Redeeming Sayid

Here’s my thought: Sayid might not have long left to live. According to everything we have learned about life on the Island, Sayid could very well be doomed. Let me try and explain why I think so (and how it might be averted).

Killers don’t do too well on Lost. With recent events from the latest episode, He’s Our You, this point has been brought sharply into focus and made me question the potential fate of Sayid. As we saw, just before he shot Young Ben, he acknowledged to himself that murder is in his heart and part of who he is. Sayid was unapologetic about it, simply regarding it as his truth.

The last guy that acknowledged the truth of his own murderous nature, and remained resolutely unapologetic about it, was Mr. Eko.

As we know, Mr. Eko didn’t last much longer.

Sayid ran off into the jungle after accepting his true nature and shooting Ben. If he were to run smack bang into the Black Smoke after this moment I don’t think he’d get out of it all right. Obviously, since none of us really know by what basis the Black Smoke operates by, that’s a difficult idea to either dispute or endorse. Ironically, it’s a judgement call – befitting the Black Smoke which appears to exist as a means of dispensing final judgement!

But Sayid and Mr. Eko aren’t the only murderous characters we’ve seen. What about Michael? Murdered Ana Lucia and, ultimately, it cost him his life. Ana Lucia, in return, had murdered a guy (Jason, who had shot her unborn baby), and also accidentally shot Shannon – she didn’t last long either.

However, if we follow this train of thought and extend it to other characters then this becomes an untenable idea. Murderers do not necessarily meet certain death. Consider Sawyer as a prime example. Just before he got on Oceanic 815 he tracked down Frank Duckett, the man he believed was ‘the real Sawyer’, and shot him in cold blood.

Not only that, but when Sawyer was eventually confronted with ‘the real Sawyer’, Anthony Cooper, he strangled and murdered him in cold blood. And yet Sawyer lives on. Flourishing on the Island, in fact. But that’s because he changed. It is this very point, as I shall elaborate, which is crucial for Sayid’s survival on the Island.

One of the more popular ideas about Lost, especially in the early days, was that the characters were on the Island to play out some form of redemption. Naturally, the actual concept of purgatory as a reality is not true of the Island, but the thematic notion of redemption for characters that seek to be redeemed still bears out.

Characters usually die when they are ‘done’ – either redeemed or unable to adapt any further for subsequent resolution. Mr. Eko was a full stop, unwilling to yield, to “confess” – and the Black Smoke killed him. Ana Lucia was the reverse – she had reached a point where she could not kill ‘Henry Gale’ and, as such, had reached a form of redemption over her past sin. Michael redeemed his sins by sacrificing himself and destroying The Freighter.

Charlie is a more clear-cut example. The selfish drug-user quit the heroin and learned sacrifice for love – as he drowned he even crossed himself before he died. Never was redemption more clearly presented.

Other deaths – Boone, Shannon, Libby – we can consider them ‘sacrifices the Island demanded’ or argue the merits of their character’s potential for progression as reason for their exits.

If we consider Sawyer we see a man that, after he had killed ‘the real Sawyer’, was given a new lease of life – a chance to be reborn and reinvent himself. Sawyer’s real name is James Ford. He became ‘Sawyer’ when he went on a quest for vengeance. Vengeance fulfilled, soon after he reinvented himself with a new name and a new persona: Jim LaFleur. Point is, Sawyer has shown the capacity to grow, to change, to adapt – precisely the opposite of Mr. Eko and his feet in the ground, adamant unwillingness to change.

Which brings us to Sayid. Because it is this inertia, this incapacity to become something new, to be reborn, that Lost has shown us is what indicates when characters have become dispensable and, more often than not, they are dispensed with.

(Neatly, this idea of characters no longer presenting an opportunity to be taken to new areas and have different avenues of exploration parallels the real world direction the show’s creators take Lost into. Invariably the writers realise they have nowhere else to take characters and so kill them off. Happens all the time on television and Lost is no exception – it’s just on Lost this real life creative necessity just so happens to tie-in to the thematic ideas of redemption on the show! Your character either fulfils their ‘arc’, is redeemed, and is so killed off. Or your character reaches a point where they cannot logically be taken any further, and so is killed off.)

Sayid, during He’s Our You, talked to Sawyer just before he escaped. He talked about how he had woken up on the Island and found no sense of purpose about what he was doing there. And then Young Ben showed his face, and suddenly Sayid forged meaning. . .

Sayid’s new-found sense of purpose was in the belief that he was there to kill Benjamin Linus as a boy, to stop him from being the architect of Dharma-genocide, and to prevent him sending Sayid around the world assassinating people. If Sayid, running off into the jungle, believes he has achieved this – then what?

If Young Ben survives, and fulfils the “whatever happened, happened” concept, then Sayid will merely have to face the fact that he is a murderer who can’t change his own history, or Island history. In effect, this will then put him at a point where he either changes his nature, or dies.

Sayid remaining a cold-blooded killer from here to the finish is surely an untenable proposition.

So where I think Sayid has hope is that, like Sawyer, he can progress and develop himself into something else. If Sayid can meet up with Ben in 2007, maybe he can come to the realisation he played his part, fulfilled his destiny, and then – like Ben suggested – allow himself to become free to be whatever he chooses. Rather than just join a charity foundation and make a half-hearted attempt at doing good, he could fundamentally change his nature and perspective. To “want to want” to better himself. To adapt. To be reborn. To have room, creatively, to be taken to new places.

Ironically, Sayid’s darkest hour is the moment before a new redemption dawns. Let’s just hope he gets to see it before the Black Smoke gets to him first!

Analysis: 5.10 He's Our You

I have been very clear in my thinking regarding timelines on Lost. You could say I subscribe to the Daniel Faraday point of view: Whatever happened, happened. That is, the process of going back in time does not allow the time traveller to change events in history that will alter the future. I’m not too bothered about the theoretical science about this in real life – I’ve just been a staunch advocate of such a perspective on Lost.

And then Sayid put a bullet straight into Young Ben’s chest and, abruptly, I am forced to question that perspective.

So Sayid shoots Young Ben in 1977. Does that mean that, say, the Ben we last saw lying in a bed in 2007 ceases to exist? Will his body simply vanish from existence? Well, surely not. The idea that Young Ben died means he never met Sayid when caught in a net, or did any of the other hundreds of things that eventually resulted in the Oceanic 6 leaving and then returning.

No. The paradoxes created are simply boundless. But, so the argument runs, that’s only if we stick to the idea of one timeline. In essence, Young Ben dying may produce an alternate timeline - a different future - and it may even be the one that Sun and Frank found themselves in, with the rundown Dharma facilities and so forth.

The argument is: When Ajira 316 crashed on the Island somehow it ‘jumped’ into this alternate timeline, one where Ben was killed as a Young Boy on the Island, and that’s just going to be one of the problems that Sun faces in trying to repair what has happened to get back to Jin. It’s a plot, I suppose, but it seems kind of messy to my mind.

And the thing is, if alternate timelines can occur just because Young Ben got shot, then why not occur for other such major instances where our Losties have travelled into the past and effected changes? Let’s take Jughead the Bomb as a prime example.

In the episode Jughead, we saw Sawyer and Locke and Faraday travel back to the 1950s to discover Alpert and The Others dealing with the bomb on the Island. Now Faraday stepped up and informed them that needed to bury the thing deep and that way they would be safe from the radioactive leak. If there are alternate timelines then that means there’s a timeline where Faraday didn’t change history, and didn’t tell them to bury the bomb, and radiation covered the Island with who knows what consequences.

It’s a mess, right? This one example is just one of many moments where alternate timelines could have been created and yet we have never seen, which is what reinforces my assertion that multiple timelines don’t exist on Lost. Young Ben got shot. The crucial point is that Young Ben always got shot by Sayid. It always happened. And, obviously, that means Young Ben surely can’t die. It wouldn’t be the first time someone got shot on the Island and survived.

Indeed, there’s a certain irony in the idea that Young Ben ‘miraculously’ survives due to the Island’s healing powers, the same way it allowed Locke to stand up and walk with a broken back. Or, alternatively ironic, the discovery of the seriously-injured Young Ben may require Jack to step up with his surgeon skills and save the boy’s life.

It’s not as if we’ve never seen Jack operating on Ben to keep him alive, right?

Imagine if this moment, for Young Ben, when Sayid shot him, is the last time he sees Sayid until that moment he is caught in a net and Sayid comes out of the jungle.

Can you imagine? The man that shot you close to thirty years ago suddenly pops up? That’d be cause for concern. And Ben was stricken with a spinal tumour at that time, too – the Island was no longer healing him! Sayid certainly gave Ben a hell of a beating back in that episode One Of Them - the question is did Ben know back then that he was going to get out of it alive? It’s feasible.

What’s perhaps more interesting is the idea that Sayid, in shooting Young Ben, forges the colder, more calculating man we have come to know.

Sayid, naturally, killed Young Ben because he was utterly oblivious to Faraday’s talk about “whatever happened, happened”. Sayid no doubt figured that killing Young Ben would mean that he would never be sent around the world, assassinating people. Paradox schmaradox. However, the very next episode is called Whatever Happened, Happened - so I am retaining my position that there’s one timeline, one history, and Young Ben will survive this gunshot to grow into the man we know.

That Sayid’s escape, and Dharma’s belief that he is a ‘hostile’, may be the reason the truce breaks apart and war between Dharma and The Others begins is just another potential irony. We don’t know exactly who propelled the flaming Dharma van into The Barracks. . .

. . . but it seems impossible to figure this was a coincidence. Young Ben must have at least one accomplice tucked away that engineered this flaming van, maybe even someone in Dharma (Mikhail springs to mind), to create the diversion. But now Dharma will see it as genuine hostility from these ‘hostiles’ and so begins the war. And we know how that turns out. Cue: patricidal Ben Linus. Cue: gas mask Alpert. Cue: ‘the purge’.

That spectre on the Dharma future still looms.

Quite where Sayid goes from here is anyone’s guess. Previously he had justified his torture and killing as acts he perpetrated against his will, against his choice. From being forced to torture Tariq in One Of Them. . .

. . . to being confronted by Amira, the woman he once tortured, during the episode Enter-77, where he literally broke down over what he had done to her. . .

. . . to even insinuating to Hurley, in the first episode of Season 5, Because You Left, that he had been doing terrible things Hurley wouldn’t want to know about, Sayid has constantly projected a sense of martyrdom over his nature. And yet as a child, when he killed the chicken, he was rewarded by his father proclaiming him to be a man.

Killing made him a man. Killing is the man. Sayid finally acknowledged this before he shot Young Ben and, we can be sure, Ben will remember this to, one day in the future, use Sayid as his personal killing machine, sending him around the globe to take out key people in Widmore’s organisation – he knows Sayid is more than up to it.

We learned that it was one such assassination – of Peter Avellino, as shown in The Economist - that brought Ilana to capture him. Sayid does have a habit of getting in with these seductive ladies that pull a gun on him in the bedroom. Elsa did it. Now Ilana.
If she’d lived long enough, Shannon would have probably done the same, eventually!

The interesting question about Ilana was that she sent by “the family” of Peter Avellino to bring Sayid back on the plane – Ajira 316 – to Guam. She just happened to be getting on the plane that was destined to go back to the Island? I think we’re back to the old coincidence vs fate. If it turns out that the people that hired Ilana are linked with Hawking or Ben, as Sayid implied, then conspiracy is apparent. Otherwise we just have to put it down to forces on a cosmic scale ensuring Sayid came back and fulfilled his part of Island history.

And speaking of returning to the Island, Kate almost revealed her reasons for doing so. The way the scene played, with her discussing it with Sawyer, certainly leant itself to the suggestion that Kate was going to tell Sawyer that he was the reason she came back. Now, whilst many ladies may extol the hunky virtues of Sawyer, I don’t think he’s enough of a reason for her to have abandoned Aaron – an act that clearly haunted her deeply. But if not Sawyer, then what? Why did she come back?

Frankly, I don’t know. At the harbour the thought of going back to the Island was utterly abhorrent to her, but then not long after Aaron had been palmed off somewhere and Kate was consigned to returning. It needs to be something pretty damn convincing. But then the same goes for Hurley who, working as a Dharma Chef, appears to be as happy as a pig in shit – but he must have had his reasons for returning and I don’t think it was to be serving Jack and Kate breakfast.

Still, it’s good to see the characters and their inherent mysteries have come to the fore. What will become of Sayid now – eyes opened to his murderous heart and running wild in the jungle? Don’t know. Wait and see. Same as with Kate and with Hurley. Same as with Sawyer and Juliet, who are coming to realise that their three-year Dharma idyll is coming to an end.

Unless, of course, Sawyer thinks he can stop ‘the purge’. Unless he thinks he can change history. Unless he wants to refute Faraday’s ideas of whatever happened, happened. Me, I believe he’s wasting his time on a futile endeavour. There’s only one timeline. One Island history. The Losties have had the benefit of cropping up at various points along it, but really they’re just fulfilling their part of Island history like filling in missing pieces of a jig-saw. It’s what the finished jig-saw looks like, and who will be a part of the last pieces, where the real drama lies.

Arzt's End

Leslie Arzt (bitchin' name) secured his place in Lost history the moment he was killed. It was spectacular – as the video clip below emphasises – but it also worked on the cheeky ‘red shirt’ level of introducing a character solely for the purpose of having him killed to demonstrate the dangers presented to our heroes.

In this instance it was that the dynamite found on the Black Rock was highly unstable and so journeying back to ‘the hatch’ with it was fraught with peril. Arzt tries to explain this point in his wonderfully impatient, patronising way – but by paying the ultimate price he gets the point over a lot, lot better!

Shock and humour and tragedy all in one perfectly executed moment. You can show this clip to anyone who has never even watched a single second of Lost before and it can’t fail to impress them.

For fans like us, as early as Season One, it was extra confirmation of why this show can continue to surprise and delight us. Season One of Heroes had a finale based around an ‘exploding man’. Lost’s Season One ‘exploding man’ was way better.

HURLEY: “You got some Arzt on you.”

Analysis: 5.9 Namaste

Namaste to new Dharma Recruits! Namaste to a whole new set of time travel-based logistical nightmares! And Namaste to Radzinsky! I never thought we’d meet. Ever since Kelvin Inman extolled the genius of the map-maker extraordinaire that eventually blew his brains out back in Live Together, Die Alone, Radzinsky has taken on near-mythic status in my head.

Turns out Radzinsky’s not an ultra-cool legend, rather a cranky and fastidious jobsworth with a bad head of hair.

Still, appearances aside, it would appear that he is the designer of The Swan Station. Indeed, the fact that he had tucked himself away in The Flame Station (which, as we know from seeing Mikhail there (ironically once theorised to be Radzinsky!) is a place for a solitary Dharma worker) we can appreciate how secretive The Swan was. Secrecy was paramount since it seems The Swan is being built beyond the ‘truce border’ between Dharma and ‘the hostiles’. This secrecy status affords plenty of credence to the idea that Ben and The Others were oblivious to it back in Season 2.

My point is, when ‘the purge’ eventually happens we know that Radzinsky, and Kelvin Inman, will be stuck pressing the button in The Swan for years, untouched by ‘the hostiles’. Surely this is because Radzinsky’s neurotic security ensured ‘the hostiles’ never knew a thing about it?

So it’s 1977 and The Swan hasn’t been built yet. The Swan Orientation film was made in 1980, after ‘the incident’ and Pierre Chang losing an arm – all that lies in store. But let’s skip forward to 2007, like how this episode kept doing with whiplash frequency.

If you asked a Lost fan to name the three biggest mysteries in the show there’s likelihood their answers would include one of the following: The Black Smoke, The Whispers, or Dead People Interacting With The Living. Cut to Sun and Lapidus landing on the main Island and within the space of three minutes they go and walk slap bang into all three of those biggies.

They pull up on land and Smokey is rattling around in the trees (evidently Smokey has a thing for pilots), and then they make it to a Dharma location (possibly not the Barracks, but certainly close by) and hear The Whispers in the breeze, and then:

Just so we’re clear, this is all happening in 2007. The crash of Ajira. Sun battering Ben across the head with a paddle (so that’s how he ended up in a hospital bed when Locke finds him!). Encountering Christian. It’s all happening in 2007. That the Dharma facilities look rundown suggests Alpert and The Others never returned there from their excursion to The Temple.

Interesting question: Since we know The Others took over The Barracks and the Dharma facilities then how come pictures of Dharma New Recruits have been left on the walls?

My interesting answer: Because I think The Others that lived at The Barracks (Ben, Juliet, Tom, etc) and The Others that roam the jungle (Alpert’s gang) are two factions. More specifically, I think The Others that lived at The Barracks are almost certainly either ex-Dharma members (Ben) or people that were brought to the Island after ‘the purge’ (Juliet). The original Others, ‘the hostiles’, they never relinquished the truce and remained apart. They’re all Others – but there’s a division amongst them. As such, some ex-Dharma Others may have been fond of those pictures and so left them up.

That’s my take on it. And it’s a damn sight more comprehensive an answer than you’re going to get out of me regarding what the hell Christian meant when he said Sun has a long journey. A long journey back thirty years to 1977? Okay. And quite why Sun didn’t go to 1977 with Jack and Sayid and the rest is still a mystery. Presumably Sun has work to do, that Christian is going to explain, and that’s why she is where she is. Or maybe she’s just no longer a “good person” and needs to perform some kind of act to redeem herself before reuniting with Jin. Baseless conjecture is all I’ve got.

Some of you Online Lost Fans may have been made aware of fuss about how Claire is potentially lurking in the background during the scene when Christian takes Sun and Lapidus into the Dharma building. For the uninitiated, she’s over on the right behind Sun.

Not very easy to make out, I know. Luckily, someone technically-advanced produced this image to try and clarify the matter.

Personally, I don’t think that’s Claire. Personally, I think that’s a member of the filming crew happening to get caught in the shot. She looks to me like someone sitting at a monitor, for God’s sake. Still, there’ll be some Lost Fans that will swear it’s Claire. But then there are some Lost Fans who think the whole show is going to be a massive timeloop and we all know that’s not going to be the way of it!


Let’s lighten the mood. You know when we met Ethan for the first time in Season One? Did you realise back then that this guy. . .

. . . was twenty-seven years old!

Jesus he must have had a hard Dharma life. It’s funny that we first met Ethan as an outsider integrating himself into a group by pretending to be one of them. Sounds exactly like what Jack, Kate and Hurley are doing with Dharma, right? Also funny is how Sawyer, no doubt very deliberately, apportioned Jack the role of Workman. As far from leader as possible. It was a great moment when Jack visited Sawyer and attempted to establish some authority only to get ceremoniously put in his place.

Sawyer showed a bit of the venom he has evidently displayed previously to have generated his fearsome reputation amongst the other Dharma people, calling Jack out for his acts of sheer reaction when he was once in charge. It’s not completely fair on Jack (Jack-haters happily forget all the smart moves and brave acts he did), but he did seem relieved to no longer be carrying the burden of leader all the same.

We all know that Benjamin Linus is adept at thinking and planning ahead. What we didn’t know is that he had encountered some of our key Lost heroes when he was a boy, and so the level of thinking and planning he has been employing just got exploded much wider. Let’s try and absorb this idea slowly. An example:

The crashing of Ajira 316. Excellent to see it happen, and well-executed it was. Loved the flash from night to day as the plane entered the Island area (and evidently did a little time skip just like the helicopter did when Lapidus was piloting Desmond and Sayid to The Freighter in The Constant). There was also the sound of the recorded numbers briefly heard on the radio. If Rousseau recorded over the original numbers transmission with her distress call then that means someone recorded a new numbers transmission and set it going at some point between 2004 and 2007. Why?

Maybe the transmission hasn’t changed. Maybe it was just a blast of ‘historic sound interference’ the plane briefly picked up as it crossed into the Island zone. Works for me until I know more. But think about the runway Lapidus used to bring Ajira 316 down. Ben had The Others, and Sawyer and Kate for a while, breaking rocks to make that runway! With hindsight we have to assume Ben somehow knew he would need it. Perhaps Young Ben learned about Ajira 316, discovered he would one day be banished (indeed, perhaps that’s how he learned to eventually trick Widmore off the Island!) and so made provision for his crash-landing return.

Namaste to a whole new set of time travel-based logistical nightmares indeed! Alternatively there’s always the fall back that Jacob just told him to do it. . .

The familiarity with which Young Ben had with Phil the Ultra-Suspicious Dharma security guy and permission to see the prisoner means he had been on the Island a while. He wasn’t the wide-eyed, mute kid that first landed. I got the impression this was Young Ben after he had encountered Alpert and been told to be patient, and here we are seeing the young man that will scheme his way to leader of The Others.

So let’s make no mistake. Young Ben is going to remember Sayid. And Juliet. Sawyer. And whoever else he encounters. He is going to know when he sees these people after the crash of Oceanic 815 what some of their futures entail. The ramifications and density of such plotting is staggering. Where do you even begin? When Ben is caught in a net, and encounters Sayid, is it because Sayid told him that was where they first met?

More to the point: Did Ben deliberately get himself caught in a net that day because he struck up conversation with Sayid and learned about what happened and so ensured it did? It’s paradoxical and labyrinthine and if it was anyone other than Ben it would surely be preposterous. Yet the mind behind that blank-faced, bug-eyed visage is a whirring hive of methodical planning.

Remember that moment when Sayid had just beaten Keamy up, and Kate then asked if they would be allowed to leave at the end of Season 4? Ben agreed to it. Kate was stunned. But Ben agreed to it maybe because he knew Kate and Sayid would have to leave in order for him to come back with them! That’s just one example that springs to mind. The whole show, since Ben’s first episode in Season 2, episode 14, could be littered with this stuff. . .

If this is the route the writers are going down they are going to have to tread very carefully. Here be plot monsters that could derail the whole show.

Since Sayid has announced himself as a ‘hostile’ it seems improbable that he will ever be allowed into Dharma. This may very much mean he, via Young Ben, may find himself taken into the ‘hostile’ group. If anyone can hack it as a ‘hostile’ then I think Sayid’s got the chops for it. And I suspect, if he does, he may just happen to run into Rose and Bernard – last seen running away from a storm of flaming arrows! If they haven’t been taken into Dharma using the old ‘they came in on the sub ruse’ then they must have encountered Alpert and ‘the hostiles’ over the course of three years in the jungle!

Someone else who was missing – well, “gone” – was Daniel Faraday. We saw him at the start of Season 5 at The Orchid, so maybe he went messing around with the electromagnetic Casimir jigawatts housed there and zapped himself to a different time and space. Or perhaps only his mind got whisked off elsewhere. I still keep coming back to when we first saw him, crying at his television set, and the notion that his consciousness got mangled into his own past – “Why are you so upset?” / “I don’t know.” – just won’t shake itself loose.

I could spend a bit of time discussing Ceasar and Ilana. Their interplay in this episode betrayed the idea that they knew each other before the crash (plainly they didn’t). Ceasar seemed to be annoyed about Lapidus not having charts for the Island, but I am figuring that’s an act, and Ilana seemed oddly calm as the plane was going down, but maybe she’s a cool cat. Fact is the two of them are dots on a big picture at present so I’ll train more attention on them when their turn in the spotlight comes.

Last thought for the analysis: Don’t forget about this guy.

The Island isn’t done with him yet. Maybe that’s where Faraday went – to go and get him. I suspect it won’t be too many episodes before we’re saying Namaste to Desmond, too. His return to the Island can only make the logistical nightmares that little bit more nightmarish.

Lost Without The Internet

What I'd like to discuss here is Lost and how the Internet, arguably, has become a fundamental element of the show for good and for bad. It may surprise you to know (though, really, the healthy response for you to have is one of absolute ambivalence) that I was something of a late-starter to the Internet-aspect of Lost. I didn’t even look at the Internet regarding the show when I watched Season One. I knew a few people that watched it and we just discussed it amongst ourselves. Imagine that! What old-fashioned conventions we used!

It was at some point during Season Two I discovered Lostpedia. I’m not sure how. But I distinctly remember getting into the routine of watching an episode and then logging on to Lostpedia to take a look at the details I might have missed and some of the theories people may have had. Take, for example, the Blast Door Map.

A great moment on the show, for sure, but after that initial ‘wow’ moment what you really want to do is check out that map in great detail. The Internet provided such facility. This was a major turning point in the show because there was no way you could glean any information about the Blast Door Map from watching it on television. You either needed to get a copy of an article about it at the time, or you had to log on and find out about it for yourself.

Personally I feel the Blast Door Map is an example of Lost using the Internet right. The show presented something you could either investigate further online, or simply allow to slide by. Your enjoyment and understanding isn’t diminished either way, but for those that checked out the map’s notations they would have opened the door to ‘Valenzetti’ and ‘PRD’ and more Dharma Stations that could fuel debate and theorising.

Point is, you needed to look online to get more information. Those that didn’t learned nothing more. A clear faction developed: The Lost Fans, and the Online Lost Fans. I’d argue that it’s to the Online Lost Fans that, from Season 2 onwards, Lost started to cater for and this is a trend that has been continuing ever since.

As if to emphasise this point, look what happened for the first time during the break between Season 2 and Season 3. The first Lost ARG – The Lost Experience.

I don’t mind admitting that I did start this game but, at the time, I wasn’t particularly an online enthusiast about Lost. So I started it, but I got fed up of it. Those that stuck with it would have tumbled down a plot involving The Hanso Foundation and Rachel Blake and Joop and Alvar Hanso. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry about it – as with all the ARGs since, the online games were designed to link in to the show without ever actually presenting anything pertinent to the complete understanding of it.

Subsequent ARGs took in a search to find Oceanic 815. . .

. . . to becoming a member of the Dharma Initiative. . .

. . . to pre-empting the fated Ajira 316 crash. . .

All of them, in hindsight, had neat thematic links with the Season they prefixed but none of them could ever be considered essential. And that was entirely the point. Keep the online fans happy - invested - to tide them over the long breaks. As I said, I believe Lost has geared itself towards this group of fans (since you’re reading this, and I’m part of that group, I guess I’m talking about us here!) more and more.

Of course, this is surely by design. An audience that takes the trouble to go online and discuss and theorise is an active fan-base that is going to keep tuning in week after week. That’s what it comes down to. In some ways the Online Lost Fans have become more elitist than ‘regular’ Lost fans.

Think about it. How many times has someone in your real life told you they like the show? How often have you thought to yourself, I’m pretty sure you don’t like it as much as me! These are the ‘fans’ that don’t know their Hydras from their Orchids and, more specifically, they don’t even care.

Personally, I’m impressed with anyone who sticks with Lost without reading about it online. Seasons 4 and 5, especially, probably prompted plenty of casual viewers to throw the towel in and call it a day. I live with one such casual fan. Mrs. Comet only ever reads the Analyses I write because I shove them under her nose, trying to keep her up to date with the time travelling, flashbackforwarding madness. Without me, Mrs. Comet – once a big fan of the show – probably would have quit a while back. Sawyer’s torso helps ease matters for her when the time travel stuff taxes her brain, mind.

If the Blast Door Map got the balance right, between entertaining a casual audience and feeding the Online Lost Fan, I think that balance has been tipped over quite some time ago.

To give an example, I also watch Battlestar Galactica. I don’t check out websites about it. If you ever looked at my blog for that show you’ll see it’s nothing like the laborious overhaul and investigation and analysis that I produce for Lost here. At time of writing BSG is entering its final few episodes and some of the latest ones have been absolute knockouts. Seriously. There were a couple in particular that elicited knuckle-shredding tension that had me physically stressed out and feeling an emotional drain throughout. I found myself wondering, When was the last time Lost ever made me feel like that?

Truth is I don’t think Lost has ever truly delivered anything knockout since the Season 3 finale, in an emotional walloping sense. That finale was, of course, the grand reveal of the flashforward, but it was also tense (Sayid, Jin, Bernard at gunpoint) and exciting (Hurley steams in driving the Dharma van!) and emotional (Kate and Jack’s hopeful disbelief that rescue was coming) and edgy (Ben’s warning of doom for all concerned regarding The Freighter). In hindsight that finale feels like a last hurrah before the show got clever-clever.

I started participating on Lost theory sites at some point between Season 3 and 4. By the time Season 4 started I created this blog here purely to capture all my thoughts and formulate my ideas for when the show re-started. A Lost Place was born. Thanks for dropping by. If this is the only site you visit to read about episodes then I commend your sophisticated taste, but I’m certain you go to other places, probably contribute to other sites. You are an Online Lost Fan and probably you can’t imagine how you’d like the show if you were anything else. I can’t either.

Lost has become more of a cerebral affair, with flashforwards and flashbacks and Island stories all forcing us to work out the plot and piece it together like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Fascinating, inventive and unique for sure – but emotional? The only emotional moment I can think of was Desmond and Penny’s declaration of undying love at the end of The Constant. Choked me up at the time, has choked me up since.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, since the moment Lost was provided with an official end date (prior to Season 4), the show has become this way. Where episodes could previously take their time with the characters it’s now all about plot plot plot. Most of the time the question is not about what happens next, it’s more about how what we know happened came to be. That’s not particularly great for generating drama, but ideal for fulfilling the Online Lost Fan’s theory-hungry sites and blogs.

We know ‘Darlton’ (you know what that means because you’re an Online Lost Fan) are aware of the Lost community theories and discussions. There’s always been that devilish notion circulating that ‘Darlton’ read Lost Theory sites so they can cherry pick good ideas for their show. I like to believe that’s definitely not true. I can’t guarantee it isn’t.

Fundamentally my gripe here (and it’s somewhat ironic, given that I write online posts after each episode) is that the moment an episode of Lost finishes I don’t feel totally satisfied that I got everything I needed. I know that the full story will be filled in online. Most of the time I don’t mind it, but surely there’s got to a break in that trend!

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. As of Season 5, Episode 8, Lost is almost poised to get back to a point where we don’t know what happens next. The Island has stopped moving around in time. There’s Locke and Ben, with Ajira, on the Island in the ‘present’ day. All that needs to happen is Jack and Sawyer and co get back to the present with Locke’s group and then we will, finally, find ourselves back on the Island with an unknown future for our main characters.

Maybe then Lost can settle back down and give us some genuine emotional drama to compensate for the intellectual plot gymnastics of recent times. As much as Lost catering to the Lost Online Fan may produce crowd-pleasing episodes (Young Rousseau and the science team spring to mind) I can’t help but feel like the best episode of Lost is one the most casual of fans will get blown away by.

Not blown away by the revelation of some obscure reference from the show (Ms. Hawking is Faraday’s mother! WOW!). Not blown away by the validation of some bizarre theory (Widmore was once on the Island! WOW!). Not blown away by the later understanding discovered by reading about it online (Jack on his back in the jungle for his second arrival was a mirror inversion of his first appearance there! WOW!). An audience at home, Casual Fan or Online Fan, should be blown away purely by sitting in their seat, watching the show, and nothing more.

Lost should still have what it takes to rock our hearts rather than rattle our minds. Lost can still be Lost without the Internet. So say we all, right?