by anna naranja
INTRO: Desire Brings Me Back
Well knock me sideways and dip me in brown water, if that wasn’t the LONGEST hiatus EVER! The latest installment of LOST was not only more than well worth the wait, but it also carried with it a different, heavier feeling than any other that preceded it. There is a deep, bittersweet sentiment in the air for me at least, in the knowledge that this is the final season premiere of the greatest television experience that has ever graced the screen. It seems to fit the current atmosphere of the show in having two separate “timelines” occurring at once, as I am overwhelmed with both excitement and a supreme touch of sadness. And although I am not going to dwell on this thought for long, I did want to first acknowledge it for a moment.
I also wanted to mention it’s a thrill to be back here providing a little recap and analysis for you all. I’m sending out a huge thank you to my supporters over the years who have kept me going with their love and encouragement, as well as a giant ‘hello’ to all the new readers that have come along just recently. It’s a true pleasure to be here with the very best community of friends and fans I’ve ever had the blessing of being a part of.
For those of you who haven’t read my articles before, I like to pick a band that seems to fit the episode and use their song titles for my section titles. For “LA X”, I have chosen a group who got their start in the DHARMA-esque mid-70’s, the ever-so-appropriate Blondie.
As with most two-part episodes, this is a long one, so grab your beverage of choice, sit back in your most comfy rocking chair, and (hopefully) enjoy!
Who doesn’t love a great cliffhanger? And last season’s “The Incident” sure left us with a doozy. It was pretty evident when that last screen reversal from black-to-white showed up that we were in for a major game changer. Enter, Timeline X.
Anyone heavily familiar with comic lore would immediately recognize the careful placement of the “X” in this episode title. “X” typically refers to an alternate universe, world, or timeline, and it would seem that the approach LOST is now taking is no different. I think the idea is actually pretty clever, as it avoids paradox and gets around the whole “reset that would wipe away the last 5 years” idea that was joked about during Comic Con 2009.
Somehow detonating Jughead not only sent our characters trapped in ’77 some 30 years forward in their own timeline, but also managed to split everyone off into an additional, slightly different timeline. Little bits and pieces of the whole have been changed and shifted, reminding us that there might have been some slight-to-serious repercussions of exploding that bomb including creating a world in which Flight 815 never crashes on the Island at all.
The Tide is High
In fact, even if it wanted to, that plane was never going to crash on the Island in Timeline X because it’s now been revealed to have sunken to the ocean floor! Another shocker right out of the gate! It would appear the Island had been down there for some time now as well, since our favorite statue remnant has grown a barnacle or two over the years. How many years is yet to be determined, but I am guessing roughly 30 or so if the bomb went off in 1977 and the Island sunk not long afterwards.
Here’s something I noticed in the underwater shot that is making me scratch my head. Why do we see what appears to be part of an ankh from the original “whole” statue of Tawret next to it? Is it possible that in Timeline X the statue could have still been whole at the time the Island sunk, and the very act of its plunge is what tore it from its remaining foot?
I have been thinking for some time now that the events that have taken place on the Island have actually been going on for countless iterations. Using a skipping record as an analogy, one could theorize that the Island has seen multiple rounds of the same major occurrences, just with small insignificant differences. If we remember what Jacob said, this is all just progress. We are somehow working our way towards a final resolution. “It only ends once…”, he says. Does this mean the Island keeps replaying events, with each complete cycle having the purpose of making its way a little bit farther towards this eventual and final outcome? I am not sure I have figured it out completely, but I do feel in my gut that Timeline X is not as separate as it would first appear to be. In fact, and maybe this might be a little bit crazy, but what if sinking the Island in the X-timeline is actually the reason the statue of Tawret was broken in the first place as we know it in our “normal” timeline?
We have only seen bits and pieces of the history of the Island, so I can only assume (and hope) that these two seemingly separate realities do indeed connect and potentially even collide at some point. Perhaps this is the final outcome Jacob is so diligently working towards. If anything, he at least seems to have the knowledge to some degree of what will happen and the players, i.e. our main characters that he literally touched during their lifetimes that are going to help bring it all to the grand conclusion. As Faraday pointed out, they are the Variables in the Equation. I also think this is the reason why Jacob allowed himself to be murdered so easily without fighting back. He must have had some insight that his death somehow continues the progress, perhaps even serving as the catalyst to finally break the cycle that has been going on for countless ages through time and multiple “realties”. If his Nemesis has found a loophole to escape the replays, then perhaps Jacob has as well through this particular set of people that I can only guess he personally brought to the Island in the first place.
I Know But I Don't Know
Right from the start we were shown that Jack-X seems to remember something. Those first couple of moments showed him somewhat disoriented yet familiar to his spot on Flight 815. And why not? If people can consciousness time-travel then it makes sense that coming straight out of an explosion at the Swan and into a new timeline would leave a little electromagnetic jet-lag of its own. This is further suggested by his trip to the bathroom and inspection of himself in the mirror, a very important symbol on LOST. Jack just went through the literal looking glass, and so perhaps this hints that either he or other characters will gradually begin to remember more from their other timeline on the Island.
I hope I wasn’t the only one who got a little teary when we actually saw Flight 815 touch ground. The entire sequence was just as moving as when we saw the O6 return home. Michael Giacchino’s subtly haunting score and the direction went hand-in-hand here to give us a gorgeous peek at our characters as they prepared to move on with their lives in Timeline X.
Living in the Real World
Most of our characters seemed to be in the same predicament in the X timeline as they were in the normal one save some slight differences. Is this an effect from detonating Jughead which shows the type of butterfly effect that can occur when you change the past? I think so, yes. For one thing, Desmond is on the plane! This is one major difference in this iteration, as there is no Island for him to be pushing buttons on. But is it really Desmond in the flesh? No one else saw him, and he disappeared quickly never to be seen again in the episode. I found this to be extremely odd, as if his only purpose was to mess with Jack’s mind and perhaps try to jog his memory a bit.
I want to now quickly run down our original Island survivors and point out what was the same and what was different in the new timeline.
Jack – Still returning from Sydney with his dead father’s coffin, except this time Oceanic “lost” the coffin somewhere in transit.
Desmond – Seen on Oceanic Flight 815 for the first time, is also wearing a wedding ring.
Charlie – Still a drug addict in the airplane bathroom, but this time he is even worse off with an attempt at suicide. Even in Timeline X it seems that Charlie is meant to die from asphyxiation.
Jin and Sun – Still heading to the states to deliver that darn watch, and also still a troubled couple as Jin was right back to his old “button up your sweater” self. Whether or not Sun knows English is yet to be determined, but I think she is still a liar even in this timeline.
Rose and Bernard – Still a marvelously happy couple. In fact they seem almost too happy to have just left Australia with no hope of a cure for Rose’s cancer. Perhaps in this iteration, she has been cured after all.
Boone – Was unsuccessful at getting Shannon to leave her abusive relationship. However he still seems to want to follow Locke. Very touching moment when the two shook hands and said goodbye.
Locke – Still a bit of a pretender to everyone else, but still visibly miserable as he is still wheelchair bound. This time around he does not have his suitcase full of knives. Guess they are with Christian’s body somewhere…?
Hurley – One of the biggest differences seen, as Hurley-X considers himself to be the luckiest guy in the world. How on earth do the numbers come into play here and serve as a positive influence in this timeline? I’m sure it has something to do with the fact the Island is no more.
Frogurt – Still obnoxious. I wonder if we will see him perish in the new timeline…
Arzt – Still annoying. I wonder if we will see Arzt-Parts in the new timeline…
Kate – Still a fugitive and still running. In this timeline the idea is that she did not kill her stepfather but instead a plumber in the house explosion she caused. This was first alluded to at Comic Con 2009 with a fake “America’s Most Wanted” TV spot.
Claire – Much of what is going on with her is unknown, as we only saw her briefly in the cab that Kate hijacked. We have no idea at this point whether she was on the plane, or if she is still pregnant. However it is great to see that she and Kate are instantly thrown together.
Sawyer – Still shows signs of being the same con-man we know and love, but he seems a lot more chipper than a man who just murdered someone and was being thrown out of the Australian country.
Sayid – Still kickin’ awesome, and still heading to find his dear love Nadia.
I believe as the season continues we will only continue to see the same kind of connections between the X-characters that we have seen in the regular timeline over the past 5 seasons. The LOST universe, no matter which version you are in, does indeed seem to course-correct.
During the last 8 months, a good deal of the LOST community correctly guessed that we would see what we had already come to know from the now-infamous white flash; that exploding Jughead so close to that pocket of anomalous electromagnetic energy would induce a bit of time-travelling fun-stuff. LOST has trained us so well with its knack of continuously referencing itself, so besides that whole whacky little Timeline-X thing going on, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to then also see a second version of events where our gang shifts a couple of decades into the future to the Hatch formerly known as the Swan.
We learned way back in season 3 what explosions in the proximity of that little area of the Island can bring about. Ears ringing and/or muteness. Bodies strewn about, miraculously unharmed. Perhaps something or someone even, ends up in a tree. Don’t forget the chance for complete and total loss of one’s clothing. OK so we didn’t get that last one, but for the most part the results were of the standard Hatch-Go-Boom type of affair. And just in case you still didn’t believe it, we had Jin to confirm it was indeed time-travel once again. Ah, we’re back and all is well!
Unless you’re Juliet. Not only was the entire Swan regrouping sequence a tad long, but we also had to basically say goodbye to Jules all over again. I had pretty much resigned myself to her death when I cried my eyes out each of the 108 times I’d re-watched “The Incident”, so I was not at all prepared to go down that path that again. Thanks LOST, thanks for giving me hope and then ripping it right back out from under me!
I suppose in the end it was crucial that we see Juliet and Sawyer have a proper goodbye after such a huge investment in their story, just as much as it was crucial to let us see that her proximity to the heart of the explosion had given her a little bout of the time-hiccups the likes of which we hadn’t seen since dear Charlotte’s death. I am going along with the idea that she indeed consciousness-time-tripped and saw herself in Timeline X meeting up with Sawyer at some point we have yet to witness. If anything, this is the most feel-good of the possibilities, and seems to fit with the idea that our characters are all somehow destined to connect no matter where, or when, they are.
Heart of Glass
I’ve mentioned before how impressed I am with Josh Holloway’s acting over the years, and right in this first episode of the season he totally blew me away. His immense and violent new hatred of Jack’s supposedly failed plan really took me by surprise. I also love how it wasn’t Juliet’s death in concept as much as it was Sawyer’s facial expressions that pulled on my heartstrings all over again. Then he immediately demonstrates a complete shift to the calmest deep-seated anger I believe I have seen anyone demonstrate on the show, ever. It was a good thing Kate was there to help keep the now-destroyed former DHARMA security chief at bay else Jack wouldn’t be fixing much else save some supper for the Island worms.
Speaking of the Big Dirt Nap, Miles sure is a handy fella to have around when a loved one dies moments before uttering the most important thing they will ever have said in their entire lives. But what intrigued me most about this scene was not the fact that Juliet just pretty much confirms what many of us had already been thinking since the start of the episode with the revelation, “It worked”. I am very much interested in the sounds that we heard during Mile’s little impromptu séance, sounds that were eerily familiar; grinding and wheezing, organic and mechanical, noises that were so much like the Smoke Monster I was waiting for it to come forth out of the ground at any moment. I believe this was not at all unintentional, just as most things we see or hear on LOST. More on this in a bit.
Die Young, Stay Pretty
Thank goodness we were given a break from all of that Sawyer & Jack tension for some sweet hangout time with Hurley and Ghost Jacob. OK so it wasn’t totally the sitcom I was hoping for, as poor Sayid was laying there bleeding to death and anticipating his own torture in the afterlife. But honestly, I was not really worried for the Man with the Kick of a Clydesdale. Something just told me it wasn’t his time just yet. Perhaps I was refusing to accept the potential loss of another main character so soon. O maybe it was just too fun and distracting seeing Hurley get some limelight and the opportunity to “out-fix” Jack for once. They had to keep Sayid alive if Hurley and Jacob were working together, right?
By the way, was I the only one having "Raiders of the Lost Ark" flashbacks as our gang headed down into the Temple wall and encountered one very crusty French skeleton? Indy’s voice took over for a second as I heard in my head, “So this is where Montand cashed in. A competitor. He was good, very good…”
I adore ANY time we encounter ANY part of the show involving ancient structures, and the tunnel scene was no different. The pace really picked up here as our friends were mysteriously picked off one-by-one horror-movie style. What an excellently creepy execution, as I had no idea what was going on until the last moment’s reveal of the two dudes knocking Jack out from behind. I think I heard the entire audience of the East Coast exclaim at once, “Who the *bleep* are these jokers!?!?”
I mean, how was I to know there was yet another group of Others? Hardcore gun-totin’-hippie-pirate- monk-Others at that. Did they steal that Temple from the set of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"? Are they vegans or does Ben occasionally invite them all to one of his famous ham cookouts? Do these Temple Others and Richard’s Others say, get together on the weekends for volleyball tournaments before soaking their aching muscles in Jacob’s Celebrity Hot Tub? This is supposedly the season of answers, but all this gang did is bring about more questions for me.
Once again Hurley saves the day with his quick thought to mention that whacky Jacob guy, proving not all red-shirts are cannon-fodder. Looks like the Big J had been planning that little mixer at the Temple for some time now and even made sure that everyone he invited was on the guest list. And they were all invited, as Jacob had personally touched each one of them at some point except for Miles. I’m not quite sure what this means for our resident Ghostbuster, but with all the talking dead people on the Island it would be handy to keep him around a while longer.
Well, at least he needed to be around long enough to notice something odd was afoot in regards to Sayid’s supposedly dead body.
It would seem our Temple Others had been used to much cleaner spring water prior to Jacob’s death, as it would seem its healing powers are directly related to his living connection to the Island. Without him, these waters have changed and darkened. We already know that water is a symbol of both rebirth and the underworld, so it is still a fitting place for healing to occur. I believe it is also safe to assume that this is where Richard brought young Ben, who was on his death-bed from a gunshot from Sayid. How appropriately ironic that this is now where Sayid is brought after a gunshot from Ben’s father.
As the saying goes, “If it’s clear never fear, if it’s brown, make him drown.” What a disturbing scene to see poor, almost dead Sayid be dunked under and finished off in such a way. I loved when Hurley shouted out, “You’re not saving him, you’re drowning him!” He has really become much more assertive this season already and I am digging it. It not only shows his growth as a character mixed up in this Island insanity, but also how much he cares about everyone else to the point of really stepping up and “making his own luck”. But for some reason I believe even Sayid’s death in the spring was perhaps also part of Jacob’s plan, as it was his instruction they were following to bring Sayid to the Temple in the first place. Maybe when the water is dark, a person literally must die and cross over to the other side in order to be brought back.
In the season 5 finale, Ilana asks Bram if Frank could potentially be a “candidate”. A candidate for what, might I ask? My initial thought was for Jacob’s rebirth much like the Man in Black was “reborn” as John Locke. There is a lot of chatter in the LOST community about Sayid’s return to consciousness and whether or not he is in fact now the embodiment of Jacob. I am not sure about this, as it would almost seem too obvious. Not to mention, when Sayid wakes up, he asks, “What happened?” as if he really had just awaken from a short nap. I could totally be wrong about this, but I think if he was now Jacob he would be well aware of what happened and would be quickly getting up and taking charge of the situation. I am more along the line of thought that Sayid is still Sayid, just now reborn with a new purpose and direct connection to the Island just like Ben.
When the news finally broke that Jacob is dead, I really loved the look on the Temple leader’s face. This was indeed a development they had yet to experience, and these Others leapt into full lockdown mode within seconds. Flower-gathering children were rushed inside, armed men were sent to their posts, a circle of ash was started around the barrier, and a fireworks rocket was exploded into the sky to warn the rest of the Island inhabitants that the game was now ON.
What is so important at the Temple that the Others need to protect it from the Monster in Black? Is the spring somehow a source of other powers we have yet to come to know? Is it a portal through worlds? Is this linked to the reason why it has the ability heal, because being in those waters can somehow access a person’s “essence” through time itself? Could the Temple be the one place that the MIB needs to access in order for him to achieve his goals?
And why on earth have we been led to believe that the Monster in Black was actually protecting the Temple, and was several times seen at the wall around it? We have witnessed it as it dragged victims into that infamous hole in the corner of the wall, and we have witnessed Ben go underground within its tunnels to be judged. Yet now we are seeing the Temple Others trying to keep the same entity from entering. This is a question that bothers me a bit and that hopefully will be answered soon.
Of course, my very favorite part of the episode was the event taking place back at the beach at the four toed foot. Finally, what had been theorized by many in the community during the hiatus was revealed. Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we have ourselves a Lockeness Monster!
This seemingly simple answer actually may explain a lot of the strange goings-on we have seen over the past 5 seasons in regards to the dead on the Island. We know that ol’ Smokes can take the form of both the physical dead, and the people from other characters’ memories. If he has been working hard at finding his “loophole” then I am pretty sure he has been pushing and manipulating our Flight 815 survivors from the very beginning, starting with the form of Christian Sheppard in his white tennis shoes. At this point I doubt that it was Jacob who Christian was speaking for, but the MIB himself. He is the one who, through manipulating time and Locke’s own past, set Locke on the path to leave the Island. It was also then MIB-as-Christian who really sealed the idea in John’s head that he was going to have to die in order to bring the Oceanic 6 back.
Even Jacob’s cabin can be seen in a whole new light here. Perhaps part of the MIB’s power was somehow being contained in the cabin within that circle of ash. We know that he was roaming about as the Smoke Monster, but maybe he was being kept somehow subservient to Jacob as the “security system” for the Island that we had been originally told the Monster functions as. Ben also had the ability to summon the Monster from his secret closet as we saw him do when the freighter folks were a threat. In addition, if Ben had been going to the cabin to consort with Jacob, it makes more sense now why he never actually saw nor spoke to him. It was also more than likely MIB himself who was asking for Locke’s help way back in “The Man Behind the Curtain”, and who also went wild and made a huge ruckus when technology in the form of a flashlight shined nearby. If Jacob is a fan of progress, then MIB seems to be the perfect fit for the one who shuns it, even in the form of battery-power. At some point, such as when Hurley stumbled, the circle of ash was broken and MIB was able to fully make his plans of Island mutiny a reality. Not to mention, Ilana had instantly been able to recognize that someone else had been using the cabin and that Jacob had not been there for some time. No wonder she had her team burn it to the ground.
The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game
In one of the more amazing moments of the episode, “Locke in Black” and Ben have a short conversation regarding the real John, and his last thoughts as Ben choked him to death last season. Notice how LIB sits in half-shadow and half-light in this scene. As he sits forward into the light, he discusses how he admired John Locke’s faithfulness to the Island and his desire to stay. Then he sits back into the darkness as Ben asks him, “What do You want?” With an expression of uber-creepiness I don’t believe Terry O’Quinn has ever made on the show before, he simply replies that he wants to go “home”.
Um, he wants to go Home? Like, E.T. wants to go Home? This would seem to be the million-dollar question now plaguing viewers. I know I was not the only one thinking to myself, “Please, please don’t let Home be another planet!” But we should prepare ourselves for this possibility. There have been numerous references and hints over the years to either extraterrestrials or that which falls from the sky. Perhaps Juliet wasn’t joking at all when she told Sawyer that day the Others were building a runway for aliens, though now I suppose it would seem they were building it for Ajira Flight 316. However, we also have a lot of references surrounding Aaron, such as “The Little Prince” and his favorite song, “To Catch a Fallen Star”. To add even more to the pot here, in this very episode we had a nice little “X-Files” Easter egg. If you notice carefully Rose was reading a magazine with an advertisement on the back that had a UFO on it with the phrase, “The Truth is Out There” that was part of an ad for the infamous cigarette brand from the show, Morley. Either the writers wish to keep giving us red herrings from outer space, or all of this is evidence pointing to something not from Here being related to the Island and our characters.
Personally, I am starting to think that MIB’s Home is what one might call the Underworld, or the Dimension of the Dead. This seems to be what his powers suggest, and also, what his nickname, the Cerberus, would hint at. When Ben was being judged under the Temple wall, we were shown a painting of what appears to be Anubis and some strange, black, snake-like create reminiscent of the Monster facing off with each other. Anubis is also associated with the Dead, and is the Egyptian god of mummification along with other things. With so many references to the Underworld in the show, and knowing how MIB operates, I am going to stick with this idea for now. This could explain why MIB could have been seen as some type of deity by some of the other more ancient cultures that once inhabited The Island. In addition, if the Temple, much like the ancient Egyptian pyramids, is some type of portal between worlds it would make sense that this is his next pit-stop and would allow him to finally leave the Island’s plane of existence once and for all.
MIB is not a fan of servitude, as evidenced by his words to Bram & Co. that they are no longer bound to Jacob and are free to go. He makes another reference to it when he comes face to face with Richard with the “chains” remark before knocking him out and carrying him off past the Real Locke’s dead body. I loved Nestor Carbonell’s acting in this scene, as even though he only said one word, “You?” he said it with such complete terror and shock so that we know now that Richard and MIB have a history as well. I really cannot wait to see the rest of this play out.
The night after the premiere, I dreamed in LOST. In my dream I had a party and Carlton, Damon, and various cast members attended. We all sat on the beach and watched the Temple Others’ fireworks overhead while high-fiving each other about what an awesome season premiere we had just witnessed.
This is what LOST does to me. It gets into my subconscious and takes a firm grip. And this seems totally fitting too for a show so steeped in symbolism, the Underworld, and the duality of consciousness and unconsciousness. It doesn’t even matter which side of the mirror I am on anymore. This story has become a part of me like none other, and I love every minute of it. However the rest of this final season plays out, I will always be LOST along with everyone else, trying to figure it all out along with everyone else, and attempting to grasp and hold on to the personal connections that I make through it, along with everyone else. Life and art have always been two sides of the same coin, just as darkness and light, or science and faith.
I for one am more than thrilled to be experiencing both as one and the same.
*I write about LOST because I love the challenge of deciphering the clues and adding the pieces together. My thoughts are based solely on the show and random research, as I try to avoid spoilers, promos, and even future episode titles. I love to guess what is going on, but I also like to do so in a way that leaves some of the conclusions still up to you. I do not know the answers and am often wrong. Whatever the truth turns out to be, it has been the journey that has meant the most to me.*