Remember That Time On LOST When: Ben Jumped The Island?
[Remember That Time On LOST is a daily post running the entire month up until the season premiere of LOST on February 2nd. I’m going to just pick something awesome, noteworthy, or ludicrous about LOST when I wake up that morning, and hopefully get you geeks talking about it with me.]
LOST didn’t jump the shark. Lost jumped the fucking Island.
Do you remember where you were when Ben jumped the Island? Do you remember when you were? I sure do. I was sitting in a pile of my own disbelieving fluids on my futon. It was the moment where LOST went from sort-of-crazy, to absolutely insane. It went from the guy who used to come into the Shell station I worked at who always ordered forty-two cents of gas, to the other guy at Shell who used to pick cigarettes out of the outdoor ashtrays and mumble to himself while drooling. Both crazy, but different shades for sure.
LOST had always hinted at time-travel. You know, played with the penis tip of insanity. A little flick here, a little rub there. But it was just toying with the concept. And I mean, can you really blame them? The unwashed masses who vomit up onto themselves while watching Everybody Likes Three And a Half Pedophiles Named Raymond aren’t much for time traveling, are they? They like jokes where the unfunny guy makes a comment that casts him as a buffoon to his wife, who just happens to be way too good looking for such an inept douche.
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, who shall be known as The Geeks With Balls of Enormity introduced time travel into a big budget show on a major network. Maybe my generation aren’t just a bunch of people spray-tanned orange and strung out on pills! Maybe they’re a people spray-tanned orange, strung out on pills, and down with some serious mind-intercoursing!
The moment itself is epic. It is so wonderfully apparent that the writers of LOST can’t do anything simple. There’s no magic lever that Ben pulls to jump the Island. There’s no single red button. No, Ben descends into an ancient cavern, cast in frost, and yanks on a wheel. It’s all so absurd and wonderful and it makes me gleeful that they’ve been able to tell this story, despite the fact that I have absolutely no idea what the Island is, why a donkey wheel can shift bodies of land, or why this wheel is in the heart of the Island, which just so happens to be bound in ice and snow.
And so Ben shifts the Island, and in doing so unbounds the show from yet another set of rules. Forwards, backwards, even perhaps laterally, the show can move in time. The show wipes its ass with past conventions of narrative and has sort of just made it up as it goes along. They take hypertextuality to a new level.
At first the show moved backwards from the present to the character’s past lives. Then it moves from the present, to the past, and also to the future. And when Ben moves the Island, dislodging the weird wheel that looks likes its from a Zelda game, the show moves in well, any direction. The present is an illusion, cast upon our lives by our mortal brains! In the next season, the present becomes a variety of moments, differing from character to character. And even then, the ‘present’ for someone can be all totally like 2004, then 1952, then 1976! Or something! Holy shit! Free your mind from common ideas of linearity!
Or be like me, and get nosebleeds and dance in the blood of your confusion! MUWHAHAHAHAHA.
The Island jumps and takes with it the remnants of narrative structure holding it in. Or maybe. I don’t know. As a literature major, I sort of want to argue with myself about this. I mean, clearly there is a structure, it is just not a linear one. Or maybe it’s a linear one, but perhaps that straight line appears non-linear, because of the times it weaves through. Or is non-linearity just an illusion, and…Alright, I just had the hugest moment of deja vu typing this, and I’m wondering if the donkey wheel is off its fucking axis.
But poof! The Island disappears! And it suffers a fate onto the writing of the show other than really taking away any constraints for what the writers can do. It also allows the Island to jump around in time, showing characters as we have never seen them, as well as giving us glimpses into what the Island looked like before. We get to see Taweret in her entirety, we get to see Alpert looking all gorgeous and brooding in the past. Never aging. Eternally smoldering with immortal importance and knowledge.
And so the Island moves in time-space-something, I don’t know I’m not a physicist, but Ben also jumps onto the Tunisia desert. And apparently, that jump gifts him with powers of kicking ass. I mean, I love Ben, but all of a sudden he’s in the desert and now he’s not a fucking dweeb anymore? Ben go karate-chop-chop! Who the hell knows, maybe they’re in the fucking Matrix. It was awesome.
Ben jumps the Island, plunges the story into more righteous absurdity, and explodes the expectations and conventions the show seemed to be working under. One of those pants-filling moments, of which this show is filled with many.