the reset speculation, the way Dave poked fun at fans who think it's all a dream.

But the videos depicting an alternate timeline made one important point that I'll revisit shortly. Our Losties could have erased the future we've seen even if they actually didn't. Apparently, the general rules of "whatever happened, happened" and "course correction" don't apply to Hurley and Co. crashing on the Island as passengers of Oceanic 815.

Let's briefly review what we saw in the three videos. Each was an advertisement, the first for Oceanic airlines touting a Qantas-like record of no crashes in thirty years of service from 1979-2009. Obviously, since the world knows Oceanic 815 crashed in 2004, the video must reflect a reality in which the crash never occurred. (If you can't see the first clip, hit refresh on your browser.)

Similarly, the second video is a commercial for Mr. Cluck's in which Hurley describes his good luck since winning the lottery and how he brought his chicken recipe back from Australia. Oceanic 815 landing safely can't, of course, explain the change in Hurley's luck, but it's clear he never went to the Island in this timeline.

The third video advertises an episode of America's Most Wanted featuring Kate. It reveals that, in this alternate reality, she inadvertently killed an innocent man, instead of her stepfather Wayne. Here again, the change can't be traced to Oceanic 815 landing safely. Like Hurley, however, Kate never crashed on the Island in the reality depicted.

Three videos, all depicting a different reality from the one we've seen. Surely this must mean Juliet's detonation of the bomb reset the timeline, right? Not so fast. We all know the Comic-Con videos aren't canon. They don't actually show what's going to happen. There was no second Bunny 15, and Dr. Chang never tried to contact the future with Faraday's help.

These videos are a chance for the writers to introduce important concepts without worrying about continuity. The Orchid outtake raised the possibility of physical time travel. The Chang video introduced the general rule of whatever happened, happened. The latest commercials imply that the crash of Oceanic 815 is an exception to this rule.

But why even introduce the possibility of a reset if nothing has actually changed? It's because most viewers currently see only two possibilities -- either total reboot or strict whatever happened, happened. Taken together, the Comic-Con videos suggest a third way that transcends this opposition. The timeline we've seen is malleable and must actively be preserved.

I still think the most logical way to make this point -- and to bring back deceased characters like Charlie -- is to show Hurley, Jack, and Co. choosing to effectuate familiar post-crash scenes. Remember, the show must still pay off mysteries like Adam and Eve's stones and Charlie's guitar case. I can't see that happening if the timeline is totally reset.

A related scenario focuses on the role of the dead, or rather their ghosts. What is their purpose, and whom do they serve? Maybe they're guardian angels of a sort. I could see some poignant scenes like in Wings of Desire where Juliet watches over Sawyer, nudging him in the right direction, but unable to make contact. Are these angels the whispers? Sawyer's boar?

It's also possible that, instead of flashbacks or flash forwards, we'll periodically flash sideways to an alternate reality in which the Island never influenced our Losties' lives. What might their existence look like if they were never touched by Jacob? It's an intriguing question, albeit one that undercuts my belief that Jacob's intervention is necessary to save the world.

All of which is to say, don't fall for the head fake, fellow Sickies. I'm calling it now -- despite how things may look, there is no reset. The message of Comic-Con is that the timeline we've seen can change, even if it hasn't. Whatever happened, happened doesn't apply to events like the crash of Oceanic 815, which make up the threads of Jacob's Tapestry.

PS: Reading you all everybody's perceptive comments reminds me of one more speculation I meant to share. It's possible that detonation of the bomb creates a "tangent" timeline in which those touched by Jacob never went to the Island. The analogy is to Donnie Darko, where a paradox involving a jet engine yields an unstable tangent universe.


As in the film, resolution of this storyline may require destruction of the tangent timeline. If so, perhaps Jacob's chosen ones are like Donnie -- living receivers charged with correcting the paradox. We may even see the world end in this tangent timeline, offering vivid illustration of what happens if Jacob's chosen ones fail to answer his call to destiny.

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

Friday, July 03, 2009

A Little Push...

Lately I've been thinking about Jacob's Tapestry. At a very basic level, the act of weaving obviously symbolizes fate. But beyond the obvious, was Jacob weaving the fate of all humanity, or some subset like our Losties? I believe it's the latter, albeit with implications for the former. Jacob's Tapestry depicts a very special destiny in which his chosen ones save the world.

In Three Black Swans, I suggested that the human race is destined for extinction, as symbolized by the Valenzetti Equation. Jacob wants to avoid this end but realizes the universe is too powerful for him to directly alter the fate of all humanity. He can, however, reweave fate on a more limited scale, bringing people to the Island to create a butterfly effect that indirectly changes human destiny, a process symbolized by the Tapestry.

If the notion of a higher power guiding characters to some special fate sounds familiar, it should. That theme runs through the works of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick, two major influences on the show. I'm reminded of how the Overlook Hotel brings Jack Torrance and his family to serve its evil ends in the Shining, or the way the monoliths guide Dave Bowman to humanity's evolution beyond the infinite in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Really, though, no work better exemplifies this theme than the Odyssey, which Jacob's Tapestry quotes twice. The gods in Homer's epic poem often intervene in the lives of mortals to shape their destinies. There's also a specific parallel to Penelope's loom, with which she daily weaves and reweaves the funeral shroud of Laertes, delaying her impending remarriage the way Jacob delays our inevitable extinction.

The catch is that, as Jacob tells Hurley, those interwoven in the Tapestry "always have a choice" whether or not to answer destiny's call. This may be because Jacob believes in free will, or because the usual rules of course correction don't apply "when you're making the thread" yourself. Unlike the Valenzetti, therefore, the Tapestry is not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like Jacob says to Jack, sometimes it takes "a little push."

Notice how the Tapestry shows an Eye of Horus with many arms reaching out to touch nine human figures. This clearly refers to scenes where Jacob makes physical contact with nine characters at pivotal moments in their lives, presumably to give them a little push. In prior posts, I've discussed the significance of the pen he gives Little Sawyer to finish the letter, but other encounters illustrate this dynamic as well.

Take Jacob's visit to Little Katie, which does more than save her from becoming Winona Ryder. Jacob also buys Kate the "New Kids on the Block" lunchbox that she and Tom Brennan use for their time capsule. Years later, Kate returns to Iowa and digs up the capsule with Tom. His death forces her to flee to Australia, where Marshall Mars catches her. Jacob's push thus ensures that Kate is a passenger on Oceanic 815.

Or consider Jacob's aforementioned visit to Jack. Their encounter takes place just after Jack has the "count to five" experience (i.e., cutting his patient's dural sac) that he relates to Kate following the crash of Oceanic 815. Not only do Jack and Kate bond over this story, they later use it as a code during her escape with Sawyer from Hydra Island. Here again, Jacob's push seems perfectly timed to effectuate events we've seen.

Jacob's fingerprints are similarly all over Jin and Sun's improbable wedding and Locke's survival of an eight-story fall. The marriage of a humble fisherman's son to the daughter of a rich tycoon is unlikely in class-conscious Korea. And I suspect Locke should have been completely paralyzed -- or even killed -- by his fall. I've explained before why these three Losties are integral to Jacob's plan, so it's no surprise he pushes them.

Jacob's intervention stops Sayid from being killed like Nadia. Or does he stop Sayid from saving Nadia? Either way, it's to push Sayid back to the Island so he can help cause the Incident. Ultimately, it takes Ilana to get Sayid on Ajira 316, but her full role in Jacob's reweaving remains unclear. Ilana's push may relate to that face bandage she's wearing when Jacob visits her in the hospital. What do you suppose happened to her scars?

Then, of course, there's Hurley. I've speculated previously that DHARMA's top chef will quantum leap to 2004, so he can plant Charlie's guitar, which is Jacob's version of the compass paradox. But I'm confident Hurley has an even more important role to play in effectuating the Tapestry. Now that Jacob is cremated, and we know Miles can't converse with ghosts, Hurley may be Jacob's only means of communicating with his people.

Nine chosen ones whose fates Jacob has rewoven with his magical Tapestry to "save us all" from Valenzetti's mathematical prophecy of extinction. Faith vs. science, free will vs. fate, Jacob vs. the Man in Black. As we head into the final season of Lost, it's the Tapestry against the Equation. Can you imagine two more fitting metaphors for the meta-conflicts of the show?

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