L O S T
Now that is what I'm talking about.
The last two seasons, we've kicked off with an opening sequence that focuses on a character we've never seen before, which allowed a kind of slow development, but also raised anxiety that the show was going to just noodle along until it finally crawled up it's own mythological dill-hole and died there, X-Files style.
Not so much for Season Four, which kicked off with Hurleybird just murdering a bunch of innocent guavas. It was nothing but pure forward motion from there. This was a top-shelf episode.
What We Know
* Jorge Garcia turned in an excellent performance. Add him to the pile of great performances in Lost.
* The flash-forward is clearly a master-stroke of story-telling. Look what it has done to the pacing, to the story, to the mythology. It's effectively turned the entire structure (incidents from the castaway's troubled past reflects on present day action) on its head, just as that structure was getting moldy. Seriously, how many more times were we going to figure out that Jack was a fixer and Kate ran from her problems? We know these characters by now, and it was time to move on. I am beyond impressed with Lost's writers for this one.
* More brilliance. Let's take just one line and unravel it.
"Don't you know who I am? I'm one of the Oceanic Six!"
Look what that does. First, it gives. It tells us that there are six known survivors, which means that with Jack, Kate, and Hurley we now know half. Second, it expands. Who are the other three? What about all the others? For that matter, what about all The Others? Finally, as the episode unspools, it explodes, deepening the mystery. Some go with Locke, some go with Jack. People from both camps wind up being 'rescued' as a part of the Oceanic Six. Hurley obviously is not happy off island. There's little doubt that those coming to get them are bad mofos; Ben's got me convinced. So why does he think it was a mistake to go with Locke? What is about to happen?
* Let's talk Locke. Locke says to the whole group, "I have a lot of explaining to do." The understatement of the year, and not likely to be topped. I think it is now clear that he knows things about the island that nobody else does, and that includes us, the viewers. I think at some point we're due for a flashback to Locke, on the island, where we get the full picture of his understanding of the island, and what drives him. Remember the very first episode, when the happy music cuts away to eerie silence and a closeup of Locke, and we realize that this guy's a little spooky? Remember his first encounter with the smoke monster in like Episode 4? We never have seen what happened there, but I bet Locke had a revelation. Remember how he wanted to be caught by the Smoke monster at the end of Season 1, saying it was the island testing him. I think when we know what Locke knows, we'll know what the island is, where it is, and I think that will send us scrambling back to our DVDs, because I think that will change everything we know. Anybody else notice that Locke is 100% healed from a fatal gut-shot?
Island Fun Facts:
* We see dead people. Also, lamely, horses.
* We hear dead people. Whisper whisper? Remember?
* At least one extremely powerful shadowy entity has conducted behavioral experiments here.
* At least one extremely powerful shadowy entity is trying to find the place.
* Four toed statue. Just saying.
* Allegedly impossible to navigate out by boat (see Desmond).
* The Others get there through a submerged station. Somehow, key radio jamming equipment is placed down here. Figure that out.
* Somehow we got Locke's dad there. Chokey-chokey-chokey-chokey blarrrr..
* A one-engine airplane that took off from Nigeria landed there. Thankfully, it killed Boone.
* Electromagnetic something or other.
* Mad healing properties.
* Smoke-monster. Jacob. Smoke-monster/Jacob?
* The color of the sky is controlled by an ignition key. Yeah, that's normal.
At this point we have to assume the island is grounds for experiments and the site of something supernatural and ancient.
* The Six are engaged in a conspiracy of silence regarding the other people on the island. They clearly don't want the island to be found. Hurley claims to have not known Ana Lucia. Jack wants to make sure Hurley hasn't spilled the beans.
* By the way, what would make six people who survived a plane wreck be more than 15-minute celebrities? Signing autographs? What? Either this is just a nice detail that will make sense as we see more of what this world is that the Six are in (I'm not convinced it's actually the 'home world'), or it's just a sour note in a great episode.
* Creepiest line of the night: "Are they still alive?" Well done, Lost casting director, for finding the scariest person in the world. Character's name? Matthew Abaddan. Just a literary/Biblical reference, or a hint to the character's true nature?
* Runner-up creepiest line of the night. "I think it wants us back." What is 'it'? The island, or something else?
* Locke is apparently hanging around Jacob's Shack of Unbelievable Creepyness now. Inside with him? Jack's dad. Thirteen years ago, when the last episode aired, I wrote:
"You go upstairs and get my father," screams DruggyJack (and great job by Matthew Fox, another actor from the show who reached his peak this season, in seeming like he'd taken a Jim-Morrison-level dose of pills). 'Get my father?' Your father who is dead? Whose coffin you were transporting when Oceanic 815 went down? Go get him? Reeeeeeally . . . .
So, Jack's father is still alive. Or 'alive'. Charlie shows up, and I don't think he's meant entirely as a hallucination. We've seen Locke's father pulled out of nowhere. We have at least one character who doesn't age. We've got Eko having visions of his brother. Let's not assume anybody we've seen die is really dead. In fact, let's not assume that there are only Six that got off the island. In fact, let's not assume they are actually off the island. Let's assume nothing.
* My Guess For The Six: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, Michael, Locke. Ben is out, because it is the "Oceanic Six", not the "Oceanic Five and One Creepy Dude Who Looks Kind Of Like Gollum". Michael or Locke could be in the coffin. Hope it's not Locke.
Join us next time, when we hear Jin say:
"I still don't know what happened to Charlie, you know."
L O S T