Suffering through ''Lost'' withdrawal? To get you through the hiatus, Jeff Jensen theorizes about Juliet's motives, Alvar Hanso, and what the heck happened to that Kelvin dude. Plus: Carlton Cuse on the decision to split the season
‘Lost’ (S3): Something to chew on during the hiatus…
THE 10-WORD TEASE!
(In which we whet your appetite for tonight’s new episode of Lost with 10 words worth of cryptic fun, courtesy of the show’s creators.)
This week’s tease from executive producer Carlton Cuse is:
Oh, how we kid!
As all of you are painfully, maybe even angrily aware, Lost has been pulled from the airwaves until February. And in case you haven’t heard why, remember last year, when so many fans griped about how the show’s scheduling — clusters of episodes interrupted by clusters of repeats — effectively killed its narrative momentum? Well, say hello to ABC’s solution: a 6/16 split run of consecutive episodes, designed to make sure the show could air during the important sweeps months of November, February, and May. Of course, now that we’ve seen the plan enacted, there are those who think maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all, with cranky debate centering on the dramatic power of the cliffhanger to the ”fall finale,” which saw Jack turning the tables on the Others and beseeching Kate and Sawyer to making a run for it, not knowing that there’s nowhere really to run. (Think the bear-cage lovebirds are about to learn the existence of that fleetingly referenced submarine the Others have access to?)
In light of all this, I recently asked executive producer Carlton Cuse if he still believes the split run is an effective remedy to the perceived problem of season 2 and a good fit for this season’s run of stories. His answer:
”Yes, we are totally happy with the 6/16 solution. We make 22 or 23 hours in a 35-week season. Our options were to stay on the air and have repeats, which everyone hated last year; or delay the show until January, which would have meant eight months between finishing the second season and starting the next one, which we felt was way too long. This became the compromise. We thought it was and still do believe it is the best possible solution. The thought that we’re going to come back and run 16 or 17 straight episodes is very exciting to us, because we’ll have complete narrative traction at that point.”
You may disagree with Cuse. Regardless, let this be a lesson to all of us:
ABC IS PAYING ATTENTION.
When you grumble, they worry. When you turn the channel, they act. Which makes me anxious. Because the only way this could be good news for frustrated Lost fans is:
1. If the network knew the show well enough to know what’s best for the show;
2. If THE FANS knew the show well enough to know what’s best for the show.
This is all to say be careful what you wish for when it comes to Lost — because chances are you’ll get it, albeit in the weirdest, half-assed-est, most marginally satisfying way possible.
But whatever. Lost may have left us for a few months — but at least you still have me! And Lord knows the show has given us more than enough to talk/grouse/theorize about. In the coming weeks, we’ll examine the significance of ”Jacob’s List” and continue using our new Lost codex, The Writer’s Journey, to unlock the secrets of this perplexing saga. And coming very, very soon, I’ll be offering my perspective on what seems to be the burning question of the moment: Has Lost really lost it?
So keep coming back every Wednesday for more Lost lunacy, like this nutty gem:
WHAT WAS KELVIN DOING ON THE ISLAND?
(Doc Jensen’s Apropos of Nothing Lost Theory of the Week)
I’m going to make a statement that perhaps not all of you Lostophiles might agree with. Here it is:
I don’t believe that Lost needs to solve all its mysteries.
Don’t get me wrong: Clearly, there’s a whole raft of questions the series must answer. Who are the Others? What is the Monster? Where did Michael and Walt go? And my new favorite: What’s the deal with Patchy, the one-eyed creep Locke and company spotted on the video monitor in the Pearl station?
The producers better give us the straight story on those twisty concerns or I’m going whomp them upside their noggins with my McFarlane Toys’ Limited Edition Mr. Eko StickTM.
But there’s a bunch of other mysteries swirling through the series whose Need For Resolution quotient really hinges on who you are and what has personally intrigued you about the show. For example, there are people that I know who just absolutely need to know how the hell the horse from Kate’s flashback found its way to the island. Personally, I could give a flying piece of horse pucky about that bit of business.
In fact, I would dare say there are even a few BIG mysteries that just might be better left unexplained. For example: How in the world did so many people survive that plane crash? Ever scratched your head over that one? I certainly have. Now, I’m no expert on aviation, but I’m willing to venture an arrogant assumption and flatly declare that people usually aren’t able to walk away from plane crashes like the one dramatized on Lost — Fearless and Cast Away be damned. At the same time, I’m not really sure I would ever be content with any explanation the show might have for how exactly Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the 40-plus other passengers of Oceanic 815 managed to survive that plummet from the heavens. Attributing their miraculous salvation to some super-duper sci-fi tractor beam, or some ambiguous, indefinable supernatural force, or the old ”They didn’t crash, they were just hypnotized into thinking they crashed” — sorry, but I don’t think this intriguingly hazy question should ever be converted into concrete. This might not make sense, but I’m gonna say it anyway:
In the end, I think many elements within Lost will require a fair amount of non-resolution in order for the greater whole to actually make sense. Lost has captured imagination. Maybe it would be for the best if a lot of it was left there. Know what I mean?
Except for Kelvin. Now there’s one of those possible ”minor mysteries of Lost” that absolutely, positively needs some resolution, at least in my book.
If you’re struggling to recall who I’m talking about, Kelvin was the U.S. military spook who forced Sayid into becoming a torturer during the Gulf War. He was also the guy who was manning the Hatch when Desmond washed up on the island roughly three years ago. BURNING QUESTION: How did Kelvin wind up on the island as a member of the Dharma Initiative?
OPTION ONE If you believe that the Hanso Foundation and the Dharma Initiative were/are legit, then a simple answer to this question is that Kelvin was tasked by his spymasters to infiltrate the Hanso Foundation and figure out what happened to the Dharma Initiative. He found his way to the island, and got sucked into the insanity of Dharma’s whole ”What’s real?/what’s not?/and even if you think it’s not, can you take a chance on being wrong?” dealio. And when Desmond showed up with his boat, he found the means to both pass the buck and get his butt off the island.
OPTION TWO Everything about the Hanso Foundation and the Dharma Initiative is a hoax — an elaborate lie created by Cold War-era utopian idealist/activist prankster Alvar Hanso, designed to undermine BOTH the United States of America and the Soviet Union. His idea: trick both countries into thinking he found a way to save the world. His hope: force the superpowers into diverting their attention away from each other and toward his mysterious enterprise. Call it ”Operation: Venus Flytrap.” The whole point of Dharma was to lure agents from both countries (like Kelvin and his old Hatchmate, Radzinsky, who per this theory could have been a KGB agent) to infiltrate the Hanso Foundation, become part of the Initiative, and get to the island in order to find out what the hell was going on there.
Ironically, those who believe that Lost is actually just a big waste of time are more right than they know. Because that’s basically the true purpose of Dharma: to waste the time and energy of the two superpowers leading the world toward ruin.
IMPLICATIONS Could the Others be a collective of secret agents, American and Russian, who came to the island, saw through the deception, but for various reasons abandoned their respective missions, banded together, and are now hiding out from their spymasters?
Could this explain why Ben told Sawyer that they were better con men than he could ever be — because they are all spies, trained in the art of deception and subterfuge?
And could it be that a long, long time ago, the U.S. and the Soviet Union figured out Hanso’s ruse, but instead of busting him, have co-opted his enterprise for their own benefit? Could the island be a place where they banish bad agents and other undesirables? Or could it even be a place like The Village in The Prisoner — the place where they send People With Secrets in order to figure out what secrets they’re hiding?
Or what if one of the castaways is a sleeper agent with a secret mission, and when he finds the target of this mission, a suppressed memory will activate inside the mind of this secret someone, and his flashback will reveal everything?
I’m thinking this secret someone could be Sayid.
And I’m thinking he’s been sent to the island to kill Patchy.
”A TALE OF TWO CITIES,” INDEED: SUSSING OUT THE PAST AND PREDICTING THE FUTURE OF LOST
(Doc Jensen’s In-case-you-didn’t-read-this-last-week-in-the-PopWatch-column Bonus Feature of the Week!)
Remember all the speculation last season about the possibility that maybe there were two groups of Others? To wit, there was one group out in the jungle still connected to the Dharma Initiative, and another group opposed to Dharma, and both were harassing (or maybe helping) our castaways. The debate was kinda abandoned at some point during the Henry Gale storyline. But if we return to the idea, season 3 reveals itself.
1. Two months ago — that is to say, when Oceanic 815 came tumbling down from the sky — ALL of the Others lived together in an idyllic commune, to the north of the island. (This is the meaning of the passage on Mr. Eko’s stick; it is directing Locke and Co. to where they can find the village that we saw in the season premiere.) Let’s call this larger body the Collective.
2. The leader of the Collective is the mysterious He/Him, referred to by Mr. Friendly and ”Henry Gale” last season. He/Him is all about the lists, the kidnapping of the kids, and the fixation with good people/bad people. This leader could very well be Patchy.
2a. My theory? The Collective was originally part of Dharma, whose purpose is to save the world from destruction by bringing people to ”enlightenment.” (See: The Lost Experience from this past summer.) The mission is multifaceted, radical, and radically weird. It could include testing experimental new forms of education. For example, the castaways could be an object lesson in social dynamics for all those kidnapped kids, who are watching the drama via mental telepathy. (I think the kids are responsible for the whispering voices.) I also think that the initiative involves a great deal of psychodrama, with the members of the Collective playing various antagonistic roles designed to motivate the test subjects to action. But with that said, they are barred from ripping away the curtain and revealing themselves; all this change toward enlightenment MUST happen organically, or at least seem to.
3. Juliet was the sister of Ethan, the Claire-abducting Other from season 1. Goodwin, the Other killed by Ana Lucia in season 2, was married to Mr. Friendly. Yep: Tom is gay. Hence, the ”You’re not my type” comment to Kate in the season premiere.
4. At some point, there was a schism within the Collective pertaining to the policy toward the castaways. Specifically, there was a growing bitterness toward the castaways in light of the killings of Goodwin and Ethan. The dissenting group — the Others — wanted revenge.
5. Number One, who clearly wielded a hyper-controlling, Svengali-like hold on the Collective, opposed the Others’ demand for bloody justice. To be clear, the Collective’s mission is high-stakes enough to permit killing; Goodwin had to murder one of the Tailies to protect his mission. But vengeance is another matter altogether — not permitted. (As for Ethan, remember: He became obsessed with Claire and went totally off mission.)
6. Ben was the Number Two of the Collective. He agreed to help the Others escape the rule of Number One, in exchange for a promise — to coerce Jack into operating on his tumor.
7. At some point, the rebellion took place. The Others skipped away to the other island. This is the true meaning behind the title of the season premiere, ”A Tale of Two Cities.” It pertains specifically to the fact there are two encampments of Others, each very different and in ideological conflict with each other. The castaways are caught in the middle.
8. Since the split, the Others have been pursuing a two-fold mission:
a. making good on their promise to Ben;
b. executing a plan of eye-for-an-eye vengeance against those castaways who have killed Others: Ana Lucia, Sawyer, Charlie — and now, Sun.
9. It’s possible that Ben’s initial plan to get healed from his cancer was to become part of the castaway beach encampment. Remember how the island seems to have healing powers? (See: Locke’s legs, Rose’s cancer.) My hunch is that the healing power is linked to the ”unique electro-magnetic energy,” which radiates only from the beach section of the island. When Ben was exposed as an Other, his plan was shot to heck. Also, I think the Hatch was shielded from the effects of the energy, which is why it had no effect on Ben while he was incarcerated there.
A. Juliet is going to help Kate and Sawyer escape — although the deal is that she gets to go with them. Her goal: to get back to the beach and kill Charlie, who killed her brother, Ethan.
B. Juliet will gain the trust of the Beach Camp by outing a spy in their midst — perhaps this mysterious Jacob fellow name-dropped in the last episode. With their trust gained, Juliet will take advantage of it to try to kill Charlie.
C. Ben’s whole ”I want to change your perspective, Jack” line may be rooted in a kind of reality. If I’m right that the Collective has/had a benevolent mission, and Ben’s only interest in being with the Others is his operation, Ben might still be sympathetic to that mission. I bet Jack performs the surgery on Ben. Ben survives, and then makes good on his promise to Jack by helping him escape the Others.
Okay: The form below is where you shoot this theory down. You might as well. We have nothing else to do for three months.