‘Lost’: The Scottish Make TV Better

Posted: April 7, 2010 in Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

Last week, Lindelof and Cuse made a lot of comments about how “Happily Ever After” would “change the conversation” fans were having of the show, and effectively introduce the final act of the series.

Turns out? Yeah, it did. This may be a crazy theory – hang in there! – but…crap, the writers may, still, actually know what they’re doing.

After a few too many weeks of not getting any answers about the NEW big mystery – what do these two magical wizards have to do with the plot we’ve been following over the last few years? – and finding our faith wavering a little bit (I’ll admit to using the phrase “magical wizards” as a pejorative), tonight was a welcome step back into The Story as we understood it.

All it took was that Scottish guy we’ve all gotten so attached to, even though, pound for pound, he has gotten a hell of a lot less screen time than any of the others (no, not The Others, you know what I…argh, fricking show). 

For Lost, Desmond’s presence has usually been a lighthouse (ha!) for viewers, a signal that if he’s intimately involved in an episode, that episode means more than just throwing a charming actor a bone. From the start, we’ve been told pretty clearly that Desmond Means Something. He’s Important.

It’s like any X-Files episode that featured the Cigarette Smoking Man. When you saw William B. Davis as a guest-star, you knew the story would move forward somehow. But Lost is weird, because it will list actors among its dozen regular cast members while sometimes keeping them completely absent. This can lead to a misconception that the writers are simply under-utilizing an actor. I’m sure Jeff Fahey is wondering why he’s on that list, too.

(OH, how cool would it be if Lapidus turns out to be important!…No, mustn’t get my hopes up.)

So with the re-introduction of Desmond to Widmore’s plans (remember, how Widmore had plans? So did the writers!) , and with him, all the weird crap that’s happened on his watch – the hatch explosion, the time-travel, the Constant/Penny/Faraday issue, Hawking’s knowledge of his purpose – all this has returned to the forefront of the story.

Short version, for people who are reading this and yet haven’t watched the episode SPOILERS AND ALL THAT SERIOUSLY, JUST WATCH THE DAMNED EPISODE ALREADY WE’LL WAIT – ARE YOU BACK YET? GOOD – Desmond was kidnapped by Widmore, and chucked in a makeshift electromagnet that sent his consciousness into the Alternate Universe. There, he is a corporate fixer for Widmore, and has all the things he lacked in our timeline – he’s wealthy, successful, and has earned Widmore’s respect. The only thing he is missing is the one thing that’s important to him in our timeline: Penny.

But through the machinations of good ol’ Alt-Charlie, who himself has seen through the veil and knows there’s Something Else Out There, Alt-Desmond and Our Desmond link minds a bit (or explain it however you like), and now Alt-Desmond realizes the significance of the alternate world. And he wants to explain it to all the other Oceanic 816 passengers.

And that’s the end of the episode.

To me, this is actually the most significant part of the episode: it ends on a cliffhanger set in the alternate world, but one so vague and non-danger-related that it reads very much like the show is telling the audience, “Stop treating these like they’re individual episodes. This is all one big long episode from here on out.”

I’ve kind of been waiting for that. I understand the need to get the audience comfortable with the alt-universe conceit, but that’s also been the source of a lot of the “Who gives a damn” complaints about the new setting.

Six more episodes to go, and while we haven’t gotten a blatant explanation, two of my big issues have been brought back to the forefront: the Desmond/Constant deal, and Widmore/Hawking’s motivations. And that’s a good enough sign for me that six episodes may, in fact, be enough to hit the other biggies to some degree of satisfaction.

Now: Some theorizing. I HATE theorizing, because this is what started the whole “They’re all in purgatory” nonsense that started in season one and hasn’t gotten much better.

But my theory, as it holds right now, addresses my major problem with this season as a whole: that we’ve been presented with these two deity figures who represent opposing ideologies of good and evil, order and chaos. I have been pretty annoyed by this, because in both cases it offers a choice that isn’t really a choice (a phrase that’s been getting a lot of play here).

(Specifically: I don’t care if Jacob seems nice and wants to passively suggest lifestyle decisions – it’s still manipulation, and I want these people I’ve spent six years with to make their own damn choices to be happy or do something self-sacrificing or whatever. It’s a personal issue – but I get the sense I’m not the only one feeling that.)

My theory – my hope, really, based mostly on Desmond’s newfound knowledge and confidence in Widmore’s plan – is that he is there to offer a third option. An in-between choice, based on his understanding of the alternate universe as a kind of half-assed wish-fulfillment exercise (and yes, I’m gonna wrack my brains trying to figure out how all these alt-versions represent Better Lives for the castaways, but I’m sure the reasoning’s there).

Maybe Desmond is in a special position to break the cycle Jacob and Smokey have been caught in. And maybe – maybe? – that is the ultimate point of the show.

Or I’m completely off. Ask me again in a week.

What about you guys?

  1. braak says:

    Well, if we extend the writers just enough credit, the alt-universe characters lives are better only in the respect that they made all their choices on their own. No one’s life is necessarily objectively “better,” especially because, hey, how can one life be objectively superior to another? But all the characters are the product of their own decisions, and thus in command of their own destinies. The universe without the Island is a universe without destiny at all.

    I think this is a pretty keen metaphysical position to take, especially if the argument is that the universe is better because there’s no destiny, but that’s because I hate it when people have destinies.

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    “How can one life be objectively superior to another?”

    In Universe A, there are only Three Musketeers bars.
    In Universe B, there are only Snickers bars.

    Boom: Whatever else its faults, Universe B is better. Because whenever things get bad, a person can say, “Well, I may have lost my leg in a horrible box-cutting accident, but at least I don’t live in the Three Musketeers bar universe.”

    ‘Fringe’ producers, call me – I’ve got your season 3 plot!

  3. braak says:

    Both of these are superior to the universe that only has Caramello.

  4. Jeff Holland says:

    Woe to that uninhabitable hellscape.

  5. Tad says:

    Carmello bars are awesome. But let me just say that I’m glad that we live in such a glorious, candy-bar filled universe.

  6. th3chicg33k says:

    I bet the universe that only has Heath bars is very British. What with the toffee and all.

  7. Jeff Holland says:

    So, so glad my stupid joke has derailed Lost conversation so quickly.

  8. Tad says:

    Who can focus on a silly tv show now that we’ve entered the far more Serious topic of candy? If you wanted us to keep talking about Lost, you should have made Universe A an Apollo bar exclusive universe.

  9. Jeff Holland says:

    Who would eat an Apollo bar? It doesn’t sound like food? Not like Three Musketeers or Snickers.

    Actually that’s kind of weird.

    Even weirder, the only candy bar that tries to get one of its ingredients into the name, and we’re making fun of it.

    There may be a column in this somewhere.

  10. Tad says:

    Take 5 has the dumbest name and its the best candy bar there is.

    Apollo bar sounds like a Mars bar and I guess people like those, although I don’t think I’ve ever had one (or even know if they still make them).

  11. Carl says:

    Here are the facts: none of the candy-bars mentioned here hold a proverbial candle to the offerings of the inimitable Reese’s company. THERE IS NO DEBATE ABOUT THIS. Simply accept what I tell you. I will merrily go to universe wherein only either Nutrageous or Fastbreak bars exist. Any of these, really.

  12. Hsiang says:

    Aw crap. I’m stuck in the universe where everything is made out of Jolly Rancher. My teeth hurt.

  13. dagocutey says:

    Aaaah, but the jolly rancher watermelon . . . teeth be damned.
    @Tad: Oh you are so right about the Take Five bar! What a lifeless name for truly one of the most crunchy/gooey feasts of delight on the market today. Anyone who hasn’t had one simply must go out right now and get one. You heard me, now go.

  14. Jeff Holland says:

    Origin of the Take-5 bar: Somebody, some Hershey Scientician, looked at the chocolate pretzel, then came to his peers and said, “Gentlemen…we can go further.”

    They spent $2.3 billion on research and development.

  15. dagocutey says:

    Damn! What a waste of $$ — all they needed to do was whip up a couple of prototypes, stand on a busy street corner and give them away. I mean, have you had one yet? Key-riste they’re fine.

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