LOST - Final Thoughts

There are no take-backs on serialized television.

That's what I found myself thinking as I watched the final of Lost's six year epic journey last night, a finale that was emotionally satisfying but logically frustrating.

There are SO MANY unanswered questions; some big, some small, some nit-picky. At this point we're unlikely to get any additional information for months, if ever, with the head writers/producers going into a self-imposed period of radio silence. "We want the finale to speak for itself," they say. That's all well and good, but I think even the producers would agree that the finale didn't even come close to answering the many questions still left on the table. I'm sure if they had it all to do over again, they would change a number of things; plotline which went no-where, characters introduced to stretch things out, loose ends left naggling.

What the finale did very well, what I'm sure the producers goal was in going into the writing room, was to provide closure for the characters. With the odd exception of Michael and Walt (exempted for real world concerns, no doubt) every major character was given a conclusion to their journey. Some, particularly Jack's, were quite moving. As it was the characters who drove this series, this was no minor feat and the writer's should be congratulated.

So I'm not going to dwell on the characters in this post. I'm going to talk about the huge holes in the mythology.

There's enough information out there to make guesses or suppositions on some of the bigger questions, so let's touch upon some major and minor points that stick out in my (admittedly eccentric) mind.

One caveat before we dive in. With the exception of the pilot, I have seen each episode of Lost a grand total of ONCE. I watched this show in real time, and have yet to go back and rematch it. My memory may be faulty on some details, so forgive me, Losties, if I get something wrong!

Question 1) The BIG one. What is the island?

Tricky, as much of what the island is meant to be is a major plot mcguffin. In the context of the mythology of the show, it's two things; a home to this cave of light and a prison for the Man In Black AKA the Smoke Monster AKA Jacob's Brother AKA Flocke AKA Locke AKA Easu AKA Samuel AKA Insert your nick-name here. What's the cave of light? Comprised of electromagnetic energy, and something to be protected. That's really the sum total of what we got. There was some kind of key-stone to keep the energy contained (or flowing, it really wasn't clear) and when that key-stone was removed for a few hours the magic of the island broke down for a time. Beyond these minor details, I've no idea. I think we're intended to take much of what the island was on faith, a major character theme on the show. Jacob believed the island should be protected, so we do too. Does it matter what the light represented?

Question 2) Who were the Others?

All the literature just calls them "the original inhabitants of the island," but I'm going to assume they were the followers of Jacob. They worshiped him, built temples to him, tried to follow his bizarre dictates. I suspect they knew the power contained in that cave of light, and many coveted it, hoping they would eventually be granted its stewardship. But, bottom line, Jacob was tasked with defending the island, and thus so were they. Why were they barefoot? Gosh knows. Another unexplained detail. Why did they kidnap children? Because they couldn't have their own (I'll touch on that in a moment.) They seemed to know who to take from the 815 survivors and who to leave, so I must assume that they had some insight into who was a candidate and who wasn't. How they got that intelligence is very vague.

Question 3) Who was Jacob and what was he trying to do?

Jacob was the protector of the island, and had been summoning people there for centuries looking for the person to replace him. I suspect that if he hadn't died Jacob would not have passed on the job to Jack, but desperate times required him to make a choice at last. He was clearly pretty traumatized by what he'd been through, what with all the odd dictates he put on those who followed him. No mother candidates. No children born on the island. No shoes (I'm going to assume that was Jacob's doing). You can see the seeds of these psychological issues in the "Across the Sea" episode, but the effects we have to divine from the events throughout the show.

He was also the jailer for the Man In Black.

The simple symbology of the show would have us believe Jacob was "the good guy" but Jacob's actions were not those we would traditionally consider worthy of worship. He had no problems letting people die as they competed for his job. Surely there were better ways of luring people to the island than crashing planes and ships? Really, the plight of the MIB was the more sympathetic. Who wouldn't want to escape?

Question 4) What were the numbers?

These were the numbers used by Jacob to identify the candidates to replace him. Now if Jacob had been at this game for centuries, why would our new arrivals get the low digits? But that's a niggly detail. I suppose you could say that Jacob always knew they were coming, even in the early days of his quest. Time is a funny thing on this show.

The numbers were also the digits of the Hanso Equation, an equation that predicted the end of the world, but you'd only know that if you played the "Lost Experience" web game.

Question 5) Who was the Dharma Initiative?

A group of scientists dedicated to changing the values in the Hanso Equation and preventing the end of the world. Given that they were drilling straight down to the source of power on the island I can't imagine Jacob or the Others were all that happy that Dharma was there. Indeed, Ben Linus eventually defected to the Others and slaughtered the Dharma scientists, leaving their experiments behind like broken toys.

Question 6) Why was Walt important?

This is the first of the "take backs" I'm sure the producers would like to have. Sure, it seemed like a good idea to have a kid on the island in the first season, but when that kid's voice drops and he sprouts to over six feet? Kick the kid off the island before the audience notices! So the story arc for Walt remains untold. We know the Others considered him "special" and that he could apparently summon objects to the island (there's a huge hint in the pilot that HE summoned the polar bear, although later the writers went with the bear escaping from the cages of the Dharma Initiative) but that's about all we got. Walt, unfortunately, remains a mystery.

Question 7) What were "the rules" between Ben and Whidmore?

No clue. One would imagine they were modeled on the rules between Jacob and the MIB, but that's just speculation. Something to do with not killing each other directly.

Question 8) Who built the Egyptian Statue and why did it have four toes?

Just speculation here, but one would assume at one point in the Island's history a group of Egyptian "Others" who had been summoned to the island built both the statue and the temple to honor Jacob. No idea about the four toes.

Question 9) What was the Hurley Bird?

This is a private pet peeve of mine, that they would introduce this mysterious creature, and yet never do anything with it. This was the bird that we saw twice in the series, an enormous green bird with a twelve foot wing span. The bird also spoke English and called out to Hurley by name. I suspect that there was a plotline being built around this bird, a plotline made unnecessary by the series producers and ABC giving the series an end date. Sadly the Hurley Bird's story, like Walt's before it, remains untold.

Question 10) What was the sickness that took the French Woman's crew? Why are there all the Quarantine signs around the island?

This would, apparently, be the influence of the Man In Black. That's a guess. We really don't have enough information on this one. People infected could appear normal one moment, and try to kill you the next. Sayid was apparently infected after his resurrection in the water of the temple. This sickness could apparently be detected by some strange form of torture practiced by both the French Woman and the Others. One would assume that Dharma saw this infection as well, but we never saw it take anyone in that timeline.

Question 11) Who the heck were the people who asked the question "what lies in the shadow of the statue?"

I've gotta assume this was an Others splinter group, one that came from the Mainland. Sorry, it's all I got.

Question 12) How much were they making up as they went along?

We'll never know. The writers insist that they had a plan from episode one, but the details were clearly hazy. Add onto that the comings and goings of a television show (Walt and Mr. Eko both had incomplete story arcs due to actor issues) and they were clearly improvising this as they went along. Nicki and Paulo, anyone?

Sure, they planted the two bodies in the cave in season one (Adam and Eve) along with the black and white stones, but they also dropped the dialog line about the bodies not being older than 50 years or so. Now we find out that they were there 2000 years or more? Clearly something changed along the line.

I'll stop there. There are many, many, many other questions (Who shot at Sawyer and Juliet on the Outrigger? What's the deal with the Donkey Wheel? How did Desmond know so much of what needed to be done? What was Whidmore's agenda? Why did Juliet say "It worked?") that we'll never know the answers to, but I'm sure that in Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof's eyes that was not the point of Lost. The point was the characters, and the mystery was secondary. If you focus on the mystery aspect of the show it falls apart. If you focus on the characters it, mostly, works. The fact that they were able to maintain a mystery for six seasons speaks volumes about how intriguing the characters were and how inventive the writers were with the show's basic formula. Despite its (many, many) flaws Lost is still a triumph of serialized story telling and a journey I'm glad to have taken.

P.S. - Yes, it's my first post in quite awhile. Sorry!

The Hobgoblin

Sorry, I've been lax in updating. Fatherhood does that to a person.

To make up for it here are two new pictures from a story in progress. Click the images for a larger view.


Sad Memories

Just got an e-mail that a family friend, Ann Kirchhoff, died Easter morning after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Kirchhoffs were (are) friends of my parents, and we used to celebrate Thanksgiving with them, year in and year out, for almost two decades. We would go on family outings with them, go to religious retreats with them, go to church with them, so they were very familiar faces in our lives. They were always kind to me. I hadn't seen Ann in almost ten years, since she and her husband moved to Seattle, but I had heard about her diagnosis. Even though I knew she was dying and that the end was close, finally hearing the inevitable news today hit me more emotionally than I thought it would. Ten years since I last saw her. This morning my memories of Ann were hazy, but the news of her death has brought my memory back into sharp focus and how kind she was to me.

Amazing how you sometimes don't value what you have until it's gone.

Silly, silly links...

First off, something so ridiculous you think it has to be fiction. Apparently the cast of Battlestar Galactica has been invited to the UN to discuss human rights and world affairs with the delegates. Nothing against the cast of BSG, but... really? The UN doesn't have anything better to do?

Next up, something so idiotic you wonder how this got past the focus groups. The Sci-Fi channel is going to be rebranded the "SyFy" channel so as to appeal to women. 'Cause, ya know, women hate "Sci-Fi" but spell it phonetically and then it's all okay. No, I'm not joking.

Here's another. The fact that this toy even got to market is amazing. The fact that a Christian group sees it as evidence of a homosexual conspiracy rather than just stupidity is even more amazing. Ladies and gentlemen, the Wolverine Twiddle Rumpus blow-up doll. Yes, it's real.

Some days I just have to wonder if a higher power isn't messing with us.

My Watchmen Review

WATCHMEN (Minor spoilers, if any)

Bottom Line: It was good. Not great, but good.

Second Bottom Line: I don't think I've ever seen a feature film with more full frontal male nudity.

I'm certainly not an unbiased reviewer for this film. I read the original comic-books as they were being published back in 1986, falling in love with the work month by month as the tale unfolded. I puzzled over the mystery of the so-called "mask killer" and poured over the detailed back story for hints as to the killer's identity. This is a story I'm intimately familiar with.

In the twenty plus years since it's also become a bit of a sacred cow for comic-book fans. It's one of those key-stone books that those who are interested in the medium should read. That doesn't make it perfect (I did wince a bit at the marketing that claimed Watchmen was the most acclaimed graphic novel of all time: what about Maus?) but it's certainly a good and important read to understand the growth of the medium. It was one of the first books to honestly ask and answer the question of "how would super-heroes behave in the so-called 'real world?'" Moore and Gibbons (the original creators) hedged their bets a bit by making it an alternate 1985 where Richard Nixon was enjoying his third (fourth?) term as President, but the nuclear paranoia that hangs over the story is instantly recognizable to any child of the 80's. How would characters that dress in fetish outfits to fight crime react to a threat that could literally end the world?

I think the reviews of the group I went with is telling. I saw the film in iMax with eight people, six of which had read the book and two who had not. Coming out of the theater the six who had read the book gave it mostly a thumbs up. The two who had not read the book gave it a big thumbs down. It wasn't at all what they had expected, and they hated the flashbacks the film (and comic) used to flesh out the tale.

I've heard for years that the comic is "unfilmable" and that it would never translate to the screen, but when I saw the first trailer I dared to hope that Snyder and Co. had finally done it. The trailer LOOKED amazing. It LOOKED right. There were shots in there that looked ripped right from Dave Gibbons artwork.

The same could be said of the film. It LOOKS amazing. It LOOKS right. There are even many scenes taken line for line from the comic (as there should be.) Indeed, the most powerful scenes in the film are those that translated Alan Moore's original script word for word. But there are also many scenes which you watch and say to yourself, "man, that worked better on paper." Whether that's just the material, the performances, or the directing it's tough to say, but there were some clunker moments that made my inner fan-boy wince.

For example, there is a sequence set on Mars where an enormous secret about a character's history is revealed. The way this played out in the comic book the revelation is done through a clever repetition of a sequence in the past. The secret is not directly stated, the information comes to the reader through context as the past is replayed over and over. Here in the film version the secret is plainly stated in dialog. No need to spend time with clever repetition or art, let's just get it out there for the audience and move on.

Consider that this is a 12 issue comic book series that has been condensed down to under three hours. There's an enormous, enormous amount of material that's been left on the cutting room floor. Some of it was cut to stream-line the story (Example 1- the squid ending.) Some of it was cut for time (the Black Freighter plotline - Soon to be a DVD you can purchase! Oooo! Not sure how I feel about selling cut material, but there it is.) But they are still CUTS. What made Watchmen such a rich tapestry in the original version was the sheer amount of detail that populated every page, every word, every plotline. What we're left with in this film is a cliff-notes version of the richer tapestry that is the comic book. That could be said of almost any novel that's been adapted to the screen, but Watchmen the movie really is the lesser for it. I cite the confusion of my two friends who saw the movie but had not read the source material. Does the story work stripped of its rich detail? I honestly can't say, because I KNOW those details. I'm not the person to ask.

I should also mention the music choices. Almost every piece of music in here was instantly recognizable, from "Ride of the Valkyries" to Dylan's "The Times They Are A'Changin'" to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" to Mozart's "Requiem." Heck, I even think I heard Nena's "99 Red Balloons" in there! Some choices work, like playing "Unforgetable" over the opening murder. Some come off WAY over the top, no more so than playing "Requiem" after the villain's scheme is fully revealed. I rolled my eyes. I've read the term "obvious" for Snyder's music choices, and that's a good term for it. For a "visionary" directory Snyder went with song choices almost anyone could have made.

So should you see it? That really depends. Do you like whiz-bang effects? Plenty of eye candy here. Have you read Watchmen? Enough of the story survives to make the almost three hour running time worth while. Is this a good introduction to an important story for the comic book medium? I'd say no, but as I've made clear above, I'm biased. If you're never going to read the comic book for whatever reason then I suppose it's an acceptable substitute, but really it should be considered a supplement to the original.

A bunch o' images and links...

Did I somehow miss February? I guess I did. Oops.

In any case, today it's a bunch o' images off the drawing board.

First off we have a new Rocket Cat illustration. Lawsuit, here I come! At least people will stop asking me who "Agent James A" really is.

Next up we have a new character I'm developing. Those who knew me in High School have said that he looks like Corey. Not sure I agree, but there it is. His name is Cedric Jones.

Next we have the obligatory Coraline photo. You just gotta have one, right?

And then we have a two page Epilogue for the comic book story I ran in this blog awhile back. Click on the images to make them readable.

And a link. I think I mentioned awhile back how I was following the saga of "Sita Sings the Blues," a solo-animation project made by one woman who was running into copyright trouble? Well, the film has finally come out onto the net in glorious copyleft format (meaning you're free to download it, distribute it, etc. as long as you credit the source). It can be found here: The trailer is up on YouTube! There's a reason it's called "the greatest break-up story ever told."

Happy March, everyone!

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Kyle Baker Inauguration Day brilliance

This is taken directly from Kyle Baker's blogspot, which can be read here:

(Baker doesn't do links to individual posts, so I'm just copying and pasting the relevant text. Check out his work. You won't be disappointed.)


The small murmuring crowd of Secret Service agents and Joe Biden parts to make way for Barack Obama. He knocks on a closed door.

Knock Knock.

"Dick? It's the President. Unlock the door."


"Come on, I know you're in there, Dick. Unlock the door so we can talk."

A muffled voice is heard through the locked door. "You have to call me Mr. Vice-President. It's the law."

"It's not, Dick. I looked it up. Just open the door."

"I'm not leaving."

"It's time."

"I have a gun."

"I've seen how you shoot, Dick. I'm not scared. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."

Some Random Thoughts

- It seems incredible that we're now in the final 24 hours of a Bush presidency.

- Saw over the weekend the new BBC detective series, Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. For those not in the know (and I wasn't before I saw this,) Wallander is the most popular detective in Sweden, and the BBC has imported him in an effort to replace its now retired Inspector Morse series. I thought it was quite good, riding mainly on the performance of Branagh, but also featuring some clever plotting and production techniques. Recommended. It does seem a bit strange that Branagh is now doing episodic television, but hey I'll take what Branagh I can get.

- I wrote a story in 1997 called "The Prince of the Moon." I never could get the ending right, so its been languishing in a drawer since. While driving around last week, out of the blue, it suddenly occurred to me what I'd been doing wrong on the story, and how it could be made to work. I haven't thought of this tale in years, so the answer completely surprised me. Now I have to find the manuscript again and see if its worth salvaging.

- Man, I want an iPhone.

- I did not predict who the final Cylon was. I had suspected that character back in the beginning of season 3, but ruled [gender deleted] out when [gender deleted] was [status deleted.] A clever ploy by the writers of BSG. Opens up a host of possibilities. For the record I thought it was Tom Zerrick.

- I'm running out of room in our driveway to put snow. More is forecast for Friday.

- Coraline is now four months, 1 week. She attended Anne Pelz' Battlestar premiere get-together with us. Baby's first Battlestar! Tanya was completely lost.