‘Lost’ (S3): Finding the plot in ”Not in Portland”
Yes. And Yes.
For the past week, dozens of you have sent me e-mails asking the same two urgent questions. To paraphrase, those questions go something like this:
”I’ve heard that ABC has been sending out screeners of the next episode of Lost, ‘Not In Portland.’ Did you get one? And have you seen it?!”
And my answers are Yes. And Yes.
Actually, it’s ”HELL yes!”
I’ve watched ”Not In Portland” THREE TIMES now. Usually in cases where I’ve been lucky enough to get this kind of sneak peek, I would devote this space a review and a series of cryptic teases. For a number of reasons, I’m going to refrain from the review. Passing critical judgments on TV shows is technically not my department here at EW. That said, let the fact that I’ve watched the episode three times in less than 24 hours tell you something.
But I will gladly offer you four fantastic teases:
1. The first line in the episode is ”Hello,” and it is uttered by one of the most menacing and mysterious characters in the Lost verse.
2. If you want to get a head start on the homework you’ll be doing after watching the episode, investigate the following: Edmund Burke, A Clockwork Orange, and A Brief History of Time.
3. For the second straight episode, there is a fleeting yet conspicuous reference to the name ”Jacob.” This time, the context is decidedly religious.
4. According to recent statements by the producers, and per the timeline that’s been suggested in the show, the events that are currently transpiring in Lost are taking place in late November 2004, possibly very early December 2004. At the end of ”Not In Portland,” a character reveals the exact amount of time that he/she has been on the island. When you do the math, you will get an Estimated Date that comes suspiciously close to the exact date of an infamous, real-world catastrophe. Coincidence?
Anyway. Something to whet your appetite. Mere crumbs, I know. If you want meatier teases, I’m sure you can go to other websites and find looser lips. But I would encourage you to be patient. The episode is worth the wait, and worth discovering for yourself.
LOST SURVEY UPDATE
Almost two weeks ago, I asked you to send me a question you’d like me to ask Lost producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. If you haven’t already sent in a question, you still have time. Similarly, if you haven’t yet sent in a response to my ”Has Lost lost it?” survey, there’s still time for that, too. I have already received over 1,000 responses. I’m still tabulating the results, but I can tell you that I’m surprised by the answer that is emerging. My goal is to share with you the final tallies in the first week of February.
DOC JENSEN FAN LETTER OF THE WEEK (PART ONE)
Earlier in the season, I put forth a theory that suggested that ABC’s Lost and NBC’s Heroes take place in the same world. I thought it was a pretty inspired notion. However, reader Chris P. argues otherwise:
Look, if you want to start a blog about Heroes, then do it. But this is supposed to be about a show called LOST. Besides, you dolt, Heroes is an NBC series and ABC would never want to help the struggling NBC put a show together. ? I like The Sopranos but if I was responsible for writing Lost theories, I wouldn’t try to grasp at similarities between the two shows because that would be ridiculous. No one will want to read your stupid theories if they continue to be centered on completely impossible and utterly silly ideas — like a connection between Lost and Heroes that involves the Dharma Initiative putting something in the water. I mean come on … put a little time and thought and effort into this thing or step aside and let someone else do it.
Dear Chris: Ummmm… I love you, too?
DOC JENSEN FAN LETTER OF THE WEEK (PART TWO)
By contrast, here’s Shannon Geier, who reads the same crazy theories that Chris P. reads and walks away with a different kind of feeling for yours truly:
I have never wanted a man so much in my entire life! You rock my world! Lost is the greatest show & watching you deconstruct it … OH MY GOD!!!
Wow. If only my Lost theories could get a reaction like that from my wife. Anyway, Shannon actually has a question — and I actually have an answer:
Do you think the guy in the insane asylum who originally gave Hurley the numbers will reappear at some time? And do you think that the little details from season 1 will be addressed before the show ends its run? With all the big questions, it seems unlikely that the little, tiny questions will be addressed, but I’m just curious on your opinion.
Dear Shannon: I think by the time the show ends, you’ll get the satisfaction you seek. Which is not to say that I think EVERY little mystery will be explicitly addressed. But I think many of them will, and those that aren’t will be addressed via the implications of other answers. Here’s something I can tell you: Remember in the pilot, when Rose heard The Monster roar, and we heard her say that she thought that it sounded weirdly familiar? Well, I recently asked exec producer Damon Lindelof about this, and he promised that one day, Rose’s comment will be explained. This is all to say that I do think the producers are faithful to the implicit promise in all their mysteries, which is this: There is an answer. As for Hurley’s old Numbers-bequeathing buddy making a return visit, I think it’s more than possible; clearly, there’s more to Leonard’s story than we’ve been told. (I’m wondering if there’s a way Lost can fill in that kind of back story blank via other means, like a comic book series, or some online Webisodes. Something more accessible and entertaining than last summer’s The Lost Experience, which I’m told WON’T be making a return appearance during the next summer/fall hiatus.)
DEEP-THINKING LOST THEORY OF THE WEEK
Comes from reader Wayne Franklin, a guy after my own quasi-intellectual, spiritually murky heart. Your eyes might be tempted to glaze over, but let me say this: having seen ”Not In Portand,” I can tell you that this guy may be on to something. My explanation follows Wayne’s letter:
There are clearly multiple religious/mythical influences on the writers. And most often these influences will manifest themselves in names. I think those names can point us to some conclusions about the future of Lost:
Penelope Widmore — clearly a reference to Desmond’s Odyssean quest and a promise that Desmond will, after much suffering, reunite with his love.
John Locke and David Hume — Hume furthered the empiricism of Locke to the natural end of skepticism, going so far to suggest that all causal relationships are nothing more than perception. Perhaps Desmond’s system failure incident didn’t bring the plane down after all. But his perceptions have led us all to perceive the same.
Bringing us back around to the religious question you brought up. The skeletons in the cave were called Adam and Eve — maybe the original Others? As you mentioned, Kate and Sawyer are living out the curse of Genesis. If you carry your theory out to its natural conclusion, an innocent will need to be sacrificed to redeem those cursed by the fall.
Now, some folks might immediately jump to the conclusion that the innocent in question would be Aaron or Sun’s unborn baby. I suggest a different theory — Jack. To paraphrase the ”Lost Connections” segment of the Season 2 DVD, it all goes back to one man. That man is Jack Shepard. Now, Jack is no sinless savior. But think about the name. And his father is Christian Shepard.
THEORY: Ultimately, Jack the Shepard will lead his flock to safety, but only through sacrificing himself to the broken world of the island.
Dear Wayne: Dude, you’re wayyyy smart. And I think you’re totally into something. Make that THREE somethings. 1) I’m told that during February sweeps, we’re going to learn more about Desmond and Penelope that could lend your musings on a connection to Greek myths even more credence. 2) I have a funny feeling that we’re going to be learning some secrets about The Hatch in the coming months that might challenge this whole ”The Button caused the plane to crash” story put forth in the second season’s finale. 3) In light of the choice Jack makes in the final moments of ”Not In Portland,” I would say that Jack certainly seems well on his way to embracing the role of sacrificial lamb.
IT’S ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEONE REMINDS US THAT THE REAL WORLD ACTUALLY EXISTS…
A reader named ”pablopk” reminds us of the following:
Here’s one upon which to chew. The events of the island took place in the fall of 2004. The Indian Ocean tsunami occurred in the early winter of 2004. While we have long presumed that the castaways are on one of the many small islands that pepper the Pacific Ocean, is it possible that they are more off-course than we suspect? Could that historical event recur within this fictive context?
Dear pablopk: This seems to be the fashionable speculation of the moment. Recently, the producers have said that something BIG is going to happen this year that will help further establish a historical or perhaps geographical context for Lost. The tsunami of 2004 seems to be a likely candidate, although I can tell you that that catastrophe isn’t the ”infamous, real-world catastrophe” I spoke of in my ”Not In Portland” teases. But here’s a question to debate. Lost certainly explores a great many deep, meaningful themes — but does it have enough weight to use something as tragic as the tsunami as a plot point? Or would doing so actually underscore and enhance the relevancy of the show?
Here’s my favorite fan letter of the week. A free Doc Jensen theory to the first person who can tell me what the heck reader Emiliana is talking about:
amo vcs [“sic”] …mto mto… [“sic”] por favor apressem logo essa terceira temporada q nao aquento mais esperar…bjao [“sic”]?
Dear Emiliana: I have no idea what you asked me, but I’m guessing the answer is? ”Purgatory.”