Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lost Rewatch Season One

I've been watching episodes of Lost again with some fellow fans via Twitter. We get together on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 8pm CST. By the way, if you want to join us, you can learn more by getting in touch with @LOST_WFTB or @BatchOutLost or just do a search for hashtag #WFTB. You can also wade through the #LOST hashtag but that one's much more murky. There's other groups doing Lost Rewatches. For example, LOSTaholics is a group writing detailed essays and having regular podcasts where they discuss the mythology of the series. I'm not currently affiliated with that one. The way it works on Twitter is we all get together at the same time and whether one has access to or uses the DVDs or a torrent or videotape, we all start a preselected episode at the same time and the intent is to watch previous seasons again with season five eyes. Knowing what we know thus far, it's interesting to re-experience the series to try to catch things we missed, or maybe see inconsistencies. It's also just nice to revisit these characters and their stories again. Lost is a series that gets better with repeated viewings, because the producers of the series purposefully weave the story in such a way that you can't help but miss things the first time, or the second or third time through, things that seemed inconsequential at the time suddenly take on new meaning. When the audience members perspective has changed, it's like the show itself changes.

By the way this should only be read by people who have already seen the series up to the end of season five. This would be very spoilery for people who haven't already seen the show. You have been warned.

There's a number of interesting things I've noticed while doing this. My opinions of the main characters have changed very dramatically. When I first watched season one, I saw Jack Shepherd naturally as the hero figure, but now he's just creepy to me. A desperate man who does not see himself as a hero. In the opening scenes of the pilot episode when Jack is saving people, he originally seemed to be like the noble First Responder who behaves altruistically and makes saving lives look as graceful as a dancer doing ballet. Now when I look at this scene, I see that he's still trying to win the approval of his father. He's driven for success and fears failure. He's not saving these people for their sake but for his own. This is made most apparent when Jack fails to write personal vows for his wedding to Sarah, but he admits to her in front of God and everybody that when he saved her legs, she saved him. She sees him as a hero but he sees her as a success. Then later when Sarah leaves him, it's not because anyone was unfaithful. It's because she has learned Jack needs to fix people and things. She doesn't need fixing anymore so he doesn't pay enough attention to her.

Locke has always been cryptic, but when I first watched season one I thought he was a man who had learned from the mistakes in his past and had risen above them, so thaat on the Island he could truly become the warrior and hunter that he's always wanted to be. However, as more of his back story is revealed, we see that he's really a broken man in more ways than one, who is easily manipulated. He has an emptiness deep inside because of a lack of a father figure, and that void can be filled by anything. He's willing to believe because he must fill that void with something outside himself, otherwise he doesn't feel whole. He's constantly trying to understand "The Island" and is frustrated when he does what he thinks The Island wants him to do, but things fall apart again and again.

Both Locke and Jack have one thing in common: there is a tragic flaw inside them, and they never learn an important lesson. For Locke it's filling that emptiness with faith. He has to believe in something but he fails to verify what he believes with facts and logic. This endlessly frustrated Jack, who can't accept anything without involving the scientific process.

For Jack its fixing things. He has to succeed. He fears failure. In season five it appeared he began to learn that lesson, but Sawyer calls him on it when he says Jack never stopped to think when he was leader. He just would do. He would fix. Sawyer prefers to observe and process events and then makes informed decisions. Of course, his approach didn't really have a better effect. He ended up in custody with Juliet and was in the end forced to make rash decisions for survival, just like Jack.

So for both Jack and Locke, I used to see them as heroes but now I see them as broken men, and sometimes even villains. Of course, with Sawyer it's exactly the opposite. When we first meet Sawyer in season one, we assume he's a bad guy. The man's a selfish, conniving, murdering con man who makes no apologies for his behavior beyond that of a letter he wrote as a child to the man who was the cause of his parents' deaths. We later learn that man was Anthony Cooper, the same man who fathered John Locke, then decades later conned Locke out of his own kidney. Later in the series Locke and Sawyer join forces and end Cooper's life in what's one of the more ingenious and insidious scenes of the entire series.

Whereas Jack and Locke appear to want to be loved, Sawyer wants to be hated. He knows what he's done all his life has no excuses, but he doesn't care. He doesn't want to change his behavior because he is so filled with anger and bloodlust for vengeance. So he pushes people away, but Kate finds herself drawn to him and learns his secrets and the lies he tells himself. Over time Sawyer simmers down and cools off. So I now see Sawyer in a more forgiving light, knowing where his character arc is going. Seeing him in the first season is like seeing lumps of coal and knowing with great pressure it could one day become a diamond.

Kate was in my opinion beautiful in season one, and of course Evangeline Lily is no less beautiful now, but the character has become much darker and less appealing. I think the writers want us to see her as neither a hero nor a villain, but as a fugitive. She's constantly on the run. If all these characters have tragic flaws, Kate's problem is she can't seem to just stop. She doesn't like being cornered. She doesn't like feeling trapped. She's constantly trying to think ahead in order to anticipate possible avenues of escape in case doors start closing. This informs many of her actions until season four when she stops dead in her tracks to make a home for Aaron, and even then, it doesn't take much for Ben to push her out of that role and on the run again, running back to the Island to find Claire.

Getting back to Locke, now that we know (from season five eyes) that Jacob's nemesis (I prefer to call him Blackie but some call him Essau - we don't know his name yet) is pretending to be Locke in season five. So it's interesting to watch Locke in season one, searching for signs that maybe Jacob's nemesis has been posing as Locke longer than we thought. However, I haven't seen any evidence of that. What I do see is a man who had been crippled, but is now physically whole after a plane crash that should by all rights have killed him. So now, Locke naturally feels he owes the Island something. He has filled that emptiness inside him with a faith in The Island. He believes the Island is speaking to him, and we see evidence that he's gleaning information that he wouldn't otherwise know. He seems in tune with the Island and its wildlife. He knows more about boars for example than one would get by just reading about them in Wikipedia. He can also tell when the weather on The Island is changing. He gets dreams and visions and clues from happenstance that indicate to both the character and the viewer that something more than coincidence is going on here.

Personally I think what might be happening is that John Locke, while not possessed yet by Blackie entirely, may somehow have an almost empathic or even telepathic connection with either Jacob or his nemesis. This might explain why he knows things he couldn't possibly know. Locke also seems to heal quickly, and when Shannon shot him late in season one he insisted it was just a graze. However, it was a graze that knocked him to the ground. So like we later see Michael upon his return to the Island in season four, Locke may have a form of temporal invulnerability. Desmond learned from Mrs. Hawking in Flashes Before Your Eyes that time has a way of course correcting. If something is supposed to happen, time will make sure it does. It's my theory that John Locke can't die, because time insists he has to be somewhen in the future, alive, and he may still be destined to live.

At the start of season six, now that John Locke's body is out of the box, the Island might be able to reanimate it. Jacob's nemesis, the one posing as Locke, may find that suddenly his disguise disappears because John Locke's body comes back to life. Crazier things have happened on this show. I guess we'll just have to wait until January to find out. Those of us on the Live Tweet up for Lost Watch From The Beginning are currently going through season two. I might leave some random notes here when we finish. Although I just learned some schedule changes at work may cause me to start missing them. I hope that's not the case, but work has priority over play.

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