The day after I wrote up last week's Lost, I hit all the usual on-line spots for Lost obsessives–Jeff Jensen's EW.com write-ups, "What's Alan Watching?," Lostpedia, etc.–and after reading all the theorizing and speculating about what was revealed on "The Beginning Of The End," I came to a realization:
I am a shitty Lost blogger.
How could I have missed the preponderance of "ho"s in the season premiere, from the Ho-Hos display at the convenience store to the "HO" sculpture behind Hurley at Santa Rosa? How could I have failed to note the Eskimo and igloo that Hurley was drawing? Why didn't I consider the possibility that the "Charlie" who appeared to Hurley is not a ghost, but a time traveler? (Especially since when I wrote up the Season Three finale, I suggested the possibility that some time-traveling version of Charlie had programmed the code in The Looking Glass.) I like to talk about themes and style and narrative flow in these TV Club blogs, but when it comes to Lost, wild-ass speculation about potential clues is every bit as important. And trust me: I've got some crazy theories.
So let's talk about what tonight's awesome episode suggests.
First, a recap: On the island, we're back where we left off–remember when that was unusual for Lost?–with Jack and Kate meeting one of their "rescuers," Daniel Faraday, played by the ever-squirmy Jeremy Davies. Daniel, of course, is not what he seems, which Jack and Kate figure out pretty quickly, just by reading his body language. (No one but Davies could give such a perfect line-reading to, "Rescuing you and your people? Can't really say that's our…primary…objective?") But since Jack has staked everything on being right about the people on the freighter, he keeps playing "wait and see," even when Daniel leads them to Miles, a hostile fellow rescuer who pulls a gun on Jack and Kate and demands to be led to Naomi's corpse, so that he can ask her ghost a few questions.
That's right: her ghost. As we learn in this week's flashback–a rare multi-character flashback–Miles has a lucrative career speaking to the recently deceased, and helping himself to any money they might've left behind. As for other visitors from the freigher: There's an anthropologist named Charlotte, who seems to specialize in finding things that the Dharma Initiative has left behind; Frank, a former pilot with Oceanic Airlines; and of course Daniel, who claims to be a physicist, and who in a flashback responds to the news that the remains of Flight 815 have been found by weeping inexplicably.
The old Lost might've taken weeks to tease out who these people are and why they're here, but the new Lost lays it on the line: These four have been hired by Abbadon (the mysterious black dude we met last week) to infiltrate the island and retrieve Benjamin Linus, for reasons as-yet-unknown. They all know that the underwater 815 wreckage that we see at the beginning of the episode is a fake, and they apparently have some sense as to why it was faked. Those answers will have to wait. But the basic answers, this week, we got.
In fact this was such a fast-paced episode that it was easy not to notice that nothing moved forward much. The two tribes–led by Locke and Jack–continued their divergent journeys, and each met a "freightie" or two. Otherwise, everything is still in flux. Nevertheless, my fingernails were chewed to the quick.
Thematically, this episode continued to advance the idea that this island seems to divide people. The "rescuers" become yet more Others. And when Locke hisses at Charlotte, "We don't want to be found," he sounds like an Other. (Do you think Sawyer is already starting to regret following Locke, who claims to be guided by the spirit of Walt?)
As for theories, well this episode kind of toyed with one of mine. For much of the past year, I've been musing aloud–in the privacy of my own home, but now publicly for the first time–that the island is actually underwater, in some kind of extra-dimensional bubble only accessible via The Looking Glass. (Remember that Juliet had to be asleep before she came to the island? And that Desmond sailed away but never got anywhere?) One point in favor of that theory is that Daniel seemed fascinated by the quality of light out in the jungle, as though he were marveling at what an artificial light source can do. But one strike against the theory is the freighties arrived via helicopter, and seemed confident that they could get people back to their ship with no special difficulty.
How much longer will I have to wait before I find out whether the island is just an island? At the rate this show is moving right now, it might happen as soon as next week. All the more reason to count down the days 'til next Thursday.
-Quite an all-star cast of rescuers, huh? Jeff Fahey, Ken Leung, Jeremy Davies, and the promise of Fisher Stevens and Zoe Bell yet to come. Pretty cool if you're a fan of cult films and genre fare. The only problem is that now the cast is so big that we're only getting a few minutes with each of our well-known characters. But this week at least, the writers made those minutes count. Much like I wrote last week about how we're getting to be accustomed to the layout of the island, we're also now so familiar with all of these people that just a line or two is enough to catch us up with how they're doing.
-I've always been spooked by the ocean–at least the middle-of-nowhere, way-down-deep, who-knows-what-kind-of-creatures-lurk-down-there part of the ocean–so the opening sequence of tonight's episode, where they find Oceanic 815 underwater, completely creeped me out.
-A moment of aesthetic appreciation: When Locke is grilling Ben in the final scene, his gun keeps bobbing into the frame like a blurry black spot, shadowing our longtime villain.
-In a nod to restless fans, Lost's writers have Locke ask Ben, point blank, "What is the monster? The black smoke?" Ben's answer is the writers' rebuke to those fans: "I don't know."
-I like a lot of other TV shows, but Lost is the only current one which gives me a little tingle of anticipation–coupled with some mild dread–every time I tune in. And it's the only show where I look up at the clock and can't believe that the hour is almost up.
And now some stray clues to kick around:
-The polar bear skeleton in Charlotte's flashback comes with a collar bearing the mark of Dharma's "Hydra" station.
-Miles kind of lingers over that heroin he finds in his flashback, before putting it back where he got it. Is he, like Charlie, an addict? And did that heroin come packaged in a Virgin Mary statue at some point?
-The man who would've piloted 815 is on the team assigned to capture Ben Linus. Does that mean that 815 itself had a covert mission to come to the island?
-Eight words to keep our heads spinning until next week: "Because I have a man on their boat."