Previously on Lost… did the hair stand up on the back of your neck when you heard those words last night? The anticipation is over and it is all done but the pontificating, so let’s get on with that, shall we? This is the recap / observations / theories for Lost 4.01 – “Beginning of the End.” Massive spoilers if you haven’t seen it.
The opening grows more and more symbolic as Lost season 4 moves on, believe me. As a standalone, though, I thought it was probably the worst part of the episode. My reasoning is a little selfish though. I love the disorienting “where the hell am I” atmosphere of the Lost season 2 and Season 3 premieres. Still, the explosion of fruit against a façade of island background, breaking into a pulse pounding car chase is emblematic of the approach Lost will take not only with this episode, but ones yet to air. Lost Season 4 isn’t going to be messing around.
I won’t sugar coat it, Lost “Beginning of the End” was a clean up episode. There were several factors that could have, under the stalling mentality of seasons 2 and 3, resulted in dragged out mini-arcs. The separation of the characters, getting the new people to the island, the download of Charlie’s death, if this were season 2 or 3 we’d spend several episodes dealing with this stuff while setting up a few fringe themes and one major season long one. For Lost to get on with its “Deadline 48” mentality of closing the story, it had to get on a track of constant plot advancement.
That said, the fact that they were able to do an above par job with each of these issues while still managing to wink at what may be the long arc for Season 4. The toughest part of that balancing act undoubtedly rested on conveying the emotional weight of Charlie’s death in step with everything else without trivializing it. The way Charlie’s death coalesced with everything else was quite simply Lost writing at its finest. Rather then choose a pivotal ‘moment’ and hope it comes off right, Charlie’s influence exists in every nook and cranny of the episode and ultimately becomes the catalyst for dividing the camp between Locke and Jack.
Charlie appearing in a flash forward was naturally very interesting. His persistent message of ‘they need you’ juxtaposed against the appearance of not just one but two creepy personages in Jacob’s cabin seems, from my perspective at least, to establish what season 4 will be about. If Lost season one was about the survivors, two Dharma, three the others, it is certainly time to reveal what the disembodied voices and apparitions are all about. If you think about it, there wasn’t much difference between the revelation of Jacob as a phase shifting ghost and the seemingly physical appearance of Christian Shepherd in season one.
One of the major mysteries has been the apparent physical nature of the apparitions on the island. Jack touched Christian, Dave seemed to have physical properties, Yemi as well, and while we assumed the black smoke monster was somehow at play, it was actually seeing Jacob go from loud and clear disembodied voice to temporary physical form that brought the subject of the island’s “ghosts” to a new level of discussion. A discussion, I think, we may not be having enough.
Bottom Line: Nobody wraps it up like Lindelof and Cuse, and boy can Jorge Garcia ACT!
Random Observation: Cabin in the woods, classic ‘boo’ scares, is someone in the Lost writing room wearing their horror geek heart on their sleeve?