Monday, November 30

The Brig (S3, ep. 19)

The Rewatch Column for "The Brig" has been strangled like Jabba The Hutt for your reading pleasure on

Hope the weekend was kind to all. Thanks for reading!


Sunday, November 29

Tease Me

Over on's venerable Message Boards 'Deanburger' has put up a link to a Spanish TV promo for Lost's final season. It contains no spoilers for the final season, but it's an impressive piece of marketing and it got me excited enough to share with all of you:

Wednesday, November 25

Gobbling Toward Ecstacy

Happy American Thanksgiving, everyone.
Due to the fact that I'll be in a tryptophin-induced coma tomorrow, as well as the fact that my thoughts on the next episode ("The Man Behind The Curtain") have run longer than most, the next column probably won't be up for you to read until the end of the week.
In the meantime, I encourage you to explore the archives, catch up on the Too Much Information columns (there'll be another of these up soon as well), and comment away.
Whether you're celebrating tomorrow or not, I wish you and your loved ones well. I'm thankful for your attention, and I'll be back soon.


Monday, November 23

TMI 9: How To Be Good

Goodwin: "Nathan was not a good person. That's why he wasn't on the list."

Ben: "You killed two of us -- good people who were leaving you alone."

Ethan: "We're good people, Claire. We're a good family."

Ben: "I was coming for you, John. You're one of the good ones."

Ben: "We're the good guys, Michael."

What does it mean to be 'good'? The typical dictionary contains dozens of different meanings for the word, which range from 'morally excellent' to 'socially proper' to 'healthful' to 'fresh in quality.'

The question of what it means to be 'good' becomes even more unclear in the context of Lost, where the word is used by the Others and their associates to describe themselves, those people on Jacob's list, and those people who are apparently unworthy of being on Jacob's list.

I believe that part of, if not all of, the answer to that question can be found in a book - a book that Lost has specifically referenced several times during the course of the show. If you're a close watcher of the show, or if you've read my column for the Season 2 finale, you know that the submarine dock - the dock that Michael and Walt leave the Island from - is named 'Pala Ferry.'

The name Pala comes from Aldous Huxley's novel "Island," of which I wrote:

Pala is the name of Aldous Huxley’s fictional Island Utopia. Huxley’s novel contains a great many connections to Lost. Namely:

Huxley’s Island’s primary religious practice is Mahayana Buddhism, a system of belief that melds eastern and western traditions in a way that’s not dissimilar to Dharma’s melding of science and faith, or to the way that various faiths have been seen expressed on Lost’s Island.

The people of Huxley’s Island practice ‘selective modernization,’ by embracing certain technological advances (like refrigeration) while rejecting more overt industrialization, not unlike the way that the Others choose to take over the Dharma barracks but resist Dharma’s ‘industrialization’ of the Island through their installation of multiple hatches. They also, like the Others and like Dharma, utilize drugs and ‘trance states’ to achieve faster learning and greater consciousness and focus on fertility.

Huxley’s novel gives us this provocative passage, which links together a bunch of stuff that we’ve been discussing this season, and which, I’d guess, comes close to what Lost is attempting to say about the idea of faith in general:

...."For faith is the empirically justified confidence in our capacity to know who in fact we are, to forget the belief-intoxicated Manichee in Good Being. Give us this day our daily Faith, but deliver us, dear God, from Belief.”

All of the above would seem to have thematic relevance to Lost, but the most interesting portion of Huxley's writing for our purposes today is his use of the word 'good,' as in 'Good Being.' Huxley's description of Good Being feels like a perfect description of the struggles that we've seen the castaways going through - a struggle that John Locke compared to the emergence of a moth from its cocoon:

Good Being is knowing who in fact we are; and in order to know who in fact we are, we must first know, moment by moment, who we think we are and what that bad habit of thought compels us to feel and do. A moment of clear and complete knowledge of what we think we are, but in fact are not, puts a stop, for the moment, to the Manichean** charade. If we renew, until they become a continuity, these moments of the knowledge of what we are not, we may find ourselves, all of a sudden, knowing who in fact we are.

Self-knowledge - the path to 'Good Being.' We've seen this illustrated in the way the flashbacks have shown us how the castaways have learned, or not learned, from their pasts. We've seen it in their efforts to grapple with the things they've done and the regrets they've harbored. By showing us a group of people dealing with their personal demons, Lost may be showing us the process of attempting 'Good Being,' a process of willfully and consciously coming to know who they think they are so that they might come to know who they truly are, or wish to be.

Locke's conscious choice to kill his father through a surrogate could be argued as a choice to start defining himself by destroying the man who has done the most external destruction to Locke's life. But in truth, Cooper isn't the one responsible for Locke's life at all - Locke is. It was Locke's choice to pursue the man who conned him, his choice not to let go; to keep holding on to something that was hurting him both figuratively and literally. The same is true of Sawyer. Sawyer made the choices that turned him into the con man he became. Cooper did something terrible to Sawyer's family - something that has caused our favorite smart-ass no end of personal pain - but it's very arguable that the person who has hurt Sawyer the most is Sawyer, and no one else.

All of this, none-too-coincidentally, does a fine job of echoing the ideas of self-definition and realization that Sartre explores in 'No Exit,' a play that's come up during the course of this Rewatch a number of times (see TMI 7: Sartre-speak, as well as the column for 'Three Minutes').

Killing Cooper won't automatically restore peace and balance to either Locke or Sawyer - anymore than killing Inez or Garcin would have given Estelle peace in 'No Exit,' but, if we follow the logic of 'Good Being,' doing so may allow them to take a clear look at who they truly are without being distracted by who they think they are. In effect, killing Cooper allows Sawyer and Locke to smash their darkest 'mirror' - the man that reflects the worst, most hated parts of themselves.

By confronting and murdering the man who he believes has made him who is he, Sawyer is forced to confront himself and what he thinks of himself - in other words, who he thinks he is (a bad man, one who's never done a good thing in his life thanks to the man who conned his mother). If I understand Huxley's reasoning, by eliminating him Sawyer can, potentially, discover who he really is - who he'd like to be. He can remove the roadblock that's kept him in a cycle of hate and self-loathing for most of his life. He can, if he chooses, start fresh - defining himself not by the Sartre-ian mirrors around him but by his own soul and mind.

By doing this, Sawyer can become a 'good' person, at least as the Others define the word.

That's my take, at any rate. What do you think?

**Notice, also, Huxley's reference to the 'Manichean Charade.' In one of the previous columns we talked a bit about Manichaesism and Gnosticism - two belief systems that may have something to do with Lost. That split between black and white, good and evil, has been dramatized many times on this show, all the way back to Locke's first conversation with Walt about backgammon ('two sides - one dark, one light').

Catch up on Too Much Information!

Too Much Information 8: The Question Jar
Too Much Information 7: Sartre-Speak

Too Much Information 6: Gnarly Gnosticism & Mondo Manichaeism
Too Much Information 5: Mirrors & Delays
Too Much Information 4: Gods and Musicians - How The Mythologizing of The Beatles Helps Us Understand the Reality of the Dharma Initiative
Too Much Information 3: Loopholes and Prison-feet
Too Much Information 2: Who is the MiB?
Too Much Information: Stimulus/Response and Control Theory, or How I Learned To Start Behaving And Love Course Correction

Course Correction & Welcome

Greetings and salutations to all of you, and especially to the fans of Liverpool FC.
A commenter on their site was cool enough to recommend this blog on their boards, and I'd like to return the favor. You can visit's Lost forum by clicking here.

If you're new here I invite you to explore the backlog of commentary on this site using the sidebar. I've been re-watching the show on an episode-by-episode basis, and my rambling thoughts were apparently entertaining enough/crazy enough (much more likely) to warrant an invitation to post them on You'll find all of the (shorter) pre-Chud columns right here, as well as links to all of the columns on I encourage you join in, to comment, question, criticize, cogitate and other action-y words that start with 'c.'

That takes care of the welcomes. On to the course correction:

Lost has announced that its final season will begin on February 2, 2010. That leaves me with just over two months left to complete this re-watch. I plan on stretching it out so that the columns I write will run up to the sixth season's premiere on February 2 instead of working to finish up by mid-January as originally planned - this means that I'll be able to also include the 'mobisodes' that were included in the Season 4 dvd.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, November 20

D.O.C. (S3, ep. 18)

The Rewatch Column for "D.O.C." has been ventilated for your reading pleasure on

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Thursday, November 19

Catch-22 (S3, ep. 17)

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Wednesday, November 18

Too Much Information 8: The Question Jar has begun using a feature which allows you to leave comments at the end of each article they publish. A gentleman named Drew posted in the column for "Left Behind" and asked the following question:

"Damon and Carlton (or Darlton, as they're affectionately called) have said that certain mysteries will not be answered or "fully revealed", such as the Numbers. What mysteries do you think are of absolute importance and what could be sacrificed? Besides the big obvious questions, I need to know about that damn Hurley bird. Keep up the great writing."

Thanks, Drew. If by great writing you mean 'primitive, alcohol-aided stabs at a keyboard,' then I will, in fact, keep up the great writing.

I think your question is excellent, and it's one I'd like to pose to you folks at large. What mysteries must be answered? What mysteries can be left unanswered?

Speaking for myself, and taken off the top of my head, these are some of the questions that I'm hoping the sixth and final season will answer:

1) What is the importance/purpose of the Island?

I don't know that I need a detailed explanation of what the Island actually is/what it contains, so long as we're told more-or-less why the Island is so darned important to characters like Jacob, Ben and Widmore. Not important in the personal sense (the Island is Ben's home, so of course it's important to him), but in the larger, mythology-inclusive sense of the word. What is the Island's percieved purpose? Is that purpose up for personal interpretation? What makes people like Widmore want to possess it? Lost doesn't need to tell me that the Island is really a spaceship, or Atlantis, or Mu or Neverland or whathaveyou (my totally-unfounded guess: the Island is alive, and the Man in Black, as well as the other apparitions we've seen, are manifestations of it's will/intelligence) - in some ways I'd appreciate it if they didn't. What I 'need' to know involves the motivations of the people we've been introduced to throughout the show as those motivations relate to the Island.

2) What is Jacob's goal?

Why was Jacob popping up at certain points in the lives of certain castaways? What is the practical meaning behind his half-veiled conversation with the Man In Black? What is Jacob working to accomplish, if anything? And why?

3/4) Who/what is the Man in Black? What's the deal with the Island's apparitions and visions?

If I'm right in my rampant speculation, questions 3 and 4 are connected - the Island's strange 'ghosts' and the Man In Black are one and the same. Whether or not I'm right, I want very much to understand the origins of these 'ghosts,' their goals and their drives, their purpose in appearing on the Island. Is 'Christian' dead? Undead? Somehow alive again? And does he serve Jacob or the Man In Black? As mentioned above, my working theory is that they're creations of the Island itself - that they're similar to the 'ghosts' that the planet Solaris creates in Stanislaw Lem's novel of the same name. But if I'm wrong (and I'm probably wrong)? Then I need the answers, Lost.

5) What is the Temple?

The show has built the Temple up to be a place that's central to the mythology of the Island. We've seen that the Smoke Monster lives in its ancient spaces, that Ben was somehow made well inside of it, that the Others retreated to it for safety when the Island was raided by Widmore's men. What is the Temple? What does it 'do'? Why is it important? Why is it hidden?

6) What happened to Rousseau's crew?

This isn't a major mystery, in and of itself, but it's one that seems to be linked to the Smoke Monster, the Temple, the Others, and potentially Room 23. Rousseau's companions changed after following Montand down the Smokey Hole - they became sinister, deadly. Were they brainwashed? Possessed? Infected? ....Enlightened?

7) What are the motivations of Widmore and Hawking?

Season 5 muddied the already muddy waters of motivation for both Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore, as well as their relationship. If Hawking is working 'for the good of us all,' why has she kept in contact with Widmore who, according to Ben, is not a good man? If Widmore is actually on the side of 'good,' then what's with his involvement in getting Locke to return to the Island? And why is he employing Abbadon? Why is Widmore trying to recapture the Island? Why is Hawking so concerned with returning the castaways to its shores? And why does she appear in a photo with Desmond's monk friend?

8) Why did the Others take Walt?

We don't need the actor who played Walt to return in order to discover why he was important for a little while there. Why did the Others grab him? How and why did they know he was 'special'? Why did they subsequently let him go?

9) Who are Illyana and the 'shadow of the statue' people?

They're clearly working with Jacob to some extent. Are they Others? Are they anti-Others? How do they know the answer to Illyana's riddle? And what does that riddle actually mean?

10) What's up with the fertility issues on the Island? And why is it a (mostly) cancer-free zone?

In the column for "One of Us," I pointed out that both the absence of cancer and the pregnancy difficulties involve a mysterious force preventing the growth of new life within the human body. What's the reason for this?

11) What are the core tenets/beliefs of the Others?

What does the word 'good' really mean to the Others? Why do they seem to require the murder of a father figure in order to claim leadership? Why is their society structured as it is? Why are they required to learn Latin? Why do they give their dead viking-styled funerals? What is their self-percieved purpose on the Island? Their actual purpose?

12) What are The Whispers?

They seem to be connected to the sudden appearance of Others, they involve key members of the cast, and they seem to comment directly on the action when they're heard. What are they?

Those are the questions that I feel 'need' answering before it comes to an end. There are other questions that I'd enjoy seeing answered, but that aren't significant enough to me to feel disappointed if they aren't. These include:

1) What is the Hurley Bird?

Sorry, Drew. I know this one's a biggee for you, but if the Hurley Bird goes forever unexplained I won't care overmuch.

2) What purpose, if any, do the various injections on the Island serve?

Desmond, Kelvin and Claire have all been seen injecting themselves. It'd be nice to know whether any of this medication has a purpose, but if it's never revisited I won't complain.

3) Who are Adam and Eve?

I'm assuming that they're Rose and Bernard, last seen chilling out in the 70's in a retirement shack. And if the skeletons in the caves are never addressed again, that's what I'll continue to assume.

4) What was the 'true' purpose of the Dharma Initiative?

Does it matter? I'd argue that it doesn't - that Dharma's served as an excellently enigmatic chunk of backstory, backstory that's already been sufficiently elaborated on. Leave it up to the audience to decide why Dharma went to the Island (my theory: Widmore and/or Jacob brought them).

5) What are The Numbers?

No matter what the explanation for The Numbers turns out to be, I suspect it won't be as satisfying as their current opaque-ness is. Are The Numbers meaningful at all? It seems that way, but it also seems possible that they're meant to illustrate the concept of 'Apophenia,' and the vagueness of them is satisfyingly Lynchian.

6) Is Richard Alpert immortal?

Sure, it'd be unspeakably nifty to learn Alpert's history, and to learn the secret to his eerie arrested development (my theory: he arrived on the Black Rock with Magnus Hanso, and we'll get a Black Rock flashback during the final season). But the answer to Alpert's agelessness isn't an answer that I feel the 'need' to recieve. I'd be honestly contented if they left his potential immortality alone and allowed the audience's imagination to fill in the gaps.

7) What's up with the quarantine warnings?

I've theorized that the warnings were put up following the events of the Purge - that the Dharma workers in those stations were instructed to quarantine themselves and to use Haz-Mat suits when and if they needed to emerge. That's explanation enough for me.

8) Why was Libby institutionalized?

My guess? She committed herself following the death of her husband. But who really cares, unless the reason for her stay in the hospital is directly related to a larger question about the Island?

9) Who is 'Grandpa Ray,' really?

There's no immediate reason to think that Jack's visit to 'Grandpa Ray' was anything more than a convenient way for Jack to get his father's shoes. But introducing Ray to the storyline this late in the game felt like the planting of a story-seed, not just a one-off encounter. Lost could very easily never mention this character again and that'd be fine with me, but I admit to being curious about him. Why is he always trying to escape? Is he included to indicate that the Shephard clan has been involved with the Island for generations, in some manner or another? Is his resemblance to Jack Shephard meant to indicate that Jack is his own grandpa, and that time-travel shenanigans will end up placing a much older Jack at a point in the timestream when he can provide himself with the means to return to the Island?

What did I miss? What do you 'need' answered? Are there any questions that you'd prefer they didn't answer? Let me know in the comments!

Catch up on Too Much Information!

Too Much Information 7: Sartre-Speak

Too Much Information 6: Gnarly Gnosticism & Mondo Manichaeism

Too Much Information 5: Mirrors & Delays

Too Much Information 4: Gods and Musicians - How The Mythologizing of The Beatles Helps Us Understand the Reality of the Dharma Initiative

Too Much Information 3: Loopholes and Prison-feet

Too Much Information 2: Who is the MiB?

Too Much Information: Stimulus/Response and Control Theory, or How I Learned To Start Behaving And Love Course Correction

Tuesday, November 17

One of Us (S3, ep. 16)

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Left Behind (S3, ep. 15)

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Monday, November 16

We Now Return You To Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Hey, all.

Having spent the past few days enjoying a very relaxing vacation in honor of my anniversary, I've returned refreshed and raring to go. We'll be resuming our usual schedule, with the next column (for Left Behind) expected to be up by the end of the day.

Thanks for reading, and stay Lost.


Tuesday, November 10

Exposé (S3, ep. 14)

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FYI: the link to the confirmation of the spiders-as-Monster theory was lost in translation, so here it is for those of you who're curious:,_2008

The Man from Tallahassee (S3, ep. 13)

The Rewatch column for "The Man from Tallahassee" has been shoved from an eight-story window for your reading enjoyment on

Monday, November 9

Apropos of Nothing

Over at, the site that this column calls virtual-home, writer Devin Faraci has posted a list of his ten favorite films - films that he can watch any time, any day. They aren't the 'best' films he's seen, just the ones he loves on a near-primal level. I liked that criterion, and it got me thinking about my own top ten. These are the films I can watch at any time, that I'll see on television and stop to check out despite owning them. I can't claim that they're 'great' movies, just favorites. Feel free to use the comments section and let me know what yours are. As always, I'm interested in your opinions.

In no particular order:

1. Roadhouse - Patrick Swayze's greatest film and a film that I've seen, in whole or in part, more times than I can count. Gleefully preposterous, Roadhouse was released in 1989 just in time to send up and warmly embrace everything terrible and wonderful about the 80's. It presents a pop-philosophical worldview that's simultaneously ludicrous and seductive, and it yields up an unending treasure trove of terrific moments and dialogue. Lord, that dialogue..."Callin' me sir is like puttin' an elevator in an outhouse. Don't belong." "Pain don't hurt." "A bear fell on me." "I used to f@$% guys like you in prison." A true classic.

2. The Iron Giant - Brad Bird's first full-length animated feature, The Iron Giant is everything a family film should be - warm, sweet, sad, laugh-out-loud funny, and deeply moving. You know you've got something special on your hands when one word from an animated robot ("Superman") can make tears gather in a grown man's eyes.

3. Cool Hand Luke - Paul Newman was The Man. I think we can all agree on this. and he left behind no shortage of sterling performances. My favorite has always been, and I suspect will continnue to be, his work as Lucas Jackson, a small-town man with an authority problem that's a mile long and wide. There's endless pleasure to be found in the character work in this film, and while the ending ain't exactly a happy one (SPOILER!), the journey resonates with me in a profound sort of way. Also: eggs!

4. Super Troopers - Is there anything better than stumbling onto a piece of pop culture that feels undiscovered or half-hidden? Super Troopers, a low-budget cop comedy from the 'Broken Lizard' comedy troupe, is a rambling, shambling, half-baked flick full of the kind of comedy that one suspects was crafted during long hours spent toiling over a bong and/or keg. It's absurd and meandering and crass and intelligent and, best of all, it gets funnier every time you see it. Meow will you go and check it out?

5. North by Northwest - It's not considered one of Hitchcock's 'great' films as far as I can tell, but this fizzy espionage caper is still magic. Cary Grant was never cooler, and Grace Kelly was never hotter. It makes no sense that anyone would attempt to kill Grant with a plane, and yet the image of Grant running from a crop duster is an iconic one. This movie is just that enjoyable.

6. Clue - I'm not sure what the creative team behind 'Clue' was embibing when they crafted their terrifically entertaining film from a Parker Brothers board game, but I want some. Watching an all-star ensemble of comedy heavyweights snipe and flirt and freak out with each other as the people around them drop dead from Sudden Murder Syndrome is the definition of a well-spent rainy Saturday afternoon.

7. Groundhog Day - How is it that a film that repeats itself over and over ends up being endlessly rewatchable? Credit the genius of Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. To hear Ramis tell it, this collaboration more or less ended the friendship between he and Murray, and the world is a poorer place for that, but it's also a far richer place thanks to Groundhog Day, perhaps the deepest and most moving comedy I've ever seen.

8. The Usual Suspects - I've heard people argue that the punch goes out of The Usual Suspects once you know the ending, but that's a load of horsepuckey. Bryan Singer's first film is crammed full of great dialogue, solid acting, dark humor, and tough-guy machismo. The script is a finely-tuned machine, and like Lost, the fun isn't knowing how it all adds up, it's in appreciating just how much work and love went into crafting the puzzle pieces. Who is Keyser Soze? Ultimately I don't care, and neither should you. It's never the answer that interests me most - it's the riddle that precedes it.

9. Back to the Future - All that stuff I just wrote about a script being a finely-tuned machine? That goes triple for BTTF - a film that stands on its own as a bonafide classic (and a time machine in its own right - Marty's 'present day' is hilariously dated now). That's two Christopher Lloyd flicks on this list, which is the sort of odd realization that makes lists like these worth creating.

10. Indiana Jones and the last Crusade - It's not as good as Raiders, and it's not as dark as Temple of Doom, but there's something about Last Crusade that makes it more rewatchable for me. Maybe it's the goofily-compressed origin of Indiana at the beginning, or the quest for a relic that's not sought for destructive power, but rather for illumination and longevity. Maybe it's the way that Spielberg cuts from Indiana lecturing the Nazis on how Marcus will 'disappear, blend in - you'll never see him again' straight to a shot of Marcus blundering his way through a market asking for directions. Maybe it's the connection between father and son, and the love of family that suffuses the film. Maybe it's all in the sad, small wave given by the last remaining knight as his temple falls down around him as if signifying both a loss and a gain far greater than any simple cup.

What are yours? And why?

Par Avion (S3, ep. 12)

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Wednesday, November 4

Enlist Today!

Maybe you've stumbled onto this page by accident, searching for 'atheist russian,' or 'gnostic pizza,' on google. Or maybe you're a Lost fan, and you've found yourself here because you're chomping at the bit for the final season to begin and you need a fix - any fix- to get you through the months ahead. Maybe you're a fan of, and you're enjoying my dependably-scattered and twitterpated ramblings enough to see what 'Back to the Island' holds.

No matter your reason, I'm glad you're here. I'd like to encourage you to subscribe to this page, to click on the Twitter link to the right, or to 'follow' this blog using the button located under the 'newest comments' section of the sidebar. You'll be notified every time something new is posted here, and I'll get that warm fuzzy feeling inside that comes when a blog's viewership rises out of the double digits. Everyone wins!

So come along and join us. I'll feed that hungry lil' monkey on your back.

Thanks for reading,


Enter 77 (S3. ep. 11)

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Tricia Tanaka Is Dead (S3, ep. 10)

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Monday, November 2

Stranger In A Strange Land (S3, ep. 9)

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Flashes Before Your Eyes (S3, ep. 8)

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