Doc Jensen on 'Lost:' A review of 'The New Man In Charge' DVD extra

Lost-Ben-DVD-6Image Credit: ABCThere is a corner of my imagination where the Lost saga continues on beyond the moment where we left it (or rather, where Lost left us), with Hurley receiving stewardship of The Island from dying Jack Shephard and then deputizing Benjamin Linus to sit as his right hand and help execute the holy function of metaphorical wine bottling. How will The Dude and Bug-Eyes manage The Light of the World differently from Jacob? We can only dream. But at least we now know how that story begins thanks to “The New Man In Charge,” a 12-minute coda to the final season of Lost starring Ben (Michael Emerson) and Hurley (Jorge Garcia), produced exclusively for the season 6 DVD set now in stores.

As far as DVD extras go, 12 minutes of brand new Lost--scripted by three members of the show’s writing staff (with oversight from exec producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse) and shot back in April during the filming of the series finale, “The End”–is a generous offering. But “The New Man In Charge” will be best enjoyed by those (non-existent?) Lost aficionados who come to it expecting nothing. That’s not so much commentary on the short’s quality, but rather a comment on the state of post-finale Lost fandom, which seems to still be in a tender, touchy place three months later. Some critics have been bothered by the decision to make viewers pay for resolution to mysteries that they should have gotten for free from the series. I think that’s a fair point for debate. (Go ahead. Debate it. I’ll wait.) One critic, Jace Lacob of The Daily Beast, has chosen to view “The New Man In Charge” as an “additional ending” to the series and has deemed it “a cop out” that undermines the integrity of “The End.” Jace is entitled to his opinion. I disagree with it. [Full disclosure: I was quoted in Jace’s piece as saying I was “disappointed” with “The New Man In Charge.” He quoted me accurately, though I do not count myself among the critics who are “crying foul over the cop-out.”]

To be fair, “The New Man In Charge” is a tricky thing to assess: I accept “The End” as the conclusion to the final chapter of Lost that was season 6. So I choose to view “The New Man In Charge” as the official epilogue to that story, not a new final chapter, as it conforms best to most definitions of “epilogue” that I’ve found (i.e. an afterward that peeks into the future of the characters and makes a final comment on the story’s themes). “The New Man In Charge” is exactly that… but it’s also a little more, as it also takes the opportunity to address a few mid-level Island mysteries and provide something like closure for one notoriously unresolved character. Some of the “New Man” haters would say that the epilogue invites their criticism (and, apparently, more griping about the series finale) by overstepping the bounds of a traditional epilogue. Okay, but I think you can be critical about the epilogue–and there is much to criticize–without being cynical about the entire enterprise.

Before I go further, a word about my expectations. Unlike other fans, I was mostly content with the amount of mystery resolution that the final season of Lost and the finale in particular gave me. My exceptions? I wish the show had given me more info about the baby-making problem, about Eloise Hawking, and about Daniel Faraday’s days with The Dharma Initiative in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Claire’s days with Smokey on The Island, and Ilana’s days as a soldier in Jacob’s employ. I do think the sixth season of Lost could have found a way to give us one or two episodes a la “Ab Aeterno” and “Across The Sea” to tackle some of my pet causes. But you know what? I’m not angry at the show for not hooking me up with the intel I wanted. And I’m grateful that I have an imagination that finds fun in brainstorming possible solutions for myself. So I didn’t really come to “The New Man In Charge” looking for “answers,” nor did I come to it looking for catharsis and closure. “The End” was the end of Lost for me. I wept; I’m good. So all the epilogue could really offer me were some ideas for only-in-my-mind fan fiction about the Hurley/Ben regime and a buzzy hit off the Lost nostalgia bong. What I discovered–surprisingly–was that despite my intense curiosity about what the epilogue might contain, I’m not ready to feel sentimental about Lost. Not yet.

[SPOILER ALERT! Major plot points revealed and discussed in the paragraphs to come.] “The New Man In Charge,” which is divided into three distinct sections, is set in the present (if that’s 2010, then a couple years after Jack’s death and Hurley’s election to Island guardian) and finds Ben in the outside world wrapping up loose ends from the Jacob-era of The Island. His first stop: a Dharma Initiative warehouse on Guam, where he agrees to answer a couple questions (but only a couple) for a pair of baffled employees–a knowing sequence that winks at Lost’s notoriously cagey approach to mystery resolution. His last stop: the mental institution where Hurley spent two stints of crazy, about which we should say nothing. The micro-sode features appearances by two other iconic Lost characters: Dr. Pierre Chang (Francios Chau), who shows up to narrate an orientation film for (at last!) The Hydra Station; and—in a much-rumored-about appearance, but DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT, anyway–Walt (Malcolm David Kelley). As this has become an issue, let’s be clear: “The New Man In Charge” is considered canon. The revelations “count.” The drama “matters.” At the same time, the whole thing feels relatively unessential. “The New Man In Charge” may formally resemble an epilogue, but in spirit, it’s actually a meaty, madcap footnote like the kind David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) once specialized in.

The epilogue moves from a light and winky tone in the first half (which I enjoyed) to an attempt at tear-jerking poignancy in the second half (which I thought was less successful). Both modalities are very Lost-esque, but I was bothered by the sudden shift from irony to sincerity. Had the epilogue been longer and given more room to live and breathe, it could have better juggled those compting tones. As for “the answers,” I have mixed feelings. I loved the revelation that the pallet drop was running on automatic pilot, and I dug the whole idea that there might be all these different parts of the greater Dharma operation that never got the memo that Dharma’s Island activities had gone bust. (Unless some benefactor–Charles Widmore? Eloise Hawking?–kept Dharma running to keep the castaways flush with supplies.) And I really liked this notion that The Whispers–the ghosts of the dead on The Island–can be helped and encouraged to “move on” into the afterlife.

Nonetheless, “The New Man In Charge” was one more proof that Lost’s mythology is best left to our imagination. Take the Hydra Station film. Previous Dharma films were cryptic texts that demanded interpretation, and perhaps couldn’t even be trusted. These qualities fired my imagination. The Hydra film has its moments, but lacked the intrigue and mystery I expect. I never doubted that Dr. Chang was telling me the truth. Bummer.

And then there’s Walt. I’ve never been a huge Walt-o-phile; I’ve never needed any more elaboration and resolution. So I wasn’t looking for “answers” about his “specialness”—I was looking for an emotional character pay-off. I didn’t feel it. The short puts Malcolm David Kelley in a tough spot. After spending most of five seasons on the sidelines (with the exception of his few appearances in season 2 and cameos in seasons 3 and 5), the young actor was given the challenge of nailing what needed to be a deeply felt, deeply affecting scene, maybe Walt’s most important scene ever. Plus he had to hold his own with Michael Emerson. That’s a tall order for even experienced adult actors. I’m surprised “The New Man In Charge” didn’t give more time to Walt and Hurley together, as the two characters—and their actors—have more of a meaningful, lived-in rapport. It would have undermined Hurley’s delayed reveal, but it would have made for better scenes.

Then again, if we’re going to imagine how the thing might have been better had it been different, I think I would have preferred something that was truly old-school Lost, like Ben and Hurley hiking through the jungle of The Island, revisiting iconic landmarks and engaging in some high-quality Darlton banter before arriving at some major revelation. Actually, now that I’m being all fan fiction-y, you know what would have made for a really killer epilogue? A pregnant woman landing on The Island, Ben and Hurley scrambling to help her give birth–and she does. To twin girls. And the mother doesn’t die. End of Island curse. Beginning of new Island future. Good-bye, Lost.

But you know what? The more I explicate my disappointment, the more I feel like a nitpicky-grinchy geek. I hate being that guy. I really do. And to be honest, I wonder how much of my “disappointment” is due to the fact that I think “The New Man In Charge” is actually too much, too soon. It will undoubtedly age well with time–or rather, my Lost fandom will grow into it. The epilogue clearly wants to elicit some warm fuzzies and even a tear or two from those of us who will look back on the Lost experience with great fondness, as something deep and meaningful. But it’s too soon for that, at least for me. While I’m grateful for the goose to the Ben/Hurley story that’s playing out in my mind, I really am still putting my Lost experience in perspective; I don’t yet miss it. In time, I will, and at that time, I suspect I’ll enjoy “The New Man In Charge” as it was intended.

There’s more Doc Jensen columns ahead, building toward my final Doc Jensen column, posting on Sept. 22, the anniversary of Lost’s premiere. Until then, follow me on Twitter @ewdocjensen, or email me your reviews of “The New Man In Charge” at

Comments (188 total) Add your comment
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  • fondue123

    Oh for god’s sake!!! It’s PALLET, not PALETTE!!!!!!!!!!

    • Peter Morgan

      Actually, it is Palette. Please educate yourself better.

      Nice review, Jeff, I enjoyed it and share many of your views on “The New Man in Charge.”

      • Jon

        Actually, fondue123 is right. A pallet is a platform that holds something. A palette is what an artist uses. You can use the word “pallet” for “palette” (though it’s not common), but you cannot use “palette” for “pallet.” So maybe you’re the one who should educate yourself.

      • doobie

        A palette is something an artist uses to mix colors. Check before snark.

      • Found

        No. A palette is a miniature friend.

      • amy

        Actually, I like to do pilates on a pallet that I’ve painted with my palette after I’ve been to the Red Cross to donate platelets. Then I watch Lost.

      • ASH

        Amy, such a wonderful reply! Thanks for the laugh.

    • Tom

      How about… who gives a crap?

      • Jatsu

        You care because of a clp from JAG?

    • Dave

      fondue123: “Palette” is correct.

      Remember that it is better to be quiet and let people wonder if you’re an idiot than to open your mouth and prove it to them.

      • Dan

        dave: that’s for continuing a stupid discussion. especially since you’re wrong. wikipedia people! it heals all things!

      • annie

        Dave, it’s really not. Pallet is the correct word. Palette, as has been repeatedly pointed out, is an artist’s paint-containing/mixing accessory.

        Remember it’s just as rude to point out other’s mistakes as to … oh, never mind.

      • Jeff Jensen

        It’s “pallet.” My bad. Thanks for the correction.

      • Peter

        I work for a company that makes “pallets”. We don’t make “pallette.”

      • Chaz Winterbottom

        What about palates? Can we talk about palates now?

      • holly

        There is Turkish Delight stuck to my palate.

      • ASH

        Holly – thanks for the LOL!!!

  • Bounce

    haven’t seen it yet, but am excited to! Thanks Doc!

  • Nessa

    I sometimes wonder if Jeff Jensen is in his EW office in the fetal position on the floor repeating LOST numbers over and over because he is in denial that the show is done. I have liked all the articles you have done but I think you need to move on. Can you take over the “Real Housewives” series or something….

    • Madd

      It’s like you just described me. I should probably move on, but…it’s so hard! I miss Lost too much!

    • Anne

      I haven’t moved on, why should Doc? I appreciate his dedication/obsession!

      • shellibelli

        I havent moved on either! I MISS LOST! There is NOTHING on tv right now to fill that void!

      • DENISE

        I haven’t moved on either. Watched the 11 minutes and it made me want more! Unlike Jeff, the Walt section really touched me. Crying again!

      • Amy

        I am SO not over it either! Not only do I miss the show (best ever!) but the whole lost community. What was better than talking about Lost the day after a new eppisode? Going to Lostpedia to figure out if what you thought happened really did (I had a whole pad with page after page of stupid drawing with arrows and names and theories trying to tie it all together). Comparing theories with the guys/girls in the office, and the sheer JOY when one of your theories was right. It’s like a whole really cool interesting part of my life is over. Just thinking about Jack laying there with Vincent looking up at the plane is making me cry. And yea I know I should move on but I won’t and you can’t make me.

      • o

        The number of comments posted following one of Doc’s episode summaries, and the speed in which they poured in, was exciting to witness. I could literally watch the number of posts grow before my eyes. The Lost board was alive and interesting. Posters continued to bring new and amazing ideas to the table all week long.
        The unique personalities and perspectives of those who commented were endearing, as well. I would sometimes check back days after submitting a question or comment to find that someone had thoughtfully responded.
        Great shows come and go, but the Doc Jensen blog experience is what I miss most about Lost.

      • Ne Oublie

        Yes o. I recall how crazy it was going to this website after the episodes aired for postings after JJ’s instant reaction (as well as the other postings). There would be a couple pages of comments, and then there would be twenty-five pages, and they kept growing and growing, and I couldn’t catch up. I would have to come back and read them all throughout the week. And for me, it is the best TV show ever in my lifetime, so far.

    • holly

      Richard Lawson @ does the best Housewives recap ever the day after each episode. Absolutely pee-your-pants hilarious and completely absurd.

    • boocat

      I agree…another long winded dissertation on 12 minutes of extra footage….puhleeze!

    • boocat

      Sometimes I feel that way…once again television has become a mindless wasteland. Thnk I’ll start over from the beginning and spend another six years re-watching LOST.

  • nodnarb

    I liked it a lot. It gave the answers for people who demanded them. And it confirmed the answers for us viewers who were smart enough to figure them out on our own.

    • Madd

      I guessed the pregnancy issue in “LaFleur” when Sawyer said “Maybe whatever happened hasn’t happened yet”.

      • Mike

        But they were working on the Swan station. Orchid was already there with it’s properties in tact and frozen wheel under the rocks. So, no… LeFleur didn’t answer that.

      • Flyer

        I think what happened – that hadn’t happened yet – was the Purge. In the Hydra orientation film shown in “The New Man in Charge,” Dr. Chang indicated that the Dharma Initiative had already discovered that the island’s electromagnetic properties caused early gestational issues, so they kept pregnant female polar bears on Hydra Island. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Dharma would have had pregnant women stay on Hydra Island as well. After the Purge, the Others moved into the Dharma houses and stations, and that’s when they developed their fertility issues. Sadly, they’d already killed off all of the people who could have told them about the electromagnetic problem and how to deal with it.

      • Ne Oublie

        Yes Flyer. Because the new orientation clip in the epilogue was dated to 1990, and the purge happened after that. It has never been confirmed, but there is a belief that the purge happened in 1992.

    • Person Who Talks

      Exactly!!! I had heard people still whine about the polar bears when all you had to do was consider a few scenes and youd come to the conclusion that they were turning the wheel at the Orchid station. The video simply confirmed this

    • MCS

      It was a nice little nostalgic wrap up. It feels like…well…”something nice back home”. And I have NEVER complained about the finale or the series, I have felt it was a positive balance of answers and mystery in the finale. BUT I was not satisfied with the Hurley Bird answer. For the whole series the Hurley Bird was the most important but really non-important mystery of the island to me. I wanted it to have a spectacular resolution, not ‘this is a cage, we have a hurley bird we are testing to see if it likes its island holiday’.

      • Dee

        Really??? It did nothing for me, to me it was kind of a joke, and a joke made to the fans as if we’re stupid, that how I took it

  • Brandon

    Claire landed on the island, gave birth & did not die. Babies that are conceived ON the island are the ones that took mama’s life.

    • Ally

      Change did say in the video that there were issues with “early stages” of pregnancy.

    • marcy

      I still don’t know why he Others didn’nt just send their pregnant women to a near-by island, maybe even Hydra, to give birth, and then return. They had enough boats.

      • Flyer

        Because the Others didn’t know what the problem – and solution – was. It was the Dharma Initiative who’d figured it out. The solution to send pregnant women to Hydra Island died with Dharma in the Purge.

  • what

    I still know that Jack’s soul was taken and transformed by the light before he died and it has become the new smoke monster.

    • Miranda

      And whose soul was that then talking with his father and in the church with the rest of them all getting ready to walk through the doors into the light and their next journey? His soul was intact and moving on with the rest of them.

    • Ne Oublie

      I have heard people theorize that Richard inhaled the smoke.

    • Vincent

      Dr. Jack is smokin’ hot…

  • Kevin

    I’ll have to rent it from Netflix… I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Season 6 by purchasing it.

    • Deg

      Amen to that. I prefer to think Lost ended when jughead exploded.

      • Pete

        I totally agree. After the disaster that was Season 6, I now think of Juliet exploding the bomb as the end of the series.

      • Mike D

        Or we could end with a GOOD season, rather than the most pointless, and just stop with “we have to go back” at the end of season 3… instead of wasting time with dharma hippies and pointless time travel.

      • David

        Double amen to your amen. Season 6 = wasted opportunity.

      • yo

        amen to ending at season 3. the dharma/others crap sucked, and totally ruined the show for me.

    • joe

      With your attitudes you DEFINITELY won’t be happy with the extra 12 minutes. You’ll find some other non-answer to complain about.

      • Dee

        I really like season 5, I think that was my favorite. Season one was great, season tow they nearly lost me when they went to the “tailies” dtory, in fact thats when the lost everyone I knew who watched it – season 2. After season 2, it was great through 5. I would say season 5 is my favorite

    • boocat

      You’re gonna miss some awfully good scenes with Locke and Ben Linus….your loss..

  • Sandasavi

    Thanks Jeff. I hope to see this epilogue sometime soon, but I am not investing the money into these DVDs. Lost was a great show and I am happy with the ending. Just hoping for another great Drama they encourages me to think the way I did with Lost.

  • R

    How about ALL the hostiles being drugged and getting the room 23 treatment? Found that interesting.

    • Flyer

      I was surprised by that. I didn’t remember any particular question being answered or episode reference being clarified by that revelation. Personally, I would have cut it out of the Hydra orientation film and devoted more time in “The New Man in Charge” to Hurley, Ben and Walt.

  • RK


    • Kilroy

      Actually, the Island WAS Purgatory, like it or not. It kept the fans in Limbo for 6 seasons. Whispering to each other on message boards. Now, it’s time to move on.

  • Brady

    Doc, if you ever wrote fanfic I would sooo love to read it!

  • R

    I couldn’t believe how emotional I got just watching the bonus features. Am amazing show, I understand the critics, but I wasn’t expecting the island to lift off and blast into space. I got the human and soulful ending I desired and I wouldn’t change any of it… And NOW is the time to get sentimenal Doc!

  • jodipo

    so, which disk is it on?

    • Davey

      It’s on the Season 6 Special Features Disc…..if you can get your hands on the “Collector’s Edition” Complete Collection, the hidden disk is pretty cool – full of bonus/extra features (lots of easter eggs)

      • Ne Oublie

        It was cool to find that extra disc.

  • Ken

    There’s no need to buy the DVDs just to watch the epilogue. You can stream it from multiple sites.

  • Josie

    I skipped the spoiler in this, but the first half made me realize that I am the perfect audience for this short film. I’ve always had an odd relationship with Lost, so I think I am “Lost aficionados who come to it expecting nothing”

    • Big Walt

      I wonder if Jensen is the one who dropped $47K on the Dharma van.

      • Heather


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