Feb 4 2010 3:45pm

Lost Round Table: “LA X Pt. 1 and 2”

Theories and spoilers ahoy! Bloggers Theresa DeLucci, Rajan Khanna, and Bridget McGovern dissect the sixth season, two-hour premiere of Lost, television’s most confusing show, in a weekly round-table. Join in with your own thoughts and predictions and be sure to check out some fun Lost-related links.

Theresa:  First things first. I’m ridiculously excited for the final season of Lost. A story’s ending is just as important as its beginning and I’m hoping against hope that the last ten minutes of Lost’s series finale doesn’t ruin the whole series for me. (Hello, Galactica.) Lost is still mega-popular, but it’s definitely not as MEGA-mega popular as it was back in 2004. The twisty, turny, suspenseful, and at times completely muddled and frustrating turn of events has led to the loss of people both on the Island and off. I know a lot of former fans who dropped the show over the years after one too many questions went unanswered for too long, or the plot moved too slowly. (Hello, season 3.) But a lot of the dissatisfied viewers also admit they’ll give the show another shot once it’s all done and the last season is up on Netflix. So, as the series comes to a close, I’ll be pondering whether or not I can tell my friends sincerely that Lost, as a whole story, is a great one.

I’ve trudged through the frustrating, going-nowhere story arcs. The other Others, the infertile women, the bear cages, and even a whole damn episode devoted to Jack’s ugly tattoo. If Bai Ling’s performance in that episode couldn’t scare me away from this show, nothing will. I’m here til the bitter end.

That said, this episode was... something of a mixed bag for me.

So, the bomb Juliet set off in her weirdly creepy moment of defeat last season (if she can’t have Sawyer, then it’s better he never comes to the Island at all) succeeded in creating a timeline where Oceanic 815 lands safely in Los Angeles. Is this really what would’ve happened if 815 never crashed or are the castaways slightly... off somehow? I enjoyed the plane scenes, though I kinda had to laugh at how these were the chattiest passengers ever. It was awesome to see Arzt again, but if I was Hurley, I would’ve put on my headphones and feigned sleep. Speaking of Hurley—in this universe he’s got good luck instead of bad? And why was Desmond on the plane while Shannon, Michael, and Walt were not? Charlie still dies, albeit for a minute? Why was Rose telling Jack to relax during the turbulence instead of the other way around, when we saw this scene in the pilot? Where’s Jack’s dad’s coffin? Why is the Island rendered in bad CGI and completely submerged underwater? Lost seems very cinematic to me, but any time special effects are involved, I’m reminded that this is, in fact, a network TV show with budget and time limitations.

And back on the Island, everyone is still alive for the time being and it seems the bomb only knocked Sawyer, Kate, etc. back into the present. I think? So we’re following not two timelines so much as two realities. I have to give credit where it’s due, and the Lost creators sure know how to reinvent their storytelling technique. I’ll always miss the flashbacks that made me fall in love with the show, because those episodes were so character-centric. The last two season’s, Lost has been more plot-driven. This was especially true in the fifth season. Even re-watching it didn’t make me like all of the Locke/not-Locke time-skipping stuff. But I think showing us two different versions of the characters can be the best of both worlds. No pun intended. What was fate, what can be changed?

For example, I think it is fate that Kate remains easily the most boring, annoying character on this show. Everything about her rubs me the wrong way. If any of the Lost creators were female, I’d call Kate a Mary Sue. I don’t know. Maybe it still applies.

Was anyone else expecting Locke to walk off the plane at the end of the first hour? I was hoping for some last-minute weirdness there. But we’ll see what happens when Locke goes in for his free consult with Jack. I miss old Locke. This new Locke avatar for Silas-from-Deadwood is just kind of scary. And that’s without him being the smoke monster, too. And somewhere around the second hour is when I started to feel overwhelmed by questions. Now we have more new people. Or old people, if you count the Tailies, Cindy the Stewardess and the two little kids. But I will at least give the Temple people a chance because the bad-tempered Japanese guy is Hiroyuki Sanada, a fantastic character actor from Sunshine and The Twilight Samurai. And his lieutenant is yet another actor from Deadwood. If Ian McShane isn’t on this show by the finale, I will be pissed. But I’m a little annoyed that I have to learn about new mysterious people at this late date, no matter how happy I am that they magically brought Sayid back to life.

So after the premiere, I don’t feel like I know anything more than I did during the hiatus. But theories are already starting to form. Is Sayid really Sayid, or is he a vessel for Jacob? It’d be really interesting to see Sayid with more of a storyline this season, separate from his ability to kill men with household appliances. Will we finally learn more about Richard Alpert? After not-Locke’s comment about chains, could Richard have been one of the slaves brought over on the Black Rock? I have no clue. But I’m glad Lost is back because without it, I’d have no TV show to speculate and/or bitch about this season. It feels good to be back on the Island.

Raj: First thing I have to say is, what a dirty fucking trick. Here I am, excited, surprised and happy that Juliet is still alive under all that debris. I thought we lost her to the underwhelming V, and yet there’s her voice, and there’s her beaten and bloody body. And there’s her...dead body? WTF, Lost? What was the purpose of bringing her back just so we could watch her die again?

Weak sauce.

I have to say, though, that I like vengeful, brooding Sawyer (or James, as I now like to call him). I kinda wished that he had gone after Jack, but only because I find Jack almost as annoying as Kate. Except for alternate timeline Jack. Him, I like. Not nearly as whiny or self-pitying or righteously angry.

So, it seems like, as Theresa said, we’re now in two alternate realities as opposed to two time periods. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first. Seeing them on the plane in the first episode and not crashing made me feel a little weird. Like those dreams I have where I am in a different universe. But what I found ultimately interesting was how some people were better off landing in LAX, and others not so much.

My theory, at this early stage, is that the two realities will cross over at some point. Or interact in some way. Otherwise I don’t see the point in continuing to watch it play out. The island must still exist in the alternate timeline. Jacob is still out there, I would presume. So that’s my theory for the time being. Until I see something that contradicts it.

But as to that point, how did Juliet know that it worked? Could she somehow “see” into that other reality? Maybe being at the source of the blast she ended up existing in both realities at the same time. Is this me just wishing somehow that she’ll still be alive in some reality at some point?

Other guesses—I think that Richard was indeed on the Black Rock and that’s what we saw coming into the island when Jacob and the Adversary were talking on the beach. Which would make Richard really old, which we knew he was. Was that spring the mythical Fountain of Life? If the island did indeed move around that could play into the myths of the European colonial period. Maybe that’s what the Black Rock was looking for?

I agree about new characters at this point, especially after those from last season still haven’t settled (though I was glad to see that large oafish one go). But I really liked the Japanese guy and I got a huge kick out of seeing Sol from Deadwood all tricked out like Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now, minus the cameras. Actually, how many Deadwood alums does that make that have appeared on the show? Sol, Silas, Trixie, Farnum, Calamity Jane, Joanie I missing anyone?

I’m wondering what’s up with Jack’s Dad on Earth-2 as well. I guess we can assume the Adversary used Christian on Earth-1 since he seemed to only use dead bodies. But is there any way he could have gotten hold of the body? Was it just coincidence?

I was sad for Locke dying as a failure. I actually believed that he had a destiny, and I didn’t think it was to become the face of an evil (as far as we know) bastard.

Really, the weakest part of the opener for me, apart from the CGI which was pretty lackluster, was Sayid coming back. I mean was there any doubt? Especially the way they just kept the body laying there? Worse fake suspense ever.

I’m excited for the season, though. The end of last season had me worrying, but I think they seem to be on an interesting track and getting back to more interesting things, like the Temple and explaining the healing properties and how Ben was healed as a kid. By the way, I just caught that - Sayid shot Ben and he was healed in the Temple, presumably in the same spring. Then in the end Sayid, also shot, by Ben’s dad, is healed the same way. Or is he? I also thought that maybe he became a conduit for Jacob in the way that Locke did for the Adversary. It would explain why Jacob told Hurley what he did. And why Sayid apparently died.

I’m looking forward to next week, hopefully with a lot less Kate.

Bridget: I have to say, I feel like I spent this episode bracing for a revelation that never quite came. With only 18 hours of the series remaining, I guess I’m expecting the writers to start tossing crazy twists and turns at us like a deranged pitching machine, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I mean, I had zero expectation that Juliet would survive her fall down the murderous shrapnel-hole any more than I thought Sayid would really be killed off, and I have to agree with Raj that the melodramatic fake-outs on both accounts seemed more than a little forced. At the same, I trust these writers, and I’m intrigued by the new narrative style, even if it potentially raises more questions than it answers at first.

More than anything, I enjoyed how much the premiere intentionally mirrored the first season in various ways. For example, Charlie almost chokes to death and claims he was “supposed to die” in the LAX world, while on the Island, Jack’s desperate attempts to resuscitate Sayid (and a tearful Kate’s attempts to stop him—man, she cries a lot) seemed to reenact the moments following Charlie’s hanging. The episode was filled with these kinds of subtle echoes, inspiring a sense that we are coming full circle, albeit by the strangest route possible (but we all know that’s what makes it fun…).

Despite the failure to deliver any truly mind-blowing epiphanies, I thought the episode was solid, and it felt satisfying after the long hiatus. Yeah, the CGI was goofy, and the Temple-based Others looked like a bunch of hippie/pirate rejects from some kind of nautical-themed Burning Man, but everything relating to Jacob and the Adversary is completely fascinating to me (what’s the deal with the ash?! And why is he “disappointed” in Jacob’s followers?! And why is pool all murky?! And will we get to see Richard Alpert in chains—because that could get kind of hot, right?! Or not. Anyway…). I actually hated to see Sawyer devolve so quickly from the relatively reasonable Mr. Juliet back into Snarly McMurderface, but on the other hand, it was a fantastic change of pace to see Hurley man up and take charge for a change. At this point, I just can’t wait to see where it goes from here, but in the meantime, here’s a bunch of illuminating/entertaining/random Lost-related links we thought you might enjoy while counting down to next week:

An intriguing interview with Cuse & Lindelof on the Jimmy Kimmel Show

An Entertainment Weekly interview with Cuse and Lindelof

A side-by-side comparison of the crash/not-crash of Oceanic 815

A helpful Lost timeline, courtesy of the NY Times

An immensely entertaining Lost Choose Your Own Adventure Game (Gawker)

SCI FI Wire’s hilarious Lost Bingo Cards

The obligatory Funny Or Die Lost parody

A touching salute to Dharma Beer

Theresa DeLucci is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop. When not hunkering down to write fiction this fall, she is looking forward to watching House, Dexter, and Stargate: Universe. She will also give HBO’s Bored to Death a look despite her extreme prejudice against Brooklyn hipsters.

Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and his fiction has appeared in Shimmer Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn with his two cats, Chloe and Muppet.

Bridget McGovern is a lit nerd, a film geek, and a complete pop culture junkie. She enjoys David Bowie, roller coasters, and Geronimo Jackson more than anyone probably should.

1. Alfvaen
I didn't have nearly as many problems with the submerged island as I did with the smoke-monster combat scene. It really looked quite fake.

My loony theory is that the Earth-2 plane people might be the "good twins" of the Earth-1 people. Or at least the mirror twins. Was Locke lying about the walkabout, or did he actually get to go on it on Earth-2? Is Sun happier in her marriage, or did she just chicken out on her chance at Customs to run off on Jin and possibly turn him over to the police? Was Claire pregnant? I didn't get a good look. And did Rose still have cancer or not? And was Desmond really physically there or not?

I'd always presumed that smoke-monster was responsible for all the weird sightings on the island (Christian, Locke's dad, maybe even that horse back in Season 1), but after Hurley seeing Jacob, now I wonder who or what Hurley's imaginary buddy from the sanitarium really was.

I'm also not sure about Juliet, but from what she communicated to Miles, she might aware of Earth-2. And if her Earth-2 self is aware of her, or shares her memories, then she might be able to talk to the Earth-2 people.
Megan Messinger
2. thumbelinablues
Also, everyone should watch the guys from the Reduced Shakespeare Troupe have a crack at Lost.
Jonah Feldman
3. relogical
Where did everybody get this idea that Sayid came back possessed by Jacob? It's not like the Man In Black even possessed Locke, he just disguised himself as him, not actually using Locke's body. There is no evidence that Jacob or his enemy are even capable of possessing someone's body.

One other question, now that we know the Temple denizens fear the Monster. Wasn't the Monster underneath the Temple just a few episodes ago when it judged Ben? How can they stop it from getting in if it lives right underneath them?
Theresa DeLucci
4. theresa_delucci
Firstly, Raj, you're SOL on next week's episode. It's called "What Kate Does." (Like the way Lost mirrors titles, i.e. the early season episode called "What Kate Did.") Sayid coming back to life wasn't dramatic at all, but I'm just happy he lives to kick ass in a tank top for another day. I only thought Jacob was "possessing" Sayid because Jacob seemed very urgent about it when he was giving Hurley instructions. The Adversary (can't we call him Silas til he gets a real name?) has Locke, Jacob has Sayid. Maybe. The poor Iraqi only just woke up.

Bridget: I approve of your pervy Richard fantasy.

I need a refresher course on Island geography. I'm not sure where this other temple's been hiding all these years. I thought Richard, Ben, and not-Locke were at the temple already. Are there two? One by the statue, one in the jungle?

Yeah, the smoke monster looks weak to me, too. Ever since Eko faced off with it. Where were Eko and Ana-Lucia, btw? (I don't care how many people hate Michelle Rodriguez. I love her.) I'm really looking forward to seeing if people become aware of their other selves. You can tell Jack was unsettled in the opening scenes, the scratch, seeing Desmond, etc. What's weird, relatively, is Juliet telling Sawyer they can go out for coffee. It's like once she was dying, she could see that other world. But that would still place her on the Island in 2004 anyway, right? So she wouldn't have met Sawyer at all, anywhere.

I is confoosed.
5. Alfvaen

It was more that I was not convinced that the smoke monster was flinging things around--it looked like it was waving its smoky tentacles and meanwhile, coincidentally in places where the camera angle made it look like they were near the tentacles, people were doing stunts and then pretending to be dead.

Yeah, I thought Michelle Rodriguez did a good job with her tiny role in Avatar, too. Was Libby in the episode? If so, I missed her.

Juliet still wouldn't be on the island if it got submerged in Dharma time, because young Ben woulda got drowned or nuked and in general there would be no Others to have problems giving birth. So maybe she happens to be passing through LAX for some other reason...?
dave t
6. dave_t
"But as to that point, how did Juliet know that it worked?"

I think there was more than one way the bomb could "work" for Juliet -- they didn't necessarily need to reset back to Oceanic 815 for the outcome to be a successful one. As it is, the "on the island" group has gotten back to the present, and that result may ultimately prove more successful than the full reset.

More on this here so that I don't fill a page with comments.
Bridget McGovern
7. BMcGovern
Theresa: I'm glad we're on the same page with Richard. Go, Team Eyeliner...also, Richard, Ben, Smoky-Locke and company were in the base of the statue, where Jacob used to hang out and weave. The Temple is further in on the Island.

@relogical You make a good point on the anti-possession front; I'm actually more intrigued by the "risks" the Temple-dwellers warn Jack about before throwing Sayid in the dunk tank. This seems to echo Richard's attitude when he agreed to save Little Ben by taking him to the Temple: ''He'll forget this ever happened, and his innocence will be gone.'' I wonder what the consequences of the healing will be, and why Sayid's survival was so important to Jacob.

As for keeping the Smoke Monster out of the Temple, I have no idea. It seems like all they've got going for them is a big of circle of ash, and that didn't exactly work out so well for the last guy who tried it...

@Alfvaen (#5) I totally agree about the Smoke Monster, although I have to admit to secretly liking how cheesy and ridiculous it is while still being an effective antagonist--maybe because it reminds me of Rover the Diabolical Weather Balloon from the original version of The Prisoner. More importantly, I'm not sure how we should read the fact that the Island is submerged. It certainly doesn't look like a hydrogen bomb went off there, at least to me--New Otherton is still standing, the swing set survived, The Foot is still intact. If an H-bomb has the power to sink the entire Island, wouldn't it blow all that stuff to holy hell? So I don't buy Young Ben getting nuked or drowned just yet...

Also, anybody want to speculate about the blood on Jack's neck in the plane bathroom? I keep wanting to connect that to something meaningful and coming up blank...
Dave Thompson
8. DKT
"I'm sorry you had to see me like that" = a great line. And a pretty good lead/set-up as to what the smoke monster is. I mean, maybe it can't be counted as a true answer, but we know without a doubt now that he's Jacob nemesis.

I have to admit, I'm impressed with the writers audacity. I love the way they mirrored things in the sideways world from season 1. Boone saying to Locke, "If this thing goes down, I'm sticking with you." Oh, Boone! You don't know what you're saying! And the differences were very intriguing.

I thought the Sayid reveal was a bit lackluster, and wasn't thrilled about the new Temple people, but I was happy Sayid has survived and was really happy to see Cindy and the kids again. Makes me hope they'll finish that thread somehow. Makes me hope they'll pull this whole thing off somehow.
Rajan Khanna
9. rajanyk
Ooh, good call Bridget about the blood on Jack's neck. I think it had to be significant since he looked so surprised. But what that significance was, I have no idea. I can't remember when that was. Was it just before Kate bumped into him and stole his pen?

By the way, I loved the appearances by Arzt and Frogurt. I thought those were nice little touches. And yes, glad to see Cindy and the kids again.

As to the Jacob thing mentioned upstream - yeah, I agree that we haven't seen Jacob manifest in dead bodies. It was just that Sayid was "dead" for quite a long time. And Jacob was rather insistent. I mean his spirit was still wandering around after his death. And the water didn't seem to be working.

As for the monster, I got the impression that somehow Jacob held it in check. That when they knew he was dead is when they freaked out and thought it might come for them. My current theory is that Jacob and Silas (there, Theresa) held each other in check and neither could act against each other directly, which is why Ben had to be the pawn. But with Jacob gone, Silas could act as he wanted.

And more Kate? Really? She got so much of this episode. Why are the writers so in love with her? I can't think of one Lost fan I know who really likes her.
10. MKUhlig
I hadn't watched the show since season 2, but read quite a few synopses to catch up for this season.

So I have a question - why is everyone so sure that Jacob is good and his adversary is evil? From what I can tell, the "followers" of Jacob seem to indulge in a lot of murder, kidnapping and mayhem. What exactly can be traced to the adversary that is worse? Obviously, the smoke monster has killed some people, but is that the extent of the argument? Is that considered to be behavior more evil than the Jacob side?
Theresa DeLucci
11. theresa_delucci

I agree with you. We know absolutely nothing about Silas. The smoke monster is scary, but bad? Not quite. It seems to judge people, like it did with Ben and like it did with Mr. Eko. (Who I really, really miss.) And we don't know anything about the redshirts that got killed in this episode, but they were definitely doing something they were told not to do, for exact reasons that we don't quite know yet.

Just because the Man in Black wore black, doesn't mean he's evil. However, from their conversation on the beach, Jacob seemed more optimistic about the inherent good in people than Silas did. So that could be saying something, too.

Can't wait for a Richard-centric episode. I bet that will clear some things up.
12. moniker
I enjoyed your synopses and agree with many of your criticisms. But for me, the early scenes between Sawyer and Juliet are WAY more cheesy then any of the special effects. I found the plane and LAX scenes captivating. Looking forward to seeing how all that unfolds (Kate included).

In the original timeline, Jack and Desmond met each other while running sometime before the flight. That would explain why he seemed familiar to Jack... unless the whole nuke thing changed all that.

@10 MKUhlig. Watch the opening scene from last season's finale. I think it's not difficult to come away with a more favorable impression of Jacob than... I've been calling him Esau. At one point in the book of Genesis, Esau does vow to kill his fraternal twin brother... Jacob.
13. moniker
To take the Esau thing a little further (sorry). There was also disagreement between Esau and Jacob over their father's inheritance. Esau is described as the more aggressive of the two. Jacob as more of the schemer... By some accounts it's said that Jacob tricked Esau out of his inheritance. Anyway... food for thought.
Dave Thompson
15. DKT
And, not that this means anything, but in the Bible after wrestling with an angel, Jacob is renamed Israel by God.
16. rogerothornhill
15-30 minutes in, I thought: Schroedinger's cat, only more about ethics. None of my FB Friends got that (although one of them did know Taweret, God bless him), but this here is one place where I assume that the people are hip to that jive. The question is: what constitutes opening the box? That said, the plane reality felt less real to me, like psychomachy.

At this point, I would frankly be disappointed if the underlying mythology was Judaic rather than Egyptian, given the buildup. ABC revealed in its recap for the S5 finale that the statue was Taweret, and I'm still waiting for the payoff on that. Actually the Welliver/Pelligrino conversations remind me most of a conversation between Malcolm McDowell and Madchen Amick on an episode of the Sonnenfeld reboot of Fantasy Island re: the corruption/redemption of the Blues Clues guy--but yeah I get that that may be just me.

Nevertheless, TDL, brace yourself for a BSG-like finale. I'm guessing the Jacob/Adversary bet is about the perfectability of the human spirit. Be the appropriate analogy Hindu reincarnation, Hammett's Flitcraft, or Scorsese's Casino, I think the bet here is about whether human beings can improve given a second chance.
17. GregLamont
My favorite line from the whole episode was when Locke told Boone "I wouldn't ever pull your leg"... come on... classic
David Spiller
18. scifidavid
What's with all the Kate hate? Sun is much more of a whinny sourpuss. Other than Sawyer, Locke, and Ben, and maybe Jin, Kate is my favorite character on the show. Plus, she is so gorgeous!
19. rogerothornhill
Honestly, I don't really hate any of the characters, just some of the lesser screenwriters who attempt to write them. Does that make me a mindless consumer of broadcast television?

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