We sent our resident expert to the Island (okay, Oahu), to plumb the show's mysteries. In his first daily log of his visit, he observes the shooting of a whiz-bang episode
‘Lost’ (S2): Doc Jensen’s on-set diary
Editor’s note: Many of you have inquired about the whereabouts of EW.com’s intrepid (and ruggedly handsome) Doc Jensen. If you’ve seen the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, now you know: We sent our resident Lost-ologist to the set of Lost itself to report on the season finale of the show. Here’s the problem: He never came back. Our last contact with Doc Jensen came in the form of a shoebox wrapped in brown paper containing a sun-bleached journal titled Doc Jensen’s ”Lost” Diary.
Today, EW.com will begin running excerpts from the diary. Over the next week, in addition to Doc J’s many musings, you’ll also read interviews with cast members Matthew Fox (Jack), Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Terry O’Quinn (Locke), Harold Perrineau (Michael), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko). The diary also contains a revealing, in-depth conversation with executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, as well as Doc J’s final Lost theory (”final” = ”at least for now”). For those of you still waiting for the Ultimate List of Lost Loose Ends, no worries: Doc J finished that project before he left, and we’ll publish it after the finale. And yes, the winners of the Flatland-theory competition will get their prizes. But until then, we bring you the first installment of what possibly could be the last words of Doc J himself. We hope he hasn’t gotten…lost.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2006
I arrive on the set of Lost — a secluded spot on the North Shore of Oahu called Police Beach. Immediately, my Doc Jensen conspiracy senses are tingling; I find myself wanting to theorize a connection between ”Police Beach” and the French Lady’s reference to the Monster as the Island’s ”security system.” Is Smokey a lifeguard? Is Lost the sci-fi twin of Baywatch? I’m on the verge of filling this notebook with similarities between Evangeline Lilly and Carmen Electra when I remember what my shrink keeps telling me: ”Not everything in life is a Lost clue — just 90 percent of it is.” (Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea for the magazine to send me, a Lost theorizing addict, on this assignment. It’s kind of like giving Hurley a Golden Ticket to the Skippy peanut butter factory.)
I brace for a full-body cavity search by the Lost watchdogs. Yesterday, some plot info about the two-hour season finale found its way onto the Internet. And this morning, one of the Web’s more prominent spoiler hounds posted a photo of two empty graves (presumably for Ana Lucia and Libby, God rest their Tailie souls) at the beachside cemetery known on the Lost set as Boone Hill. To crack down on leaks, the call sheets (a daily briefing of scheduled work supplied to cast and crew) have been purged of loglines (descriptions of said scheduled work).
But as it turns out, the security folks at Police Beach aren’t as demanding as your average wand-waving, shoe-sniffing airport screener. My escort and I are waved in with but a meager explanation of our purpose. Guess Hawaii’s legendary laid-back aloha spirit is difficult to dial down. (Hey: does ”laid back aloha spirit” = Doc J’s ”initiative suppressant theory”?) (Shrink to Doc J: ”You’re slipping again….”)
I step out of the chilled confines of the rental car. The Hawaiian air is humid. The clouds are threatening to rain. I’m sweating worse than James Frey on Oprah. Okay, maybe not that bad. But at the very least, I know I am now sporting an unsightly Nixonian sheen. I’m excited/nervous, too. I’m beginning to realize that this is more than a work assignment. As I set foot on Lost soil, it hits me: I belong here.
Random Doc J Musing No. 918,273,645 I was given sneak peeks of forthcoming episodes to prepare for my trip, including ”Two for the Road” and ”?,” which I thought was a classic riff on Lost‘s own brand of modern existentialism. Don’t the chairs in the Pearl hatch look like Captain Kirk’s swivel seat on the deck of the Enterprise? Maybe the Island really is a big spaceship, after all….
Today, two different crews are shooting two different scenes for two different episodes. On the beach, executive producer/director Jack Bender is shooting a scene between Desmond and Claire for the season finale. In the jungle, executive producer/director Stephen Williams is shooting a scene for Michael’s flashback for the penultimate episode. I choose the jungle/Williams/Michael flashback, because the scene also involves one of my favorite characters: Mr. Friendly. I’m dying for any info that can get me closer to solving my most burning question of all: What’s up with Zeke’s beard?
As the shuttle bus takes us to the jungle set, I make the following observation about Boone Hill: Not much of a hill. More like a mound. Boone Hill is not far from Mr. Eko’s church. It appears that either construction of Mr. Eko’s church has been abandoned or something bad has happened to it. Can’t be sure; I only get a fleeting glimpse of it as I’m taken to the set.
Random Doc J Musing No. 918,273,646: It has occurred to me recently that Plato’s allegory of the cave — his famous illustration about the perception of reality and the process of enlightenment — might explain Lost. Not in a literal way, but in a symbolic, meaningful way. The cave, of course, is the Island. The prisoners who have mistaken shadows on the wall for reality are the Castaways. The chains and blinders on the prisoners represent those things that keep us hopelessly shackled to our limited and erroneous perspective on ourselves: our memories, our past sins, and our ”issues.” The unseen others lurking behind the prisoners in the cave who serve as stage managers in this shadow theater of reality are, well, the Others on the Island. Obviously, my allegory allegory needs some work, but I think I’m onto something.
In a clearing of crunchy brush, within earshot of the highway (which kinda ruins the illusion of being on a Mysterious Island), I see something my fanboy memory will never forget. Sitting on a crate under an umbrella is M.C. Gainey, who plays Mr. Friendly, smoking a cigarette and sporting the fuzzy beard and saggy brown cossack costume. Next to him is Michael himself, Harold Perrineau. He’s holding an oxygen mask to his face and breathing deeply, like he just intercepted a Jake Plummer pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. You get the sense that something rather exhausting has just taken place. If Gainey would only turn to Harold and say, ”Was that good for you, too?” I’d have the greatest anecdote for my article.
”You okay, Harold?” asks the director, Stephen Williams.
”I’m all right, yeah,” says Harold.
”M.C., you good?”
Gainey rubs out the cigarette with his boot. ”I’m good.” Gainey sounds just like Mr. Friendly sounded during his mid-season torchlight summit with Jack, Sawyer, and Locke: gruff yet amused. It’s like the mischievous twinkle that’s in his eye is also in his voice.
”Let’s go again,” says Williams.
[Spoiler warning! The following action takes place in the Lost episode airing tonight. If you want to preserve your process of discovery, you might want to skip the rest of the story.]
Here’s what’s supposed to be going down. In this scene, Michael comes running out of the brush and finds an Other ”checking the tires,” so to speak. Okay, he’s taking a whiz. Michael slows to a stealthy trot, raises his rifle, and orders Mr. Whizzer to turn around slowly with his hands raised. The Other does as he’s told — and then smirks as he sees the hulking Mr. Friendly emerge out of the brush accompanied by two other Others. Mr. Friendly sneaks up on Michael from behind and wrestles the rifle out of his hands with ridiculous ease and throws it to the ground. Michael runs. Mr. Whizzer draws a pistol, drops to a knee, and fires at Michael! He misses. Mr. Friendly is pissed: ”Don’t shoot! We need him!”
And then, the coolest thing ever: Mr. Friendly takes a leather bola that’s wrapped around his shoulders like a pet snake, twirls it over his head like a cowboy lasso, and throws it at the sprinting Michael, who falls to the ground.
Executing this bit of action in the muggy heat is clearly taxing. Gainey has pitted through his togs. But he’s making the most of it. After the first take, he declares, ”Makes you feel like you’re alive!”
”Oh, yeah. Wide awake,” says Perrineau, not nearly as convincingly.
I watch about five or six different takes, and on each take, Mr. Friendly’s bola lands somewhere else, and usually nowhere near the sprinting Michael. Of course, it’s not Gainey’s job to get this right, and to be honest, I’m not exactly sure the bola is supposed to hit Michael. (If it is, I’m sure an accurate throw will be assayed by a bola-throwing stunt double and shot later.) After one take, Gainey heads off to a cooler near where I’m standing and pulls out a Gatorade. He takes a long swig — and winks at me.
But the most complicated part of the scene isn’t throwing the bola but taking the whiz. Williams has some issues with the timing of the scene, and moreover, since the whizzing Other’s back is to the audience, he wants to make it clearer that the whizzing Other is, in fact, taking a whiz. ”Here’s an idea,” says Williams. ”Why don’t you make it look like you’re giving it a good shake when you’re done.”
”Okay,” says Mr. Whizzer.
”Harold,” says the director, ”wait for the shake before you raise your rifle.”
”Got it,” says Michael with a smile. ” ‘Wait for the shake.’ ”
Gainey can’t resist chiming in: ” ‘Wait for the shake’? What kind of porno are we making now?” Everyone laughs. ”Now that’s direction. I smell an Emmy nomination, for sure.”
They shoot it again. Mr. Whizzer whizzes and shakes. Mr. Friendly throws. Treacherous, murdering Michael tumbles. Williams is satisfied.
I decide it’s time to check out the action at the beach. But before I go, I make sure to get a good look at the two other Others that crawled out of the brush with Mr. Friendly. Both of them are noticeably younger looking than Mr. Friendly and Mr. Whizzer — like maybe in their late teens or early twenties. But it’s not their youthful-looking faces I’m interested in. We’ve seen younger Others before — or at least we’ve seen them from the knees down, as in that episode early in the season when Mr. Eko and Jin saw a troop of Others marching through the jungle. And like those Others, these ones are distinguished by an interesting fashion choice: They’re barefoot. What — isn’t there a shoe store on the Island?
Just one more mystery for Lost to solve.
Tomorrow Interviews with Harold Perrineau and Daniel Dae Kim!