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.”

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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.

Jack the Other

I’m watching the Lost pilot, which oddly enough I don’t think I ever saw.

It only confirms my suspicion that Jack is on of “the others.”

Why else would Jack wake up inland and not soaking wet?  Am I supposed to believe he just landed in the grass?

The pilot.  Jack, Freckles and Charlie found the cockpit and the lone surviving pilot, who was eventually pulled from the plane by the monster.  When Kate and Charlie run away, Jack stays behind, the monster disappears, the pilot ends up in the trees and we are supposed to believe that Jack ducked behind a bush?  No.

Jack is at most an Other and at least a representative of the Dharma project (the Others and the Dharma project could be one and the same).  It/they have to have a person on the inside to keep them informed of what happens and to direct the survivors in the direction that the Others or the Dharma project clearly wants them to follow.  This person is Jack, but don’t expect the show to reveal that anytime soon, if ever.