Monday, August 17, 2009

Lost Again ...Naturally

Well it's that time again. The leaves are not yet turning colors. The temperature outside is not quite yet lowering. The MDA Telethon for Jerry's kids has not started yet. The fall season on television is several steps away from just around the corner, and no one watches television anymore anyway cuz we all watch on the Internet. Most importantly, ABC's hit television series LOST goes into its sixth and final season yet another six months from now. Boy. It seems like only yesterday and three months ago when it was nine months from now. My how time crawls.

Back during ComicCon there were rumblings about some kind of ARG (Alternate Reality Game for those of you who didn't know) that dealt with this sixth and final season. It's underway as of last night. Some kind of alleged "Dharma" party in California. There's also velvet paintings involved. I've been trying to follow along but it's making about as much sense as... well, anything else that has anything to do with LOST.

Let's take a gander at how far we've come and how little we've traveled.

The first ARG was great. In hindsight some would probably think The Lost Experience was terrible, but I have many fond memories following along with that one; particularly the story as it surrounded a young brunette named Rachel. You can still find the exploits of Rachel Blake over at YouTube if you search her name. I thought Jamie Silberhartz as Rachel Blake was outstanding. I'm disappointed that her career didn't take off after that performance, but apparently I'm the only one on the planet who thinks she was awesome. People don't appreciate improvisational acting unless there's a punchline every other second. Drew Carey saw to that. Jamie Silberhartz was for improv what a dancer is for ballet. She made it look effortless, but that was not easy what she did back there.

It reminds me of the actors who made The Blair Witch Project a success. Largely forgotten today, the original plan by the producers was to use that footage as a part of the telling of their bigger mythology, but when they cobbled the footage together they realized that from the twenty plus hours of footage captured by three actors with little to no experience behind the camera, they actually had enough material to make a full length film, riding solely on the performances of these three young talents. It really looked like build up to a snuff film. The only thing they didn't have were bodies. Some careful producing choices for the final act took care of that: less is more. The end result was a great horror story with very little gore. Hitchcock could not have done better under those circumstances, and I do not say that lightly. However, the producers got lucky. What makes Blair Witch work is the combined chemistry of Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams.

When people learned that it wasn't really a snuff film, they blew it off, and now no one talks about it. I still place that film in my top ten, predominantly because I found Heather Donahue's improvisational performance to be real, heartfelt, gut wrenching, sincere, energized, and downright fun in a very sad creepy way. She is our Captain Ahab hunting down the whale. We believe she's the kind of person to lead these other two guys towards their doom. She's a determined young woman hellbent on fulfilling her fantasy as a documentarian to the point of refusing to admit when she's wrong until it's too late. Those who watch Blair Witch expecting blood and gore are disappointed to find three actors doing a hell of a fine job under far less than auspicious circumstances. The same could have been said for Jamie Silberhartz.

I mean think about it. During the first LOST ARG, Jamie Silberhartz was standing on the cutting edge of a frontier in the entertainment industry that they still haven't quite figured out yet, and she did so brazenly with no trepidation (at least evident in front of the camera) and she just threw it down. She had to convince her audience she was Rachel Blake and pull off monologues containing insane amounts of exposition. This is the kind of stuff that the LOST television series tries to show us rather than tell us, but that takes money and time. The people behind the first LOST ARG didn't have either, but they did have Jamie. A lot of what made the first LOST ARG work was riding on her back, and she pulled it off.

You may critique and scoff the finer details of her performance but for raw courage alone it was quite a sight to see. People don't remember her real name, but if you mention Rachel Blake to LOST fans, they'll remember. Rachel Blake may not have been canonical in the eyes of Damon & Carlton, but that wasn't the fault of Silberhartz's performance. It was the fault of what they gave her to say and do. Had the first LOST ARG been better managed, she would have had better material. Jamie Silberhartz took crap and made it gold. For that, she's been largely forgotten. I find that frustrating to say the least.

The second LOST ARG was far less memorable for me. Find 815 was essentially a lead up to the introduction of the frieghter into the story of LOST. I didn't follow it as closely, partly because it was even less canonical than the first one, but what was presented was bleak and stale. There were no breathtaking performances, and I must admit a large appeal for me regarding LOST is acting. What I did see in Find 815 didn't interest me a fraction as much as Silberhartz's work on The Lost Experience.

Then the Dharma fiasco of LOST ARG 3 that was cut short due to budget constraints and a realization on the part of the people behind LOST that even the little bit of money and time invested in an online game between seasons was not going to bring in new viewers. The verdict was in. By this point in time if you haven't been following LOST, you are lost. Jumping into season four for a newcomer is maddening. Those not already obsessed and addicted to LOST are waiting for it all to come out on DVD. More importantly, they're waiting to hear whether or not the end of the series actually lives up to the six years or so of pomp and circumstance. No one would remember The Fugitive if Kimball never found his one armed man.

Now we have Damon Carlton and a Polar Bear which stars Paul Scheer, a very talented comedic improvisational performer, most well-known for his work on The Human Giant. While I appreciate him as a comedian, I don't particularly appreciate the choice of casting him because his mere presence announces that this last LOST ARG is not going to be taken remotely seriously. The producers of LOST have given up trying to use this medium to tell stories they can't tell in the television series itself. It informs me that they believe the previous attempts to all be failures, and this time around they're just gonna be silly and not care about the end result. The first "clue" of this latest installment of ARGs suggested people should go to California and attend some party. That's a slap in the face to people like myself who don't find "getting a life" to be remotely interesting. I watch other people going out to parties and having a good time, and I honestly don't see the benefit to filling a room with strangers, loud music and large amounts of alcohol just to sweat on one another.

Paul Scheer is seen in video rummaging through trash outside the LOST production offices in California. He finds what we are led to believe is the front page of the script to the first episode of season six. The title shows "LA X." From this, everyone thinks now we know the name of the first episode. We do not. This was thrown out. It was found in the trash. This is for me essentially the metaphor with which I will measure this entire ARG. All that we're seeing are the ideas thrown out. This final ARG is all the stuff the producers thought about doing in this final season rather than actually do what they set out to do at the beginning. People want the bomb to go off. They want to see a reset. They also don't. The ramifications of that would ruin the series as a whole.

Many think we are looking at a Schroedinger's Cat in the eyes of Juliet Burke, and that there is an equal possibility the bomb's explosion will reset time as opposed to the other possibility that it won't. Either way, there's a belief that the bomb went off, and come next January we will see the repercussions of that. I have said this repeatedly in multiple forums and no one believes me: the bomb will not go off. It can't. Juliet's pounding away on an alleged nuclear bomb that hasn't gone off after falling through a hole drilled into the Earth. Do we honestly thing Juliet banging on it is going to make a difference? The white light we saw was a time hop, like several times before. There is no Schroedinger's Cat in the eyes of Juliet Burke.

Hurley, Jack, Juliet, Sayid, Miles, Sawyer, and Kate will all return to present time. Their time hopping will have been over. They will move in time but not in space. Juliet will be buried in the remains of the Swan station after its implosion back in season two. I think they're going to give us a death scene and then her presence will be occasionally felt late in season six when somehow they'll use a vision of Juliet to help bring to a close some emotional loose ends with both Sawyer and Ben. Beyond that, the character has fulfilled her requirements which is why the actress has a job now over at "V".

Sayid is also mortally wounded, but it's distantly possible to write out a way for Jack to get Sayid to Otherton's medical facilities where there might still be enough left to keep Sayid alive. I'm not crossing my fingers on that one though, because when Jack figured out Sayid never made the bomb active, Jack may just let Sayid die. Yes, I'm saying Sayid purposefully rigged the bomb to look convincing to Jack, but it was a dud. He never armed it. This is why it never went off.

Why? Because Sayid shot Ben square in the chest at near point blank range. Yet still Ben lives. Sayid knew better. Blowing up the area near The Swan station was not going to change anything. Whatever happened, happpened. When you realize that the planet Earth is a pale blue dot, you can't think that time can be changed that irrevocably. It has a way of course correcting, because the forces at work in temporal physics are universal. Time changed on Earth would effect the rest of the universe, but it's too small in comparison to not BE affected itself.

Like a pebble in the ocean; it's still going down.

So this ARG they're putting out to attempt to tide the masses between now and January will not tell us how the story is actually going to proceed. Like a deft magician, the producers of LOST are going to make us think we're getting clues when we're really just getting more smoke and mirrors. They CAN'T give us clues to the final season. It hasn't even started yet. They're going to point us as far away from the actual story as possible, for the same reason when you were a kid your mother didn't want you filling your belly with cookies before dinner time: she wanted you to eat your greens.

I'll follow the ARG along because in for a penny in for a pound, but so far I'm not liking it. Feels like a slap in the face to the dedicated audience that's hung out with them from the beginning. I know Damon & Carlton think this is like a final parting gift to we diehard fans. I know I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth. Still, I can't help it. I gotta ride this damned horse from now until January. It's gonna be a long six months, and I just wish the horse in question had better teeth than I do.

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