If you listen to the major television critics (most of whom greeted Lostâ€™s return for 16 straight episodes with stellar marks), what once was Lost is found again. I happen to reside in the â€˜Otherâ€™ camp. I was hooked on this show from the first moments of the pilot episode and have been swept up in the grand, glorious mystery ever since. I guess I simply possess that elusive human quality. You knowâ€¦
Iâ€™ll never understand those people who get hooked by a mystery and then want everything answered immediately. With this show, thatâ€™s all you hear from the naysayers. WE WANT ANSWERS!!! Well, some answers have come. Sure, they have been parceled out, but yes, you are correct, some of the central mysteries remain just that â€“ an enigma. And thatâ€™s the way it should be until we reach the closing passage of this grand adventure. I mean, who grabs a book and skips to the end. Actually, now that I write that, who actually grabs a book these days (I write as I turn my eyes downward and mumble awkwardly. Guilty as charged.)
My point is,Â I understand the frustration that can set in when you feel that a show might not deliver on its promise, that its plot strands will grow too disparate and that no matter what narrative hoops the writers dive through, theyâ€™ll lose control and never get back on course. Iâ€™ve seen it happen with my all-time favorite show, The X-Files, which truly should have ended its run somewhere around the 7th season.
The difference between The X-Files and Lost is a wide gulf. The X-Files sprinkled its mystery in the six or seven â€˜mythologyâ€™ episodes that it dropped on us a season. Everything else was â€˜monster-of-the-weekâ€™. Personally, I enjoyed both types of eps equally (the true draw was Mulder and Scully and their interplay), but I understand where some people could growÂ hungry when provided with so few morsels.
With Lost, every episode is part of the mythology. You may not get the full picture, but through the added details you can see it begin to take shape. And what a dense and rich mythology we have developing. I love the fact that the show is equal parts drama and puzzle. Sure the red herrings abound (quite literally as we saw when Sawyer won himself a fish biscuit) but more often than not, the writers deepen the mystery and color the truth with each successive episode. Yes, for every answer a new question usually opens, but thatâ€™s how a treasure hunt unfolds. Each found item brings you another clue on your journey towards great riches.
Using video games as a metaphor, the pleasure in playing a game is not reaching the end and viewing the final cut-scene that calls it a wrap on the narrative and gives way to the credits. Itâ€™s the journey in the middle that compels us to play. Lost is no different. Weâ€™re playing along, exploring this fantasy island alongside our surrogate heroes and looking forward to each new clue. At least, I am. All you need is just a little patience.
Enough with the rant â€“ on with the show.
1.Â Â The first person we gazed eyes upon in last fallâ€™s season premiere was Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell). Julietâ€™s intro coaxed the same inquiry out of me that Desmondâ€™sÂ initial scene in the Season 2 premiere prompted. Who is that and where the hell are we? Desmond was in the Hatch. Juliet is an ‘Other’ apparently living on Wisteria Lane, or some approximation of that suburban sprawl, which just so happens to be located onÂ our mysteryÂ island. It was a great WTF moment, pregnant with possibility.
2.Â Â The Season 2 Spring Premiere opens on Juliet again. In that great Lost tradition of misdirection, we spy a troubled Juliet overlooking the sea, apparently contemplating a big decision. She heads inside where she passes Ethan (who casually says “Hello” and keeps walking). The interior looks dark and dingy and with Ethanâ€™s cameo we assume this to be a flashback to earlier island times. Then comes the reveal. Juliet asks her sis to come live with her and the sister (who appears to be suffering or recovering from cancer) says that she likes living near the beach. Juliet throws the shades open and proclaims â€œItâ€™s Miami. Everywhere is on the beach.â€ I thought that was a great reveal but it prompts the question – What the hell was Ethan doing there?
3.Â Â The episode title â€“ â€˜Not in Portlandâ€™ refers to Julietâ€™s job offer from a medical research firm, Mittelos Bioscience. The producers tipped their hand that an anagrammed clue was deposited somewhere in the episode. A Google search on Mittelos returns the anagram â€“ â€˜Lost Timeâ€™. The Mittelos rep eventually confides that the job is â€˜not quite in Portlandâ€™ – hence the title.
4.Â Â Need to get rid of a character quickly. Cue the speeding bus. Nip/Tuckâ€™s done it. Final Destination did it. But give producer J.J. Abrams credit. He pioneered it when he threw a speeding bus at Keri Russell’s courtier Todd on Felicity several years back. No matter how many times I see it happen, a guy getting plowed over by a speeding bus never fails to entertain. Itâ€™s the thriller equivalent of a spit take.
5.Â Â Sawyer was in rare form this evening. â€œCanâ€™t believe you fell for the olâ€™ Wookie hostage scam.â€
6.Â Â On the Sawyer front, the other big revelation was the rescue of Carl from Dharmaâ€™s Clockwork Orange brainwash chamber. That place would make for one helluvaâ€™ rave if it wasnâ€™t so damn creepy. Among the messages being blasted into Carlâ€™s brain, I caught a reference to Jacob â€“ â€œGod Loves You as Does Jacob”. In the last episode, Tom mentioned that Jack wasnâ€™t on â€˜Jacobâ€™sâ€™ list. Who is the mysterious Jacob? Is he the eye-patched guy that Locke spied on that monitor? Iâ€™m sure weâ€™ll find out soon enough.
7.Â Â Towards the end of the episode, Juliet lets Jack know that she has been on the island for 3 years, 2 months and 28 Days. In the showâ€™s chronology, the survivors are still in the year 2004 as evidenced by Benâ€™s Red Sox World Series revelation from last fall. Also, we know theyâ€™re beyond two months removed from September 2004 due to last season’s episode â€“ â€™The Other 48 Daysâ€™ â€“ which chronicled the Tailies 48 day journey from one side of the island to the other. That places the actual time that the show is currently taking place somewhere in early-to-mid December 2004. If you do the math backwards, Juliet arrived on or very close to September 11, 2001.
Now hereâ€™s where I theorize.
I donâ€™t think the selection of that date is meant to be insensitive. There have been other programs that have worked September 11th into their fictional narratives. Also, I donâ€™t believe the writers mean to suggest that Dharma has anything to do with the real world catastrophe. Instead, I think the events of that day forced Julietâ€™s decision to join Dharma. We already know that Dharma experiments focused on psychiatry, zoology, paranormal behavior and the unique magnetic properties of that island. Their studies have pulled in individuals who have displayed some psychic gifts. Also, we have seen that a mysterious smoke creature (which I believe is a manifestation of true â€˜evilâ€™) inhabits the island. Also, there is the presence of the male and female skeletons.
What if Alvar Hanso located the actual Garden of Eden on Earth? What if those skeletons are Adam and Eve? What if within this Garden of Eden, true Evil lived alongside pure Good? What if the unique magnetic properties on this island broadcast Good and Evil impulses throughout the world? What if there was no traditional God or Devil but rather actual tangible â€˜forcesâ€™ that influence humans and their choices.
Dharma may have set up shop to study these forces and using psychic energies, upset the balance of good and evil, transmitting those â€˜goodâ€™ tidings at greater strength throughout the world. TheirÂ theoryÂ being that by influencing good behavior, they could end war and suffering and essentially save the world from itself. In essence, the solution for World Peace.
If it is true that September 11th was the date Juliet came to the island, itâ€™s importance is most likely symbolic. Dharma may have told Juliet all about what they are up to and what they are looking to change. Any rational person would run screaming or stand a skeptic. But maybe, on that day, Juliet witnessed (as did we all) true evil and it forced her hand. Crazy or not, perhaps Dharma could make a difference in the world. Three years, two months and 28 days later, sheâ€™s beginning to rethink their cause. Again, this is wildly speculative but I believe it pulls in enough of the disparate plot threads to forge a pretty compelling theory. This also backs up Benâ€™s assertion â€“ â€œWeâ€™re the good guys, Michael.â€ Are â€˜The Othersâ€™ striving to make up for Lost Time.
Next week â€“ â€˜Flashes Before Your Eyesâ€™.