Second Resort

I can save Last Resort.

My mildly-scathing take on why Last Resort won’t get a second season earned me a lot of criticism, particularly from fans who thought it was unfair to criticize the show for avoiding story lines when it ultimately had only one year to tell them. The reality is I wasn’t criticizing Last Resort for not resolving them, I was blasting the show for not pursuing them. We all understand a show is going to leave loose ends when it gets canceled in mid-season. Last Resort’s writers committed the mistake of not even creating loose ends.

This week’s penultimate episode rushed viewers to the mind-blowing end of the coup attempt in Washington that was supposed to clear the way for the Colorado’s friendly return to US shores. Shocking is the only word to describe the way the coup ended, and it shows that despite their storytelling failures the minds behind Last Resort know how to thrill an audience.

The big frustration I expressed in last week’s piece was the amount of dramatic material we weren’t seeing but had to be occurring in order to provide the plots we did see unfold. That frustration grew after Speaker Buell committed suicide on his rostrum. There’s no way the show can wrap up the Colorado’s fate and do justice to the story behind the man walking up to whisper in Buell’s ear. That’s too much for 42 minutes. I got to thinking how Last Resort really held two co-dependent dramas in one show. In one storyline, a United States submarine deals with the consequences of refusing a questionable order to launch a nuclear missile strike against Pakistan. In the other, a fight for control of the US government breaks out after the covert murder of a United Nations weapons inspector in Pakistan. Each plotline reacts to developments in the the other but can standing largel on its own. That’s when an idea hit me that could save the show.

“What if they brought Last Resort back, but the opposite?” What if, instead of episodes dominated by the Colorado, we get episodes – set concurrently with the season we already saw – focused entirely on what led to the mysterious fire order and the subsequent attempt to overthrow the president? Leading into the finale, we know that the US executed a weapons inspector in a plan to launch nuclear war on Pakistan, files on a cloaking technology are stolen to protect the knowledge of the Colorado’s location at the time of the order, a coup is planned and unravels at the last minute resulting in the confession and suicide of the man who would have been president. Most mysteriously, the suicide comes after a man in the appearance of a security agent interrupts the Speaker right before he declares himself the president.

See what I’m getting at here? Bring Last Resort back for a second season in which Marcus Chaplain and the Colorado are only relevant to the extent that their actions are necessary to explain what is happening in Washington. Make Last Resort into a political thriller (the likes of which ABC is already succeeding with in Scandal) about a corrupt president and the effort set out to depose him. Just like Chaplain and his crew had to decide between following orders and doing what they believed was right, Kylie Sinclair and Admiral Shepard can be shown in their crisis of conscience that leads them to go against their country’s government. The coup attempt obviously had a faction within it that doubted its course, just like the split that developed between Chaplain and the COB. Tell that story. There are enough similarities between the storylines to tell the second one in a completely different setting than season one but still maintain the core elements that let you know you’re watching Last Resort. And because it is happening at the same time as what we saw thus far, taking a season to tell the story won’t make us miss anything on the submarine. There may even be opportunities to add new material that boosts the Colorado’s story.

After the faux season plays out, the show would be ready to bring the two storylines back together in a third season. With a new audience and more practiced leadership, we could see the aftermath of whatever is set to happen in next week’s final episode.

Obviously, this is pure fantasy. Last Resort’s finale is in the can and set to air next Thursday. With all indications being that it will be a true ending, the show can’t be un-ended and re-launched. But maybe, juuuuuuust maybe, ABC will have a change of heart, pull the finale and give us a second Last Resort.

Advertisements

Top 11 Lost Scenes

2. Desmond and Penny’s phone call (The Constant)

“Penny, you answered.” This scene will never lose its resonance. It is a triumvrate of acting, dialogue and editing perfection. By the end of the phone call it’s not even a conversation anymore, they are each completing the same sentence. Phenomenal. Desmond and Penny’s expression of their devotion to each other across life and time is the essence of Lost.

3. The open (The Pilot, Part 1)

Where Desmond and Penny’s phone call represents the emotion of Lost, the opening scene represents the action. Jack waking up in the jungle, sprinting across strewn wreckage and directing total strangers in the midst of the chaos of a plane crash established his character and the foundation for the next six seasons, all in one scene.

4. Keamy shoots Alex (The Shape of Things to Come)

“She means nothing to me.” All of these scenes are marked by great acting, but none more so than Michael Emerson’s cold renouncement of Alex as his daughter followed by his utter shock at watching Keamy murder her right in front of him. In four minutes it sums up Ben’s entire character, good, bad and evil.

5. Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech (White Rabbit)

“It’s been six days, we’re all still waiting.” This scene represents Jack becoming the official leader of the survivors, but it also marks their transition from plane crash survivors to island inhabitants. It was a major turning point in the show. And it’s just a good speech.

6. Kate wakes up Jack. (The End)

“No, that’s not how you know me.” This scene fell right as you started to realize what was happening in the finale. Kate and Jack are the central love story, waking up to the fact that Kate lived the entire rest of her life knowing she left Jack to die on the island packed a heart-wrenching punch and starts Jack’s path to the church.

7. Locke’s reveal (Walkabout)

“This is my destiny!” It’s hard to tell what made John Locke more beloved: His character or Terry O’Quinn being fricking amazing. Learning that Locke couldn’t walk when he boarded Flight 815 and seeing O’Quinn’s stunning performance as Locke saw his toes move and stood on his legs for the first time in four years on the beach after the crash has to be on every all-time Lost highlight reel.

8. Not Penny’s boat (Thru the Looking Glass)

The only scene on the list without dialogue. It didn’t need it. Not Penny’s boat came to signify Charlie’s death – self sacrifice – so his friends could have a chance to leave the island. The still shot of Charlie’s hand against the window is one of the – I hate this term – iconic shots from the series. Charlie blessing himself beautifully reveals his character.

9. Sawyer kills Sawyer (The Brig) NSFW – Language

“You ever been to Jasper, Alabama?” This scene makes the list because of its relevance to Sawyer’s character and its sheer intensity. Sawyer funneled his entire life’s anger and frustration into one violent strangulation of the man who killed his parents. The other Sawyer’s realization of who was confronting him, why and what was about to happen to him was wonderfully arrogant, revealing the darkness that marked both Sawyers. Locke’s manipulation permeating the entire set up made this a great and important moment.

10. Ben confronts Charles Widmore (The Shape of Things to Come)

“Wake up, Charles.” This was the first real look at the rivalry and hatred between Ben Linus and Charles Widmore. The scene was brilliantly constructed: Ben, wearing a dark suit, confronts Widmore in the middle of the night. Each of their faces only half visible because of the darkness, Ben laid bare his intention to exact revenge by murdering Widmore’s daughter while Widmore promised to reclaim the island Ben took from him. It’s one of those scenes you watch and when it’s over you think, “These two just made shit real.”

11. Sun and Jin (The Candidate)

“I won’t leave you.” Where the phone call in The Constant made viewers happy, Sun and Jin’s final living scene is unfathomably sad. They were a couple whose lives and everyone in them tried to keep apart. Jin let himself be separated from Sun once and he simply would not do it again, even if it meant dying together in the submarine. Even if it meant orphaning the daughter he only saw in photos on Sun’s camera. The underwater shot of their hands slipping apart and drifting away from each other is heartbreaking.

And finally, number one…

1. Sawyer tries to save Juliet, and fails (The Incident)

“I got you.” This is one of those scenes that draws you to the edge of your chair and, without realizing it, makes you so tense that you simply stop breathing. When Juliet finally detonated Jughead it actually felt like being physically kicked in the chest. I have no idea how they did that. This scene ranks first because it had everything: It was Josh Holloway’s best scene, the determination to not let go of Juliet’s arm, the pain on his face knowing that he would have to and the insistence he put in his voice that he wouldn’t let it happen embodied every part of the good in Sawyer. It carried and emotional intensity like no other scene, and it came at a critical point in a critical episode for the entire story. The agony of this scene absolutely bought their reunion at the candy machine in the finale, which I remember as simply “You got it, blondie.” This scene was as good as television and gets.

It’s Complicated

Let’s talk about relationships.

I inadvertently created quite a stir the other day when I set my Facebook relationship status as single.  Readers bombarded me with questions, but there’s no story to tell.  I was going through the profile settings, setting my hometown, adding siblings, etc and the relationship status was there, too, so I set it to what it is, which is single.  Simple as that.  Everybody just calm down.

But I am coming off a long relationship. Six years, in fact.  Great years.  Its end is still fresh, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to make that level of a commitment again, if ever.

I’m referring to TV, of course.  This isn’t the time or place to rehash my feelings about the way Lost ended.  But the end of one relationship naturally leads to thoughts about the next one, so the question is posed: Will I ever be as into another television show as I was into Lost?

I got to thinking about this when a co-worker sent me a link to the trailer for one of NBC’s new fall dramas titled “The Event.”  It is a great preview, but my first reaction was, “Maybe if it were a movie I’d watch. I don’t know if I want to be strung along for another six years again.”  I tried starting a new TV relationship even before Lost went off the air. (That’s okay to do in television show relationships because TV shows aren’t people who have feelings.) I became a fan of ABC’s Flash Forward, but the network yanked it away after its only season.  Really, I’m pretty much over that.  Fox has J.J. Abrams’s Fringe trying to reel me in, but it has been too up and down to want to give it any serious commitment of time and thought.  In Fringe’s case, we stick together because it can be fun sometimes, but if the show and I are honest with each other, neither of us is really excited about us being together.

Critics and people who get to see TV shows before the rest of us gave (cursed?) both of these shows – along with V and maybe one or two others – the tag of being a possible successor to Lost before they ever went on the air. None of them have been able to live up to it, but a classic relationship line may apply: It’s not you, it’s me.

Their failure may be the fault of viewers like me who aren’t ready to make a multi-season investment in a new TV show.  I’ll tell any network execs reading this that I am not in a place to watch one episode of a show and not learn what it was really about until four years later, as was sometimes the case with Lost.  I don’t expect “the event” to be revealed in the fifth episode of “The Event,” but I do expect to be told what the hell is going on in an upfront and honest way.  If the writers try to pull the same shady trickeries that Damon and Carlton did, I’m changing the channel before you can say women can’t have babies on the island.  Lost was that one that may only come along once in a lifetime.  As a viewer you recognize that and you commit to going that extra mile to stick with it.  Barely one month removed from its end, it’s hard to picture myself being willing to do that again.

All of that assumes that I even want a new long-term TV relationship.  Maybe I just want something nice, light and simple.  I watched an episode of Criminal Minds last week and you know what? I liked it. It entertained me. I might even watch it again, and if I still like it, I’ll watch it some more.  How do you like that?

Maybe Facebook is onto something when it lets you set your relationship status to “It’s complicated.”

Don’t do it Dave!

I’m writing this for one reason and one reason only: To save my good buddy Dave from making a horrible mistake.  Dave thinks he is about to give up on LOST, but I’m going to convince him to stay.  It’s probably just another case of his red hair seeping into his brain, anyway.

LOST has long suffered from the complaints of fans wanting the show’s major questions to be answered, and often times those complaints have been well deserved.  In this, the show’s final season, fans are dually hungry and skeptical.  They are hungry for the answers they waited six seasons for but skeptical that they won’t get answers.  Dave’s main complaints seem to be two:

  1. They haven’t addressed the numbers;
  2. The creators don’t know where the show is going.

I can address these questions two quickly.  One with fact, one with what I believe is a damn solid theory.  I’ll deal with the second complaint first.

In a February 2007 interview with Entertainment Weekly , Darlton addressed Adam & Eve specifically in the context of their plan for the show:

Independent of ever knowing when the end was going to be, we knew what it was going to be, and we wanted to start setting it up as early as season 1, or else people would think that we were making it up as we were going along. So the skeletons are the living — or, I guess, slowly decomposing — proof of that. When all is said and done, people are going to point to the skeletons and say, ”That is proof that from the very beginning, they always knew that they were going to do this.”

So the writers definitely aren’t winging it like I did so many college exams because of too much Playstation in Dave’s room.  Some things we know have changed, such as Ben Linus becoming a central character and Mr. Eko being killed off, but as far as the over-arching mythology of the show, it seems clear that Darlton has had it set from the beginning.

Along the same lines, they didn’t delay the start of the season in order to work out what they were going to do.  They simply wanted the episodes to run uninterrupted like they have in past years, and like we’ve seen with lesser shows such as 24.

Now, on to what the numbers mean.  For this, I must delve into theory and deep LOST mythology.

4 8 15 16 23 42 = 108  I’ve long believed there is nothing more central to LOST’s story than what the numbers stand for.  After watching last week’s episode and seeing Jacob’s wall of names, I have what I feel is a pretty solid theory.

But before I get to that I have to give Dave acknowledgement for correctly quoting Damon in an interview question on the subject:

You can actually watch Star Wars now, and when Obi-Wan talks about the Force to Luke for the first time, it loses its luster because the Force has been explained as, sort of, little biological agents that are in your blood stream. So you go, “Oh, I liked Obi-Wan’s version a lot better.” Which in the case of our show is, “The numbers are bad luck, they keep popping up in Hurley’s life, they appear on the island.” … But if you’re watching the show for a detailed explanation of what the numbers mean—and I’m not saying you won’t see more of them—then you will be disappointed by the end of season six.

But he’s also said this:

Here’s the story with numbers. The Hanso Foundation that started the Dharma Initiative hired this guy Valenzetti to basically work on this equation to determine what was the probability of the world ending in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Valenzetti basically deduced that it was 100 percent within the next 27 years, so the Hanso Foundation started the Dharma Initiative in an effort to try to change the variables in the equation so that mankind wouldn’t wipe it itself out.

Which brings me around to my theory.  We know that the numbers represent values in the Valenzetti Equation, which predicts the end of the world.  These values, according to the Sri Lanka Video, represent “the numerical values to the core environmental and human factors of the Valenzetti Equation.”  We also know that the Dharma Initiative spent years trying to change any of the factors and thus prevent the end of the world, to no avail.

Be patient, I’m getting to the theory.

I subscribe to Al Trautwig’s theory that we are seeing the end of a long-repeating time loop in which Jacob and Man In Black fight each other over the fate of humanity.  As the loop continues, each of them makes a move that triggers new things which require counter moves and counter counter moves, and on and on.  Man in Black’s end goal is to murder Jacob, end the game and go home, wherever home is.  This outcome is man’s destiny, for dark to prevail over light.  It’s what the Valenzetti Equation says will happen every time the loop repeats.  “They come, they fight, they destroy. It always ends the same,” he says to Jacob in The Incident pt. 1.

“There is only one end,” Jacob says to him.  “Everything that happens before that…is just progress.”  He brings people to the island, on The Black Rock, on Oceanic 815 and on Ajira 316 to make this progress toward the one end.

Jacob’s end goal, and here’s my theory, is to – for one time – disrupt this natural order.  To change one of those core human factors of the Valenzetti Equation so that in this iteration of the loop things do not end the same.  He has to change 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 or 42 in order to prevent dark from triumphing over light.  Each number represents a person, as scribbled on the wall in the cave, and if Jacob can change the destiny for just one of them, he will change a value in the equation and end the loop.  He’ll win.

Man in Black found his loophole in masquerading as John Locke and getting Ben Linus to kill Jacob.  Now, Jacob has as his last chance for one of these human values, who he has chosen, to bring the progress of all the previous time loops to the final end, bringing down his nemesis in black.

That’s what the numbers are: Numbers assigned to the human values in Jacob’s game with Man in Black.  Locke is four, Hurley is 8, Sawyer is 15, Sayid is 16, Jack is 23 (as in Psalm 23?) and Kwon as 42.  (There’s debate about which Kwon – Jin or Sun.  I think it refers to them both as one married couple.  If you’ll recall, Jacob touched both of them at their wedding.)

Now, the most obvious first question about my theory is why all the other names had numbers by them as well.  One could hold that my theory is bogus because of the numbers attached to the other names.  My comeback lies in my dependence on Trautwig’s time loop theory.  This isn’t the first time Jacob and MiB have been through this.  In previous loops, the numerical values of the Valenzetti Equation may have been different, and so were the people Jacob thought would represent those values.  He learned through those loops that Garner, Troupe, Jones, Domingo, Mattingley, etc wouldn’t change the equation and crossed them off the list.  In last week’s episode we say Man in Black cross of Locke’s name because he and Jacob know John won’t change the equation, won’t alter man’s destiny in the age old battle between light and dark.

I don’t think we can expect to know why the numbers repeat so much throughout the show except to say that each time they appear is an event for which Jacob’s intervention is responsible.  It would be a monumental task for someone to go back through every episode to document when each number comes up in order to try to gain some picture that might yield a clue to a deeper meaning.  Thought I wouldn’t put it past anybody.

That’s all I got.  It’s two hours past my bedtime, so I better have convinced Dave to stick with the show or else I’m going to be really pissed.

Keamy and the heart monitor

Keamy, the heart monitor and the time difference

I posted this on a Lost message board:

Earlier this season, a package sent to the island arrived 30-some minutes late, indicating that it was behind in time compared to the freighter. Then, a dead body washed up on the short of the island before the person died on the boad, indicating that the island had by then moved ahead of the freighter in time.

So why then did Keamy’s death immediately detonate the bomb on the freighter? I can think of a few explanations. One is that the time difference evened out. The other is that the freighter had apparently drifted closer to the island, close enough that Juliet could see it explode, and therefore was on “island time” so to speak.

That made me think of something else. What if there are two boats – the same way that there were two doctors, the dead doctor and the living doctor? One boat near the island on island time and another farther away in a different time. Might season five open with a boat that doesn’t explode?

Someone responded with:

Also remember that radio/satellite transmissions don’t seem to be affected by the island’s time differential. There have been a been instances where there was real-time communication via the satellite phone between the people on the ship and the people on the island when the ship was clearly outside of the island’s ‘time zone’

That’s a great point, and as someone else posted, this is probably the likely explanation:

About this – it’s possible that they can explain it away by noting that the freighter was moved closer to the Island in the finale (after the engine was repaired). It’s possible it got inside the electromagnetic field surrounding the island so that the transmission was, in fact, instantaneous.

Someone else brought up the notion that this would mean there are two of everything, one on island time and one on regular time.  If that’s the case, then there could even be another Oceanic 815 somewhere.

Let’s run with that.  The flash forwards clearly indicate that an alternate plan did not make it to LA.  So perhaps there is a second plane out there at the bottom of the ocean?  We know from Widmore staging wreckage that no one ever found any real remains of Oceanic 815, but if this theory is true and there is a second plane out there somewhere, if it is ever found that would create major problems for Widmore and the Oceanic Six.

How did Ben know what he was doing?

Ben seemed to know exactly what he was doing the moment Locke told him they had to move the island.  How?  In the first hour, Ben chided Locke for not remembering that Ben always has a plan, but all that led to the frozen donkey wheel didn’t seem like a man following a plan.  It seemed like a man following directions.

This brings me to a gripe I have with the show.  Not really a gripe, I suppose, maybe just a request.  I’d like to know what Ben knows about the island.  That’s all.

I say “that’s all” as if I’m asking for a glass of ice water, but after four unbelievably loyal seasons of Lost viewership, I don’t think it’s too much to ask.  At some point in or over the course of season five, I’d like to have Ben’s full back story.  Specifically, how he learned what he knows about the island.

After season four, we are caught up to current time.  The producers have said that season four is about leaving the island, season five about getting back and season six about what happens when they get there.  Season five will also have to include what the hell happened to the island when Ben turning the frozen donkey wheel made it disappear.  I think his back story can be told during the course of this explanation.

This leads right into my next section…

Ben trying to get them back to the island

Ben always has a plan.

I posit that Ben trying to convince Jack of the need to go back is a clever manipulation to find out where the island is.  What we know about post-move Ben is that he’s vowed to avenge his daughter’s death by killing Penny, Widmore’s daughter.  If you make the assumption that Penny contacts her father after finding Desmond, I see Widmore sending Penny – and Desmond – back to the island, either with their knowledge or by manipulation.

Ben would surely know this.  With the determination we saw in his nighttime talk with Widmore, I don’t think he would let anything get in the way of his revenge.

This theory bolsters my prediction that Des and Penny are Adam and Eve.

Casting, especially Keamy

There are criticisms, legitimate or not, of the acting on Lost.  However you feel about that, you can’t argue that the casting is nearly perfect.

Keamy is a great example.  He’s got the muscled body of a post-military mercenary, but also a kind of boyish cuteness that allows him the charm that you wouldn’t expect from such an evil person.  Or maybe you would expect it.  But the actor selected for the role does it perfectly.

Michael Emerson is another perfect cast in the role of Ben.  Can you imagine Ben without those piercing, beady eyes or those tightly pursed lips?  No way.  Or the way his eyes get wide and he holds the rest of his facial features completely still when he delivers a crucial line.

The climactic scene of the season was obviously Ben turning the frozen donkey wheel (this name comes from the producers’ code phrase for the finale) and thereby moving the island.  Emerson did a wonderful job of conveying two very different emotions in this scene.  First, the obvious physical strain of turning this massive, frozen wheel.  This added to the dramatic build up of the scene.

But he also added a second emotion, one that I wasn’t expecting.  Turning the wheel was, for Ben, like making the decision to break up with someone you love.  You hate having to do it, but you do it because you know you have to and it kills you inside.  You could see it in his eyes, he was even crying by the time the scene washed out.

Taking himself off the island was the last thing Ben would ever want to do, but he did it anyway for the island’s sake.  Seeing the heartbreak on his face added a level of sadness to, perhaps, the most dramatic scene yet in four seasons.

Back to my original point, I’m hardly enough of a television watcher to make this kind of claim, but I will anyway:  If there’s been an actor who has done a better job in primetime this season, I’ll be damned.  Michael Emerson has been awesome.