The final season of Lost begins with a profound “What the F-?” scene and all is right with the world. In retrospect, it was naïve of me to think that this show would adopt a straightforward structure with events occurring in the same place at the same time. It’s never done that and, as much as I might crave clarity, it shouldn’t stop playing with narrative in its final season. Right out of the gate, Lost challenges us with the fear that lurks at the back of every fan’s mind as we enter the final season, what if it was all pointless? What if there really is no grand explanation behind everything we’ve seen and six seasons of mystery turn out to be a colossal rip off? Opening with the plane not crashing would seem to suggest exactly that. Nothing that’s happened in the last five years mattered if it can all simply be wiped away. The opening threatens us with a Lost reboot in which the stewardess is stingy with the booze, Rose is the one giving reassurance, and the Island lurks beneath the waves (nice imagery, bad CGI).
Luckily, we don’t need to twist for very long as the post “LOST” scene has Kate clinging to a tree, presumably on the 2007 island we know and love. So what’s with the successful flight 815? Dream? Alternate timeline? Parallel universe? Connecting the structure to the meaning is one of the joys of Lost but, for now, I’ll discuss the narratives separately in order to keep things simple. On the island, that 70s crew are back in the present and are dismayed to find that Jack’s plan didn’t work. Juliet’s still at the bottom of the pit, which is now under the wreckage of the hatch. Tragically, Sawyer digs her out just in time for her to die. The tragedy here is good, I just hope it doesn’t lead to renewed Sawyer/Kate/Jack BS. That love story really needs to die.
Speaking of dying, Sayid’s still suffering from a gunshot wound and Jacob’s ghost advises Hurley that the only way to save him is to take him to the temple. He, Jack, Jin, and Kate do so while Sawyer and Miles stay behind to bury Juliet. Miles reads her corpse to discover that her last message to Sawyer was “it worked.” Presumably, she’s referring to the other timeline, but we’ve now got to wonder how she knows that. The Losties at the temple are captured by the Others (again) and taken to their leader. He orders their deaths but spares them when it turns out their names have finally made it onto Jacob’s list. I’m glad to see this element of the 1st season brought back and I’m hoping we finally get an explanation of how someone makes the cut. They immerse Sayid in a Lazarus Pit (which doesn’t work) and Hurley informs them that Jacob is dead, sparking panic and a barrier of smoke repellant ash.
Elsewhere on the island, Not-Locke is revealed to actually be (and not just control) Smokey. He kills most of the “shadow of the statue” folks when they come looking for Jacob and then has a conversation with Ben about the real John Locke. The quest for meaning gets its next challenge in Locke’s last thoughts, “I don’t understand.” I’m relieved that the writers are apparently aware of what a tragedy Locke’s story is, as it’s bothered me since last season’s finale. He spent his whole life searching for meaning, trying to understand his destiny. And it was all a lie, an elaborate con, orchestrated by some evil power. Not-Locke is right, that is pathetic… unless the story’s not over. If Locke were somehow proved right over the course of this season and “don’t tell me what I can’t do” was more than a delusion, then his story could prove to be triumphant rather than tragic.
Which brings me to the “other” flight 815. There are few tense moments in which we hope that Locke may not be in the wheelchair in this alternate timeline. Sadly, he is. He’s also a liar, telling Boone that he actually went on his walkabout. The whole scenario is sad enough to confirm Not-Locke’s assertions, but then we get the exchange between Locke and Jack in the Oceanic lost-luggage department. It seems they misplaced the knives and the coffin. Locke’s able to offer Jack some comfort in saying that it’s just a body and not Sheppard Sr. that the airline lost, and suddenly we’re reminded that there really is something admirable about this man and it is not, as Smokie claims, that he’s aware of how pathetic his life is. Locke’s wisdom is not all bluster and delusion. I’m hoping that Smokie realizes his mistake in some serious comeuppance.
As far as the other survivors are concerned, there are some interesting departures from the“real” Lost universe. Shannon didn’t leave Australia with Boone; Hurley isn’t cursed; and Charlie elects to swallow his heroin rather than flush it. For others, things seem to be identical. Kate gets back on the run after outwitting the marshal yet again; Sawyer still seems to be grifting; and Jin and Sun remain estranged. Why parts of this timeline weren’t identical up until the moment of the crash while others were is almost as interesting a question as how they’ll be integrated down the line. If I may throw out one possible theory regarding integration: Desmond. His presence on the plane was probably the biggest change from the first flight and its importance shouldn’t be underestimated. Desmond’s ability to move through time has already been established and it’s entirely possible that he could exist in both timelines simultaneously.
All in all, I’d call this a promising start to the season. The pacing was a little frantic, as we had a bit of an information overload, but the developments were fascinating enough to keep me from caring too much. The episode concludes with Sayid awakening to ask, “What happened?” Good question.
I’ll admit that much of my Locke analysis may be biased. He’s my favourite character but, just because his tragic end stung, doesn’t mean it didn’t make sense. Locke was at least partially responsible for all the adversity he faced, and so there may be something just in his ultimate fall. Still, part of me thinks that’s all the more reason for him to ultimately succeed, surpassing his own limitations.
Island-Jack may well be broken. All his big decisions seem to have been wrong and it looks like he may have given up decision making. Where does he go next?
Hurley was surprisingly credible as a leader. It’s a nice evolution for the character and I’m interested to see how it progresses.
Jack and Locke seem just as compelling as friends as they were as rivals. This dynamic by far surpasses Jack/Sawyer and Jack/Kate and is almost as good as Ben/Anybody
Did the blast give Juliet Desomond-like powers. That could explain a few things.
Man o man, I really missed this show.