Sunday, 16 May 2010

Lost - The Tarantino Of TV

Hello all,

I have a series of Lost analysis posts planned, but as I am running out of free time to write them up properly, I thought I would give you dedicated readers a sneak preview of what is in store.

I have maintained that the secret to Lost's success isn't any one individual storyline or character - instead, it is the fact that Lost has managed to harness so much into so small a medium. While Quentin Tarantino movies work because the writer/director/actor is such a dedicated fan of film that he can pick and choose various aspects of the thousands of movies he has viewed and pull them together into one work of art, so too are the Lost creators a fan of stories, myths and ideas.

Take, for instance, the recent reveal that the essence of Lost, of The Island, of the Smoke Monster, of everything is nothing more than a bright, golden light. This vague thing is the centre of so many interconnecting storylines and characters, and sounds awfully familiar to me:

Or how about those Season 3 stars, Nikki and Paulo. Characters introduced years into a show's life that we are expected to believe have been there all along and to now accept as an integral part of the storyline. The water was tested in Season 3 and was met with rabid, mixed response - most of it may have been venomous, but the writer's persevered, giving Nikki and Paulo a decent send off and referencing them in future seasons. The trick was tried again and succeeded more successfully in Seasons 5 and 6 with Jacob and "the man in black". But, perhaps Nikki and Paulo weren't the original litmus test for this storytelling device. Perhaps we have seen something like this before:

I will return to both the worlds of Quentin Tarantino and Joss Whedon in the future, but for now I would like to concentrate on three other works of fiction from which Lost has drawn influence, and try to use these as a framework for possible directions in which the Series finale will go in. These three are Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus", Brian Michael Bendis' "The House Of M" and Paul Jenkins' "Sentry".

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Darlton

To boil it down to it's essence, the movie "The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus" is a story of two competing sides, one dressed primarily in black and attempting to trick people into choosing the dark side of their soul, and one dressed primarily in white who has been tricked himself into convincing people to choose the light side of their soul.

A lot of the movie is left to personal interpretation, but what is clear is that there are two worlds accessible by a mirror portal. In one world, life goes on - people drink, argue and attempt to survive. A small group attempt to open up the rest of the world's eyes to another world, a world of storytelling and imagination. In the other world, people are given the choice to start afresh, to choose their own personal chance at redemption or to give in to human greed and sin.


There is a lot here to entertain the Lost fan, and there are plenty of parallels to be made with each world. If Lost ends in a similar fashion to "Imaginarium", then we will see some of our survivors killed off by their own greed and weakness, while some will be given a fresh life as reward for their goodness. In the end, Jacob and Smokey will chalk the game up as a loose draw and moot on whether to play another game with people's lives and their mortality.

The House Of Darlton

Marvel comics have a tradition of one large, over-arching storyline every year or so. In 2005 this took the form of "The House Of M". One hugely powerful character, The Scarlet Witch, suffers terrible losses in her life and breaks down mentally, creating an alternative world in which everyone's deepest desire comes true. The dead come back to life, old friends become enemies and old enemies become friends. Two people, for unknown reasons, are aware of the fakeness of this world. Together they help 'awaken' the others.

Many moral debates are thrown up due to this situation - how can we believe which world is real? How can we choose between our wife in the original world and our wife in the new world? If given a choice, which world would you prefer to live in, and is this different from where you should be living? What if someone exists in one world and not the other?

If Lost follows the "House Of M" storyline, then it will most likely end with most people agreeing that, although it was more painful, the 'real' world is the correct one and that they must restore order by defeating the huge unstoppable power, or at least trying to make it see sense. Assuming this power is Smokey, then it will most likely declare in a fit of childish rage that humanity should be wiped out and attempt to do so.

(Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Fake Locke)

Finally, we reach perhaps the toughest concept to wrap our heads around. While "Imaginarium" dealt with otherworlds, and "House Of M" dealt with otherworlds in which we are unsure of what is real, "Sentry" is another comic creation that bends, warps, destroys, rebuilds and decimates all concepts of reality and sense in every possible way.

The Sentry is a creation whose origins not even he fully knows or understands. He is a man, Robert Reynolds. He is a hero, The Sentry. And he is a villain, The Void. His memories have been altered and tampered with by, presumably, drugs, his enemies, his friends and himself. His advisers include a psychotically evil schizophrenic, a God of war, a comic book writer who claims to have created him, the split-personality Hulk, his sometimes-dead wife and his own fragile, shattered personality.

Following this haphazard storyline, a basic theme emerges - either the man (Reynolds, Locke) got too powerful too quick and created personas (Sentry, Void, Jacob, MIB) to fight against each other and cancel each other out so that his power could never fully be used for good or evil. While Void and Sentry fight and confuse each other to in turns attempt to destroy the world and to stop the world from being destroyed, so too do Jacob and MIB fight to prove each other wrong and in turns prevent the world's destruction or try to cause the world's destruction.

The other theory is that the three beings are completely one - that everything is a construct of an incredibly destroyed mind. This could lead to an ending similar to a fan-favourite - that of the Lost world being the construct of a game-loving mentally diseased patient somewhere in Santa Rosa.

My own thoughts on the extremely confusing matter is that Jacob, fearful of his powers, has created MIB, the whole 'game' of The Island and a certain wildcard character, John Locke, to both contain himself and act as a backdoor to escape from insanity. Whether one side of his moral coin will win, or whether he will continue to eternally outwit hisself and cancel his several personalities out forevermore, remains to be seen.

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