Tuesday, March 9, 2010

LOST and The Twilight Zone.

I can't hold back anymore; here are the shows from the Twilight Zone's first season that are relevant to LOST. Later seasons to follow. This is sooooooo fun! I wish LOST had been on when I was in college; my nights would have been spent taping up my glasses to do exactly this. The summaries are taken from Marc Scott Zicree's excellent book, "The Twilight Zone Companion."

1. "Where is Everybody?"

Mike Ferris, an amnesiac in an Air Force jumpsuit, finds himself in a town strangely devoid of people. But despite the emptiness, he has the odd feeling that he's being watched. As he inspects the town's cafe, phone booth, police station, drugstore, and movie theater, his desperation mounts. Finally, he collapses, hysterically pushing the "walk" button of a stoplight again and again. In reality, the "walk" button is a panic button, and Ferris is an astronaut-trainee strapped in an isolation booth in simulation of a moon flight. After 484 hours in the booth, he has cracked from sheer loneliness. His wanderings in the vacant town have been nothing more than a hallucination.

From the moment I saw Jack open his eyes up in the pilot episode, I was certain that this was what was happening: They are in some isolation booth somewhere and they are creating all of this drama out of sheer insanity or boredom. I don't necessarily think this episode is the most relevant anymore, but the hallucinations still fit if you consider the random dead people who seem to pop up all over the island; some we know about, like Locke, (Claire?), and Sayid. What about Christian Shephard? What is actually happening (flash sideways) and what is not actually happening? Are certain things just memories or were they actually experienced?

2. "Mr. Denton on Doomsday"

The setting is the Old West. Al Denton--once a feared gunslinger, now the town drunk--is forced to draw against Hotaling, a sadistic bully. But on that same day, Henry J. Fate rides into town. Somehow, Fate's glance gives Denton's hand a life of its own, and Denton gets off two miraculous shots, disarming his tormentor and regaining the respect of the town. His dignity renewed, he swears off liquor. . . (and yes, that is a young Martin Landau pouring the booze into Denton's mouth)

This is reaching a little, but the basic idea is that of the second chance, which is a huge factor for all of the characters. The survivors of 815 are immediately presented with a second chance, (courtesy of Henry J. Fate?) just by being able to start over again on the new island civilization. This is most important for those who were on the wrong side of the law when they took the flight, notably Kate and Sawyer, maybe even Sayid. Charlie got to start over too, eventually triumphing over addiction, developing a relationship with Claire (and Aaron), and pulling some major hero stuff down in The Looking Glass. Rose and Bernard get a second chance to enjoy each other without Rose's cancer; Sayid finds love with Shannon. Locke, obviously takes on an entirely new life on the island (1. no longer paralyzed and 2. replacing Ben as The Others' Leader), Jin and Sun conceive a baby despite struggling with infertility before the crash, and Hurley is no longer a jinx.

The Island=Fate?

3. Judgement Night

On board the SS Glasgow is a German named Karl Lanser, with no memory of how he got there, yet with the feeling that he's met all the passengers somewhere before. Things are made even more mysterious by Lanser's certainty that an enemy sub is stalking the ship, and by his premonition that something is going to happen at 1:15 A.M. His fear proves correct: at one-fifteen a U-boat surfaces. Peering through binoculars, Lanser sees that its captain is . . . himself! The U-boat sinks the helpless freighter, then crew members machine-gun the survivors. Lanser sinks beneath the waters. Later, on board the sub, a lieutenant suggests they might all face damnation for their action. Kapitan Lanser discounts this theory--not realizing that he is, in fact, doomed to relive the sinking of that ship for eternity.

In this story, the SS Glasgow = The Flying Dutchman. Might the Oceanic 815ers be the new crew of the new Flying Dutchman? There is something very tangible about these people having to do things over and over until they get them correct. . . but how does this happen, exactly? Who is pulling the strings? Eloise had a little bit of control over some of the events, or explaining them, anyway. "No Desmond, YOU DON'T BUY THE RING!" "LIKE IT OR NOT, THE ISLAND ISN'T DONE WITH YOU!" What does she know? Is there a manual of island "rules" that she is following? Why is she even involved in all of this anyway? Is there ONE MAIN EVENT that has to happen?

4. Mirror Image

Millicent suspects the bus station is run by lunatics: snappishly, the ticket taker tells her that she's repeatedly asked when the bus will arrive, adding that her suitcase has already been checked. In the washroom, the attendant claims she was there only a moment before. Yet she's done none of these things. She realizes that it is not their sanity which is in question when, in the washroom mirror, she spies a duplicate of herself sitting in the waiting room. Rushing out, she finds the room empty. . .

This hadn't really been on my radar as one to watch out for until Sayid smiled that EVIL smile back at Ben in the Temple after he had obviously gone public with "Team Smoke Monster." This is how "Mirror Image" ends, with the man's doppelganger running away from him, grinning a horrible grin back at him the entire time. A battle between the good and evil inside them?
Fighting the demons inside themselves? Yes.

Honorable Mention: "People Are Alike All Over."