Thursday, January 22, 2009

Season 5, Episode 1 & 2: "Because you Left" & "The Lie"

And we're back! Did anyone else have a tough time believing that we were actually going to get new episodes of Lost on Wednesday? I don't think it fully sunk in until like 8:50pm, but the moment finally came, and as usual, it did not disappoint. That does not mean however, that it did not confuse. I'm still digging out from mind bending paradoxical time travel theories from everywhere, but I'll do my best to at least lay a ground work for what is sure to be a wild season to come.

"When are We?"

Isn't it appropriate that a series that was once built on Charlie's trademark phrase, "guys, where ARE we" has evolved into answering a question that evokes a whole new definition of the word Lost? No longer is it where are we, but WHEN are we? After the turn of the frozen donkey wheel, our stranded survivors not only are clueless in terms of where they are, but are now struggling to find out when they are in the timeline of the Island's diverse past (and future). Once again, with a new season comes an entirely new mind fuck, and an entirely new convention for storytelling. In the beginning we learned about character events in flashbacks, then through flashforwards, and now we will likely be privy to past and future Island events, but from the perspective of the unhinged characters' present tense. Meaning that we are along for the ride as survivors witness events as they happen in real time - events that we may not have been able to witness with the former storytelling conventions - such as the Black Rock landing, the origins of the Four Toe'd statue, and the specifics surrounding the Dharma Initiative. Up until this point we didn't have a mechanism to understand the details surrounding these events, but now the door is open to virtually learning everything and anything about the Island.

In addition, the confirmation of physical time travel might also explain some mysterious past encounters. Remember Walt's backwards whispering appearance to Shannon, or Tall Walt's encounter with Locke in the grave? Who's to say those aren't Walt's from the future, providing some advice for his former friends?

And what about Mrs. Goodwyn's whispered-laden appearance to Juliette towards the end of last season, where she told her to stop (and kill) Faraday and Charlotte from getting to the Tempest Station? She did seem to come out of nowhere, didn't she? And what about Ben? He seems to be a step ahead of everyone, right? While I don't think he can manipulate the Island's time travel properties on a whim, I do think that Ageless Richard and other indigenous Others can. And it's becoming clear that Richard is the "man behind the man" so his sage advice could have been all the difference in Ben's ability to stay ahead of the game. And speaking of Richard, I guess you wouldn't really age if you didn't go through time in a linear fashion but instead experienced it through a 4th dimension, right? (Wait, what??) And what about the whispers? As someone mentioned in the comments last year, I do think that they are a representation of past, present, and future voices stuck in some sort of time loop (or something). It also seems that they prelude any significant "presence" as mentioned above, which further leads me to believe that they signify when the Island's time-space has been manipulated.

But getting back to these episodes, we do learn that in world of space-time travel there are rules. Faraday explains that past and future events cannot be changed, because the outcome will always end up being the same. Daniel uses a street as an analogy; all events must be contained start to finish on one street, and no new divergent streets can be created to reach a different destination. We've already seen examples of this theory when Desmond learns in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" that Charlie will die. Time and time again, he foresees Charlie's death (via lightning strike, drowning, etc) but repeatedly saves him from said impending doom. But as we all know, Desmond did not, and could not, win the battle against Fate. The universe allows for brief hiccups in its plan, but due to course correction, Charlie's life eventually ends as planned.

But on the other hand if you can't change the past to change future events, than what is the point of anything? Why then, would a future Richard Alpert implore Locke to return to the mainland and convince the O6 to return and save the Island? If he's from the future and knows how everything turns out, then what point is there to try and change those events to create an alternate result? I'm not sure of the answer here, but a few theories out there seem to point that while Fate has a plan, it is flexible within the execution of its plan. Just like Charlie was able to live for a while longer, certain events can be changed in life to change the immediate future, but not a final result. What's clear is that the O6 were NOT supposed to leave the Island, and if they do not get back, bad shit is going down. Maybe the issue is that if the universe can't course correct itself (getting the O6 back safe and sound), it says "fuck it, then" and ends. God help us all, indeed.

The debate of changing the past to change the future will likely be one of the themes that looms on for the remainder of the season. The producers have mentioned that these first two episodes have laid the "rules and regulations" of what is to come but that the "answers" to these questions will be expressed in different ways as the season continues. We do know that Desmond will play a large role in what happens, though. While we are currently under the assumption that you can't change the past to change the future, Faraday plainly admits that "the rules don't apply" to Desmond and that he is able to manipulate the past. And it is for this reason that he instructs Des to go to Oxford to find Daniel's mother, who is likely Ms. Hawking, the woman who both foretold Desmond's button-pushing future in "Flashes Before Your Eyes," and gave Ben and human race 70 hours to live at the conclusion of last night's episode. Interesting.

"We've Got to go BACK!"

So while the Island skips through time and confuses the hell out of us, the O6's story on the main land is slightly easier to follow. Picking up from last year, Ben is set on convincing the O6 to return to the Island. Jack is the easiest to convince, as he has finally realized that his decision to leave was a mistake. Kate and Aaron will take a little work, but all Ben had to do there was send a couple lawyers and a fake subpoena and she's off running (typical Kate). The challenge however, will lie with convincing Sun, Sayid, and Hurley to join the fun.

First off, Sun apparently wants Ben dead, which is not a great starting point for the possibility of her return. But let's think about this. Why does she want Ben dead? Sure, he killed Keamy - which in turn set off the explosives on the boat and killed Jin - but how would she even know that? Widmore is the more likely suspect, right? Sun knows that the frieghter was sent by Widmore and Jin's death has to be tied to him more than any other person (she even absolved Kate and asked cordially about Jack...two people that could be held responsible for Jin's death). What if instead, she is playing Widmore under the veil of their "similar interest" (Ben) so that she can either 1) kill him or 2) use him to get back to the Island and possibly reunite with Jin, who MAY have survived the blast. All of a sudden getting Sun to join the fun might be easier than expected.

Sayid at first glance might pose an issue seeing that his relationship with Ben seems to have grown a bit frosty ("anything he tells you, do the exact opposite"), but at the same time Sayid doesn't have much to live for in the real world. Nadia is dead, and he has lived the last three years of his life in a state of paranoia due to the fact that he's a killing machine (by the way - dishwasher kill? Amazing). And while he's certainly capable of evil, we know that deep down Sayid is loyal to his friends. For these reasons, I don't see his participation in returning to be too much of an issue.

That brings us to Hurley. Oh, poor Hurley. He's the only person who didn't want to lie in the first place and all of sudden he's inadvertently derailed the plan to do what he has wanted to do all along...return to the Island and save his friends. Now I'm not saying that I trust Ben entirely, but I have to say that Hurley's actions here really throw a wrench in the plan to get the O6 back. That being said, I'm not worried about whether or not Ben will bust him out of jail within 70 hours because it's something that WILL happen. If I have one gripe with Season 5 at this point, it is that the off-Island events seem to be fitting into a "24" type genre of storytelling. Just as we know Jack Bauer won't die regardless of whatever shenanigans he gets himself into, we also know that the O6 will at some point get back to the Island. I could be WAY off here, but it does seem that the real drama for this season will lie with the Losties on the Island. Here's to hoping that I'm wrong. (Likely).

Ok, enough of the prediction stuff. Let's briefly go over some of the cooler snippets that these episodes gave us that I wasn't able to fit in the rambling above:

1) The season's opening showed our friend Dr. Marvin Candle/Edgar Halliwax / etc waking up to his (8:15) alarm to feed his baby. Anyone else think that his baby might just be Miles? Cause I do.

Also, please view the below vid to see the true identity to our orientation Doc, as well as to shed some more light on the whole time travel issue. And listen up for a familiar voice...

OK, so Daniel Faraday is getting around. We see him at the beginning of the episode as a Dharma construction worker and we hear him here in the Dr. Pierre Chang's swan song. But while some folks think that he may have been on the Island in Dharma times and/or might have "ageless" qualities similar to Richard, I simply think that his presence can be explained by the fact that he and his group are skipping through time at the moment. We will undoubtedly learn more in the coming weeks, so I'll let this one play out.

2) Who are the soldiers that awesomely killed Frogurt and nearly cut off Juliette's hand? (A quick aside: you gotta love when Lost highlights a new/annoying character in scenes like this cause you just KNOW that they are doomed from the start. Similar to Dr. Aartz's unfortunate dynamite incident, you knew Frogurt was going down but were just waiting to see how. The flaming arrow couldn't have been more gratifying). They seemed too militaristic to be Dharma folks but also too modernized to be Black Rock folks. An interesting theory that I agree with is that they are British military personnel that either include or are controlled by Charles Widmore of the past. Next week's episode is titled "Jughead," and I have a feeling that we'll learn more about this at that time. We shall see...

3) Ben clearly has agents on the outside. Jill the butcher is stashing Locke in her freezer and the aforementioned Ms. Hawking is in on the deal. Oh, and remember the episode where Desmond was training to be a monk but was eventually asked to leave the monastery (after breaking his code of silence by getting hammered)? There was a photo on the head monk's desk that showed himself and Ms. Hawking. Finally this photo makes sense, as it must be the same church that she works her crazy basement experiments in (and the same place that Desmond will likely now return). *Upon second look the photo seems to be in front of Oxford...where Daniel taught.

4) The compass that Richard gave Locke during one of the time skips was the same compass that he "presented" to John as a child. Not sure what significance this might hold, but I'm more interested in why Richard says that he won't know who John is the next time they meet. If anyone should always know who John is, it's Richard. He has followed his life since birth, right? Something to keep in mind.

OK, that should be enough for this week...sorry for the length but we actually saw the first two episodes Wednesday night, and obviously, there is quite a bit going on already. However, the writers have clearly come storming out of the gate and have set up an aggressive premise for what hopefully be an all killer no filler final two seasons for Lost. Now I KNOW that I left some stuff out, so per usual, chime in your thoughts below. Thanks and welcome back!