'Lost': Caught in a 'Trap'?
Doc Jensen considers the Island as ''Mouse Trap,'' and what Locke's ''game'' may foreshadow. Plus: On the scene at the ''Lost'' Underground Art Project opening
”This is crazy!” I must have heard that assessment from a dozen different people at last week’s opening of the ”Lost Underground Art Project” at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles. Hundreds of Lost fans showed up. The line began forming in the wee hours of the morning. (At least they had Golden Apple Comics — one of my fave places on the planet — right next door to keep them plied with time-killing entertainment during the wait.) Attendees were treated to a complimentary print and a visit from exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, who were promptly mobbed. They spent more than 90 minutes signing autographs and taking photos with fans. Also there: Members of the Lost writing staff (including previous ”Totally Lost” guests Gregg Nations, Eddie Kitsis, and Adam Horowitz) and all around Bad Robot dude Bryan Burk. Fans also got a peek at the 16th and final poster in the LUAP campaign, which we explicated in detail last week. I’m told artist Tyler Stout’s work contains two teasers for season 6, though I am bound by oath to not reveal what the teases are specifically, so you’ll have to do your best to decipher the poster on your own.
”Totally Lost” co-host Dan Snierson and I decided to check out the scene with Flipcams in hand. Here’s our report, complete with interviews with Damon and CC and ”Lost Underground Art Project” mastermind Jensen Karp of Gallery 1988.
MOUSETRAP MUSINGS AND OTHER CHEESY FUN AND GAMES
Jason Grieves of St. Louis writes:
”Everyone has always talked about ‘Lost’ as a game, usually as chess or backgammon. I’ve got another idea. In his second flashback episode, ”Deus Ex Machina,” Locke explains to a little boy about his favorite game, ”Mouse Trap.” The kid asks how to play and Locke replies, ”You start with all these parts off the board, and then, one by one, you build the trap. Shoe, bucket, tub. Piece by piece, it all comes together. And then you wait until your opponent lands here on the old cheese wheel…and if you set it up just right, you spring the trap.” To me, that could fit perfectly as the game that Jacob and the Man in Black are playing. Which character is setting the trap is up to debate (maybe both), but the fact that the description came from Locke can’t just be a coincidence, can it?”
Mouse-standing work, Jason! (I know: I groaned, too.) In fact, I think the ”Mouse Trap” thing could have been an even more dynamic clue than any of us realized, considering the other meanings of the word. Consider…
NEXT PAGE: Lost as a detective story
MOUSETRAP MUSINGS (cont.)
THE MOUSETRAP BY AGATHA CHRISTIE
The Mousetrap, a popular play by the fabled English mystery author, was first produced in 1952. It’s one of those murder mysteries where at the end of the story, the detective gathers all the suspects and formally accuses the culprit. But in this iteration of that classic plot, there’s a big twist (SPOILER ALERT!): It turns out that the detective is actually the killer and his chief suspect is an undercover cop investigating the case incognito! Applications to Lost: Role reversal. Who is really good and who is really evil? Who is conning who? Something to think about as we crunch Jacob/MIB theories.
In apparel lingo, a ”mousetrap” refers to a device or feature on a piece of clothing that prevents the wearer from removing said piece of clothing. For example, small kids with a nasty habit of disrobing in public might need a ”mousetrap” of their threads, like ”buttonhole blockers” or ”zipper blockers.” Another example of a garment loaded with ”mousetraps:” a straitjacket. Pieces of clothing that are tricked out with ”mousetraps” are also called — no joke — ”Locking Clothes.” Hmmm. ”John Locke.” ”Locking Clothes.” Surely there’s connection here, no? I also find it ironic that we identify the Man in Black by his apparel — a guise he wore at a time when he was searching for ”a loophole” that would liberate him from a situation that inhibited his desire and restricted his freedom and movement. Put another way: MIB’s very life was akin to ”Locking Clothes” and he was desperate to find a way to unzip or unbutton that one ”mousetrap” that would spring him free. It’s doubly ironic that whatever that loophole was, it involved putting on the body of John Locke — figurative, fleshy Locking Clothes.
Okay, maybe I’m stretching the fabric of logic the way I used to ruin my sweaters by nervously pulling on them back in my angst-wracked, self-conscious high school days. Back on point, re: Mr. Grieves’ Mouse Trap scholarship: I have a feeling that if one were to go back and re-watch all of Lost, one might see a lot of foreshadowing-in-retrospect. (I know many of you are engaged in such ”rewatching” — yes, like YOU, Mr. Stueve at randomcommands.com.) The significance of the Mouse Trap scene makes me want to go back and study specifically all of John Locke’s arc and look for clues or foreshadowing of the Jacob/Man In Black conflict. For example:
LOCKE’S PREMATURE BIRTH
Episode: ”Cabin Fever” (season 3)
Locke’s pregnant teen mom, Emily, was struck by a car driven by an unseen individual. Emily went into labor and Locke was born three months early. Question: Who was behind the wheel? Might we learn that the mystery driver was Jacob or MIB, trying to shape or alter Locke’s destiny?
NEXT PAGE: Locke’s simply profound backgammon explanation
LOCKE’S PREMATURE BIRTH (cont.)
YOUNG LOCKE’S DRAWINGS
Episode: ”Cabin Fever”
When Richard Alpert visited Young Locke to test him, the ageless Other noticed a scribble drawing Locke had made of a boy being attacked by a swirling column of black smoke. Intriguing at the time — chilling now.
LOCKE GETS SCAMMED OUT OF A KIDNEY BY HIS FATHER
Episode: ”Deus Ex Machina”
From the same episode as the ”Mouse Trap” business: Locke’s long-MIA biological father Anthony Cooper re-emerged, needing a kidney transplant. Cooper drew Locke close by giving him what he wanted most in life — a father figure; a sense of belonging — but then abandoned his son after getting his kidney. That sad, tragic back story now registers as analogous to Locke’s Island arc. Based on what we’ve seen and can surmise, it appears Locke was seduced and betrayed by an Island force that lured the Man of Faith with purpose and meaning and then exploited and ruined him.
LOCKE TEACHES WALT HOW TO PLAY BACKGAMMON
Just watch it. In retrospect, perhaps one of the most important scenes in the Lost saga. The ”older than Jesus Christ” line evokes mythic themes that are timeless and universal. The discussion of dice made of bones chills me to the bone: If we think of Jacob and MIB as gods playing a grand game, then what are the castaways to them but dice made of bone to be rolled or pieces to be moved. The line ”You’re having a bad month” makes me laugh — and the line ”Do you want to know a secret” just chills me. Amazing that Lost is a show that can do both those things in the span of a two-minute scene. Watch. Study. Enjoy.
And with that, I must end the column a little earlier than usual. Doc Jensen has got some gifts to wrap and some time to spend with the family, and so he must bid you adieu. But please: follow me on Twitter (Twitter.com/ewdocjensen); I’ll have some Lost musings for you this week, including some new Lost Beer Bets on Sunday! What’s a Lost Beer Bet? Find me on Twitter on Sunday and find out! And come back here next week, when I’ll give you a belated Christmas gift: a massively entertaining story about the creation of Lost from none other than J.J. Abrams.
Until then, I wish you glad tidings of great joy this week! (As opposed to all the other weeks…)
Questions and theories to: firstname.lastname@example.org