Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Episode 1, Part 1: "LAX"

LAX Part 1

The season premiere begins with Jack back on flight 815, though he looks strangely confused by finding himself there, looking around as if in a dream. I think it’s safe to assume from this that this sequence is meant to suggest that these events are happening AFTER the hydrogen bomb incident and is not simply a flashback. As fans of the show have undoubtedly noticed, the dialogue here with the stewardess is identical to that of season 1, of note though (or maybe not) is the fact that she only hands him 1 mini-bottle of vodka instead of 2 as she did the first time around. Probably insignificant, perhaps just the writers cluing us in to the fact that something has changed and that this timeline will be different. Again, the dialogue with Rose is the same as season 1, that is until the turbulence hits. Jack has a curiously strong reaction to the turbulence, holding on for dear life as if EXPECTING the plane to crash. Could it be that some part of his consciousness from the island has remained intact even though the events of the island were prevented from happening at all? Following a typical saccharine moment with Rose and Bernard (somewhat sullied by the fact that we of course know that Rose will soon die of cancer, it having not been cured by the island in this alternate timeline, is it funny or sad that nobody seemed to care that Rose would die of cancer if they “reset” the plane crash? though I don’t think many fans did either). Now Jack is in the bathroom and discovers a mysterious cut on his neck, confused as to its origin. Is this evidence perhaps that more than just their minds have gone back in time? Are their bodies in some way still connected to the events on the island? Let’s watch and find out!

Okay, we now see Desmond on the plane, so presumably something has happened to the island in the years since they blew up the bomb, either that or Desmond still went to the island (having crashed there during his race around the world, which we assume wouldn’t have been affected by the actions of Jack and his crew on the island in 1977) and is now off of it, though how he managed to get off the “snow-globe” of an island is an interesting question. Either way, whatever the reason is, Jack is eyeballing him something fierce, again suggesting that maybe Jack has some memory of the island in this parallel timeline. Interestingly Desmond seems genuinely surprised by Jack’s question of familiarity, which wouldn’t make sense if a) Desmond had met Jack on the island and remembered it (which might raise questions as to whether Jack is the only one who has some memory of the island), or b) if they had met during Desmond’s training for the race around the world (as was the case in the original timeline); if you’ll recall, Desmond recognized Jack immediately in the hatch, so him not recognizing him here could be significant. Are we to assume then that the entire history of these characters has changed or just their time spent on the island? I guess you could make an argument that says if the island was destroyed in 1977 then Charles Widmore presumably died on it, thus never insulting Desmond’s honor, Desmond never enters the race around the world, never is training for it, and hence never meets Jack. That seems to be the most obvious explanation. A legitimately terrible CGI sequence (not sure if it’s quite as bad as the season 5 finale submarine debacle, but close) reveals that the island – and concomitantly the statue – is in fact under water.

Back from commercial and the first scene is a flashback of Juliet being pulled into the pit-o-death, and is it just me or did that scream she just let out give you a slight chub – my apologies to any lady readers [who am I kidding? Nobody is reading this] (on that point, I really loved Juliet – the season 5 version that is, season 4 version was kind of a bitch – if you haven’t seen GIA, do yourself a favor, stop reading this, assuming anyone is to begin with *highly unlikely*, and go find a copy; vhs, dvd, it doesn’t matter, pirate it if you have to – though I would never endorse such a thing – then skip ahead past all the boring crap at the beginning to about the 24 minute mark; you there? Tell me that’s not the greatest thing you’ve ever seen)? Anyway, moving on… great acting all around (not that I’m any kind of expert on such things) by Josh Holloway (Sawyer of course) and Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet… don’t lie, you’re googling that GIA sex scene as we speak).

And what’s this! We’re back on the island. After an inexplicable sequence that finds Kate up in a tree with her ears ringing (how an explosion knocked her into a tree but didn’t seem to harm her is a mystery of LOSTian proportions), Kate runs into Miles and, in case he wasn’t sure, informs him that they are in fact BACK… to the future (not bad right? I see you LOST writers!). Okay, so it looks as if we are dealing with some kind of parallel timeline situation. In one version of events the bomb offset the pocket of energy, apparently sinking the island somehow and ensuring that flight 815 never crashes. In the other, as we are now finding out, nothing seems to have changed at all, though how both of these outcomes could have occurred simultaneously we are left only to speculate. The intricacies of time travel are confusing at the best of times and seem to lead only to circuitous speculations and intense nerd anger, so let’s just go with it. Moving on… I’m guessing it is not a coincidence that we see Sawyer and Jack lying quite literally side by side as the camera moves from Sawyer and then to Jack from a Kate POV-shot. Who does she run to check on? Jack of course. Could this finally mark the end of the infamous Kate-Jack-Sawyer love triangle (previously the Kate-Jack-Sawyer-Juliet love parallelogram, may Juliet rest in peace)? One can only hope. It’s not obvious from the shots that we get whether or not Jack has a cut on his neck here in timeline 2 (henceforth to be referred to as the “back to the future” timeline, or BTTF for short) as he did in timeline 1 (henceforth to be referred to as the “Juliet is still alive somewhere” timeline or JISAS), at the very least the writers aren’t drawing attention to it if he does.

Back to the plane we go! Jack runs into a handcuffed Kate Austin and her shockingly dickish escort, U. S. Marshal Edward Mars (do you think we can we petition to have him killed a second time?), the lingering shot of Jack as Kate sits down seems to hint that a larger game may in fact be afoot. Dr. Arzt returns as annoying as ever, though his presence is thankfully short-lived. I found the conversation here between Hurley and Sawyer to be interesting on a couple of levels. First of all, we find out that, for whatever reason, the destruction of the island in this JISAS timeline has somehow resulted in Hurley going from being surrounded by bad luck (albeit only to other people) and seeing the money as a curse, to being a contented business owner to whom nothing bad ever occurs. Why this should be the case is hard to say. If you recall, Hurley won the lottery using numbers he got from Leonard Sims in the psych ward, who in turn heard them on a broadcast emanating from the island (as seen in season 1: episode 18 “Numbers”). So if the island is sunk in 1977 then those numbers are never broadcast, Leonard never hears them, Hurley never uses them to win the lottery, etc. etc. the curse never happens. But here in this JISAS timeline Hurley is still a lottery winner but presumably without all the negative side effects found in the BTTF timeline, so he must have won using different numbers, which would of course be astronomically unlikely if we are meant to assume it was just blind luck. The question then must be, is “the island” (whatever that means at this point) still influencing events in this JISAS timeline or is it just a coincidence that Hurley happens to win the lottery in both scenarios? We’ve seen in the past that “the island” can influence events taking place all around the world (e.g., Michael being unable to kill himself in “Meet Kevin Johnson” season 4: episode 8), would submerging it really make a huge difference? Don’t really know. The other interesting thing, perhaps only to me, about this conversation was the way that Sawyer “warned” Hugo about being wary of people trying to take advantage of him. I don’t know if this is hinting at Sawyer being somehow “different” in this JISAS timeline, maybe he isn’t a con man at all (or maybe he is warning him BECAUSE he is a con man, it’s hard to say), though I am probably just reading way too much into it.

Back to the island we go! Juliet is still alive (I might have to change the name of my JISAS timeline)! At least momentarily. I know from reading press clippings that Elizabeth Mitchell is not a season six regular, so I can’t say I’m real optimistic about her surviving this episode. It’s likely that this is a bit of fan-service from the writers for people (I number myself among them) who felt that Juliet’s death was way too abrupt. Anyway, we’re back with Hurley who is being paid a visit by our favorite man in white, that of course being Jacob… and commercial break, typical.

Back on the plane… it looks like whatever memories Jin might have from the island adventure haven’t made much of an impact as he is back to his misogynist ways (I really hope they don’t make us relive Jin and Sun from the first season). Locke and Boone are back together! Even Neil makes an appearance here (more commonly known as Frogurt, or simply “the flaming arrow guy”). This is definitely a nice little fan shout out, I know that Ian Somerhalder (Boone) is on a different show now (something about teenage vampires or something, I don’t know) so I doubt we will see him very much, but it’s nice to get Locke and Boone back together, at least briefly. A couple things to note here, Boone is on the plane, but Shannon appears not to be. Not sure if that’s really even noteworthy but at the very least it seems to be another tidbit that suggest significantly divergent events here in the JISAS timeline (I’ll think of a new name if I have to but I am kind of liking it, has a nice ring to it). What IS noteworthy is Locke’s little story about going on a walkabout. Either he is lying (which would be consistent with his pre-crash, sex-phone operator calling, father obsessing, broken back having, overall pretty pathetic self), or he is telling the truth (which would really cement the idea that there have been some pretty major changes in the life histories of our LOSTies), the answer to that might be significant… let’s watch!

Back to the island… I quite enjoyed this transition. Gentleman Locke to murderous crazy Locke, or Not-Locke in this case (aka the smoke monster, I am calling that shit right now!). Not-Locke/smoke monster cuts off a piece of Jacob’s rug (well what I assume is Jacob’s rug, I don’t know if maybe Jacob stole this statue from someone else, lord knows that in these tough economic times statue living space is limited just about everywhere but I’d imagine it’s especially tight on a beautiful Pacific island). By the way he folds it up as if to put it in his pocket you must assume that he is taking it with him for some other purpose. I will be interested to find out what is up with the rug, the only link that comes to mind here is the piece of cloth that Ilana and her gang find ominously knifed to the wall in what had previously been known as “Jacob’s Cabin,” and which prompted her to say, “someone else has been using this cabin.” Don’t know the significance of that, just pointing it out. Ben is staring at the fire where Jacob’s body SHOULD be but isn’t. Not-Locke informs him that, “Jacob is gone.” Is it possible that Jacob is in fact a Jedi master? That would certainly explain why he left no body behind. I guess that would make Not-Locke (smoke-monster) a Sith Lord. What if this show turns out to be the prequels to the prequels of the original Star Wars trilogy? Wouldn’t that be nuts? Jacob is the very first Jedi and Locke, who originally comes to the island to train as a Jedi, ends up being turned to the dark side and becomes a Sith Lord. Who do you think Locke would take on as his apprentice? Jack? Maybe Walt? Okay, I agree, this is getting ridiculous, back to the show. Something tells me that, “I guess he knew that he was beaten.” isn’t going to be the reason that Jacob let himself be killed. Just a hunch. I hope that Not-Locke was only joking when he said that, I so desperately want him to be a badass. Lapidus doesn’t buy Ilana and her crew as the good guys, so does that then make Not-Locke the good guy? They clearly seem to be enemies, though that certainly doesn’t mean either side is “good”. Ha, I love how Ben covers his shirt up when he comes out as if that’s going to hide the copious amounts of blood splattered all over it. It’s nice to see Richard show some emotion, he’s been a relatively stoic figure up to this point. I always had him pegged as a sort of automaton, doing what he was told because he seemingly had no other choice, but this sequence suggests to me that perhaps he does have some personal interest in what happens on the island. I hear that we’ll be getting Richard’s back story this season, I am very much looking forward to it. Got to love Ben’s face when he realizes he’s been duped. Commercial break.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island (monkey island anyone?)... Jacob explains to Hurley that he died an hour ago, once again raising the question, “Why can Hurley see dead people?” Still don’t have an answer to that one. Either way, the most intriguing bit of information to come out of this conversation has to be when Jacob explains his murder as, “an old friend grew tired of my company.” What happened between these two “old friends” that led to one going to such extreme lengths to take the other out, or as Not-Locke put it, “you have no idea what I had to go through to be here.” We got a taste of their relationship in the season five finale, with the man in black (aka, Not-Locke, who I am also predicting is the smoke monster) politely informing Jacob of his desire to commit murder upon him, a fact that little surprised or bothered Jacob at the time. The conversation that they had in that episode is also of interest here as it may hint at how the rift started. For those theologically inclined among us (again, not a single person is reading this, which makes this kind of sad doesn’t it?) it’s possible that you, like myself, might have seen that conversation as a discussion of free-will vs. predestination (or destiny in LOST terms). Jacob was seemingly advocating a position of free-will while the man in black seemed convinced that, “it always ends the same.” You might remember Jacob telling Hurley in the taxi, “I want you to understand Hugo, you have a choice.” Or even Ben as he was practically taunting him, “Whatever he’s told you, understand one thing, you have a choice.” But what exactly constitutes free-will? A question with a multitude of answers no doubt, and one that could fill volumes. For the purposes of this blog, however, I would simply ask if it can really be considered free-will if someone has been manipulated to the point that a given outcome is a virtual certainty (was Ben truly exercising free-will when he killed Jacob, believing as he did that his own daughter demanded it as retribution for causing her death? Not-Locke had manipulated him to the point that there was only one possible outcome when faced with that “choice.”)? I think this will continue to be a major theme for the remainder of the show, as it has been since pretty much the beginning (even think back to when Ethan tells Claire outside the medical hatch in season 2: episode 15 “Maternity Leave”, “We won’t do anything you don’t want us to, you have to remember Claire, it’s your choice.” But would anyone call that choice an act of free-will, especially given her drugged addled mind?). I’d tell you to discuss in the comments, but since nobody is going to read this I guess I’ll just skip that (even though I just wrote it anyway). Back to the show. It looks like we’re finally going to answer one of LOST’s greatest mysteries, “what’s in the guitar case?”

And… we’re back to the plane. I think we’re about to get a Charlie Pace sighting… and there he is, did FlashForward get cancelled already (I kid, that show isn’t that bad)? Commercials. Whoever invented the DVR, I drink to you sir (or madam, but let’s be honest, it’s probably a sir).

Plane again… Sayid helps Jack resuscitate Charlie. Nothing particularly interesting here, other than Charlie almost choking on a bag of heroine.

Back to the island… the rubble is cleared away and we get a second chance to say goodbye to my beloved Juliet (you read what I said earlier about GIA right? Yeah, you’re going to want to look that up, it’s good stuff). I’m not a huge fan of being forced to watch Juliet die twice (well three times if you count punching the bomb), but I’ll admit this didn’t leave nearly the bad taste in my mouth that it did the first time she died, so well done writers (and there’s always JISAS right?). Nice to see Hurley finally growing a pair, it was about time that he manned up and did something productive.

Back at the statue… big lumberjack guy is already pissing me off. Hopefully he isn’t long for this world as I can’t imagine that barging in on old Johnny with a gun is a great idea if you want to live. So these chumps are Jacob’s bodyguards? Pretty worthless. Shooting Not-Locke? Bad idea it would seem. Aaaand….. he’s dead. Oh, and, NAILED IT! I called Not-Locke as the smoke monster months ago (of course I wasn’t the only one, but that’s of little consequence). Finally, I can simply refer to him as Smoky or sometimes Smoky McGee if I’m feeling frisky. I won’t try to speculate on the significance of the grey sand, though it clearly has some kind of repulsive quality for old Smoky. Come on, you have to admit that Terry O’Quinn is straight beasting this premiere (as he did the last half of season 5 as well)! It really is unfortunate that he hasn’t had more screen time up to this point. I love him as Locke but he is twice as good as Smoky McGee. In terms of that scene, it’s interesting to me that it seemed like Smoky had to hide his bodily form and then come back into the room from some other place. I don’t know if that was just a strange sequencing or if the Smoky part of his person is somehow separate from the bodily manifestation. The bent bullet was a nice little reveal, shit’s really starting to heat up!

And back to the pipe cave of death (aka Juliet’s death knell part 2, may she rest in peace)… even covered in blood she is still impossibly good looking. This scene, while hard to watch, does have some good information for those of us who watch LOST with an eye on theory crafting (and if the last 3500 words haven’t given it away yet, I am one of those people). What did Juliet mean when she said, “We can get coffee some time. We can go Dutch.”? At first this comes off as the ramblings of a woman close to death losing her grip on reality, but having now watched the rest of the premiere I am tempted to think that this might have a more significant implication. It’s not so much what she says but rather how it’s presented. Going Dutch for coffee (referring to the common phrase “to go Dutch” meaning to each pay for their own expenses) on its own is largely meaningless, but when coupled with the later Miles Straume revelation that Juliet was trying to tell him “it worked” it takes on perhaps an added importance. I’m speculating here of course, but is it possible that Juliet was slipping in and out of the two parallel timelines (BTTF timeline and her own aptly named, if I may say so myself, which I can because this is my blog, JISAS timeline)? Why would she say at the beginning of their conversation, “it didn’t work, we’re still here,” but by the end of it is saying, “it worked.” Clearly something happened in those intervening 30 seconds that changed her mind. What else could that be but a temporary experience of that alternate timeline? The only point in their conversation where anything strange takes place (and coincidentally enough happens to coincide with her sudden change of heart) is when she starts talking about going out for coffee. It is my theory (and I’m sure the theory of others as well, lest you – you of course meaning me because nobody is reading this – think me capable of an original thought) that Juliet was talking to Sawyer in the parallel timeline and that in that timeline they are together and happily married (the last bit is entirely wishful thinking, but it’s possible right?). Isn’t that a comforting thought? It was for me, so please, don’t rain on my parade.

Back on the plane… having survived another Juliet death we are rewarded with the relative calm of flight 815 once again. I don’t know if Jack asking what happened to Desmond is of any importance. I won’t jump to conclusions and say that he imagined him outright, but the way the writers sort of emphasized that sequence makes me raise an eyebrow at the very least (careful not to raise them both or people will simply think you’re surprised). I know I’ve been pushing this whole “everything’s different” theory up to this point in regards to the JISAS timeline, but the quick-cut montage here at the end (classic LOST finish by the way) is making me rethink that position. The writers are bringing it all back to focus on objects of familiarity for the audience: Hurley and his headphones, Sayid and his pictures of Nadia, Jin and his father-in-law’s watch, the stewardesses and their seatbelts (okay not so much the last one), Kate and her handcuffs/U. S. Marshal, Charlie and his drugs, and last but not least… wait for it… yep, Locke and his crippled legs. It appears that he was in fact lying to Boone, so maybe not that much has changed for our beloved LOSTies after all.

Wow, so that was super long. Granted it was the first episode of season six (I’ve had a whole off-season’s worth of pent up LOST waiting to get out) and it was my first crack at writing a blog post (I take it they’re not generally supposed to be this wordy if you want people to actually read them). I think as things progress these will hopefully become more concise. If anybody actually read this whole thing I would love it if you left some kind of indication in the comments so that I can mock you publicly. Well that’s it for Season Six: Episode One “LAX Part 1.” Part 2 arrives shortly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The way the whole Jacob vs. Smoky thing played out really struck me as very Narnian. It was like Aslan (jacob) being killed by the witch (smoky), I know smoky didn't technically kill him but he manipulated Benjamin who's self pity reminded me strikingly of Edmund who was instrumental in securing Aslans murder. The way Jacob almost seemed to welcome his death with a knowing grin. When I saw Jacob come out of the jungle and approach Hurley I was honestly expecting him to start talking of a "deeper magic" which supersedes the laws of the island as smoky knows them.