I'm back! Dark's back! (well, Dark never really left) And most importantly LOST is back... which means one thing of course: we can finally stop watching Tool Academy (or not!) and get on with our lives. I always dread not having LOST for months on end, but when the new season starts up I'm always amazed at how fast the time has flown by. Damn, I think I'm just getting old. In any case I've missed you guys, missed doing the recaps, and haven't had the time to keep up on a single spoiler - which I must say contributed to the incredible shock and awe of watching these first two amazing episodes. So raise a glass, and here's to two more seasons of the most ass-kicking television since 'Hole in the Wall' aired. But before I get into the Things I Noticed, a quick foreword to start the season:
Once Upon a Time Someone Said...
"I believe the island is a sticky ball rolling through time and space, picking up objects and people along the way". - Vozzek's Theory of Everything, June 2007
I first wrote that on the imdb message boards, way before 6/07 and even before I started recapping. You wouldn't believe the amount of crap I took for this theory back then. People hated on me, much the same way they would've hated on LOST's writers if they tried to spring it back then. Time travel is a hard pill for most viewers to swallow, which is why the writers and producers could only hint at it for the first few seasons. In S4 we only saw mental evidence of it, and only this season do we finally see full-blown physical time traveling of the people, places, and things on the island.
Well I think it's an awesome angle, and the way they slow-played us with it was even better still. It was truly the best way to do it. With the time travel cat finally out of the bag, the larger pieces of LOST's puzzle can start falling into place (and more importantly, staying there). As the show rolled on and the weirdness kept coming, a time anomaly became one of the only ways to explain the circulature and repetitiveness of the story arc. It certainly doesn't explain all of the show's mysteries - not by a long shot - but it definitely lays the groundwork for the final two seasons.
In retrospect this must've been a tough sell to ABC. It rocks that Damon and Carlton were given the go-ahead to make such an awesome show out of such a far out concept, and with such a great cast and beautiful location. It's like a bunch of good things all aligned at once. Even rarer than that, LOST has always managed to stay true to itself. After the show's initial popularity explosion, the producers could've easily written the following seasons for a more mainstream audience. They didn't. Even they admit that they lost a portion of the casual viewing audience simply because LOST demanded that you watch every episode. They wrote the show for the long-term fans, partly to stay true to their story, and partly because they know LOST's cult audience will be legendary long after the series finale has aired. As it should be.
This is the time of year when everyone in the TV and movie business throw sixty-thousand award shows so everyone can pat each other on the ass. That can get pretty nauseating. Still, consider this a pat on the ass of all the people who've made LOST great all these seasons. It hasn't been recognized enough for producing truly great shows, episode after episode, year after year. But hey, there are still two seasons left. So let's get to them:
Marvin Candle - Not Exactly a Morning Person
Our opening scene this season is a mirror of Desmond's morning routine from S2. But while Desmond was a morning person, Candle is clearly not off to a good start. Dharma's making him shave with those miserable Shick disposable razors, and he's bitching fiercely at everyone he sees. His record player is skipping ominously, drawing dark parallels to the way the island is currently skipping through time. Candle's got important work to do, yet he's annoyingly tasked with creating another bullshit Dharma orientation tape. He couldn't care less about 'gathering intelligence on the island's hostile indigenous population', or about the wanna-be Sawyer cameraman, whose haircut and facial hair offer us visual duplicity, right from the start.
Suddenly Candle is summoned to the place where he knows the real work is being done. You'd think he might want to oversee this site more closely: sweaty guys with giant drills are one centimeter away from puncturing an unlimited energy source. After explaining how close they all came to instant oblivion, Candle's only too happy to bring the ignorant foreman up to date on the intricacies of time travel (huh?). He does this out of frustration, but mostly he does it because it allows him to not-so-subtly deliver to us the big rule of the upcoming season: Nothing from the past can be changed.
The 'wow' moment this opener is the appearance of Daniel, who we suddenly realize is back in the 70's and dressed in a Dharma jumpsuit. The question isn't how he got there, the question is why. Faraday obviously plans to do something, and he's infiltrated Dharma to learn the status of the frozen donkey wheel.
It Happened Because you Left, Jack
Back at the funeral parlor, Ben gives Jack the final guilt-ridden push to get going. Unlike Marvin Candle, Jack has the Gillette Mach 3. He quickly ditches the sub-commander beard as Ben goes over the plan to retrieve Hurley, Sun, Sayid and Kate. Aaron's name is conspicuously absent from this list. Ben asks Jack if Locke told him what happened after the island was moved, and he seems genuinely disappointed when Jack doesn't know. Although he's left before, Ben was always able to go back to the island. This marks the first time in his life where the island has gone on without him, and that alone makes Ben himself a little bit lost.
See You in Another Life
I was thrilled to see we learned right away what happened to those on the island. When the finale aired last year, I was afraid they'd give us five or six off-island episodes before they revealed the fate of those who stayed behind. I think the writers learned not to isolate the show this way, as they did in S3 with the Others and their beating zoo. Instead of creating a building anticipation to see the rest of the cast we were all strong-armed into depression by the dreary cages and shark tanks.
Back to S5. Locke gets zapped through time alone, squinting up at the sky in the now quintessential rain-soaked LOST scene. Notice how the rest of the cast members meet together on a sunny beach: it's only Locke that gets reborn through the use of the rain metaphor. John Locke is slowly evolving into his destined role as leader of the Others - the island, or Jacob, has chosen him for this task. To begin this metamorphosis, Locke is made to shed his previous life and start anew. And as he skips through the island's different time points, I have a hunch he's going to inherently start to know things in the creepily omniscient way of Benjamin Linus.
Sawyer - Kicking Ass, Shirt or No Shirt
As much as Faraday has grown on me, his reluctance to explain things has always chewed my ass. Thank God for Sawyer, who after four full seasons is finally done following people blindly through the jungle simply because someone says 'there's no time to explain'. Sawyer literally slaps the answers out of Daniel. It's as if the slap suddenly marks a mystery-resolving turning point: answers come pouring forth - GOOD answers - and for once it's wholly satisfying. The island has moved through time, and their camp is not built yet... or as Daniel puts it, perhaps they themselves have moved through time. There are arguments for both sides, but I think the latter to be true.
If it were the island moving through time and the terrain physically changing, wouldn't the inhabitants have changed with it? Wouldn't our characters have gotten older or younger just as the trees grew taller or shorter? Somehow the 815'ers and freighter four are skipping through time in their current physical bodies (and clothing). This is completely unlike Desmond's mental trip through time last season, where his mind could only jump into places his body happened to be in that era. This season's characters can skip forward and backward, their position on the island fixed, interacting with the places and people of whatever time period they happen to be thrust into. Of course, the possibility also exists that they're time-tripping within their own minds, much like Minkowski, and physically they're all lying comatose on the beach in the island's current timeline... but that's a can of worms I choose not to open just now.
Yet if it's the island that's moving beneath them, our main characters are somehow keeping their memories. It seems that the other (and Other) inhabitants of the island are not. If you watch, I don't think the other inhabitants can even see the flash of light coming. Richard sees it when Locke is initially zapped (maybe because it was the originating timeline), but doesn't even squint when John quantum-leaps the second time. Ethan makes no notice of it as it goes off behind him just as he's about to shoot Locke. But the clincher comes when Richard later tells John "You'll be moving on soon", meaning that it's Locke that's moving and Richard is staying put.
So as Faraday says, they've been 'dislodged' from time. To me, this makes our stranded islanders ten times more interesting than the Oceanic six. Suddenly we can be shown anything and everything that's happened on the island: it's like the ultimate unlimited flashback, we've waited the whole show for. Any mystery... answered at any time. We see the Beechcraft crash, we see Ethan again. Ana Lucia shows up, Libby says hi - the writers can use this as a vehicle to show us every single thing we've always wondered about, from how the Black Rock got on the island to the origins of the four-toed statue. As long as our characters keep skipping we're treated to front row seats for all of the important events, landmarks, and happenings in the island's entire history. The Enchantment Under the Sea dance has officially started.
Run Kate, Run!
Yeah, ... we already know this drill. I won't even count how many times we've seen it before. Kate and Aaron are the last of the O6 still secure in the lair of the real world, so triggering Kate's flight instinct was the surest way to jolt her into leaving that comfort zone. The possibility of her losing Aaron would be the one thing that would get Kate to consider going back to the island too... which is why I'm pretty sure Ben Linus sent those men to her house. There is no paternity lawsuit. Ben's a sneaky bastard.
I'm not sure if the 'tunnel of no return' reference in Aaron's cartoon was meant to describe Kate's opinion of the island, but it seemed to be something along those lines. And the strategic placement of the Jack and Aaron photo was there either to remind the less dedicated viewers of their relationship (hey, it's been a while), or to indicate that maybe Kate hasn't completely gotten over the idea of being with Jack. Maybe both.
The Island's Always Had a Bad Case of the Time Hiccups
I think the island has been held relatively in place (and time) for most of the show, but has been showing increasing signs of 'skipping' for some time now. Most likely this began after electromagnet was destroyed. Even before Ben turned the wheel we've seen deliberate and sometimes instant changes in the fabric of LOST's world - the picture frames in Miles' flashback, the food rearranging itself in Ben's fridge, the clocks that skip ahead hours in mere minutes. Most dramatic of all was the lantern in Jacob's cabin shattering and then re-forming itself as time 'rewound' itself in that particular scene.
These things are now somewhat explained through Daniel's skipping record player analogy, and for the most part can be put to rest. Questions remain however, as to why things would change in what is supposed to be a character's off-island flashback. I've got my own kooky ideas on this, and am still working on that theory.
Widmore - Playing Sun or Getting Played?
Sun's confrontation with Widmore didn't tell us much, but when she revealed her motive of wanting Ben dead I thought it completely disingenuous. Sun doesn't care about Ben. She's trying to use Widmore to get back to the island, and to do that she needs to convince him they've got common interests. Widmore seems way too smart to be played like that. Still, if he knows the same things Ben knows about getting back there, he knows that Sun will be needed. As the two of them play this game, I'm guessing Sun wants to know what happened to Jin and/or believes Jin to still be alive. Compared to what's happening to Sawyer's crew, this storyline is about as interesting as Paolo discovering the toilet still worked.
Loading Your Dishwasher Knife Side Up? Pure Badass.
I suppose we'll never get tired of watching Sayid kicking the crap out of people. This is the guy who once built a fully-stocked love hut in order to smoothly seduce Shannon, mere days after her brother's violent death. It seems his picnic-on-the-beach days are officially over. Sayid has abandoned romance and elevated himself to James Bond-like levels of super human badass ability: killing at will, avoiding fried foods, and generously tipping his chicken waitress.
Sayid effectively tells Hurley that Ben Linus is evil, going as far as to make sure that Hurley never listens to him again. This immediately struck me as a mistake, and we later see that it'll throw serious kinks in Ben's plan to get the O6 back to the island. Sayid's rage toward Ben is driven by the death of Nadia, and by the vile things Ben had him do. Just as we the viewers are trusting in Ben's master plan to reunite everyone, it appears that Sayid's mistrust in him is going to make getting everyone back to the island a season-long process.
Important here is that Sayid's would-be assailants have been tasked with bringing him back alive (unfortunately for them). Assuming they work for Widmore, he realizes that Sayid (and Hurley) are an integral part of once again finding the island. Possessing them would also bring Ben out of the woodwork. Miles even states that it took Widmore twenty years to find the island 'the first time', and seems to hint that he's not going to stop until he finds it again.
What Comes Around Goes Around
Great line! Richard's character keeps getting better and better, and his meeting with Locke solidifies the fact that LOST's characters themselves are skipping through the island's timeline. And as it turns out, items can travel with them too. The bullet Ethan fired into Locke's leg is still there when Richard finds him in the future, and the compass he gives him makes the trip back to the past. Richard's sole interests are the island, and as appointed protector of the island that's now where Locke's loyalties lie as well. Apparently the island itself is in danger, and the only way to save it is to get the O6 back.
Despite repeated admonishments from Daniel and Ms. Hawking, this is the first nagging indication (this season anyway) that time can in fact be changed. If everything that happens is destined to happen anyway, why would Richard be running hellbent through the jungle to give Locke important information between timeskips? It can be argued of course, that that's how it 'happened' the first time so it's just happening all over again. Still, everything points to the fact that the Oceanic Six were definitely not supposed to leave. This very statement seems to infer that there was an original scenario (the desired scenario?) where they actually did NOT leave. Only by bringing them back can the island's current situation be 'fixed'... but perhaps there's another way. Maybe changing the fact that they left at all can accomplish the same thing?
In the end Locke asks how he's going to convince Jack, Kate and the others to come back at all. His track record isn't exactly good with them at this point. Richard responds by telling him that he'll have to die to accomplish this, which is something we already know. Why he has to die, or how that happens, are questions for the end of the season
You'd Best Explain Why You You've Been Banging on my Door, Brotha!
A bunch of stuff happens here. First, Charlotte's nosebleed. This is an ominous indication that all this timeskipping might have bad repercussions later on. Maybe Charlotte's in need of a constant, but that doesn't make much sense because it seems that Faraday could easily fill that role. Her headaches and memory loss later in the 2nd episode are in indication that things are 'getting worse' - Daniel's exact words from last season during the card flipping scene.
Next, Daniel leaves his pack behind. This doesn't seem intentional, but it's important because it allows him an excuse to see Desmond alone. The fact that Saywer didn't meet Desmond at the door can be attributed to Daniel's statement of "If it didn't happen, it can't happen"... but it can also be chalked up to Desmond needing about 20 minutes to put his protective suit on. "Are you him?" Dammit, I thought we were gonna finally get an answer to the snowman riddle here.
At this point, Faraday tosses aside all previous assertions that time cannot be changed and suddenly tells Desmond that he's special. He alone is uniquely qualified to change time, and for some reason the rules don't apply to him. I've theorized in past seasons that this is true, and that it happened the moment Desmond turned the failsafe key. Being at the epicenter of that event launched Desmond on his first trip to what seemed to be an *alternate* timeline (not a past or future timeline) in Flashes Before Your Eyes. In that episode he was completely certain of the outcome of a soccer game, yet the game ended differently than he remembered it. This was the first indication that things could be changed.
Even as Ms. Hawking showed up to convince Desmond that they could not, he went on to keep Charlie from dying. Course correction might've killed him in the end, but not before Charlie (who was suspiciously the only person who could've done so) turned off the jamming device. This led to the freighter finding the island, and the Oceanic 6 being able to leave. It can be easily argued that Desmond caused all of this to happen, through his knowledge of future events. He can, and already has, changed the rules. Desmond is identified as the magic person who can 'make his own kind of music'. My overly long and analytical theory regarding the rest of this can be found at the end of the review.
And Stay Away from the Cops...
How funny was it to watch Ana Lucia (of all people) telling Hurley not to get arrested? One of Hurley's main character flaws is his self-doubt. He needs to establish a believe in himself. The apparent ghosts of Charlie, Eko, and Ana Lucia might be trying to guide him in the right direction, but he doubts them because of who he is, and where he's been - a wacky island and a mental institution. When he finally opens up to his mother, he spills everything out in one big rambling blur of seemingly impossible events. Yet his mother believes him. She admits she doesn't fully understand, but she's close enough to Hugo enough to know that he's telling the truth. A mom like that rocks. This helps Hurley get over 'the lie'. Unfortunately for the master plan, this further influences his decision to disobey Ben, defy Ana Lucia, and be arrested by the cops anyway.
woH emoC ehT srepsihW ereW semitemoS sdrawkcaB?
Because we can now guess that they came from a time in the future. Dripping Walt, Kate's nighttime phone call... considering that the islanders can skip forward as well as backward in time, this suddenly seems to make a hell of a lot more sense. How voices, messages, and images can be cast backward like that to arrive at their destinations is still a mystery - but maybe someday we'll learn something about the infamous 'remote viewing device'.
It Looks Like you Heart Them.
Hahahahaha!!! Because lucky for Hurley, every gas station stocks 3XL T-shirts. I hope that shirt lasts out the season and makes it all the way back to the island. We should start a pool on what Sawyer's first line would be.
Thank God for Flaming Arrows
Back on the beach it was a close race as to who was annoying me the most. Rose and Bernard were doing a good job whining at each other, but then Frogurt really took over and made a giant dick of himself. The flaming arrows were a welcome relief from the irritating dialogue and lame attempt at some sort of comedy. And once again the writers spent the lives of another batch of red shirts while the cool kids all got away.
Presumably these are more others toting the standard issue WWII rifles we've seen in seasons past. They've got zero tolerance for outsiders and Ethan's patience for explanation. Locke showing up to save Sawyer and Juliet was pretty cool, and his knife throwing skills are still solid. That they would've chopped Juliet's arm off wasn't even a question. But the fact that they didn't recognize Juliet indicated they must've jumped to a time period before she arrived on the island.
No Country for Old Ben
Sometime during his jaunts to the real world, Ben took in a movie or two. He hides his mystery bag in the air vent, No Country for Old Men-style, either to keep it from enemies or to keep it from Jack. When telling Jack to go home for a few hours, he reminds him: 'If there's anything in this life you want, pack it in there because you're never coming back'. Does this mean once Jack goes back to the island he's staying there forever? Not necessarily. We've heard references to 'another life' so many times, it's hard to brush over Ben's interesting use of the phrase 'this life'. I'm more inclined to think that once they've gone back, the timeline they're currently in might completely cease to exist (which would be extremely convenient for Hurley the serial-killer). If Jack ever gets off the island again after that, it'll be in an entirely different (another) life. Does that sound kooky? Let me remind you we're traveling through time now... so not many things should sound kooky at this point.
It was also cool to see just how many contacts Ben still maintains in the outside world, if there even is an outside world (hmmm... did I just say that?) Not only was Jill sitting there waiting for Ben, she knew exactly what he had in the van and why he had it. I also thought it pretty rad how Ben pointedly defended Jack when Jill made snide remarks toward his addiction to pills. Although everyone's always been a pawn in Ben's giant chessgame, he realizes they've been through a lot of crap together. Maybe he's got a heart after all.
My Big Long Chunky Theory About Ben, Hawking, and Desmond
Okay, since we know a hell of a lot more now than we ever did before, let's put some things in perspective. Widmore sent Desmond to the island. This seems to indicate he knew in advance that Desmond would be the game-changer. Perhaps powerless at the time of the boat race, maybe Widmore knew Desmond's abilities would come with the turning of the failsafe key. He alone would be instrumental in allowing the island to be found again. Desmond was the monkey wrench in the machinery of the island, tossed there by Widmore.
On the flip side, Ben is the person currently protecting and hiding the island. Desmond arrives on the beach, and before his clothes are even dry he is squirreled away to the Swan Hatch and kept there by threats of disease and impending world destruction. Pressing a button every 108 minutes, Desmond's going nowhere soon. Ben writes him off as harmless until the 815'ers show up to change Desmond's situation. Ben counted on the timer expiring, and the resulting Swan Hatch implosion... but Ben did NOT count on the turning of the failsafe key. Desmond wakes up buck naked in the jungle - the only character we've ever seen this happen to. He goes through a special type of island baptism or rebirth, and it looks like this is where he's imparted with the unique power to change things.
After the hatch implosion, Desmond is also catapulted though time to another point in his life. Pushing the button sucked, so he happily decides to change things, buy a ring, and stay with Penny. That's when Ms. Hawking shows up, vehemently urging Desmond to dump Penny and head to the Swan Hatch anyway, almost as if it were a given that he would do so. When he's hesitant, she seems worried and annoyed. According to her own course-correction theory, she shouldn't have to be worried... no matter what choice Desmond makes, the button would eventually get pushed by someone. Yet Hawking definitely *was* worried - a violation of her own conjecture. She knew Desmond could, and would, change things - unless he was thoroughly convinced that he could not.
So now you've got Ben and Hawking on one side, trying to keep things status quo. They're the keepers of the island's time loop, which has gone on and on... explaining how they know just about everything before it happens. Widmore and company have been trying to change things in order to find the island and perhaps get to the end game. You've got Richard and the Others acting under the order of Jacob (I'm no longer convinced Ben is, or even ever was, acting in Jacob's interests), and right now Jacob's agenda is still up in the air. And finally you've got Locke, rising to his fulfill his destiny as the once and future leader of the Others. Which I suppose puts his mission in line with whatever Jacob is planning. Somewhere in there is the smoke monster, a leftover remnant from the four-toed era, chewing on people from both sides.
If anyone disagrees with me, I'm open to other interpretations. I love this shit.
Ms. Hawkings, a Pendulum, and Some Very Serious High-Level Mathematics
It appears that disrupting the historic course of the island has sent things spinning toward an impending, disastrous end. As Hawking tells Ben in the big revealing scene: "Seventy hours is what you've got". If we assume this season ends with the O6 returning to the island, then the entire story arc of our season will fit into less than three days. Three off-island days, that is. Who knows how much time that translates to in Sawyer/Juliet/Locke hours. But if Jack's group fails to get back in time, Hawkings 'Every single one of us will be dead' prophecy seems like it will be fulfilled. Doesn't this finally put Ben on the good guy team? If not I'm not sure what does.
The Last Two Seasons
This opener paves the way for what should be the coolest two seasons ever. The story has evolved so that Eko, Charlie, Libby, Shannon, Boone... even Joanna the drowned girl can show up at any time. I look forward to these fun moments, like when Ana Lucia bent down to peer into Hurley's car. And like the rest of you guys, I look forward to LOST finally unraveling many of its best and oldest mysteries.