"Lost in Translation": Season Premiere – Neither Here Nor There, But Sorta Both

Guess who’s coming to dinner! Now, guess who else is coming!

“I’m sorry you had to see me like that.”

Ah, it’s Locke, with his Colonel Kurtz head, his crinkle-eyed smile, his jungle-stained summer-wear. And now, his unsettling ability to become a (THE) smoke monster, complete with deadly coal-black smoke legs that can blast everyone and anything in sight into smithereens.

Who isn’t Locke at all, of course, but some other being entirely. Jacob’s evil brother? His rival? His Esau? Something has subsumed Locke — who is, to be fair, dead — and now it’s unclear who or why and who’s on his side, and what his side (his goal?) IS, exactly.

Welcome to the new, and final, season of “Lost.” And we’ll get to that in a moment, but not before we admit that this is not an unfamiliar story. No, it’s the essential story of mankind (womynkind, too), all of us splayed between the contradictary natures within our own divided souls. It’s hard to get truly lost these days, what with Mapquest and handheld GPS devices. Until you look inside yourself, of course, at which point the (moral) compass spins crazily and true north vanishes altogether. Gaze within and you’re thousands of miles away from any rescue party. No man is an island, John Donne said. If only because those internal islands are so full of monsters and spirits and unsettling memories and whispering voices that sometimes you want them to vanish altogether. Either that, or go back in time so you can un-do all the mistakes you made along the way.

For all you fans out there obsessing over the “Lost” mythology (including part of me, of course) let’s just put that down for a moment and realize that it’s THIS other story — the internal one; the psychological one; the overgrown wilds of the psyche one — that resides most closely to the heart of the series.

The rest of it, the wildly-imagined and crazy-baffling stuff, is the grooviest window dressing in the history of popular American entertainment. It’s the submarine; the Oceanic flight; the portal in the desert. But where you’re headed, really, is deep, deep inside.

Still, the storytelling/question-answering went on at warp speed, too. To wit:

1. Juliet-in-1977 did indeed set off the nuke-u-lar bomb intended to blow up the island’s gravitational core and thus make it impossible for Oceanic 815 to crash in 2004.

2. Which is why our next view of the gang on the original plane shows them clean, scrubbed and entirely airborne to L.A.. And yet still lost in the depths of their own pre-existing mistakes and anxieties. Also, they’re drawn together for reasons they don’t comprehend, though it appears that Jack (whose neck is still stained with Sayid-from-1977’s blood) feels some kind of connection. And is puzzled by it.

3. But guess what, the bomb only kind of worked. Or maybe it worked in an altogether unexpected way, because the islanders who were on the island at the time are ALSO still on the island. Though now it’s unclear WHEN they’re there, because all the island threads seem to be converging, no matter what year they were taking place in before.

4. The Locke who emerged from his own coffin last year is definitely not Locke. In fact, he’s NotLocke, who appears to be the black-shirted brother/twin/rival to the fair-skinned, white-shirted Jacob, who is/was the personifcation of the Island’s purest spirit, right up until NotLocke maneuevered Ben into stabbing Jacob in the heart and shoving him into a fire.

5. At least one Dharma skeleton wants you to know that it’s time to refresh your reading of Soren Kierkegaard.

So more struggles and more conflicts. Only now they seem even deeper and more irreconcilable than ever. Consider how the latest group of Others are pinned down in some kind of ancient temple, complete with hieroglyphics and magical springs and what seems to be the very heart of their faith/existence. Whose very existence, at this moment, is up for grabs.

Everything in sight is at odds with everything else: the divided souls (and now dueling existences) of the Oceanic Losties; the literally divergent bodies and souls; the endless, seemingly fruitless quest for some rock-solid logic and reason.

No answers, but hints everywhere. (the real) Locke in LAX, hearing that his new friend Dr. Jack, is trying to locate his father’s body: “How could they know where he is? They didn’t lose your father, they just lost his body.”

Or maybe this is the quote of the week, from the just-resurrected Sayid; “Oh my God. What happened?”