The Beginning of the End

Our expectations were perhaps impossibly high. Jen was counting down the weeks, then the days, until the premiere of Season 4. “I can’t frickin’ wait,” she’d say, simultaneously eager for “LOST” to return and afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I have absolutely no doubt the return of “LOST,” especially in the barren wasteland of the writers’ strike, was indeed the most anticipated television event this year. And tonight, we got what we were waiting for, returning to the story of the island exactly where we left off. And it was good. But was it great?

As “The Beginning of the End” cut to black with the show’s trademark thud, we weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Jen didn’t say a word as the “Eli Stone” premiere picked up after the credits, so we watched Jonny Lee Miller lose his mind in amusing ways for the next hour before sitting down to tackle “LOST” head on. Was “The Beginning of the End” a good episode? Sure. But it wasn’t great. It was no “Fire + Water,” don’t get me wrong, but it felt like a middle, a piece, a fragment of a beginning. Perhaps it was impossible for “LOST” to blow our minds the way we dreamed it would. But there were definitely solid dents in tonight’s big “television event.”

One, I think part of the unease is natural, and is rooted pretty deep in every “LOST” fan’s heart. As holy-hell good as the Season 3 finale was, with its game-changing flash forward, the brilliant twist came at a price. Think about it: For three years we’ve been invested in a story that we’ve broadly envisioned as a survival story. A long arc exploration of human nature, sure, but one where the natural endpoint would be escape, or not.

But now we know about the “Oceanic Six.” We know Jack, Kate, and now Hurley are half of the known survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. To be sure, there is a lot of mystery and conflict left. Who are the other three? Why do Hurley and Jack want to go back? What the heck happened in between? And obviously, that’s what the next 48 episodes will give us, and probably a lot more. But at a total gut level, I think the stakes suddenly seem not so dramatic. These flash forwards haven’t yet given us The End, but they’re a drastic enough jump to be jarring. Like suddenly skipping a few hundred pages ahead in a good book.

Two, there’s something familiar about this setup. One that the “LOST” creators have explicitly confirmed. Season One? All about our survivors, who we know and love. Season Two? The Tailies. That didn’t end well. Season Three? The Others! An interesting bunch of people we can’t quite figure out. Now we’re starting Season Four, and here come The Rescuers Or Not. Another set of characters whose loyalties and motives are unknown and will no doubt be explored. Will they be as interesting as the Others? Or as the Tailies? We’re not even done with the Others. Is my brain big enough to keep track of all this?

Three, we’ve had eight months to imagine a million stories to fill the gap between “rescue from the island” and “desperation to go back.” I don’t think even the best writers out there (of which “LOST” writers certainly are) could compete with that. The longer we go between seasons (and it looks like this next hiatus will be a doozy), and the bigger holes we get in the timeline, the more likely we crazy fans are going to run away with the story.

But “The Beginning of the End” was disappointing for simpler reasons as well.

It did pick up right where “Through the Looking Glass” left off. Rescue is coming! But who are these rescuers? What’s the deal with Jacob and the creepy cabin? And that’s pretty much where we are now. And as much as I love and miss Charlie, it’s hard to miss a guy when you see him every ten minutes, either as an apparition, or as a wholly unnecessary replay of his death scene. We get it already. It was sad. It was hard to get misty eyed when Claire got the news (though I still did).

And speaking of dead people, frankly the nebulous definition of “dead” on “LOST” is getting downright comical. Mikhail the Energizer Bunny from Season Three was strange enough, but… why exactly did Naomi not die? Then die for real? All it gave us was that odd scene between Kate and Naomi, which was so odd it no doubt holds a clue or two (Naomi’s sister?). But having Naomi expire twice made about as much sense as… well, as Kate stealing the satellite phone from Jack.

“The Beginning of the End” is at least a beginning. Of the future we learn of the aforementioned “Oceanic Six,” and that the “lies” that Jack is tired of telling relate to the existence of other Flight 815 survivors. And on the island, it’s clear Locke and Jacob are getting along swimmingly… but Hurley also caught a glimpse of someone in that chair. And spanning both worlds, we see our survivors again split up, following either Jack or Locke. Hurley goes with Locke, which seems the better bet. But we learn that he thinks it was the wrong decision in retrospect.

We love “LOST.” But there are only seven more episodes left, so we can’t spend the first six getting up to speed this time around. With a set endpoint for the series, the writers have an unprecedented strong foundation on which to build the rest of the story. We hope they make the most if it.

Notes and Notions:

  • The reappearance of Hurley’s Camaro was a nice touch, and the prompt reveal with Jack that we were getting another flash forward.
  • If Charlie is dead (and he is), how did Hurley’s friend in the asylum spot him?
  • Did Sawyer seem out of character to anyone else? Here’s a guy who just strangled the man who ruined his life; who has been cold and surly and shut off from the rest of the community ever since; who has turned cold to his love interest out of deep-seated jealousy… and he’s now Mr. Warm-and-Fuzzy, Let’s-Talk-About-Your-Feelings?
  • It was good to see Big Mike again. It was not so good to hear the line, “Dark hair. Gorgeous.” Channeling a Calvin Klein ad?
  • Loved Ben’s line, “It’s good to know somebody around here knows what the hell we’re doing.” And the way he flinched when Jack looked at him.
  • Also loved Ben’s desperate plea to Danielle to save Alex. And the way Danielle slugged him.
  • Thought it was great that Hurley was in a convenience store buying a Slushee. But wondering why it wasn’t a Slusho.
  • Rose decides to go with Jack because she doesn’t trust Locke. “I’m not going anywhere with that man,” she tells Bernard. I can’t remember when Locke fell out of favor with her, though. Or maybe throwing a knife in a woman’s back would be a deal breaker for anyone?
  • Couldn’t resist taking a look back at the opening shots of the previous Season Premiere episodes. Season one? The iconic eyeball. Season two? The disorienting “Make Your Own Kind of Music” hatch reveal. Season three, another musical interlude (“Downtown”) introducing us to suburban Othersville. Somehow, a pile of papayas doesn’t quite do it for me.
  • Lost Location Notes: The Laniakea YWCA returns as Santa Rosa. The grassy yard of the institution, however, was played by Windward Community College. Hurley crashed his Camaro in an industrial yard in Kalihi (not sure which). Didn’t recognize the convenience store, and I’m not sure if the aerial view of the freeway was filmed here.

73 Responses to “The Beginning of the End”

  1. Julie says:

    The lawyer who showed up at the mental institution (the one who made Hurley freak out), well according to the show’s cast list, his last name is ABADDON. ABADDON is a Hebrew word that means destruction. It is also the name of a demon who is one of the seven rulers of hell, who is called ABADDON the destroyer. He is sometimes called The Prince of Locusts. What do you guys think about this?

  2. Heybrah says:

    Julie: what a catch you made? … sounds more and more like there will be a return of the “Oceanic 6 to the Island” for a final battle of good vs. evil (as originally suggested here) … what a mind game that ABADDON layed onto Hurley: “How many did you leave behind?”

    Just a thought: way back during season 1, it was mentioned that John Locke would be the equivalent character of a Stephen King character in the Stand and that the Stand was largely the plot basis for LOST. Locke’s character was definetly mentioned as being an evil one who had the power to gather new members … can somebody help with this?

  3. […] fourth season. (My wife and I blogged our reaction to the Season 4 premiere episode over at The Transmission.) Supposedly, part of the season could be salvaged if the strike ends before Feb. 20 (and if the […]

  4. Becky says:

    What is up with the Lost: Sam’s Video Diary 1-5 at http://abc.go.com/video/index? Sam is an employee of Oceanic Airlines and Sonja’s (a flight attendant on FL 815) boyfriend. He is searching for her aboard a boat – Christian 1 whose mission is to find “Blackrock” and talks about some “Maxwell group”. What do you make of this?

  5. Heybrah says:

    Becky,

    just another back story (I think) being told (my opinion) … what’s troubling is that it sounds as if the Blackrock is now under water instead of on it’s beached position.

  6. Becky says:

    Heybrah – I did some more looking and if you go to http://www.find815.com you will find that it is a game. Oh, well….ABC is trying to get more people involved I guess. Thanks.

  7. DaRealDeal says:

    POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT…I REPEAT POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT! PLEASE Do NOT read if you want to figure out who the Oceanic Six are on your own.

    According to one source on these next 8 episodes these are the people who have flash forwards…Hurley, Sayid, Kate, Jin, and Sun…when you add Jack to these five you get six…However, earlier theories may have been correct when someone stated that there may have been more than six who got off the island, but perhaps just not were made known to the public.

  8. HeyBrah says:

    Ryan, do you think that they’ll be a 6th season if the writers strike isn’t resolved in time? I’ve been reading that ABC, CBS, and NBC are planning on buying primetime shows from Canada. What’s your spin on the future of LOST, as far as the impact of the writer’s strike goes?

  9. Steve says:

    Today, they said at the news the strike is close to an end.. and Lost’s producers said if the strike end before Febuary 20, Lost will be not affect… too much.. maybe just a break after the 8th episode….hope is there !!

  10. Tori says:

    One thought is that the “Oceanic 6” are just the Americans– Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Rose, Bernard– and that those from other countries made it back to their countries and didn’t receive this assignation.

    Also, can someone clarify the Jack beard dialogue between Jack and Hurley? I.e., did Jack’s beard of last season (and his near suicide attempt) come before or after the scene in the gym?

    Thanks to anyone who can clarify!

  11. xtremdelt says:

    The game of HORSE obviously came long before suicidal Jack with the beard. He told Hurley in that scene that he was going to get back into working at the hospital. He seemed happy and healthy and at the beginning of the episode (when he was watching the car chase on the news, he mixed jsut a small amount of vodka in his orange juice).
    Not the drug addict/alcoholic we saw at the end of season 3. I can’t wait to see what starts Jack’s downward spiral.

    Something else to think about:

    The game of HORSE stopped after 2 shots. Jack had “H-O”
    Also, Charlie was seen in the convenience store by the “Ho-Hos”
    H is the 8th letter of the alphabet. O is the 15th.

    You do the math.

  12. xtremdelt says:

    One more thing:

    If you watch the episode again, when Hurley is asked about Ana Lucia, you can tell he gives a scripted responce. Remember, they are all supposed to be hiding the fact that there were any more survivors (from what I’ve gathered) For whatever reason, Oceanic, or their lawyers, or Widmore, or the Hanso Foundation, or the Maxwell group, or whoever is pulling the stings has a tight hold on what the Oceanic 6 can and can’t say.

    We already saw at the end of Season 3 that Jack is “tired of lying.” This time around, it was Hurley who wanted to tell the truth. You could see it on his face that he wanted to tell the detective about Ana..but he had to stick to the script.

    It’s great writing. I think this is going to be a great season.

  13. Tori says:

    Thanks for the clarification, xtremdelt! Great points!

  14. Connie in Alaska says:

    Based on the way he exited, I think Abbadon is Smokie OR Hurley THINKS it is Smokie. One minute Abbadon is sitting at the table. Hurley freaks out at calls for someone to get Abbadon out of there. He looks back and Abbadon is gone, but the door is just closing and it looks like a whisp of black smoke or a dark shadow is slipping through the door as it does.

    My only snag is that in the past the producers have hinted that the Smoke Monster is “tied” to land or the island somehow. Hmmm…

    At any rate, in this episode we had at least two instances of Hurley seeing someone that could possibly have only been in his imagination: Charlie and Abbadon. In each of these instances we have OTHER witnesses who also see these people. The nurse points out that he has a visitor and there sits Abbadon, and the weird patient who alerts Hurley to Charlie’s presence. What are we to make of this?

  15. NuckinFuts says:

    VancouverISlost Says:

    February 2nd, 2008 at 8:16 am
    I’m really iffy about this new Season.
    A few points:

    (1) Could part of the LOST six be Micheal and Walt – they left the Island. We know Harold Perrineau is coming back (annouced at comiccon). He’s listed in IMDB in Confirmed Dead and The Economist. My vote for the sixth person is Juliet since she wanted to see her sister so bad.

    HMMM – – I GUESS IT COULD BE MICHAEL AND WALT, BUT I WOULD SAY NOT JULIET …. SHE WAS NOT ON THE PLANE… AND IF THERE IS A COVER-UP IT WOULD BE WITH KNOWN PASSENGERS I THINK….SHE WOULD SIMPLY HAVE TO RE-ENTER INTO HER LIFE…SHE MAY BE CARRYING SECRETS TOO, BUT I DOUBT SHE WOULD BE ASSOCIATED W/ THE OCEANIC 6….

    (2) I don’t think it’s unusual to have people not die on the Island – the Island has healing powers as seen in several episodes.

    I’M WITH YOU HERE —

    (3) Where is the “monster” – the odd smoky thing? We haven’t seen it for a very long time. It seems they have dropped this thing from sight. No one seems to be afraid of it anymore.

    I THOUGHT THE SAME AT FIRST…BUT I THINK IT IS THE SUPER LONG BREAK WE’VE HAD FROM THE SHOW MESSING W/ YOU HERE….IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY JULIET AND KATE SAW THE ROMPASTOMPASAURUS SMOKE THINGY ONLY A FEW DAYS AGO ON ISLAND TIME WHEN THEY WERE HANDCUFFED TOGETHER…SINCE THEN THEY CAME BACK ( ABOUT 2 DAYS AFTER THAT ) AND NOW WE ARE ABOUT ANOTHER FEW DAYS …. IT’S HARD TO KEEP UP I KNOW….

    (4) If the Darhma Initative was so huge and they set-up the Island, what prevented them from finding the Island again when all the Darhma people were killed?

    YEAH – – AND THE FOOD DROPS ARE COVERED W/ DHARMA LOGOS….SOMETHING DOESN’T ADD UP JUST YET….MAYBE BEN AND DHARMA ARE WORKING TOGETHER STILL….HMMMM…..MAYBE BECUASE DHARMA WAS APPARENTLY INTERESTED IN BUILDING A NEW SOCIAL COMMUNITY AND PSHYCOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTATION THEY HAVE SIMPLY LET THE ISLAND INHABITANTS RUN THEIR OWN SHOW IN SOME ASPECTS…….SO IF SOMEONE IN THE EXPERIMENT GOES NUTS, KILLS EVERYONE, TAKES OVER IT IS REALLY JUST MORE “DATA” THAT THEY ARE COLLECTING FOR THEIR OVERALL EXPERIMENT….

    I LOVE THEORIES! – – THANKS VANCOUVER!

  16. Peter says:

    this review sucked

  17. JohnyTsunami says:

    I have to disagree with all of that. The episode was EXACTLY like what I loved from season 1. It enticed you. It thrilled you. And yes sometimes it confused you but it was completely worth it. I loved the split again, this time Jack losing command. Also the thing about this episode is that you really don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. Until the writers give us some clarification on Hurley’s condition we won’t ever know if Dave existed or what he saw in the hut was real!

    Anyway this is coming from a fan who is always skeptical of the show just because I love it too much to see it go down the trash and believe me when I say, “LOST is back, settle in for the ride.”

  18. Shuffles says:

    My Coffin theory:
    Its Michael. Based on what, you may ask?
    * The newspaper clipping said something to the effect of ‘New York man found dead in LA’. Michael was from New York.
    * Michael didn’t appear to be a very tall man, therefore, smaller than average coffin.
    * When Jack asked Kate if she went to the funeral, she looked disgusted like she couldn’t believe Jack asked her that. That may have been a look you would have expected from Kate considering Michael left them for dead when he and Walt left.
    * Jack was visibly upset as he stood next to the coffin. By this time Jack was desperate to get back to the island, and may have felt that since Michael got away from the island, perhaps he knew the secret to return to the island. Now that Michael is gone, the way back is gone as well.

  19. Dave says:

    Ryan and Jen,

    Your podcast most decidedly did not suck! I hope you guys decide to keep doing this with each episode, maybe even resurrecting the AAC feed as well!

  20. Bryan says:

    Tori,

    The Oceanic six, are not the group you have noted. It apparently doesn’t have anything to do with country of origin. Yeah, I read a spoiler, accidentally if you can believe that. I’m more interested in knowing WHY they were the 6 and why the rest got left behind.

    Shuffles.
    I think that’s a great theory about the coffin.

  21. mikefrommaine says:

    Has Hurley met Christian in the past? If that was Christian in the rocking chair, would Hurley been able to see him if it is just a manifestation of his imagination if he had never met him? Also, my hunch tells me that Kate isn’t one of the Oceanic 6. Why would Jack be free to visit Hurley in the institute, but have to meet secretly with Kate? I think Kate is living low key now because she’s wanted by the cops, but this show will take a million more directions in the next 47 episodes, so who knows. That’s why this show is so great. From September through last Sunday, I’d count down the days each week until Sunday because of football. Now I’m doing the same with Thursdays and Lost!

  22. Johnny says:

    Kate is not one of the Six and Juilet is ot either cuase she was not on the flight.
    I think The six are Jack Hurley Locke Sawyer Claire and Arron.
    Ben would never leave the island.

    So who is in the coffin that would make Jack so emotional and Kate so disgusted. Could it be Juliet? Thats why a small coffin. Kate would be disgusted because of the kiss she layed on Jack and Jack would definately be emotional about her death. And if i remember Juilet did not have any family other than her sister and dead husband who was killed by the others. So no one would come to the funneral. She would not be family to Jack and would she really be a friend if she double crossed them to get off the island?
    My bet is it is Juilet in the coffin. she not part of the six and if one of those died it would bring some press to the funneral.

  23. Paul V says:

    Watched it again last night and the two shots of Jacob, the close-up and the silhouette were definitely Christian Shephard. I hadn’t heard that theory before I realized it, so I’m definitely in that camp.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.