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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Commercial Interruption: Is sideways "Lost" actually going backwards?

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle. That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). Gather up your ashy remains and hang onto those rickety rope ladders — Thomas Rozwadowski and Adam Reinhard are about to tackle the flash sideways plot device on "Lost."

Thomas: We could continue to ask new questions until we’re passed out like Sayid at the temple – well, you know, before he was resurrected – but three episodes in, I think it’s fair to ask whether the flash-sideways effect is working.

Honestly, the last two episodes have been a bit of a drag for me. Yeah, there’s always cool new stuff to take in on the island – whether Jacob or Aaron is the young whippersnapper taunting Faker Locke or why Kate’s name wasn’t referenced in the cave as one of the “chosen” – but I’m more interested in the storytelling aspect of the now-established parallel universe.

Obviously, I don’t know the end game here. And it may ultimately be satisfying to see our parallel universes collide or intermingled in some way that’ll lead to meaningful conclusions for our characters. (“Lost” has mastered the swerve, so I wouldn’t be surprised if what we’re watching isn’t what we actually think … if that makes sense.) But right now, I see the off-island device being used as a heavy-handed “Lost”-ian game of “I Spy.”

Are we supposed to just be enraptured with the random connections from a pure shock and awe standpoint? “Oh, cool, Ethan is a real doctor and he used his last name of Goodspeed!” “Awesome, Ben is a mild-mannered teacher who loves coffee!”

Are these connections intentional, or just meant to get viewers to sit up in their chair and laugh at the absurdity of knowing who these people really are, or at least who they've been presented as through the build-up of five previous seasons. I’m not saying it’s an unnecessary fake-out that doesn’t (or won’t) serve a greater purpose. I’m just bored with the concept of all this inter-connectedness in a world away from the island.

I really just want to stop the guessing games like, “Oh, Locke’s dad was mentioned as a wedding guest! Does that mean he didn’t push Locke out the window?” Those new questions don’t advance the old storyline. Or maybe they will and I’m totally jumping the gun.

What do you think so far, Adam? I know you’re really high on happy-go-lucky millionaires buying up temp agencies like they’re going out of style.

Adam: I'm just trying to wrap my head around whether the sideways universe makes sense within the parameters the show has set for itself. If this alternate timeline is the result of the island being blown to the bottom of the ocean in the late 70s, and Jacob never scratching his list into the cave ceiling (seriously, dude, you've never heard of a Sharpie?) in the first place, then are all these changes the result of his never interacting with the main characters?

But that doesn't make sense, because he only first met Locke after Locke's dad pushed him out the window; so why suddenly is the man from Tallahassee getting an RSVP to Locke's nuptials (nice to see you again, Katey Sagal!)? And Jacob interacted with Kate when she was just a twinkle in her dad's eye before she blew him up, so why is she still on the run as if nothing's changed? The fact that some characters have completely different lives (Mr. Happy-Go-Hurley, temp agency CEO extraordinaire, for example) while others are on their original paths seems to rule out Jacob's influence.

Maybe it's possible that the two characters who had the biggest connection with the island (Locke, with his healed legs, and Hurley with the numbers) had the most to gain from its destruction? Because handicapped or not, Locke's life is a fair shade better than the one he led pre-island (er, pre-island, other dimension, I guess.) And the same goes without saying for Moneybags Reyes.

I agree with you, though, that maybe we're jumping the gun with all this grousing. "Lost" has never let me down before, and I can't believe they haven't thoroughly plotted out their endgame. Which leads to my big question, Tom: Is there any way the explanation for all this isn't going to somehow disappoint us? With five seasons of buildup and rampant speculation by diehard fans, surely when the final puzzle piece goes into place there's going to be a disheartening feeling of, "Is that it?"

Thomas: It seems as though Lindelof and Cuse have already begun to temper that anticipated lack of enthusiasm by saying that, "Yes, things aren't going to be as magnificently complete as they exist in your head." And I totally understand that.

I'm sure whatever answers they come up with for their many, many questions will never match the brilliance of positing those mind-bending queries in the first place. For instance, what if the now mythical numbers are nothing more Jacob's personal Dewey Decimal System for cave scrawlings? Kinda disappointing, eh? Anyway, I think we're right in raising some concerns if it appears the greater sideways storytelling device is going to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. I hope it's isn't, because the idea of an alternate reality appeared to be pretty cool on paper. But I'm just not feeling an emotional connection to these alterna-"Losties" -- and the rampant inter-connectedness -- as I thought I would.

Agreed, and until they establish some real stakes in this bizarro world -- give us something, anything that points to this mattering -- I'm afraid I'll be emotionally distant as well. I'd even take Young Jacob/Teen Aaron popping up in the sideways-verse, perhaps as a student in Mr. Locke's gym class, telling him he needs to gather all these people he's been "randomly" bumping into, and going to a mystery island thousands of miles away...

... OK, so that would suck. But you get my point. Something like that.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski, and Adam Reinhard,

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I don't think the "new" questions raised by the flash sideways cuts are meant to be answered. I think they just test one's emotional connections to the characters we have followed for 5 seasons. Sure, its great to guess how Locke ended up paralyzed if he and his father are on good terms, but that's not integral to the story playing out. I'm enjoying seeing the parallels and differences in the island Losties and their sideways counterparts. Those are the things that I think will get us to the grand conclusion.

I think the numbers will still hold some significance other than Jacob is just a numbers guy.

By Blogger rozilla74, At February 19, 2010 at 12:12 PM  

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