Deep "Lost" Mythology from Nick Gorini – Episode 1

Drink ’em if you’ve got ’em, but definitely read Nick’s wisdom:

By NICK GORINI

To be a real fan of Lost, you have to be willing to overlook a few of the show’s less-than-savory personality traits.

For example, you need to get used to the occasional use of clunky, expository dialogue. These glaringly obvious speeches are used to highlight complicated plot twists, explain technical mumbo-jumbo, or restate themes and the ‘Big’ ideas. In Sci-Fi flicks from the 50’s, this was usually done by cigarette smoker in a lab coat and thick glasses popping up at the start of the third act to explain how ‘Gamma Rays’ made Mothra so big, or why Mars needs women. My former Television Studies teacher, Thom Bray, called this guy, “Harry the Explainer.”

Faraday was the quintessential Harry the Explainer.

But I forgive, because this show has so much ground to cover, it would take a thousand Harry’s to shed the light. And on Lost, just about everybody gets a turn at being a Harry. In fact, so much happened on this week’s 2-hour Final Season premiere, it seemed just about everybody got to be a Harry.  

Rose, at the start, telling Jack what his BIG PROBLEM is: ‘It’s okay. You can let go now.’

Pouty Sawyer, looking at the hole in the ground, restacking what they did last season, and that it didn’t work! Dammit! And that ‘I hate you all over again, Jack!’

Sayid, in a bloody heap: ‘What will happen? Will I go to Hell? I’m a killer. As you may remember, I’ve killed lots and lots people. If I do go to hell, I deserve it.’

Jacob, in a very nice albeit un-ironed dress shirt traipsing through the forest: ‘Uh look, Hurley. Last season, I gave you a guitar case, which we all know didn’t have a guitar. And I died. Was just killed, actually. Anyhow, remember the temple Jin saw about eighteen episodes back? No? Well, he saw this temple – bring him along, and help Sayid, because Jack ain’t gonna be any help here.’

I could go on, but you get the idea. This week’s Harry award has to go to Locke/Smokey/Man In Black. The speech he gave to Ben about Locke’s final, dying thoughts, his pathetic yet hopeful nature, and why it’s ironic that this is his new host body? Awesome.

Thankfully, this week’s show once again did a great job (as they usually do) of answering what we think are the most important questions by giving us a larger question that reveals even greater mysteries.

Nick’s wisdom continues after the jump. . . .

THE NEW TIMELINE:

Right away, back on the plane, in a new timeline, we know something’s up. Rose is now calm (and reading ‘Weekly Woodsman’, for some reason. I think I may skip the online research in regards to THIS literary reference), while Jack’s the edgy flyer. As new timeline Jack’s spidey sense tingles, we the audience get knowingly whiplashed with familar faces. Hey, it’s Cindy the flight attendant! And not only that, but she ends getting as much screen time as some major characters! Hey, that’s Greg Grunberg, the original pilot, on the intercom! Hey Bernard! Desmond!? What the hell? You weren’t on this plane before?!

Even the island’s back, but now it’s become the (pun intended) lost city of Atlantis, hidden under thousands of feet of water, rendered in some admittedly less-than convincing CGI. Later on the plane, we’ll get some other great cameos. Doc Arzt! Frogurt, The Smart-Aleck Marshal, etc. In addition to all our beloved characters (Charlie! Boone!!), in new incarnations (an un-jinxed, content Hurley) and not-so-new incarnations (Jin – you’re jack-ass again!).

As we watch this new timeline, we can see compelling reasons that, good intentions aside, the alternate lives these folks were leading may not be so cool. We’re happy the dead folks are back, even Frogurt. But want your heart to break? Watch Locke initially tell Boone that he was on a walkabout, only to be eventually lifted into his wheelchair after Boone steps off the plane. Locke, still getting a raw deal. That’s enough to make you wish the bomb hadn’t detonated.

Before that great reveal, we had Boone explaining why his sister wasn’t on the flight and Charlie being saved by Jack with an assist from a photograph-fondling Sayid. Charlie had choked on a bag of heroin in his windpipe, later sneering at Jack that ‘I was supposed to die.’ But we’re happy that Sawyer is back, scoping out ladies on the plane, and that Nadia, Sayid’s brutally murdered love, is alive. Sure, Sun and Jin look as miserable as they did in the pilot episode, but hey, win some, lose some.

Once they land, Jin gets taken into custody for carrying unclaimed money. When Sun could intervene, speaking English, she chooses to remain silent. She’s back to wanting out of this thing. We get Kate making a big break, using a pen she swiped from Jack, a high-kick to a bathroom stall and swiping a gun from her beaten federal marshall. She almost gets caught twice, but Sawyer helps her out, not because he remembers her, but because he wants to get to know her, if you know what I mean. She eventually commandeers a cab with Claire inside.

Meanwhile, we get one of the two best scenes of the night with Jack and Locke hanging out in the (pun intended) lost baggage claim. If that ain’t a beat-you-over-the-head metaphor, I just don’t know what is. You see, Jack’s dad was in his coffin, now gone. And Locke’s bag of knives is missing. Rather than sit as separately angry strangers, they commiserate. Locke, reassuring Jack that they didn’t lose his dad, they just misplaced a body. His dad is fine, wherever he is. And when Jack asks Locke about his spinal cord injury, throwing in a ‘I just happen to be a spinal cord surgeon’ line, Locke gives him an honest answer. When he tells Jack there’s no fix for his body, Jack, in old Jack style, says, “Nothing’s irreversible.” One could read this as Jack’s arrogance making yet another appearance, but I think Jack was reaching out to Locke, giving him some hope. And of course, by show’s end, the creators will definitively tell us if they agree with Jack’s statement.

THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE:

Juliet is great, and Elizabeth Mitchell did such an original take on what could’ve been a bit of a bore. Over a few seasons, she created one of the strongest, most complex characters on the show. That said, I don’t think we needed to say goodbye to a dying Juliet again, especially after spending fifteen minutes of last season’s finale saying goodbye. But, I guess it’s important that we know Sawyer is back to blaming Jack for all the bad stuff. And now they’re back to fighting over one woman, instead of two. Might as well get a head start.

We quickly patch together our 70’s timeline crew, blown back to the original (I think) timeline. Scattered about, Kate gathers Miles, Jack and Sawyer. Hurley, Jin and leaky meat bag Sayid quickly join them. Next to them is Desmond’s imploded hatch. So: the bomb got them back to present day, but it didn’t erase all the bad, bad stuff that happened the last five years. A wise choice by the writers, in my opinion.

Inside the implosion hole, a dying Juliet awaits. We get the quick rescue, the heartbreaking death, the angry threats, and eventually ghost-Jacob showing up next to Hurley’s van. Looking quite dapper for someone recently stabbed to death and burned beyond recognition, Jacob does his best Harry the Explainer to set up everything else that happens in this timeline. ‘Use that thingy I gave you to go to the secret temple Jin remembers and save Sayid. And I’m dead, so only you can see me.’

While Jack goes through his routine of tortured doctor being unable to save a patient, and Hurley convinces everyone to follow him to the temple, Sawyer and Miles hang back to bury Juliet. Sawyer’s motive, of course, is to use Miles the Ghost Whisperer to talk to Juliet’s spirit. With a re
sponse that will leave us pondering for a few more episodes, Miles tells Sawyer that Juliet said, “It worked.” Huh? Apparently, Dead Juliet don’t like to talk much, unlike the chatty Kathy that is Dead Jacob.

Meanwhile, our other folks make it to the secret temple, which hides another secret temple. On the way there, we pass the old french skeletons and a book by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. I think there was an AK-47 nearby, which would have been a nice juxtaposition, but I can’t be too sure.

Does this find matter? Not really, other than to point out that our heroes end up in the fancy schmancy Hilton-for-Hippies temple, run by two of The Beatles, one of which rules with an iron fist. You see, I won’t bore you with too much information, but I will say that Kierkegaard spent a lot of time writing and thinking about man’s free will. His ability to choose his fate. Kierkegaard eschewed the formalities and the pageantry of the Church at the time. So, in other words, the show is telling us that this la-la-land we find is probably not all it’s cracked up to be.

First these hippies want to kill our crew. Then Hurley whips out the resurrection Ankh, which George Harrison breaks and finds a scroll inside. Something on the scroll allows our friends to live. Meanwhile, a few more cameos! Cindy again, With those two kids from the plane! Does anybody remember these kids, or care? I don’t know…

We end up in a dirty wading pool that apparently revives these folks – the fountain of youth, of course. Which, as a side note, is probably where the ageless Richard Albert bathes daily. Only, it doesn’t seem to be working, because George Harrison cuts his hand and puts it in pool of water, with no healing. They drag a nearly lifeless Sayid in, then hold his head down until he appears to drown. No, wait. He drowned. Jack tries again to save a life, but it’s pointless.

A beaten Sawyer gets dragged in next with Miles – they’ve been captured. Miles looks at dead Sayid, only he doesn’t seem to think he’s so dead. And Hurley goes to George Harrison and tells him that Jacob is dead. An immediate panic swarms the Temple. Sound the alarm! Grab your weapons! Spread…The…Ash!? This plot threads ends with Sayid sitting upright, apparently alive again, wondering, “What happened?”

Back on the beach, The Man In Black sits in the underground temple, gloating over his dead foe. Ben is horrified, mostly at his own actions. But I think he realizes he screwed himself, big time. I sure hope we see the crafty side of Ben once more before this show ends. Outside, arguing between Ilana, Alpert and that linebacker named Bram. Lapidus and Sun don’t like this one bit, but choose to hang back and watch.

Bram and some Star Trek Red Shirts head into the temple after Ben does his worst lying ever and is faced with Locke’s dead body. “Yup! I really did screw myself!” Ben thinks, as he gets dragged back to the temple with Bram. The Man In Black says something key here, and it’s important. He doesn’t want to fight. He tells them all, “You’re free. You’re free to go.” But a fight ensues, and The Man In Black quickly turns into Smokey, killing everyone but Ben. Oh sure, Bram brought some of his own special ash, but it doesn’t help. Smokey may not be able to cross ash, but that doesn’t stop Smokey from sending a one-ton boulder crashing down on your head.

In what is my other favorite scene from this episode, Ben and The Man In Black have a nice chat. And we hear his thoughts on the person he now inhabits. He starts out cruel, talking about how weak Locke was, and yet, he admired Locke, for his faith, his determination, and his unwillingness to give up, even when his life was a total failure. This is what we call MAJOR FORESHADOWING. Remember how cynical The Man In Black was on the beach with Jacob? I sense that some part of Locke is still in there, and may influence this guy yet. His speech ends with a cryptic, “I just want to go home.” Where is that, Smokey? Who was so powerful to keep you here? And why?

Outside of the temple, The Man In Black dumps off Ben, makes a cryptic comment about Alpert being in chains the last time he saw him, and then knocks Albert unconscious. But not before we see that Albert knows who he’s dealing with. The Man In Black picks up Alpert and heads into the jungle, presumably to the temple the rest of our crew is at. Finally!

NEW QUESTIONS TO ADD TO THE PILE:
In the new timeline, why is it that Jack is the only one with this strange sense of displacement? Why is he the only one with a sense of something a little off?
Why did his dad’s coffin disappear? And what happened to Locke’s knives?
What is with the ASH? All I’m going to say is, if I didn’t age, could possess the bodies of the dead, appear as anyone I wanted to, and turn into a big cloud of homicidal smoke, sprinkling a little ash in a circle is not going to stop me. So what is this stuff, anyway?
Speaking of Smokey, if you play a game with someone, and that person loses, and the game is over, why would you still play, let alone play by the rules? For some reason, The Man In Black is still playing the game, even when his adversary is dead. Which means: someone else is in charge of the game. Who?
Why would Jacob make a point to bring Ilana and her goons to the island, only to fail at their basic task? I mean, he is all-knowing, right?
Why is Desmond on the plane? I have to believe it was for a reason better than, “Look, it’s Desmond on the plane!”
Desmond on the plane, then not on the plane. Is he still bouncing around all over the place? If so, he didn’t look too upset about it.
Juliet’s post-mortem words to Sawyer via Miles. “It worked.” What does that even mean?
So Jacob gave Hurley an Ankh (basically a big key to a resurrection hot tub), knowing it would come in handy. If he knew this was going to happen, how much more about this timeline does he know? At what point does Jacob reach a place where he really doesn’t know what will happen next?
Watching the new timeline, did anyone else wonder if Jimmy Stewart was going to wander into frame with Clarence the Angel telling Jack, “You see? when you blew up the atom bomb, you never did meet that nice young lady Kate.”
Kate, Kate, Kate. I love you, and think you’re beautiful. But you have got to be one of the dumbest fugitives I have ever seen. Don’t use a pen to unlock your cuffs, beat a Fed unconscious and run past witnesses just to head down to the BAGGAGE CLAIM FOR YOUR OWN FLIGHT. Try a different gate. Try the Starbucks. Try getting out of the freaking airport first. Glad to see you found Claire in your taxi, though. Was Claire pregnant?
Did anybody else find the Japanese Garden, er, new temple, a little cheesy? I was glad to see John Hawkes, one of the great character actors of our time. But did he have to be named ‘Lennon’, while dressed exactly like John Freaking Lennon? Would that make that boss of his George Harrison? Because he sure looked like him. Anyhow, I hope we don’t spend too much time at the rejuvination spa.
Speaking of the spa, who is Sayid now? The show obviously set us up to believe that he is a reincarnated Jacob, but on second thought, that seems too obvious. And why was the water so brown? Yuck.
How does The Man In Black know what Locke’s final, poignant thoughts were?
What is “Home”? What does The Man In Black want to do when he gets there? And who put him on the island?
In the new timeline, when the camera drops down into the middle of Finding Nemo, I did notice the Dharma town, the blown-up hatch, the four-toed statue and other clues that, new timeline or not, the island’s history seems to have remained relatively intact. Why?

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND GOING INTO NEXT WEEK:
Think we’re done with old character cameos and re-appearances? Not by a long shot. Look for at least two very familiar faces from the past next week, including someone most spoiler sites missed.
And that’s only for next week. If you had a favorite now-deceased character, your odds for a reappearance in some capacity is bett
er than 50/50.
So we’ve had flashbacks and flashforwards. The blogosphere now calls this new alternate timeline a “Flash-sideways”. Not too catchy, is it.
In light of the fact that the underwater island looked the same in the new timeline, I would say be prepared for an eventual convergence of timelines. I’m not saying that for sure, but if it happens, don’t be surprised.
There is some internet chatter about a connection between Sayid and Claire, but I found about six different theories on it. We’ll know soon enough.
We now know that Richard Alpert at some point was bound in chains (literal or figurative). So, what’s his story? Expect an episode that will explain who Richard is, how he got to the island, what he went through while there, and why he was chosen.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a Locke fan, but I don’t think this possession of his body is 100%. If The Man In Black knows exactly what Locke was thinking at his death, then somehow, someway, a little bit of Locke is still in there.
No matter what you do, don’t forget about Widmore. He’s on his way, and it’s yet to be determined what role he will play in all this. But I don’t think it will be a small one.
Hurley’s power will grow (stop laughing, it’s true).
While we don’t know everything about Jacob or the full reasoning of his motives, he appears to care about these people. All of them. In fact, I think he cares deeply for the man that had him killed. And I think he was trying to help him. I think the Man In Black has much bigger problems that Jacob was keeping at bay.
Well, we know Jack pulled something off. But, for every newly happy Hurley, there’s Jin, back to being the same jerk he was in Season One. And Kate’s still a fugitive. And Charlie’s still trying to kill himself with drugs, only in a more expedient fashion. So are things really any better? Hard to say, although I was very touched to see Locke and Jack connect at the airport. We’ve been trained as an audience to expect conflict between these two for so long that the context of a friendly conversation and some real tenderness gave that scene a heaviness that made you hope, just hope that these two lost souls are finding some path to inner peace.

We’ve been beautifully set up for a last grapple of The Big Ideas. Love and hatred. Life and death. Friendship and betrayal. Anger and forgiveness. Every internal struggle we have, manifested in a network television show that started with a plane crash and polar bears.

See you next week, folks!

Nick Gorini

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