Lost season 5 episodes 1 and 2 examined

Our second take on the Lost season opener - and there's plenty to get your teeth into...

The finale looms...

Last season on Exposé

Sorry, wrong show. Lost my bearings there for a minute, probably due to the exceptional mind-fart off last night’s TV; yup, Lost is back, back, back, back! (Did I mention it’s back?) Two episodes in and my head is already abuzz with possible answers to long-standing mysteries and the questions that always seem to accompany them. So take a deep breath, grab some decades-old Jacob’s crackers (imaginary peanut butter optional) and let’s go over the stuff that drove last night’s eps, Because You Left and The Lie. Starting off…

1. How did Lost decide to blow our minds this year in the first five minutes?

The easy answer to this: we saw Daniel Faraday – twitchy physicist, previously of the Freighter Folk, scientific voice of the show – on the island in the mid-70s, sometime in the heyday of the Dharma Initiative. Where? Working on a hatch we’re familiar with from last season: The Orchid i.e. the one with the Frozen Donkey Wheel that helped move the island. (I love how Lost makes you sound absolutely bonkers, I really do.) How? Er, I think it has something to do with time-travel – hinted at in last season’s The Constant, in which we found out that Desmond was Daniel’s constant in the possible event that anything “goes wrong”; if you need reminding, a constant is something familiar in both times, necessary in the event of conscious time-travel so that the mind doesn’t struggle to draw a line from the past to the present. (Including the future? Let me know if the Wikipedia page for predestination paradoxes makes more sense to you.) For me, this reveal was slightly disappointing: a bit too much pre-season hysteria on my part led me to rewatch a few too many interviews in which Darlton dropped gems about Daniel’s importance as far as the relationship between time and the Island. What really caught my imagination, however, were the glimpses at a beta stage Orchid.

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The Orchid was in the process of being built when a couple of poor saps came into contact with all the “limitless energy” hidden behind a lot of stone and started suffering. Y’know, having your tools melt, getting nosebleeds, the usual. Mr Dharma Video Man (whose ‘official’ title I still question), who we saw go around his everyday business in the cold open, said the official Dharma plan for The Orchid was to manipulate time. When questioned about said plan, all he would divulge was that there were rules that “can’t be broken”. The same rules running the war between Charles Widmore and Ben Linus, maybe? Or maybe just the rules of time? Anyhoo, what we should take from this is that if the energy that The Orchid holds is unleashed, then… bad things happen. Like an island moving. And talking of which…

2a. Where did the island move to?

Ah, not the right question to ask, young Padawan. Try again.

2b. When did the island move to then?

The Orchid, bathed in all that juicy time travel UV, has moved in time. But just because it’s in new digs doesn’t mean it’s staying long – think of that episode of Battlestar Galactica where the Cylon Basestar kept jumping around erratically due to the Hybrid’s unease. Craphole Island is kind of on the same wavelength… it’s hopping erratically through time, never staying in a particular place for more than an allotted time. (Or is it? More on this below.) This doesn’t only allow us to have “Hey, That’s That Guy” moments – step forward, Ethan – but also throws up numerous story possibilities. What better way to understand the island’s mysteries than see them happening? If this means Rousseau comes back for an episode or two, BRING ON THE ERRATIC TIME-TRAVEL STORYTELLING, GUYS!

I’m guessing you’re familiar with the time travel rules established by the past few Desmond episodes: you can’t change the past, we are driven by fate, the universe has a way of course correcting itself, yadda yadda. Only thing is, we’ve only been familiar with time travel via the conscious. We, however, haven’t physically time travelled before – something all the survivors were doing in last night’s episodes. Everyone’s suffering in some way from it: Sawyer and Juliet trying to deal with not only time-seasickness but the deaths of all their friends (or so they think); Bernard and Rose’s panic over the vanishing camp; Charlotte’s bad reactions to time-hopping. Now, stick with me here, Charlotte’s future health has, I believe, something to do with our next question…

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3. Where’d Desmond, Penny and Frank go off to?

If you wished, like me, that Frank Lapidus – everyone’s favourite pilot, conspiracy theorist and modeller of awful Hawaiian shirts! – would somehow fulfil his destiny as some kind of drunken deckhand on Des and Pen’s Love Boat (is it the Elizabeth they’re staying on?), you were wrong. Yeah, Frank showed up in a flashback in The Lie but only to play beermaid to Desmond – everyone’s favourite romantic, time traveller and modeller of badly buttoned shirts! I’m saying this now: the people want more Frank. Frank is the show (not really, but I still miss Frank).

As for Desmond, he was back in The Swan, still wearing all that protective gear, probably sometime after the death of Kelvin Inman. With the island on shuffle, Daniel took the opportunity to befriend him, letting him know that the rules of time didn’t apply to him and that he was “uniquely and miraculously special”. How is Desmond special, then? My thoughts are that it has something to do with his constant exposure to large amounts of electromagnetism, which, if you remember, helped to trigger his mind-time-travel-sojourn in The Constant, as well as his meeting with Mrs Hawking in Flashes Before Your Eyes. Daniel understands this because, well, he constantly exposed himself to large amounts of radiation in the name of science at Oxford – The Constant, yet again. Now, this is where Charlotte fits in. Notice how she bleeds from the nose and suffers from headaches as well as fading memories? She could be showing some of the symptoms that Minkowski did back on the freighter (the weak point in my theory, but whatever), except she’s the only one that’s seeming to suffer on the island because she too has been exposed to large amounts of electromagnetism! Don’t you get it? Charlotte is the last child of the island, way before the whole pregnant-women-dying thing kicked in. I know this was explicitly hinted at in There’s No Place Like Home, but dammit, the evidence is there!

Anyway, Daniel told Swan-era Desmond that he needed to go back to Oxford to save the Left Behinders, something that registered in Desmond’s present-day consciousness as a memory. The past can be altered slightly as long as it doesn’t mess up the lines of fate… course correction at work! This means that Desmond’s back in the game, along with Penny! Yipee! And they need to find Daniel’s grandmother, who should be able to help them with the whole space-time conundrum! And who the heck is Daniel’s grandmother and what does she know?

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a bit confused by all this time-travel talk, so let’s focus on something a little bit more grounded for a second:

4. Why is Sun vouching for Team Widmore?

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I was totally wrong on this one. In my recap of last season’s finale, I thought that Sun was aiming for Jack by teaming up with Charles Widmore – sniff out the Six, grab the drug addict and mission accomplished – but it turns out that she’s been gunning all along for Ben. This throws all sorts of spanners in all sorts of works for Ben, who’s currently on his own mission…

5. How the hell is Ben going to get the Oceanic Six back together?

Apparently, with some outside help. In The Lie, Ben took some time out from shacking up with Jack (cleanly shaven and on a comedown after Ben flushes his pills down the toilet) to meet up with a mysterious woman by the name of Jill. In a butcher’s. Exactly the kind of place you’d like to hide a piece of dead meat – a.k.a. the body of John Locke – for a while. The pair talked of plans moving “right on schedule”, dropping some other names – or is that Other names? There’s no doubt that certain Others could leave the Island for business, just like Richard and Tom did, but are these liaisons of Ben’s ex-Others, or extradited Others? Pro-Ben sympathisers of (this is me spitballing here) the Ben/Widmore power struggle for King of the Island? Then again, that may not be correct when viewed in light of Miles’ remark that Widmore had been looking for the Island for at least two decades. Is Jill simply just an associate of one of the various industries that lived as an offshoot from Dharma – Mittelos Biosciences, Hanso Foundation… or could she have some undefined links to a mysterious airline you web-savvy folk may have heard of?

Concerning Jack, Ben berated Jill for a comment she made about the doctor’s drug use: “Cut the man some slack. He’s been through a lot, we all have.” The use of the word “we” points towards the Others, as far as I believe, but Ben’s defence of Jack is interesting. Despite the many digs he sends the doctor’s way in last night’s double bill, Ben has not sacrificed his honour – he respected Jack as his adversary and he respects him as his partner in Team Let’s Get The Gang Back Together. Alas, he doesn’t respect him enough to tell him about certain things – when Jack asks him if Locke is even dead, Ben dodges the question. Spooky – how can John even be alive and dead at the same time? Was he inspired in any way by a famous Shakespearean character that too was believed to commit suicide, only to arise from a great sleep days later? And if so, who is the Romeo to John’s Juliet? (I’m reading into this a bit too much, methinks.)

Finally, what the hell is in that mysterious plaid box Ben got from the motel? The minute I see someone hiding objects in air vents, I get an Anton Chigurh vibe from them. Why so secretive? Is it the infamous “box” with which Ben brought Antony Cooper to the Island? Is it – and I know this is ridiculous – John’s soul or even his heart? Does it help us to understand what the hell is in that suitcase in Pulp Fiction or not?

The Oceanic Six, then…

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6. How are the Oceanic Six gonna become best buds again?

By help of fate or plot contrivance, the Six are, by the end of The Lie, in the same place (Los Angeles, CA) at the same time (hell, don’t get me started on time again). Kate: on the run yet again after two lawyers showed up at her door questioning her relation to Aaron. Sun: in LA for business, even though she shares a guilt-trippy afternoon tea with former BFF Kate. I think there’s more to what Sun’s saying – maybe she’s meeting with heavies hired by Paik Industries (which, if you don’t remember, doesn’t exactly have a clean record when it comes to gangsterish activites)? Jack: in cahoots with Ben, even though he’s reunited with Sayid by the second episode.

Which brings us to Sayid and Hurley. Ah, once upon a time I believed they could happily get their own sitcom spinoff about them sharing a post-Island pad – turns out they couldn’t even get to chill in Sayid’s dubiously-named “safehouse”. After Sayid’s abduction of Hurley from Santa Rosa, the pair headed back to an apartment complex, only to be greeted by two assassins, one of whom fired tranquiliser darts at Sayid. Now, the last time I saw someone get shot with darts it was back in the season two finale Live Together, Die Alone – maybe these two heavies were working for Ben? Sayid dropped the info that he had broken off his associations with Ben, so maybe these guys were given the mission to capture the ex-soldier for Team Let’s Get The Gang Back Together? I mean, if you were an assassin, why shoot your target with something that could knock out an elephant and not a gun? Hmmm.

So after Sayid was out cold, Hurley was back on the run, his face plastered over TV screens for Sayid’s murders outside Santa Rosa and at the safehouse. After receiving advice from another ghost – he’d recently communicated with Charlie and Eko – he was given some pretty direct advice from my old favourite character, Ana-Lucia: pull it together and get to work. I’m still down with my theory that Hurley’s ghosts are (A) manifestations of Ol’ Smokey or (B) representatives of Jacob. I mean, why else would they urge Hurley so badly to go back to Craphole Island?

Following Ana-Lucia’s advice to find someone he trusted, Hurley took Sayid to his parents’ house and kept out of sight, with Papa Cheech passing an out-of-it Sayid to Jack. Hurley, in a funny yet oddly poignant scene, came clean about the Six’s lie to Mrs Reyes, and she believed him, despite how crazy everyone looks when they try to explain Lost to you. Meanwhile, Jack called Ben, letting him know he had Sayid; Ben showed up at Hurley’s house and worked his manipulative magic, playing on the accidental fugitive’s guilt over lying. Hurley, however, was having nothing of it and ran out of his house, giving himself over to the cops like it was a good idea. Which it isn’t, because now the rest of the Six are going to have to Nite-Owl his ass out of prison. And in an allotted time as well, judging by the cliffhanger to The Lie

So, it wouldn’t be Lost if we didn’t have some new mysteries to theorise wildly over. And, in order of least importance, they include:

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Who’s time-travelling: the left behinders or the island?

I’m thinking that the Left Behinders are the ones moving through time – the Island is lost in time and space and the inhabitants are just going through it on shuffle until it reaches a final and certain destination. The Island doesn’t need to be saved from shifting erratically through time and space – as a land mass, it can take it. Those caught up in the Frozen Donkey Wheel Effect are sensitive organisms – humans normally are y’know – and require saving by Desmond because hell, they’re not used to this time-shifting malarkey like he is. That serves as another explanation as to what’s up with Charlotte, and may also help to explain how Richard recognises Locke even though he’s in the future. And on one last time-travel note:

Who the hell are those English dudes with the bad attitudes?

Flaming arrows? Old-fashioned rifles? Ungentlemanly brutality? My call is that our Left Behinders have moved to the past – I’m talking before Dharma. I’m talking Charles Widmore’s ancestors, maybe themselves descendants of slave owners. Island security? If so, who’s Island King at this moment in time?

I have answers for none of these questions, but I feel the above are plausible attempts. Apparently we find out next week just who the devil these party poopers are.

And…

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What the frak does that cliffhanger mean?!

An older lady. A chalkboard. An old computer. A great big Newton’s Cradle swingy chalk thingie drawing things on a map. Just what the hell does this mean, and what does “EVENT WINDOW DETERMINED” refer to? The Island? Has the Island been found by all that technology in a church cellar? (And didn’t the computers look very Dharma-esque? Those guys didn’t take well to changing fashions.)

If the Island’s been located, it’s not for long. And nobody should know this better than Mrs Hawking – time-travel legend from Flashes Before Your Eyes, a mysterious character who seems to know a hell of a lot about fate and the cosmos. Ben literally quivers in his boots when in her presence – Mrs Hawking is tough. Is she Goddess of the Island? Could Jacob be – wait for it – a woman all along? Not to say a woman couldn’t hold that degree of power, just that it’d be a hell of a shock if there was a woman called Jacob in that curious little shack.

If she’s Jacob or not – or if she’s even got any longstanding relationship with the Island – that remains to be seen. But she says that Ben and the Six have a mere seventy hours to get back to the Island. Is this the “EVENT WINDOW”? Is a wormhole opening up that could allow them to enter the realm of the Island? If it’s a wormhole, how the hell do they get everyone else off the Island? If the Six don’t make it back to the Island, will that have grave consequences for the rest of the world? Is that why Mrs Hawking says “then God help us all” to the possibility the Six can’t get back? Is she calculating the Island’s location with the help of the Valenzetti Equation? Is that why it’s so important Hurley goes back to the Island? Is the end of the world at hand?! Wormholes?! The world ending?! Mystical equations?! Lost is back in all its head-hurty glory, everyone!

Ooft, I need a lie down. Last night held a controlled explosion of Island manna along with some pretty involving character stuff, especially the whole Sun-is-a-badass deal. Because You Left and The Lie were good – but not great – episodes that are truly building up to something insane, awesome or insanely awesome.

Here I would leave you with the usual wild theories, questions and unfounded accusations that close my usual recaps but I’m just going to leave you with a couple of randomly strung together thoughts:

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  • Remember when Charlie got clean off drugs really, really quick way back in season one? Will the show bother to give scenes of Jack detoxing or will it just get in the way of things like, say… the plot?
  • Is baby Aaron getting on anybody else’s nerves? Anyone?
  • Did a whole hour of shirtless Josh Holloway make you male viewers feel all that little bit more paunchy than usual?
  • What was actually said in that Exposé recap at the start? (I love those things.)
  • Did anybody watch that Lost: On Location thing with Iain Lee beforehand and feel your eyes burn from the wealth of potential spoilers onscreen?
  • And finally, what direction will the show take now that the most popular bet for Jacob’s true identity is dead?

 

Til next week, I’m hopefully, hopefully Lost. I love it.

Our other review of the first and second episodes of Lost’s fifth season is here.

Den Of Geek List of Lost

26 January 2009