Hey y’all, and welcome to season 5 of Lost! A big thanks to DocArzt for inviting me to post on his excellent site. I’m sure the last couple of days have been a squeefest at your house as well as mine, and last night did not disappoint. I’ve been fielding the lively discussion that followed my episode guide post to last night’s two episodes over on my blog, and my readers are as perceptive as ever (thanks to them for helping me shape this column with some of their comments!).
And what a way to start the season! Lies, reunions, the return of characters we thought we’d never see again… and wicked ninja moves in a safehouse. (Seriously… forget ADT. Just have lots of chef’s knives sticking up in the dishwasher and keep it open. Of course, it might not be the best idea if you have a toddler and a preschooler. Hm… I need to call ADT back and reinstate that service.)
I’d say the biggest question mark from last night’s episodes was the time traveling island. How is it working? Is there any explanation for it? Daniel tries to explain it as plainly as he can – just like a record is supposed to be moving forward and playing a song, occasionally the needle skips, hitting something in the groove, and can’t move forward, or it moves back, or it jumps around and goes forward, but the needle itself, not being stuck to the record, will have to make the jumps. Perhaps this is an explanation for why the time travel is having a different effect on different people on the island.
In this corner are the Others. When the island blooped the first time, Richard and Co. disappeared, leaving Locke standing alone. Later, Locke encounters both Ethan and Richard at different time periods. In the other corner are the survivors, who are witnessing the island’s time jumps and becoming discombobulated as they go. (Seriously, I need to use that word at least three times a day.) My big question was, why are the Others jumping around, and the natives aren’t? I’m starting to think the natives might actually be extensions of the island itself, all manifestations or mouthpieces for the island. If they are literally a part of it, they’ll go with the island (which may be moving forward on a singular temporal trajectory), while the survivors, who are separate from the island, are jumping around like the needle on the record jumping backward, forward, or coming back to the middle, because they are still detached from the island.
The wrench to that is that the island is moving, too. It’s creating the jumps (and the blinding light and the screeching noises) that is causing the survivors to go nuts. We saw the island disappear at the end of season 4, so it’s definitely moving. But is it just moving temporally, or physically? If the island moved to 2007, wouldn’t it still exist in 2004? Why isn’t it physically in the ocean?
As I said on my blog comments this morning, a book the writers evoked in season 4 was Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and I urge you to read this. The book is about a man, Billy Pilgrim, who has become unstuck in time (just like the survivors and the island itself seem to have) and he’s living out his life throughout the book, but not chronologically. Just as Daniel says quite urgently that there are rules that must be followed, Billy repeatedly steps onto a plane that he knows is going to crash into a mountain, killing everyone on board except himself, because he doesn’t believe there’s any other way around it.
Richard is one of the people who doesn’t seem to be affected by the jumps. One of the best lines of the night came from him. He hands Locke a compass (the same one he laid on the table in front of him when he visited him as a five-year-old) and Locke asks incredulously, “What does it do?!” To which Richard replies, “It… points north, John.” Richard appears in this sequence and says John has to die. He knows that John has been shot in the leg even though Locke didn’t say so, but he’s insisting that Locke told him. The understanding, of course, is that John DID tell him, but it was at another time. In the future he’ll tell Richard that he was shot in the leg, allowing Richard to be at that place in the jungle at the moment he then knows Locke will bloop into that time period, and he can help him fix the leg.
A similar thing happens between Daniel and Desmond. Daniel tells Sawyer to get away from the Swan door because he wasn’t meant to see Desmond at this time (and despite my love for Desmond, I REALLY wanted Radzinsky to open that door!) but then Daniel checks his own journals, et voila, he runs to the door and bangs on it. Was there a record in his journals of him talking to Desmond at this time? Did that meeting always happen, and he was simply playing out what was meant to be? Or is he breaking the very rule he’s insisting everyone else follow, and he’s trying to lead Desmond to his mother (whom I’m convinced is Mrs. Hawking) to help her locate the island and save them? If we assume Daniel is talking to Desmond around 2003 (Des came to the station in 2001, and as he holds the gun to Daniel he clearly looks like a man who’s had enough), and this event always happens, then Desmond should have known who Daniel was when he first saw him in 2004. But he didn’t. Only when Daniel approached him and talked to him at the hatch does present-day Desmond wake up and have a sudden memory of this encounter.
So CAN you change history? According to the time travelers on the show, the rule says NO. Daniel insists it’s a rule. Mrs. Hawking insisted it was a rule in “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” Dr. Chang insists it’s a rule when he’s talking to the construction worker at the beginning of the episode. But in “The Shape of Things to Come,” Ben watches in horror as Keamy guns down Alex and he says, “He changed the rules.” Maybe this was the very rule Widmore changed – Alex wasn’t meant to die at that time, and Ben knew that. Maybe, like Keamy, Daniel just changed the rules, too.
Okay, I’ve yammered and yammered about “Because You Left,” but “The Lie” was equally good and was more of a story and less science than the previous one. I love Jorge Garcia. He goes from hilarious (when he whipped a Hot Pocket at Ben I was screeching with laughter) to emotional in an instant. The stand-out scene with his mother is one of the best he’s done. As his mother tenderly asks him if he’d lied, there are a dozen emotions that flit across his face – an urge to tell the truth, a loyalty to his friends, doubt that he’s been doing the wrong thing and lying ISN’T helping anyone, weariness that he’s been holding onto this for so long, guilt that he left the people behind, worry that he’ll be deemed crazy for what he’s about to say – and then his voice cracks as he tells his beloved ma the truth. And one second later, he launches into the most fantastical and unbelievable story a person could imagine (and as I said on my blog, the look on her face matches the ones I see every day as I rave about Lost to people who’ve never seen it – “What is she TALKING about? Time traveling bunnies? Polar bears on the island? People coming back to life? I’ll stick to CSI…”). He’s SO funny as he does this, and despite everything, his ma believes him. I LOVED that scene.
And that’s why I love Lost. One minute they’re presenting me with the craziest conundrum imaginable, and the next they just give me a good old-fashioned story that has me welling up in tears. Sigh… how can there be only 32 episodes left?
For more detailed point-by-point analysis of each episode, visit my blog entry this week!
So tell me what YOU thought! Oh wait, I have a few more things to say… first of all, THANK YOU Daniel for not letting Sawyer have a shirt, because it made me SO happy to… wait, why is the sky all white? What a weird… sheesh, is that feedback? I don’t know what *bloop*
Nikki Stafford is the author of the Finding Lost series of books, which offer episode-by-episode guides to each season. The guide to season 4 is about to hit stores now. She posts regularly on her television blog, Nik at Nite.