No Lost. No tease.
But I got theories. Man, do I got theories. And only one of them is certifiably crazy.... But we'll get to the drugs-and-Jesus stuff later.
THE GREAT OMISSION?
The Mystery of the Missing ''Off Course'' Debate
The producers of Lost react to a burning question about the season finale.
Trolling through the message board responses to my recap of last week's episode, ''No Place Like Home,'' part one of Lost's season finale, I noticed an ongoing debate: Why didn't the Oceanic Airlines publicist and/or the Oceanic 6 address the whole baffling business about Oceanic 815 crashing in the Indian Ocean? This was a Sydney-to-Los Angeles flight; the route goes over the Pacific; Indonesia is too far away, even for a plane that went off course. How come the journalists at the press conference didn't ask the question many of you have been asking for four years: ''What happened?''
Personally, I was less perplexed. In the season's second episode, ''Confirmed Dead,'' we learned that a salvage vessel searching for The Black Rock in the Indian Ocean had found the remains of Oceanic 815 in the inaccessible depths of the Sunda Trench near Indonesia. Since the discovery of the wreckage predated the return of the castaways by at least a month, the culture had probably already vetted the riddle of why Oceanic 815 veered so far off course. All to say, I doubt the matter would have been an urgent talking point. Perhaps the reporters could have asked the Oceanic 6: ''Were you aware that your plane was...lost?'' And maybe they did: My interpretation of that sequence was that we were shown selected moments from the briefing, not the whole thing.
But because it's very possible that my reasonable analysis isn't satisfying enough, I asked executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof for an explanation. Their responses fell just short of a deep sigh. ''As for the issue of the wreck's location in the Sunda Trench, we'll let the show speak for itself,'' said Lindelof. He then added the following emoticon: ;)
Cuse was a tad more expansive: ''Obviously, the location of the supposed wreckage of 815 has been known by everybody for a while — that's not news. Beyond that, Damon and I don't want to say much more. More info on all this will be forthcoming, but not until next season.''
My inquiry reached the producers the morning after a late-night editing session to complete next week's two-hour opus. ''We had a toast of Dom Perignon in cheap plastic glasses with the four editors and about a dozen post support staff to celebrate,'' Cuse said. ''Today, I'm experiencing elated exhaustion, the elation from both completion of the work but also the hopeful feeling that people are going to like this finale. It's nerve-wracking because the bar is set so high, and if we don't finish strong it's sort of like the Patriots losing the Super Bowl: It sort of negates all that came before it, especially with an eight-month hiatus looming.''
THINGS I MISSED: ''THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME''
The downside of posting next-morning recaps is that no matter how hard you try, you can't digest an episode in three hours — especially when those three hours take place between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. I envy recappers who take a day or two to think through the episode, like J. Wood at Powells.com and Vozzek69 over at darkufo.blogspot.com. My cap doffed in respect, I launch this week ''Things I Missed.''
WOMEN ON TOP
Anyone else noticing that in the flash-forward future (soon to become ''the present''), the gender politics are dramatically reversed? On the Island, the men have the power. Jack. Locke. Ben. But off the Island, sisters are doing it for themselves. In her relationship with Jack, Kate is firmly in control; she sets the boundaries and terms of engagement. Meanwhile, Sun has staged a coup in her family culture, overthrowing her father in a hostile takeover of his company. The men? Weak, leveraged, spiritually neutered. Jack is on pills. Hurley is convinced he's dead. Sayid is stuck playing Ben's bitch. More on this next week when I give you my final Big Theory of the season.
THE KIDS ARE BECOMING THEIR FATHERS
It's ironic that Kate is now a fraudulent parent when she herself was raised amid confusing ''Who's my Daddy?'' circumstances. Sun seems set to morph into the same kind of ruthless godfather her father is — just call her Sunny Corleone. Jack is doing a pretty good imitation of his own boozy pop. Hurley? Last week, the lovably unlucky lug had a bonding moment with Cheech, but then abruptly sprinted away after seeing the Numbers on the speedometer of the rehabbed Camaro. But this mirrors the Camaro-set scene in ''Tricia Tanaka Is Dead,'' which ended with Hurley's troubled padre running away, albeit more figuratively. The show has never delved deeply into Sayid's childhood, so we can't pull him into this trend — but we can place him in another:
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
I have often entertained the theory that Lost is an analogy for addiction psychology. You have a bunch of people hooked on self-destructive behavior; we've seen how said behavior is a product of past damage; and they've all been given the chance to rehab on the Island. But the example of the Oceanic 6 proves yet again that old issues never die, they just fade away...and then come back hard when you least expect them.
Indeed, what we've seen so far is that the castaways are living new versions of their old lives:
JACK: workaholic surgeon; drives away woman he loves; father issues
SAYID: loses true love Nadia during war; manipulated into becoming a hideous kind of soldier by his former enemy
HURLEY: food; Numbers; mental institution; dead people guilt; seeing people who shouldn't exist
We're still getting to understand the flash-forward lives of Sun and Kate, but the seeds have been planted for old unhappiness to grow anew. Before the crash, Sun felt trapped by a corrupt, unfulfilling life, not to mention her own secrets and lies. Once again, she's bargaining dangerously with her father for respect. Remember what happened when she came to her senses last time? She tried to run away. Similarly, Kate seems to have finally gotten what she's always wanted: a secure, stable home life. But like her fleeting marriage to that nice-guy cop, this idyllic life is built on a lie. It's only a matter of time before the Aaron deception gets smoked out. I have a hunch it won't be long before Kate is on the run again, pursued by a new iteration of that dogged dead marshal — her ex-husband.
''GOLDEN JESUS'' AND OTHER SUBVERSIVE SYMBOLS
I know some of you don't buy my theory that the smack-stuffed Virgin Mary idols were an encoded reference to Karl Marx's critique of religion as the opiate of the masses. But what do you make of the golden Jesus statue belonging to Hurley's mom — the one he almost employed as a club in last week's episode? According to a simple Google search, ''Golden Jesus'' happens to be street slang for heroin. Explain THAT one, non-believers!
Okay, fine: coincidence. But what about ''Oceanic 815''? Ever do research into that? ''Oceanic Feeling'' was Sigmund Freud's famous term to describe the (misunderstood) yearning for/belief in God. But almost as a parry to Freud's thrust, there's ''8:15,'' which correlates to the Bible's most famous oceanic survival tale, the story of Noah's Ark, in which God destroys the world, then rebuilds it through a ''chosen one'' and his family. The verse, Genesis 8:15, is famously one of the shortest in the Bible: ''And God said to Noah:''
And then there's ''Bearing 305,'' which is the directional heading the freighter needs to take to the Island, lest it get lost in the time-storm anomaly. This surely links to John 3:05, which was also one of the Biblical citations on Mr. Eko's stick. It reads: ''Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and spirit.' This verse is part of a larger passage that serves as the foundation of ''born again'' Christian theology. However, it should be noted that the story of this verse involves a discussion between Jesus and a learned man named Nicodemus, who walks away from his initial encounter with Christ deeply confused.
Taken together with ''Christian Shephard'' (Jesus) + ''Empty Coffin'' (Empty Tomb) – ''Christian Shephard was a boozy, emotionally abusive, untrustworthy, adulterous jerk of a man,'' and the sum total is a show that is supporting its ongoing thematic debate between science and faith with cleverly constructed symbols and allusions that mirror that discussion — and specifically grapple with the most critical, non-negotiable elements of the Christian faith: the claim that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead.
Am I wrong?
The Land of Oz is a magical place. It is a land of witches with wands and charmed slippers, of walking, talking tin men, scarecrows, and lions. But it is also a place where not everything is as enchanted as it seems. Indeed, it is a land where its all-powerful namesake deity is an illusion — mere smoke and mirrors, invented by a clever little man hiding behind a curtain, fooling a lot of people into believing a very big lie that distorts a proper understanding of their world.
The Island on Lost appears to be a lot like Oz — but how far does the comparison go? Supernatural phenomenon abounds: ghosts, time travel, miraculous healing, Smokey. Nonetheless, an ill wind of hucksterism blows through the jungle. See: the self-serving manipulations of Benjamin Linus and mind-game madness of the Dharma Initiative. The show's storytelling reflects the ambiguity of the Island, where meaningful allusions and coy red herrings combine to create a tricky text that's challenging (and great fun) to interpret. Lost loves to wink at its audience — and curiously, in L. Frank Baum's book, there's a section of Oz called ''Winkie Country.'' More curiously — or ominously — it's the part of Oz ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West.
The role of Dorothy has been split between Locke and Jack. Locke yearns for adventure somewhere over the rainbow; Jack is the one that gets to pine, ''There's no place like home.'' Locke, the walkabout explorer, gets the magic slippers — that is to say, his new legs. Jack, the hyper-responsible doctor, gets Dorothy's basket, which held apples, the Tin Man's oil can, and a blankie for Toto — a proverbial physician's bag of ointments and comfort.
But in the past two weeks, Locke has carried most of the Dorothy load. He's gone to Jacob's cabin, received a mission to move the Island, and traveled to the Orchid to complete the task — though first he'll have to get past Keamy and his goon squad. Translated into The Wizard of Oz, we've just seen Dorothy go to the Emerald City, leave with a mission to swipe the witch's broomstick (that's the movie version; in Baum's much darker book, she was ordered to slay the wicked witch); and arrive with her friends at the witch's castle, teeming with soldiers and flying monkeys.
What will happen next? Well, let's look at Oz. Dorothy got the broomstick (and killed the witch); went back to see the wizard only to discover (and expose) the fact that he was just a big hoax; and after a failed attempt to return home by conventional means (a hot air balloon), uses magic that was always at her disposal. How might this apply to Lost, if at all?
We'll find out next week, won't we?
Last week, I asked you for predictions on what the season finale might reveal about the fates of the non-Oceanic 6 castaways who were left behind. In retrospect, it occurred to me that I should have asked you for your predictions AFTER you had seen last week's episode. So...that's what I'm doing now! I freed up some extra space in the Doc Jensen mailbox (JeffJensenEW@aol.com), so send away — we'll talk about them next week, in the (Sniff!) final Doc Jensen column of the season.
P.S.: (Sniff!) = (Tears), not (Another Drug Reference) (Sigh.)