By Jeff Jensen Feb 09, 2010
INVOCATION FOR THE NEW SEASON OF LOST
A poem, by reader Tom Holland
May Lost be all you hoped for with answers swift and sound;
May the hours ripen quickly and joyfulness abound.
May Juliet not have died in vain with the pounding of her rock
Let Sawyer live free of pain and survive the coming shock.
May Jack and Kate deal with the things that frustrate us so much
And Sun and Jin share a time that allows them love's fine touch.
Provide us with more moments that shine on Daniel's mind
Oftentimes these are the clues the viewers need to find.
May Hurley break the ''curse'' that follows him around,
Let his spirit salve the cuts our Losties may have found.
Give Sayid a solid peace he so desperately desires
Shield him from the evil plans that Ben tried to inspire.
Let us know where Claire has gone and how she stayed alive
And lead her back to Aaron's life so motherhood survives.
Help us to remember Charlie's sacrifice
Let it have more meaning than simply tumbling dice.
Give us a bright future for Desmond and his Penn
If a reboot is in store, let them find their way again.
Protect our dearest friends, the lovely Bernard and Rose,
Explain the young Walt's powers before the end of shows.
Know we have a special place for Vincent in our hearts
Keep in mind our knees are weak from all the stops and starts.
Tie up the big loose ends like what happened to John Locke
Let us know what happens to the shepherd's misled flock.
Inform us on the feud that has stained the beach's soil,
Is Jacob the white light or just the loophole's foil?
Does the Man-in-Black represent all that is so evil
Or does he just protect the island from upheaval?
But all these questions pale to one from our Lost designers
Are the eyes of Richard A. really natural or guy-liner?
MY MIND IS A POOL OF LAVA!
A Terminator-enhanced reflection on last week's season premiere of Lost.
PLUS: Meet my new relative, Auntie Narrative!
A parallel reality with a sunken Island. An ancient temple with an enchanted spring. Man In Black = Fake Locke = the Monster, a brutal realist deeply disappointed in humanity and who desperately wants to go home...wherever home is. Wow!!! And...huh??? ''LA X'' went inside my brain and turned the monolithic mountain of thought that is Lost into a volcano. With a head-splitting KA-BOOM, the red hot magma flow of the show's new ''Sideways'' storytelling device blazed down the slopes of Lost knowledge and incinerated whole forests of theory and certainty, leaving behind a steaming new landscape of mercurial mystery that is still churning and popping with gas as it cools and hardens into a final, concrete shape that I and we can see and go, ''Holy crap! It really IS Purgatory!''
Or something like that. Put another way, last week's season premiere did to my mind what the hard-ass tag-team of Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger did to morphtastic Robert Patrick at the end of James Cameron's Terminator 2.
Perhaps tonight, Lost's season 6 explosion of volatile exotic matter will begin to coalesce into discernible story. Then again, maybe it'll continue to behave like the word I discovered when I inputted the phrase ''sideways storytelling'' into my Batcave computer, a.k.a. Wikipedia. My discovery: ''antenarrative.'' Narrative means story, and the ante prefix means prior. But the guy who coined ''antenarrative'' was using ante in the gambling sense. As in ''Lost is upping the ante with a high-stakes concept that risks testing the patience of the audience during its final season.'' (I tease. Out of love!)
As it happens, ''antenarrative'' may prove to be a very instructive to us in making sense of season 6. An ''antenarrative'' is a decidedly unconventional story that subverts the traditional notion of a beginning, middle, and end. An ''antenarrative'' exists in a perpetual place of now. ''Antenarratives'' are fragmented, following a big group of characters that split into various story lines that must be tracked separately and then organized by the audience into a greater whole. ''Antenarratives'' look to the future, not make sense of the past. I think. Honestly, I didn't understand that part. But from what I understand, it communes with the concept of eternal recurrence as explained by Friedrich Nietzsche. I could spend the next 2,000 words explaining Nietzsche's relevance to Lost...except I already did that on April 18, 2007. [In fact, in the same essay, I argued for the relevance of Soren Kierkegaard to the Lost saga! And wouldn't you know, last week finally gave us an explicit Soren reference, too. Wow! Fancy that! Please, salute my alleged smartyness with the appropriate respectful gesture.]
Thank you. I deserved that.
WHAT KATE SAID
If I ever write a book, this is the pull quote I'm using. From a reader named (appropriately for this week) Kate, who posted the following on an EW.com message board last week:
''I usually read Jensen's articles with the wry bemusement of a parent listening to an overly smart child's justification of Santa Claus.''
Kate is correct. I was totally that guy! Literally. I have a vivid memory of walking home with a group of classmates circa fifth grade and arguing passionately for the plausibility — nay, the likely certainty — that some eternal North Pole-dwelling toy-making chubster was capable of staging tens upon tens of home invasions during a single night around the world. Still, even I must confess that such fanciful thinking doesn't really serve your Lost needs at the moment. To that end, I am rededicating myself to relevancy and insight this season in this space. Here's one way I can do that:
The Sideways story line includes subtle and radical deviations from known Lost history. Moreover, the season's new episodes offer the promise of existing in knowing super-position to past Lost episodes. Therefore, beginning this week and lasting as long as it's needed, I'm going to spend a sizable chunk of each column rebooting your Lost CPU with context that I suspect might help you crunch the night's new episode. Now, to be very clear, Lost exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof told EW last week that such detailed remembrance of past Lost lore is unnecessary to enjoy the new season. But they've also said that knowing stuff might make for an even richer experience. In that spirit, I offer this:
DOC JENSEN'S LOST PREP!
10 Need-To-Knows (Maybe) for Tonight's Episode: ''What Kate Does''
What does Kate do?
No, this isn't a spoiler, just a reminder that Kate is defined by an action — she runs. She refuses to accept punishment or responsibility for murdering Wayne Janssen, an abusive letch that she thought was her stepfather but was truly her biological father. She did it because she despised him — and to liberate her mother from a life she couldn't free herself from. Kate's story reminds me of Hurley's story in a way. She's cursed. Murdering Wayne may be justified in her mind, but it's still a violation of the Great Laws That Govern Everything, and so the cosmos hounds her like vengeful Furies bent on destroying her life in turn by denying her a relationship with a good man (Nathan Fillion's cop, Kevin Callis), her mother (who resented her for killing her horrible hubby), a child (Claire's child, Baby Aaron, whom she raised and bonded with during the Oceanic 6 days). I'LL SAY WHAT YOU'RE THINKING: You totally want to see Captain Tightpants (currently starring on Castle) again on Lost this season, don't you?
Doc wonders: Did Sideways Kate commit a different kind of crime that made her into a wanted woman?
The Significance of the Title
''What Kate Does'' plays off the title of the season 2 Kate-centric episode ''What Kate Did.'' This was the story that finally revealed the crime Kate had committed to put Marshal Mars on her tail. Interesting that the title puts Kate in the present tense. There are two presents in Lost this season — the Sideways reality present and the Island present. In which present will Kate be doing her ''does''-ing? Maybe both? I'll be looking.
The Comic-Con/''America's Most Wanted'' Video
Last summer, Cuse and Lindelof teased the Sideways story line at Comic-Con by showing an ''America's Most Wanted'' video that painted a slightly different picture of the sin that sent Kate on the run. Instead of blowing up her house, Kate blew up plumber Wayne's place of work. And instead of blowing up her intended target, she blew up a guy who worked for Wayne named Ryan Milner. Check out the video. Burning question: Does this video really represent Kate's Sideways back story, or did it merely serve as a hypothetical example of what Lost might or could do?
The irony of ''Tabula Rasa''
In Lost's rookie year, the second episode, entitled ''Tabula Rasa,'' focused on Kate. It was the one where we learned that she had gone Down Under to get away from Mars and shacked up for a spell with a widower farmer. ''Tabula Rasa'' means ''blank slate.'' We use the term colloquially to describe someone whose sins or memories or imprinted identity have been wiped clean. Here in Lost's sixth season, the second episode of which also dotes on Kate, the Sideways story line gives us a veritable ''Tabula Rasa'' reality. Did Sideways Kate commit a different kind of crime that made her into a wanted woman? Did she do anything different during her Down Under days? We shall see. LOST PHILOSOPHY REFRESHER! The English philosopher John Locke was noted for his theory of ''tabula rasa'' as it pertained to the nature/nurture debate about human beings. Per this theory, people aren't born with an operating system, but gain knowledge and identity through living. That's interesting to think about in the context of the split Sideways/Island worlds. Do the doppelganger characters share a similar essence, or are they each their own ''tabula rasas,'' acquiring their unique blah blah blah through the course of their life's blah-blah-blahing. (Sorry. My very tired brain decided to go on strike for a moment there.)
Add a dash of ''Raised By Another''
Bonus! Doc Jensen's ''Catch a Falling Star'' theory of the Sideways world!
''LA X'' ended with Sideways Fugitive Kate jumping into a cab already occupied by Sideways Claire. In the Island World, Claire was en route to L.A. to meet with a couple that wanted to adopt her unborn child. Claire was given her airplane ticket by a psychic who initially warned her not to give up Aaron, then changed his mind. Kate, Claire, and Aaron have some kind of fused fate. Kate played midwife to Claire during Aaron's birth. And as we already said, Kate took care of Aaron during the Oceanic 6 idyll. Also remember that Kate's whole motivation for leaving her Oceanic 6 life behind and returning to the Island was to bring Claire back. Finally, I can't resist this. Claire's favorite lullaby for Aaron was ''Catch a Falling Star.'' Kate also used to sing for Aaron. As it happens, falling stars play a role in one of the oldest myths of reincarnation we have, found in Plato's Republic. In that philosophical work, we are told the story of how when people die, they choose a new life for themselves, then drink from a river that purges their memory of their old life, and then fall back to earth like shooting stars to their new bodies/lives. Does this explain the Sideways world? Is it the next life that the Island castaways will be reincarnated into? For now, that's my theory.
FYI, ''Raised By Another'' was also the episode that gave us this freaky dream sequence, which, like Locke's backgammon story from the pilot, now plays like so much Jacob/Man In Black/Fake Locke/Monster foreshadowing:
The final fate of Marshal Mars
Kate's dogged Javert suffered mortal injuries during the crash. Jack tried to help him but all he could do was slow his painful death. While tending to Mars, Jack figured out that Kate was a fugitive. Mars told him not to trust her. Kate was tempted to kill the marshal to secure her freedom and her second chance/tabula rasa life. She couldn't do it. But Sawyer could, and tried to shoot the marshal dead, justifying his actions as a mercy killing that served the interests of the castaway community because Mars' loud, bellowing death throes were so profoundly unsettling. But Sawyer screwed up the job, and Mars didn't die from the gunshot. It just made his suffering worse. Jack was left with no choice but to euthanize Mars, embittering him toward Sawyer. WHY DID I JUST TELL YOU THAT? Because it's possible that Marshal Mars' final fate in the Sideways world may thematically or ironically mirror his fate in the Island world. As I write these words, I have not seen one bit of ''What Kate Does.'' But since the Sideways storyline winks at Island narrative continuity/previous Lost stories, it could be helpful to remind us of stuff that the show may choose to flick at this season. For example...
Will there be a dark horse?
''What Kate Did'' was the episode in which Kate encountered a black horse on the Island — the same horse, she believed, that played a role in one of her escapes from Marshal Mars. Wikipedia says: A ''dark horse'' can describe ''a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence.'' Most often used in the context of thoroughbred racing, of course — and politics. As in, ''a dark horse candidate.'' UNRESOLVED LOST MYSTERY Last season, the late Jacob-zealot Bram said of Frank Lapidus, ''Do you think he could be a candidate?'' What did Bram mean by ''candidate''?
In ''What Kate Did,'' the castaways buried Boone's sister/Sayid's new girlfriend, who had been shot by Ana Lucia. ''What Kate Does'' has the opportunity to give us two funerals, if it so chooses. In the Sideways world, Jack landed in L.A. just hours in advance of his father's memorial service and burial. Will it proceed even though Christian's corpse is MIA? Meanwhile, in the Island world, John Locke's body is just laying there on the beach getting fondled by crabs. Maybe those Ajira people could do right by the man of faith and give him some proper final rites.
Foreshadowing of another ''Incident''
I share this with you not so much as possible prep for tonight's ep, but rather in the spirit of ''Wow! That's semi-interesting to think about!'' ''What Kate Did'' was the episode where Mr. Eko shared with Locke the missing piece of the orientation film that he found in the hollowed-out Bible discovered in the Arrow station. In the clipped-out clip, Dr. Marvin Candle instructed Hatch button-pushers to not use the computer for communication with the outside world, lest it risk another ''incident.'' I find it suspiciously serendipitous that the second episode of season 6, coming so soon after the revelation of the original ''incident,'' should be named after an episode in which there was a warning given about creating another incident. It all begs the head-hurty question: Did the time-traveling castaways create the first ''incident'' last season, or did they create another incident, different from the first? I know, I know: ouch, huh? Okay, don't think about that. Think about this:
''What Kate Did'' was also the episode in which Kate made contact with ''the other side,'' if you will, as feverish Sawyer seemed to be serving as a host for Wayne's spirit. (Very John Edwards/Crossing Over.) Through Sawyer, Kate was able to dialogue with the man she murdered, explain her actions, process some issues. This was also the episode where Sayid discussed the freaky phenomenon of Backwards Speaking Walt, who appeared to him and Shannon like an astral projection or hologram being broadcast from a far-away location. This was also the episode that ended with Michael making contact with his abducted son via the Hatch's computer. I bring all this up to remind you of the big questions we should be mulling this season. Is there a connection between the Sideways world and the Island world? Will one world become aware of the other? Can there be communication with ''the other side?'' Can someone crossover?
And with that, my prep sheet for tonight's episode comes to a close. Perhaps some of this stuff will be helpful; perhaps some of this stuff will prove to be irrelevant. In other words, my prep sheet is kinda like...a typical episode of ''Totally Lost''! In this week's installment, Dan Snierson and I discuss ''LA X'' and try our level best to keep our slagged brains from slipping out of our ears. Keep your eyes open and your mind on alert, or else you'll miss our cryptic teasers about tonight's episode, as well as some...other...curious...things. Be sure to come back later this afternoon, where I'll be posting a lengthy Part Two to this column on PopWatch. I'll be going over some ''Things I Missed'' from last week's episode (Sayid's passport! Desmond's wedding ring!) and presenting some alternate views of the premiere from some of my Lost-loving colleagues here at EW. Not all of us are on the same page when it comes to season 6; perhaps you'll find voice for your own experience. Two more quick things: (1) The recap of ''What Kate Does'' will be posted tomorrow morning. (2) I'll be answering your questions about the episode on Twitter tomorrow at 12 p.m. PST/3 p.m. EST. Follow me: @ewdocjensen.
Welcome to Lost day here at EW.com. Stay tuned for more.