The show’s non-linear structure is comprised of character flashbacks and flash-forwards that contain a thematic relevance to the situations that occur on the island.
Back to the Future, the Past, and the Present In season 5, the crypto-drama further complicated it’s narrative structure by employing a frenetic time-travel element. This device begs the viewers to constantly ask themselves “When Are We?”
Each survivor harbors their own dark secrets and confront their own personal demons on the island. These survivors can be viewed upon as tragic failures before the crash of Oceanic 815.
Born To Run Jack Shepard-Issues with father/failed marriage Kate Austen-fugitive/wanted for murder James “Sawyer” Ford-Confidence artist who utilized “the long con” to swindle money from his marks. John Locke-suffers a life altering experience at the hands of his father. Also worked with drug dealers and experienced a series of failures that made his pre-island life to be immersed in misery.
Strangers in a Strange Land Initially, the survivors are strangers. As the show continues, the audience discovers an existence of connections between various characters.
Building a Mystery The island presents mysterious elements and secret societies that initiate fan gossip. These elements include: The Smoke Monster The Mysterious French Woman The Black Rock Jacob The Hatch Secret Society s1-The Losties Secret Society s2-The Tailies Secret Society s3-The Others Secret Society s4-The Freighter People Secret Society s5-The Dharma Initiative
TABULA RASAThe Thematic Elements of Lost Redemption and Change Faith and Science The show also presents various instances of thematic inversion
Breaking Racial Stereotypes Sayid is Iraqi and former member of the Iraq Republican Guard who the audience views as a one of the show’s beloved heroes. Interracial relationships (Sayid and Shannon), (Rose and Bernard). The seamless and abundant use of subtitles for storylines involving Jin and Sun. Instead of being written with racial stereotypes, each character is presented with depth and complexity.
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door Many major characters have been “killed off” since the show’s inception. In season 3, fan-favorite ------------- heroically diedin the third season finale entitled “Through The Looking Glass” In season 4, three major characters appeared to have been killed off in the season finale.
Heroes Take a Fall Despite the fact that many of the characters perform heroic acts, they also stray from their moral center. The characters are all anti-heroes. Many of these moral relativist have committed acts of murder. The writers provide justifiable motivations for these amoral acts to illicit sympathy from the viewers.
A Time To Kill These shifting protagonist have committed acts of murder and heroism.
Play The Game In a 2005 article published in The Boston Globe, writer Joanna Weiss described Lost as “part metaphysics seminar, part jigsaw puzzle, part scavenger hunt. It is a collaborative experience, a game to be played and shared.” Lost utilizes the videogame aesthetic of uncovering and exploring clues.
The Intertexuality of Lost Intertextuality occurs frequently in popular media such as television shows, movies, novels and even interactive video games. In these cases, intertextuality is often used to provide depth to the fictional reality portrayed in the medium, such as characters in one television show mentioning characters from another.
Sawyer-isms Sawyer’s nicknames of the show’s characters mostly consist of pop culture references. The viewer’s knowledge of these references also determine their level on the cult hierarchy.
SAWYER-ISMS Locke “Colonel Kurtz” (Apocalypse Now) Ben “Gizmo” (Gremlins) Kate “Sheena” (Sheena: Queen of the Jungle) Jin “Mr. Miyagi” (The Karate Kid) Jack “Hoss” (Bonanza) Ana-Lucia “Hot-Lips” (M*A*S*H) Hurley “Stay-Puff” (Ghostbusters) Walt “Tatoo” (Fantasy Island)
The Trivia of Lost The show makes extremely subtle references and connections to pop and high culture to maintain strict parameters around fandom. For Example - this was the name of the book that was being discussed in Julia’s book club in the season three premiere episode?
Breaking Through Fandom Parameters Not knowing that it is “Carrie” is enough to break through the fandom parameters. To break through to the other side, one must also have to make the connection that the principal in the book is named Henry Grayle which bears a striking similarity to “Henry Gale” - Ben’s pseudo-identity.
Literary References Lost features numerous references to classic and modern literature. Some of the referenced titles include: Carrie-Stephen King Catch-22-Jospeh Heller Through the Looking Glass-Lewis Carroll The Fountainhead-Ayn Rand Heart of Darkness-Joseph Conrad Moby Dick-Herman Melville The Pearl-John Steinbeck Harry Potter-J.K. Rowling Valis-Phillip K. Dick The Wonderful Wizard of Oz-L.Frank Baum Evil Under the Sun-Agatha Christie Dirty Work-Stuart Woods
You Know My Name Fans also research character names to make a connection by the real-life figures with the fictional characters. John Locke, Desmond “David” Hume and Rousseau are named after historic philosophers. Anthony Cooper, Locke’s father, is named after Anthony Ashley-Cooper who was a mentor to the philosopher John Locke in 1666.
Narrative Pyrotechnics Jason Mittel describes the narrative spectacle as moments that push to the foreground the operational aesthetic which calls attention to the constructed nature of the narration and entices the viewers to marvel at how the writers accomplished such a feat.
Dim Arrows Dim Arrows are the opposite Of Flashing Arrows which author Steven Johnson refers to as narrative signpost which are planted conveniently to help the audience keep track of what’s going on. On Lost, dim arrows are the subtle clues that usually can be retrievable in re-watching an episode. Active viewers are able to locate the dim arrows within the episodes.
Lost in the Masquerade Deception on Lost is conveyed eloquently with the application of narrative pyrotechnics. Practically every episode employs visual masquerades to render the viewer speechless and deceived. The showrunners apply various types of strategies to masquerade the settings, timeframes, and the reality of images that are being presented to the viewer.
“The Rattlesnake in the Mailbox”The Midpoint Shift of Lost
Through The Looking Glass On May 23, 2007, ABC aired the third season finale of Lost entitled the critically adored and audience favorite episode entitled “Through the Looking Glass.” The exhilarating episode contained the death of a major character, the mysterious re-appearance of Walt who sends a sacred invitation to Locke, a hope of a rescue, and a sensational twist that presented a new presentation of the show’s narrative. Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse called the twist “the rattlesnake in the mailbox.”
GOTCHA! In TV Guide, Lindelof and Cuse explain: “We’re calling it ‘The Rattlesnake in the Mailbox.’ We were just joking about how scary, that would be if you came home and you stuck your hand in the mailbox and there was a snake in there. So we thought, ‘Well, that’s actually a good metaphor for the surprise of our Season 3?”
An Example of a Dim ArrowFrom “Through the Looking Glass”
Hoffs/Drawler is actually an anagram for Flash Forward
Find Your Way Back On January 30, 2008 ABC re-aired the “game-changing” third season finale “Through the Looking Glass.” The episode aired the night before the fourth season premiere. The "enhanced" version of this episode included text on the lower third of the screen and was designed to “let viewers in” on clues in the show, as well as gave back-story to catch new viewers up for Season Four.
SEASON 4: THE OCEANIC SIX The fourth season of Lost premiered in the top ten and the viewer response to the episodes was exhilarating. The use of flash-forwards and the mystery of the “Oceanic Six” offered incredible jaw-dropping revelations such as: --------- is now a killer who is working for -----. Kate is living with -------- which means that ------- could be dead. Hurley is residing in - --------- ------------. Tragically, the audience learned that --------- died. (or did he/she?)
ENDGAME On May 7, 2007, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson announced that Lost will end during the 2009–2010 season with a "highly anticipated and shocking finale.“ “We felt that this was the only way to give [Lost] a proper creative conclusion," McPherson said. Thus, Lost will conclude with its sixth season. Due to the writers strike, the fourth season had only 14 episodes and, according to creators' plans, the final 2 seasons will comprise of 17 episodes each.
Unwrapping the Mystery In regards to the current season (s.5), Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse tease their viewers by saying: “This season, its like the audience is finally opening up a present that was actually bought and wrapped years ago.”
The Legacy of LOST Time Magazine lists LOST as one of the greatest television shows of all time. In a way it's a misnomer to call Lost one of TV's best shows—it's a fine show on the level of character and writing, but what makes it a classic is that it's the finest interactive game ever to appear in your living room once a week. An elaborate fractal pattern of intersecting stories concerning plane survivors on a not-quite-deserted island, a secretive international organization and a monster made of smoke, Lost only begins with the 60 minutes you see on TV. Its mysteries, clues and literary-historical allusions demand research, repeat viewing, freeze-framing and endless online discussions. And in a medium where executives assume that viewers will flee anything that remotely challenges them, Lost proves that millions of people will support a difficult, intelligent, even frustrating story—as long as you blow the right kind of smoke at them.
INTRODUCTION TO CLIP Closing Minutes of “Through the Looking Glass” Season 3 episodes 22/23 Airdate: 5/23/07 Peripety and Catastrophe are contained in “on island” and “off island” scenes. Tragic Flaw—Jack’s determination to get off the island One of show’s shifting protagonist commits murder
Introduction to Clip Dramatis Personae—on island Jack, Ben, Naomi, John Locke (and all other survivors) Dramatis Personae-off island Jack and ------- Dramatic Tension occurs on and off island.
Questions and ObservationsMidpoint Shift The catastrophe is ironic to Jack’s heroism on the island (note Jack’s final two lines of dialogue) What is Jack tired of lying about? Who is the person in the obituary? How much time has passed between the on island and off island action? Who does----------------- (the person that comes out of the car) have to get home to? Notice the inversion of hero to tragic failure The audience loses sense of gravity by change in narrative structure to the flash-forward device.