Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Dang, Carrie.
Stephen King's first book makes its first appearance in Episode 3x01 "Tale of Two Cities". The Other's book club is meeting to discuss it at Juliet's pad, and their bickering is interrupted by the cacophonous arrival of Oceanic Flight 815. It also appears in Juliet's flashback in 3x07 "Not in Portland" and is read by Ben in 3x16 "One of Us."

Here's the exciting news I have to report: Carrie the book is better than Carrie the movie, and probably applies a little better to LOST. The book and the film cover almost exactly the same material: the terrifying terrain of high school, hyper-Christian home-life, and telekinesis. However, the book gets inside of multiple characters heads by interspersing real-time narrative with fictional news articles and book excerpts which discuss the origins of Carrie's telekinesis and the impact of her prom blow-up.

Carrie, a misfit, gets her first period in locker room showers and other girls make merciless fun of her. The girls who made fun of her get in trouble. One of the teasers gets barred from the prom, and plots revenge. Another feels bad, and gets her boyfriend to take Carrie to prom. Carrie's mom is a crazy Christian who is obsessed with battling evil, especially in the form of sexuality, and is thus furious about Carrie's period, prom plans, and basically anything else she does. Oh yeah, and Carrie realizes somewhere in here that she can move stuff with her mind.

Bucking her mother's demands with teenage will and telekinetic force, Carrie goes to the Prom. Once there, she gets crowned Queen, gets pigs blood dumped on her head, gets laughed at and loses it, starting an electrical fire which more or less kills every prom-goers. She then goes home, starting some fires in the town along the way, and stops her mothers heart with her mind, but not before her mother stabs her, causing her to slowly bleed to death. Oof. Heavy stuff. Gorey. And tons of fun--Carrie lays it on thick with teenage angst, questions of good and evil, supernatural occurences, and some serious, but not senseless violence.

With the exception of teenage angst, all of these sound pretty darn Lostean. And we know that Stephen King is an unapologetic Lost fan whose also had some pretty serious influence on the show. The Carrie connections are less grandiose than The Stand's end-times battle or the multiple realities of The Dark Tower. What it comes down to, for me, is the "special child" thread which Stephen King and LOST both embrace. Walt's possible special powers come to mind, especially his apparent ability to appear in more than one place at a time.

But since she's a major player in the three episodes where we see the book, Juliet seems like a stronger candidate for a Carrie connection. Stephen King depicts Carrie as a social misfit both by nature and by situation, and lets us sympathize with those who have cast her out at times ...though the book follows Carrie, we never really get inside her head. We know that her actions aren't all bad (she's getting some rightful revenge) or all good (she's hurting tons of innocent people). This seems to me much like the way we can't be certain of Juliet's motives, and feel ambivalent about them even when she seems to explain them...or does she? Furthermore, Carrie focuses a ton on the danger of female sexuality--Juliet's life's work involves fertility, an important part of that sexual equation. Plus, yo, Juliet's kind of creepy, pretty unhappy, and one time she willed that her ex-husband get hit by bus, and lo and behold, he did. She's proved that she could be a powder-keg, in a manner of speaking, if the circumstances were right.

That said I think there could also be some special child stuff going on with Hurley, Ben, or even Alex. Alex, especially, since I saw her recently on an episode of That's So Raven as a telekinetic kid. Eerie.

But I digress. In addition to the "special child" theme, I can see the Terrible Parent (a mother instead of a father this time around), extremes of good and evil and the space between them that the most people occupy, and the news reports, interviews, and book excerpts which effectively let the reader flash back and forward, as pretty Lost-like.

So that's it. I don't (at this point) think that this book is going to be any real key to the show, but its got character, thematic, and literary style connections, plus its fun. I like to say that what little Stephen King I have read is sort of like a bag of potato chips--you can devour it all at once, and you feel a little gross afterwards, but it sure was tasty while you were eating it. And that while you were reading it, at least, it made you feel like you were smart for understanding the dilemmas at hand. Not unlike Lost, in some respects.

p.s. Emilie de Ravin was in a 2002 TV remake of Carrie, as the girl who plans the pigs blood stunt...hmm... bad sign for her?

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