PARALLEL STORY LINES Doc contends Jack's plan — to answer the Big Question of whether the past can be changed — tracks with season 2. A clue for tonight, or is a swerve ahead?
By Jeff Jensen
PREVIEW: THE INCIDENT
The end of season 5...the beginning of season 6
Jack's on his way to detonate Jughead. Locke's on his way to kill Jacob. Sawyer's on his way to the mainland in the company of his current lover, his older lover, and much crunchy silence. And we are on our way to another nine months without Lost. Forget about the castaways — how will we survive?
Since ''LaFleur,'' I have argued that season 5 has been modeled on season 2, and I believe my theory has held. Season 2's finale, ''Live Together, Die Alone,'' hinged on a Big Picture binary question: Does the button really do anything: Yes or no? The season 5 finale, ''The Incident,'' hinges on the resolution of a similar, black-or-white issue: Can the past be changed: Yes or no?
''Live Together, Die Alone'' had castaways trekking to rescue Walt from the Others, only to be betrayed by one of their own, Michael. In ''The Incident,'' we have castaways — and many Others — trekking to meet the most mythic of Others, Jacob — although another castaway, Locke, is plotting a betrayal once they get there.
''Live Together, Die Alone'' culminated with the destruction of the Swan, which unleashed a blast of energy that should have killed the characters at ground zero (Locke, Desmond, Mr. Eko) but didn't. Tonight's fifth-season finale concerns Jack's attempt to destroy the Swan in the Dharma past in hopes of both ending and saving lives. Will Jack's plan work? That is, will season 5 continue to follow season 2's trajectory? Or have we been set up for a wild deviation that will send Lost into surprising new territory in its sixth and final season?
Finally, ''Live Together, Die Alone'' gave us Desmond's back story: how he came to the Island, how he became trapped in the Hatch, how his actions affected the collective destiny of the castaways. I predict something Desmond-esque will happen in ''The Incident.'' I don't know what, but it will happen, by golly, because this theory needs to work!
By this time tomorrow, we will know at least this much: There will be no more Lost for the rest of the year. I know, I know: Why do I have to keep reminding you? But unlike Jack, I choose to deal with my present instead of blotting out the past to make it go away. And so this week, we grieve the end of the season — and we celebrate! Because I truly believe this has been a pretty freakin' fun and altogether fulfilling year of Lost. No, it hasn't been perfect. (Jin and Sun kinda got short-changed, as did Desmond and Penelope.) Confusing? Oh, yeah. I think we're all looking forward to no longer asking, on a weekly basis, ''When are we again — 2007 or 1977?'' and ''So does Ben remember being shot or not?'' Still, Lost managed to keep the hardcore fans engaged and electrified during what was basically an elaborate setup for next year. I was entertained; I was moved; I was inspired to think about stuff. Deep stuff, like causality and quantum physics and the dynamics of redemption. Bottom line: Season 5 was a big winner in my book — my second favorite season of the series after season 2.
In this column, I'm going to make three big predictions pertaining to the season finale. We'll also look back on the year that was, with highlights from every single episode, plus my picks for the best episode and best moment of the season. At the end, you will find the new episode of Totally Lost, which features an interview that Dan and I did with Lost exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. Plus: an update and announcement about last week's Lost Mystery Resolution Census! But first, let's review what happened last week, courtesy of ABC's action-figure revue show, Lost Untangled.
As much as Lost Untangled amuses me, I'd like to turn you onto another Lost recap I recently discovered over at docarzt.com. Meet Mr. James, a fan with a great grasp of the show and even greater sense of humor. I also really like his religiously charged, Big Picture take on Locke, Jacob, and this looming war, but I wonder if he's gotten the analogous parts wrong. Is Locke Christ...or the Antichrist? Is the Island God...or Satan? More on that in a minute. First: Click and chuckle.
DOC JENSEN'S THEORYBLAST!
Three quick conjectures about the end of season 5!
ITEM! Why does Locke want to murder Jacob?
THEORY: Last week, I speculated that Resurrected Locke represents forces at war with Jacob. But a friend at my weekly pop culture discussion group, ''The Water Cooler,'' suggested another possibility to me: Locke's plotting a mercy killing. The first and only time Locke saw and heard Jacob, he was presented with the visage and impression of a feeble man, stuck maybe for eternity inside a shack. If there's anything Locke can empathize with, it's gotta be fate-screwed geezers trapped physically and spiritually by their circumstances. Remember what Jacob said to Locke: ''Help me.'' Locke's interpretation: Put me out of my misery. But here's the twist: When Locke arrives to kill Jacob, he's going to learn that Jacob doesn't exist. Why? Because Locke hasn't become him yet. Huh? Exactly. I think Locke is the temporally displaced specter that has always haunted the Island's history. Tonight, we'll see how that happened.
ITEM! Why does Eloise Hawking know so much about the castaways' destiny? Is she stuck in a self-aware, open-ended time loop, or does she have flashes of the future à la Ben?
THEORY: Neither. Remember in season 3, when it was revealed that that the Others had dossiers on Jack and Sawyer? In the aftermath of this time-travel season, Eloise and Charles will begin tracking the castaways' lives and building those dossiers, culling info to inform their master plan plotting. Of course, if Jack's Jughead gambit fails, and the time travelers remain trapped in the past, the castaways themselves could be forced to cough up their biographies...but I don't think that will happen. Why? Because THIS is going to happen:
ITEM! What is the significance of the Ajira storyline? Doc Jensen's big finale prediction!
THEORY: Besides bringing these ''What lies in the shadow of the statue?'' people to the Island, thus setting up conflict for next year, Ajira needed to bring the castaways to the Island because the crash of Oceanic 815 is about to be erased from history. My belief is that the Oceanic castaways were always destined to come to the Island. Remember how fate wanted Charlie dead in season 3, and there was basically nothing Desmond could do to stop that? The same dynamic is at work regarding the castaways' relationship to the Island: No matter what they do, their lives are intertwined with this place. To that end, Ajira 316 represents fate's course correction to the negation of Oceanic 815 from history. Even if Jack is successful at rebooting the past by detonating Jughead, Ajira will bring Jack and company to the Island. My prediction is that, once the time-negation event occurs — call it ''The Incident'' — Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, Sawyer, and Jin will wake up in the year 2007 inside the Hydra Station, lying among the wounded and unconscious from the Ajira crash. And my guess is that they will remember everything that happened to them in their ''previous life,'' courtesy of Island magic.
CRAZY TWIST TO THIS THEORY! Ajira isn't a ''replacement event'' for Oceanic 815 — Oceanic 815 essentially sabotaged the fated arrival of Ajira! Jack is actually correct: Oceanic 815 was never supposed to bring the castaways to the Island. It was Ajira that was always supposed to bring the castaways to the Island! This is the mistake that Fate/the Island has been trying to rectify: The premature arrival of the castaways to the Island! While I'm not ready to pitch my guess for the perpetrators of the quantum hijacking that was Oceanic 815 — my early call: Ben — I'll bet you the pilot of Oceanic 815 was one of their members, which is why Smokey killed him. This could be one reason why Ilana asked Ajira pilot Frank Lapidus the codeword question, ''What lies in the shadow of the statue?'' Because so much was made to establish correlations between the two flights, Ilana's conspicuous question was meant to prompt the audience to consider anew the old speculation that the pilot of Oceanic 815 was part of a conspiracy to bring the plane to the Island.
SEASON FIVE: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Best moments, grades, and awards
(Click here to see an expanded version of this list with recaps and photos for each episode.)
* * *
1. BECAUSE YOU LEFT
KEY MOMENT: Faraday sends a message to 2007 Desmond through the Scot's in-the-past Hatch-trapped self. ''The rules...the rules don't apply to you. You're special. You're uniquely and miraculously special,'' the physicist tells Desmond — but what exactly does that mean?
BEST MOMENT: Richard Alpert mends Time-Traveling Locke's gunshot wound, gives him a compass, and tells him that he needs to die to save his friends.
* * *
2. THE LIE
KEY MOMENT: Charlotte begins suffering nosebleeds.
BEST MOMENT: Hurley's breathless, to-the-point confession to his mother about what really happened on the Island.
* * *
KEY MOMENT: Faraday strolls to Jughead in the company of a 17-year-old Other — later revealed to be his mother, Eloise Hawking — and advises them to slather the bomb in cement and bury it.
BEST MOMENT: A tie: 1. Locke's grinning ear to ear upon meeting young Charles Widmore. 2. The emotional climactic moment between Penelope and Desmond in which we learn that they named their son Charlie.
* * *
4. THE LITTLE PRINCE
KEY MOMENT: Jin is discovered alive — in the past, at sea, by Young Rousseau and her French science team.
BEST MOMENT: Vulnerable Sawyer bares his heart about Kate to Juliet during a nighttime chat on the beach.
* * *
5. THIS PLACE IS DEATH
KEY MOMENT: Convinced that the O6 were never supposed to leave, Locke turns the frozen donkey wheel and leaves the Island to bring them back.
BEST MOMENT: A tie: 1. Montand gets his arm ripped off by Smokey; 2. Charlotte dies from time-travel sickness, but not before revealing that she had been born on the Island during the Dharma Initiative era — and that she remembered meeting a scary-looking Faraday.
* * *
KEY MOMENT: Jack is converted from Man of Science to Man of Faith after reading John Locke's suicide note: ''I wish you had believed me.''
BEST MOMENT: The memorably odd sequence in which Jack retrieves his father's old shoes from his prone-to-wander grandfather — then puts the shoes on Corpse Locke's feet so that Locke can play Christian Shephard's proxy on Ajira 316.
* * *
7. THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JEREMY BENTHAM
KEY MOMENT: Widmore tells Locke that there is ''a war coming,'' and that he needs Locke to get back on the Island before it arrives.
BEST MOMENT: Ben's strangulation of Locke, one of the best single scenes Lost has ever given us.
* * *
KEY MOMENT: Right before their final time-jump, the Left Behinders spy the backside of what is presumably the completed Four-Toed Statue; it appears to be an animal-eared Egyptian deity.
BEST MOMENT: The romantic revelation of the Sawyer-Juliet co-habitation.
KEY MOMENT: We spy a glimpse of Radzinsky working on a model of the Swan — the first hint of season 5's endgame.
BEST MOMENT: The climactic beat, when a young Ben Linus visits Sayid in his cell.
* * *
10. HE'S OUR YOU
KEY MOMENT: That shooting thing.
BEST MOMENT: Sayid is tortured with truth-telling serum, which makes him spill the beans about his previous Island experience — and the Dharma people think he's crazy.
* * *
11. WHATEVER HAPPENED, HAPPENED
KEY MOMENT: Alpert agrees to help Young Ben, but warns Sawyer and Kate that he will be forever changed and have no memory of their heroism.
BEST MOMENT: Miles and Hurley debate the issue upon which the rest of the season pivots: Are the time-traveling castaways changing history by being in the past?
* * *
12. DEAD IS DEAD
KEY MOMENT: A tie: 1. Ilana and a group of armed Ajira castaways take control. Their mysterious riddle: ''What lies in the shadow of the statue?'' 2. A flashback reveals that right before getting on Ajira 316, Ben shot Desmond and tried to kill Penelope, but couldn't bring himself to do it after realizing she was now a mother.
BEST MOMENT: Any scene in which Locke and Ben — marvelously played by Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson — appear together. Hilarious, chilling, riveting.
* * *
13. SOME LIKE IT HOTH
KEY MOMENT: Hurley watches the Numbers get pounded into the door of the Hatch.
BEST MOMENT: Among many LOL exchanges between the episode's squabbling stars, this Miles line is an all-time classic: ''That douche is my dad.''
* * *
14. THE VARIABLE
KEY MOMENT: Faraday tips Chang off that Miles is his son.
BEST MOMENT: Faraday's shocking death.
* * *
15. FOLLOW THE LEADER
KEY MOMENT: Locke telling Locke he wants to kill Jacob.
BEST MOMENT: Locke making Alpert interact with time-traveling Locke — and making Ben watch.
* * *
BEST SINGLE EPISODE: A photo finish — but ''Jughead'' edges '' ... Jeremy Bentham,'' ''LaFleur,'' and ''Dead Is Dead'' with its emotionally engaging, character-rich, capture-the-imagination encapsulation of Lost's unique take on time travel.
BEST SINGLE MOMENT: Ben saving, then strangling Locke.
MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT: Time-traveling Sayid conspires to change Lost history by killing Young Ben in the Dharma past.
MOST DISAPPOINTING CHARACTER ARC: Sun. The season 4 finale set up many delicious possibilities for Sun, from her takeover of her father's company to her secret alliance with Charles Widmore. But season 5 completely ignored the Sun-Daddy intrigue, while her pact with Bad Chuck amounted to little more than getting some info from him about Ben's whereabouts. Back on the Island, she basically got the same line to say, over and over and over again: Excuse me, but can you please tell me where I might find my husband? I'm holding out hope that tonight's season finale might include some twists that redeem an otherwise lackluster year for Sun.
BEST CHARACTER ARC: Sawyer. Last year was his woefully under-utilized Sun year. This year, Sawyer asserted himself as one of Lost's chief heroes as he led the Left Behinders through their time-travel ordeal and then leveraged his con man skills to get his friends insinuated into Dharma. His relationship with Juliet was one of the greatest surprises Lost has ever given us — a sexy and mature Island romance that actually worked.
OVERALL GRADE FOR THE SEASON: A-*
*Subject to change — for better or worse — depending on the season finale.
TOMORROW — AND BEYOND
Last week, I issued a call for responses to two different surveys. Question 1 was this: ''Do you mind if Lost makes mistakes? Would your enjoyment of season 5 really be diminished if these glitches prove to be meaningless? Or do you think you'll pull a Faraday and pretty quickly forget they ever even happened?'' Question 2 was this: ''Which three mysteries do you feel must absolutely be resolved during the sixth and final season? There are probably more than three — but just give me your three non-negotiables.'' Your response was so overwhelming that it filled my e-mail inbox to capacity within a few hours of posting the column. Since these surveys should take into account tonight's finale, I am extending the call for submissions by one week, and will publish the results in my annual one-week-later finale reaction column — the last Doc Jensen of the season. Moreover, I have also set up a dedicated e-mail inbox, just for your survey answers and finale reactions. It's DocJensenEW@gmail.com.
Tomorrow, I will post a recap of the finale. Now, as you may have noticed in recent weeks, yours truly has been having a tiny little problem posting these recaps bright and early for our Eastern time zone readers. Last week, for example, I pulled an all-nighter writing my recap of ''Follow The Leader.'' That's what I get for trying to shoehorn in Peter Pan references. And I didn't even catch that quiet bit of business about Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking talking about her pregnancy! (Thank you for all the e-mails and posts nailing me on that.) My ambition this week is to get the recap up pronto, possibly at the expense of a book reference or two. Or 15. But don't worry: Next week's Doc Jensen column will make up for any pseudo-intellectual craziness that I sacrifice for the sake of expediency.
As for Totally Lost, this week's installment interrupts our search for Pig E.'s shooter in order to bring you an interview that Dan and I conducted with Lost honchos Cartlon Cuse and Damon Lindelof. Our quest to avenge Pig E.'s eye will resume next week, in the season finale of Totally Lost. Just wait until you see what lurks within that tiny toy terrorist's tiny toy lair...next week.
Remember you can now contact me at JeffJensenEW@ew.com AND DocJensenEW@gmail.com
Be seeing you,