Thursday, March 11, 2010


Normally I don't blog on TV shows on this blog because I find it limiting. People tend to tune out if they don't watch the show. I get that. Why would you want to read about a show that you don't watch? If you wanted to watch it, you'd be watching it. Makes sense to me. The thing is that good writing is good writing. Period. And if the writing is good enough you don't have to watch the show to be moved.

One of my friends blogged today on a book that she was reading. She didn't write about the entire book, but what it was about (more or less), gave some of the more meaningful "quotes" that were giving her pause, and causing her to do some thinking when she wasn't reading. It made me think about reading that book. Of course, not right now, because my mind is really crowded with my own book, but later....

I am a big LOST fan. I've already posted on it and you can read about that here if you're also a LOST devotee, and interested in the nuance of the show. If you're not a LOST fan but do care something about good writing, read on. Since I am writing a book right now ~ and a daily blog ~ good writing sits on my mental front burner ALL OF THE TIME. Last night I was trying to explain this to my mom, who doesn't watch LOST and probably never will, and now I am going to do my best again here.

Tuesday's episode featured a guy named Ben Linus. In order for you to appreciate it, you need some background. I am sorry for that. I don't know how to make you truly feel how well this was written if you don't have it. Ben hasn't been a real likable guy. His motives have been questionable, at best, and he hasn't treated the people that we do like well. The only person that he has seemed to have any true fondness for is his daughter, who we later found out is a baby that he kidnapped from her biological mother. Like I said, not a real likable fellow. As time goes on, we do come to understand that everything Ben does, he does for the island. This mystical, magical island that Ben doesn't really understand, but lives in service to protect. It's all strange rules that we, the viewer, don't understand, which is part of the appeal (naturally). This other guy wants the island and sends mercenaries to take it; he breaks the rules. They grab Ben's daughter at gunpoint and demand that he surrender the island. He tells them that they are breaking the rules and says, "no," because he believes that everyone is still playing by the rules. They aren't and they shoot his daughter in the head. This single event changes everything for Ben. He goes to see Jacob, who he has actually never seen or spoken to, in order to find out how to save the island. The mystical Jacob is the Man In Charge, insofar as Ben knows. He gets no response, but the person he brings with him does hear/see something, which is maddening for Ben, who feels cheated and denied (again). It turns out that Ben has to be the person to "save" the island, and in the saving he also becomes banished. The two go hand in hand. Basically, he gets one raw deal after another. Stuff happens. Ben needs to get himself and the folks who were rescued back onto the island and he kills someone to do it. Yeah. He's gone just a little bit crazy. They all get on a plane they know is going to crash on the island. Turns out that the island is held in check by a balance. Jacob is the good. The unnamed man in black is the bad. The man in black takes over the body of the man Ben killed. He can do that sort of thing. The thing is Ben doesn't know that he's talking to the man in black. He thinks he's talking to a man come back to life. The island is magic, after all. He tells Ben that he is taking him to Jacob so that Ben can kill Jacob. He is honest about it. Ben asks "Why?" and the other guy responds with "Why not? When did Jacob ever help you?" Then, he reminds Ben of all the times that Jacob failed Ben so that he is good and mad when Ben and Jacob come face to face. Ben kills Jacob. It is only afterwards that Ben truly understands what happened. He was tricked. The evil on the island (aka the man in black) had taken human form and tricked him.

Now we can start with what was so awesome in Tuesday's episode. Yep. That was just the background. There were other people on the plane. In particular, there was a group that was there because they knew Jacob was in trouble and they were trying to protect him. They were too late. In this episode the leader found out that Ben was the one who plunged the dagger into Jacob's chest and killed him. She is an eye for an eye kind of woman. She shackles Ben's leg to the ground, hands him a shovel, and orders him to dig at gunpoint. "Why?" he asks. He already knew the answer to that one.

"You're digging your grave." Every time he slowed down, she fired off a round in his general direction.

He was pretty close to finished when the man in black shows up in the bushes and asks what he's doing (like he didn't know) and offers an alternative. He waves his hand and the shackles come undone. He tells him where there is a rifle, that his party is planning on leaving the island, and suggests that Ben take over as leader of the island. It's a mighty tempting offer considering. He also tells him that if push comes to shove he better use that rifle without hesitation because his captor will shoot him in a heartbeat, and then he leaves. Ben has a decision to make. He runs, she sees him and gives chase. He gets to the rifle and they are at a Mexican stand-off. (I'm picturing someone getting shot. Aren't you? Right now, I'm thinking, this is very, very bad. My heart is racing in my chest.)

Ben does the unexpected. He puts his rifle down, butt to the ground, and sags wearily against it. (I wish I could tell you word for word exactly what he said. I'm going to use quotation marks so you'll know it's him speaking but it isn't word for word. It's just my memory doing the best it can.) "You can shoot me if you want. I already lost everything. I gave up everything for this island. I watched my daughter get murdered in front of my eyes for this island. For Jacob. And I was so angry at him. And, yes, I killed him because he betrayed me. But I was wrong and I would undo it if I could, but I can't. So you can shoot me because I don't have anything more to lose."

And then she put her gun down. "I'm not going to shoot you." Ben turned and started walking in the other direction, a defeated person. She calls after him, "Where will you go?"

He turns around. "To them, I suppose."

She doesn't understand his choice. "Why?"

"Because they're the only ones that'll have me." He is a broken man. (Kudos to you Michael Emerson. I felt your pain. I am now crying like a child who just lost her best friend.)

"We'll have you." (Bring out the Puffs. Waaaahhhhhh)

I could tell you LOST is great because of all of the suspense, and really creative stuff they do with time and space, and how it always leaves you guessing, and all of that would be true. But, what makes any writing truly outstanding is the layering of the character. I would love to be that LOST in my writing. Ah... a girl can dream.


  1. Something tells me, you have everything you need to be that Lost in your writing.

    I've left a little something for you on my blog and wanted to let you know. There's no obligation to participate. Thought it might be fun for you.

  2. I've never seen Lost (it's not on 'freeview' TV in the UK - and as we're normally in bed by 9pm we don't pay for extra channels) but from your words, I wish I had...

    My blood group is O - knowing my luck, my recommended foods will be meat and fish! (I've been vegetarian for 20 years and can't imagine ever eating them again.) Interesting to know how it worked for you.

    I'm sorry you're so ill at the moment... I'm ashamed to say I only very vaguely know the background for this... I really do hope your health improves and you can start introducing activities I just take for granted back into your life...


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