BEWARE OF SPOILERS. If you haven’t yet watched the season six premiere of ‘Lost” (which you really should), do not continue. You’ve been warned.
Flashbacks. Check. Flash forwards. That’s right. Time travel. No, I’m not kidding. And just when you thought that Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, the masterminds behind ‘Lost,” had showed you all the tricks up their sleeves, they pulled out this little number on Tuesday night with the beginning of the end, as ‘Lost” began its sixth and final season.
Parallel universe, alternate reality or my particular favorite, ‘flash-sideways.” Whatever you call it, any way you look at it, Cuse and Lindelof have yet again found a new and fascinating way to tell the stories about the characters we have spent the last five years learning to love and hate.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who has felt so satisfied by the last several seasons of this show that I would follow these guys blindly wherever they took me. So, when I saw Jack sitting next to Desmond on flight 815 in the same vicinity as Hurley, the luckiest man in the world, I thought to myself, hell yeah, if you say so. What this new style of story-telling offers us is a peek at the ever-present ‘what if” question of life. The end of season five offered us two very different possibilities: Faraday’s plan works and time reverts back to pre-crash or his plan fails and the Losties remain lost. The writers here managed to tell us both stories, and I’m more than okay with that.
Will this choice pay off? How will the two stories converge at some point, if at all? Are we, the fans, going to be satisfied when the final hour concludes? Only time will tell. But we might as well have fun while we wait, because those two hours of television on Tuesday night were the epitome of fun TV.
After getting over the initial shock of being told two completely separate stories, not to mention several other awe-inducing twists, reveals and frustrating questions, I was able to somewhat grasp the multitude of what this season premiere achieved for the show itself.
‘Lost” began five years ago as what some people consider to be a completely different show. The episodes revolved around the discovery of character backgrounds and the growth of relationships throughout a survival-of-the-fittest atmosphere. Seeing Jack sitting on that plane, surrounded by those same characters, in the season premiere brought all of the character development rushing to the forefront of the plot.
You could immediately recognize the similarities and differences in the characters’ developments between their on-island identities and their flash-sideways personalities. For example, John Locke on the plane is a man stuck in a wheelchair and stuck in a life he hates. John Locke on the island isn’t even John Locke at all. Yet, in one of Terry O’Quinn’s most well played scenes, we are able to see even more of the tragedy of Locke’s death, as he is the only one who had accepted and embraced his life on the island as the one he was meant to live.
That brings us to the ‘Lost” watchword throughout the series: destiny. This season, we are clearly meant to explore the aftermath and repercussions of the actions these characters chose to make. Over and over we heard Locke say how he knew he was meant to crash on the island. Richard Alpert, the timeless eyeliner man, ranted about who were the chosen ones. Even Jack finally came around and said that this was his destiny.
So, does destiny hold the same meaning when these characters aren’t forced to come together to survive on an island? My guess is that just because in one reality they have landed safely at LAX doesn’t mean the paths of these characters won’t cross.
On the flip side of the universe, in a world where these characters have gotten to know each other for over three years, the good has only gotten better. For all the questions we now have, there were several profound answers thrown at us. After five years of wondering what the smoke monster is, we are finally given an answer. When Smokey’s anger rose to boiling point inside of what used to be Jacob’s home, we were given one of the show’s classic can’t-tear-your-eyes-away-terrifying scenes. By the time fake-Locke said to a horror-stricken Ben ‘I’m sorry you had to see me like that,” it was just the icing on top of a deliciously creepy cake.
People say that there are two kinds of ‘Lost” fans, those who watch for the characters and those who watch for mythology. They are wrong, and this episode proves that. Yes, the scene between Locke and Jack in the airport gave me an immense sense of satisfaction. I mean, really, when was the last time we saw these two in a scene together. But I got the same satisfaction and more in finally seeing the island’s elusive temple of healing powers that we have only heard about over the past few seasons. I am equally interested in finding out just how Juliet knew ‘it worked” and finding out if she is in the reality where the island is sitting, silent, at the bottom of the ocean.
Cuse and Lindelof have managed to take ‘Lost” back to its origins as a character drama while enhancing the mythology that the show has become renowned for. So by the time the credits rolled after the second hour ended, I wasn’t thinking about the questions that I had hoped for answers to. I was thinking about all the ways the writers had juggled the cards to play with our heads, in the most fun way possible.
To me, ‘Lost” isn’t just about finding out the answers, it is about how we get there. It’s about seeing Hurley take charge for the first time or waiting patiently for that Richard episode that I can only pray will take place. It’s about shedding those tears when Juliet died or talking to friends during commercials about the last two minutes of the show. While I really do hope that this narrative choice will have the stories come together at some point, I could deal with whatever ending is thrown at us because, really, no matter how the show ends, the experience, week after week, has been so unbelievably good.
Rosenberg is a member of the class of 2012.