Is The Strain LOST In The Eye Of The Beholder?

I’ve sure you’ve seen the advertisements of the small worm burrowing into an eyeball. These days when I think of eyeballs, I think of two things:  “The Twilight Zone” and “Lost”. Only one of them makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Also brought to you by the letter “eye”  and coming soon to a network near you, is “The Strain”. “The Strain” is a revision on the age old vampire tale and  premiered on FX July 13, 2014. It is a collaborative effort, written by Guilermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan based on their somewhat obscure vampire novel trilogy. Del Toro pitched the idea as a series some time ago and apparently somebody caught it.  But there is another “eye” connection here.

If you were ever, even briefly, a fan of LOST (which ended with much clatter 4 years ago) then you are familiar with Carlton Cuse, one of the writers of that mythological mess. Well, the eye is back and so is Cuse, as the director and one of the executive producers of “The Strain”.

According to the teasers, a plane lands at JFK with the lights off and doors sealed and 200 hundred corpses. Then things start to get weird when bodies start to disappear from morgues as “an ancient threat to humanity” is unleashed. Sound good? So did the Smoke Monster, if you recall.

There are many who swore to never again invest time in any project Cuse or LOST protégé Damon Lindelof had anything to do with. On the other side of the spectrum such acrimony is nonexistent, testimony to the rift the last season produced. But whether you are a LOST fan or an “Other”, it still merits taking a look at the manner in which many of the concepts of LOST were harvested and presented. And ask yourself: “Am I willing to invest 4-5 years of my life on a tale comprised mostly of something borrowed in some new packaging?” In Cuse’s own words,  “There have been some modifications” to the creatures, but I’m really pleased with how they’ve come out.” And that’s supposed to reassure me how?

We’ve seen your modifications in action before. But in all fairness, one shouldn’t hack away at “The Strain” until there’s something hack-worthy. In the meantime, let’s review Cuse’s previous Frankenstein Monster, “LOST” and start with the most reviled premise from a decade ago.

The theory that events in LOST are simply the hallucinations of one of the characters is virtually universally despised and rejected as a possibility. First of all, it would fly in the face of a vast fan base that has invested years in watching individual character development, only to discover it was just the imagination of the same autistic child of St Elsewhere fame. Even Bobby Ewing would prefer to wait out that backlash in the shower. This is why demonstrating the plausibility is such wicked fun!

With apologies to Rod Serling, I submit for your consideration a short story first published in 1890 by Ambrose Bierce entitled, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. In addition to being a “Twilight Zone” classic, it has also been referenced in LOST, specifically the episode entitled “The Long Con”. This short, but poignant tale describes what happens to a man condemned to hang in the instant between the fall and the end of the rope (http://extend.unb.ca/wss/1145demo/owl2.htm). Ironically, it was Locke looking through this particular book in the episode, a bit eerie given his ultimate fate.

The concept that the human mind can construct intricate designs bordering on reality lends credence to the theory, especially when supported by the oftentimes incredible coincidences that surround the characters. Could the ghostly encounters with people who couldn’t possibly be on the Island, the ancient architecture and the Smoke Monster, be the final, collective hallucinations of dozens of people dying in the aftermath of a plane crash? Another book adds support to the possibility, plus a few other connections to LOST.

“The Third Policeman” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Policeman), written under the pseudonym Flann O’Brien around 1940, was not published until 1967 and has also shown up in the background of LOST. Without giving away the story itself, there are some interesting parallels between this tale and LOST. There is a vast underground chamber where time stands still, significant numbers, and an “anything box” from which anything you desire can be produced. While these “parallels” may be intentional red herrings, the state of mind of the narrator begs the question, “What exactly is reality if not what we directly observe and experience?” Is THAT what the “open eye” at the beginning of many episodes implies?

Then who’s doing the hallucinating? Hurley would be hardly the “twist” we‘re looking for, so it would have to be more intricately unexpected. One possibility is psychic Miles as part of a recovery team, trying to salvage the final thoughts of the corpses to determine what actually happened to the plane. This would be an avenue to a completely different ending.

“Get anything?” asks another team member who looks mysteriously like Richard. “Nothing, just gibberish…” Miles says sarcastically as the camera pans away from the open, dead eye of Jack. With a worm in it. Cue “The Strain” logo. Fade to black.

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