Thursday, August 26, 2010

The New Man in Charge

I was very excited when I learned about The New Man in Charge, the 12-minute-long mini-episode that was included in the season six DVD set (along with the Blu-Ray and complete sets). Any more LOST was a delicious prospect, especially when the short would focus on two of my very favorite characters.

I was disappointed when I stopped hearing that it would be 20 minutes long and started hearing 12, and when I watched it, I was disappointed that there was so little interaction between Ben and Hurley. I would have loved to see the two of them on the Island together, bumbling through the first few days of their reign and perhaps interacting with Rose and Bernard and other Island residents. A teensy part of me hoped for some kind of resolution on the Annie front as well as some indication of just what happened to Jacob when he vanished after What They Died For, but I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t expecting any kind of major revelations, really, so whatever we got was a nice bonus. But I wish the epilogue had been about three times as long as it was...

I liked the two Dharma goons who had been holed up doing supply drops for 20 years. Pallet drop solved. And even though they worked for Dharma, they were completely clueless, and their demand for answers was like our own. Ben agreed to answer a few of their questions, but he wasn’t giving much away. He was as tight-lipped as Damon and Carlton, and just whetting our appetites for solutions to long-standing mysteries.

Nonetheless, we did find out a few things in the Hydra Station filmstrip. We learned a bit more about the Dharma experiments with polar bears. I feel like the “why” of the polar bears was pretty adequately explained in season three, let alone seasons four and five, but the filmstrip made it explicit. It also showed us that Dharma created the Hurleybird and that the Orchid was apparently responsible for the Island’s fertility problems. I still wonder why Ben was so stubborn about not letting people leave the Island to give birth. He must have known that this was Dharma’s solution to the baby problems. Was he afraid they would never come back?

Additionally, we learned that Dharma was into kidnapping Hostiles and sticking them in Room 23 in hopes of understanding them better. I wonder who was subjected to this treatment and whether finding out about this room may have been a contributing factor to enacting the Purge when they did.

The filmstrip went on a little long for me, since I knew that every minute with the movie was one less minute with Michael Emerson and eventually Jorge Garcia. It took up about half the short, and while it was somewhat illuminating, it was also rather dry. Still, I enjoyed it, especially in conjunction with the Dharma dudes’ confused responses.

The best part of the short for me was the visit to Santa Rosa, though it made me wonder about a good many things. When exactly is this taking place? Can we assume a couple of years? Because Walt seemed to be in perfectly good shape when he saw John and, later, Hurley. So how did he end up in a mental institution - especially one in L. A., when he was living in New York? Then again, he was going by the name Keith Johnson, like Michael’s Kevin Johnson, which suggests that Ben had a hand in setting the whole thing up, somehow arranging for his pseudonym and stay from a distance.

I also find it a little curious that Walt seemingly does wind up spending the rest of his life on the Island, yet he still isn’t in the church at the end. You’d think that he would’ve wound up especially close to Hurley, Rose and Bernard, and probably Ben as well. But I’m glad the epilogue suggested that Walt could help Michael to move on. I don’t know how that would happen, but it certainly seemed that Michael got a raw deal. He died the same way as Sayid, and just as self-sacrificially, and he killed far fewer people. And Ben probably did more nefarious things than the two of them put together. At least Michael had a noble reason for the terrible things he did.

My favorite line of the epilogue was Ben saying, “Everyone has friends, Walt. Even me.” Ah, Ben. How far you’ve come! I liked the granola bar gesture but would have found it more meaningful if it had been an Apollo bar, and thus a stronger callback to Ben’s Apollo bar moments with Annie and Hurley. At last he’s extending genuine friendship to someone. And I liked how Hurley’s words to Walt reflected Jacob’s to Hurley in The Incident.

I did find it a little curious that both of them were off the Island at the same time, but I suppose they could’ve had Rose and Bernard hold down the fort, and maybe that’s why they were in such a hurry. I’m also unclear on how the Dharma van got to L. A., but I’m not too bothered by that. Also, since he was right there, I kinda like the thought that Hurley went to visit his parents, though I’m not sure how he could pull that off without raising all sorts of strange questions. If he could swear them to silence, he could presumably make a habit of visiting them periodically - maybe for Christmas, for example, though I’d love to see an Island Christmas party thrown by Hurley. Maybe at some point he could even bring them to the Island for a visit.

It’s fun to imagine what Hurley and Ben’s tenure on the Island would look like. I’m curious about how Walt fits in. Are he and Ben going to share the duties of Number Two? Maybe Hurley will put Walt in charge of the Temple. Without a Smoke Monster, I guess there’s not much need for it, but it’s still a nice structure and a pleasant haven for whoever might come to the Island, at least once the carnage from Sundown is cleared away.

Anyway, it was nice to get a little bit of resolution on the Walt front, and more Ben and Hurley is always a good thing. Most of the deleted scenes from season six were rather uninspiring, but I liked the confrontation between Claire and Smokey as well as the conversation between Hurley and Sawyer on the beach in the immediate aftermath of the submarine explosion. I especially liked that Hurley mentioned Frank not making it; it always bugged me that everybody seemed to just forget about him.

Darlton have promised that LOST is definitely over now, though if they wanted to extend the series in a new format such as comic books, I would be the last to complain. Still, even if that were to eventually happen, I think it’s quite a ways down the road. This is the last new LOST material we’re going to get for a while, barring any tidbits that might appear in the encyclopedia, so I’ll accept it with gratitude.

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