“… all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story …” – Haroun and the Sea of Stories
It’s a running joke that LOST is the TV show that keeps its fans perpetually starved and begging for answers. Well, it’s not really a joke … because it’s true. But this is the final season – time for the answers to start creeping out from under their hiding places, time for the story to start rumbling in for a landing.
So, now that we’ve seen the big gala premiere episode, how does it feel? Does it feel like it’s all starting to come together?
Hell, no! The two hour episode wound through multiple realities and story twists, only to end on a resurrected Sayid’s question: “What happened?” Good question! One we’re not getting the answer to anytime soon. Because, seriously, just to show how eternally screwed we all are: We waited eight months to find out what happened when Juliet hit the bomb and we still don’t know for sure whether or not it went off!
We saw that Kate had landed softly in the top of a tree.
And we found out that Juliet was miraculously still alive and squeaking after hugging herself around an H-Bomb while it (maybe) exploded in her face.
But the Island under everyone’s feet was fundamentally undisturbed. Juliet, last seen perpetually falling down into the abyss, was now only a few feet under ground. And she wasn’t buried in Radzinsky’s construction site. She was crushed under the rubble of the Swan Hatch as it had been when Desmond imploded it in 2004.
The Bomb Squad had time jumped, quite conveniently, to 2007, where all their friends were waiting on the beach to synch up storylines with them. But they hadn’t managed to unmake time so that whatever happened didn’t happen. So Jack’s plan didn’t work, right?
Right. Except for the part where it totally did!
And you know what that means, right? It means they went there.
“For every story, there is an anti-story” – Haroun and the Sea of Stories
In addition to still being on Craphole Island circa 2007, Jack and Locke and all their frenemies were also getting a do over on Flight 815, heading into LAX from Sydney Airport on a beautiful sunny September 22, 2004. Having exhausted the paradoxical quandaries of time travel stories, the intrepid writers of LOST have decided to boldly go to pretty much the only place they haven’t been before: Alternate/Parallel/Coexisting Realities. Which means that for all the devotedly bewildered watchers of LOST, the questions that need to be answered … just doubled.
If you’re in this thing for the Answers, you might as well set your DVR and come back in June. But if you’re up for another epic entanglement with a many headed Question Monster, then gird your loins and get ready to do battle. The questions in this story are like Whack a Mole. Hit one down and a new one pops up. Questions like:
How did the Island sink underwater? And when? In 1977, when the bomb did/didn’t go off? Then how did everyone not drown? Are they going to have to go back and find a way to resurrect Atlantis? Or is Season Six going to be the story of how they sunk it?
Is the Dharma Shark happy that he has the whole town to himself now?
Why was Desmond on the plane? And then not on the plane? Was Jack the only one who could see Desmond, the way only Hurley could see Jacob? Since he left someone who was snoring, and since Rose was sleeping the whole time he was there, is he some kind of Dream-Desmond?
What does it mean that Sayid was resurrected from a pool of water that had turned dirty?
What’s up with this Cindy chick? Is she like a permanent Other, or just an opportunistic beeyotch who always finds a way to hook up with the kool kidz?
Was there any particular reason that so much of the story in the alt-world took place inside small public toilets?
Should we be upset that Hurley is wearing the biggest Red Shirt ever made?
What does it mean that he was carrying a big old symbol of eternal life in his guitar case,
… and the first thing the Shogun dude did was break it?
Doesn’t that seem like a bad sign?
And what chains did Richard used to be in?
How did Jacob die from a stab wound, when his God-Twin is impervious to bullets?
And speaking of Jacob, how can it be that Jack never heard about him before this? Doesn’t everybody know Jacob by now?
And did he have a personality transplant? All of a sudden he’s the most mellow fellow on the Island. He even stood by and let them drown Sayid!
This new Zen Jack seems to share a personality in common with the pleasant, friendly Jack we saw on the plane landing at LAX. Is Jack going to be the conduit between these two worlds? And the most shocking question of all: am I going to have to start liking Jack?
Whoa! We are clearly not in Kansas anymore. But, hey, at least we’re out of DharmaTown!
I think the place to start is with some nomenclature. This is not going to be easy. Damon Lindelof has cautioned against regarding this new off island storyline as an “alternate” universe, saying that ” We don’t use the phrase “alternate reality,” because to call one of them an “alternate reality” is to infer that one of them isn’t real, or one of them is real and the other is the alternate to being real.” So in the interest of keeping this whole thing true to his creative vision, I’ve decided to call this off island world OtherLOST. I think that kind of sums it up, without in any way implying that it’s inauthentic or less real.
I’ve also read that Darlton consider this season, in contrast to last season’s “graduate course in physics”, to be instead a “graduate course in the humanities”. I really like that idea. I want to go back to the Season One glory days when discussing this story inevitably revolved around issues that were philosophical and ethical and theological, when no crazy question or wild ass story arc took precedence over learning more about these wonderful characters. And I take them at their word that’s where this is all going. But for now, trying to figure out this first Season Six episode, I find myself going back inevitably, however reluctantly, to good old fashioned Quantum Physics. My (not at all) favorite subject.
There would be no way for anyone outside the box to know if the cat had been killed or not. Therefore, until the cat was observed to be either alive or dead … he was both! Basically, until we observe a specific reality, all possible realities are equally true. And unless I’m mistaken (which is definitely one possible reality) I think that’s where we are headed this season on OtherLOST.
Jack’s plan didn’t work.
And Jack’s plan worked.
At the same time.
Juliet is dead.
And Juliet is alive, looking for someone to split the tab with her at Starbucks.
Desmond was on the plane.
And Desmond wasn’t on the plane.
Jack argued with an Oceanic lackey and his father’s body got put on the plane.
Jack argued with an Oceanic lackey and his father’s body has become lost in time and space.
We should probably all try to be like Gedanken Desmond. As he said to Jack “Nice to meet ya. Or to see you again.”
It seems to me the first place to start understanding OtherLOST is to think of it as a system, one with common elements – our characters. All the possible states they could ever have been in are equally real … until some yet-to-be-made observation causes this fantastic world of infinite possibilities to collapse into one consistent reality. For right now, we’re flickering between two LOSTs. There’s LOST and there’s OtherLOST. It might just be a passing fling, but at the moment, I’m finding OtherLOST a whole lot more seductive. It’s a puzzle, after all, and I’ve never quite figured out how you can be a LOST fan if you don’t appreciate a good puzzle.
OtherLOST intrigues me. It’s the same, but it’s not. It’s not opposite world exactly, even though Charlie switched haircuts with Jack.
Some of the differences are pretty stark. Hurley went from being cursed to being the self described luckiest man alive.
Jack has gone from being a tightwound control freak to being, like, normal. OtherLOST looks good on Jack. He’s boozing less.
It’s him that has fear of flying this time, instead of Rose.
And he has no problem graciously accepting her advice that he should “let go now.” He’s actually … dare I say it … kind of … nice.
Hey there, OtherJack. Pleased to meet ya.
With all due respect to the emotional tone deafness of LOST’s fanboy recappers, the Sawyer we see on the plane is subtly, but unmistakably, a different man. He’s not glowering at anyone. He’s polite, friendly, helpful … especially to Kate.
I think he’s being entirely sincere when he advises Hurley to shut his trap about his lottery loot when he’s in public. So do you think OtherSawyer killed that shrimp guy in Australia? I’m going to guess that answer is an obvious No.
OtherBoone is sans Shannon, and he also isn’t suffering from post-incestuous stress syndrome.
Locke appears unchanged.
Still crippled, still sad. But he seems melancholy more than miserable. And he’s somehow more peacefully philosophical, more secure in himself, less bitter.
He still likes to examine diagrams and charts.
And he claims to have gone on an actual Walkabout this time. That seems unlikely, even in OtherLOST, but when he describes what he did in the outback – “We slept under the stars and made our own fires, hunted our own food.” – it kind of does sound like what they just spent the last five years doing on the Island.
Sayid is still gazing at Nadia’s photo, but he has an Iranian passport now. So what does that mean? Did he defect from the Revolutionary Guard? Is he a traitor now? Is he looking at the woman he lost or the woman who’s going to pick him up at the airport?
Kate is still a murderer, and she’s on the run, which feels the same … except that in OtherLOST, she’s no longer interested in the Halliburton case.
What happened? Did she and OtherTom never bury the plane? Or did they just never dig it up?
Charlie is still a junkie in OtherLOST.
This time he tried to swallow his drugs for safekeeping, rather than pour them down the toilet. Jack came to his rescue, but for some reason he bypassed the more obvious Heimlich maneuver and went for the surgical method of heroin baggie removal. Maybe there are no first aid posters in OtherLOST.
OtherCharlie was saved, but as he resentfully reminded OtherJack: “I was supposed to die.”
It seems that some things don’t change, whatever reality we find ourselves in.
Jack didn’t seem to remember how he got that sore on his neck. And we were wondering along with him, because we don’t know either. Although it did look a bit like the wound that Faraday got when he was nicked by a bullet in The Variable. Did it mean anything that Jack only saw the sore in the mirror? Maybe, it’s both there and not there. It’s a Schrodinger’s sore.
Maybe the mirror itself was the clue. Maybe this time they’ve all passed through a different kind of looking glass. But OtherLOST isn’t a place of symmetric reversals. Many things were changed, but many weren’t.
Unless she’s also still a liar, OtherSun can’t speak English. So, no Jae in her past. And no dreams of her own either. Poor OtherSun. Whipped, in any dimension.
OtherFlight 815 still went off course and flew over the latitude and longitude of the now sunken Island. That didn’t change.
The causal chains that brought each of the OtherLosties onto Flight815 were all different, some a lot different, some only a little. But somehow they all ended up again in Sydney, Australia looking to get on a flight to LA. Cause and effect had conspired to get them all into exactly the same place. Well, not all of them. Most of them. I’m not sure Claire was there. Or Michael or Walt or some others. But then again, maybe they were. Since we didn’t observe them, their superpositions haven’t yet collapsed into any concrete reality. See? That’s how this is going to work. Maybe.
What changed to make the characters so different? And what stayed the same? Was it a kind of butterfly effect, where one change set off an unpredictable new chain of cause and effect? Or are we also dealing with a Many Worlds fantasy now? Is this kind of like how the location of a rainbow changes depending on the location of the person who is observing the rainbow?
Or maybe we can go back to Schrodinger’s poor kitty for a minute. Instead of the cat being both alive and dead until observed, let’s imagine that at some point the cat dies … and at that same point, it also lives! Whenever a choice is made, the world branches out into two things – the thing that happened, and the thing that could have happened, but didn’t. Only now it does. Whatever happened, happened. And whatever didn’t happen … also happened!
And this goes on and on into infinity, so that the universe is made up of infinitely decohering realities. It’s mind blowing, and it has absolutely no practical application to life as we live it, but it’s a great way to take your imagination out for a ride.
When Desmond sits down next to Jack on the plane, he is carrying a book. I hope every LOST fan knows by now that you have to rewind the DVR whenever a book shows up, because trust me, you’re expected to know these things. The book is Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
Haroun lost his temper and shouted: ‘What’s the point of it? What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?
The story begins in a city “so ruinously sad it had forgotten its name”, a city that finds its name and is saved by a wonderful thing – the power of imagination, and of stories. Salman Rushdie lists as his inspirations two literary influences that we are very familiar with on LOST – Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. But he also lists a third, The Arabian Nights, which is a book we’ve never really seen referenced on LOST before. Until now.
That is – if you want to compare this years bunch of random mooks to Arabians. Whatever we call them, we have met the Season Six Tailies/Others/FreighterFolk/Dharma-ites. It’s like the props department wanted to use up all their spare parts, so they dumped everything into the multicultural mixmaster, and came up with something that had a kind of Apocalypse Now meets the Planet of the Apes feel to it.
I don’t know how to describe these people. It was kind of like John Lennon was translating for Shang Tsung at Indiana Jones’s Temple of Doom while the Mad Max children from Tomorrowland served cookies for everyone.
I’ve got to admit, I was underwhelmed by this season’s choice of Others. But they obviously went to a lot of trouble to build that wicked looking temple thingie, and there’s got to be something about all this that will mean something to us at some point. So I’ll give it a shot. This heretofore unseen gigantic palace in the middle of the Island had obviously been built above the place where we had seen the Smoke Monster drag Rousseau’s crew underground. In the bowels of the temple, Kate and Hurley find a copy of Kierkegaards “Fear and Trembling”, and you know what that means. Book Alert!
This is a book about Faith, which uses the Biblical story of Abraham obeying God by murdering his son to illustrate the many difficulties that arise when a man resolves to have Faith in that which is Absurd. Certainly as LOST fans we can identify with that. And in the great LOST tradition of bastardizing all the faiths of the world and using them as chum for the story, this Angkor Wat knockoff had within it what looked like a Jewish mikveh – a ritual bath of purification. Now where else other than LOST can you find two things like that in the same place?
Sayid figured his soul wasn’t headed to a good place, and it turns out he was right. He was taken in for his baptism and they didn’t take him out until the bubbles stopped coming up. Apparently they had to kill him in order to save him.
But why? Weren’t these guys Friends of Jacob and hadn’t Jacob ordered them to save Sayid? When they heard that Jacob was dead, they all ran out like the volunteer fire department to lay a ring of ash around their fortress, and to fire off a rocket to …
It seems like this quasi-ancient society coexists in time with 2007 where Richard is on the beach, waiting for NotJohnLocke to come out of The Big Foot.
And even though Jacob had been living inside the Foot, the guys in the temple seemed like they were his amigos. NotJohnLocke, as we know, had just found the loophole he needed to kill his God-Twin, Jacob. After which we found out, by watching his ruthless slaughter of Ilana’s men, that the being who inhabits NotJohnLocke is also the force that we have come to know and love all these years as The Smoke Monster.
“I’m sorry you had to see me that way”
I know this was meant to be a huge revelation, but somehow I felt like we already knew that the Smoke Monster was the being who was inhabiting Locke. What we didn’t know was that the Monster doesn’t consider himself a monster at all. He may look like a coldhearted, deadeyed bastard, but all he’s trying to do is the same thing we watched Jack Shephard try to do for the first three seasons. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, he just wants to go home.
Where is his home? Is it off the Island? Is it inside the Temple where he used to drag his prey, but where he’s now kept out by a ring of ash? A ring of ash that apparently wasn’t needed until Jacob died and the Temple lost his protection? And didn’t we just see him in that Temple very recently, when he appeared to Ben as Alex and told him to obey NotJohnLocke, i.e. himself? Oy, the labyrinth of questions never ends.
Whoever he is, whatever he is, he’s the nemesis of Jacob. The black to his white. The Lucifer to his Michael. The Twin. The Other. And whatever else we know about this Battle of the Titans that’s going on just beyond the wall of our understanding, I think we can all see that these two are the Gods of the Island. If there was ever any doubt, consider this: They know everything. Jacob knew that a time traveling Jin had been with Rousseau’s crew as they were being dragged by the Smoke Monster into his lair. Where did Jacob come by that knowledge?
And his Bad Twin went him one better: He had been inside John Locke’s very mind the night he was murdered and had felt his fear and heard his dying thought.
And there are players. In last year’s finale, we saw how Jacob went about the process of choosing his playing pieces. He chose Ilana, Jack and Locke, Sawyer and Kate, Sun and Jin, Sayid and Hurley.
I don’t know if you missed it in this episode but Juliet died. For quite some time. The Interminable Dying of St. Juliet, lasted – if you include the hiatus and all the excruciating commercials – about eight freaking months. And in the course of it, magically, her motivation shifted 180 degrees. Instead of hitting the bomb so she could never have to meet and lose her precious James, she now claimed to have only wanted to let him go home … which, I hate to tell you, could have been accomplished a whole lot more efficiently, if she’d just stayed on the damn submarine! Argh, I hate when LOST slips and insults us like that.
The medical genius who went toe to toe with Ben Linus was reduced to the adoring helpmate of James LaFleur and then sent for a little spin through a meat grinder. The fact that so many online fans keep having multiple orgasms over this sexist storyline makes me sad.
But hey, I’m not going to let a little misogyny get between me and my favorite storytellers. I just really felt it needed to be said. And besides, all is not yet lost. There are still a few women left alive around here.
Season Six Kate is showing some definite signs of returning to her longlost badassery. It will probably take awhile to wring all the Kate Hate out of this fandom, but I like that it looks like she’s finally getting her mojo back.
It was so great to see Kate back to Season One form. She was wild and brave and tough – at least OtherKate was. And on the Island, Kate seemed to be back on the side of Sawyer, which just always feels more natural.
The scene where she tenderly helped a wounded Sawyer reminded me instantly of the way she had nursed him in Collision when he was near death.
Sayid and his feet of fury will always be of invaluable assistance to Jack.
LOL. I really like this OtherKate.
Sawyer had Kate’s back in the elevator, instinctively helping her to get free. But why did Sawyer help her? I don’t know, but I have a feeling this might be one of the more effervescent mystery bubbles in OtherLOST. Was it just me or was that look he gave her on the plane something other than flirtation? Was it maybe … recognition?
Jack’s attempt to revive Sayid mirrored his desperate Season One attempt to revive Charlie … except that this time he failed.
The Marshall got his noggin conked, which seems to be his interdimensional destiny.
Both times Jack landed at LAX, he didn’t have his father’s body to bury.
And of course, we got to see the true “ultimate relationship” of LOST begin to unfold before our eyes in OtherLOST.
At the end of the episode, they met up unexpectedly in a place that made perfect sense – Lost Luggage Claims. Nothing in the entire episode was more striking than this encounter. The Island adversaries bonded in a scene that twinkled with many facets of irony.
Jack offered his services as a spinal surgeon to try and fix John’s disability. OtherLocke is still “irreparably broken.”
John was gentle and helpful to the distressed Jack, and reminded him of something that’s very important in this story. Jack hadn’t lost his father, only his father’s body.
It’s something we need to keep in mind as we continue this beguiling journey. It’s not the surface that matters, not the things we can see.
Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.– The Little Prince
The soul is not bound to the carcass it inhabits. As John Locke’s story has shown us, the body itself is only a vessel. OtherJohn had lost his knives, the body that carried the soul of his manhood. But in our Island tale, a knife was the instrument of NotJohnLocke’s vengeful spirit. Which will it be in the end of our story, when it finally winds down to the ending that must come?
I don’t jump to the conclusion, like many have, that NotJohnLocke is evil and Jacob is good. I don’t know if the Island is even meant to be seen as a place that is either evil or good. Despite the constant references to black and white contrasts, I’m not settled on the idea that Western style bi-polar morality is where this story is eventually headed.
Obviously, I’ve got high hopes for this season. I’m willing to look past some of the glitches and kitschy misteps, at least for now, as long as I still get the sense that the story is reaching for the stars. I’m not sure John Locke’s dying thought was all that sad: “I don’t understand.” Well, who does? Certainly noone who is currently watching LOST. But that’s ok. If we understood it all right now, what fun would that be?
I’m strapped in for the season. Looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.