The Beginning of the End.
That’s what ABC’s crack team of sales weasels have been billing last night’s season premiere. And based on what we’ve seen, they may be right – or they could be way off. After all, there seemed to be ample evidence to support that we may just be watching the End of the Beginning. After all, our intrepid brand of heroes eventually made their way to their original destination, LAX, as spoiled completely in the Title Card.
I’m getting way ahead of myself though. Before we hit this in some semblance of chronological style, I’ll offer up a little house cleaning for any new readers.
I started this Blog way back in the Winter of 2006, so we’re officially past my 4 year anniversary. In that time, I’ve published almost 400 full length articles on this site. At the beginning, when I was looking for something to write about aside from my inane ramblings, I decided to start posting weekly recaps of the latest Lost episodes. The inspiration behind that was to somehow work out my own theories on what was going on in the show.
After all, this show presses all the right buttons in me. I love serialized sci-fi conspiracy thriller character pieces. That and Skinemax. Arguably, the former are few and far between. One of my all time faves is The X-Files – an amazing show that arguably should have ended 5 years sooner.
Which is why the Lost plan thrills me to no end. Three years ago, showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carleton Cuse approached ABC out of concern that the network would run the show until ratings tanked and then unceremoniously cancel it or order up a finale in short order. The two guys cared for their baby (co-created with JJ Abrams) and wanted to insure they could tell a full and complete story. So, they negotiated an End Date and surprisingly ABC bit on it. In a rare example of corporate common sense, they chose quality over quantity and ever since then – with Cuse and Lindelof able to march to a May 2010 finale – the show has been freed to chase down its wildest dreams, tossing all manner of time travel and supernatural happenstance in the mix – with the knowledge that what really makes this show work is the strength of its characters. On that point, Lost is held up by a solid core.
Lost is an expensive show to film. It’s rare we get something this good that is allowed to flourish on its own with a minimum of studio interference. Enjoy this last season because it’s bound to be the last of its kind for quite awhile. Sure, ABC will continue to toss things at the wall in hopes the next high concept sticks but something like Lost (and The X-Files) is akin to lightning in a bottle. Once or twice a decade we see it come together perfectly.
And now we’re a mere 18 episodes away from releasing the charge.
So, for you newbies, feel free to scour the archives (or just hit the LOST button at the top of the home page) and you’ll find years worth of Lost posts. And on a weekly basis, usually by noon the following day, I’ll offer up my musings of the prior night’s show.
And I really want to make this a dialogue, encouraging all of you to add your voice to the mix in the Comments below. Sure it’s my site, and my musings, but I don’t have all the answers – not even close. Hell, I’m just spitballing here. So, throw me an “Amen Brutha” or shoot down my wildest notions. Let’s start a dialogue and really have fun with this last season.
After this one, all I have left to cover is Gossip Girl. (Is that still on?)
Enough prattle. Let’s get Lost.
1. Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. Alternate Time Lines. That’s what Jack created when the hydrogen bomb was detonated by Juliet last season. Once upon a time we had flashbacks. Then we had flash forwards. Now we have flashsideways. As Miles learned from Juliet later in the episode, “It Worked” – only not as Jack completely expected.
2. To paraphase Daniel Faraday, time travel is a bitch. Daniel was insistent – there’s no changing the past or the future. At least not along the same time line. This goes way over my head but the rudimentary idea behind string theory is that time is one concrete line but theorists postulate that along that line other tendrils can spring, if the right INSANE conditions are met, thereby creating alternate time lines. This is where Black Hole talk gets you – time travel, alternate dimensions, déjà vu. It’s all theoretical of course but scientifically sound if ever proven possible.
3. So, at a base level, Faraday told them they could never simply alter time but he theorized that the hydrogen bomb detonated at a place as special as “the Island” could potentially create a new path. In one time line, Jack and company would revert back to their former selves before they ever crashed on the island and would continue on their flight towards LAX.
4. What Daniel didn’t account for is that by splintering the time line, the two entities (i.e. the two Jacks) might retain some knowledge of past events. The one on the island is fully cognizant of his past on the island.
5. The one on the plane in the “corrected timeline” is somewhat oblivious, although we’re given enough lingering shots of his face as something like dawning awareness or déjà vu creeps across it, to realize that he suspects something’s off but can’t quite put his finger on it. In a sense, it’s like that episode from the last season when Faraday visits a hatch-bound Desmond and implants a memory in his head. He doesn’t change the future but he influences it as Desmond wakes in the current day with the inexplicable drive to go help his friends. As if it all came to him in a dream.
6. So that’s what’s going on with the plane bound Jack. And I presume the other passengers as well. The thing is, even that timeline is a little screwy as important details have changed from the first time we met them all on the plane and these differences all appear to be intentional. They hint that while Jack set one time line back on schedule, it has been altered slightly thereby indicating another deviating thread off the original time line. Before I get into those, I figured I’d post my wild and crazy theory about what I think this season will be about.
7. Tying off loose ends. Or, closing out some of these alternate timelines. Essentially, bringing them together – thereby Jack and company end up whole again – on the original flight headed back to LAX. More on that in a moment but that’s what I think the point of these flashsideways are all about. Eventually the LAX Jack and company are going to realize that while everything looks right, it’s not. And somehow they need to converge with their island selves again.
8. I think the Jacob/Man-in-Black stuff weighs heavily into this and is likely the cause of the fluctuation in time lines. My guess is that had Ben not killed Jacob, the balance between good and evil would have been fine and Jack’s hydrogen detonation may have proven successful. This secondary time line – where they are still on the island – hints at unfinished business. As if, they are needed to mount a stand against the Man in Black and thus cannot be fully returned to their plane-bound selves. Sort of a Hail Mary toss on behalf of a dying Jacob.
9. That’s where we have to address their true nature. I touched on this a lot last year, but I think it’s clear that Jacob and the Man in Black represent ultimate Good and Evil. Sure, there’s religious overtones to the show but it’s sort of a melting pot approach. After all, we’ve seen ample Judeo-Christian references, Egyptian gods, etc. And I think that’s the crux of it all. Behind most world religions are two concepts – a. Where do you go when you die? and b. How do you go about making yourself a good person? On that latter point, there needs to be a counterpoint. A “What Not to Do” – which is essentially the dark side of the moon. EVIL!!!
10. And that’s the central conceit behind Lost. On this amazing island, two figures are locked in a battle for power. They both seem to have long-range influence (as in Jacob’s ability to draw people to the island) and they both seem to be attempting to prove the true nature of man. Jacob feels that man is essentially good; he just needs to work real hard at it to prove his theory. He gets small measures before they ultimately kill each other but as he put it “It only has to end once. Everything before that is just progress.” The Man in Black revels in man’s constant, predictable behavior. “They come. They fight. They corrupt. They kill. It always ends the same.”
11. Their debate brings to mind the debates of the Gods; always looking down upon man in judgment.
12. My feeling is that the show is not subscribing to one religious discipline but allowing these two to act as ciphers for most religions. And that’s why you boil it down simply to Jacob = Good, Man in Black = Evil. And as long as they remain on that island – locked in battle with each other – the balance of the two forces remains and the world remains OK.
13. So now the world’s screwed.
14. Yup, MiB took advantage of Ben and got him to murder Jacob. Of course, we saw all that last season but one thing this episode spelled out quite clearly is that John Locke is definitely DEAD and MiB is now the defacto leader of the island; thereby setting up a pretty grave condition for the Lost survivors.
15. Now that I write that, I may amend by flashsideways theory. I still believe we’re looking at an alternate time line but what if this is like the “It’s A Wonderful Life” approach. We’re seeing a possible future where the bomb goes off but the Man in Black wins. The island is swamped. Jack and company are oblivious to the island and its fate. And the Man in Black, with Jacob out of the way, is free to exert his influence in the world. This would call to mind Daniel Faraday’s mother’s (Eloise) assertions that what they are called upon to do will affect the fate of the world.
16. One thing about the Man in Black that I find interesting is the creator’s admission that is what he should be called in lieu of an actual name. I’m a huge Stephen King fan and one of my favorite works (shared by the Lost creators) is The Dark Tower books, a fantasy series that involves a race against time between the forces of good and evil to prevent one world from spilling over into another. It deals with alternate universes and time lines – with a fantasy land merging into our real world. At the heart of the crooked conspiracy is an evil entity that has designs on crushing all universes by disrupting the balance of power. A disparate group of individuals (including a junkie and one in a wheelchair) are brought together to chase down this villain. The first book, titled The Dark Tower, begins – “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
17. I don’t think they are stealing but rather paying homage to one of their more vocal celebrity fans. King has voiced his love of the show in many avenues – including his recurring feature in Entertainment Weekly, and a few years back, the Lost creators met with King about potentially turning The Dark Tower series into a film or television show. They’ve specifically cited this series, as well as The Stand, as being inspirational in the creation of Lost – so these plot parallels make sense.
18. So, two theories. Either LAX Jack needs to reconvene with island Jack and tie together one time line –or- island Jack needs to kill the Man in Black (or resurrect Jacob), thereby bringing balance back to the force thus allowing the natural balance of good and evil to resume and eliminate the dark days that may lie ahead.
19. All right, enough of all the big picture stuff. After all, we’re about 4 pages in. I need to focus on some of the random stuff I picked up on. With an episode this chock full of incident it’s doubtful I’ll hit it all which is exactly what the Comments are for, to let you guys color in your own pictures.
20. The neat thing about this alternate reality is the ability to pull forth some familiar faces although you’ll notice that the dead characters had a way of hinting something was off.
21. First, there was the interaction between Boone and Locke. Boone gave Locke a lift with his line – “I’d follow you anywhere”. That being said, the major difference in his story line is his inability to coax Shannon back home, leaving her in that abusive relationship. That’s one of the first signs that we’re not seeing a true recreation of what would have happened had the plane never crashed.
22. Then there was the Charlie incident, and more specifically, his statement to Jack. “I was supposed to die” – which can be taken two ways. First, we know at that point he was a downtrodden, borderline suicidal junkie. But, there’s something telling in the way he sort of gives Jack a premonition. He’s not supposed to be alive. His resurrection aboard this plane flies in the face of “destiny”. In a way, it sort of bodes ill will for what’s to come for LAX Jack.
23. Then there was Desmond’s mysterious appearance (and disappearance) on the plane. Was he ever really there? We know he was never on the plane in the first place and the fact that he appeared to Jack and then mysteriously disappeared makes one wonder if this was LAX Jack’s latent memory playing tricks on him – as if his island experience is beginning to bleed over to this alternate reality and he is seeing (and conversing) with people he really shouldn’t know.
24. Back to the island, we got conclusive proof that the Man in Black and “Smokey” are one in the same. Great line – “I’m sorry you had to see me like that.”
25. This also validated the use of ash that is often referred to as a guard against evil spirits. The ash had originally been seen circling Jacob’s cabin and in last season’s finale, Iliana expressed fear at the broken line of ash. She mentioned that Jacob hadn’t been there for a while and someone else had been using the cabin. As we know, Jacob was living in the shadow of the statue meaning the cabin was used to contain the Man In Black. Which means that when Locke first confronted what he believed to be a bound Jacob, he was really seeing the imprisoned Man in Black. His cry, “Help Me”, makes complete sense now that we know that Locke and Ben inadvertently helped him escape and find his loophole to kill Ben.
26. And we finally made it to the Temple. This is the same “holy ground” that Richard first mentioned a few seasons back. Prior to the arrival of the freighter people, he sent his people (The Others) on an exodus to The Temple. This group of people included the flight attendant Cindy who had been taken, along with those two young kids, when they were with the Tail Section people back at the beginning of Season 2. As we learned in the 3rd Season and had confirmed in this episode, they are fully integrated with The Others, and in The Temple, they have their best chance of protection and survival.
27. The Temple also appears to contain The Fountain of Youth which likely explains Richard’s ageless appearance – although as the John Lennon Other mentioned, something has happened to the water. Its clarity has been destroyed with Jacob’s destruction.
28. Did you catch MiB’s pithy comment to Richard – “I can’t get used to you free from those chains”? I think that’s a direct reference to The Black Rock, which we learned was a slave vessel. I think we now have a good idea of how old Richard Alpert is and how he got there in the first place.
29. As for the John Lennon and Yoko Others, I would posit that they report to Jacob in a similar capacity as Richard. They have likely been there a very long time and run the Temple. I don’t have a lot on them other than I’m sure we’ll find out more about them, and their hierarchy, in the weeks ahead.
30. All right – two more points then I’m done. I know there’s plenty more to chew on, but again, that’s what the Comments are for.
31. One of the best scenes of the night was Locke MiB talking with Ben about Locke’s final thoughts. While mocking Locke’s pathetic existence he also heralded his pure nobility. He was a man who was cast a horrible lot in life, multiple times, and yet when given the chance to finally rise up, he took it and recognized the island for its true beauty and power. And while MiB wants to be anywhere else but there, he’s respectful of that. I thought he nailed one of TV’s most compelling characters and it is sad to see the real Locke go – as misguided and misled as he could often be.
32. I think we’re going to come back to that poignant “first meeting” between LAX Jack and LAX Locke. Could the Man of Science eventually heal the Man of Faith?
33. Finally, we have Sayid’s resurrection that leads me to believe that if he can come back, perhaps Jacob and Locke aren’t that lost a cause. In fact, maybe Jacob lives on in another?
See you next week for Episode 6.3 – ‘What Kate Does’.