Get Lost – Do You Know What “Blocking” Is?

faraday-underground

Add “undercover agent” to his list of mad skills

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Late is better than never – thoughts on last week’s Lost:

1) Waaaaaay back in the day, I used to play “theater sports.” If you’ve seen the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? you’ve got the general idea of what it’s like – actors do it for recreation and practice. Basically you’re given an outline of a scene and you have to start playing it immediately.

The cardinal sin of theater sports is “blocking.” This is what they call it when you violate the narrative cues you’ve previously laid down. It generally happens when two members of the team want the scene to go in different directions. One will say something like, “hey, check out that funny-looking bird up there!” and the other will say, “that’s not a bird, it’s a Chinese bomber – run!”

Blocking is the supreme sin because audiences need narrative structure. Surprise twists are one thing. But they need to take place within the context of a narrative universe that has “rules.” If absoultely anything can happen at any time, there’s no drama. So, for example, if it was previously established that the first character had bad eyesight, the dialogue in the paragraph above would not be blocking, it would be a gag. But you can’t just change the rules of the narrative every time you have a new idea for where you want it to go.

This issue has come up before on our Get Lost feature. So let me just admit that Jay has been vindicated – Lost is blocking big time. First they worked really hard to establish the one supreme rule of time travel – whatever happened, happened. Then they pull the rug out.

Even if it turns out that Dan was right the first time and you really can’t change the past – after all, he now thinks you can, but we haven’t seen him actually do it yet – last week’s episode was still blocking.

“Do you know what destiny is?” More like, do you know what good narrative structure is?

2) He’s a tortured artist, tragic lover, philosopher of time and space, undercover agent and cool-under-fire action hero. Oh, and he’s the son of the major villain! (Whoops – spoiler alert.)

I see the inexorable operation of the Wesley Wyndham-Price Axiom is well underway.

Daniel was shot at the end of the episode, but we know he’s not dead because the Axiom states he has to kill some bad guys and win the affections of at least one more smoking hot chick before he goes.

I had Matt hook me up with a Vegas bookie, who gave me the official odds (for entertainment purposes only) on which female will be the next to “notice” Daniel:

Juliet          1 to 5
Relationship with Sawyer is on the rocks; they’re both eggheads

Kate             1 to 20
Recently revised from 1 to 40 because she’s now stranded in the jungle with him

Claire         1 to 25
Remember Claire?

Naomi         1 to 50              
It could happen in a “flash forward” showing Dan’s recruitment

Sun               1 to 100           
A long shot, I know, but we’re running out of females here

Eloise           1 to Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
Hey, Leia kissed Luke. (Bet you wish I hadn’t reminded you.)

3) Looks like Jay was right the first time when he expressed doubt that the past was really unchangeable.

4) I’ve noted twice before that for a guy with unlimited cash and an army of goons who’s made tons of enemies and tampered with terrifying occult powers, Widmore’s security really stinks. I wondered the first time whether there was some unknown reason Widmore couldn’t be killed. Now that time travel has been introduced on the show, perhaps that explains it.

But given that on last week’s episode, Dan just walked right into the Others’ camp with gun drawn and managed to take them all napping – well, it’s looking more like Widmore is just not a super-genius on the security front. I assume the Others got much more badass after Ben took over, which is why they’re all deadly forest ninjas in 2004.

5) How did Richard know Dan wouldn’t shoot him? Advance knowledge of the timeline? Or is he just a good judge of character? (Or perhaps he’s a lousy judge of character and Dan really would have shot him!)

6) Apparently Eloise knows the future – she apparently knew that Theresa is going to get the whammy from Dan’s Frankenstein-of-Time routine, and at the end she says that it’s the first time in a long time that she didn’t know what was going to happen. Does she have advance knowledge of the timeline, or a superpower? And why doesn’t she know the future now? Maybe because the timeline changed?

7) Dan unsuccessfully tried to persuade Dr. Chang that he was from the future. Afterward, he didn’t seem disappointed that he had failed. He tells Miles he was just trying to ensure Dr. Chang would do what he was supposed to do. What’s he supposed to do? Does Dan have a hidden agenda?

8 ) At a critical moment, Jack notices grey drums labeled FUEL. Wow, good thing Dharma labels absolutely everything with big, huge capital letters!

15 Responses to Get Lost – Do You Know What “Blocking” Is?

  1. Patrick says:

    Personally, I think Dan is doing what he’s supposed to be doing to ensure the timeline goes exactly as it happend. He’s just telling people about changing the future to get them on his side. Of course, I could be wrong and the writers are “blocking” as you say.

    Then again, we know that one person does seem to have the power to alter the future – he seems to be returning to the show too.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Actually, it’s blocking either way. Your theory is really shrewd and maybe that’s what will turn out to have been the case, but the point is that we, the audience, are being asked to swallow a story where we’re led to believe that the narrative universe obeys certain rules, then those rules are yanked out from under us. The fact (if it is a fact) that they have a clever reason for doing it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve done it.

      It’s a little like the movie Adaptation – the main character’s idea for a movie is clever, but it’s not entertaining. The critical truning point is where he realizes that it’s more important that a movie be entertaining than that it be merely clever.

  2. Patrick says:

    6) Because once Dan leaves for the Island he cannot know what is going on in the mainland thus he cannot tell his mom in 1977 what will happen in 2004 after he leaves for the Island. I guess that is why she doesn’t know what will happen next because Dan’s mom caught up to the point in time when he left for the island.

    8 ) As far as that was concerned I was more worried about guys with semi-automatic assault rifles losing to a team with hand guns, including one guy who never fired a gun before. Maybe Dharma lasted as long as it did because Widmore was so bad at security and tactics (as you say), because the Dharma security team doesn’t seem to be all that topnotch either.

    • Greg Forster says:

      6) So just to clarify, your theory is that Dan survives being shot by his mother in 1977, recovers, and briefs her on everything he knows?

      8 ) Well, to be fair, the guy who had never held a gun before didn’t do any shooting in that fight. The first bullet fired was the one that grazed his neck, and he went straight down. And Kate and Jack are both formidable opponents. But you’re also right that nobody on Team Dharma in 1977 seems to have had his act together.

      • Patrick says:

        Yes, he lives and explains everything.

        Then again, she was very upset with Charles in 2004, so maybe he does die. Remember when it showed Dan as a little kid playing the piano. Maybe that was when Eli realized that the Dan from 1977 really was her kid and what would happen.

  3. Patrick says:

    The cool face is supposed to be number 8.

    I had another thought, is Penny the mother of Charles Widmore? Are the survivors the parents of the others?

    • Greg Forster says:

      Fixed that #8 for you.

      Penny hasn’t time travelled. Are you just suggesting the possibility because it would be an unresolvable paradox?

      • Patrick says:

        Penny hasn’t but who said little Charlie doesn’t? Maybe Penny and Hume end up on the Island in the 1920s?

        They’ve also never really showed Penny as a young girl have they? She could be adopted so Charles wouldn’t be his own grandfather.

      • Greg Forster says:

        I had completely forgotten that Penny and Desmond’s son was named Charles.

  4. Brian says:

    Why are you so sure Dan isn’t dead? Or are you just going by the axiom?

  5. Brian says:

    Axiom dies.

    In the episode, Daniel Faraday – the time-travel expert physicist played by Jeremy Davies – returned to the island in 1977 from the Dharma Initiative’s headquarters in Michigan. Thinking that he and the Oceanic 6 were “variables” who could change the future, he tried to track down his mother, Eloise Hawking – only to be shot by her in the Others’ camp at the episode’s conclusion.

    “It was an incredibly painful thing to kill this beloved character,” Carlton told TV Guide. “But we feel that’s what this show has to do. His death is kind of the culminating event in the entire season. It really ends one chapter and commences the start of the final chapter of the entire series. Once we explained that to Jeremy, while he was personally saddened that his full-time status on ‘Lost’ was coming to an end, he put the story above his own personal self.”

    Damon seconded Carlton’s emotions, adding that Jeremy had taken the news well.

    “When Carlton and I called Jeremy to explain what was going to be happening with Faraday, we’ve never had a more awesome exit interview with somebody on the show,” he said.

    The character of the quirky scientist, who was introduced in Season 4, became a fan favorite, and the producers were quick to praise Jeremy’s work on the show.

    “For us, Faraday really was the cornerstone of the fifth season – he really shined,” Damon said. “I can’t imagine what Season 5 would have looked like without Jeremy Davies. When you think about all the crazy stuff that had to come out of that guy’s mouth, for him to be as interesting and emotional and poetic as he was is really extraordinary.”

    He’ll be missed by his castmates as well, though he may not be done with “Lost” – Carlton only said Jeremy’s “full-time” status was over, and dead characters have been known to reappear on the show.

    “[He was] a great sensitive guy who got deep into his character. He really lived it,” Michael Emerson, who plays Ben Linus, told the mag.

    And while his on-screen character was discouraged from playing piano by his disapproving mother, Jeremy had no problem bringing his tunes to the set.

    “Most actors walk around with headphones, but Jeremy would walk around holding a miniature boom box,” Terry O’Quinn, who plays John Locke, added. “He always wanted to provide music for everyone — whether they wanted it or not.”

    Source: Access Hollywood

  6. Patrick says:

    Well if he’s dead now I wonder exactly what was so important that he go to the island for. Honestly, he didn’t do much but write in that book. So that book must be what was really important.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Either that, or his having argued to Jack and Kate that time can be changed, and telling them about the hydrogen bomb, which they presumably didn’t know about before . . .

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