Archive for the ‘Analysis’ Category

Analysis: “Seinfeld” is in an Asylum – Part 2

September 15, 2010

There are numerous other clues. Jerry, Kramer, and George all have alternate personalities they take on, like George’s Art Vandalay, mirroring and further fracturing Jerry’s own mind. Kramer remains first nameless for a few seasons, reflecting Jerry’s own ill-definition of what it means to be untethered. Numerous plotlines come together at the end of episodes as if some omniscient force (read: Jerry’s mind) is overseeing things and wants to tidy up the story. Jerry pictures his father as two different people. The world he has built for himself allows him to date numerous beautiful women and then discard them like they are nothing without consequence. Jerry even gives himself an easily defeated nemesis in Newman. If Newman does not get his comeuppance from Jerry himself, often “fate” does the job.

View the landmark episode “The Contest” not as one centered on self-pleasure, but on Jerry’s fight with reality and his fantasy world. Think about what happens if Jerry “wins:” he can reenter the real world. He wins against the rules he himself set forth, both in the episode in regards to the contest, and the world he created. Of course the first person out would be Kramer, he is the one most unrealistic in the “reality” of the show. He would be the easiest to dismiss on the way back to reality. In the series finale, we learn that George won, but he cheated. Jerry’s own neurosis self sabotaged Jerry’s quest to become sane.

As the seasons (and Jerry’s own illness) progress, the plots become more ridiculous. Jerry is slowly becoming more insane, leading to episodes that unfurl backwards, contain sequences that are eerily similar to the movie JFK (which crazy Jerry must have seen before entering the mental institute), and so on. Characters associated with George (Jerry’s neurosis) either enter or have just returned from a mental hospital over the course of the series: George’s girlfriend admits herself after a George gaffe and George’s old neighbor has just returned from one. It is not surprising that the character associated with Jerry’s neurosis, what drove him crazy, is associated with those characters. Even George himself gets carted off when George Steinbrenner is worried about him. Yet, we hear nothing more about that after the episode. Once again, Jerry’s mind smoothes out or dismisses anything that would force him to think about his situation.

The series is Jerry’s mind rum amok. These characters face little to no long term consequence. That is, until the end. The series finale had Jerry locked up with his imaginary friends. Jerry can no longer run away from them and must face them. And what does George say? Why, he makes a joke referencing Jerry’s top button. This joke echoes a line from an early episode. But what is more important is that Jerry is confronting the incident that drove him made: his bad comedy. This is furthermore emphasized when we see Jerry performing in jail to a silent (and dangerous crowd). Now, crazed Jerry has constructed a situation where he must face his fear and overcome it. Hopefully, Jerry conquers his own demons and comes out on the other side all the more funny.

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Analysis: “Seinfeld” is in an Asylum – Part 1

September 8, 2010

“Seinfeld” was a landmark TV sitcom in the 1990s. It ran for 9 seasons and was most famously dubbed a “show about nothing.” Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer got into all sorts of trouble, usually by their own doing and malaise. It generated numerous catchphrases and entered the pop culture consciousness where it will remain in eternity. But was there a dark tale being told underneath the laughs? I am not talking about how the foursome was probably the most loathsome group ever to grace the small screen. No, that was presented upfront. No, I am talking about something more sinister:

Jerry Seinfeld, the main character on the show, was actually in a mental asylum after suffering a nervous breakdown after a poorly received standup act and was imagining his adventures of a single guy in New York City with his friends.

NOTE: This theory does not pertain to the real Jerry Seinfeld, nor cocreator Larry David.

The standup that acted as the cold opening and the show’s coda for many seasons is blend of real and fiction. That was the poorly received show forced Seinfeld into the asylum. While the act is real, the crowd’s response is not. In Seinfeld’s dream version, everyone is laughing at the cute gags. In real life, no one uttered a guffaw. This drove the Seinfeld character mad and he broke from reality. This would explain why the non-standup scenes reflect the standup: crazed Jerry is trying to justify the jokes he wrote by placing them in “reality.” Those sly observations of his are true to life. The act is not commenting upon the meat of the episode, it is the reverse: the plot of the episode springs from the act and Jerry constructs a world around it.

Furthermore, each character represents a part of Jerry’s psyche:

George: his neurosis. George is Jerry’s “lifelong friend.” Jerry has always had these problems, where he analyzes things in the extreme. It is what causes him to go crazy when his act failed. Rather than admit the material was weak, he recedes into his own mind. The sometimes contentious relationship between the two is Jerry fighting with himself, trying to poo-poo his neurotic behavior and become better.

Kramer: his wild side, the part of him who wants to throw off social norms and live life however he pleases. As Jerry once said Kramer is leading the life people should pay to be able to experience. Kramer survives despite not having a steady job. His apartment is never fully seen in the show. He is made up. He is who Jerry wishes he could be sometimes, the person who just doesn’t care about anything and just seems to be able to enjoy life on their own terms. He is even successful in the entertainment world with his coffee table book. Kramer also may rub more celebrity shoulder than Jerry does over the course of the show. Kramer is Jerry unleashed.

Elaine: his feminine side. Elaine and Jerry used to date but now they are just friends. So they were “together” and now they are apart and have only a casual relationship, a metaphor for Jerry’s broken psyche. Despite the fact that Elaine is a woman, she is accepted as part of the boys and even acts like one from time to time (her physicality, her ability to dismiss a suitor without a second thought). She is a reflection of Jerry, except with an X chromosome. Her never ending break-up/make-up relationship with Puddy is a reflection of Seinfeld’s struggle with reality. As Elaine finds Puddy boring and stupid sometimes, so does asylum Jerry. When Elaine finds out that Puddy is religious and it disturbs her, this is Jerry’s reaction to other people’s hope that he finds God to help with his own problems. Like Elaine, Jerry pushes away the source and retreats further into his own world.

Part 2 will discuss specific instances from the show that illustrates Jerry’s inner psyche.

Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Season 6

September 1, 2010

Plot: All is laid on the table: the candidates are named, we learn about Jacob and MiB, we see the last of The Others being killed in the Temple or led astray by MiB and then killed by Widmore, Desmond arrives and goes between realities, Sayid turns evil, but turns good and dies, along with Sun and Jin, Claire returns and is crazy, and finally, Jack sacrifices himself for the Island and Hulrey becomes the new Jacob with Ben as his number one. Oh yeah, and the sideways/purgatory universe

Themes
God is Fallible/Man is God – Jacob, the “god” of the Island is caught up in his own flaws and imperfections. He was not the chosen one and he took up the mantle of guardian more out of obligation to his Mother than anything else. He even gets called out on his mistakes by both Sawyer, Kate, and Ben in the final episodes. He probably doesn’t know much about the Island past what Mother told him and he freely admits that he created the Smoke Monster. And later, when Jack and then Hurley take over the Island, we don’t see an instant transformation, a gift of knowledge. Instead we see them acting the same as they did before, with maybe the bonus of being immortal. Even the gods of Lost act like mortal men.

Mother Issues – We see it with Mother and Jacob/MiB. We see it with Crazy Claire. For most of its six seasons, Lost was all about daddy issues, but in its final season, it flipped the script and used mommy issues to drive most of the narrative between the good and evil, black and white sides that made up the conflict in this season.

What is Happiness? – We thought the sideways universe was an alternate universe where the characters got the chance to lead happier lives. Or perhaps it was a fake universe created by Smokey in fulfilling his promise (like to Sayid) to give these characters what they wanted, but with a Fautsian twist. Even the final reveal that it was a purgatory of sorts still asks this question: What is happiness? The sideways universe was a construct of those people in that universe. So why was Kate still on the run? Why was Jack battling daddy issues again? Why was Sayid still a killer? They had what they wanted: Kate might have really been innocent this time around, Jack had a son, Sayid could be with Nadia, though she was married to his brother. The reason why most of the sideways universe stories had a little kink in them is like why in the movie the Matrix the machines explain why they could not build a utopian world for the humans to live in the Matrix: humans reject that because they could not imagine a life that is completely happy. Likewise, in the sideways universe, characters had a semi-solid foundation of happiness (Locke is with Helen, Ben can be a father figure to Alex) but their issues, the ones they can finally admit to, manifest in this “dream” world and force the characters to confront them. It is only after they do and realize who they really are can they be one step closer to happiness and the white light.

Not coincidentally, Island Desmond thinks the sideways universe is his utopia (since he was able to see it while still alive). But Jack tells him that escaping there is not the answer and Desmond needs to live his life with Penny and his son. And what spurs Sideways Desmond to gather the Oceanic people and show them the way? His meeting with Sideways Penny and the realization that his perceived happiness in the sideways world is just masking who he really is: Penny’s soulmate and someone devoted to her, no matter the circumstances.

Letting Go – The last episode basically is a testament to the idea of letting go of your neurosis, of your worries and enjoying the life you have or destiny. Jack both embraces his messiah complex and lets go in finally sacrificing himself for his friends. He knows who he is and does not run from it. A similar catharsis is seen when Sideways Jack meets his father. He lets go both of his daddy issues once and for all and his desire to “live” in that fake universe. We see it in other characters as well: Locke lets go of his need to be in the wheelchair, Said lets go of his belief that he is a killer, and so on. Let go and move on is the sentiment of the final episode and could be extended to earlier episodes as well.

The People In Your Life Who Have Touched You and You Have Touched Are The Most Important – Long title for a theme, but like It’s a Wonderful Life, Lost’s final message is that no man is an Island and his influence on others and their influence on him shape the world we live in. The Oceanic 815 passengers needed each other to become whole. In the real life and the afterlife. Their bonds were strong. And maybe it is only at the end do we realize how important the people we come into contact with are. But when we do, it is sudden and it is like a light dawning. And it is good.

Mysteries
What Did the Nuclear Bomb Do? – It did not create the Sideways Universe. Rather, it did what Jacob’s final words echoed (“They’re coming”): it brought those who were stuvk in 1977 to the present for the final confrontation with Flocke.

Who is Real and Who is Fake in the Sideways Universe? I think it is safe to say anyone on Oceanic Flight 815 is real in the sideways. So Ana-Lucia and Arzt. But Baby Aaron would not be real, because though he was technically on 815, he was not “aware” of anything that happened on that flight or on the Island, being too young to remember. He is simply a construct in the sideways universe to help make Claire remember who she is, as previously mentioned. On the subject of children, David, Jack’s “son” is not real and is merely a construct used to help Jack resolve some of his daddy issues.

Additionally, anyone who spent a lot of time on the Island or had a profound experience on the Island and had contact with the Oceanic people were real: Juliet, Desmond, Penny, Miles, Charlotte, Daniel, Mrs. Hawking, Charles Widmore, Ben, Alex and Rousseau. The maybes out of this group are Ethan (in Claire/Kate’s tale), Keamy and his crew (in Sayid and the Kwon’s stories) and Dogen (appeared in Jack’s episode). Everybody else is a construct.

The Light at the Heart of the Island – What is it? Intense electromagnetic energy. That is why only Desmond could uncork it and survive.

Who was Mother? – Mother raised Jacob and MiB and wanted MiB to be the guardian of the Island. She spoke Latin and killed their real mother. It is implied that she had lived on the Island for a long time but was not the first guardian. She, like Jacob, probably saw her death coming.

Would MiB really destroy the world if he escaped? – Probably not. Remember, Mother told this to Jacob, to get him to protect the Island. It may have been a lie so that Mother could both keep MiB near (being her favorite. “Don’t let him leave me!”) and enlisting Jacob to succeed her. Mother may have felt that Jacob needed a “Villain” to keep him motivated. Over time, this statement becomes “fact” to Jacob and drives him to get candidates, which he then tells about how hell will come if Smokey leaves. The candidates, not knowing any better and seeing Flocke kill and manipulate, believe it. If you take a step back and remember the theme of “God is Fallible” it might be a sly commentary on religion as a whole: we, as man, take things at face value or hold onto beliefs for so long that they become “truth” and, ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it is true or not.

What Happened to the Man in Black in the Cave – Since Jacob could not directly kill his brother, due to the rules set forth by Mother, the Cave may have transformed MiB into the Smoke Monster to circumvent death. Mother did tell Jacob that going into the cave led to a fate worse than death. I think Smokey proves that the warning may have been true if you were a chosen one. Something similar almost happened to Jack: he was spit out of the cave near the spot Jacob found his dead brother’s body, but he did not turn to smoke, possibly because the light had no completely recharged or because he was back to being normal at that point, having passed the torch to Hurley

Side note: In a script, MiB’s real name was revealed to be Samuel. The producers decided to keep his name a mystery to add to the drama.

And that’s it…at least for now! The epilogue found on the Season 6 DVD of Lost, titled “The New Man in Charge” actually sheds more light on some of the subjects touched upon in the dissertation. I won’t go into that now, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Suffice to say, I was right (and wrong).

I want to thank Life After Lost for linking to my posts. For one day out of the week, this blog was popular! 🙂

Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Season 5

August 25, 2010

Plot: The Oceanic 6 struggle to come back to the Island, Locke leaves the Island, dies by Ben’s hand, and comes back, the other survivors skip around time before eventually settling in during the Dharma Days, Sayid shoots Lil Ben, Juliet detonates a nuclear bomb

Themes
Whatever Happened, Happened – Or, fate vs. free will in another form. Are the Lostaways that traveled through time always destined to do so and interact with Richard and the Dharma folk? Did Sayid always shoot Ben, and in doing so, created his own personal monster? Faraday goes from saying yes, whatever happened, happened, to “No, we can change this.” Perhaps this mirrors the more take-charge attitude of the characters that emerges in the final season, when they finally learn why the came to the Island.

You Can’t Escape The Past – Similar to Whatever Happened, but more psychological. The Oceanic 6 have to recreate the original plane crash to return to the Island. Sawyer remarks that he could have left the Island in 1970s and saved his parents, but decided not to. Locke and Sawyer flash back to the night Aaron was born/Boone died and each realize what those moments meant to them. Lost has always been big on how the past affects the present (through the flashbacks, mainly), and here, in this season, we see how the past influences the present, in the actual present (relative to the characters).

Cannot Escape Each Other – The Oceanic 6 are pulled back together through Ben, but also because of their connection to each other. Jack, Hurley, and Kate come back to 1977 and reconnect with a man who has at times been an antagonist (Sawyer) and a woman who was part of a love quadangle (Juliet). Sawyer reconnects with Kate, right after admitting that he may still love her. Time and distance cannot keep you away from the people you are meant to be with.

Black vs. White – from the colors of Jacob’s and the Man in Black’s clothes in the season finale, to the colors of some of the dharma jumpsuits (with beige standing in for white), we get the light vs. dark motif again. The ultimate forces are finally taking sides, with our characters making their own decisions as to who to fight for, sometimes, unknowingly.

Mysteries
Where Did Richard Take a Wounded Ben? – To the pool of healing, which we saw Sayid use in Season 6. And like Richard warned about using the pool, Sayid changed and perhaps that is what made Ben so cold to other people.

Who Went Back in Time and Who Stayed in the Present – It seemed like everyone except Sun from the O6 went back to 1977. However, everyone in 1977 who was an original survivor was a confirmed candidate, either still in the “game” or recently crossed off (like Kate). So, whatever force determined the time traveling reunited all the candidates.

Walt’s Vision – When Locke leaves the Island, he sees Walt again. Walt warns him that he had a dream of Locke, in a suit, being surrounded by people trying to kill him. Walt was kinda correct: Smokey, in Locke’s form, does appear in a suit, and later, after killing Jacob through Ben, is surrounded by Illana’s group, who want to kill him.

Illana’s Role – Talking of Illana, we first see her as a bounty hunter after Sayid. However, her true purpose was to get Sayid back to the Island and protect the candidates. Though not explicitly stated, she seemed to know that Smokey would take Locke’s form immediately upon their arrival on the Island and began to look for the real Locke’s body after the crash.

Jacob’s Death – Did Jacob know he was going to die? I think he had a pretty good idea what the Man in Black was up to and how close he was to finding that loophole. So he made arrangements that the candidates would find their way back to the Island and to their destinies. Remember, Charles Widmore said Jacob visited him after the Freighter incident. We saw Widmore help Locke, even expecting Locke, when Locke appeared off-Island for the first time. Widmore said to Locke that a war was coming and he had to be on the right side, perhaps an allusion to the war between Jacob and MiB. Jacob probably knew the end was near.

Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Season 4

August 18, 2010

Plot: The Freighter people arrive, the survivors break off into two groups: Locke’s and Jack’s, we see more flashforwards and Jin seems to be dead, we get Desmond and his constant, in the end, Locke via Ben moves the Island

Themes
The Enemy of My Enemy is My Enemy – Even with the arrival of the Freighter Folk and their apparent malice, or at least disregard, towards the survivors, the survivors don’t band together with The Others to fight them off. In fact, the survivors break apart and start to ignore what the other is doing. While Locke’s group and Jack’s group never fight each other, they are at odds. Hasty allegiances are made between Jack’s group and the Freighter Folk that is broken off and reformed. Allegiances are made between Locke’s group and Ben (much to the chagrin of everyone except Locke) and then The Others. There is an ever shifting war going on, with no clear help coming from friends or common foes alike.

The Surface is Just a Façade – Like the flashbacks and how they deepened the characters and showed that how these characters are presenting themselves is not their actual selves, we see in Season 4 a lot of misdirectional characteristics. The Freighter Folk (being Daniel, Charlotte, Miles, and Frank) appear menacing at first, but quickly integrate with the survivors and try to seek their own truths. You get Charlotte being shot by Ben in the first episodes, but her surviving due to a previously unseen bulletproof vest, which is just beneath the “surface” of her clothes. You have Michael returning to the Island under an assumed name. When Alex is shot by Keamy, Ben’s manipulator persona drops away and we see the wounded man he really is. The whole Oceanic 6 plotline in the flashforwards, where Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Kate, and Sun have to lie about what happened to Oceanic 815, while struggling away from the public eye in reconciling their cover story with the real story. There are a lot of opposing forces and false faces in these characters in Season 4.

The Constant – As seen in what some call the best episode of Lost, “The Constant,” we learn that in the Lost universe, there can be one person who grounds you or, as we see in the series finale, “The End,” holds the one truth. This message puts a huge emphasis on the characters in a season where time travel is first truly introduced, you have a moving cabin, and, at the end, the Island moves. Lost is saying it doesn’t matter what craziness happens, all that matters is who you are with. They will save you and you will save them. As Christian said in the series finale, all the characters in Lost needed each other. The Constant is a specific instance of that theme.

Giving Oneself Over to A Higher Authority – Ben and Locke take direction from “Jacob,” the Island god. They don’t really think for themselves, just follow orders. Similarly, Ben and Widmore have a set of “rules” they must follow. We aren’t clued in to who made these rules (see Mysteries), but again, it is a notion of subscribing to something that you have to follow and you have no input into. Ben calls upon the “warth of god,” the Smoke Monster, to do his dirty work in dispatching the mercenaries. You also get the Freighter Folk seemingly “following orders” of Widmore, both the Faraday group who slowly come to accept the survivors, and the Keamy crew who mercilessly kill innocents.

Mysteries
How the Island Moved – Unknown other than it tapped into the “Heart” of the Island (the glowing cave). Since the “Heart” of the Island is just a form of electromagnetism, which is why Desmond was needed, the Island may not have actually moved, but rather be made invisible. Then certain individuals on the Island, the survivors, traveled through time while the Island remained hidden in the present.

Why Locke, Not Ben, Had To Turn The Wheel – The Smoke Monster, as Christian, told Locke to turn the wheel so Locke can leave the Island. Locke leaving the Island would accomplish two things for Smokey: possibly have Locke never to return and not be a Candidate and make it easier for John to die (he was too in control on the Island) eliminating him from the Candidates list so Smokey can then have access to Locke’s body and assume his identity more easily when the O6 return.

Why did it Seem like the Island wanted the Oceanic 6 to Leave? – We saw the ghost of Christian thank Michael for preventing the Freighter from blowing up and allowing the helicopter with the Oceanic 6 to leave. I think Smokey was goading the departure of the O6 (who all turned out to be the final candidates) so that he can “win” this round with Jacob. It also explains why Christiangeist wanted the Island to be moved: he didn’t want the O6 to easily return and pick up the game where they left off.

We also saw other aspects of the Island, via visions, urge the O6 to come back: Hurley saw Charlie (who told him he had to go back and save the other people), Jack saw Christian (who may or may not have been Smokey. Jack was going crazy at this time), Kate received two conflicting visions: one where Sawyer called her on the phone, talked backwards about her returning and one where Claire appeared and told her not to bring back Aaron. The Island, maybe Jacob, seemed to be pulling them back.

Claire – So why did Claire disappear into the jungle? She was led astray by the Smoke Monster, via Christiangeist.. For what purpose? Perhaps he knew he could easily use her as a pawn in his fight against The Others and as a backup plan for manipulation if the O6 returned.

Michael – He could not kill himself and Tom Friendly (the Other who took Walt) said it was because the Island was not through with him yet. We learn in Season 6 candidates cannot kill themselves, so perhaps his suicide prevention was due to his candidacy at one time.

The “Rules” – After the death of Alex, Ben says Widmore changed the rules. What rules? It seemed liked Ben and Widmore could not kill each other or each other’s family. That seems like shades of the strife between Jacob and MiB. Jacob and MiB could not directly kill each other. Perhaps like my earlier thoughts on why The Others dressed shoddily, in honor of Jacob, the leaders of The Others (Widmore and Ben) honored the “no killing” aspect of Jacob/MiB relationship.

Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Season 3

August 11, 2010

Plot: Sawyer, Kate, and Jack are kept on Hydra Island, Eko dies, Jack forms a temporary alliance with Ben and Juliet, Juliet is “Left Behind” to infiltrate the survivors to bring back pregnant women (including Sun), but double crosses Ben, we find out how Locke got paralyzed and that is his father is the real Sawyer, Charlie fulfills his fate and dies, and, at the end, the survivors are rescued…maybe

Themes
Who is Your Enemy? – As we start to see how The Others really live, how they have their own little community, we are challenged to reconcile this with their murderous ways. But are they really murderous? Ben points out that the survivors have killed more people than The Others. Jack is willing to negotiate his release and helps Ben with his tumor, upsetting Kate. As we see more of the Others, they seem more human and caught, somewhat, in the same orbit around the Island as the survivors are. However, this is all against the backdrop of Ben manipulating everyone and trying to raid the survivors’ camp to get the pregnant women.

This theme is further expanded upon in Season 4 with the arrival of the Freighter and Keamy’s mercenaries. In that season, the survivors and The Others are forced to team up against the new outside threat.

Confronting Death – This is obviously epitomized in Charlie’s struggle to stay alive, despite Desmond’s visions. Charlie goes through the stages of grief for his own death. At first he is in denial, then shock, then anger, and so on, until he accepts he will die and chooses to do so in a manner that saves Claire (he thinks). On the other side, we have Eko, who is confronted by his dead brother (Smoke Monster) and does not repent for his misdeeds in the past. Rather than back down in the face of certain doom, Eko is strident and he pays the ultimate price for that.

The Ever Changing Future – Desmond and his visions of Charlie’s death, along with his visions of Penny coming to the Island, never quite come true as he sees them. An interesting microcosm of the fate vs. free will dynamic of the show, Desmond both sees “fate” (the future) but is allowed to change it (“free will”). The role of future events on the present plays out in the season finale and next season with the inclusion of flashforwards.

Who is in Power/Control is Liquid – The survivors go from looking to Jack to lead, to Locke taking over briefly, to Sawyer (via Hurley) stepping up. Then, with The Others, they go from Ben being their leader to jonesing for some Locke action. Even Jack seems to briefly hold some respect with The Others. Especially with Ben, who only really has his power, do these situations cause strife and show the foolishness in believing that who is in charge is above reproach.

Mysteries
Jacob’s Cabin – A big unanswered question that requires some critical thinking. Ben told Locke (and us, the audience) that this is where he went to converse with Jacob. However, we see later that Jacob lives in the foot of the statue. We also see a circle of ash around the cabin, broken in one part. Ash is used to keep Smokey at bay. Ilana and her troupe of Jacob followers go to the cabin first when they arrive on the Island. Christiangeist (the ghost of Christian) appears there and tells Locke to move the Island. So who is actually in the cabin? I believe the Man in Black was trapped there for a while, but some time before Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island, he escaped. Ben took Locke there because he knew nobody would be there (or thought Jacob actually lived there. Ben did state he never actually saw Jacob until he killed him in the Foot. Also, he realizes in Season 6 that he had been doing the bidding of Smokey for a while). If the Foot was Jacob’s domain, then the cabin was Man in Black’s.

Richard Alpert – First seen recruiting Juliet in Miami, we later see him, with the same appearance, talking to a young Ben. He does not age at all. We learn that he was a slave on the Black Rock, after trying to save his wife and accidentally killing a doctor. He doesn’t age after he joins Jacob against Man in Black, as he asks for time to repent for his misdeed. In the finale though, with Jacob dead, he does start to age.

Interestingly, when he talks to young Ben in this season, when Ben tells him he sees his dead mom, Richard asks if his mom died on the Island. In Season 5, we see the Others have a thing about dead bodies and burying them. Here are the first clues that the Others are aware of how Smokey can take the form of dead people. Even Richard saw it in action, when Smokey appeared to him as his wife, Isabella.

Ben’s “Magic Box” – Ben tells Locke that there is a “magic box” on the Island that can fulfill your desires. You think of something and it becomes true. To prove this point, Ben reveals that Anthony Cooper is being kept by the Others. You have take everything Ben says with a grain of salt. As epitomized in him assuming the name “Henry Gale” to his first centric episode being titled “The Man Behind the Curtain,” Ben is Lost’s evil version of the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz. Everything he does is smoke and mirrors. Ben may have simply kept Anthony Cooper as an ace-in-the-hole to play against Locke (AC was probably the easiest of Lost’s many dysfunctional parental figures to kidnap. He was alive and not sick (see: Kate’s Mom, Sawyer’s parents, etc.)) or perhaps he used the Lighthouse to locate Mr. Cooper. But there is no place on the Island that can make your thoughts come true.

Room 23 – The room where Karl was being brainwashed. It is also where The Others kept Walt after they kidnapped him. It may have been where Cindy (the flight attendant) was taken after she was kidnapped and that is why she bought into The Others so wholeheartedly. Interestingly, when the brainwash video is played in reverse, a voice says “Only fools are enslaved by time and space.” First plant of the idea of time travel? Probably not used by Dharma for brainwashing, since it was part of the zoological station.

Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Season 2

August 4, 2010

Plot: Hatch is opened and we learn about the Dharma Initiative, Tail section survivors merged with the main cast with disasterous results, Shannon is shot by Ana Lucia, Ana Lucia and Libby are shot by Michael, Henry Gale/Ben Linus makes his first appearance

Themes
Us vs. Them – From The Tail Section struggles versus The Others (made suddenly real through their experiences and the taking of Walt), to the Tail Section versus The Fuselage Survivors, to everyone vs. The Others, this season was all about how that newly formed community in Season 1 dealt with external clashes. The tail section was a dark mirror for the fuselage survivors, with its own Jack in Ana Lucia and Locke in Mr. Eko. But these reflections were corrupted and toughened. Then, suddenly, when Michael shot Ana Lucia and Libby, it was suddenly Us vs. Us. That theme that would permeate into the next season.

Coincidence vs. Fate – A subset of free will vs. destiny and science vs. faith, another immortal line, this time uttered by Mr. Eko: “Do not mistake coincidence for fate.” In Season 2, Locke fell from his Island shaman rule as he felt too strongly that the Island wanted him to push the Hatch button, then later, lost that faith too quickly and in his stubbornness, destroyed the Hatch. Was Locke wrong to believe? No. He was wrong to go all in with his faith when the cards he was holding were weak. Also, was it coincidence or fate that Desmond was in the Hatch, being someone Jack already knew? Since no one comes to the Island uninvited by Jacob, one would have to say yes, it was fate. And that Jacob somehow knew that Jack and Desmond would play a key role in the destruction of the Man in Black.

Redemption/Personal Acceptance – Again, this theme pops up. Shannon is killed in an episode that centers on her struggle to be needed. Her flashback reveals that her stepmom cast her aside and she feels like Sayid finds her useless in their romance on the Island. But Sayid assures her this is not the case and they are momentarily happy until Shannon chases after Ghost Walt and gets shot by Ana Lucia. Likewise, before Ana Lucia is shot by Michael, she finally admits to him (and herself) that she cannot kill anymore (this following a previous episode which revealed she killed a criminal in cold blood after he shot her and killed her unborn child). It seems that on the Island, if you grow, you die. At least, in the first two seasons.

Skinner Boxes – Skinner boxes, as it has been explained to me, are essentially physiological tests conducted in a closed room, where the subject doesn’t know they are being tested. Locke eventually thought the Swan Station (The Hatch) was a Skinner box and lost faith in the Island. In actuality, the Pearl Station (the one with the TVs) was the Skinner box. The larger question became, was the Island itself a Skinner box for some unknown force?

Identity – From Dr. Candle/Halliwax/Wick/Chang in the Orientation videos to Henry Gale/Ben Linus, we saw a few characters pop up with different aliases. Each iteration seemed to bring up another personality. This further looped back to James “Sawyer” Ford.

Mysteries
Dharma Initiative – In Season 5 we learn more about them, but they are a hippie-ish research group, founded by Alvar Hanso (whose grandfather was the captain of The Black Rock) and the DeGroots, graduate students at the University of Michigan (whose fight song is played in the polar bear cages in Season 3). Essentially, on the Island, they were trying to create a utopia/prevent the end of the world (through the Valenzetti Equation, which had the Numbers, and was seen in the online game between Seasons 2 and 3). But they had to battle The Hostiles/Natives/Others and they turned into a bit of paranoid mad scientists, with psychological experiments like The Pearl Station and their actions against Sawyer and Juliet in Season 5. They were essentially wiped out by The Purge

Interesting aside: one can say that Dharma was the “science” counterbalance to Jacob’s “faith.” Jacob and Dharma wanted to save the world, Jacob, save it from Smokey (Man in Black), Dharma, from our own destructive tendencies (which is epitomized, not surprisingly, in the Jacob/MiB dynamic).

Related Mystery: The Pallet Drop – If Dharma was wiped out, why was food continually dropped? Revealed in the extras of the Season 5 DVDs, Ms. Hawking (who was a Hostile/Native/Other) assumed control of a Dharma station (The Light Post, seen in Season 5) and continued the drops after the Purge. Why? To keep the Others supplied, one can guess, with the ironic help of the group the just destroyed.

The Incident – Referenced by Dr. Candle in the Swan Orientation video, it is the reason why the Hatch works the way it does. We learn in Season 5 that this incident was caused by the survivors of Oceanic 815 when they traveled back in time. They exploded a nuclear bomb to counteract the electromagnetic energy of the Island. In a bit of foreshadowing, Desmond’s partner in the Hatch, Kelvin, had a former partner he called Radzinsky who killed himself. Radzinsky was seen in Season 5 to be the pompous scientist who pushed for the Swan Station.

The List – At the end of Season 2, Michael betrays the castaways and tries to lure Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley into an Others trap. Why those four? Well, on the surface, it is because Ben needed Jack to remove his spinal tumor, Sawyer and Kate were leverage (and he hoped the duo would be “Caged Heat” and possibly get Kate pregnant), and Hurley was meant to convey a warning to the survivors. However, look at who remained at the end of Season 6 of the potential candidates: Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley. Another example of Lost using repetition and mirroring of itself.

Note: the list of these four names was not Jacob’s list. It was only made by Ben. It was commented upon in Season 3 that some of the Others were disgruntled over this fact.

Four Towed Statue – Seen more in Season 5, it is all that remains of the Egyptian god Tawaret, the goddess of fertility. It is where Jacob lived.

Henry Gale – Identity assumed by Ben Linus to infiltrate the survivors. In reality, Gale was a balloonist who got stranded on the Island and killed.

The Others – We see more of them in this season, but they look scruffy, where old clothing, and no shoes. We know from Season 3 and Season 6 there are two sects: The Others who live in Dharmaville, who look modern, and those at the Temple, who are clothed in an older style. One can surmise that the Others who wear the older style of clothing, either as a disguise or in their everyday life, are trying to mimic their “god,” Jacob, who wore similar clothing. Jacob also never wore shoes. The other reason why the Dharmaville Others wore the old style clothing was that they were pulling a con on the survivors (or anyone else not a part of their group): they did not want intruders to know how well they live or the resources available to them. Better to be hillbillies with high technology to surprise your enemy than to be true. We see that this is an Others’ philosophy, to assume different identities, when the castaway time traveled to the 1950s and the Hostiles/Natives/Others were pretending to be military folk.

Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Introduction and Season 1

July 28, 2010

Introduction:

Themes. That is what you should remember about Lost when you reflect on it, and if you ever rewatch, when you view an episode again. While Lost has given many hard answers, a few answers that could easily be extrapolated, and few huhs, Lost has often used themes to both illuminate the current plot and to allow the viewer to fill in some gaps. Each season actually has its own theme, and I will discuss them in the following sections, but there are two big themes rampart in its run: free will vs. fate and faith vs. science.

The first pairing, free will vs. fate is really about choices. Are the choices we make not really ours to make (epitomized in who becomes the Guardian of the Island. Each Guardian really didn’t volunteer as much was thrust into the role due to circumstance) or can we decide when to fold and walk away? And how does that dichotomy determine if we are good or evil? If we are being pushed towards outcome (as Sayid is often pushed into torturing) how can that make us evil, if everything is out of our control? If we choose to do something, does that make us good, or just lucky, as we can never truly know the outcome of our actions?

The second theme, faith vs. science, is tied to the first one. Faith, in this show, means believing in something higher, something that will guide you. Epitomized by John Locke, yes, but also Jack Shephard at the end of the run. But both characters took faith to a dangerous extreme: Locke let himself be conned into becoming the vessel of the Man in Black, while Jack, at the end of Season 5, believed so much that he had been given a purpose, wanted to detonate an atom bomb. Meanwhile, science wants the cold, hard facts and is willing to wait to get them, or actively pursue these “facts” until they are had. This is as bad a position as faith. The Dharma Initiative was science. But they came to the Island and ransacked it, basically. They made the Natives (aka The Others) into The Hostiles. Yet, their ultimate purpose was not dissimilar to Jacob’s, the “god” of faith. It was only at the end, where Jack, who was once a man of both science and faith, reconciled the two and become the sacrifice the Island wanted. At the end, he believed in the Island, but was not going to wait around and let it dictate what to do.

I am going to go through each season now and touch upon some themes and mysteries and hopefully tell you how it all makes sense. I will try to make it clear what the show actually answered, what the show heavily implied, and what I, under my own thoughts, extrapolate.

Season 1:

Plot: Plane crashes, survivors survive, Boone dies, Walt is taken and the Hatch is blown.

Themes
Community – Jack said it best: “Live together, die alone.” Here were flawed people given a new opportunity to present themselves to the world. There was an episode called Tabula Rasa, which means clean slate in Latin. In that episode, Jack even says what happened before doesn’t matter. These survivors (48 in the beginning) needed to work together to survive. But, now, we can see that the needed each other to become better people. “Live together, die alone” should have a bigger impact now that we saw the finale and the church scene. Without each other, these people would never truly find happiness. They would come close, but they would always mess it up. Ironic though that the man who coined the phrase on the Island, Jack, was the last to realize this is the Sideways reality

See also: Sayid and Sawyer’s torturous (pun!) encounters, the discovery of Rousseau (French woman) who never got to have a community on the Island and her subsequent turn to insanity (also, Claire in the future), the arrival of more Others at the end of the season signifying that our ragtag civilization was about to encounter a more organized and possibly more ruthless one.

Fear of the Unknown – From the survivors’ perspective not only what the Island is, what the Monster is, or how they survived but of each other. John Locke was the antagonist in Season 1, mirroring Terry O’Quinn portrayal of the Man in Black as Locke (aka Flocke) in the last season. Locke was this mystic who believed in the Island. He believed it since he was now able to walk on the Island. Yet, he was dogmatic, too dogmatic in his approach. He knocked out Sayid when Sayid was trying to locate Rousseau. He, essentially, led Boone to his death because of a vision, but only after he knocked out Boone and forced him into having a vision of his own. Locke, more than any other character in the first season, represented man’s mistrust of fellow man, even when there is nothing else to lose. The battle of faith vs. science began with faith acting aggressively.

Redemption/Personal Acceptance – Redemption/Acceptance wouldn’t come to the characters in the first season, not all of them at least, but we saw that these characters were flawed and the Island gave them some incentive to grow up, as it were. Charlie battled his heroin addiction and won. Sawyer was the rogue but was still able to tell Jack that he saw his father in a bar and Christian praised Jack.

And then there’s Boone. Boone died not too long after he came to the realization he didn’t need his sister, Shannon. That he could let her go (not sure if that line was actually spoken in that episode, but I will rewatch). So we see here, in a thematic sense, the theme of Season 6 come into play long before Season 6.

Mysteries
Why Did They Survive – Simply put, Jacob selected the survivors as potential candidates and hence, when they came to the Island, they were able to survive the crash. Cruel that the other people had to die, but that was Jacob’s philosophy.

Walt – Perhaps the biggest unanswered question from the first season. Walt was “special” as he could apparently summon animals (polar bears on the Island in Season 1, birds in his flashback in Australia and in a short, online episode between Seasons 3 and 4). In the end, I think Malcolm David Kelly’s growth spurt put a damper on any long term plans for the character. Perhaps he was supposed to be Jacob Jr.

But remember something from the pilot episode: Locke and Walt discuss backgammon. Wherein Locke says this immortal line “Two sides, one white, one black.” Even back then, Lost was setting up Jacob vs. The Man in Black, and what they represented: two sides of an eternal struggle. Black and white is a major visual motif throughout the series. Later in Season 1, Claire has a vision in which Locke has a black and white pair of eyes.

Aaron – Claire was told by a psychic that Aaron was important and shouldn’t be raised by any one other than her. Why? The series finale has a possible answer. The birth of Aaron served to wake up Claire (and Kate) is the Sideways world. Both felt this incredible connection to the birth. Claire felt this way because she was prepared to be the mother of Aaron and not give him away at that time in the real world. The psychic may have saw into this Sideways world (his own daughter died and came back to life in a flashback we saw in an episode in Season 2 concerning Eko) and saw that the only way for Claire’s soul to move on was to feel motherly towards her own son so that his birth in that reality can trigger her. If Claire gave away Aaron and never felt that connection, her soul may have forever slept in the Sideways universe.

The Hatch – Answered in Season 2. Incidentally, Sayid makes reference to weird magnetic properties in Season 1.

The Numbers – 4, 8, 15, 16, 42. What did they mean? In the end, nothing. But that is not to say they didn’t have significance. Jacob assigned these numbers to the final six candidates. It is not unreasonable, in my mind, that the man responsible for Richard’s long life could imbue numbers with some sort of mystic power, even unknowingly. These Numbers were, of course, found in the Hatch, broadcasted by Dharma, and in a game considered part of the story that occurred between Seasons 2 and 3, were part of an equation that could predict the end of the world. They had significance perhaps because the next group of potential candidates, the group that would ultimately have two guardians, were assigned those numbers.

The Monster – Heard but not seen until the season finale, where we see it is made up of smoke. Interestingly enough, it appears first to Locke in his first flashback episode, though we don’t see it. He calls it the eye of the Island. Rousseau later calls it a security system. We now know it is the Man in Black, and he was scouting Locke to be his vessel. Which is why he nearly took Locke in the finale of Season 1.

Christian Shephard’s Empty Casket – No concrete explanation other than Oceanic never put his body into it. The Smoke Monster, while claiming to be Papa Shephard does not need to inhabit an actual body (Locke’s real body was left untouched, Yemi, Eko’s brother who appears to Mr. Eko, is also left in the Beechcraft plane)

The Polar Bears – Refugees from Dharma experiments.

Kidnapping of Claire/Walt – The Others could not have children, so they needed young kids.

The Black Rock – Slaveship that Richard Alpert arrived in, it smashed the statue and landed in the middle of the jungle due to a monsoon.

The Whispers: As seen in Season 6, the Whispers are the dead who can’t leave the Island. One can suppose that they pop up to warn the living of impeding danger and trouble. (They were heard right before Shannon’s death in Season 2. They often accompany The Others’ arrivals).