LOST: Under the Hood (Part 3 of a 4 part series).

Damn. That was a good episode. I don’t think any actors in the cast will be getting drunk driving tickets anymore, what do you think?

What makes this show tick? What makes it run? Let’s lift up the hood and take a look. Last night’s episode is a good place to start.

Most network dramas have multiple storylines in each episode. In TV industry parlance these are often referred to as the A-story, B-story, C-story and so on. Very complex shows sometimes run up to 5-7 storylines a show, but typically this will involve only a scene or two each episode to remind the viewer of a plot thread over many episodes–a good example of this is the church which Mr. Eko seems to be building bit by bit.

Once you understand this some shows that seem really complex seem less complicated. 24, for example, typically has an A, B, C, and D storyline. In the first two seasons at least, it rotated between Jack, Kim, Pres. Palmer (or the White House) and CTU.

Last night LOST had an A-story, Ana Lucia’s search for revenge, a B-story, Michael’s return, a C-story, Ana Lucia’s trip to Australia, and a D-Story, Hurley’s attempt at a date with Libby. Don’t let the letters fool you, they don’t necessarily mean that one story line is better or more important than the others. Four storylines is a bit of an exception for LOST.

Your typical episode of LOST usually has only three storylines, an A story that typically takes place on the island in the present, a B story that typically takes place in the past, and a C story that typically takes place on the island, but is often a source of comic relief, or at least involves lower stakes. Hurley shows up in these stories a lot. Recently, for example, Jack played poker with Sawyer, in one episode Sun lost her wedding ring, they made their own golf course once, etc.

What makes LOST really work, and really innovative, in my opinion, is that B story–the one that takes place in the past. As I said earlier, just because it’s a B story does not necessarily mean it’s less dramatic, or considered less important by the writers, the letter designation is primarily arbitrary. Generally, screenwriters are wary of flashbacks because they don’t move the story forward. However, from its inception the LOST writers made the brilliant choice of having an entire storyline each episode take place in the past. In this way the flashback storyline must move forward, and it doesn’t detract from the story in the present, in the strongest episodes it enhances that story and gives it more relevance. “What Kate Did” was a great example of this. Plus, the freedom of getting off the island makes the setting feel less claustrophobic to viewers.

Much of what makes LOST original and ground-breaking is the way it compells viewer interest into the future and the past of these characters simultaneously. It has multi-directional storylines stretching back in time and forward in time simultaneously. As a result we’re at least as curious to know how John ended up in that wheelchair as we are to know where Walt is. It’s pretty ingenious.

I’m not sure how interesting any of this is to anyone, so feel free to comment on last night’s episode instead.

I’ll tell you this: I am the President of the Henry Gale fan club. What a great villain (and a great actor)! Marvel at how he mixes the truth with the lies, just like Satan. Look at all the trouble he’s caused with only his mind. He makes Hannibal Lecter look like a girl scout.

Hmmm…I’m now wondering if he might not be the brilliant but merciless leader he was talking about.

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21 thoughts on “LOST: Under the Hood (Part 3 of a 4 part series).

  1. Did you all see the Honso commercial? Did anyone call the number? I think it was 1-877-HANSORG or something. What a crazy show!

    Nice lesson, Brian. I also agree that Henry is one of the best dramatic villains ever.

  2. BTW- Producers/writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof deny that the DUIs had anything to do with Ana Lucia and Libby getting killed. Michele Rodriguez apparently only wanted to be on the show for a single season. It had been widely reported that Cynthia Watros has a CBS sitcom next year and wouldn’t be returning.

  3. Fate is what puts us together to help each other. You know, in case I ever need to go on a three day bender, then show up at my secret mistress’s house in Sydney to harangue her over my estranged daughter, you could come along and have my back.

  4. Supergenius: Nuh-uh!

    Ronan: Apparently, the number brings you to a menu of voice mail menu for the Hanso organization. And the “clues” there relate to the online game more than the actual show.

  5. Let’s put an end to this “Christian Shephard is Alvar Hanso” talk once and for all. It’s complete crap. Let’s look at the obstacles to this ridiculous theory:

    1) Christian was a doctor–the head of surgery–at the hospital where Jack worked for years, and barely making that work. You think he’s been working on clandestine scientific research as a reclusive billoinaire on the side? Without Jack knowing anything about it?

    2) Jack’s a doctor and a really good one. He’s a “man of science.” You think he wouldn’t know if he’s father’s actually dead?

    3) Those hallucinations Jack had early in Season 1? They really were hallucinations. The way they occurred defies physics. Remember that Jack was under lots of stress (lack of sleep and trying too hard to be the hero) and that no one else on the island ever saw him.

    4) Supergenius? Not so much.

  6. BTD Greg, spout your “justifications” all you want. This is an island of miracles! I believe!!

  7. Yeah, SG, as anyone knows

    Christian Shephard is not alive

    anagrams perfectly to

    Hints: Is it Dec.? Alvar Hanso, he is R.I.P.

  8. I didn’t see the commercial, but apparently there was one for Hanso. Go to http://www.thehansofoundation.org. Under execs – you’ll see a picture we’ve seen before on Lost, also if you go to Joop’s corner and send him a message something happens (although it didn’t work for me!) But watch the reloading picture of Joop – you may just see another face!

  9. I noticed the word “HANSO” while ff-ing through commercials but didn’t stop to see what it was. But I did think, hmm.

    Did you read the speculation in the TWoP recaplet about who that daughter might be?

  10. So is the likely conclusion from last night’s developments that Michael has become an Other?

  11. Tom, NO. the likely conclusion is that the Others told him to free Henry Gale, either in exchange for Walt or under threat that they would kill Walt.

  12. if you visit the hanso website and then navigate away, the music remains!

    this is really cool to have this interactive aspect to the show. very mysterious. weird stuff on that website that seems so real and corporate sounding. it reminds me of a role-playing game or a choose-your-own adventure book.

  13. i sent the following message to joop:

    hi joop. you are a genetic freak.

    when i hit send, i saw a face in shadow with only the left ear in the light. it flashed to quickly for me to recognize the face, but it was freaky.

    mr. hanso surely won’t be happy with that message. i hope he can’t track ip addresses.

  14. under other projects, under mental health issues, there is a VIK update that allows interaction. i sent a message but the webpage continually said the connection timed out.

    this is really fun.

    it’s like nigel’s blog on crossing jordan.

  15. Rusty, it’s highly speculated, but also highly unlikely.

    What part of reclusive Danish billionaire do you people not understand?

    A more likely possibility is that Locke’s dad is the real Sawyer.

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