Friday, January 1

Lost: Missing Pieces (S4 DVD)

Welcome to a Very Special Episode of Lost: The Rewatch. Today we’ll be taking a look at the “Lost: Missing Pieces” – 13 miniature “mobisodes” that were shot for some promotional reason or another, and which were included in the Bonus Features of the Season 4 DVD.

Technically, these aren’t within the boundaries of the show itself – and this rewatch has, up ‘til now, focused solely on what’s presented within the show itself, not the various on-line games and puzzles, or the Lost videogame, or any of that stuff.

But “Lost: Missing Pieces” is different and distinct in my mind from any of that other material in that these “mobisodes” (that’s a terrible word that seems to have died a swift and inglorious death, much to my pleasure) feature the actual actors, are written by the show’s actual writers, and have been announced as ‘canon.’ They're also nifty for the most part, since these vignettes take place at different points in time during the first four seasons of the show, and are placed in no particular order, inviting you to figure out ‘when’ they each occur. Intentionally or not, this mimics the time-skipping effect of the Island in Season 5.

Let’s cruise through these things and see what there is to see, shall we?

“King of the Castle”

-- The first of these shorts takes place after Jack has performed surgery on Ben (S3). It’s a simple scene: Jack and Ben are in Ben’s Dharma house playing chess together. If you’re looking for patterns it should be noted that Jack plays on the “light” side and Ben on the “dark” side.

-- Ben makes it clear that he ‘intends’ to let Jack off the Island, and Jack calls him out on his choice of wording, but Ben insists that if the “Island” doesn’t want Jack to leave, he won’t be able to leave (this may be a quasi- religious/mythical explanation for the rule of “whatever happened, happened”).

-- In Season 3, Locke becomes convinced that he needs to destroy all ways of leaving the Island, and he blows up Jack’s ride home. We know now that Ben either (a) wanted Locke to destroy the sub, or (b) knew that Locke would destroy the sub (because, as we’ve seen, Ben is may be privy to some information about the future – see his building of the Ajira runway on Hydra Island). Either way, he’s very careful with his wording around Jack.

Watching this after finishing Season 4 I’m left wondering three things:

1) Does Locke blow up the sub and attempt to cut the Island off because, on some level, he ‘remembers’ that a freighter is coming, or that it’s a ‘bad’ thing to let Jack get off the Island (see the ‘castaway reincarnation’ theory in the column for The Constant)?
2) If not, how does the “Island” communicate with him? Are we to assume that he’s had more ‘visions’ in his sleep that we haven’t gotten to see?
3) How much, if anything, does Ben know about ‘the future’? His certainty when he claims Jack’s Queen suggests that he KNOWS Jack will leave and regret it.

“Jack, Meet Ethan, Ethan? Jack.”

-- The title says it all. Jack and Ethan meet for the first time (S1) when Ethan brings over a suitcase stuffed with medicines. He claims he found it in the jungle, and compliments Jack on his ability to “think long-term,” then points out that Jack might have to deliver Claire’s baby.

Then we learn something new: Ethan’s wife and kid seem to have died as a result of the Island’s ‘baby-plague.’

“The Adventures of Hurley and Frogurt”

-- Utterly non-essential, but marginally cute if you can forget that there’s a tragedy happening. Hurley’s shown stealing some wine for his date with Libby (S2) when Frogurt catches him and makes a long speech about how he’s gonna get some of that fine Libby action before Hurley stops him and informs him that he’s about to go on a date with her. At this moment, Libby’s being shot in the gut down in the Swan Station.

“Room 23”

-- “Room 23” is Lost simultaneously at its best and its most infuriating.

We’re shown alarms going off outside of Room 23, where Walt is being kept (S2). Ben and Juliet discuss Walt, but in the most eye-rollingly-oblique manner possible. Typically, Lost walks a fine line with its secrets, erring (for this viewer) on the side of the seductively mysterious. But occasionally, the show goes too far, pushes the limits of just how much mystery is can believably maintain, and we end up with dialogue like this:

Ben: “What’s happening?”
Juliet: “He did it again.”
Ben: “Did what again?”
Juliet: “You know”
Ben: “Well, you’re going to have to tell him to stop doing it.”


-- Ridiculously veiled dialogue aside, “Room 23” is good stuff. We get just a taste of why it is that Walt was given back – the Others weren’t lying when they said that he was too much for them to handle. Whatever Walt ‘did’ in the room, it’s got the Others scared spitless. And we get confirmation that Walt is able to somehow draw birds to him, the way we saw him do in the S1 episode, “Special.”

I’m going to theorize that Walt is somehow able to manipulate electromagnetic energy. Recent scientific studies have shown that earth’s electromagnetic field may be visible to birds, and that they may use this sight to migrate and to fly generally. If Walt can manipulate/direct/interfere with electromagnetic energy (and this ability may relate to the concept of the Island as “magic box”) then that ability might draw birds to him. That ability was comparatively ‘weak’ in the outside world (and so only one bird hits the window of his home in “Special”) but seems to be much stronger on the Island, where there is much more electromagnetic energy (thus the ‘flock’ of various dead birds found outside of the Room 23 building).

Walt is “special,” and so was Ben, at least according to Richard. Are they the same sort of special? Does Ben have ‘abilities’ like this also?

“Buried Secrets”

-- One aspect of Season 1 that was hinted at, but never focused on, was the apparent attraction between Sun and Michael. That’s given a little more color in this segment, which is nice to see. They come close to kissing only to be interrupted by Vincent (of course it’s Vincent). Apparently, Sun was going to become “Dahlia Choi” when she got to LA.

“Operation Sleeper”

-- Juliet steals into Jack’s tent to tell him that she’s a spy and she’s there to study the women and figure out who was pregnant (S3). Then they talk about some more stuff we already know.

Maybe the most useless of the Missing Pieces, in that it imparts no information, and remains resolutely un-entertaining.

“The Watch”

Great Christian Line: “Good, good! Get all that rock-throwing out before you get married.”

-- Grandpa Ray makes his first (unseen) appearance. I surely wasn’t the only one who thought it was odd that Jack suddenly visited his never-before-seen Grandpa Ray in Season 5, just to get a pair of his dad’s shoes. Well, apparently Ray got his first mention here – in “The Watch.”

-- Christian gives Jack his father’s watch, which he’s never worn due to Ray’s feelings about Christian’s choice in wives. It’s his way of telling Jack that he’s made ‘the absolute right choice,’ which feels bitterly ironic now.

Christian: “Would you do me a favor? If you and Sarah ever have a kid? Try and treat him a little better than I treated you.”

-- That’s a sadly sweet sentiment. I’m really looking forward to seeing if Christian’s story will be continued in Season 6. Is the “Christian” that we see on the Island actually the MiB? Is it actually Christian? Something/someone else entirely? Tell me, Lost!

“Jin Has A Temper-Tantrum On The Golf Course”

-- Best title of this series, bar none.

-- Granted, I’m a fan of the character to begin with, but I like the way that this segment lets Jin finally explode. Thinking back on it, I don’t know that we’ve ever seen Jin thoroughly lose his s*** the way he does here. It’s practically operatic. Funny, but also a little sad (Jin sitting on the ground, moaning that he’s ‘so alone,’ is grimly hilarious).

Contains the best line of this entire group:

Jin: “You horrible ball! Why why why?”

“The Envelope”

-- Co-written by J.J. Abrams, apparently.

-- Juliet and the Other known as “Amelia” talk about Ben just before the book club meeting that opens S3, and Juliet tells her that she thinks “we’re all in big trouble.” She swears Amelia to secrecy, and then pulls out an envelope that I assume contains Ben’s x-rays.

This is an interesting exchange, as it hints that Ben’s sudden cancer spells problems for all of the Others.

It’s also an interesting scene due to the presence of Amelia, who we haven’t seen since the opening of S3. “Amelia” may actually be Amelia Earhart, the female pilot who attempted to circle the globe by plane, but who crashed in the Pacific Ocean and was never found. At the very least, I'm willing to argue that the choice of her name is intended to evoke Earhart.

“The Deal”

-- Juliet comes to Michael while he’s tied up in the Others’ camp (S2). She talks about Walt with him, and tells him he’s ‘special.’ She seems positively eager to get Walt away from the Island, which is interesting.

Then, basically, it’s largely a repetition of information we already know, and fairly boring to boot. Eminently skippable, really. That makes two of these 'modisodes' (uuuugggggghhhh) that Juliet features in, and which don't add much of anything to the story of the show either plot-wise or emotionally.

“Tropical Depression”

-- Hey! Arzt the science teacher! We’re back in S1 now, pre-Arzt-explosion.

Arzt says that he made up all that stuff about a monsoon(!), which is bizarre, but then he launches into a story about flying to see a woman in Australia that he met on the internet, only he used someone else’s picture, and so she freaked when she actually saw him, ordered a lobster and left the restaurant without eating it, and I realized that Arzt is one strange, sad dude.

Very entertaining.
Side-note: Prior to Arzt's monsoon lie, the Island's tides shift suddenly and violently without warning. I've suggested that this was the first time we'd seen the Island 'move,' and Arzt's revelation that he fibbed makes the idea that the Island moved way back in Season 1 more plausible to me, since it removes a potential 'natural' explanation.

“Artz & Crafts”

-- Hey! More Arzt! He shows up asking whether people are moving to the caves (S1). He tells Michael and Hurley that he saw Jack running through the jungle, “crying for his daddy,” which would place this after the episode “White Rabbit.” He leaves when they hear the sound of the Smoke Monster in the distance. Eh.

“So It Begins”

-- Without a doubt the creepiest and coolest installment of all. This final "Missing Piece' is actually the first scene of the entire show, coming as it does directly before the shot of Jack's opening eye in the first episode.

We follow Vincent’s POV as the dog makes his way through the jungle. Vincent enters a clearing and we see Christian standing there in white tennis shoes, whistling and calling the dog to him, telling Vincent to go and wake Jack because "he has work to do." That phrase has come upp a number of times now during the course of the show. Until we know for certainty who/what Christian truly is, it's impossible to place this scene in context. Either the MiB or some emissary of Jacob has just begun their figurative backgammon game anew.
All in all, Lost: Missing Pieces is an enjoyable way to spend an hour, but with the exception of MAYBE "Room 23" and "So It Begins," none of them are even close to being essential.

1 comment:

  1. hey MMorse, thanks for covering these. In a way, i wish they had been better received, because I enjoyed watching them online each week in the fall of 2007, leading up to Season 4. That said, I agree that they didn't add a ton of substance. A few other observations:

    - Twelve of these episodes were written and produced originally for this purpose. The other, "The Envelope," was a deleted scene from the Season Three premiere, which explains the authorship by JJ Abrams. It also explains why the mysterious extra Amelia makes a return appearance. I've always loved the idea that she was Amelia Earhart and for a time I thought that would have been explored in the show. Who knows, maybe they were planting seeds for a filler storyline that they ended up not using after they set an end date for the show. Unless they conclusively show otherwise somehow, she'll remain Amelia Earhart in my mind.

    - I liked that Juliet's episodes with Ben and with Michael further integrated her into the pre-Season Three events - particularly her scene with Michael, the only time these two characters ever met. Like you said, neither scene offered much substance and they both drove home the same point, but I appreciated that she was connected to the Michael and Walt.

    - Likewise, the completist in me likes that we saw Juliet's confession to Jack. It seemed to be an awfully important detail to happen off-camera, which was done to serve the "is Jack a traitor?" storyline that you argued compellingly was forced.

    - Shot back during Season Four, this was the only on screen appearance of Frogurt until Season Five when he was dismissed with a flaming arrow. He was first name-dropped in Season Two by Bernard.

    Thanks again for a fun and entertaining read.