Sunday, July 26, 2009

Exhausted Analysis & Recap of the Last LOST Panel at Comic-Con 09

I just returned from San Diego Comic-Con and had an absolutely incredible time before, during and after the Lost panel. This is my recap and analysis of the panel and experience leading up to it. UPDATE: DocArzt has posted my video of the entire Lost panel here (with the exception of the Lost University and Mysteries of the Universe videos; links to those are below)!


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First of all, thank you very much for all of your extremely nice comments on FB & Twitter while I was there! And a huge shout out of gratitude to Bonnie, Mary Anne and Frank, who were kind enough to don my new Lost Fan tees and be on my 'team.'

Frank and his wife Linda are awesome - they got in line for the Lost panel at 6pm on Friday night, and saved a spot for me! I joined them at midnight, and we had a great time chatting with fellow Lost fans for hours (no, I did not sleep a wink). And not only did my better half agree to attend Comic-Con for the first time, she wore my tee every single day and took some amazing photos at the panel! I also need to thank everyone on Twitter and in line who participated in my Lost Trivia game, and give a belated virtual hug to my friend TheODI (who helped me gather the attention of the tired masses to play along).

I attended Comic-Con as official press, representing the site TVOvermind, on which I am a contributing writer. I was able to participate in the press sessions following both the FlashForward and Lost panels. TVOvermind is one of Jon's (DocArzt) sites, and while there is no way I will ever truly be able to thank him for this opportunity, I was able to snag one of the limited edition bloody Ben Linus bobbleheads for him as a start. :)

THE PANEL

It is hard to describe the energy in Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center, the enthusiasm of 6500 Lost fans & press, and the general fervor for the last ever panel featuring our favorite series. But it was electric and exciting to say the least.

I forget the order, but they showed two new videos at the beginning of the panel. The first was a Dharma documentary called Mysteries of the Universe. This video is going to be one of the most talked about and over analyzed for months to come, because it was chock full of Easter Eggs and potential clues. The very first was the statement that "they look like us, they talk like us, they walk among us, yet they are not us." Consider the whole 'us vs. them' mentality and that (in Season 3) we learn that one of Jack's tattoos reads "he walks among us, but is not one of us." HELLO! Conspiracy theorists, start your engines.

The video also mentions secret societies, and that a new clandestine organization has formed (The DI). The pseudo television series Mysteries of the Universe: The Dharma Initiative floats the following words at the end of the video: alien life forms, paranormal activity, monsters, ancient cultures, conspiracy, cults. Now I know they're messing with my head, because while they have addressed almost all of those topics, I would be VERY surprised if they ever went in the direction of outer space. My biggest fear for Lost is that it would end in the style of that last Indiana Jones film; yikes!

One of the next videos to roll was an ad for what appears to the new ARG (alternate reality game), Lost University. Click here to view the official video and site, which has some very interesting suggested reading materials for those of you who enjoyed the Lost Book Club. Nice polar bear mascot on the school logo, by the way.

When the lights dimmed and they announced Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (who entered, appropriately, to The Final Countdown), the venue erupted in applause. Darlton verified what I'd already heard, that this was indeed the last ever Lost panel, and I tend to believe them. Those both in front of the camera and behind the scenes on the series will have moved on to other television shows and films by this time next year, and logistically it would be quite challenging to arrange another Lost panel (despite obvious clamoring for one by lifetime fans).

That they decided to highlight fan-generated content at the panel is a real indication of their unique relationship with the people who support their series. The montage of clips created by very clever fans was very entertaining, and I applaud their creativity.

Of course we knew that there was no way that Darlton were going to actually have the final scene of the entire series written down, let alone in their possession. So when they pretended to lock it up in yet another mystery box, I knew we were in for a treat later.

To be honest, I usually dread the audience question portion of any panel, because of those who choose to waste every one's time with questions that were clearly not well thought out. However, I was very pleased with the inquires and statements from this particular panel. When the first two people asked about the possible similarities between Seasons 1 and 6, we were all very happy to hear their response:
"There is a good chance that you'll be seeing many characters that you haven't seen since the first season."
And then actor/comedian Paul Scheer (Human Giant) appeared at the mic! I'm not sure that everyone in the audience recognized him or realized that he was a plant, but his shtick was hysterical nonetheless. Basically, he presented Darlton with velvet panting of them with a white polar bear and gave us the name of the website accompanying it; check out Damon Carlton And A Polar Bear. Love it.

The second (real) fan question resulted in yet another outburst of applause, because Darlton said the following:
"Technically speaking, if Jack and crew were successful, it could mean that Faraday would be happily married...You could be seeing Faraday on the show."

I love how they keep changing the rules of the game on Lost; that every season premiere and finale are mind-blowing and unexpected is one of the main reasons that I absolutely love the show. So when Darlton said that they are doing something different in Season 6, I was not surprised. We've had flashbacks, flashforwards and time shifts...so I'm on board for whatever new method of storytelling they choose for the final season.

I would love to hear the 100 submissions of original music that ABC received for their Lost Theme Song contest, because the winning song was pretty impressive. UPDATE: here is a link to the song by the first runner-up (which I really like): Kawnar's "Where We Are."

As for the "commercials" that played, I will point you in Doc's direction. He has posted the Hurley & Oceanic videos, as well as the Kate video. There is already some fascinating speculation about the underlying meaning of the content in each of these videos, and after I recover from Comic-Con I plan to address them in detail as well.

When Jorge Garcia appeared at the mic, it was a fantastic surprise to almost everyone there (many had seen him attempt to walk the exhibition floor a day earlier). He asked Darlton if the commercials indicate that Jack's actions in the S5 finale worked and flight 815 didn't crash. Darlton's response? "Trust us." Jorge's comeback? "The last time you told me to trust you guys, you said that Nikki and Paolo were going to be awesome." Classic!

And I was thrilled when Darlton reiterated that only the questions "that matter" will be answered by the time the series ends. I have been guilty of this in the past, but I really think that people need to come to terms with the fact that some smaller details may remain mysteries because they are insignificant to the larger picture.

When we heard the distinctive voice of Benjamin Linus, we knew were were about to experience the brilliance of Michael Emerson in the flesh. He and Jorge traded barbs back and forth at the mic, and it was so damn funny. I got an instant visual reminder of the great scene between Ben and Hurley outside of Jacob's cabin, when they shared an Apollo bar. Jorge told the audience that Emerson originally wanted to play Hurley, and then proceeded to show us Emerson's audition tape. It featured Emerson in a bandanna, reading one of Hurley's scenes in a very non-Ben and non-Hurley way; rather blandly. It was fantastic.

Emerson and Jorge then joined Darlton on stage, and we were told that we would be treated to more Richard Alpert in the final season, as well as his backstory.

"As one might infer, Richard's flashback is fairly involved."
So of course I am hoping we'll see just how the Black Rock landed in the middle of the island, and Alpert's association with it.

My favorite fan question of the panel was from the dude in the Dharma suit who said that he cried like a girl when Juliet died. I feel your pain, man. I cried too. He asked if Juliet was okay, and if not...can they make her okay? Imagine my joy from Darlton's response:
"This returns to the idea of whether or not her detonating the bomb had the desired effect. And if it did, my guess would be that she's okay. Elizabeth Mitchell will be on Lost in the final season."
Next, legendary Comic-Con reporter/comedian Bob Stencil put on a brief theatrical performance at the mic, complete with fake nose bleed and "hold on, I need my Constant," followed by the opening of a Dharma beer. Darlton are obviously familiar with him, because they gave him a custom Bob Stencil hatch t-shirt!

The next fan question was one I knew that would not receive an upfront response - if Jacob's nemesis MysteryMan/NotLocke was named Esau. Darlton had Emerson answer, and he was as vague as they tend to be. While his name is probably not Esau, those who believe he is are heading in the right direction.

After a fan inquired about Nestor Carbonell and eyeliner, they showed my favorite video of the day...Carbonell sitting at a dressing room vanity table, talking to himself in the mirror: "Richard Alpert's not immortal. You are." And then he proceeds to put on eyeliner, and freaks out when he discovers it is cobalt because he only uses Onyx. Priceless. Carbonell then appeared on stage, which was a nice surprise.

Hurley 1 & Hurley 2 (Stuart); TheODI & I arranged for them to meet in line & both asked questions at the panel

Hurley look-a-like Stuart, who many Lost fans recognize from previous Comic-Con appearances, then made a very nice statement to the panel about the fond memories of the show and camaraderie with fellow fans. He also asked about the Dharma food drop from Season 2, and Darlton said they are going to address that in the final season. Check that mystery off of your list, kids. [sidenote: I interviewed Stu after last year's panel; he is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet]

Another cool Hurley look-a-like (who was handing out leis to fellow fans in line before the panel and greeting them with "Namaste!") asked Darlton about how much of the Dharma Initiative we'll see in S6, and basic response was - very little.

The last fan question was regarding Jacob, and if he ever appeared to the Losties as any other image other than himself. The answer was no, but I wish someone would have asked the same about MysteryMan/NotLocke! Then Darlton gave him a wooden statue of Claire's migratory bird because he said the secret word (Claire). I thought for sure that Emile de Ravin was going to walk out on stage at that point, but unfortunately I was wrong.

Darlton gave shout outs to their entire team, who have worked so hard behind the scenes for the last five years; it was a very nice gesture, and classy.

When they said that they had one more surprise guest, the possibilities seemed endless (of course I was hoping for Liz Mitchell). But when they showed a montage of Sawyer clips, the audience went understandably wild. Josh Holloway is definitely a fan favorite, and certainly deserved that kind of response after his stellar S5 performance.

Holloway is so damn charming in person; he OWNED that room (and the same could be said for the press room; more on that later). He pointed to Nestor's seat and said "the make-up chair's right there." Ha!

Holloway brought out a taser and pretended to zap Damon with it in order to steal the key to open the mystery box containing the last scene from the series finale. He called Carlton "Lurch" and said "I will shock your friend J.J. Abrams here again!" And then he called Damon "Linda" and put his hand in a pitcher of water. SO great. Carlton also gave up his key, opened the box and handed Holloway the alleged scene.

Emerson took the scene from Holloway, saying "oh my God, you don't know how to read, do you?" We found out that it was actually a scene from Heroes when Emerson mentioned the names Sylar and Parkman. The very best line of the panel? When Emerson said, "What the f*ck is this?!"

While I know this little act wasn't intended to be a dig at the other series (because Darlton are friends with some of their creative team), it does point out in glaring spotlight just how far Heroes has fallen...compared to the consistently stellar writing, acting and production on Lost season after season.

After Darlton thanked the fans for their many years of support, they showed a touching tribute (In Memoriam) of the characters who have died on Lost. Now, given that they had just revealed that we'd be seeing both Faraday and Juliet in S6...I am quite intrigued that Faraday was among those in the video but Juliet was not.

The last special guest of the panel appeared immediately following Charlie's death scene in the tribute video - Dominic Monaghan! The crowd basically gave him a standing ovation but they did not have time for him to address the audience. [sidenote: if you're interested, here is my footage of Dom in the FlashForward press room just after he was announced as a new member of that cast, fielding questions about Lost and FF. I inquired whether or not he'd been cast on FF when he filmed that infamous ABC promo video tease..]

The panel came to a close as Dom gave his friends a hug on stage. It was over too quickly, but none of us will ever forget that hour of our lives.

BEHIND THE SCENES

After the panel, I headed to the press room. It was quite crowded, as you can imagine it would be for such a popular and final season series. Many online and print media outlets were there, and everyone was very polite about sharing the small spaces to listen in as cast members answered a few questions each.

While I did not have the opportunity to ask a question due to limited time with each actor, I was able to film some responses from Nestor Carbonell, Jorge Garcia and Josh Holloway. Apologies for the poor audio; as you can see, the press room was packed and there was not much room between interview tables. Unfortunately, time ran out before we were able to sit with Michael Emerson.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I was VERY pleased with the Lost panel and it exceeded my expectations by a mile. It was full of laughs and nostalgia, but I think I'm in denial that this is the last one. I would spend the night in line again in a heartbeat because it was worth every minute of it. The number of cast members that appeared was impressive and we appreciated it so much. I really loved how they introduced each surprise guest, rather than simply bringing them out on stage all at once. I realize how very lucky we were to be among the 6500 people who were there to experience this in person, and it is a memory that I will cherish.

Thank you again for following me on Twitter and being such a great reading audience! I truly appreciate all of your comments and loved meeting so many of you in person this week.

-Jo

19 comments:

~Karen~ said...

Jo,

Thank you for your recap.
I am so happy for you and the awesome opportunities that are continuing to come your way. You do such a great job and there's no doubt as to what your "destiny" is. I was SO happy to hear about your access with LOST for Comic Con. I'm sure it won't stop there!!

Anil said he had a blast hanging out with you and all the Losties.
I wish I was there to finally meet up with you and all the LOST fans.

Hoping one day our paths will cross.
Keep on ROCKIN!
~Karen~

Phil said...

Thanks for all the news and footage, and especially this great recap. Almost as good as being there.

The ODI said...

Jo,
As always it was great to hang out with you and I am glad we were able to get the crowd a little riled up for the trivia.

Definitely one of the many moments I will never forget! :)

maven said...

Jo: This recap definitely summed up our LOST Comic Con experience! Your enthusiasm was contagious! So great seeing you again and it was an honor to be part of Team JOpinionated!

Valerie said...

Thank you for the recap! It sounds like such an extraordinary experience. :D It's making me itch for the start of LOST and then not. I want to savor all the mysteries and questions before the final season opens. :)

scoutpost said...

Great job on the summary Jo! You mentioned our t-shirts and that reminded me to tell you that I had several people ask me while I was in the other panels where I got my shirt, and even had one person try to barter with me for your pin! I didn't give it up though! So you got some shout outs that you weren't aware of. :)

TechnoPrep said...

Jo: Excellent recap of a fun time! Thanks so much for consistently satisfying our LOST cravings! It was great to follow you and the rest of the LOSTIES over the long weekend at the Con. It's almost as if I was there with you!...wish I had a bobble head or other swag to prove it! Congrats!

holidayjad said...

Lucky lucky you, Jo. You made me very very jealous. Its a well written article, specially the final thoughts part, only a true Lost fan can understand your heartfelt sentiments. You rock!

Cristiane said...

Wonderful job, as always.

You're awesome. You must know it.

And of course, the fact you love Elizabeth. It makes you made of so much win.

Thanks Jo!!!

briguyx said...

Thank god I didn't get into the "Burn Notice" panel the day before, because that made me get into the "Lost" line early enough to get in!

Hope you also made it to the "Totally Lost" panel. I was sitting by the door and was getting peeved because everytime the door opened, I couldn't hear what was being said. Then suddenly right beside me, I hear "What the hell is going on?" and it's Damon and Carlton walking by me, soon followed by Michael Emerson, who answered questions for ten minutes! Great stuff!

The Partyman said...

Great write-up!

Is it January yet?!?

Too Many Hats said...

WOW and i have not even clicked on any of the links yet. What an amazing panel!!! Thanks for sharing it with us all.

Capcom said...

Great reporting Jo! Thanks very much for sharing it with us.

:-D

pgtbeauregard said...

Great article. I followed you on twitter, and you did a great job with that also.

Thank you!!

Der Merzmensch said...

Jo,

thank you a lot for this great report. I was too far away (in Europe, to be precise), but thank to your report I could experience that unique atmosphere of LOST panel.

About Mysteries of the Universe: I begun to analyze the first episode and with help of some friends we could find something. I'm not really sure, whether it's just a huge amount of coincidences, but... There was a picture of an invoice from the company "WAKY radio" in the video. We researched a little and found really many things: another John Locke, Stonehenge, "leader" message, etc. etc.

What do you think about it?
http://merzmensch.blogspot.com/2009/07/mysteries-of-universe-waky-radio.html.

I just hope, it is not the next polar bear incident or red herring :-)

FunintheSwan said...

Really excellent recap, Jo! And fantastic pics, just what I was hoping for, WAY better than my personal pics. Thanks for all of the info and support, it was terrific meeting you, can't wait for your next post, and every one after that! All the best - aka Loster21

Guinevere said...

Thanks so much, Jo, for the recaps and the interviews. You ask the right questions and that's a biggie after watching so many interviews when the "reporter" seems to only have a slight knowledge of the show. You rock!

Chelsea said...

Thanks so much for the excellent and detailed coverage! It's a nice consolation prize for those of us who couldn't be there. :)

Frank and Linda said...

Thanks so much for the good words, and we loved spending time with you at the Con! Being part of the Jopinionated team made everything all the better!

We really appreciate it!

Peace,

Frank and Linda