Tuesday, May 30, 2006

LOST Season 2 Wrap Up

My head is still reeling a little bit from last week’s two hour season finale of LOST. There was so much to take in and decipher. For whatever I’m about to dissect or analyze in the following paragraphs, let me just say that this was by far the most compelling of all the season finale’s I’ve watched this year. I was completely engrossed in everything that was going on, and though I had my frustrations, I have to say –the LOST writers have me in the palm of their hands. They are really building up to a larger mystery here and the suspense only continued to grow last night. A couple of questions were answered, such as the fact that the button actually has a purpose, and that it may have in fact caused the crash of Oceanic flight 815. But many more questions were put forth, about the island, the nature of the hatch, and of course the elusive Others.

First things first: Desmond. I’m quite fond of the actor, Henry Ian Cusick, who plays the role of Desmond. His character is interesting and I like the parallel of starting and ending this second season with his story. But I was a little confused as to why he was the central character in the finale. Book-ending aside, wouldn’t it have made a more sense if this episode was placed towards the end of the season, instead of culminating the season wrap up? I for one felt like we saw very little of several of the main characters in the show. The only central character who seemed to get a fair shake was Locke, everyone else, even Jack and Eko, was pretty limited to a few scenes with quick-paced dialogue. In this episode we learned a great deal about Desmond’s history –that he was a military man who also served time in prison (It’s a bit unclear as to whether or not his jail time was justified or now). We learned that he was in love with a wealthy woman, by the name of Penelope, whose father disapproved of him. Desmond’s flashbacks also covered some of his time on the island, and showed his old “partner” who lived in the Hatch with him, Inman. In yet another startling coincidence, Inman was the very same Colonel who bribed Sayid into torturing his former colleague in Iraq. But coincidences abounded in this episode. As it turns out, Libby, AKA Elizabeth, donated her dead husband’s sail boat to Desmond so that he could accomplish his race around the world. (I found myself wondering about the character’s timelines, and if Libby was at the mental hospital before or after she met Desmond.…) But for all this juicy back story, I found myself wondering, why now? Why the sudden return to Desmond? Sure it gave the season a nice symmetry, but I would argue that the primary story arc this season focused more on the Others than the button in The Hatch. Once the Hatch was revealed at the start of the second season, the urgency of the button pushing could only be stretched out for so long. It either did something, or did nothing, but either way, it didn’t present the myriad of possibilities and explanations that the Others did.

There were an innumerable amount of questions interlaced into Desmond’s flashbacks and story, and I have a hard time even postulating answers for them. Here are a few of them. What is Libby’s deal? I have a very unclear sense of her back story; she’s probably lied at some point, the question is about what. How did Inman end up in the Hatch? Are we to believe that there is some US military involvement in the Dharma Initiative or the Hanso Foundation? When Desmond was dragged into the Hatch from the beach on the island, were there several men in the yellow Hazmat suits? Or was it only Inman, and were the blurry images we saw, a product of Desmond’s hazy state of consciousness? What exactly did the failsafe –the key port underneath the ground level that the drunken Inman showed to Desmond, do? When the survivors on the island were shrouded in the shocking white light –was that a product of the button not being pushed, or of the failsafe being pushed?

And what of the big reveal of the episode/season? Based on the finale we are meant to believe that when Desmond didn’t push the button (after leaving the Hatch), the electro-magnetic surge that ensued caused Oceanic flight 815 to crash. But that just doesn’t make sense to me; in fact I have a feeling it’s all part of some big charade. Here’s why I don’t believe it. Everything that we’ve been building up to with the Others has indicated that they have fairly extensive knowledge of the passengers. Not only do they have their names, but they know exactly what each of them looks like, and it has been implied at various junctures that the Others had knowledge of these passengers, and maybe even of the flight before it crashed. But if the plane crashed because of some freak accident caused by a random action, or in this case, inaction on the part of Desmond, it doesn’t jive with the Others having pre-existing knowledge.

I had an argument with a friend of mine, who put forth the idea that The Others could have also orchestrated Desmond’s action at just the right time, via Inman, when they knew Oceanic Flight 815 was flying overhead. But I don’t buy this. Let’s retrace Desmond’s steps shall we? Inman has been exiting the Hatch for months, but Desmond is told he cannot leave, because he must press the button. Desmond is curious about going above ground to the surface, despite the fact that Inman warns him the air is unsafe to breathe, and dons a Hazmat suit every time he goes up. So one day Desmond watches Inman preparing to leave the Hatch, and sees there is a tear in the leg of his Hazmat suit. Suspicious, Desmond follows him, and discovers, not only that the air is breathable, but that Inman has been repairing his sail boat. This leads Desmond to question his entire purpose in the Hatch, including the button, and the two get into a physical fight. Desmond accidentally kills Inman, and horrified, runs back to the Hatch, where the button is approaching count down. Desmond lets it go to zero, and when he feels the powerful magnetic forces tearing through the Hatch, he panics and enters the numbers. Of course, he doesn’t press the button soon enough, and in the process Oceanic 815 is brought down.

Now, are we truly meant to believe that all of these little moments and actions were perfectly orchestrated at just the right time? It seems impossible. My friend argued that maybe Inman was in with the Others, and they lured him out at just the right time so he would be late in returning to the button. But how could they possibly know he would glance at Inman’s torn suit on that particular day and decide to follow him, after days of not doing so. Therefore in my opinion, only two things are possible. One is that the crash was really an accident. The second is that the reveal of the cause for the plane crash is not the whole story, and I have to go with the second. BUT, if the second clause is true, then this means, that the finale, basically answered nearly nothing. It confirmed the fact that the button has power, and gave a potentially false answer to the question of the crash. Though I liked the fact that Henry Gale was revealed to be the leader of the Others, --in fact it has come amazing implications (the survivors didn’t kill their leader when they had the chance!), it doesn’t really count as an answer to one of the millions of questions floating around in the ether.

I think that this season LOST officially entered Twin Peaks territory. Now, I’ve never seen Twin Peaks (crazy, I know), but I hear that during its short lived tenure(two seasons, I think), it dealt with the murder of Laura Palmer, a young woman in a small town. The primary driving plot of this show was centered on solving the mystery behind her death. Now, the show was cancelled before it got a chance to reveal its true secrets, and a couple years later a film set as a prequel was released to try and delve further into the mystery, (the film was Fire Walk With Me). Both the TV show and the film were endeavors of the quirky, if not enigmatic David Lynch.

Now, some people thought Twin Peaks was brilliant because it created a setting and cast of characters that were so fascinating, that the mystery behind the death of Laura Palmer became more of a backdrop for the show. In fact, I’ve even heard some Twin Peaks purists argue, that the show was better off because of the fact that the real truth behind Laura’s death was never unveiled. It was better this way, they contend, because each person could think up their own answer to the ever looming questions.

Again, I’ve never seen Twin Peaks, so I can’t really put in my own two cents about this specific show. But I fear that LOST is entering this dangerous territory, where clues that have been laid down since the show began, will ultimately be forgotten as the story forges ahead, intent on weaving more and more of a tangled web of plotting. Will LOST’s questions ever be answered completely? Will all these pieces add up to a cohesive whole? And if they’re never answered, is that OK, because ultimately it is a story about humanity playing itself out in a cultural vacuum? At the risk of sounding like an impatient, ignorant, MTV-generation American, I say the secret does matter. It matters, and I think it should be told. This show hasn’t been framed to be a strictly Robinson Crusoe like tale, or a mere inter-personal drama. It has been set up from the beginning as a true mystery, and as such, I do believe it has an obligation to its audience, to reveal the unknowns. To be frank, I don’t think it has strong enough characters to simply carry on its story without the mysterious elements. Locke is by far, in my opinion, the best character, and Sawyer is great. But the rest of them sort of fade away into one-notedom if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, they all have their moments, but there are so many of them now, that they don’t get as much attention and development as they did in the first season.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I found the finale to be one of the more compelling couple hours of Television I had seen in quite some time. And you can bet your bippy that I’m going to be clawing at my set come next fall for the season premiere. But I feel something that I didn’t feel last year after the first season. Last year I was genuinely engaged by the cliffhanger of the Hatch. Some people were annoyed by it, but I wasn’t. Between the Black Rock, Rousseau kidnapping the baby, and the others showing their faces, I felt there was action aplenty. But I felt differently about this finale. Maybe, it’s gotten a little old?

It’s one thing to have a cliffhanger, like wondering whether or not Michael and Walt will be saved, or will ever appear in the series again. Or why the Others were specifically interested in Jack, Sawyer and Kate? But the bottom line is, we still know very, very little about what the heck is going on here. OK, so one of the observation hatch was a set up (their logs ended up tossed on the ground). The outside world does exist, (as proven by the Russian guys monitoring electro-magnetic activity at the behest of Desmond’s girlfriend) and this is not a post-apocalyptic or purgatorial affair. The button in the Hatch does something. The crash MAY have partially been explained. But we still don’t have a cotton pickin’ clue as to what the Others are really about, what the Dharma Initiative is, how the Hanso Foundation plays in, and if the oodles of coincidences are really anything more than just coincidences. But hey, it worked didn’t it? I mean here I am pondering paragraph upon paragraph as to the meaning of it all. I think next season will be very telling as to the direction that the show will go in. This season really felt like a stretch, in terms of how far they could spread certain isolated incidents into an entire year’s worth of show. I’m hoping the third season will be pivotal.


Anonymous The Rodenator said...

I have many a comment brewing in my mind, but I'll throw these few out there first.

Are we really to believe that the magnetic power that builds up when the button isn't pressed brought down the flight? If so wouldn't other close metallic objects be pulled up into the air when the button wasn't pressed this last time?

I also am very peeved about the writers playing loose and fast with the geography of the island. How far is the hatch from the beach? In previous episodes it seemed much further away, but in this last episode Eko is able to get to the beach and back to the hatch quite quickly.

That being said, I enjoyed the episode very much. Granted not much was answered, but it was quite enthralling. I loved the odd effect used for Desmond's dazed recollection of his rescue. It was like 1970's tv or weird movies from the 60's. I don't know what era I am talking about, but it seemed like dated sci-fi, and I liked it.

What was up with that huge statue foot? Funny how such an odd discovery slipped my mind with all the other cool stuff from that episode. I mean it looked ancient (reminded me of the Colossus of Rhodes), so does that mean that this island has a long history of settlement or rather partial settlement? What was up with the four toe thing that Sayid mentioned?

Good catch with Inman New Yorker. I was wondering why he looked so familiar. I consider myself more than a casual viewer and I am missing a lot. How does any casual viewer get this show?

I didn't like the kiss between Claire and Charlie at all. it came out of left field.

5:56 PM  
Blogger The Coen Bros. said...

Many people watch this show trying to figure it all out. That is an impossible task. We don't have enough information. We have like three pieces of a thousand piece puzzle. No one in this world can figure this show out. Sure, we can figure out little pieces - I guessed that Gale was the leader of the Others long ago - but so what. Everything else is a mystery and will stay that way until we are told what is going on.

So I have decided that I am going to watch Lost, not think too much about everything, and enjoy the ride. The problem this season was that the ride was pretty lame at times. I hate thos "character" place marker episodes that do nothing to evolve the story. Charlie's episode comes to mind. We already hit that note, so why do we need to hit it again.

But when the ride is good, it is damn good. This was one hell of a finale. Sure, it had lots of little problems. That kiss was like the writers were trying to throw a bone our way. Way out of left field. "Even though you tried to kill my baby eight days ago, I love you." The Other's stuff was great, but Sayid went nowhere. And that foot was awsome. It reminded me of the Odyssey. Desmond is Odysisus (sp?) and Penelope is his girlfriend, Penelope. And there is a giant foot on a wierd island that he is trapped on.

Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot. I hope next season we get less gun crap and more getting the know the Others. I will miss this til then.

6:12 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Coen Bros --I agree that this season tried to do character episodes that hit notes which had already been acheived, as the very Charlie instnace you mentioned. Yes, the finale was my favorite of the season, but its very difficult for me to watch the show without trying to figure out what the heck is going on. I admire the strategy of sit back and enjoy the ride, but for me it is easier said then done.

As for the huge statue foot, I thought it was very cool and very strange. There really were so many random things in this episode, that I plan to post a footnote discussing the smaller, stranger threads of the finale. I do like the whole Colossus, Penelope thing. Rodenator you are right on w/ the Colossues of Rhodes take. That was a statue of Helios, the sun god, which I am sure has some significance, though exactly what I don't know yet.

I didn't really care one way or the other about Charlie and Claire's kiss. I stopped caring about those characters long ago, especially since all Claire ever does is whine about her baybee.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous The Rodenator said...

Hey New Yorker,
I think I remember closed captioning claiming those guys were speaking Portugese, not Russian. I would check but tivo deleted it.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Did you notice that the scene where Desmond was chasing Clancy Brown and bashed his head in was straight out of Planet of the Apes? If you still have it on Tivo, take a look at it. They're in these suits that resemble the space suits the astronauts wore in the beginning of POTA and they're crawling around a desert landscape (totally unlike any other part of the island that we've seen so far. What happened to the lush greenery?). That nod makes me wonder if this is a story that's occurring across times...

Also, in her conversation with Desmond, Libby mentioned that her dead husband was named David - the same name as Hurley's imaginary friend.

My head is spinning.

8:23 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Portuguese aye? Damn, I deleted it too...

Mike, you are totally right about that POTA feel. Though there were glimpses of such a rocky area in last year's season finale when they were hiking towards the black rock.

Very interesting catch about David being the name of Hurley's imaginary friend AND Libby's husband...

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget, Penelope is a Widmore, which is in cahoots with Dharma. Makes you wonder if the whole "Desmond on a boat" think was somehow set up.

I wonder how many Bad Twins are out there? Someone noticed that one of the people at the ice station monitoring at the end looked eerily like Jack. Libby could just have been using Libby's name and is actually a twin sister to the one in the mental ward.

I loved the finale and can't wait until next season. I want to see what Henry Gale has to say about the EMP, he sure was ticked off about it.

BTW, did anyone else think that the survivor's reaction to the explosion was decidedly underwhelmed, almost like they were all sedated?

12:47 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Pumpkin King --define EMP (I'm slow, cut me some slack). I did think the survivors reactions to both the blinding white light and the explosion were underplayed.

I have a copy of Bad Twin at my house, haven't cracked it yet though.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous The Rodenator said...

Electro-Magnetic Pulse. I think.

4:42 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

oh yeah, Duh....

6:16 PM  
Blogger jbdean said...

Why was the finale centered on Desmond? For several reasons. 1] The season began with the hatch and that included Desmond. The finale put the hatch to sleep so we needed Desmond back again. 2] Desmond's story is more important to the over-all story arc of Lost than we ever imagined. TPTB have said that season 3 will give us more romance. Enter Desmond and Penny. 3] Desmond's connection to Mr. Widmore is essential as Widmore Industries seems to be connected to the island and, most likely, DHARMA and the Hanso Foundation. 4] If the end of the finale is telling us that Penny has located Desmond, her next steps would be to try and locate him, yes? That means that Desmond may play a vital role in the rescue of the Losties ... if they get rescued that is. ;) and last but surely not least ... because Henry Ian Cusick is a kick-ass actor and blows the roof off the show! With just 3 eppys in the beginning of season 2 (and with dialog in only two of those), HIC pulled in a fan base that surpassed Matthew Fox (Jack) and Josh Holloway (Sawyer)! He has endeared himself to fans all over the world and TPTB aren't stupid or blind. They saw how vital that character had become and they took it and ran with it.

You've got a great blog here, by the way!

7:33 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Thanks, glad you stopped by to check it out. I do think that Desmond, and the actor who plays him are both compelling, so I see your point on that. I don't mind that he had more time devoted to him, I guess I just wanted to tie up more loose ends with our main characters. I'm curious to see where Desmond's character goes next season.

8:58 PM  
Blogger bravoyankee said...

So I just finished the second season of LOST on DVD - so sue me. But great take on the Planet of the Apes. Want another parallel? The Statue of Liberty is considered a modern day Colossus of Rhodes. There is even an inscription of a poem on it connecting the two. What did they find half buried and all messed up at the end of POTA? The Statue of Liberty...

12:34 PM  

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