Doc Jensen

Desert Island Dish

Has ''Lost'' lost it? The Doc solicits your opinions, and weighs in with a few of his own

Terry O'Quinn, Lost | LOCKED GAZE Has Lost gone down the hatch?
Image credit: Lost: Mario Perez
LOCKED GAZE Has Lost gone down the hatch?

'Lost' (S3): Has the ABC show lost it?

COMPLETE THE SENTENCE!

Lost is ______.

A. still my favorite TV show! I don't care what those cranky, shallow, patience-challenged, imagination-deficient, bloggy-bitchy non-fans think — I love being ''lost'' in Lost, one of the most meaningful, mesmerizing TV shows of my lifetime!

B. still one of my favorite TV shows, and I'm committed to watching it every week, though I gotta admit, I do sympathize/empathize/whatever with those who are frustrated with its pacing and plethora of characters, especially when some are more interesting than others.

C. still a show I like, but I'm content to catch up with it on DVD down the road. I really do want to know how everything turns out, but at the same time, I'm too burned out by the ambiguity and peek-a-boo plot development to continue watching week-to-week. If I hear Lost is airing a Very Important Episode — and I'm sure ABC will let me know — I'll tune in. Otherwise, Lost has become an annual late-summer DVD binge for me.

D. a stinky pile of making-it-up-as-they-go-along crap. ''Meaningful''? I say, ''Meaningless.'' ''Mesmerizing''? I say, ''BORING!'' Stop kidding yourselves, true believers — Lost has lost it. There's no shame in giving up on this thing. I don't owe a TV show ANYTHING, and neither do you. Your time is valuable and worthy of being EARNED. And judging from the recent batch of episodes, Lost just ain't cutting it anymore. At least for me. And since I'm the customer, I'm always RIGHT. So there.

OR

E. no longer an enjoyable entertainment experience, regardless of whether it has ''lost it'' or not. A HUGE part of the fun of being a Lost watcher used to be the communal experience of talking about Lost with fellow Lost watchers. But the conversation just isn't any fun anymore. This bad buzz, legit or not, has become such a buzzkill to the crazy-fun chatter aspect of the Lost phenomenon. The water-cooler has been poisoned — spiked with a big bottle of downers. Bottom line: I want to have opinions about The Monster and The Others — not about ''the vitality of the show.'' But if this is the only kind of conversation people wanna have about the show… well, count me out. Count me out of the WHOLE Lost thing.

If one of these options reflects the state of your Lost fandom — let me know via the e-mail form provided below. While you're doing that, I want you to do something else for me too:

I want you to send me the most burning question you have for Lost exec producers Damon Lindelof and Cartlon Cuse. Please: only ONE question. I know we all have, like, 100 burning questions. But if you actually send me all 100, then I'll only take the first and toss the rest. I won't put any additional restrictions on you, though keep in mind that if your most urgent inquiry is ''What is The Monster?''... well, they're probably not going to answer it.

But who knows? Maybe they will. We'll find out when I pepper the producers with your questions later this month and bring you the answers you crave. It's all part of our ramp-up of Lost coverage this month, as we prepare for Lost's return to ABC's airwaves on Feb. 7.

So to recap, here's what I want you to do:

A. Finish my sentence.
B. Ask your question.
C. SEND.

PS: For those of you who've been sending responses to my theories and theories of your own over the past few months, and you've assumed that I haven't been receiving them or reading them... you're WRONG.

Tune in next week, and you'll see what I mean.

QUICK-HIT LOST THEORIES!

THEORY! The Orientation Films aren't tutorials for Dharma Initiative participants, nor are they elements in an elaborate psychology experiment. Rather, they are intended to mislead anyone who stumbles upon the island about what really happened on the island during the Dharma years, and perhaps even obscure the true nature of the island itself. The simplicity of this theory is what makes it plausible, and gives the writers the flexibility in the end to craft an Explanation For Everything that isn't beholden to every little detail. Those bits which aren't covered by this Explanation For Everything can be merely waved away as devilish little details designed to sell the illusion. Sawyer will no doubt be quite impressed. My theory is that the films were created by The Dharma Initiative or another agency altogether (maybe Kelvin Inman's Defense Intelligence Agency). My guess is that — shades of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum — the Big Lies spun by these films have taken on lives of their own, both on the island and beyond the island. The history of The Dharma Initiative suggested by these films is not unlike your garden variety Lost theory, shaky and full of holes; and while it seems to fit all or most of the available data, it begins to become more dubious if not completely unravel as more information becomes available.

THEORY! There is (or was) a connection between the psychic intercom in Jack's Hydra Station cell and the prohibition against using the computer in The Swan for communication purposes. I've been told by the producers of Lost that contrary to some fan speculation, the whole business in the season premiere with Jack hearing his dead father's voice over the (allegedly) non-functioning intercom was NOT an Others' mind game. Meaning, the intercom could have been picking up Jack's stray thoughts, or Jack could have been hallucinating; if you recall, Jack had been warned by Juliet that the drugs he had been given had hallucinatory side effects, and that he needed to start eating and drinking in order to flush the junk out of his system. But let's pretend for a second that it isn't totally insane to presume that the Dharma stations could be akin to psychic echo chambers, or maybe haunted by some kind of psychic presence; is it possible that Dr. Marvin Candle's caution against using the computer for anything other than inputting numbers was to protect Swan occupants from the terror of interfacing with a literal ghost in the machine, or even scarier, their own deepest, darkest thoughts?

THEORY! There is a connection — perhaps merely thematic, perhaps more than thematic — between Lost and the classic Christian hymn, ''Amazing Grace.'' I say this because of something Damon Lindelof said during the recent EW-hosted roundtable discussion with Stephen King and the Lost producers. Lindelof mentioned that the show had an inherent expiration date, as ''the more the characters in Lost are 'found,''' the closer this serialized saga gets toward its inevitable, natural, end. It was a curious choice of words, as they echo the famous lyrics in ''Amazing Grace,'' which — like Lost — traffics in themes of redemption and epiphany. In fact, I wonder if each stanza of the song can meaningfully (or ironically) correlate to each season of Lost, and the show's most grace-blessed soul, John Locke. To wit:

STANZA ONE ''Amazing grace/How sweet the sound/That saved a wretch like me/I once was lost/but now am found/was blind but now I see.''
APPLICATION TO LOST, SEASON 1: Well, it's a show about a bunch of wretches seeking redemption, salvation, or transformation. The first image of the first episode is an act of seeing: Jack's eye, blinking open, waking up from the darkness of unconsciousness. But really, season 1 is all about the Born Again metamorphosis of John Locke. Physically, Locke regains the use of his legs, a blindness-to-sight miracle. Spiritually, he sees the light — ironically, in the shadowy, billowing face of Smokey The Monster. Of course, for most of season one, Smokey is not seen, but heard. True, the roar of this creature — part mechanical, part animal — is far from sweet. But consider this: if Smokey is a manifestation of this island, and if the island for Locke is God, then remember that according to almost every major world religion, God isn't exactly all sweetness and light, either. In fact, in the Old Testament, God is a fearsome, law-enforcing judge. And by the way, remember the form that God takes when he hangs out with the Israelites? That's right: a big cloud. Pretty wild. Pretty far-out. Pretty... amazing. Don't you think?

[PS: ''part mechanical, part animal'' = Mechanical Animals, the best album ever recorded by Marilyn Manson, aka ''The Antichrist Superstar.'' THEORY: The true purpose of The Dharma Initiative was to save our downward-spiraling world by faking a kind of Second Coming/Judgment Day. The island was/is a staging area for building this ''Anti-Christ,'' aka Smokey. If there truly was an ''incident,'' per the Orientation Film, it's probably that Dharma lost control of its FrankenGod. The island now serves as a prison for Smokey, although it's trying to find a way to break out and fulfill its mission in the larger world. OR: The passengers of Oceanic 815 have been brought to the island as unwitting test subjects in a dress rehearsal of its Judgment Day Deception. If this theory is close to being true, then Lost owes a debt to genius comic scribe Alan Moore, whose Watchmen (acknowledged by Damon Lindelof as a major influence) pivots on a similar plot point, which itself was borrowed from a famous episode of The Twilight Zone.]

But we were talking about ''Amazing Grace,'' weren't we?

STANZA TWO
'''Twas grace that taught my heart to fear/And grace my fears relieved/How precious did that grace appear/The hour I first believed!''
APPLICATION TO LOST, SEASON 2: All this talk of fear, I can't help but think of one of the greatest Lost episodes of all time: ''The 23rd Psalm,'' in which Mr. Eko and Charlie have an encounter with Smokey in the jungle. Charlie, taught to fear The Monster, is afraid of it. But Eko fearlessly faced it down, and seemed to interpret his victory as a kind of confirmation of his redemption and deliverance from damnation. (Talk about relief!) In the end, they together recited Psalm 23, which includes the line ''Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.'' The last portion of ''Grace's'' second verse evokes for me the image of John Locke looking awestruck as he beheld Smokey's face in season 1, but it was really in season 2 that he learned how precious that encounter was when he began to question and doubt, and learned the hard way that he should have remained faithful to it.

STANZA THREE
''Through many dangers, toils and snares/We have already come/'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far/And grace will lead me home.''
APPLICATION TO LOST, SEASON 3: Still too early to know for certain, although that first half of the stanza could easily apply to our beleaguered heroes after 50-plus episodes. And if Grace = The Island in general, then the last part of the stanza could apply to Locke, who has emerged from his journey through the valley of doubt with his faith restored, and has been emboldened with a mission: to bring his missing friends home.

''Amazing Grace'' has several more verses, but the last one has an interesting implication in regards to the future of the castaways: ''When we've been there ten thousand years/Bright shining as the sun/We've no less days to sing God's praise/Than when we'd first begun.'' Interpretation: Just how long are they gonna be on this island?

By the way, the credited author of ''Amazing Grace'' is a man named John Newton, who wrote the lyrics in 1748 as a song of thanksgiving following a harrowing passage at sea. The illustrious Mr. Newton's infamous profession?

He was the captain of a slave ship.

Who knows? Maybe he once crossed paths with the Black Rock.

Until next week,
Doc J

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