Unfortunately for everyone (but mostly me), I’m traveling on business today—in fact, this post is going live from DFW airport—so I won’t be watching the first two episodes of season 5 until I return the the comfort of my DVR.
I’ll go ahead and publish the “links and miscellanea” section of my Lost post now, and leave the comments open for those who wish to discuss tonight’s episodes. I’ll follow this post with a “observations and speculations” post as soon as I get a chance to watch. Thanks.
UPDATE: I have now had a chance to watch the first two episodes, and I’ve amended this post to include an “observations and speculations” section below. Obviously, this post is now rife with spoilers for people who have not yet seen Episodes 5.1 and 5.2.
Links and miscellanea:
- The New York Times has a feature about the daunting job of Lost’s script coordinator.
- One TV critic notes that Lost’s January return might signal the end of the traditional fall TV schedule.
- Lost “is like a troublesome but attractive friend who comes into your house and talks a lot of nonsense that you tolerate because it’s entertaining and because you aren’t completely sure it is nonsense.” But in a good way, of course.
- Naturally, most of the press leading up to this season has been talking about time travel. Here’s but one example from the Chicago Sun-Times. (If you haven’t watched the episodes yet, there are spoilers here.)
- What if Lost merged with Heroes?
- Here’s a pop quiz to see how much you remember from season 4. (I scored a measly 28 out of 34.)
- TV Guide has an interview with Jorge “Hurley” Garcia, the central character of episode 5.2.
- The NY Post talks to a couple of physics professors about the sci in Lost’s sci-fi.
- Here’s some hard-hitting news: Nestor “Richard Alpert” Carbonelle is *not* wearing eyeliner!
- IGN runs down its top ten current Lost mysteries.
- NY Mag’s Vulture blog has links to some of the more popular internet theories of Lost.
- Here’s a feature on Lost writer and award-winning comics author Brian K. Vaughan, who thankfully is back this season.
- Previously on Lost:
- Finally, EW.com has some obligatory video interviews by Doc Jensen with Cuse and Lindelof.
Enjoy the show!
Observations and Speculations:
- The opening shot was a nice callback to the “numbers” from season 1 and 2: the alarm clock turned from 8:14 to 8:15. (The good doctor is a late sleeper, apparently.)
- The song playing on the record player at the first of the episode is “Shotgun Willie” by Willie Nelson. Chorus: “You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothin’ to say/You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothin’ to say/You can’t play music if you don’t know nothin’ to play.”
- I was impressed at how the visual metaphor of a skipping record was tied thematically later in the show, when Faraday explains the plight of the survivors as that of the time-space continuum being a great big record that’s skipping.
- Speaking of the doctor, did you notice when he was filming the orientation film for the Arrow Station, he was back to being “Dr. Marvin Candle” (his other aliases include Dr. Mark Wickman and Dr. Edgar Hallowax), but when he was interrupted, he was called Dr. Chang? (According to Lostpedia, his first name is Pierre.) What’s up with the deception?
- It’s significant that Dr. Chang has a baby. This must indicate that the fertility problem that Juliet was brought to the island to solve had not yet occurred. There are also several young kids running around the DHARMA barracks during this scene, something we’re not used to seeing.
- Now we know the purpose of the Arrow Station (the abandoned station that the Tailies first discovered in season 2): it was for defense and intelligence gathering for the DHARMA people to protect themselves against the hostiles/Others.
- Chang drives to the Orchid Station in the same DHARMA-branded VW bus that Ben’s dad died in.
- Dr. Change (aka Candle) tells the construction worker at the Orchid Station that there are “rules that can’t be broken.” This is good. If we’re going to have this time-travel thing work at all, we need a rigid set of rules. Now we just need to know what those rules are. Faraday gives us the first of the “rules,” explaining that you can’t go back in time to change the future and comparing time to a street that you can move forward and backward along. The writers recognize that time-travel stories inherently lead to paradoxes (i.e., why doesn’t Hiro just keep going back in time ten minutes before Arthur Petrelli gets to formula until he’s finally able to succeed in destroying it?), but this rule might help keep the paradoxes to a minimum.
- Desmond, we’re told, is an exception to the rule. Why? I believe the answer is, as we found out last season, that Desmond is Faraday’s “constant”—someone that a time traveler can contact outside of the time shifts that can keep them anchored into the temporal universe. Faraday can communicate with Desmond (and Desmond alone), regardless of which time he is currently experiencing. This is a little built-in pressure valve for the writers in case Rule No. 1 gets too confining, I guess. It’ll be interesting to see what the other rules are.
- The worker with the bloody nose made me think of Minkowski and Faraday’s rat. Did his proximity to the time-travel making matter some how cause him to suffer the same affliction? And then, of course, we see Charlotte suffering from the same nose bleed later on in the episode. Charlotte needs to find herself a constant, and quick.
- So we know now that three years passed between the time the Oceanic Six left the island (and Ben turned the Frozen Donkey Wheel) until John Locke/Bentham’s funeral. I’m not sure that we knew that before.
- Faraday mentioned to Neil and the other people on the raft that it was because he was “inside the radius” that they moved in time with the island (or, uh, with the other people on the island—or, some of the people on the island— or whatever). Well, okay then. That’s really all the exposition we need to explain Dan’s continued presence on the show.
- So why did Sawyer ask Dan for his shirt, anyway? I kind of doubt it would have fit. Then again, Frogurt’s shirt fits in the next episode, so who knows. Sawyer would look funny wearing Dan’s skinny tie, though.
- The lawyers that show up at Kate’s house are from the law firm of Agostini & Norton. Agostini could be a reference to one of several Agostinis. Take your pick.
- Fugitive Kate is the best kind of Kate (as opposed to Mommie Kate or Crazy Girlfriend Kate, for example), in my humble opinion. Good thing she keeps an emergency stash of cash and guns in her closet. Old habits die hard, I guess.
- So this whole dislodged-from-time thing is awfully reminiscent of Slaughterhouse Five, the Kurt Vonnegut book. I’ve mentioned this before. In the novel, the main character, Billy Pilgrim, is similarly unstuck in time, and is trapped re-experiencing various scenes from his life (not from some mysterious island). I don’t remember the point exactly, except that it had something to do with the serenity prayer, which could relate to Dan’s insistence that you can’t change the past—you just have to accept the things you can’t change. By the way, this was not one of the books that Sawyer has read on the island, but it was mentioned in the background by a game show contestant in the episode “Meet Kevin Johnson” from last year.
- We still don’t know how the drug plane with Eko’s brother, Yemi, and a bunch of Virgin Mary heroin got to the island. But I bet Locke is really, really tired of seeing it. It has to bring back a lot of unpleasant memories for him, including Boone’s death and the time he found out that button pushing was just an empty mind game (except when it’s not).
- For someone who died in season 1, Ethan’s made a pretty good career as a recurring character.
- For me, the classic line of this season will ever be, “So when are we now, whiz kid?”
- Why exactly does Sun want to kill Ben? I mean, clearly she blames him for Jin’s death, but why does she blame him for Jin’s death?
- In the Action 8 News report, the newscaster refers to the Oceanic Six as “infamous.” How did they become so infamous in the last three years?
- In subtle ways, both episodes had key references to Charles Widmore, bringing him into the plot more centrally. Miles and Charlotte have an almost throwaway line about Widmore and how it “took him like 20 years” to find the island last time. This is interesting. Does that mean that Widmore is definitely tied to the DHARMA era of the island’s history? Also, the first scene from “The Lie” made it explicit that it is Widmore that Jack and the other Oceanic 6 people are thinking of when they decide to concoct a story to protect those left behind.
- Faraday tells Sawyer that his journal contains his life’s work on time travel, and also everything he’s learned about the DHARMA initiative. Fascinating. It makes me wonder about the openning scene. Was Faraday there because he was traveling through time, or was he an original DHARMA scientist? Of course, he would have been much younger when that event took place, but the answer could still be both.
- The compass that Alpert gives Locke is one of the six objects that were placed before young Locke when Richard comes and tests him in last season’s episode “Cabin Fever.”
- Here’s a puzzler for you: why doesn’t Alpert move through time with the other left-behinds? Is Alpert Locke’s constant. That would seem to make sense, as they can interact with each other despite the time shifts. Alpert can dress Locke’s wounds, even though that shouldn’t have happened in the past. I think it’s likely that there’s a Faraday-Desmond relationship going on with Locke and Alpert.
- Alternate theory to the above: the skipping-through-time phenomenon only affects those who arrived on the island from somewhere else. Alpert is a native, so it couldn’t effect him.
- Another interesting reveal was that Locke dying was not an accident, but was part of the plan all along. Which leads unavoidably to the question of whether Locke is actually dead, or just mostly dead, as Miracle Max might say.
- The beer that Lapidus takes from the fridge at the beginning of “The Lie” is Jekyll Island Red Ale, a fictional beverage. Jekyll Island is an island off the coast of Georgia.
- Although we are still going to require an explanation for the appearances of the undead at some point (best guess: manifestations of the island/Jacob’s will), I really liked seeing Undead Ana Lucia. Then again, I was a strong Ana Lucia apologist in season 2. I like that Ana Lucia gave very specific instructions to Hurley (get new clothes, take Sayid to someone you trust, avoid cops, don’t get arrested) and that Hurley ended up asserting his own will by defying her, the island and Ben, all in one fail swoop.
- So, three years after Oceanic Six returned and the island disappeared, Sayid has an ambivalent relationship with Ben. He’s been working for Ben, presumably until very recently, as a guy who, in Hurley’s words does lots of “crazy ninja moves and spy stuff.” And yet, he advises Hurley that, if he ever has the misfortune of meeting Ben again, do the exact opposite of what Ben says. Which of course, leads to the episode’s conclusion.
- When Hurley goes into the convenience store and buys the “I :heart: Shih-tzu” t-shirt, Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police” is playing in the background. Sample lyrics: “Theyre looking for me./ Every single night / They’re driving me insane / Those men inside my brain.” Very Hurley-esque.
- The introduction and destruction of Frogurt was a nice touch. You might recall that Frogurt was an off-screen character who was briefly referred to in the season 2 episode “S.O.S.” (He had helped Bernard construct his stone sign until he lost interest and abandoned the project.) He was jokingly referred to in the Cuse and Lindelof podcasts and next showed up in the webisodes as a peripheral character who had a crush on Libby. Low and behold, here he was in episodes 5.1 and 5.2, only to meet with a quick and satisfying end. It was another indication that the writers understood perfectly well their Nikki and Paolo mistake and were smart enough not to repeat it. Well done, I say. To borrow a phrase of an internet acquaintance of mine, Frogurt flambÃ© is mighty tasty.
- I loved that Hurley’s dad was watching ExposÃ©! (Yet another Nikki and Paolo reference–ExposÃ© was the show that was supposed to make Nikki into a star.) I especially liked that they got the same voiceover actor to do the line “Previously, on ExposÃ©” as does that job for Lost. Nice touch!
- Another “numbers” reference: When Ben is at the butcher shop, he takes the number “42”.
- I find it interesting that Vincent made the trip through time with the other Left Behinds. Interesting, and awesome. It helps to keep my dream alive that one day we’ll see a Vincent-centric episode.
- I loved the way that Miles goes hunting. He’s like a pig ghost whisperer. He can sense death, so he just wanders around the jungle until he finds a pig who has recently passed on to the next plane. It’s truly a sport in which patience and perseverance are rewarded.
- Hurley and his father are both drinking Jarritos soda in episode 2—grapefruit flavor to be exact. I’m a big fan of this drink, and the grapefruit variety in particular. Jarritos is very popular amoung Latinos, so there’s nothing remarkable or significant about this. I just like to talk about Jarritos, so I thought I’d mention it.
- I was very confused about who the men were that attacked Sawyer and Juliet (only to be knifed by Locke). The were brutal and efficient and referred to the island as “our island.” Were they paramilitary DHARMA-ites from the Arrow Station? Or were they an as yet unknown faction? I’m leaning toward the latter. All we really know about them is that one is named “Jones” and another “Mattingly.” Oh, and they are brutal. And baby-faced Jones has a fairly posh British accent.
- Speaking of knifing, I’m beginning to think that something about the island makes people violent. Think about it; everyone we know who has ever spent any significant time on the island, not just the Others/Hostiles, but the hippy-ish DHARMA folks and the Oceanic 815 survivors, has eventually turned very violent. The island has an incredibly high body count. Almost everyone has killed someone at some point. Is it something about the island itself that has this effect on people?
- You probably recognized the lady that Ben consults with at the end of “The Lie” as the woman Desmond met in episode 3.8 “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” Her name is Ms. Hawking, and she is the one who explained to Desmond that you can’t change the future, even if you know what’s going to happen, because the universe will always find a way to correct itself. (She was also in a photo with “Brother Campbell,” Desmond’s abbot from his days as a monk.) Query as to whether Mrs. Hawking is also Faraday’s mother, who sometimes lives in Oxford. Remember that Dan didn’t quite get her name out when he talked to hatch-dwelling Desmond. I’d say that the chances are pretty high.
- Contrary to popular internet rumor, Desmond does not call Ms. Hawking “Penney Locke” or “Mrs. Locke.” Instead, he asks her “any luck?” Right before that, there’s a continuity error in which Ben blows out the same long match twice. I don’t suppose that’s intentional. If it was, this would be The Matrix.
- Oh, and the computer Ms. Hawking is using to calculate the “event window” looks suspiciously like the Apple IIe computer from the Swan Station.
- In “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” Hawking told Desmond that, unless he keeps pushing that button every 108 minutes, every one will die. In this episode, she tells Ben that if he can’t ge everyone to go back to the island, then “God help us all.” She seems very into dramatic consequences.
All in all, I really enjoyed these episodes. Lost didn’t miss a beat from last year’s excellent season. It will be interesting to see how the show progresses. While the frenetic flashing through time made for an interesting and exciting season premier, it also has the potential to be extremely confusing and disorienting (even for Lost). I wonder if the Left Behinds will find a way to control it. Right now, I’m finding the on-island story line much more compelling than the off-island one.
Whatever happens, I’m just happy to have TV’s best show back and (for the time being, anyway), I’m confident that the writers are going to keep this thing going strong right through to the series finale.