Overthinking Lost: Episodes 3.9-3.16

Overthinking Lost: Episodes 3.9-3.16

This week, I discuss “Expose,” that weird episode about Nikki and Paolo and how much everyone hates them. Plus D&D-esque character alignments! Fun times.

Lost's complex moral alignments, season 3. This was hard to make and probably not accurate. I left off Juliet for the time being. I'm not really sure where to put Locke.

Lost's complex moral alignments, season 3. This was hard to make and probably not accurate. I left off Juliet for the time being. I'm not really sure where to put Locke.

Midnight in the Island of Good and Evil

Last week, I talked a little bit about Lost’s relationship to the concepts of Good and Evil when it came to the character of Mr. Eko.  I claimed that Mr. Eko was a personification of the moral gray area, especially when it came to the concept of “the ends justify the means.”  At once, Mr. Eko was a gangster and priest.  He was a priest who murdered, or a drug dealer who worked to save his brother’s soul.  He killed three to save a village.  He stole to feed the hungry.  Like I said last week, the image of the Virgin Mary statue with the drugs inside is a good symbol for Mr. Eko’s complex moral alignment.

But his death at the hands (teeth? smoke?) of the Monster showed that the Island didn’t buy his complex morality.  Mr. Eko refused to apologize for his actions, and therefore he was killed.  Like Ben Linus, the Island is a moral absolutist, and the Island doesn’t forgive, especially if you don’t beg for forgiveness.

But then in the comments, you guys told me the only reason this all happened was because Mr. Eko’s actor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, wanted to leave Hawaii and the show.  That’s very similar to what led to the episode, “Exposé.”  Paolo and Nikki were also killed by the Island not because the Island decided they needed to, but because Lost’s writers decided they needed to—after all, their characters were so damn unlikeable.  Wikipedia also suggests that Ana Lucia might have been killed off because the producers found her “intensely unlikeable,” too.  (There’s also some speculation that it had something to do with Michelle Rodriguez’ DUI.)  The question is: if these episodes came about because of circumstances external to the show, should we consider these episodes canon?

Of course we must.  We can’t know what the writers were planning on doing before life and ratings changed their plans.  (Well, maybe we can in special features, but I said I wouldn’t watch those until after I finished the series.)  What is interesting is that whenever the writers needed to remove a character from the show, they did so by giving him or her a karmic death.

And so we turn back to the question I brought up starting week two of this series: is the Island a Total Karma Island?  Is the Island place where the Good are rewarded and the Bad are eaten up during random encounters with the smoke monster?

In the cases of Eko and Paolo and Nikki, yes.  In the cases of everyone else, no.  Sawyer is clearly not a Good person.  He’s certainly not on Jacob’s List, whatever that is.  But he ain’t dead.  The only karma that came to him was when he was chased around the island by a pig back in the first season.  Likewise, Kate blew up her step-dad, but she didn’t get blown up in a deliciously ironic fashion.  (Yet.)

Then again, Sawyer and Kate aren’t black-hatted twirly mustache villains like Nikki and Paolo.  They are complex, human, morally-gray characters.  Did Sawyer kill a guy in cold blood?  Yes, he did.  But did he do it by accident?  Yes, he did.  But did it do it out of revenge?  Yes, he did.  And afterwards, did he work to help out the government?  Yes, he did.  But did he do it for a shorter prison sentence?  Yes, he did.  What’s more important here?  His actions, or his reasons behind them?

Or take Kate: did she blow up her step-dad?  Yes, she did.  But was he an abusive asshole?  Yes, he was.  But did she do it for selfish reasons?  Yeah, probably.  But is she a good person now on the Island?  Well, for the most part, she is.  Is she going to get a karmic death or not?

Moral grayness.  I appreciate that.  That’s why I will say this loud and clear, though I never thought I would.  Kate Austen, I appreciate you as a character.  You may not be as interesting as Mr. Eko or Desmond, and you may not be as likeable as Sawyer or Hurley.  But, man, in comparison to Paolo and Nikki, you are gold, lady.  Pure gold.

Kate Austen: Not as bad as we thought.

Kate Austen: Not as bad as we thought.

Sorry, I got off track for a second.  Anyway, based on all this analysis about Good and Evil, here’s what we have so far: the Island is Total Karma Island when the writers need to kill someone off, but Total Redemption Island when it comes to the main characters like Jack and Kate and Sawyer.  Now let’s complicate things even more.  What about the Others?

The Others, apparently, have a list of Good People.  Jacob made this list.  Jacob loves me.  That’s nice.  Who the hell is Jacob?

The Others also write up their own lists.  In three days, Goodwin managed to write up a list of the tail section of the plane.  Ana Lucia, understandably, didn’t make the cut.  For some reason, neither did Bernard.  I’m going to guess that Bernard is a puppy rapist.  That’s the next Bernard-related flashback, right?

Ethan was sent to write up the list for the front section of the plane, but he never got to it.  He was too busy kidnapping Claire and getting shot in the chest.  Locke was apparently so Good that Ben Linus himself went out into the jungle to pick him up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Juliet infiltrated their base in order to continue filling out that list.  I’m not exactly sure why she needs to meet them to accomplish this task—after all, doesn’t she already have files with all their personal information inside?  I’m also not sure how she’d be able to figure out in a week who is Good and who is Evil.  If I had to write up such a list, having watched two and a half seasons of this show complete with flashbacks, I’d have a pretty hard time of it.  Apparently Jack’s not on their Good list, but I haven’t yet seen anything to prove that Jack is a bad person.  A stupid person, often, but not a bad person.  Shows what I know, I guess.

Anyway, it seems the Others are building some sort of Garden of Eden filled with only Good people and no Bad people.  Except for the fact that the Others don’t seem too nice to me at all, what with their random kidnappings and hangings and trapping people in cages and stealing babies.  But a Garden of Eden it is: no one gets sick (except for Ben, for some reason), and no one has babies.  Juliet is their Cain, who was marked and cursed to live out with the savages.  She might also be their Eve, if she can ever figure out how to make the pregnant women stop dying.

So, we have the Others and the Monster, who believe in a strict line between Good and Evil, and who don’t believe in forgiveness, on one side.  We have and Lost’s writers, who do seem to believe in moral gray areas and forgiveness unless external circumstances make them think otherwise, on another side.  Moreover, as I mentioned last week, we have the notion of fate, wrapped up in Desmond, the psychic.  Where does someone like Desmond fall in the map of morality?  As I said before, if the universe is controlled by a fate-principle, it’s not really fair to call people “Good” or “Evil,” because their actions are not in their control.  Good and Evil can only exist in universes with free will.  (I know there have been philosphers over the years who have claimed that, yes, you can mix morality with determinism.  Philosophically and academically speaking, I think their arguments are poopy-headed and dumb.  Nyah!  So there.)  Desmond is quickly becoming a fatalist: everything is determined, nothing can be changed, there is no free will, and it’s probably better to just sit back and accept it.  There something to be said for the fact that Desmond is trying to change fate, anyway, but I think eventually he’s going to give up on that and say “to hell with morality.”  In a deterministic universe, there can be no such thing.

Lost's wheel of morality... Now, in JPG form!

Lost's wheel of morality... Now, in JPG form!

We have three different sides here: the moral absolutists—the Others, Jacob, the Monster, and possibly John Locke, though I can’t tell yet; the moral grays—Mr. Eko, most of the Islanders, I think possibly the writers; and Desmond the fatalist.  Who will win in the end?  I guess we’ll just have to keep watching to find out.

Next week on Overthinking Lost:
Hopefully, I’ll have more information about the mystery box and be able to talk about that.  Mystery box!  Oooooohhhh.  Spooky.

No spoiling, please.

Also: I enjoyed this.

32 Comments on “Overthinking Lost: Episodes 3.9-3.16”

  1. Prest #

    I liked Expose, probably simply because it provided some variety. It was becoming clear (as demonstrated by the Jack/Bai Ling tattoo episode) that the writers were kind of running out of interesting flashback material for the original Losties. And there’s only so many times they can add in a new reveal or mini-mystery into a character’s backstory, i.e. “Who’s the father of Sun’s baby?” before it becomes tiresome. Thus the importance of locking in the series end date, as I mentioned last week.

    By the way, although the producers totally deny that the dismissal of Ana Lucia and Libby was because both actors were arrested for DUI… well, the episode in which they were killed off was titled “Two for the Road.”


  2. Jess #

    YAY, you like Kate! I’m glad someone can see past her shortcomings.


  3. TheMagician #

    @Prest: “By the way, although the producers totally deny that the dismissal of Ana Lucia and Libby was because both actors were arrested for DUI… well, the episode in which they were killed off was titled “Two for the Road.””

    Darlton had planned their deaths before they got DUIs, and when they got their DUIs Darlton were all like “oh great, now everybody’s gonna think we’re killing them off because they got DUIs”. No, they did what was “best for the show”. Besides, Ana-Lucia only wanted to be in the show for a year and then move on, DUI or not, she was going to die anyway.

    @mlawski: “But then in the comments, you guys told me the only reason this all happened was because Mr. Eko’s actor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, wanted to leave Hawaii and the show.”

    While that is true, it doesn’t mean that the Monster didn’t judge him. When analyzing LOST, you shouldn’t take real world influences into your theories.

    Now that you’ve gone this far, prepare for one mind-blowing roller coaster ride. You’re probably gonna watch seasons 4 and 5 within 2 days. Season 3 ending is gonna throw you off your seat and that’s where it starts.

    By the way, do you watch one episode per day or do you watch them as mini-marathons, like all within a day and then use rest of the time to write the review?


  4. Jayemel #

    You had me and you lost me. For the first time reading your blog, I find myself thinking you’re not attacking this show on a level that you can.

    You say that LOST may be morally black and white because the monster killed Eko. You have a few premises packed into that thought. Who says the monster is good? Who says its will is the islands will? Who says the island is good?

    I do think you’re right that Expose is a microcosm of the series. It’s the writers saying “Hey, here’s how we tell our story.” However, I don’t think Nikki and Paulo’s greatest “sin” was their crime(s). I think it was their inability to use the opportunity the island presented them to go after what they really wanted: each other. After all, if they had just stopped, thought, and talked, they’d still be alive.


  5. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @The Magician: When I started this series, I’d watch an episode a day. Nowadays, I tend to block out time when I don’t feel like doing other work and watch three or four at once.

    @Jayemel: I don’t believe the Monster is good, but, you’re right; I was always under the assumption that the Monster’s will was the same as the Island’s will. I guess I got that idea because Locke seems to believe it, especially when he says things like, “I have looked into the eye of this island and what I saw was beautiful” or, “don’t worry, the Monster won’t hurt me.” Since Locke tends to be the one who knows what’s going on best where the Island is concerned, I took his word for it.

    The Island may not be good in the typical Christian sense, but Locke believes in the Island. The Island might not be good, but it must be obeyed– I see it as an old-school kind of god in that respect. (It also takes sacrifices.) The Monster, too, must be appeased, or else it will judge people in a strict black and white way. When mean people see the Monster they see smoke, and nice people see the beautiful light Locke saw, after all.

    But you’re right–there’s no proof that the Monster and the Island are working together toward the same goals. If I turn out to be wrong about that, then I guess I simply misunderstood and allowed John Locke to infiltrate my mind too easily.


  6. stabbim #

    Re: “Expose.” I don’t have a strong opinion on it as a morality tale, but as one giant meta-story reference, I thoroughly enjoyed it in a “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” sort of way.


  7. Kevin #

    re: the episode, I think you’re overthinking it here — the reason Nikki and Paolo were killed is because 1. fans hated their characters and they were no longer going to be used on the show, and 2. they had to be removed from the show in a manner consistent with their characters. You can’t compare their deaths to those of Mr. Eko… Ana-Lucia and Libby… or even Boone and Shannon before them. Those deaths served a purpose to the overall story. Nikki and Paolo were ultimately meaningless *as characters*, which was sort of the point of the episode — they spend its entirety revisiting the periphery of all the major settings from earlier in the series, but NOT having any impact on them whatsoever. What better way for them to exit the show than by being buried alive by the other, more important characters? It’s all very meta in its own way.

    (If anything, their death is exactly the same, and exactly as meaningful, as Dr. Arzt’s in Season One: the entire point is to surprise the audience and make them go “What a cool death…!” It’s not to get us contemplating the nature of fate, or good vs. evil — that’s what the deaths of the main characters do.)

    Also, the two of them dying was the ONLY way they could have been removed from the show without there being an uproar — what else could have happened? They join up with the Others? They find a way to escape the island and make it back to civilization? Or, worst of all, they’re just assumed to be back on the beach with the other extras, but never shown or mentioned again? No — they had to be killed, but them being killed shouldn’t have any larger message or impact on the canon itself. Again, I know it goes against the site’s mantra… but don’t overthink it this time!

    From what the writers have said on the subject, they really wanted to write a Stephen King homage… and I think they succeeded. It’s a pure standalone episode — not a gamechanger, or a mythology ep, or anything important to the canon in any way at all… and I think it works fantastically well on that level. Hell, from what I recall, it doesn’t even serve to advance ANYTHING of importance — you can’t say that about even the worst episodes (“Stranger in a Strange Land,” for example). It’s a welcome palate-cleanser in the middle of a very mythology-heavy season, a piece of fluff that’s supposed to be nothing more than a fun way of getting rid of two maligned characters.

    Ultimately, Nikki and Paolo failed as characters for the same reason the six episode “mini-season” at the start of S3 failed — because the writers weren’t writing *for themselves*, but trying to address fan complaints. When the writers stick to their story, the show (mostly) fires on all cylinders… which is the reason why Darlton and ABC agreeing to an end date was so liberating. It gave the writers a finite number of episodes to tell the overall story… but perhaps more importantly, it also meant they could ignore the advice from the studio, fans, Internet trolls, etc.


  8. Gab #

    (I’m 90% sure I saw Eyepatch Dude on Burn Notice yesterday.)

    You’re right, Kate is pretty golden compared to Nikki… Ahem…

    I think Smokey/the Island is a good bit to analyze. Magician, I got the feeling that what Mlawski was saying wasn’t that it doesn’t judge, but that its judgment is much more blatant (and, to an extent, more abrupt) when outside forces mean a character has to leave. DUIs aside, Rodriguez still set limits to how long she’d be there, so her leaving the show wasn’t entirely of the writers’ choice.

    I can’t help but think Smokey is kind of ridiculously awesome. He’s sort of like the Hand of God and St. Paul at the same time- he passes judgment and distributes punishment where necessary. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d go through and analyze every episode where Smokey Himself appears to the characters and try to see what connects and disconnects each incident, and then compare and contrast that with deaths where Smokey wasn’t there. Do the deaths of any of the Others reflect judgment by the Island? Is every death the island’s doing, or are some the island’s revenge for other deaths (eg. Ana Lucia killed Shanon and Goodwin, and the Island didn’t like that, so it killed her)? Or are some a means to the end for the Island (eg. the death of Kate’s marshal)?

    And here’s my big question: Why was Eko the only one directly, no questions asked, killed by the Island (via Smokey)? I really don’t think it’s his gray-area status. If the Island is giving orders for the Others to off people, they’re stuck in the same area of moral ambiguity as Eko- the Island is to them what Fate is to him. So unless the Island is a Big Fat Hypocrite, there must have been something else going on (and I give the writers the benefit of the doubt and assume they came up with a reason that works within the show).

    The first time I watched this season, I was baffled by the Not-Henry/Ben cancer. I came up with lots of reasons why that may be the case. Have you any ideas that tie into the rest of the plot/other theories you have about the show as a whole?

    I love how Rousseau is smack in the middle on your little alignment thingy. Perfect.

    @Kevin: As has been said before, Eko’s death was necessitated by the actor’s desire to leave the show, so his too came from outside forces, just as Nikki and Paulo’s. Also, whether it was a DUI or simply because she wanted off, Michelle Rodriguez had an influence on her character’s destiny within the show. As such, I think a comparison is quite valid in terms of quality of how it was done. (The “outside influence” thing is also important when considering Micheal and WAAAAAAALT!’s storylines, too, by the way. What happens makes sense within the show, for the most part, but it isn’t always very good in terms of quality.) But on those lines, I totally agree with everything you say in your last paragraph- it’s what I have been trying to say on at least the past three chunks of episodes. When left to their own devices, the writers do a much better job at it.


  9. Tom P #

    @mlawski: Sawyer is clearly not a Good person. He’s certainly not on Jacob’s List, whatever that is. But he ain’t dead.

    But Sawyer also did something that Nikki and Paulo did not do. He passed the Island’s redemption test when he refused to kill the pig out of rage. Nikki and Paulo both failed when they refused to let the diamonds go. The monster’s actual victim list is not long — The pilot, Eko, the mercenaries, Nadine from the French expedition, and Nikki. At the monster’s and Eko’s first meeting, it seems like the monster either wasn’t ready to render its judgment yet or it felt Eko was not ready to make his choice. In their second meeting, Eko made his choice, failed the test, and was killed.

    The monster’s actions with named characters is consistent. If you pass its test, you’re OK. If you act with reason, you’re OK. Sawyer passed the test when he didn’t kill the pig. Kate passed the test when she confessed her sins to the black horse and “Wayne”. We might never know why it killed the pilot or the French woman.


  10. John #

    Oh by the way, Ben never said he’d cure Juliet’s Sister’s cancer.

    He said Jacob would do it.

    Might be trivial.

    Probably isn’t.


  11. Gab #

    @ Tom: Oh, you’re right!!! I forgot Smokey was what grabbed the pilot and such. Probably because Eko was the most important character it went after like that. But still, looking through at who actually gets offed by the MonsterSmokey versus circumstance is still something that could lead to answers (or, in the grand ol’ tradition of the show, lead to a million more questions).


  12. TheMagician #

    The Monster directly killing these characters, there is actually a reasonable explanation to that, but it would at least partially spoil what the Monster is and I don’t want to give any clues regarding that mystery. I will share it in the blog comments for those episodes where it is revealed (some might argue that they didn’t reveal it completely, and I can agree with that, but they gave us a pretty damn good idea of what it is).


  13. Tom P #

    I just realized my list of victims contains tiny spoilers. I can’t edit it. Sorry :(


  14. Nateiums #

    As TheMagician says, where the up to date audience is at the end of season five, there are certainly more clues as to the monsters motivations, although it’s still about as clear as mud.

    You have the monster under the no forgiveness category. Is it safe to assume that you think that it would have killed Eko for his sins no matter what, even if he broke down and showed remorse?


  15. Neil H #

    Re: The Jack-Playing-Football Ending.

    Possibly the best Lost cliffhanger yet. Who will win this epic game of football?

    That ending became a running joke in my circle of friends. The absurdity and the look on Jack’s face when he spikes the ball combine to form all kinds of awesome.


  16. Gab #

    Re: Smokey

    I don’t think the questions get answered by the end of the most recent season. Maybe I’m not smart enough to pick up on all of the solutions, but I don’t want to risk getting spoiled for other things by looking it up online. Like so many other of the show’s mysteries, while (most of) my initial questions got answered, a bunch more came up.


  17. Kevin #

    A longtime fan has put together their own “Lost rewatch” blog here:


    It’s interesting to read the posts alongside the great Overthinking It recaps (love the fresh take on these eps), since they’re from a fan who’s seen all the episodes to date multiple times, is well-versed in the mythology, knows where the easter eggs are, etc. A nice contrast.

    NOTE THAT THOSE RECAPS CONTAIN SPOILERS (references) for Seasons 3, 4 and 5. Obviously.


  18. specialagentdalecooper #

    The football ending is a classic “Lost” moment. So (intentionally) silly and yet for a minute you’re thinking, “What the hell? Is Jack evil now? What is going ON here?”

    Regarding Nikki and Paolo, I wanted to clear up a seemingly common misconception. The writers didn’t kill them because they were unpopular. They’ve never actually said such a thing was true – in fact they said the opposite, that it was their planned fate all along. It’s notable that they threw in a bizarre scene of Paulo flushing a toilet in episode 5, only to pay it off with an explanation in “Expose.” The characters and that episode in particular always struck me as “Lost”‘s version of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” or the classic Buffy ep “The Zeppo” – there’s a blog on the subject here: http://fienprint.blogspot.com/2007/03/did-lost-stage-its-own-rosencrantz.html

    I think the introduction of the characters was done to address fan criticism (who are these background plane survivors milling around?) but the resolution/death of them was the plan all along. They may have upped the cruelty factor just to satiate people’s blood lust, but I don’t believe they killed them solely because they were disliked. They may have compressed the arc though. Some wordy academic type wrote a whole paper about it here: http://www.dragonandrose.net/allisonk/classwork/Paralyzed_from_the_start.pdf


  19. Kevin #

    Thanks, Coop (great username, btw) — I really enjoyed that wordy, academic paper. Good points about the nature of fans in the changing media landscape…


  20. Matt #

    I really think Expose is where I realized some of my problems with Lost as a show, the main one being that they listen to their fans. Normally this is great for show creators, as it helps them to improve their next work and change things, etc. But this episode seems like the writing staff had plans for these characters and then threw them out because they hung out on some forums too much. There are other ways to write yourself out of problems concerning people hating characters besides swift and awful deaths.

    The other problem I had with the episode just concerns what specialagentdalecooper said about Nikki and Paolo being ascended extras. For years prior to this episode, late night hosts joked about how useless the extras were, and it seems like this episode just validates that joke. Locke says that “We’re all here for a reason”, but apparently, none of those other plane survivors are. Nikki and Paolo are bad people, don’t get redeemed, and promptly die. If you’re not in the Cool Kids’ Club, you’re not there for a reason. Arzt? Dead. Scott? (or is it Steve?) Dead. You try to break in, you get plot death.


  21. Kevin #

    @Matt: to be fair, I don’t know how you solve that “extras” problem… but don’t consider it a problem at all.

    I think the options would have been:
    – only have 14 survivors of the crash. For a show that wants to be an epic, I think that would have played too much like a small drama.
    – try to do stories about all 40-some survivors, and put all of them on mostly equal footing. Pretty obvious that wouldn’t have worked.
    – introduce less-important characters as needed; if unimportant, kill them off (the way the writers went). I have no problem with this, and think it’s (mostly) worked on the show so far.

    Let’s take two minor characters: while they aren’t “extras,” I would say that Rose and Bernard are both pretty irrelevant to the overall story. While they got a mutual flashback episode, they disappear for long stretches of episodes at a time. Sometimes they’re seen only in the bg and have no dialogue. They are definitely not leads; you can generously call them supporting cast. And yet I never hear anyone acknowledge them — they’ve survived, so I don’t think it’s accurate to say “minor characters inevitably die.” There are other extras who have been seen in multiple episodes, even a few who have minor dialogue here and there… and they’re still around.

    (I’d also hesitate to use Dr. Arzt as an example, since I think it’s pretty clear he was brought in just to blow up real good. And it’s one of the most surprising, funniest moments of the whole series. “You’ve… got some Arzt on you.” Come on, that was great! But okay, if you want to give him a purpose: he imparted critical information about the nature of explosives before his death…)

    Locke’s claim that “We’re ALL here for a reason,” as in all 40-some survivors — which hasn’t been proven to be true anyway, Locke is often mistaken — could still apply to everyone in the crash. If it’s “to become better people” by facing the island’s trials… perhaps the extras haven’t made that leap. They’re still as scared and willing to follow as the day they crashed. Whatever issues they had before the crash, they haven’t figured out how to resolve them. But I don’t need to see everyone’s story. There’s a reason that the main characters are a wide cross-section of society: they are supposed to represent anyone and everyone, so we don’t HAVE to have 40 different characters who get their own flashbacks and “jungle adventure” episodes.

    Like I said in a previous post: if they try to give particular extras a larger role in the show, and they fail… they really don’t have any other choice than to kill them off. And I don’t understand why that’s such a problem — the island is a very dangerous place. (In Nikki and Paolo’s case, the writers were already going to kill them off before the fans freaked out about them; they just moved that up and killed them earlier.)


  22. James T. #

    I always thought this was the low point of the show (particularly “Stranger in a Strange Land” and “Expose”), but I always attributed that to the negotiations that were going with the network at the time – negotiations that resulted in locking in the show’s end date. In the meantime, it felt like that they were stalling – they had a plot in mind, but didn’t know how to pace it, so the middle of the third season suffered greatly.

    I hate “Expose” as much as the next Lost fan, but it does do some interesting things. I like the idea that they can go back and pretty seamlessly re-shoot and re-tell little bits of the show’s history. It’s a neat trick, and it’s done well. The trouble is, who cares? I was sitting there going, “who are these people? You mean I have to wait another week to find out what’s up with Locke’s dad?” And so on.

    Also: you paid a great deal of attention earlier to the show’s motif of character’s being name after philosophers, but you seemed to have glossed over the fact that “Eyepatch Dude” identifies himself as Mikhail Bakunin (God and the State, Statism and Anarchy, etc.) Thoughts?


  23. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @James T: Yeah, I keep wondering if I should go back to analyzing the various characters based on their clever philosophical names, but at this point I get the feeling that the writers are just continuing the theme naming trend for fun rather than for any specific thematic purpose. When we had just Locke and Rousseau it was interesting; now everyone and their mother is named after some famous philosopher. I get the feeling the writers are saying, “Hey! We have a new character! What random philosopher should we name them after this time?” without thinking very deeply about it. I could be totally wrong, though. Maybe they planned this all out from the beginning, and maybe Lost is at heart some big philosophical allegory.

    If you want, I can sit down and write a post about it, maybe when I start writing about season four. Personally, I get the impression that the writers, at this point, care much less about political philosophy and much more about smoke monsters and time travel and so on. Which is fine. Great, even! But it means that I have been writing less and less about political theory as the show has gone on.

    I don’t know. What do you guys think? Should I get back to writing about political philosophy, or should I continue talking about the mythological/sci-fi elements of the show?


  24. James T. #

    Hey! We have a new character! What random philosopher should we name them after this time?”

    I did think “Desmond David Hume” was a little forced. However, I don’t think the names chosen are random: they all seem to have very specific things to say about levels on control vs. consent in societies, religion vs. rationalism, or both (of course, those are big questions in philosophy, anyway, so that may be coincidence).

    As I recall, though, the latter half of the third season does deal with moving some of the mystery/mythology plotlines forward, so you’re probably on the right track.


  25. Kevin #

    Please talk about the mythological/sci-fi elements — those will come more into play as Season 3/the series progresses.

    I think once they got out of Season One, the names started to have less relevancy — Desmond Hume is one thing, but yes, by the time they got to “Edmund Burke” they were just pulling out names randomly. (Though the names start to become important again later in the series… though they have less to do with politics/philosphy)


  26. TheMagician #

    Like James. T said, the first half of the 3rd season was the real low point for the series, just search for “comics on comics lost” on YouTube and watch the 2nd part. Lindelof talks a little about that, how they basically had to lock them in cages just to keep them from leaving the Island, while the story was wanting to move on to the next phase of the storytelling, but they couldn’t do that because they had to announce the end date for the series or the audience would think they’re just making it up as they go along and they would stop watching, but those who have not seen season 5 probably don’t want to watch it.

    And all I’m gonna say about Locke’s claim “we’re all here for a reason” is that it will be dealt with more closely in season 5.

    Lindelof said in the latest Lost Magazine interview that they always knew they wanted the audience to know that anyone could die at any time and I think they have achieved this by killing a lot of characters in which Cuse also says that “the story of Nikki and Paulo was a hole they didn’t know how to get out of”, maybe if they wouldn’t have decided the end date during season 3 they probably wouldn’t have killed them, but they had to move on with the story and dump the things that were introduced during that time when they wanted to move on to the next phase of storytelling, but couldn’t, but they had to make up something, which is also why I think they tried the fan suggestion (Nikki and Paulo).

    Darlton are also making the show for different groups of people, for those who watch it for the drama and love triangles and for those who care about the mysteries and the mythology and that’s why they are naming characters after philosophers (8 to be exact, 9 if we count the ARGs) and scientists and putting all these subtleties into the show (including creating the ARGs) for the hardcore fans to research and study. Lindelof talks more about this in the Comics On Comics interview I mentioned earlier.


  27. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @TheMagician: Dude, there’s a Lost Magazine?!


  28. TheMagician #

    Yeah there’s a Lost Magazine, which according to Lostpedia “is the official magazine of Lost, with issues released every two months. It consists of interviews, fan questions and theories, behind-the-scenes information and pictures, and deconstructions of memorable scenes. Many of the photographs are by the official still photographer for Lost, Mario Perez, who also shoots ABC Medianet episode promotional stills.”

    They’ve released 24 issues so far, I don’t own any of them, but DarkUFO (stay away from that blog unless you wanna get spoiled) always releases some of the scanned pages from each issue. It’s always interesting to read the interviews. If you can get your hands on them they’re definitely worth the money.


  29. Kevin #

    When it comes to DarkUFO, they’re usually okay about keeping spoilers out of their main page — there’s a related site you have to go to in order to read anything spoiler-y. (The WORST has to be Entertainment Weekly, both the site and the magazine… which usually puts enough information in their headlines so you know what the spoiler is — but then marks the top of the article itself with a “Spoiler Warning.” News to EW: identifying in a headline that a particular actor is returning to Lost… IS A SPOILER. Jerks.)

    As a web site, I can’t recommend Lostpedia enough… (they’re also pretty good about spoiler warnings, but for anyone who is NOT up to date through Season Five… best to stay away)


  30. Genevieve #

    I find it interesting that, despite their relative unimportance, Nikki & Paulo managed to garner this blog post more comments than any prior. Yes, there’s other interesting things being discussed in these comments… but ultimately, I think it can safely be said that “Exposé” caused Lost fans to get a little, well, feisty. It’s awesome that you don’t shy away from that ep in a “WELL THAT SUCKED, moving on…” sort of way (which many of my friends do in conversation.) I think it actually does say a lot about the series as a whole, because I think that on a show where determinism is such an important issue, the relationship between the fans and the creative team cannot be ignored.

    I’ll try to say this in a non-spoiler-y way. The further along the show gets, the more you hear comments from the cast, in interviews and such, about how just CAN’T happen, because the fans would never stand for it, or because it just wouldn’t be fair. Say what? This is a show with an end-date. It’s certainly not relying on ratings to measure its success. Why, even now, this complex interactive relationship with the audience? This is a show where we’ve seen ARGs that included elements of cannon. This is a show where people refer to “The LOST Experience,” and are not talking about some Vegas carnival. This show has been interactive in many different ways from the very beginning.

    So how do Nikki and Paulo play into that? It’s been mentioned that a big part of the reason that they were brought on was that the fans were curious about the other survivors. It’s been mentioned that their demise was not a result of fan disappointment, but had been planned all along. Sounds to me like an exploration of the idea that fans should be “Careful what you wish for!” Or maybe N&P serve to show that, no matter what minor interludes they throw at us, the show has a deterministic (if you will) path that jumped-up extras can’t disrupt.

    (PS – I would like to cast my vote for you writing more about political philosophy, but only because I’m terribly selfish, and it’s a wide gaping chasm in my own education which I find fascinating to read about.)


  31. Genevieve #

    (err, that was supposed to say “about how *{certain things}* just CAN’T happen” but I used the wrong sort of brackets and it ate those words)


  32. Juanita Jones #

    Jacob’s list wasn’t about who was “good”. None of them really weren’t. And Jacob knew this. He felt that one of them would be so desperate to leave their past life behind and succeed him as the Island’s protector. This is what the list was about.


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