By Jeff Jensen Dec 01, 2009
THE GROUNDHOG DAY CONSPIRACY!
Last week we discussed Lost's move to Tuesday nights, beginning with the season premiere on Feb. 2. Many of you jumped on me for not recognizing the provocative nature of the date, given how the season 5 cliffhanger left us wondering if the castaways will be re-living their lives, just like a certain classic Bill Murray comedy from 1993. Jordan Barnett writes:
What better day to initiate a time correction/repeat of previous events/déjà vu story than by starting on Groundhog Day? Also, one could equate [the ramifications of Jughead] signaling either a continuation of a dark time or a glimmer of hope of renewal much to a groundhog's response to seeing his shadow: Will it mean a longer winter or the coming of spring? Admittedly, this is a reach, but I think it might be the type of tweak the creators implement just to see who picks up on it.
The Groundhog Day/Groundhog Day connection is so delicious for so many of you — so I won't spoil it by telling you I think ABC didn't really give a flying Arzt about generating meaningful synchronicity with winter solstice folklore and/or thematically similar entertainment, but rather lucked into a cute coincidence via its dual interest in launching Lost (and airing as much of Lost as it can) during the crucial February sweeps period and preserving its new, so-far-successful block of Wednesday night comedies. So I'm not going to tell you any of that! Instead, I'm going to give you a multiple-choice response. Feel free to pick the one that best represents how you wish to view the world!
A. ABC and the Lost producers were totally going for a Groundhog Day resonance! The choice of date affirms Time Loop Theory: that the castaways have been participating in a cycle of events that's been repeating for who-knows-how-long. But did someone (Ben? Jacob? The Man In Black? One of the castaways?) finally break that loop by producing a meaningful deviation during the course of this last cycle dramatized by the past five seasons of Lost?
B. Actually, ABC and the producers were winking at ''Veja Diena,'' an annual Latvian festival also held on Feb. 2 honoring the god of wind. The significance: The castaways were blown through time via the Jughead and the cosmic gameplaying of gods Jacob and the Man In Black.
C. ''Veja Diena''? No way! Feb. 2 is a link to Yemaja, the ocean/fertility goddess of the Yoruba religion, who is celebrated in Brazil on Feb. 2. This makes total sense, because Rodrigo Santoro, the actor who played Paulo back in season three, is also from Brazil. See? Paulo really was massively important to the larger Lost saga!
D. The Feb. 2-Groundhog Day-Veja Diena-Yemaja connections really are just total coincidences — a rare exception to the larger rule that each episode of Lost is layered with hundreds of thousands of clues, references, and allusions. I mean, that's right, right? RIGHT?!
TRUCE OR DARE The Dharma Orientation Kit includes a rough draft of the ''Letter of Truce,'' hammered out by Horace Goodspeed and Richard Alpert as referenced in ''LaFleur'' -- and the Doc says it's a must read
DOC JENSEN EXCLUSIVE: ''THE LETTER OF TRUCE!''
There's another major event looming on the Lost calendar, this one more imminent: the release of season 5 on DVD on Dec. 8. Even fans who saw, scrutinized and qualitatively analysisized (sure, it's a word!) every scene, second, and frame of last season are pumped, given that Lost DVDs are always loaded with fun extras. For those who've made the segue to Blu-ray, the season 5 collection includes maybe the coolest bonus feature in the history of bonus features: ''Lost University.'' You can click over to lostuniversity.org for more info — and you can check out the next issue of EW, wherein you'll find a review by fellow Lost nut (and Totally Lost takeover terrorist!) Adam B. Vary.
And then there is this, a package that would make a great holiday gift for any Lost super-fan (though if I know Lost super-fans the way I know Lost super-fans, I'm sure they've already pre-ordered one of these for themselves): ''Lost: The Complete Fifth Season Dharma Initiative Orientation Kit.'' It's not exactly your average TV-on-DVD package. Remember when you were a kid, and you plunked down 35 cents for a new issue of The Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, and in between pages filled with drool-worthy drawings of Jean Grey and Storm there were ads for Hostess Twinkies, Battlestar Galactica T-shirts, and X-Ray Specs, as well as detective or spy or magician starter kits? Of course you remember that, because everyone's childhood was exactly like mine! The Dharma Orientation Kit reminds me of those mail-order spy or detective kits — only 42 times more magical. I got an advanced copy; this is your first look.
The Dharma Orientation Kit purports to be a collection of material that new recruits would have received with their jumpsuit and job at the Dharma Welcome Center upon arrival to the Island. Said stuff comes inside a faux-weathered cardboard box that's fake dented and fake water stained and evokes a hard secret history. Inside the box, there's a three-ring binder, and inside the binder there's a welcome letter from idealistic Horace Goodspeed (''Let's save the world together!'') and pamphlets about the Dharma Motor Pool, the Dharma Security Team, and the Dharma Cafeteria. (The Wednesday lunch menu includes ham and cheese with special garlic mayo — so you know who's working behind the counter that day.) There's also a plastic pouch containing sew-on patches for Dharma's motor pool, security, and (curiously) off-Island Lamp Post station, as well as Geronimo Jackson's CD single for ''Dharma Lady'' (made to look like an era-appropriate black vinyl 45) and the season 5 DVD discs (made to look like era-appropriate computer floppy discs). And there's a videocassette, but I haven't been able to play it yet: having made the Blue-ray segue myself, I recently tossed out my VCR. Ironic, huh?
Now, all of this would be cool enough for me. Kudos to Team Lost for their cleverness and creativity and crazy attention to detail. But there's one thing more. Tucked into the back pouch of the binder is a sealed envelope. Remember when we learned that there had been a negotiated truce between the Others and Dharma during the 1970s? (See: ''LaFleur,'' the episode that revealed how time-traveling Team Sawyer became part of the Dharma.) Well, inside the sealed envelope is a rough draft of the ''Letter of Truce,'' hammered out by Horace Goodspeed (''for the DHARMA Initiative'') and Richard Alpert (''for the indigenous island inhabitants''). This letter is a MUST READ for Lostophiles and theorists.
Dated August 15, 1973 (roughly three years after Dharma's arrival to the Island and one year before the arrival of the time-traveling castaways), the letter is a typed document marked up with Alpert's handwritten comments. There's some great knowing humor. As Goodspeed's strained attempt at legalese becomes repetitive, Alpert interjects with an edit: ''REDUNDANT — WE GET IT.'' But the most provocative parts of the letter are Alpert's ''counters'' and ''addendums'' written on the back. It would be evil of me to spoil all four of Alpert's extra stipulations. If you're going to spend more than $100 on this thing, you deserve as many surprises as possible. So for now, here's just one of them: ''IF THE DHARMA INITIATIVE ENTERS OR VIOLATES ANY PREEXISTING RUINS ON THE ISLAND, THE TRUCE IS VIOLATED.'' The word ''PREEXISTING'' is actually crossed out — as if Alpert reconsidered using the word in the final version of the document. Perhaps the ageless Other felt that ''PREEXISTING'' was an extraneous word and decided to cut it. But might there be a different reason for the edit? Some Lost theorists (including myself) have suggested that the Island's ruins aren't as old as they appear to be — that some of them or all of them were created to obscure the true age, true history, or true character of the Island. Is the crossed-out ''PREEXISTING'' a clue to fans to question the authenticity of Island archaeology?
There's more to say, speculate, and theorize about the ''Letter of Truce'' — but only after all of you have had the chance to read it yourselves. I encourage hardcore Losties with a little extra cash to spend to pick up the Orientation Kit next week. And for hardcore Losties currently too cash-challenged to afford this nifty novelty, come back here in two weeks and we'll process the whole thing together.
QUESTIONS FOR A SUPER-FAN: MATT ROESER
Continuing our periodic profiles in crazy Lost obsession, meet Matt Roeser, a 26-year-old senior graphic designer (employer: Atomicdust) from St. Louis. Roeser's love for Lost inspires him to spend manymanymany months planning, prepping, and executing elaborate Lost-inspired videos that serve as invitations to his equally elaborate Lost season finale viewing parties. Last year, Matt even created an Internet alternate reality game as part of the invitation. (And you think I have too much time on my hands?!) You can check out Matt's blog, which he began to archive his work. Matt's already working on the invitation for his series finale hootenanny. He's even made a teaser video for it — his version of a ''save-the-date notice.''
I recently asked Matt some questions. He was kind enough to give me some answers.
QUESTIONS FOR A SUPER-FAN: MATT ROESER (cont.)
DOC JENSEN: You throw awesome Lost parties — which one has been your favorite?
MATT ROESER: The season 5 finale party. Since the show was jumping around in time, I themed the party in the same way: guests would experience elements of all the previous finale parties I'd done. I had the hatch and jungle from the season 2 party in the living room and dining room, the Others' house from season 3 in the kitchen, the find-the-Island theme from season 4 in the bathroom. And to reflect season 5, I turned my basement into the Lamp Post, complete with computer, chalkboard, flipchart clock and swinging pendulum.
Your videos are pretty elaborate. How much time does it take to produce one? Which video was the most tricky/elaborate and why?
What started out as a one-minute parody of Juliet's season 3 cue card message to Jack has grown completely out of control with the videos getting more crazy each year. Season 4's mimicked the ''Find 815'' commercial, ending with me being chloroformed by my ''Bad Twin.'' So for season 5, I thought, ''What happens next?'' This resulted in an eight-minute two-parter picking up where the previous one left off. For the final season, I'm about halfway through filming and editing, with still a lot more to do, but it's most likely going to be a 30-minute three-parter. It's definitely the most elaborate one yet. I recently went on vacation to Costa Rica and couldn't help but take advantage of the Lost-like tropical location for a few scenes. My family and friends are very good about putting up with my insanity, whether they have a role in the movie or end up having to hold the boom mike, they totally rock.
Which episode of Lost made you go, ''Yep. I'm obsessed.''
The pilot was awesome, but like most fans, ''Walkabout'' blew my mind and confirmed to me that this wasn't going to be just any old TV show.
What character do you relate to the most and why?
Amelia, that old woman that visits Juliet in the season 3 premiere. (Just kidding.) Maybe Desmond, when he's spouting his future-seeing visions to Charlie and Hurley — because I definitely say a lot of things that result in people giving me weird looks.
What's the craziest thing you've done in expressing Lost fandom?
Oh man, I think family and friends would debate over what's the craziest. My Ms. Hawking costume for the season 3 party was certainly up there. Or the Frozen Donkey wheel from season 5's party, which I insisted on having pulsing lights, sound effects, and dry ice for fog. But I think all of this will probably be topped by the things I've done for the upcoming final video. Whether it's filming on an airplane or running through the rain forest in Costa Rica, the final video will be a testament to the levels of insanity I am possible of. The craziest thing I didn't get to do: If I would have had my way, I would have rigged my basement to flood like the Hydra for the season 3 finale party, but it didn't happen.
DOC JENSEN: Are you PRO time line reboot or ANTI time line reboot?
MATT ROESER: I'm PRO reboot as long as it comes with some sort of twist where all of the information and experiences from the past five seasons that the characters have gone through aren't rendered meaningless. They addressed this at Comic-Con with Hurley asking Damon and Carlton if a reboot would be cheating, and they said ''Trust us.'' So that's what I'm going to do.
In 25 words or less: Explain the true significance of Jacob and Man In Black.
Hmmm, I think it goes back to what Locke said to Walt when discussing Backgammon: There are two players. One side is light, and one side is dark.
In 25 words or less, answer this question: What is Lost?
I'm calling it now: Lost is the single greatest entertainment experience that I will encounter in my lifetime.
What will you miss most about Lost when it wraps up next May?
What I'll miss most is the look of surprise and ''I can't believe this is happening'' expressions from my party guests when they watch the videos and come to the finale parties. It's definitely my favorite day of the year, so having no more finale parties to plan will take a little getting used to. On the bright side, my basement won't resemble a studio back lot anymore. Maybe.
Exploring the Jacob/Man In Black mystery. Plus: The Lost/Twilight connection!
What's the deal with Christian Shepherd? I've been reading theories for five months now and almost all of them are assuming that he's/it's a manifestation of Jacob's adversary, the Man in Black. I somehow just don't buy this. Seems too easy... —Kathy
I just wanted to e-mail you and point out the fact that the poor actor who is playing Jacob [Mark Pellegrino] is also playing the devil on Supernatural. This poor guy is going to end up with some type of complex going from one character that is good to one that is as evil as the devil. Unless, of course, Jacob also turns out to be evil. But I don't think that's going to happen... —Jamie aka ''The Lost Junkie''
I could go on and on with your letters filled with Jacob/Man In Black-related questions, speculations, and theories. It seems fans have been galvanized by the mystery of these dueling quasi-deities — which is good because over the next few weeks, I'm going to dig deep into the Jacob/MIB riddle. We're going to keep it simple to start: Here are just four of the many questions I'm asking about these perplexing pair.
THE JACOB/MIB RIDDLE: FOUR QUESTIONS
1. Who was really ''living'' in ''Jacob's Shack''?
What We Know: Ben seemed to think the flickering entity he knew to be Jacob resided within Horace Goodspeed's ramshackle romantic getaway. When Locke made his second visit to Jacob's derelict haunt in late 2004/early 2005 (goaded by an odd vision provided by some suspect Island agency), he encountered Christian, who claimed to speak on Jacob's behalf. Ilana — the bounty hunter who seems to be a key member in Jacob's off-Island cult/army — also believed that her god/general was residing in the Island cabin. But when she got to the shack in late 2007/early 2008, she found it abandoned, and noted: ''Jacob hasn't been here in a long time. Someone else has been using the cabin.''
Theory: Jacob never lived in the cabin. It was something of a prison for the Man In Black, who was bound by the enchanted ash that surrounded the structure — at least until it was disrupted. MIB presented himself as Flickering Ben and Christian (and Claire, too?) to manipulate John Locke. MIB was capable of projecting himself/itself in various forms — but his/its range of power and potency was limited because his/its core essence was trapped and confined to Chez Goodspeed.
2. What is the Loophole?
What we know: In the season finale, the Man In Black told Jacob he wanted to kill him. He then immediately followed the declaration by saying that sooner or later, he would find a loophole. That was around 1845, the presumed date of the Black Rock's arrival to the Island. When MIB, posing as Locke, showed up at Jacob's true residence — the base of the Four Toed Statue — Jacob said, ''Well, it looks like you found your loophole.'' Fake Locke then ordered Ben to kill Jacob. That was late 2007/early 2008.
Theory: In coming weeks, we'll explore what MIB might have meant by a loophole back in 1845. As for Jacob, I wonder if there was ironic double meaning to his wry observation. Clearly, he was referring to the Loophole as it was understood back in 1845. But he could have also been referring to MIB's escape from the cabin: Remember, Ilana saw that the circle of ash surrounding the structure had been broken, creating a very literal ''loophole.'' In fact, the Loophole may only refer to the rules governing MIB's containment. If you believe, as many do, that the conflict/gameplay between Jacob and MIB is eternal and cyclical, the perhaps MIB's incarceration and escape could be stock elements in their repeating drama. So when MIB mentioned loophole back in 1845, he may have only been referring to his need to engineer an escape from whatever pseudo-jail Jacob had him in during that era and iteration of their rivalry.
3. If the Man In Black had been residing within the old Goodspeed cabin, then when did he get out?
What we know: As stated earlier, Locke's second visit to the cabin was in late 2004. At that time, Ghost Christian directed the man of faith to ''move the Island,'' i.e., turn the donkey wheel and relocate the Island in space and time. Ajira 316 crashed on the Island in late 2007/early 2008, and MIB, now freed from the cabin, began posing as Locke at that time.
Theory: Is it possible that someone on the Island (an Other perhaps?) liberated MIB sometime between late 2004/early 2005 and late 2007/early 2008? Is it possible that someone came to the Island during that three-year window and did the deed? (We know that would be difficult, because they'd need to find the Island first.) Is it possible that MIB had his own allies aboard Ajira and they busted him out? Or is it possible that MIB's escape had nothing to do with some outside agent disrupting his circle of ash? Perhaps the Loophole was fulfilled as the result of a cosmically significant event (turning the donkey wheel? the arrival of Ajira?) and MIB broke the circle himself when he left the cabin. I don't know. In fact, my main purpose in posing all these questions is to orientate your mind to consider the provocative implications of this question:
4. Did Jacob really touch Sayid and Hurley?
What we know: Sayid and Hurley were the only castaways touched by Jacob after their initial visit to the Island. Jacob was killed five days after Ajira landed on Hydra Island. One day before Hydra's departure — so six days prior to his death — Jacob was in Hurley's taxi, giving him a conspicuous touch and entrusting him with a guitar case. So how did Jacob get back to the Island so quickly? Was he on Ajira, too? Or does Jacob possess god-like omniscience that allows him to be all places at once?
Theory: Let's assume for now that Jacob isn't god-like at all. Let's assume he's mortal (Ben did kill him after all) and that there are severe limitations on his space-time mobility. If it's possible that MIB was released from his imprisonment as early as December 2004/January 2005, then MIB could have traveled away from the Island to finalize his plan to attack Jacob — a plan that may have included posing as Jacob to influence the destinies of Sayid and Hurley. Season 6 of Lost — the twilight of the Lost saga — could end up being a lot like the Twilight saga: there's Team Jacob...and there's Team Man In Black. Who knows? Maybe we'll find out that MIB is actually an undead vampire named Edward, too.
Regardless, we totally need to get some fans to make up and sell Team So-and-So buttons. Get cracking on that, people! Next week, we'll be back with additional Jacob/Man In Black thoughts and more. Until then...
I'm tweeting Lost thoughts daily on Twitter under ewdocjensen, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org