'Lost' Dueling Analysis: 'The New Man in Charge'
After that brief online leak a couple of weeks ago, the "Lost" epilogue -- a 12-minute, post-finale chapter called "The New Man in Charge" that plunges us once more into the mythology of the Dharma Initiative -- was officially released Tuesday on the new "Lost" DVD and Blu-ray sets. (Read the full DVD and Blu-ray review here.)
This development naturally led to one conclusion -- it's time to revive the dueling analysis! I (Jen Chaney) am here. And yes, despite being on maternity leave, Liz Kelly is here, too. Both of us are ready to break down all the revelations in the epilogue and wrestle with some of the obvious questions, like: why is Connect Four the only board game they can afford at the Santa Rosa Mental Health institute?
BIG 'OL SPOILER ALERT NOTE: Before proceeding further, know that there are numerous epilogue spoilers ahead. If you haven't watched "The New Man in Charge," wait until after you have before reading further.
Jen: I never thought there would be another dueling analysis, but I should have known better. When it comes to "Lost," the island has a way of pulling us back in. And yes, I do mean us, because I am beyond thrilled that new mom Liz Kelly is here for this very special "Lost" epilogue analysis. Before we get to the business of Ben Linus and Dharma pallet drops, Liz, our readers are dying to know how you and Desmond (the baby version) are doing.
Liz: I have to admit, my fingers feel a bit stiff and my brain a bit sluggish after eight weeks of being on baby patrol, but Mr. Desmond -- who watched "The New Man in Charge" with me -- is upstairs sleeping and I've got a piece of cheesecake next to the computer, so I'm sure I'll make it through this mini-analysis without embarrassing myself too much.
As you said, the island -- or ABC -- wasn't done with us yet, so we get to do one more analysis. And in my heart of hearts, I think that the island isn't through with the island yet, either, so maybe we'll be back in regular business one day. Anyhow, first reactions to the feature: It was fun. It made me nostalgic. I wanted more.
How 'bout you?
Jen: I had exactly the same reaction. I first watched it online a couple of weeks ago, during that brief three- or four-hour window before Disney yanked it down. And on first viewing -- and even second and third viewings -- it definitely made me miss the show. Seeing Ben Linus in a semi-leadership role was like sitting down to have lunch with an old friend. And it goes without saying that said lunch would include ham.
Liz: And a Dharma granola bar.
Jen: Right. That said, I do think that some of the information imparted in the epilogue could have been woven into the show. The epilogue as presented, in its entirety, didn't fit in tonally with the finale at all, but the details about Dharma -- like the information about electromagnetism and pregnancy, for example -- could have been included at some point so we didn't have to wait this long to confirm our long-held suspicions.
I guess the question is: does it offend you that they smacked this onto a DVD as a way to entice "Lost" fans to buy?
Liz: First -- you're right. It didn't fit tonally with the finale. And I'm not prepared to say I preferred it to the finale, but my husband is -- and did. He wasn't a big fan of the "we're all dead and going to heaven together in a big convoy" ending and felt this was more playful and in line tonally with the spirit of the show as a whole.
Am I offended? No. Because I am not a delusional nincompoop who has forgotten that "Lost" existed as a money-making venture, and that without that impetus it would never have aired in the first place. And no, I'm not calling Jen a nincompoop. That is directed at nameless, faceless whiners who have made the point elsewhere.
At the same time - I wish that the show had gone in this direction in the final season rather than wasting time with Dogen and Lennon and that temple nonsense.
Jen: I understand why some people might be offended by it, and I understand why others, like Jeff Jensen, might have been underwhelmed by the epilogue. But I wasn't. To me it was just a fun, final taste of "Lost" that fleshed out the mythology a bit and let us spend a little more time with some of the characters we love. Nothing more, nothing less. The idea that it -- as a Daily Beast headline suggested -- may have "ruined the show" seems like hyperbole to say the least.
So anyhoo, let's break down the information.
Liz: Yes, maybe we should do this as a quick list of the answered questions?
1. The Dharma food and supply drops apparently came from Guam, courtesy of Dharma Initiative employees Glenn and Hector, who sent them based on automated, print-out requests from the Lamp Post station. (Of course that raises the question: who set up the automated requests that the drops be sent? Maybe we'll find out someday in an epilogue to the epilogue.)
2. Although Glenn and Hector had been there for 20 years doing this job in a seeming vacuum -- using old printing presses and getting messages via teletype -- they had a DVD player.
3. Ben Linus just so happens to carry around DVDs with the extremely detailed Hydra Station orientation video on them. And those DVDs come in a binder that looks exactly like my season five Dharma Intiaitve Orientation box set.
Liz: Dismissed as coincidence!
4. The polar bears were being used to study electromagnetism, which (4.5) can negatively effect a gestating polar bear -- or, we have to assume, human.
5. Extrapolating from that polar bear information, we can further assume that the electromagnetism at the Orchid Station -- which Chang warns about in the orientation video because of the impact it can have on early-term pregnancies in polar bears -- is what caused pregnant women to die on the island. Also, based on this information we can presume that the pregnancy problem intensified post-Incident.
6. And maybe this one is more of a question, so I'll just pose it as one: The bird in the covered cage behind Chang in the video. I'm thinking Hurley Bird. You?
In which case we can assume it was the product of some nutso Dharma "Island of Dr. Moreau"-ish tinkering which rendered it a squawking, talking freak of nature.
Jen: Totally the Hurley Bird, which, agreed, apparently was a genetic hybrid that was part of Dharma's research. Why the heck it said Hurley, though? Still a mystery.
7. Room 23 was used as a place to interrogate and brainwash Hostiles by the Dharma Initiative. You know, before Karl got stuck in there for a while.
Liz: Right. Though it was a little bit laughable to think that the training for said interrogation consisted of that Dharma film, which included Chang basically instructing his fresh recruits -- none of whom were trained in interrogation or medicine -- to stick big needles in the back of their necks.
Jen: But it worked so well on the mannequin. How hard could it be to do the same on a real, live, angry Hostile?
8. Walt is a man. A man now confined to the familiar Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute and -- as Hurley once was -- considered crazy. Maybe that's a prerequisite for running the island. One's "special" qualities must be mistaken for insanity. I'm sure the Man in Black would choose "insane" rather than "special" to describe Jacob, if forced to choose.
Jen: We also learned that Walt likes to play Connect Four, another necessary byproduct of alleged insanity. And that it's super-easy for him to just walk out of Santa Rosa with Ben and not be stopped by anyone.
9. Walt was checked into Santa Rosa under the alias Keith Johns, a name that is a nice reference to his dad's one-time alter ego, Kevin Johnson.
10. In a nod to the finale's heavenly message, we learn that Walt can still help his pop -- even though he's deader than a Dharma doornail.
Jen: I liked Ben's response to Walt's assertion that his dad is dead: "That doesn't mean you can't help him." Yet another guy with daddy issues going back to the island to search for his deceased father who is living in some kind of limbo. Man, where have I heard that story before?
11. Hurley says he has a job for Walt. Hmmm, I wonder if the training for said job will require Hurley to make Walt drink some water, then tell him, "Now you're like me"?
Liz: Yep, Walt seems to be the heir apparent. Good for him. He always deserved better than randomly making birds slam into glass windows and ending up with his grandma back in the States.
12. My final observation: Dharma buses age well and are, apparently, as easy to find as a Zip car.
Jen: Maybe Ben and Hurley flew off the island in the van. You know, like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John did at the end of "Grease." Hurley's the new man in charge. He's all about pushing the envelope.
Liz: That would have been a nice ending -- the Dharma van rising into the sky...
Jen: "We'll always be together..."
Liz: "Beep beep!"
13. One more revelation I meant to note earlier: we now know that Dr. Pierre Chang sometimes used other names because someone leaked his identity outside of Dharma. He noted at the beginning of the Hydra training video that if anyone shared his name with the outside world, he wold have to assume various aliases. Thank God I don't have to refer to him as Dr. Marvin Candle or Dr. Edgar Halliwax anymore.
Liz: Okay, one final hit from each of us. My favorite moment: The Dharma polar bear keeper who was missing half of his right arm. It was funny, absurd and gruesome -- one of my favorite combos.
Jen: That was indeed very funny. For me, it was the minute Michael Emerson walked into that Guam warehouse and said, "Hello, my name is Benjamin Linus. I'm from the home office." I just wanted to punch him playfully on the shoulder and say: "Oh, YOU."
I also liked how peacefully authoritative Hurley seemed in his "man in charge" role. It reminded me of how he was in the sideways flashes to some degree; nice to see he achieved that status in real life, too -- or whatever passes for real life on "Lost."
I have a final question for you. Well, not FINAL final, just final for now.
Jen: Do you think this epilogue sets us up for the continuation of the "Lost" narrative in some form? As soon as it ended, I thought: "Well, I guess we'll be seeing the Walt-as-leader-of-the-island comic book sometime in the near future."
Liz: I don't know that it set us up specifically for a Walt-led reboot of some sort, but it did prove that there's some life yet to be wrung from the franchise. And I am still convinced that will happen in some form or another in the next few years. I mean, we can't just let the cast go to seed in remakes of "Hawaii Five-0" and "The Rockford Files." What say you?
Jen: I don't think the story will go on as another TV show, or even as a movie necessarily. But I see it spawning other ancillary story-telling devices -- maybe Webisodes or video games or, as I mentioned, comics. Something. If there are people willing to spend $27,500 on Daniel Faraday's journal, then ABC and Disney have to know that, by God, there is money left to be wrung from the "Lost" obsessed. And wring it, I suspect, they shall, though hopefully with something that's well done and doesn't tarnish the "Lost" name ... you know, for us rubes who still don't think it was tarnished.
And with that, shall we adjourn with our standard best quote poll?
Liz: Let's do. And thanks for giving me this opportunity to exercise the non-mommy part of my brain.
Jen: Even though we didn't really reach any conclusions, it was so nice to do this again. Namaste, Mama Liz.
Liz: Back atcha.
Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
| August 25, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
Categories: Lost, Pop Culture, TV
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