Friday, May 28

The End: An Update

Hola, all.

The good news: I'm really enjoying this column. I think you will too.

The bad news: It won't be up until Tuesday morning, after the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Why? Well, it mostly comes down to me deciding that I don't want to post it in two parts. At this point, what was Part I is in pretty good shape, but the structure of the whole thing sort of demands that it post as one (enormous and over-long) piece, and Part II is still an ill-formed, shambling mess (moreso than usual). It also comes down to my wanting more time with it. There's a lot I want to say, and I'd like to say it well.

I don't see this as being a huge deal in terms of "missing the window of discussion" on the finale, since folks are still hotly debating it all over the 'net. That's not going to change over the next 2-3 days, and I feel comfortable taking the time to construct the entirety of it for your (and my) pleasure. I do, however, realize that some of you really look forward to my ramblings and so I apologize for the delay.

I hope that's understood, and as always I appreciate your patience with me.



Thursday, May 27

Your Back to the Island Teaser Quotation for The End

“Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness.” – David Foster Wallace, E Unibus Plurum

Monday, May 24

Lost: Season 6, eps. 17 & 18 (and then some) Discussion


I've started work on the column for The End. While I'm trying to include as much in the way of "summarization of concepts" as possible from the run of this column and the show, it's going to be a highly-truncated version by dint of the fact that I could easily write a treatise on this stuff large enough to tear a hole in the fabric of space/time/Chud. If you're interested in delving even deeper into the "meaning" of The End, and into the kinds of themes, allusions, references and overarcing subtextual stuff that makes this show so much fun for some of us, you should consider shooting me an email ( and signing up for my Back to the Island mailing list.

You'll get information on the progress of Back to the Island: The Book, as well as sneak peeks (including sections of the text as it evolves and stuff like the now-in-progress cover design which, thanks to the volunteer efforts of one of the column's readers, promises to be awesome) and the opportunity to influence the book's content through your votes, among other things. There is no obligation to buy, as the infomercial said to the overeager consumer. If you've enjoyed these columns and you'd like to show your support for them/me, please consider signing up.


Communion. Community. Communication. Connection.

Lost ended as it began - with a disparate group of wounded individuals finding their meaning in one another. As Christian Shephard flung wide the doors and in poured the Light, I felt filled with the same Oceanic sensation that united them beyond death. I've never been much of a television person overall, so maybe this feeling is typical to finales. I wouldn't know. What I do know is that this episode/these episodes was/were everything I wanted it/them to be.

To see Hurley assume the Island role and ask Ben to help guide him moved my soul. To watch the Castaways connect and draw closer to rising, to converging, gladdened my heart. To witness Jack and Anti-Locke in mortal combat as the Island shook around them thrilled the blood. To hear the awe in Richard's voice when he regained his mortality made me smile in it's quiet, obvious wisdom.

I could do this all night - name moment after moment and attach superlatives - but I sort of want to bask in the afterglow of this. I want to let the image of the stained glass with it's panoply if religious symbols float in my brain for a bit. I want to recall Ben's sad/happy, sorry/grateful talk with John outside the church, and John's beneficent forgiveness. I want to savor the fact that it's Kate who finally lands the killing blow against Anti-Locke, a mother protecting the cause of life against death (with a killer one liner no less). I want to savor Jin and Sun and Charlie and Claire and Kate and Jack and Sawyer and Juliet (!) as they awaken.

I'm doing it again. I want to know if this moved you as it moved me. I want to know what your thoughts and feelings, comments and criticisms are, directly following The End. Let me know in the comments, and let me know if you're free Thursday night, for another Lost get-together. Thanks for reading, and Namaste.

Original Post:

Discuss here. I've been stuck on an airplane for 8 hours, so I haven't had time to write up a proper intro for this post. Really though, what can I say that hasn't been so wonderfully well-expressed by all of you over the past week. I hope it's enjoyed by all of us, and I hope you'll grace me with your thoughts, comments and reactions after The End ends.



Sunday, May 23

Reminder: Liveblogging The End

Join me tonight at 9pm EST on, where I'll be liveblogging the finale during commercial breaks. Expect the requisite overstock of terrible jokes, some occasional insight, and my in-the-moment reactions, all delivered in short bursts of Twitter-esque prose. BYOB.

Enjoy the finale, and come back here after the fact to discuss it!

Saturday, May 22

Times Talks Teaser, courtesy of Back to the Island reader Gravyboat

Afternoon, folks!

Due to circumstances beyond my control I had to miss the Times Talks interview with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse that took place Thursday evening. Happily, Back to the Island reader "Gravyboat" attended. Here's his report. Hope it's enjoyed! GB, thanks for taking the time to write this out for your fellow fans:

By now, Lost show runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are possibly the most-interviewed storytellers in at least a decade.  For the past six years, they’ve steadily released podcasts, recorded DVD commentaries and cut interviews with media outlets, educational institutions and hobbyist communities around the world.  In addition, they’ve been the cornerstone of a press blitz leading into the show’s final episode that rivals the publicity pushes behind most major tent-pole films.

As a result, most Lost enthusiasts already know what to expect from a “Darlton” interview:  Collegial and self-deprecating banter, an obligatory reminder that they care more about character than about mystery, coy evasion of questions no reasonable person could expect them to answer, a comment about having known the very end from the very beginning, and gentle jabs at the over-enthusiastic nature of their own fan base.

Their nearly two-hour interview with The New York Times’ Lorne Manly on Thursday night didn’t do anything to undercut the affable, geeky and slightly self-important brand they’ve built for themselves, but it did introduce some new areas of discussion for them and offered viewers deeper, more honest answers to some familiar questions.  It also probably helped many fans in their respective grieving processes, serving as an appropriately sweet and exciting send-off to something that has been much more than just another adventure show to so many of us.

Conducted at the Times Center in New York City and simulcast to select movie theaters across the U.S. and Canada, the interview bounced between the behind-the-scenes process that goes into making the show to their takes on the story’s literary resonance to—of course—fan questions about the plot minutiae of seasons past.

As is to be expected after putting the finishing touches on the final episode—they finished scoring the finale Monday, a process that Lindelof’s loud weeping apparently made difficult—a significant portion of the interview was retrospective.

Lindelof never expected the show to become popular, and fully expected it to be canceled after ten episodes.  (He also expected to be “revealed as a fraud,” and “for people to come to [his] house with torches.”) Cuse’s influence is what he said helped the writers and producers keep going in the early days.

“He infused us with a sense of optimism,” Lindelof said.  Cuse encouraged the crew to take the show one episode at a time and not project two or three seasons ahead.

“The day the pilot aired, the ratings came out, Damon came into my office holding the ratings sheet, practically in tears,” Cuse laughed.  “And he asked, ‘Does this mean we have to keep doing this?’”

Manly was plainly a fan, and had a keen interest in the shepherding process they went through as they ushered the show from freshman success to the glorious mess that it’s become today.  

They looked at the climactic scene from season two’s “Orientation”—the iconic argument between Jack and Real John Locke about whether the button really does anything, and about the fact that Locke can’t handle the pressure of believing alone—as a case study in how they handled the show’s science fiction elements in a way that has a broader thematic relevance.

“In most science-fiction genre shows,” Cuse said, “the approach to the scene might be that the characters are sitting around talking about how this button is connected to whatever detonation device.  ‘How do we dissemble it?  How do we take it apart?  How do we stop the timer?  Who built it?’  Those kinds of mechanical questions that are very plot-oriented—this scene distinguishes the way we approach story-telling differently than other shows that are in this genre.  Instead of having characters talk about that, we take this theme of faith and use that as the nexus of what would actually drive the discussion between these two characters.”

They managed to keep the more fantastic elements of the show relatable and interesting by, as Cuse put it, trying to change "what" questions into "who" questions: We may have spent half a season wondering what's in the hatch, but when we finally found out, we cared about it because we were now (presumably) more curious about who was in the hatch.  When the Smoke Monster started to play a more significant role in the plot this season, whether it could go past the circle of ash and which dead faces it could assume didn't matter to the story nearly as much as who the Monster was and what he wanted.

Over the six years of the show, they never had any major battles over where to go with the story, a fact they credited to the intensely collaborative nature of the way they worked out each season’s arc and each episode’s story.  Enthusiastic fans are already familiar with the process: At the “very beginning of the show” they came up with “what the very end of the show should be, and that actually has stayed the same since then.”  Between seasons one and two, free from the pressure of day-to-day writing and production, they fleshed out the show’s mythological outline.  Between each season, they hold a “mini-camp” where they plan the details of the coming season’s arc with the other writers.  Finally, episode-by-episode, they work with the full team of writers to break each story and assign script duties.

“We’re not J.K. Rowling,” Cuse said.  “We’re not completely in control of our own universe.  We collaborate with 425 people on Lost.”

Lindelof said that the two questions people ask most frequently are whether they are “making it all up as they go along” and what impact the fans have on the development of the show.

“People want the answer to the first question to be, ‘We are not making it up as we go along.  We have a binder, and everything we’re going to do is in there,’” he said.  “And they want the answer to the second question to be, ‘The fans have enormous impact on the show!’  But both things can’t coexist … We have to live between the space.”  

They cited a few examples of subtle ways in which the fans actually have impacted story-telling decisions over the years, including the season two story-line centering around Hurley hoarding foodstuffs from the Dharma Initiative’s storehouse.  

“We thought it was kind of odd,” Cuse mused, “because everybody’s really well-groomed and nobody’s saying, ‘Why does Kate’s hair look so nice?’  Nobody looks like Tom Hanks in Castaway on our show, but for some reason the fact that Hurley wasn’t losing weight seemed to be bothering people.”  

The long-standing common wisdom amongst Lost fans has been that the introduction of the characters Nikki and Paulo in season three was another example of the producers responding to fan questions—this time a recurring question of who the rest of the 50-odd survivors of Oceanic 815’s tail and fuselage sections were.  

Lindelof, though, says that that’s only partly true:

“We introduced Nikki and Paulo at a time where we didn’t have an end date yet, and had to start packing our refrigerator full of food—even food we didn’t want to eat … We needed to start stacking the deck.”  

In an attempt to give themselves story-telling fodder for—well, they didn’t know how long they’d need it—they were going to once again introduce new characters at the start of the season, much the way they opened season two by introducing the audience to Desmond and to the tail-section survivors.  They knew that they would be introducing Juliet, Ben and several minor Others, but added Nikki and Paulo to the roster as a capitulation to fan pressure.

Now that the end is in such close sight, the question they’ve been getting asked most often recently is, “Am I going to be really disappointed by the finale?”

The writers said that by following the show for six years, one of the things fans should be prepared for is the fact that they may find the finale disappointing.

“One of the reasons we believe people watch the show is because you’re like ‘This could end catastrophically,’” Lindelof said.  “There’s a part of all of us that, when we go to see the high-wire act at the circus, we’re like, ‘I kinda wanna see him fall.  It would be terrible—but it would be interesting.’”

“There’s been a spiritual quality to the final season of the show,” said Cuse, referring to the hard nod back toward the mythic that irked some fans this season.  “And we felt like that is something we wanted to be very much a part of the concluding episode of the show.”

So, they didn't come right out and say whether they think people will be disappointed or not, but throughout the evening they did tease the audience with information about the finale.  Some teases were minor (there is apparently going to be a Star Wars reference in the first seven minutes), others were larger (the interview mentioned at least three people the audience will be surprised to see Sunday) and some were just abstract (Desmond’s second-season advice to Jack to “lift it up” may or may not be of thematic relevance).  

The tidbits--including a complete scene from Sunday's episode--were just enough to stoke the audience's excitement for the finale without satiating any of our curiosity.  That's a difficult tightrope to walk, but Lindelof and Cuse are good at it.  They've had a lot of practice.

Friday, May 21

What They Died For (S6, ep. 16)

The Back to the Island column for What They Died For has been given vague, magical, Island-protecting powers for your reading pleasure on

Thursday, May 20

Your Back to the Island Teaser Quotation

Good morning, everyone. I'm going to be away for the day taking care of some personal stuff (and because of this I'm afraid I'm going to have to miss the Times Talks simulcast tonight - my sincere thanks to Gravyboat for the invite, and my sincere apologies for having to bow out) but before I vamoose I wanted to give you a teaser quote for tomorrow's installment of Back to the Island. I loved "What They Died For," even moreso the second time through. I think that'll come through in the final column, which will post tomorrow as usual. Have a great day, take care of one another, and thanks once again for reading.

"Most of us have learned to be dispassionate about evil, to look it in the face and find, as often as not, our own grinning reflections with which we do not argue, but good is another matter. Few have stared at that long enough to accept that its face too is grotesque, that in us the good is something under construction. The modes of evil usually receive worthy expression. The modes of good have to be satisfied with a cliché or a smoothing down that will soften their real look.” – Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

Wednesday, May 19

Lost: Season 6, ep. 16 Discussion

Instareaction (updated further below):

Spoilers ahoy.

We all knew it was coming, that Jack would take this step. In the end, the decision and what followed felt spare and quiet - a foregone conclusion rendered poetic in it's unavoidability. This is a point that the whole show has been building toward - a point wherein, depending on your point of view, Jack's need to fix things either transcends it's often-petty, daddy-issue-driven origins or succumbs completely to them.

What They Died For was a return to the edge-of-my-seat Lost I was hoping for. It gave us Answers, it gave us deeply character-rooted emotion, it gave us (at times on the nose) dialogue that confirmed Jacob's essential standing as the god of the Island, thematically speaking. It also confirmed some of my and your speculation from last week - that Jacob wanted to give these people a choice, because he never had one (and I like that he seems to believe this, yet has no problem with them having been brought to the Island), that only someone "like" Jacob can find the heart of the Island, that the Man in Black wants to return to the Light.

All of that and I haven't even gotten to Ben, who finally faces Widmore in what might have been great, but is instead really good, or the fact of this curiously-scrubbed Rousseau, or of Desmond's beating of Ben and the accompanying flashes, and of Ben's seeming turn back to the dark side which looks much like a suicide run. And what about Off-Island Locke's change of heart, and the prospect of Jack operating on him during the final episode? I haven't touched on Desmond, and how he's now Sheperding these Castaways toward some specific task, or how his dismissal of Ana Lucia ("She's not ready yet.") indicates that there's something here to the ideas of reincarnation and second chances that have been Second Snaking their way through these columns. And what about Richard? Is that it? Somehow I doubt it.

What I liked most about this episode of Lost was how it knocked away the most pressing pieces of character mythology and left us with 2 1/2 hours of television left to go. We know exactly what these people are fighting for now, and we know exactly what Anti-Locke really wants (we've suspected this part for a while). What the heck happens now? Presumably, Off-Island Jack is going to need to make a fateful choice after he and Locke remember their Island narratives. Desmond will descend into the Island's Underworld, perhaps acting exactly as Anti-Locke is hoping he will. Enough of this. Point is, I liked it. Can't wait to watch it again.

Terrific stuff. Finding it hard to concentrate. Perfect time to start writing, then. What did you think?

Edited to add:

I woke up this morning even more charged up about this episode. Everything about it - the surprisingly large amounts of jet-black humor, the suspense, the Answers given, the steps taken - feels correct, feels purposeful and moving and definitive and yet still-mysterious in so many ways. I love that there's every possibility that Jack can die now, since we've finally seen him take up the mantle. I love the possibility that Jack might decide to make his fellow Castaways protectors as well, turning the job of Jacob into a communal position. Most of all, I love the sense of open-ended possibility that this episode left us with. We're more sure than ever of what, generally, will be happening in the finale and yet we're also less sure then ever of how it will all play out. Glorious, I say.

....But that freaky, Willow-ish old lady who narrated the end-episode teaser? What in the heck was that about, ABC? Really? You go with what sounds like the voice of a 1,000 year-old dwarf grandmother who lives under a magical toadstool?

Original Post:

I have it on good authority that tonight's episode is very, very good.

Will that be enough to wash the sour taste of Across the Sea out of some folks' mouths? To be honest, I don't find that question very interesting. Having written way too much about last week's divisive episode I've found myself in a nice, comfy place about it and I cannot wait to jump back into the main storyline with the surviving (sadface) Castaways.

Yet, I can also easily wait. I sort of want to wait forever. I'm at the point now that I always arrive at when I read something I love - if the book is good, really really good, then I almost always stop with around 100 pages to go and take some time off. I don't like it when good things end, even if that ending is also a good thing.

I'll be back in here after the episode airs with a very brief InstaReaction. My week is time-crunched up the wazoo on Thursday and Friday, so in order to get the column to you by week's end I'll need to jump right into it.

Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, May 18

Life Is Getting Stranger, And Requires More Virtual Real Estate

So apparently I'll be interviewing Tim Roth in the near-future.

I have no real business doing so, any more than I did in interviewing Hiroyuki Sanada. And yet, here I am - very pleased and more than a little confused.

Due to the non-Lostian nature of this kind of stuff, I'm going to be setting up a new site for all non-Lost related writings. From the tone of the communication I recieved, it seems likely that this will not be the last interview I do. I need a place to put them, along with the other, non-book ideas I'm looking forward to tackling in the wake of Lost's finale.

So, if you've enjoyed the me-writing part of this blog even close to as much as you've enjoyed the what-I'm-writing-about part, I'd like to invite you to join me over there too once I get things set up and do a little tidying. It'd be great to hold on to some of your intelligence and civility once the weekly Back to the Island column closes it's figurative doors.

Incidentally, if you've got any questions for Mr. Roth (my first: how did you manage to keep yourself from murdering yourself on the set of Rob Roy every day? Didn't looking into a mirror make you want to travel back in time and strangle yourself as a baby?*) please shoot me an email or leave me a comment and let me know. I'd appreciate some intelligent options from you all.

As always, thanks for reading.

*Believe it or not, this is a compliment.

Your Favorite Dialogue

With Lost winding down I'm feeling inspired to solicit your favorite lines and exchanges from the show - the goofy, the stirring, the profound or the bizarre.

I'll start us out with a few of my own favorites:

Locke: "If it’s not real, then what are you doing here, Jack? Why did you come back? Why do you find it so hard to believe?"
Jack: "Why do you find it so easy?"
Locke: "It’s never been easy!"

Ben: “You guys got any milk?”

Carmen Reyes: "Jesus Christ is not a weapon."

Tom: "Well look at that! You got yourself a fish biscuit! How’d you do that?"
Sawyer: "I figured out your complicated gizmos, that’s how."
Tom: "It only took the bears 2 hours."

Nikki: “Razzle Dazzle!”

Locke: "The man from Tallahassee? What is that? Some kind of code?"
Ben: "No, John, unfortunately we don’t have a code for “There’s a man in my closet with a gun to my daughter’s head.” Although we obviously should."

Hurley: "Let's look death in the face and say: 'Whatever, man'!"

Jack: "John Locke told me I needed to stay."

Post yours in the comments section. As many as you'd like.

Back to the Future Island

It's the last Lost Tuesday. Cause for celebration and for some good old fashioned premature grieving. Ease the pain of losing a television show by buying some stuff! Tee Fury continues its tradition of Lost-shirt Tuesdays today with this little number:

Cute. I picked up an Ab Aeterno T last week, so my back-monkey has been sated. But for those of you who haven't found that perfect piece of Island-themed attire, this might fit the bill.

Discussion column goes up in a few hours. Enjoy the day!

Monday, May 17

Morning, All!

Are you ready for the last Tuesday episode of Lost?

I am. I'll be spending it with friends, 'geeking out' together through this story's penultimate chapter. If the buzz is to be believed we're going to be a very happy fanbase this week. Several folks have been nice enough to email me their impressions of the episode without spoiling a single detail (thank you, sincerely, for not doing that Internet-jackass thing where you intentionally toss major spoilers into an email/PM - you guys kick ass) and based on those reactions, and on the level-headed, thoughtful nature of the column's readers, I think we've all got good reason to be very, very excited.

In two weeks, this site will become the hub for my book, also tentatively titled "Back to the Island." I'll be posting info here about what I'm doing with it and what you can expect from it, but if you want to get glimpses at the book itself, or recieve the sneak peeks I intend to send out as I work on it then you'll need to sign up for my mailing list. Doing so does not bind you in any way. If you haven't dropped me a line yet (another round of sincere thanks to those of you who have, and for the ridiculously kind words) you can do so at this address:

Have a great day.

Friday, May 14

Wednesday, May 12

Reminder: Have A Beer With MMorse


That was a lot of fun.

My thanks to The Colonel, Gravyboat, Peyton, Dan and Sabrica for making the trip downtown. We had vastly divergent views on last night's episode, ranging from love to, well, not-love and yet, despite this, there were a total of zero fistfights. Take that, MiB.

Hopefully you folks enjoyed yourselves as well.

Original Post:

When: Tonight! At 7 PM!

Where: Professor Thom's, located on 2nd Avenue between 13th and 14th streets

I'll be in a purple Vikings baseball cap, and I'll have a drink in hand. Come on by, say hello, and let's discuss some Lost. Bring a friend if you'd like. Remember to treat your fellow fans with the same respect you'd like to be treated with.

Lost: Season 6, Episode 15 Discussion


Apologies for the lateness of this "Instareaction." After the show ended I was sort of stunned, in ways both good and bad. I had no idea how to begin writing about this episode. On the one hand, there was a lot to like - Titus Weliver proved to be another of Lost's smart casting decisions. His performance was worth the price of admission. I genuinely loved the sense of uncertainty that surrounded Alison Janneymom's character, and I think that continuing the theme of Island protectors who don't seem to truly understand what they're protecting, or why, is a fascinating one. Many of the individual scenes were captivating, and yet, at the same time, if I'm being honest, I'm sort of cool on it as a whole. Part of this is due to my own overinflated expectations. I was expecting a LOT of Across the Sea, and that's not the show's fault.

Most of the problems I have with the episode involve unanswered questions. Is the Smoke Monster actually Jacob's (still unnamed! What's up with that?) brother? Is what was released by The Man With No Name's body the embodiment of "pure evil"? If so, why can't Smokey hurt Jacob? Is Smokey "bonded" with the MiB? It has to be that the MiB's trip down the "rabbit hole" results in his being replaced/fused with something dark/evil by passing into the light. Otherwise, to be honest, I don't have much of a problem with the MiB leaving the Island. I mean, his mother was murdered, he was lied to, and when he tried to escape he got beaned in the back of the head with solid rock.

And what's with that claim anyway? Why can't they hurt each other? I assume "hurt" actually means "kill," since we see Jacob knock the snot out of his lil bro twice. Unnamed Alison Janneymom gave Jacob wine from the same bottle that Jacob used to give Richard wine. Does that mean the wine is responsible for immortality, and not Jacob's touch? I could go on, but then what would I write about for Friday? Unanswered questions are a problem I can deal with, and it makes the prospect of writing this week's column both exciting and very, very daunting.

I can't lie - some of my problems came from what seemed to be real problems in the story - how does "mom" manage to slaughter an entire village and burn it to the ground? Does she command Smokey? How did she cave the well in? Smokey? Did we really need to see heavy-handed flashbacks to Season 1 in order to figure out who Adam and Eve were? Why hasn't anyone else on the Island stumbled over the Big Glowing Hole In The Ground? For that matter, why couldn't the MiB find it again? Wait 'til dark, then walk around looking for the spot where eerie golden light is spilling from the ground. And was Alison Janney's essential Alison Janneyness distracting for anyone else? For as much as I loved seeing glimpses of the early civilization on the Island, I can't help feeling as though there were missed opportunities here, and that some aspects of the show (the look of it, the costuming, and the ham-handedness of some of the exposition) simply don't rise to the same level of realism and subtlety that Ab Aeterno did.

For all of that complaining and kvetching though, I didn't hate the episode. I'm just having an honestly-mixed reaction and, lucky you, you get to experience my reservations through the power of the internet. One of my much-appreciated Twitter peeps made the observation that this episode should have been the Season opener. I sort of agree in that I think I'd feel kinder to it if it had come, say, directly after The Substitute. In fact, in the future I think that's where I'll choose to re-slot this installment. It fits in perfectly there.

To sum up: I liked much about the episode's themes, it's ambition and it's seemingly-purposefully-veiled mythology. I had trouble with what felt like stilted acting in places, some clunky exposition, and the sense of ongoing confusion that resulted by episode's end. I'm looking forward to talking about this one tonight with some of you down at Professor Thom's (2nd Ave btwn 13th and 14th streets @ 7 pm), and to (drunkenly) rewatching it afterward, because I think there's a lot to chew on here and because I'm frankly hoping that it'll work better for me on the second go-round. This is without a doubt the single most divisive episode of Lost. I'm still on-board for the rest of the ride. Unlike some of my more hyperbolic colleagues, I didn't hate the episode and I don't think Lost has jumped the shark/sh*t the bed/pulled an "Episode 1"/whathaveyou - but for the first time this season since Recon I'm surprisingly underwhelmed.

Let's see what happens when I watch it again. Your thoughts?

Original Post:

"Somewhere, beyond the sea
Somewhere waitin’ for me...
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin’.
Somewhere, beyond the sea
She's there watchin’ for me...
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms I’d go sailin’.
It's far beyond the stars
It's near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon."

- Beyond The Sea, Charles Trenet/Jack Lawrence

Tonight brings to us "Across the Sea," the third-to-last episode of Lost. It's strange to type that.

The title of tonight's installment recalls the title of "Beyond the Sea," the timeless standard that's been interpreted by the likes of Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra, and which was featured (in French!) back in Season 1 of the show.

What can we expect? Well, for one, we can expect not to see much (if anything) of the show's regular cast. We can expect some of our questions about the Island, its history and its mysteries, to be highlighted. We can expect a very special, very surprising guest-star. And we can expect Titus Welliver and Mark Pelligrino to deliver on the acting front.

If you're clueless about the subject matter of this installment I'm not going to spoil things for you any more than that. All I'll say is that this is the episode I've been waiting all season for, . I'll be back here after the episode airs on the East Coast to give my InstaReaction, and I'll have, I think, plenty to say about it at that point. If you're in the NYC area tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 12th), come by Professor Thom's at 7 pm. I'll be there with my purple baseball cap on, sipping a beer and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one.

Tuesday, May 11

Yet Another Note On Plagiarism And The Internet


It's been pointed out by two nice people from red and white kop that the comments posted below about plagiarism were essentially sarcasm/jokes. That's good to hear.

I won't lie - I'm sort of humorless when it comes to the topic of plagiarism. The word itself gets my hackles up, and I wasn't even aware I had hackles. About three months ago I ran into someone online who'd begun posting great, big chunks of my work without attribution, and who was claiming to be me on another message board. I'd never experienced anything like that, and like Patton Oswalt (whose shoes I am not fit to shine) I found myself weirdly bothered by it in a way I hadn't expected. I suspect that experience colored my reaction today.

So, as stated in the comments, I'd like to offer you good folks at red and white some (virtual) milk and cookies. I clearly missed the humor and went straight to the sadface. Timbo and Rusty, my apologies. Let's get back to talking Lost, and cracking terrible jokes.

See you all here tomorrow, where I'll have your exclusive excerpts of the Back to the Island column for Across the Sea before the column posts on Chud. I'm moving this post down further on the page to make room for what actually matters here.

Original Post:

Hola, all.

I'm working on tomorrow's mammoth Back to the Island column, and I'm looking forward to your reactions. Having had a fantastic discussion about it last night with you all at Professor Thom's, I'm supercharged at the moment, and I hope that'll come through in the final product.

That said, I'd like to take another moment here to discuss plagiarism.

A kind soul with the moniker of "Red in Holland" over at a forum called "red and white kop" apparently linked to my Instareaction for Across the Sea, and in clicking over there I was very gratified to find that folks there are actively reading my work. That's a heck of a compliment.

What's less complimentary are the weird accusations of plagiarism. I'm speaking specifically of the following:

"It looks as if old Morsey baby - without acknowledgement has pinched from a few of my recent posts on his forum to pull tongues within his latest piece at the show's detractors by saying that whatever criticism you level at the show one thing you cannot dispute is that it will remain for a very long time the most ambitious series TV anyone within that medium has ever attempted."

"He did the same with my points about Sayid's arc this season being pointless and aggravating whilst the nature of the infection remains unaddressed. Not impressed with his plagiarising like!"

I'm not shy about posting those remarks here because I find them baseless, bewildering, and frankly insulting. I've made a point of vocally criticizing the act of plagiarism, and I try - much harder than you probably realize - to single out folks here and elsewhere who've inspired my thoughts on each column. I have no interest in taking credit for other people's ideas. I find it hard to believe, on some level, that either poster is entirely serious. I've "plagiarized" the idea that the show is ambitious? I've "plagiarized" someone's disappointment over Sayid and Infection? You may as well say that I've plagiarized by saying "this episode was good" (because someone else said that too!).

That's ridiculous.

I thoroughly enjoy reading everyone's comments here, and I'm thrilled that you've chosen to make Back to the Island a site that you choose to visit. I respect each one of you, and when one of my readers comes up with something I want to feature in the column I credit them for that. My track record backs that up.

I'm not sure how to 'prove' this conclusively without excluding myself entirely from the comments, or by taking away the comments completely. I don't want to do either of those things because interacting with you all is a big part of what makes this fun for me. So instead, I just want to air this out in the open. It's with sincere respect to both of the above posters/apparent readers that I say the following: If you think you're being stolen from (and you are not), then do not post here. You won't have to worry about me "plagiarizing" you, and I won't have to worry about you libeling me.

My sincere thanks to Red in Holland for reading, and to all the folks at red and white kop who do so as well. Go Liverpool!

Stylish, Ab Aeterno

Tee Fury is a site devoted to showcasing one cheap, limited-edition T-shirt each and every day. Sometimes these are game-related, sometimes they are film-related. Typically, Tuesday is their "Lost day."

I haven't been inspired to pick up any of their creations during this season, but today's offering, designed by M. Brady Clark, snared me. Maybe it'll snare you too. The design is posted directly above, and I'm a fan. If you're interested in purchasing it you can visit the Tee Fury site by clicking this link. At $9 (plus $2 in shipping and handling) it's a good deal. Remember: It's a one day thing. This time tomorrow, it'll be Lost to you.

Monday, May 10

Lost With Cuse, Lindelof and the New York Times

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Back to the Island reader "Gravyboat," I'll be attending the live simulcast of Times Talks Live: Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, moderated by New York Times entertainment editor Lorne Manly (who, I can only assume, has a cousin named Max Power).

I'll be reporting on the event, after the fact, right here on Back to the Island. The Times is accepting questions from us regular folks before the event, so if you've got something you'd like to ask Cuse or Lindelof, submit it here:

After the show both men are switching to "radio silence," and won't be speaking to the press for a while; this is your chance to try and have your question(s) answered before they vanish.

Include your name and your location (City and State) with your submitted queries.

My thanks to Gravyboat for totally making my day.

Reminder: Have A Beer With MMorse

Morning, You All Everybody.

Just a quick reminder for everyone that I'll be at Professor Thom's (2nd Ave btwn 13th and 14th st.) on Wednesday night, starting at 7 pm. Come on by and introduce yourself. Feel free to bring a friend.

Friday, May 7

The Candidate (S6, ep. 14)

The Back to the Island column for The Candidate has been boobytrapped for your reading pleasure on

Have A Beer With MMorse

Hey, folks.

Next week brings the arrival of "Across The Sea," potentially the most brain-shattering episode of Lost yet. While I'm sure that we'll get a ton of great conversation started right here on Back to the Island, I'd like to invite those of you in the NYC area to join me on the night of Wednesday, May 12th, to relax, kick back, order a beer, and chat about our shared obsession.

Where: Professor Thom's, on 2nd Avenue between 13th and 14th street

When: Wednesday, May 12th, starting at 7pm.

I'll be the guy in the purple Minnesota Vikings baseball cap. Come on by, grab a cold one, and let's talk about what's sure to be a fascinating installment of the show. Shoot me an email if you're interested, so I know how many people to expect.



Thursday, May 6

Wednesday, May 5

A Brief, Self-Promotional Aside

Some of my readers have been kind enough to ask me what I'll be doing with my time once Lost comes to a close. Check out this week's Back to the Island column on for the first hints about my post-Lost plans. If you've been enjoying my ramblings I think you'll be pleased. If you haven't been enjoying them, I can promise you renewed pain and displeasure.

Tuesday, May 4

Lost: Season 6, Ep. 14 Discussion


Congratulations, Lost. You have emotionally devastated me. Not one, not two, not three, but four characters take a ride with the Reaper by the end of this thing, and while some folks are bound to cry 'overkill' (literally) this felt pitch perfect in it's clockwork-precise tragedy. Our friends in the UK haven't gotten the episode yet, so I'll warn those folks now - names are discussed directly below. Turn away, or be spoiled.


Goodbye, Sayid Jarrah, Frank Lapidus, and Sun and Jin Kwon. Watching as the figurative tumblers in Anti-Locke's gambit clicked into place (a gambit that I feel compelled, immodestly, to point out that I've been predicting throughout the season, though the specifics were better than anything I'd imagined) was awful and yet gruesomely satisfying at the same time.

I'm still trying to process everything here, and it isn't easy. I've remained emotionally invested in Lost's characters, and watching them topple like dominoes was a legitimately emotional experience for me. With Sayid dead the question of infection seems abandoned, which is going to irritate me in the future, but his selfless death and last-minute words to Jack went a long way toward making his arc enormously, tragically satisfying for me. I knew Frank was a dead man as soon as it was announced that the plane was so longer an option, since his sole purpose this season has been to serve as possible pilot. And what is there to say about Sun and Jin? Well, I'll tell you what my wife said: " yeah, that's tragic, but they just left their kid to be an orphan." My wife is smart. That's pretty selfish. But i bought their decision, selfish or not, and the way that the whole sinking sub scene recalled the flooding of The Looking Glass, Sun and Jin's drifting hands calling to mind Charlie's drifting body, gave me chills.

Some of you have let me know about Devin Faraci's new column on Chud, which apparently bemoans the circularity of the show's storytelling, among other things. Tonight, Sawyer's dialogue affirmed for us explicitly that this circularity is very much intentional on the part of Lost's writers. The Castaways have been traveling in karmic circles for six seasons. Tonight, those circles were renewed and shattered at once.

There's so much here - Widmore's seeming efforts to protect the Castaways, Anti-Locke's true plan, Jack's revisitation of his dynamite conversion and the failure of James Ford to trust, Kate's increasingly-serious wounding, the bleeding of John Locke's consciousness, Anthony Cooper's fate and the reversal of off-Island Jack and Locke's positions of Men of Science and Faith, Bernard's creepy-yet-warm knowingness, so similar to Charlie and Desmond.

At this point all of my Island questions are decidedly secondary to my concern for the fates of these characters. And that is, to me, the true feat of tonight's episode.

We're hours away from The Candidate, tonight's new episode of Lost. Loved having a week off, so to speak, but it's great to be back in the saddle again. So, let's recap where we left off: Sawyer and the castaways are on Hydra Island, and they've just been taken prisoner/positioned for execution by Widmore's team of surly Insurance Salesmen. Jack took a literal leap of faith and returned to the Island, where we promptly did his best "man near-exploded by a rocket" impression and was rescuedby none other than Anti-Locke. Sayid's still hanging around with the Man In Black, but it looks as though he's not following orders quite as zombirifically as he has been. Does this mean that Desmond's now roaming the Island? Still stuck in the Well? Have Richard, Ben and Miles made it back to Dharmaville yet? Will Ben end up damning himself? Will Jack figure out what he's meant to do? Will the timelines converge? Will it all be revealed as a Second Snake? The result of the MiB's escape? Will Widmore do some third party Castaway slaughtering? Will Frank Lapidus develop a purpose, besides being the resident quipster when Sawyer's not around?

With just five hours left (!) can Lost stick it's landing? And will tonight be interesting/emotional/exciting enough to distract me from the fact that next week brings what's arguably the most anticipated episode of the season, other than the finale itself?

Leave your thoughts, hopes, comments, criticisms and predictions right here. I'll be in after the show airs at 9 pm EST to give my InstaReaction. Enjoy the episode!

Monday, May 3

Every 108 Minutes - By Colin Denney

Hola, everyone!

It's the start of a new week, the continuation of Lost's final season, and time for this author to get off his @$$ and start writing again.

...but before I get back on my trusty WordHorse (let's call him "Thesaurus"), I'd like to take a moment to appreciate the creativity and skill of our fellow fans. Colin Denney is a reader of Back to the Island, and apparently a skilled designer. Check out his poster-work, entitled "Every 108 Minutes..."

I like the minimalism of the piece, and I like the way that the design evokes the 70's-style aesthetic of the Dharma Initiative. Nice work, Colin! Thanks for sharing, and for reading. If you've done Lost-inspired work that you'd like to share with the rest of the reading audience, drop me a line at