Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lost: Seeds of Doubt

It's official, sides have been chosen, the battle lines have been drawn, let the Lost blog wars begin!

A so called inconsistency in the plot of what is now commonly known as one of the best TV shows ever (feel free to skim through the lengthy list of awards it has racked up in only 2 seasons) has been brought to my attention. I have been a loyal Lost viewer, turned fanatic, since I got hooked on episode 3 (I originally laughed Lost off as a cheesy show who's only draw was "a bunch of 'pretty people' running around on a beach"). I can understand why Lost is not for everyone. The complexity of building back stories for numerous characters, as many as 14 in one season, and brilliantly intertwining them is no simple undertaking for the casual viewer to digest. I understand why many would prefer a show that takes an entire season to explain the events of a single day. I feel it is necessary to defend Lost in the face of those who would like to smear its name.

WARNING: This is chock full of spoilers if you haven't watched Season 2 yet. Also worth noting in this warning, if you could care less about Lost, then don't
waste your time. The following is really only meant for one person, but those interested in Lost might enjoy the analysis as well.

The following is a condensed form of a valid (if not a bit naive) argument given by a certain 24 fanatic who, for one reason or another, feels threatened by Lost.

The writers of Lost were so surprised by the success of their show that is seems as if they are saying "Wow, our show is a big hit! We didn't really expect this. Now we have to actually make these plot lines go somewhere." The most obvious form of these inconsistency's is summed up at the end of season 2 in relation to the consequence of not pressing the button. When Desmond returns to the island he knows through his experiences, and in turn should have told Locke that not pushing the button will "make the island explode" (if not blow up the world). So why did he not take a stand when Locke commits himself to preventing the button from being pressed?

However, there are far more holes in this arguments t
hen there are unanswered questions in Lost. I think it is time for a history lesson.

The first event (In chronological order, not the order revealed) that relates to this argument is when Desmond is manning "The Swan" (The hatch with the computer and the button that must be pressed every 108 minutes to "save the world") with Kelvin. Desmond returns to the hatch in a state of panic after
smashing Kelvins head on the rocks only to find havoc being wrecked as the countdown has ticked past 108 minutes. He quickly enters the code and everything goes back to normal. Because of this fact, many seem to think it implies that Desmond should know that not pressing the button will "make the island explode".

On a loosely related tangent, it is important to understand first that the consequence of not entering the code does not have to be black and white. There is no reason to believe it will either do absolutely nothing (with no magnetic effects what-so-ever) or that it will destroy the island, and maybe even the world. If you view it that way, you are only considering th
e possibilities that we have been led to believe in the show up to this point (I'll touch back on this later when I talk more about Hanso and "The Pearl").

After this event, Desmond bails the island leaving the responsibility of "saving the world" in the hands of Locke and the rest of the passengers of flight #815. They devoutly press the button every 108 minutes, until one occasion when Locke is delayed. He presses the button late and witnesses the same events (numbers turn to red hieroglyphics, shaking walls, loud noises, magnetic activity, and various other climatic effects.) that Desmond witnessed when he entered the code late. So now Locke, also, should know that not pressing the button will "make the island explode". Locke becomes even more committed to his job, until one such Henry Gale comes along.

A very key event that must be remembered is that Henry Gale (a captured "Other"), at one point, was responsible for pressing the button and then saving Lockes life. When Henry recounts these events to Locke, after his true identity has been revealed, he says that he never pressed the button (SHOCKING!), that the clock ran down, some red hieroglyphics were shown, then things got scary, he heard crashing sounds, magnetic fields were at work, the walls started shaking, and then after all this...nothing happened. Desmond, Locke, and Henry are all on the same page, with only Henry claiming to have experienced what happens after all the ruckus. This plants a seed of doubt into Lockes head.

This seed of doubt is watered and nurtured and finally takes roots with the discovery of "The Pearl", another hatch on the island. This hatch is much different then the one the crew of flight #815 had found. It is simply an observation post, for observing those in "The Swan". Every last move of those in who are in "The Swan" is documented. It is merely a psychological test (or so it appears to Locke), and here in lies the turn of the screw (A good book, but a book also not so ironically left on display for us viewers in the hatch). They are rats in some sick twisted B.F. Skinner-esque experiment in behaviourism to see how long they will enter a code every 108 minutes before they snap.

It is at this point that Locke realizes, and becomes convinced that he (not I, Dan) has been duped. He is committed to let the counter run down. (Why couldn't the Hanso foundation have installed a mechanism to "wreck havoc" if the code is entered late, to add to the reality of the psychological experiment?) It is at this point that our Scottish friend Desmond washes back up on the island.

Desmond, a desperate man in love, finally found hope in his once thought lost sailboat to reunite him with his long lost love. But, after 2 weeks of sailing, he finds himself right back on the island. He drinks him self senseless and has lost all hope. At one point he exclaims they will never be rescued, we are stuck in a "bloody snowglobe". This is a man with no reason to live, who spent 3 years of his life entering a code every 108 minutes thinking he was saving the world. It in this state that Locke recruits him after revealing his discovery that it is all a psychological experiment. (I would be pretty curious after pressing that button so many times what actually does happen. And if you have no reason to live, what better time to find out?)

Up to this point, no one has seen anything more then the events that Henry Gale supposedly witnessed, after which he stated nothing would happen. Then things get interesting. Locke and Desmond bunker down in the computer room to let the countdown run out, and it is in these last few desperate minutes that Desmond flips through the computer printout found in "The Pearl" and realizes that something does happen when you don't press the button, that he was responsible for bringing down the plane the day he entered the code late. It is at this point he does try and stop Locke only to have Locke destroy the computer. In Lost's typical manner, we still don't know the complete consequence of the code not being entered, because Desmond uses the key to activate the "emergency termination".

(Dan, did you miss an episode or two? It almost seems like you might of, so hopefully this clears some things up for you. But Lost obviously rubs you the wrong way, for one reason or another. Its up to you if you want to watch the show or not, all I ask is that you stop smearing Lost's name without a legitimate cause.)

Maybe I got a little bit carried away there, but this ongoing argument has given me the opportunity to nit-pick the finer details of Lost, and reacquaint myself with the Lost "world" in time for the season 3 premier on October 4th!. It also just goes to show how complex and intricate Lost really is, that I can delve this much into a single aspect of Lost! That us why I love this show!

It is rumored it will focus much more on the "Others" and how they play into the story. My only warning to you, if you are going to watch Lost, you must understand the commitment entails watching every episode. Otherwise, you will get frustrated because you will get lost very easily. I will do my best to help explain the show as I sort through it myself here on my blog.

Your Local Lost Fanatic,
David Knepprath

P.S. Thanks a lot Dan. You made me spend the better part of my day at work writing my longest post ever on a TV show!...pathetic.


Robert Clifton said...

you out nerded yourself this time dave.

David Knepprath said...

Oooh rob, you are too flattering...seriously, stop, I'm going to blush.

I just do what I can.

Mirranda said...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. How can I ever prove my devotion to Lost and compete with this? You win (for now).

Good picture choices - especially the one of Desmond.

David Knepprath said...

Wow, I thought Robs comment was flattering. ;)

But does Anwen approve of Desmonds picture, that is the question.