Lost: Orientation   Rewatch 
July 25, 2023 7:06 PM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

A pit; a scratchy movie; a leap of faith.

S2E3: Orientation (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 5th October 2005 • writers Javier Grillo-Marxuach & Craig Wright • director Jack Bender • days 44-45 on the island • Locke flashbacks

I’m not bald • I can wait • shot-computer plot • what did you do? • there is no why • Kelvin • just saving the world, he says • finally returning to normalness • you sure seem calm for someone who believes the world’s going to end in the next 45 minutes • ORIENTATION - STATION III - THE SWANB.F. Skinner • we’re going to need to watch that again • Ana-Lucia in the pit • a surprising little howdy-doody • do you ever think that all this is just a mind game, an experiment? • EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. • as far as I can run, brother • you don’t know what’s going to happen; none of us do • was she okay, the girl? • viewer, I MARRIED HER • why do you find it so hard to believe? • it’s a leap of faith, Jack • I’ll take the first shift

DVD extra: Secrets from the Hatch (Lostpedia transcript)
Damon Lindelof: “Finding the hatch and discovering the hatch and going into the hatch are the very first things that J.J. talked about at the very first meeting that I sat down with him: was that they could find the hatch. And I said ‘Oh, that’s incredibly compelling. What’s inside?’ And he said ‘I don’t know. We’ll figure it out later.’”
Javier Grillo-Marxuach, The Lost Will and Testament
As a writers’ room, and a think tank before that, we kept pitching possibilities. The hatch was pitched as a gateway to a frozen polar bear habitat, the mouth of a cave full of treasure that would so entrance the castaways with dreams of avarice that Jack would ultimately be forced to seal it shut with dynamite, the door to a bio-dome whose inhabitants could only breathe carbon dioxide, and even a threshold to an Atlantis-style lost civilization.

As we trudged through the first half of season one, Damon rushed into the writers room one day with an uncharacteristic bounce in his step and declared that, “Inside the hatch there’s a room with a guy in it and if he doesn’t press a button every 108 minutes, the world will end.”
DVD extra: Secrets from the Hatch
Javier Grillo-Marxuach: “For me, the great thing about the hatch is that we literally took something that was completely out of the realm of normal experience in every way whatsoever, and put it in there, and planted it and played it for so long and in such a way, that by the time you got in there, there could have been anything in there. And you would have probably accepted it as a reality of the show.

And that’s probably the thing I like best about the hatch, is that it sort of speaks to the way that Lost manipulates reality and the way that Lost presents reality. We’re really able to take something that was completely far out there, but then because of the execution, and because of how the actors react to it, and because of the set design and everything, it sort of becomes the accepted reality.”
Myles McNutt, AV Club: Lost (Classic): “Orientation”/“Everybody Hates Hugo”
Lost never wants the audience to have its bearings. The Swan Station orientation film is pure Lost, in that it’s three minutes of new information that replaces every mystery it solves with more questions. Even the film’s title card is a provocation, assuring us we’re seeing only one of six videos covering what may well be five other stations located on the island. Everything we learn about the Dharma Initiative, the Swan Station, and the island from the video doesn’t serve to eliminate existing mysteries; rather, it seeks to give them context, translating them from a work of mystery to a work of a mysterious organization that could hold a key to a deeper understanding of what the hell is going on.

The Dharma orientation film is as blatant an exposition dump as you’ll see on a television series: when Desmond tells them there’s a movie, it almost sounds like a joke, until suddenly Jack and Locke are having a conversation while casually playing high school A.V. club setting up the projector. The scene reaffirms that Lost successfully created a core audience that not only accepts the necessity of exposition, but also is downright fueled by info dumps like this one. The show turned exposition into an art form, here constructing an unreliable document of the past that offers the exact right combination of context for things we’ve seen, the promise of things we haven’t, and the sense that any or all of it could be nothing but misdirection.
Heimlich Maneuvers, Lost Re-view: Orientation
The episode concludes with a confrontation between [Locke and Helen], outside Locke’s father’s house. She wants to help him, but he has to promise not to keep coming back here. Locke has to take “a leap of faith” with her. And he seems to agree to this with a passionate kiss.

And though that’s as far as this is taken in this episode, it’s a huge insight into Locke in the grand scheme of things. Even watching this the first time around, you’re already equipped with enough information to know this didn’t end well. For one, Locke ended up in a wheelchair. For another, we’ve seen a flashback in which he’s paying a phone sex operator to pretend she’s Helen.

All this explains exactly why Locke is so keen to accept everything on the Island on faith — including its latest wrinkle, the button: because Helen asked him to take a leap of faith with her, and he didn’t go through with it. He lost her. So now, Locke has resolved to himself to take every leap of faith presented to him, lest he miss out on something else just as wonderful.
Rewatch companion: THE STORM: A Lost Rewatch Podcast - S2, E3: "Orientation" with Jeff Jensen
Jeff Jensen: “When I think about Orientation, I think about that opening sweep of episodes: the season premiere, Man of Science, Man of Faith. I love that episode. Then we move into Adrift, which is definitely a drift episode of Lost, one of the worst. But then Orientation, which completely rebounds. And this triptych of episodes completely, uh: just, like, I had been a fan of the first season and had written about it. But these three episodes taken together, and specifically the third, Orientation, just made me crazy for the show.

So Orientation specifically, of course, is where we get our first big download of Dharma Initiative mythology, specifically in the form of that orientation film. And, you know, when John Locke said the immortal words, we’re going to have to watch that again, he spoke for me. And I think for a lot of people. I watched that thing over and over and over again, and in the weeks and months to come, this episode completely delighted and tantalized and hooked me for the part of the show that’s the puzzle. That’s the mystery. That’s what is happening? Why have these people been brought to the island? What is the history of the island? What is the purpose of the island? What are all of these things? What was the Dharma initiative? And what were they studying, and what did they have to do with anything? And what about this mysteriously chopped-up edited film, filled with conspicuous touches from loaded names to the fact that Dr. Marvin Candle’s arm doesn’t move to the symbol of the Dharma logo? It’s like, I was just so tantalized by all of these details, and it just got that part of my brain that’s always been part of my peak fandom, the theorizing part of my brain going.

And so this episode, it launched a million theories from me, and really created Doc Jensen. Because out of that I told my editors: I gotta be online theorizing about the show and playing with the show, like every other fan. I was just that guy. Like, internally at Entertainment Weekly, after every episode of Lost, I would share my nutty theories via email with my colleagues, and they actually encouraged me: you’ve got to get online and play with people. So, that’s part one of that story. That’s a huge reason why Orientation spoke to me.

The other part is that I love — and always was intrigued — I love the themes of faith and reason in the show. And Orientation hits that really hard. And in the conflict between Locke and Jack, and in the internal conflicts within Locke and within Jack: I recognize myself, as a guy who is a person of faith, but is also kind of conflicted about my own faith, and is constantly questioning my own faith, or even wondering where it comes from. Like, is it grounded and rooted, and something that is actually real? Am I seeing it clearly? Or am I just kind of colored by my own biases, and my own personal history and pains and traumas. Do I want this to be true? The conflict between these two guys, the conflict within themselves, the larger meta questions represented by the hatch, and how it pertains to all of that: it just spoke to me rather powerfully. And building to one of my favorite, favorite moments on a character level in all of Lost: when Locke says to Jack, why do you find it so hard to believe? And Jack says: Why do you find it so easy? And Locke just says rather poignantly: It’s never been easy. And I was like, oh, that exchange, those three lines, delivered by the way that those guys deliver those lines. I feel like that’s my spiritual life in a nutshell.

And, you know, it’s not: Lost presents themes of faith and reason so fancifully, and in the abstract and metaphorically emotional, it’s a weird thing. It doesn’t present necessarily a coherent view of all of those ideas. But somehow it expresses some truth about that in an emotional way, and I just, I connected to that. So Orientation is the show that made me a playful fan, but also kind of told me, oh, this is a show about deep things in me that I recognize. And so, it’s the most meaningful episode of Lost to me. It may not be the best, empirically, in terms of quality, but it’s the one that means the most to me.”

Jeff Jensen: “One other interesting thing that I really noticed about Orientation watching it again — and that I think that I was in touch with when I saw it the first time, you know, when I was watching season two when it first aired with the rest of us — is that Orientation really is also an episode in which Lost is talking to its fandom about the struggle and frustration of being a Lost fan. It is a very self-aware episode about the demands that it’s placing on the audience. But in the sense of like, you know: we are a broadcast television show. It is our job to remain a successful broadcast television show. Which means that all of these mysteries that you want answered, all of the plot tension, will these guys get rescued, where are they? All of these things now are like: we don’t know when we’re going to resolve all of this stuff, because we don’t know if we can end the show. And what we know behind the scenes of the show is that, as early as the beginning of season two, Damon Carlton and JJ knew that they had an issue of, you know, the best possible form of Lost is probably a 48-episode show. And that we’re not going to be able to really resolve all of these things that people want answers to or resolution to until we know we can end. Until then, a lot of it is going to have to be shot-computer plots. A lot of it is going to have to be adrift on an ocean with Sawyer and Michael on a log. A lot of it is going to be Sawyer, Jin, and Michael trapped in that little pit.

And for the Lost fan, then, it’s an act of faith. It’s a leap of faith that all of this means something. All of this is going to add up to something. And that until then, it is an exercise in, like, watching a choppy orientation film and having faith that it means something. It does represent, just like sitting at a computer and dutifully inputting a code every 108 minutes, the same way that you show up here every week to watch 60 minutes of Lost. So, in many and various ways, Orientation is about setting an orientation for Lost fandom. And it’s an episode that says: we feel your pain, you know, we get it. Our job is to keep you constantly entertained and constantly enmeshed with this show. But at the same time, we understand that it’s a leap of faith for you and we’re kind of grateful for it.”

“I can’t do this alone, Jack. I don’t want to. It’s a leap of faith, Jack.”

posted by We had a deal, Kyle (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Currently streaming in the US on Hulu (subscription) and Freevee (free with ads); in the UK on Disney+; and available for purchase just about everywhere. Next episode will post at the weekend.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:06 PM on July 25, 2023

Yes yes late again. I quoted at length from the Jeff Jensen interview; it's terrific and well worth a listen.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2023

I only just now realized the freaky little tune at the start of the orientation film is the same basic tune from the premiere cold open when the camera pans up the hatch to find Jack and Locke looking down.
posted by Servo5678 at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2023

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