Thursday, February 18, 2010

Episode 3: "The Substitute"

In progress...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

LOST in C. S. Lewis

Devoted reader (and fellow LOST nerd) Smamse brought up an interesting parallel between the story of Aslan and the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), and the events as they played out in the premiere. Specifically he thought it was interesting that Jacob seemed to offer himself up to be killed, much like Aslan did to the White Witch. Clearly there are differences and I don't necessarily endorse the parallel (I think it was more him pointing out a possible allusion being made by the writers as opposed to a direct comparison of the two stories), but bringing that up got me thinking about C. S. Lewis and the possible influence he might have had on the writers of this show (naming Charlotte after him might be indicative of that influence *Charlotte Staples Lewis - Clive Staples Lewis*).

The island does feel very Narnian-esque in some ways: the disconnect between it and the rest of the world (parallel dimensions), the way that time seems to act differently than it does everywhere else, the way that people sort of teleport onto/into it via a portal (or bearing) of some kind, and even the way that a force seems to "bring" them to it (the children being "summoned" to Narnia vs. the others being "brought" by Jacob to the island). Now I'm not trying to argue that the show's connection to the Narnia Chronicles is anything more than a friendly wink and a nod, but it's still certainly a possibility that Lewis was a major influence on some of the show's broader themes.

With that in mind I came across this link from Dr. McGrath's blog (returning the shout out! *seriously though, you should check out his blog if you're into anything religion related - Christianity I would say more specifically - or LOST/sci-fi*, he always has cool links and interesting conversations breaking out). It's actually a link to another LOST blog done by a "DocArtz" (why he would choose the most hated character this side of Nikki and Paulo is incredibly baffling to me, maybe he was being ironic). My personal issues with his name aside, I found this to be an interesting look at the Smoke Monster's take on John Locke at the end of "LAX Part 2". I thought this might be of particular interest to Smamse as I know that he is a fan of a somewhat lesser known Lewis' book, The Great Divorce.

Here's the link, followed by the corresponding text, followed by some more of my wonderfully insightful commentary. Go and visit his site if you're interested in reading more of what DocArtz has to say (his blog might not be as good as the one we run over here, but only hearing one voice on a particular subject is never a good idea *even when that voice is as inerrant as mine*).

The season premiere’s most intriguing bit of dialogue is the exchange between Ben and MonsterLocke, following Jacob’s murder and the slaughter of Ilana’s team. The absurdity of the setting (inside of the four-toed statue) and the somber tone of the discussion create a mood of fantasy and postmodernist dissonance—Waiting for Godot meets Alice in Wonderland. Locke the Smoke Monster tells Ben about the pathetic nature of John Locke’s life and death. His heartbreaking comment about John’s confusion in his final moments makes it seem that this man-monster has nothing but contempt for the “irreparably broken” man. But then he defends Locke: “He was the only one of them that didn’t want to leave. The only one, who realized how pitiful the life he’d left behind actually was.” Now we are in C.S. Lewis /Flannery O’Connor territory. The Smoke Monster’s depiction of the island’s significance illustrates the Christian ideal of the afterlife and man’s reluctance to leave behind worldly attachments. John embraces the mystical, spiritual life and rejects the comforts of his life back home. He readily engages in the work of the soul when others refuse to “let go” as Rose instructs Jack to do on the plane in the alternate universe/flash sideways world.

This Post is courtesy SCS over at

In particular, this conversation recalls Lewis’s The Great Divorce, a slim fable-like novella published in 1945. The term “divorce” refers to the great chasm that exists between heaven and hell according to many Christian theologians. In the preface, Lewis claims that “if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell” (8). But it is not so much the dualism of monotheism that makes this story comparable to the recent musings found in Lost. Though we know that the island is not purgatory or any kind of afterlife, the tone of the dialogue between the residents of heaven and those of hell/purgatory is identical to not only the Smoke Monster’s monologue, but also to Jacob and “Esau’s” discussion in “The Incident.” Consider a conversation from The Great Divorce between a “spirit” of heaven and an unsuspecting resident of Hell. The spirit is trying to explain to this man where he has been dwelling for so long. “Where do you imagine you’ve been?” asks Dick, the heavenly spirit. “Ah I see,” replies the ghost, “You mean that the grey town…with its field for indefinite progress, is, in a sense, Heaven, if only we have eyes to see it?” The spirit replies, in no uncertain terms, that it is, in fact, Hell, “though if you don’t go back you may call it Purgatory” (36). Maybe the Smoke Monster will be equally revealing about the island’s identity (and that of his own) in forthcoming episodes.

More of this author’s work can be found at and

I've never been convinced (and I'm still not) that Smoky is in fact the evil force in this story (after all, in Genesis, Biblical Jacob did steal his brother Esau's birth-right and deceive his father *who, by the way, was Isaac, the almost sacrificed son of Abraham, the story of which is the focus of Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, which was the book that Hurley found on the dead Frenchman in the premiere; see it's all coming together now!*), though I admit that the evidence is not in his favor at the moment (but we know that, much like Henry Gale, LOST is a show that does not hesitate to deceive the viewer intentionally, "he will lie. For a very long time he will lie. But he IS one of them." - Danielle Rousseau; only providing the true clues to those who are willing to dig up the grave and check for ID). I don't know if the Smoke Monster is the evil force that the majority seem to view him as or if perhaps there is something more going on, but either way I'm always very interested to hear the opinions of people who venture off the beaten path.

All that being said, I haven't actually read the book (The Great Divorce not The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I've read 10 to 15 times) and so I would be interested to hear Smamse's take on this, given that he in fact has. Others feel free to chime in if you'd like (I'd particularly like to hear from Dr. McGrath, him being a Biblical scholar of some repute). Even those out there who haven't read The Chronicles of Narnia probably still have some idea of what they're about from the recently released Disney movies - or check out the wikipedia page, I'm sure it will fill you in nicely - so jump right in. Find more information on The Great Divorce here if you're interested. If anybody noticed/notices any further C. S. Lewis allusions in the show please make mention in the comments.

I love me some Lewis and I love me some LOST.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Discussion Corner: Apos Q and A

I am calling this “Apos: Q and A.” Maybe this will become a weekly segment, or not, depending on whether or not Apos cooperates. Regardless, Steven brought up some interesting points in his response to my “What Kate Does” post and so I thought I would just make a whole new post out of them. Here’s Steven’s (Apos) comment (italics) followed by my response (bold).

Seeing as I got a shout out in this post I'll take the initiative to be the first [comment]. I've been speculating and theory crafting on several issues. One of which you jumped on too, I'm pretty convinced that Richard came to the island on the Black Rock.

I also think the Claire issue needs to be looked at much more closely. She is said to be "infected" now, does this mean that the stories we received from Rousseau about her husband and crew were in fact inaccurate? Could it be that Rousseau was the one that was "infected" and in her craze killed all of her crew members. I'd say its a good guess. I also think something of Claire's condition has to be directly linked with the fact that she is no longer with/taking care of Aaron. I say this of course because of the several clues we've received throughout the series stating that 1.) "You must raise the child" and 2.) the numerous visions to Kate that shes not suppose to raise Aaron. I'd also like to point out the obvious similarities between Claire and Rousseau: Claire looks like Rousseau, Claire is placing traps and seems bewildered, and of course we can't forget the fact that both were separated from their children.

As for the Dogen comment, the possible reasoning for the poison reaching his "heart" could be that many ancient civilizations such as the Chinese and Japanese believed the mind was an essence of the heart (life force), not the brain. I also question the whole Ben never being the same issue, because if being healed by the Spring had some negative effects why would Dogen so willingly plunge his hand into the water. Yet again, I think that there was definitely something about Ben's revitalization that caused him to be as ruthless and cutthroat as he is.

There's plenty of other crap I've thought of and would like to discuss, but its getting late and honestly I can't keep all my thoughts straight in this tiny little box, so we'll continue this later. (P.s. the island is actually Atlantis - am I being serious? Who knows).

I think most LOST theorists agree at this point that Richard came on the Black Rock, though most theories I've seen have him as the captain of the ship (implicit racism perhaps at work), but in light of the chains comment by Smoky it might very well be that he was one of the slaves. I think we will find out much more about Richard and his relationship with Jacob and Smoky in the weeks to come.

You make some interesting points about Claire. You bring up some parallels with Rousseau that I hadn't thought about (specifically about them both being separated from their children *though under somewhat different circumstances*). I’m not sure if that parallel is important or not, but I will keep an eye on it for future episodes. As to Rousseau perhaps being the one infected I would have to disagree. If you remember the episode in question (“This Place is Death”), the other members of her expedition crew follow the Frenchman into the hole, but Jin stops her from going in saying, “you don’t follow.” Later we see her in a faceoff with her baby’s daddy (Robert) and he talks her into lowering her gun before he pulls the trigger. If she were the one infected I doubt that she would be persuaded to lower her weapon, and the fact that he pulls the trigger tells me that obviously he has changed if he is willing to kill his own child and wife/baby’s momma (that’s not something normal people do). Also, Dogen says that the infection changes everything you once were, but on several occasions we saw Rousseau, even years later, profoundly impacted by the loss of her daughter (something I don’t think we would see from an infected person). The physical similarities between Claire and Rousseau could be explained by the simple fact that they both have been living alone in a jungle (one would expect them to get a bit dirty), and that both were/are a little bit insane (maybe as a result of both losing children, like you said). As for the trap making, it’s not hard to imagine that Claire would use similar traps, after all she has been living alone on the island now for several years and would undoubtedly have come across many of Rousseau’s traps that she had setup all over the island while still alive.

About Aaron; I too have questions about his role in all this. It has certainly been hinted at that he is an important character in the larger story that LOST is trying to tell, but I almost wonder if the writers of the show have decided to go in a different direction and left Aaron somewhat out of it. We were led to believe that the psychic who told Claire to raise the child was a fraud (he admitted as much himself to Mr. Eko in episode 21 of season 2, “?”). That doesn’t necessarily mean that he is actually a fraud (he could have been lying to Mr. Eko so that he would drop the investigation), or that what he told her isn’t significant; they definitely made it seem like he had some knowledge of the future, and he had no clear motive to lie to her (even refusing to take her money/buying her a plane ticket). I don’t think we ever had a vision to Kate saying she shouldn’t raise the child (if you can recall specifics I will go back and look it up), we had a vision to JACK saying that he shouldn’t raise the child, and we had Claire appearing to Kate telling her, “don’t you dare bring him back, (presumably meaning to the island)”. It just seems to me that Aaron has become less and less of a factor as the show has gone on. He may very well come back into play in a major way, but it wouldn’t particularly surprise me if he doesn’t.

I wasn’t trying to argue that Dogen didn’t know that the brain is responsible for personality and not the heart, as some ancient civilizations believed. My point was more a question of whether Dogen meant to imply that the ‘infection’ was spiritual and not physical. Is it actually affecting the heart (in a spiritual sense, aka the soul or life-force) or is it affecting the brain (heart here used metaphorically to mean the personality aspect of the brain). That’s all I meant by it.

On the issue of Ben, I guess what I was unwittingly implying was the he had somehow been healed by the smoke monster (which now thinking about it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense). My idea was that if the smoke monster “claimed” him as he did Sayid, then it would explain his dramatic change in personality (changing everything he once was, as it were). But we now know that there’s no way that Richard would enlist the smoke monster for help, so that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I guess the spring healing him is the only logical alternative, but I don’t know why that would take away his innocence. Thinking about this has brought to mind an interesting point though, if Ben is working for Jacob, and Jacob and the smoke monster are enemies, why would the smoke monster allow itself to be “summoned” by Ben to kill off Keamy’s soldiers? He told Smoky (who we thought was Locke at the time) back in season 5 that he only knew how to “summon” the monster, he didn’t actually know where it “lived”. Why would Smoky allow himself to be summoned by a pawn of Jacob? Unless maybe he was somehow being forced to do so… interesting. I’ll have to think more about this.

I don’t think the island is Atlantis (since Atlantis was a city and the island clearly has no cities on it), though it might be from another planet and/or dimension.

Moving On Up!

As you all (few though you may be) have probably noticed, there have been a couple changes to the site layout. My brother (much thanks to you by the way sir) helped me out this afternoon with some HTML editing - that's me and him working hard there on the left - and we managed to stretch the text out across the screen so that you don't need to scroll down quite so much. Hopefully this change will drastically increase the readability of the site. Rob (that's my brother Rob, not Rob Farrelly - though he's a great guy as well) also helped me add that fantastic smoke swirl that you might notice hugging the right side of the text (pretty awesome right?). Let me know what you think about the additions.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"The Substitute" Sneak Peeks

So there are a couple of clips up previewing next week's episode. I had postulated that the title might reference Jack "substituting" for Sayid, but now I'm not so sure. The obvious connection to the title is John Locke being "the substitute" for Christian Shephard's body on the return trip to the island. From the clips below it is clear that the upcoming episode is Locke/Smoky-centric (color me excited!). Of course it's entirely possible that the writers have chosen this title to have a double meaning and that both interpretations (or neither) are correct. Anyway, here are the clips.

Tell me that second clip hasn't majorly peeked your interest? "The most important question in the world"!? That really raises the stakes doesn't it? Tuesday can't come soon enough.