Tuned In

Lostwatch: Guerrillas in the Myst

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SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched last night’s Lost, don’t cross the invisible threshold below, unless you want blood to spurt out of your ears.

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ABC/MARIO PEREZ

Lostwatch fans–yes, both of you–are probably wondering about now why I’ve fallen asleep on the job. Technical problems, involving time.com, or our blog-hosting company, or an electromagnetic pulse, I’m really not sure what, have kept me from logging in until just now.

Anyway, I’m happy. It’s easy to give up the praise to Lost episodes with memorable standalone plots–the Tailies episode, Desmond’s unstuck-in-time flashback–but shows like last night’s, which just plug ahead on the serial story, are the essence of the series.

Yes, there were implausibilities (Desmond catching a bird with his hands, a sonic barracks-defense system). I don’t really care. “Par Avion” showed that, while it may take its sweet time, Lost is not simply letting threads drop forever. First, the hints turned out to be true that Claire is Jack’s half-sister. (As well as a former quasi-Goth girl.) Second, we got another indication of the mysterious “Him” behind the Others and confirmation–if we can believe it–that Ben is not the Others’ ultimate leader. (The theory that Ben is actually Him has persisted even though Ben referred to Him last year in his Fake Henry Gale days last season.)

The episode, with the Strike Team trying to get past the barracks’ perimeter, also reminded me of something that I meant to make more of in my Lost feature last fall if I’d had the room: that the best way to understand Lost’s structure is to look at it as a computer game, specifically one like Myst. You are on an island that’s both serenely beautiful and hostile; there is a series of challenges, the solving of which opens new “areas” but present further mysteries; there is a mythology and history to the island that unravels itself as you play; and as in a videogame–and I’m stealing this idea from Steven Johnson and probably others–you have to discover the “rules” of this game in the process of playing it.

Other bits:

* Not so much comic relief last night, but I got a charge out of the Sayid-Locke dynamic, as they increasingly tussle over leadership. Sayid to Locke, on the reliability of the electrical map: “It’s certainly not as infallible as the magical carvings on your stick.” And a nice what’s-his-game moment about Locke’s swiping the C4, which he had claimed not to know was in Bakunin’s lair. Maybe he’s not a dumb as he’s been playing at lately.

* If you’re sending a note to the world by birdmail, might you not want to focus a little less on the bringing-new-life-into-the-world business and maybe a little more on the crazy-Utopian-scientists-are-trying-to-kill-us business? I mean, I know it sounds like a tall tale, but isn’t there the chance that people in the outside world would be able to verify the existence of DHARMA?

* Finally: football? I had the Others pegged as soccer people.

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