“LA X” was a fitting opener to the final season of “LOST.” It had a reassuring focus on character with a generous topping of mythology. It had moments of strong emotional resonance, and a few gasp-worthy reveals. And it sets the stage for the epic battle between Jacob and the Man In Black that has apparently simmered beneath much of what we’ve been studying for the past several years. Sure, with yet another storytelling “twist,” we have no idea what’s going on… but since when has that been a problem?
Okay. So Jen’s a little nonplussed with the “parallel storyline” structure, and I can see why. On one hand, it’s clever. We get to see both outcomes of the Jughead argument. And the little differences we spot range from amusing hat-tips to a deeper exploration of a person’s fate. On the other, it seems just a little cheap to not commit to one answer… at least this late in the game. It also raises the troubling specter of having to switch between two worlds for several more episodes, when we really want the writers to just pick a path and let the rubber finally, finally hit the road.
And intellectually, I can see many reasons to dismiss or even dislike the universe where Oceanic Flight 815 lands safely in Los Angeles. Through that lens, they’ve thrown out five years of character development and regression. So I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Sure, some of the touches were more fan bait than plot (Frogurt at the taxi stand, Doctor Arzt being annoying), but other moments felt right: Jack and Locke talking at the airport lost and found, with Jack taking interest in Locke’s condition. Jin returning to his darker, meaner self, and Sun already rebelling. Sawyer flirting with Kate, but more tellingly, not interfering with her escape from the airport. Hurley being confident and lucky. And Charlie, once running from death, now almost exhaustedly chasing it. I guess I’m more curious about the “what if” scenario than I thought I was.
Besides. The island is underwater? A development that comes about sometime after New Otherton is built? (A development that, sadly, could’ve used a few more days in the CGI rendering farm?) Just like watching a magic show, independent of everything else, I now simply have to see how they explain that. My guess is that it sank when Ben moved the island, a moment that is at the other end of whatever branching we’re now seeing. But I can’t even begin to explain what I actually mean.
Meanwhile, the new on-island world (universe, storyline, timeline, what have you) so far certainly seems to be custom-built to feed the fans obsessed with the mythology of the show. “I’m sorry you had to see me like that,” says Unlocke, while Richard says, incredulously, “You!” If the Man in Black and the smoke monster are one and the same, we now have a whole new prism through which to reexamine the last five seasons. I only hope things hold up under such scrutiny.
Learning what was in the guitar case so early in the season was a pleasant surprise, and the giant Ankh was certainly an impressive prop, regardless of the fact that a sealed envelope would’ve probably worked just as well.
Finally, we see the temple, and meet a whole new group of characters. It’s a good thing Hiroyuki Sanada is so good at being mysterious, because these original recipe Others (shunning technology and performing rituals) could very well have been too much, too late. Instead, Sanada seemed a perfect disciple and ally of Jacob, and through him, the Others again seemed to be a tribe to be reckoned with. An intimidating air that was reminiscent of the first two seasons, before Kate found the costumes.
What of the temple spring? Apparently it’s supposed to heal, as the Island itself does, though that power went missing as the water turned cloudy. Sayid, instead of being revived, apparently died. But that was likely always Jacob’s plan. I bet that Jacob now has a new agent or vessel in Sayid, given the unfamiliar voice with which Sayid asked, “What happened?”
But with word that Jacob is dead, the Others at the Temple prepare for battle with “him.” Their flare alerts Alpert, who’s sadly pummeled by Unlocke/Man In Black, and I guess the battle is on.
Notes and Notions:
- I guess we had to get “closure” with Juliet, but having to basically see her die twice was wrenching. Josh Holloway, hands down, gave the performance of the evening.
- From beyond the grave, Juliet says, “It worked.” So can she see the other timeline? Is it even, really, another timeline? After all, in Los Angeles, it’s 2004. On the island, it’s 2007 or so. Maybe the writers can somehow connect the two into one single timeline? Does that even make sense?
- The Man in Black’s tribute to the late John Locke was a bittersweet one. He spoke the truth about our sad, defeated friend, and our would-be hero. But perhaps not surprisingly, Terry O’Quinn’s “menacing” look is incredibly effective, and I’ll gladly let John Locke go in favor of seeing what the actor does with a whole new soul.
- The Man in Black wants to get off the island, and go “home.” I guess it’s fair to ask where or what “home” is, but I think the real story is why he (and likely Jacob) are trapped on the island. His reference to Alpert’s chains, meanwhile, hint strongly at the suspected link between Alpert and the Black Rock.
- Hurley can see Jacob, but Jin can’t, though Jacob touched them both. Therefore, Hurley is special, and seeing the dead is simply his thing. Indeed, he seems almost too suddenly fine with it, barely reacting when Jacob tells him he died three hours prior, and talking warmly to the recently deceased Sayid. Miles, too, got to let his freak flag fly, and this time his communion with the dead came with a great deal of dramatic flourish. Sometimes, I can’t believe this is the same show we were watching in Season 1.
- Great lighter moments. Hurley saying he knows how to use a gun, or arguing about trademarking the word “Outback.” Locke telling Boone he’s not pulling his leg, and Boone telling Locke he’d follow him to stay safe on a plane. And, of course, a Sawyer nickname: Earhart.
- Richard said, “Asking me what’s in the shadow of the damn statue doesn’t mean you’re in charge.” He flippantly referred to a line that, up until now, was infused with significance and weight. Kind of like, “Live together, die alone.”
- Fun with pointy things! Jack was again looking for a pen to save someone’s life. And how great is it that a character named Bram dies via a stake through his heart?
- Book: “Fear and Trembling” by Soren Kierkegaard, a retelling of the biblical story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac.
- Locations: The Temple interior is on the Hawaii Film Studio sound stage, but the impressive exterior is in Manoa Valley. The plane interior, and the collapsed hatch tunnel, was also on the studio lot. The Swan site is in the jungles of Heeia Kea in Kaneohe, and the foot of the four toed statue was Makua Beach. LAX is, of course, Honolulu International Airport.
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