Hello, Dr. Nick!: In which our expert "Lost" myth-buster teams up with Beavis, Butthead and the Smoke-dude.

You said Jack. Heh-heh.

By NICK GORINI

Howdy, gang. For my readers out there (all four of you) who were wondering why I didn’t post any thoughts about last week’s polarizing Beavis and Butthead back-story, let me tell you something:
 
After reading about twenty articles, twice as many blogs, and endless other forms of barely digestible media, I sat down at my computer, started to type, and realized, I HAD NOTHING TO ADD TO THE DISCUSSION.
 
So many people had vociferous opinions, diatribes, and post-traumatic stress-posts…. Look, either you hated it, or you really hated it! HA HA ha…. I keed, I keed. Seriously, though, while the episode left me a little underwhelmed, I don’t think it deserved even half of the hate mail volleyed in its direction.
 
I understand some of the criticism: The writing was a little stale, the mythology seemed too little in comparison to the big picture, and Jacob and his bro seemed to be a little on the immature side. But, it had great acting, it deepened the moral dilemmas without offering cheap resolutions, and the Lucky Charms Leprechaun never danced out of the glowing golden cave.
 
And, after watching this week’s fireside chat with Jacob, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many of you most vocal critics might have secretly (no one ever admits they’re wrong anymore – ever! Have you noticed?) felt a little sheepish.
 
Nevertheless, this week, it was good to be back on track with the crew in whom we have invested so much emotion. For what it’s worth, if I had been Carlton and Damon, I would’ve just aired the Jacob/Smokey episode much earlier in the season. It’s just a little too late for us to get invested in that stuff.
 
ONWARD AND UPWARD, OR OFFWARDS AND DOWNWARDS

 
Despite Jack’s mystery shaving wounds, things are going his way. His kid’s hanging out at home, his newly-discovered sister and impending messiah/nephew have moved in, hey! Oceanic found dad’s coffin! All part of a healthy breakfast.
 
Only, it’s that sunny trickster Desmond, up to his tricky-tricky-trickies. But when he’s not making prank calls, Desmond’s also busy beating up teachers in parking lots. He smacks Ben around, telling him he was trying to get Locke to “let go”, but we know Desmond is beating the almighty island timeline into Mr. Linus, who it turns out, likes this sorta thing. Thank you sir, may I have another!
 
Ben shares the good news (you know – guess what! That dude that rammed his car into you slapped me with the ugly stick! I like him! He seems like a nice fellow!).
 
I tell ya, people with English, Irish or Scottish accents get away with bloody murder here. As an American, I thought the reverse would be true, too. Come to find out, when Americans travel abroad, we’re told we “sound funny.”
 
Anyway, we quickly move to the jail, where Desmond surrenders to Miles and Sawyer, who I bet will have their own mid-season, sci-fi cop show premiering on ABC sometime in March.

Get some back-end points on the new Miles & Sawyer series, and follow the jump. . .


 
Desmond confesses (nice touch) and gets thrown in the flimsiest jail set this side Molokai. Of course, Kate and Sayid are there. After Kate tries to convince Sawyer of her innocence, which we all know is going to be true, Desmond later arranges a prison escape using Ana Lucia and Hurley (Nice scene with Hurley seeming to know everything about both worlds, and Ana Lucia not having a clue). Sayid and Hurley speed off (without spoiling who, I can tell you that are going to go pick up another character from the past) and Desmond takes Kate. Apparently, Desmond is intending for every person who every appeared on Lost or worked for the show to appear in a single scene. Wow, man. Michael will NEVER find Walt in that crowd.
 
Meanwhile, Locke comes back to Jack to initiate the surgery. A great scene, of course, with an interesting touch that in this sideways world, Locke is back to embracing faith, and Jack is still carrying his science with him (“Don’t mistake fate for coincidence”), while on the island, Jack seems to have fully embraced the unknown.
 
Oh, and Ben gets a girlfriend, and it’s Rousseau! Alex’s mom.
 
Now, on the island, which retains most of it’s dark tone (by contrast, the sideways timeline is turning decidedly sunny), we start with our puffy-eyed heroes getting stitched up and talking revenge. Ji-Yeon’s newly orphaned status is mentioned, and it becomes clear our four remaining friends are accepting that to kill Smokey likely means a suicide mission.
 
So, off they go to get Desmond, and Sawyer gets some great screen time with a genuinely wounded discussion of being responsible for killing friends on the sub. Only Jack, newly peaceful, reassures Sawyer that he wasn’t responsible (never mind the fact Sawyer’s been rubbing Juliet’s death in Jack’s face for about ten episodes). Meanwhile, Wee Willie Jacob snags his ashes from Hurley and uses them to start his final fire. Not sure why it had to be wittle Jacob showing up first, but what the hell.
 
Now, everyone can see Jacob, and he’s ready to give some answers – FINALLY!
 
What progresses at the final fireside chat are some wonderful moments where Jacob explains why these folks were picked, why he’s using them to right his own wrongs, and that while he brought all of them to the island, once there, they can do as they please. But, uh, could one of you please take my place as the eternal savior of the light on the island? I mean, I’m not MAKING anybody do it, BUT, you know, all of humanity hangs in the balance and stuff.. Oh, and Kate, you can do it, too… And when this fire goes out, I’m gone, brother.
 
Of course, Jack signs up and he gets the creek-side ritual and drinks the water straight from the river! Where’s a Brita filter when you need one? If you become immortal, can you still get intestinal parasites? Not sure, but there may have been some polar bear scat along the river bed…
 
Sawyer gets in a nice line (‘I thought that guy had a God complex before’), but the humor of the moment dies quickly. Jack’s ready to roll.
 
Now, the best of the three sub-plots this week was Ben and Smokey’s, by far. While all three were great (sideways world, Jack becoming Jacob), the scenes with Smokey and Ben were like our last classic Lost episode. Humor, action, horror, great dialogue, everything.
 
We finally catch up with Ben, Miles and Alpert as they get to Dharmaville to pack up some C4 in Ben’s place. Miles’ line about Ben’s secret close having a “Secreter” room is awesome.
 
We get to see Miles sense Alex’s presence, where Alpert buried her body. Underneath the swingset that Ben used to push Alex on. Ben swallows that pain down in that Ben way and pretty much confirms for us in his lines that it was Smokey in Jacob’s cabin all that time, manipulating him, manipulating the Dharma Initiative, and at times, manipulating some of The Others.
 
A too-calm Widmore and that soon-to-be-dead Zoe pop up and add some tension. Widmore tells Ben that Jacob visited him after the freighter explosion to help him see the error of his ways. Too bad Jacob didn’t tell Widmore to be a little less of an arrogant prick.
Moments before Smokey shows up, Miles takes off on his own, and Ben seems to be ready to die, to get ‘the whole thing over with’. Alpert opts to reason with Smokey, which results in Alpert being stomped and tossed like an empty beer can. Still think he’s alive, though. Miles will probably find him next week.
 
Ben sits down on his porch and waits for Smokey to
show. Of course, he offers him some lemonade, but rather than being met with murder, he gets his old island-ruling offer back on the table. He takes it (or does he?) and flips on Widmore and Zoe.
 
Smokey doesn’t waste any time and slits Zoe’’s throat (a LONG time coming for an annoying character), and threatens to kill Penny if Widmore doesn’t tell him why he’s back. Widmore, who really does seem to be asking for an anti-climactic death, offers to tell Smokey only if Ben can’t hear it firsthand. So, he whispers to Smokey about Desmond being Jacob’s failsafe, due to his invincibility to electro-magnetism.
 
Ben slaughters Widmore – he doesn’t get to save his daughter. Smokey tells Ben, “You never cease to amaze me.” It’s almost as if Smokey, who’s cynicism regarding mankind has hit its nadir, still finds new depths of depravity in Ben. Worth keeping him around, if you ask me.
 
With Ben as his new candidate assassin at his side, the two make way to what turns out to be an empty well, with a rope. Smokey tells Ben that he likes walking on two feet because it reminds of being human. Ahh, weakness!! Anyhow, Smokey reveals his plan to use Desmond to destroy the island. BOOO HOOO HOOO HA HA HA HA!!!! ß twirls moustache…
 
ORTS OF GOODNESS AND THINGS WORTH NOTING
 
· Jack’s neck wound, which we saw when awoke in the season premiere. Originally, Jack got the neck wound during the Jughead (explosion, or not?) shootout in ’77. Are we getting ready to blow something up?
 
· Sayid told Jack he left him in the well. So who helped him out? If you don’t already have a good idea, I encourage to just sit, and think about it for about five minutes. You’ll come up with the answer, I’m sure.
 
· Just where does Miles think he’s going, anyway?
 
· Alpert isn’t dead. Not because this show won’t kill him, but because he deserves a better send-off than being punted like a beach volleyball.
 
· I am very, very glad that it looks like in both storylines, Ben’s got some juicy stuff to work through. What happens when his two worlds merge? Will he remember losing Alex? Will he remember kidnapping her from his new girlfriend? Oh crap! Will Rousseau remember? If Ben’s not careful he might step in a bear trap when he gets out of bed to take a leak. On the side note, is Ben back to being bad, playing a con on Smokey, or is he just back in his old pragmatic survival mode?
 
· NOTE: Time for the Stupid Award. What was stupid this week? Not much, really, but was more than a little bummed that Charles Widmore, a great character played by a great actor, got such an unceremonious send-off. Yes, it was good that Ben did the killing, but no actorly soliloquies or parting shots from this master thespian? We know you guys ran out of time for a lot of your story, but the iconic Widmore deserved a little more. Kinda too blatantly tying loose ends, and kinda stupid.
 
 
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO BE ASKING OR THINKING ABOUT BEFORE SUNDAY
 
· Smokey wants to destroy the island, and our remaining heroes need to stop him. Don’t forget that we saw the island underwater during the season premiere. Could it be that Smokey ends up succeeding? Could it be that destroying the island is a good thing? Could it be that the “light” that used to exist in every man (so sayeth Jacob’s nutty mom) was somehow imprisoned on the island, and that the best thing that could happen would be to free the light, bring it back to every man?
 
· How long do you think Jack will keep his new job? Given the fact that we see free will being a very important aspect of island life that Jacob wants to impart, are we really so sure that Jack is where it’s at? We still have more than two hours for any of these other viable candidates to jump in. And that includes Ben, Alpert, heck, even Miles.
 
· Desmond was brought to the island for more than a few reasons, obviously. And was he Jacob’s failsafe, or part of some even bigger plan spawned by powers beyond this chessboard?
 
· Based on what you’ve seen this year, do you really think Smokey can be killed? And if he can, what do you suspect would be the weapon (my guess? Love. That is, if he can even be killed. I’m not sure he can).
 
· My cohort Peter suspects that Ben is the new Man In Black. But I would say the odds are better that he’s the next Jacob, if we’re playing that game. But I’m thinking along these lines: Jacob once said, “It only ends once. Everything else is progress.” I don’t think the master plan is to keep a new Smokey and Jacob locked in for 2000-year max deal with no-trade clauses. First, it puts them WAAAYYY over the salary-cap. Second, I think bigger powers are ready for this thing to be done, finito, kaput.
 
· So, redemption is key, but in a recent interview, Carlton and Damon reiterated that true redemption comes from within and comes on behalf of a community. The old “Live together or die alone” line is of utmost importance. Keep this line in mind with all of Desmond’s doings.
 
· We also know that Jacob and Smokey are not all-knowing. They DON’T know all the secrets of the island, and they too are lost souls looking for hope and redemption. Maybe that’s what ticked some people off last week – I don’t know. But I liked that. It also tells me that if you’re looking for the wizard behind the curtain on this show, you will be disappointed. Just as it is in life – we can speculate, pray, ignore, deny, embrace, fear or love what is beyond here. But, we can’t know until we know.
 
So enjoy the ride while you can! Thanks for reading and for watching!

Hello, Dr. Nick! – The "Substitute" teacher connects the dots and leads us to. . .Jacob's Ladder

By NICK GORINI

I love puzzles. Sudokus, crosswords, word jumbles, even those maddening 5000-piece jigsaw puzzles picturing some blurry German castle. There’s something about the List-maker, the Completist in me. I appreciate the structure that can be built from what at first appears to be senseless and chaotic.

My favorite moment when putting a puzzle together isn’t starting the task, and it isn’t completing it, either. When solving a puzzle, the moment I get my “runner’s high”, when I get those little knots in my stomach, is when I can see the solution appearing before me. I’m not done yet, and I may have a long way to go, but that instant when I can forecast how the pieces come together, and I start moving very, very quickly to the finish line – that’s my favorite moment.

And that’s the feeling I had watching this week’s episode of Lost.

“And I’ve been Locked out, and I’ve been Locked in. But I always seem to come back again.”

What is about the Locke episodes that are almost always so adept at combining all the disparate elements of this show into a most magical elixir? A pinch of action, a teaspoon of mystery, one cup of mythology and whole pile of character development. The perfect cocktail – do you prefer your Locke shaken, like the Locke of old? Or perhaps you like your Locke stirred, like the winding, whirling-dervish of a devil now inhabiting our dearly-departed hero?

THE SIDE TIMELINE:
We open on the serene, bland suburbs that Locke serviced in one of his many previous job forays (looked an awful lot like Nadia’s old neighborhood, didn’t it?). Locke as Job continues, as he struggles getting out of his handicap van, tries to go all Evel Knieval popping a wheelie off the platform, and lands face first in his lawn. Before he can get too pissed, the sprinklers come on, drenching him in shame… Er, no wait: this isn’t quite the same Locke. Sure he’s prideful and stubborn, but this time he laughs. Laughs out loud at his predicament. I am sure it is laughter twinged with some level of pain, but here’s a guy who’s coping.

Then Peg Bundy comes hopping out of the house! I mean, Helen comes hopping out of the house! She’s back! Locke’s lost love (truly lost – if you remember that upon returning to the island, he was told she had died of a brain tumor) is living with him. This is great for two reasons: We’re happy for our beloved Locke, but we’re also happy because this romance was real – well-written and well-played. Helen and Locke, who originally met in an anger management class, seemed like real people, meeting in a real place, having a real relationship, on a show that can also indulge in some extreme existential fantasy.

Well, turns out they’re getting married. She even suggests they elope, and that dear old Daddy Locke should come along. WHAA? Can I get a HUHH? So who or what crippled Locke? Time will tell. I did dig that Helen’s shirt said something about Kharma on it, I believe. Also of note – Locke lies to Helen when asked about his trip. This Locke is a better man than the original, but not without flaws. Like all of us, dark impulses nibble away at our corners.

They have a brief discussion about his airport encounter with the friendly spinal surgeon, and how destiny may be telling him it’s time for a visit. Locke downplays the encounter, and we move on.

Back at Locke’s office cubical, we get a glimpse of a happy, less-follicularly-challenged Locke and his dear old bastard, I mean dad. Still not buying it – maybe this jerk just hasn’t sucked out his illegitimate son’s kidney yet.

Fate’s pain, isn’t it? I mean, here’s new Locke, still wheelchair-bound, and still working for that petty tyrant Randy. Still considered a nerd for playing Axis and Allies on his lunch break (“Hey Colonel!”), Randy paws at mousy Locke like fat, lazy cat until goes in for the kill. He knows Locke went on his thwarted Australian walkabout on the company dime. You’re fired, dude. Side note: Side timeline = No Abbadon. So, who convinced Locke to go on this trip?

Locke wheels himself and his box of belongings (including a polar bear statue, if memory serves) out to the parking lot, but there’s a problem. Prideful Locke doesn’t use handicap parking because he doesn’t have to and thus, his van is wedged against an obnoxious yellow hummer owned by Locke’s boss, Hurley! Aha! Now, as much as I like Hurley, I don’t like big, gas-guzzling hummers. So I now like Hurley a little less. Just a little. I bet he still eats hot pockets.

Follow the jump to get to gym class and then Jacob’s Ladder…

After some arguing, Locke tells Hurley he’s been fired. Hurley gives Locke the number for a temp agency he owns and reassures Locke in a Jacob-like manner (Hmmm) that everything is going to be okay. Give them a call, dude. I’ll set you up with a job.

At the temp agency, Locke is at first interviewed by another familiar face – the psychic Hurley visited back in Season 3. Man, Hurley will hire ANYBODY. Anyhow, after a few goofy questions, Locke asks to speak to a supervisor, and.. walks… Rose!

Lovely Rose. She tries to steer Locke to jobs that suit someone in his condition, but Locke’s pride and anger swell, and he demands a job managing a construction site. He wants to prove he can do anything. When Rose calmly tries to set him straight, telling him to focus on something “realistic”, Locke growls at her: “What do you know about ‘Realistic’?”

BIG SIDE NOTE: Last week, the Stupid Award went to Claire for hopping in a stolen cab with a gun-wielding felon. The week before, Kate got the Stupid Award by waiting for her luggage in baggage claim after beating her federal escort senseless. This week, the Stupid Award goes to Locke for trying to tell an African American woman that she doesn’t understand suffering or repression. So, SO STUPID. Not John Mayer Stupid, but pretty close.

Rose outdoes Locke by telling him about her terminal cancer (remember, the island was the only thing keeping her alive). She tells Locke that she has slowly learned to accept what life gives her, to live the life you have and enjoy it. Good job, Rose!

The next day, we hear Locke’s alarm go off (sounded an awful lot like the hatch. Hmm….), and we watch Locke struggle through his morning routine. He calls Jack’s office, but hangs up before he can make an appointment. Helen nudges gently, and this new and improved Locke tells Helen the truth. He’s been fired, the lost luggage that just arrived is a bunch of knives from his Crocodile Dundee daydreams, etc. It actually ends up being a great speech, because we see what hurts Locke the most: He feels emasculated, and bitter that he can’t walk his future wife down the aisle. He tells Helen to not spend his life with him waiting for a miracle, because miracles don’t happen.

This new Locke is braver than the old Locke, not because he’s fearless. He’s braver because he opened up, and told Helen about his fear. There’s hope for our dear friend yet. They embrace, and we know they’re closer for it.

The next day, we see that Locke has his new temp job. He’s coaching a girls high-school basketball and substitute teaching – Biology! He’s a man of science, now! Teaching female reproduction (aha – I was wondering when the show would get back to Bad dads, and dying moms. Soon, it will be here).

In the teacher’s lounge, we get out biggest reveal: Ben, who got off the island as a child, is now pretending to be C3PO, getting all fussy with R2D2 (or an empty coffee pot, I wasn’t sure). Ben teaches European history, of course. I knew this was coming, and they played this meeting beautifully. I sure hope for this new Ben gets to have the daughter he was robbed of in our old timeline. We shall see.


THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE:

Our first POV (
that’s Point of View) shot through Smokey’s eyes! Nice!! We experience Smokey flying through the forest, checking on sulky Sawyer, and then back to the forest, where Smokey goes back to Locke-mode, grabs a machete and frees Alpert from a hanging makeup bag. ‘Okay Richard, time to talk.’ If it isn’t regarding eyeliner application tips, my guess is that they’re going to talk about the island, and Jacob, and other cool stuff.

Yup. Alpert seems to be more in the dark about what’s going on then we realized. Locke apologizes for the beating and explains that taking Locke’s form was the only way to get to Jacob. Alpert doesn’t understand what this guy’s talking about when he mentions Locke being one of the “Candidates”. I guess Alpert needs a voter registration card or something.

Smokey makes a point to let Alpert know that he would never be coy or keep people in the dark about the big plans, like Jacob did. “I’d treat you with respect.”  He asks Alpert to come with him, but Albert’s reply?

“Never.” And the way he says it, so calmly, you know he means it. Alpert knows what side he’s on, and he accepts whatever this fate provides for him. Smokey sees something over Alpert’s shoulder that spooks him, something Alpert can’t see, and leaves.

We cut to Ilana and Ben beneath the 4-toed statue. Ben, out of habit, or instinct, still lies about killing Jacob. Ilana knows about as much about everything as we do – but she does know something about the damn ash, and grabs Jacob’s from the fire, and puts it in her empty Crown Royal bag. Bottom’s up!

Back at Dharmaville, we see Sawyer drinkin’ whiskey and listening to the Stooges play Smokey’s theme song, ‘Search and Destroy’. A raw scream of a tune about a ‘Forgotten Boy’ who’s looking for some soul salvation. A perfect tune for both Sawyer and Locke, who pops in to say hello. unfazed, Sawyer says, “I thought you were dead.” Smokey’s response: “I am.” Sawyer isn’t bat an eye, and what we’re about to get is yet another awesome Locke and Sawer adventure.

You know, it’s funny – I talk about the best pairings of characters on the show (Locke and Jack, Locke and Ben, Locke and Sawyer, etc.). I finally see the pattern. Terry O’Quinn is just that good of an actor, and Locke is just that good of a character.

Anyway, there’s great stuff here. Watch Smokey as Locke get a nice taste of booze that he hasn’t had in God knows how long. I think Smokey may become too accustomed to his human form. We saw him on the beach last year enjoy the Hell out of a mango. Even Smokey in some way is losing his purity by being a flawed human: His purity of mission, of purpose, of strongly representing the dark in contrast to the light. I’m telling you, Locke’s gone in this timeline, but he’s not really gone. No sir. More on that in a bit.

So Sawyer tells Locke to get out of his house. Locke initially tries to entice ‘The NEW Substitute’ to come with him, because he can answer the biggest questions. Sawyer knows this isn’t the real Locke, though. Mostly because Smokey seems confused at Sawyer’s responses. But, Sawyer agrees to come with him – but first, he has to put on some pants..

Back at the statue, the show really wants us to know this other Locke ain’t getting up anytime soon. His skin is taut, yellow and has crabs crawling on it. Lapidus makes a point of explaining how “Ripe” the body smells. Ilana grabs this new fun foursome (herself, Ben, Sun, Lapidus), and starts heading towards the temple to find Jin! With a short detour to bury Locke, at Sun’s request.

Back to the graveyard to Losties, Ilana explains that once Smokey picks his portal person, that’s who he’s going to be. He can’t hop from body to body. A little bit of a cop-out by the writing staff, but I’ll accept it.

As they bury Locke, guess who delivers the eulogy? Ben! Ha! “John Locke was a believer. A much better man I will ever be. And I’m sorry I killed him.” Nice! And Lapidus remarks under his breath how damn weird all this stuff is.

Meanwhile, Locke and Sawer are on their walkabout. Arguing until a Blonde kid pops up that both can see. Locke chases him deep in the forest but falls. Why not go all Smokey on this kid? Maybe he’s losing some of his ethereal powers the longer he inhabits Locke? Hmm… The kid pops back up and tells Smokey that “You can’t kill him. You know the rules.” Do they mean Sawyer, or somebody else?

Well, the next line(s) is pivotal: Smokey shouts to the kid: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” He repeats it for emphasis. This was Locke’s line for years. NOT SMOKEY’S. So, that leaves us with two options here: Some piece of Locke still exists in Smokey, and is indirectly infecting or influencing him. Or, even more intriguing, has some part of Smokey been inside of Locke all this time? Was Smokey slowly whittling into Locke’s brain all those years prior to arriving at the island? Double hmm….

Sawyer, left behind gets approached by Alpert, wide-eyed and full of warning about Smokey’s “Search and destroy” mission. Alpert runs off before Smokey sees him, and Sawyer plays dumb.

Later, Sawyer spins a tale about Steinbeck (Smokey doesn’t know him: “After my time,” he says), and compares the two of them to Lenny and George in ‘Of Mice and Men’. Sawyer doesn’t want promises of tending rabbits whilst meeting buckshot in the head, so he pulls a gun on Smokey and threatens to shoot.

Two conmen trying to outdo each other. Smokey tells Sawyer that he could shoot, but he’d just be killing someone who was once a man himself, who knew love and loss, who get trapped on the island, and that it would be such a shame to quit now, when the answers are so close. Sawyer is persuaded and puts the gun away.

Does anybody think that this game Jacob and Smokey play has a rule tied to free will? That neither one is allowed to kill a candidate, and that they can’t kill each other, but through the manipulation of frail humans, these candidates can do the dirty work for each other, because it is through their choosing to do so? That’s why Ben had to be the one to kill Jacob. That’s why Smokey is recruiting Sawyer to be his next killer (or maybe replace him as the Smokey on the island so he can be free of the game?). And maybe Sayid is Jacob’s new substitute assassin of some kind? Just thinking out loud here…

Sorry. Onto creepy rope ladders going down a ocean cliff, to a mysterious cave. Sawyer advises Smokey to go down these ladders first because, “You already died.” Of course, the ladder breaks with Sawyer on it, and Smokey saves Sawyer just in time. Was this planned?

Into the cave, where we find a desk and a scale, with black rock on one side, white rock on the other. Smokey tosses the white rock into the ocean, calling it an “Inside joke.” That guy is a sore loser, AND a sore winner, isn’t he..

Here’s the big deal, right? Names of all our characters, with corresponding numbers (THE NUMBERS!!) next to their names. Many of the names are crossed out. But most of close characters are not. Sayid’s and Hurley’s are in plain view, not yet crossed out. Smokey explains Jacob’s game to Sawyer, and we see flashbacks from MOST of Jacob’s early visits to others. Not Ilana’s, or Kate’s…

It gets heavier: Smokey tells Sawyer that all these choices he thought were his own were just the grand manipulations of Jacob to bring him and these others to the island. You and a few of the others are just being auditioned as candidates to replace Jacob! Presumably because Jacob knew he’d be gutted and turned into duraflame log.

Smokey explains that Sawyer has three choices: He can do nothing, and get his name crossed off as a candidate. He can become the new Jacob and protect the island, although according to Smokey, there’s nothing to protect. The island’s fine – it’s just some big cosmic joke being played on all of us, and we don’t have to play the game being forced on us anymore (somebody is angry at their dad, I think.) It’s almost as if Smokey was saying ‘Fate’ and ‘Destiny’ do indeed exist, but that as humans, we have the capacity to cho
ose it, or ignore it and “Go Rogue”, Sarah-Palin style.

The last choice Smokey gives Sawyer is to reject all this game-playing B.S. and help him get off the island, to which Sawyer replies, “Hell yes.” To which I say, either Sawyer’s audition for Smokey went well, or, and I’m close to banking on this, Sawyer thinks he’s such a good con man that he can con the devil himself.

QUESTIONS, FORECASTS, AND THOUGHTS ABOUT THEM DARN BOOKS:

Ash! ASH! ASH! What is up with the damn ash, already?! Considering what week it is/was, I expected Ilana to indulge in Ash Wednesday with Jacob’s remains, but I digress…

Why TWO rope ladders to get down that cliff? That was symbolism with some kind of intent, but I’m still scratching my head. And yes, that was (Ahem) Jacob’s Ladder…

While I don’t think who got what number scrawled on the wall is important, I didn’t see Kate’s name up there. Believe me – I looked.
Oh! Oh! Oh! Before I forget! Doc Jensen pointed this out, so credit goes to his highness! Locke’s getting married, right? Boone’s family owns a wedding planning/catering business, right? More criss-crossing to come!

Next week’s episode is called “The Lighthouse.” Yes, feel free to apply all direct religious symbolism at this one, because it will fit. Anyhow, expect plenty of screentime for Jack and Hurley. And more ass-kicking from Claire. Also, let me prep you with a question: Aaron got off the island with Kate. Think Claire knows that? If she doesn’t yet, how do you think she’ll react when Kate tells her? Lastly, one of my favorite nice guy red shirts returns.

More bad guys coming back soon! Even one rotten scumbag, who killed so-and-so’s daughter, will return in a couple weeks. No word on whether he’s a ghost, still a jerk, or a, uh, ghost jerk.

Again, many more familiar faces from the past will be popping up. Remember me mentioning someone unlikely popping up in Locke’s new world? Turned out to be Ben, right? Well, expect more unexpected, jarring pairings in the side timeline.

Don’t think that tearing up Jack’s business card will prevent fate, destiny or Jacob from ensuring that these two guys end up together, maybe even in an operating room.

So, the show has made a point to let us know that while the coping skills of our heroes might be improved in this side timeline, they are still the same people, chased by the same inner demons (except for Hurley. Hmm…). It’s all about how they deal and grow. Even the side characters are the same: Locke’s boss Randy has always been a petty jerk. With that said, why do I have trouble, extreme trouble, believing Locke’s dad is a decent guy?

Peter and I had an interesting ‘discussion’ about Steinbeck, and other literary references thrust into the inner workings of the show, sometimes with great success, and at other times too forced to feel natural. I wanted to crack some jokes about The Ghost of Tom Joad wandering around the island (hey, Christian Shepherd looks a little like Henry Fonda, so it works for me). I admit I sometimes get the sense that somebody on the show wants us to know that the Master’s in English Lit they got at Berkeley isn’t going to waste writing for television. We get the idea! You’re well-read! Can we just enjoy the freaking show?! BUT, I think taking that glib approach only denies you, the viewer, an even richer and more rewarding experience.

Why do they reference all these dang books, then? Well, for fun, sure. To show off their smarty-smart pants, yes. To defend this television show as being more important, more meaningful than nearly all the other dreck dripping out of our media portals – absolutely. I think they also want to teach us that these stories, these moral fables, are ancient. They’re immortal, and they’re ingrained in our existence and societal evolution. If they want to remind me that by pointing towards the Bible, Steinbeck, or even the primal sounds of Iggy Pop and The Stooges, I’m totally down with it. Give me more to puzzle, please!

One last thing to mention: For diehard fans, I encourage you to go to EW’s website and read Doc Jensen’s recap. I know, I know – even more verbose than my postings. But he really grasped what happened this week better than any other Lost blogger and even has some really KOOKY theories (examples: Smokey is either Cain or Abel, and the ghost boy that appeared in front of Smokey? He says it’s young Sawyer… Huh? Doc also says Alpert is probably Smokey’s son… HUH?!)

Thanks for reading and for watching

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