(Thanks to The ODI for the screencap. Dark UFO has more up too).
Trippy opener, eh? So now instead of flashbacks or flashforwards we have... an alternate timeline? Interesting solution to both the show's format and the tricky question of whether you can change time or not. Alternate timelines are nothing new to science fiction (especially comic books - Marvel had the terrific Days of Future Past and Age of Apocalypse storylines while D.C. actually had a Crisis on Infinite Earths as a solution to all the alternate character histories they created over the years). So the way I think this works is that basically Juliet detonating the bomb did two things:
1) It sent all the time travelers back to the future - the normal timeline future in 2007 where Frank, Sun and Zombie Locke are. Looks like Jin and Sun can finally be reunited, eh?
2) It also created an alternate timeline like Daniel envisioned, whereby the energy from the Swan was dissipated, the Swan was never built, Desmond never pushed the button and Flight 815 lands in L.A. Oh yeah, and the Island sinks to the bottom of the ocean. That might not be good for mankind, methinks.
Both timelines seem to exist here and it's not clear if they're related at all - they certainly don't have to be; both timelines should be able to exist simultaneously. But both timelines are also pretty, well, awful for everyone involved. In the present day, normal timeline you have the Nemesis in charge, taking over the Island and Jacob dead. The alternate timeline might be even worse though. As Zombie Locke so coldly pointed out to Ben, everyone's lives were miserable before they crashed on the Island and Locke was the only was who was happy to have a second chance (I talk a bit about that here as well). Well, now in the alternate timeline they're by-and-large miserable once again AND the Island is underwater, which can't be good for the cosmos in general. Both timelines are probably good for the Nemesis, bad for the world. One way or another, our Losties are going to have to put things right this season, and that makes me very happy.
1) So is Nemesis really Smokey?
Going into the season I was really hoping Smokey and Nemesis weren't one and the same, but that certainly seems like what the deal is, eh? At the end of last season, I speculated on whether this was true - you can read the whole thing here - but I concluded that:
Weighing the two bodies of evidence, I think the writers certainly want to suggest that they’re one and the same, but that seems like too much of a cop-out to me. I’d like to think Smokey is actually not the Nemesis, but rather an independent third party who could possibly be aligned with him instead. I think the Nemesis was certainly impersonating Christian, who seemed to be just a wee bit too critical in spurring Locke forward on the Nemesis’ chessboard. Likewise I think the Nemesis impersonated all the dead people everyone saw off-Island (including Christian there). Smokey Alex was also very, very invested in having Ben obey Zombie Locke. Granted she could have been doing that in concert with the Nemesis, but Smokey Alex certainly suggests they’re one and the same.And so here we are. So what does this mean about the ash ring? Well, based on Bram and the Others' use of it, it looks like it keeps Smokey out. So that means the Nemesis took over Jacob's cabin when the ring was broken, whenever that was (maybe when Hurley stumbled across it).
But it’s just weird to me that an evil god who could rival Jacob could 1) be summoned 2) cares about whether people actually redeem themselves or not 3) cares about the button being pushed, a rather crucial part of the Nemesis’ plan. Without The Discharge, Charles Widmore never finds the Island, Jack never makes the phone call, the Island never disappears. It’s at complete odds with his plan.
I actually think Smokey and the Nemesis must have some similar abilities and perhaps Smokey is even a minion of the Nemesis (he certainly helped him when he impersonated Alex). But I think I’d be a bit disappointed if Smokey and the Nemesis turned out to be one and the same.
But it still seems strange to me that Smokey Nemesis cares at all about whether people repent or not. Or that he presented himself in a way to Locke that made him seem "beautiful." I guess it was just all part of his plan.
2) So did Daniel's plan work or not?
Well, yes and no. It seems that the bomb detonation created an alternate timeline (Timeline X) where Flight 815 actually landed in L.A. and we get to see everything that would have happened to the Losties if they hadn't crashed on the Island. Sort of.
The alternate timeline has a number of differences from the original:
1) Shannon didn't come back with Boone
2) Christian's coffin never ended up on the plane
3) Locke's knives never ended up on the plane
4) Charlie tried to commit suicide
5) Hurley considers himself lucky
6) Jack is the nervous flier instead of Rose
7) Jack uses (and spills) the extra vodka Cindy gives him
8) Jack has a weird mark on his neck, like he cut himself shaving... his neck
9) The Island is underwater!!!
Anything I missed? I'm sure there were more. Also, here's a list of somewhat significant Losties (other than Shannon) we didn't see on the plane (which doesn't mean they weren't on there, but it might be significant):
1) Michael, Walt and Vincent
4) Nikki and Paolo
And, of course, the biggest difference: Desmond's appearance and disappearance on the plane (which I address below). Claire (and Aaron) we saw afterwards in Kate's cab.
3) Is Desmond hopping around the alternate timeline?
I actually talked about this possibility - which I called the "Bishop Scenario" - last season:
But if they can change the future, I'm betting they will end up changing it for the worse (i.e. catastrophically) and end up in Season 6 trying to change it back. That would be kind of fun. Furthermore, let's say they do change the future catastrophically, but Desmond isn't affected.Now this isn't exactly what seems to be happening. Both timelines seem to exist here, not one completely overriding another. But Desmond, to me, certainly seemed to know Jack and seemed to want to say something to him. I think he's likely going to be the key to sorting this whole mess out.
In other words, you get kind of a Back to the Future, Part II dark alternate future where Kate's in jail, Sawyer's dead, Jack's a druggie and Hurley's insane. But Desmond wakes up in this alternate future, not only without Penny and Charlie, but with a complete memory of the old time line (also known as the Bishop effect)! He's freaked out and desperate to get back to the old time line, back to his previous life. So what does he do? He gets as much of the old band back together as he can and manages to convince them to help him get back to the Island. Once there, he changes things back, even though it means some of his friends (Charlie, Daniel) will die. I kinda like that idea too.
And I do think it's worth pointing out that Charlie's suicide attempt was fairly significant. His life was so miserable in the alternate timeline that he would rather end it himself. In contrast, his death on the Island was ho noble and heroic that Desmond named his first born son after him. For the most part, the people who died on the Island at least had a chance to redeem themselves. Some didn't (Nikki, Paolo, Eko), but several, like Charlie, Locke and Rose and Bernard, did the best they could to leave their old lives behind.
4) Is Jacob now in Sayid's body?
This seems like what they're insinuating, but it's too early to tell. Obviously since "the water in the spring wasn't clear" something didn't quite go as planned. I'm assuming the water was dirty because Jacob is dead. I wonder if it's like the fountain of youth (or perhaps like Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits). Might explain how Richard doesn't age, eh?
5) So how does everything get corrected?
I'm thinking it might be up to Desmond. If Desmond can time travel, he might be the only capable of correcting things, certainly in the alternate timeline since the Island there is underwater. In the present day timeline, Jacob did set some things up in the past so that Jack and company would end up in present day. That's why he gave Hurley the guitar case with the message for the Others, so there are some safeguards there and ghostly Jacob seems to have some sort of plan.
But the real question is what is the correct timeline really supposed to look like? At what point, what critical moment do things really go awry?
It seems to me the pivotal moment is when Jack makes the phone call and the Oceanic Six leave the Island. There he had a choice, like Jacob says, and it seems he made the wrong one. If they don't leave the Island, they don't go back in time and the Nemesis never finds his loophole. So I guess to really correct everything, someone has to go back and stop Jack from making the call. Right, brutha? ;)
Lots of stuff I really loved in this episode:
- Seeing Cindy, Zach and Emma again. Doubly good to see Cindy in her trippy Others hippie outfit
- A cameo by Ezra James Sharkington on the underwater Island
- Raise your hand if you thought something was wrong with the broadcast when Kate first appeared in the tree. I was really worried for a few seconds there. Nice effect.
- I thought Sayid's little speech to Hurley on where Hurley thought he'd go if he died because of all the bad stuff he'd done in life was really well done on the show. Of course, the whole time Em was saying "they'd better not kill Sayid!"
- Another quote from Em a short time later: "The best scene so far was Sayid kicking in the bathroom door." :)
- Loved seeing the exercise bike in the Swan wreckage
- Twas nice to get a healthy dose of Smokey this episode
- The montage at the end of the first hour as the plane lands was simply terrific
- Anyone notice that the usual noise that precedes a flashback was different for the transition to the alternate timeline? Sounded kinda like Smokey's noise to me...
- Nice seeing Montand's body - guess the Others just left it there. Speaking of which, how did Smokey get underneath the Temple? Wouldn't the Others have kept him out?
- Montand's book was Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard. Desmond was reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.
- I liked Kate's escape from the Marshall. It would be so refreshing to get Season One Kate back for the final season
- On the other hand, I'm almost relieved that Juliet's dead just so the love triangle can go away. I cringed when Kate was calling down to Sawyer in the Swan wreckage. Shut up! Give them a moment's peace, why don't you!
- Juliet's message to Sawyer was that "it worked." Wonder how she knew?
- I liked the spring in the Temple and the fact the water was dirty with Jacob gone
- Was amusing to watch Jack get his butt kicked by the mysterious Asian leader of the Others (who looked a lot like Toshirō Mifune of Seven Samurai fame)
- Loved seeing Frogurt and Arzt again
- Hurley's observation that the Others' Leader could understand him was clever for Hurley
- I imagine a lot of people would pick Jack and Locke's interaction in the airport (where Jack offers to try and fix him) as the best scene of the episode. But thought the Nemesis' speech to Ben about Locke was even better. Kinda summed up my thoughts on Locke for a very long time - he was always a pathetic figure on the show, but it was the fact he thought - with devout intensity - that he was destined for something greater that gave him a kind of nobility and admiration that made us really like him. That's why so many people were frustrated in the second season when Locke found out his destiny was to sit in a Hatch and push a button but that's really all his life has ever been about. The "I don't understand" speech was heartbreaking, but somehow perfect.
- Wanna know the date of the final episode of LOST? Via Darlton on Jimmy Kimmel: Sunday, May 23rd, 2010. That is NOT Memorial Day weekend - it's the weekend before. LOST party, anyone? :)
I'd say this was the best season opener since the second season and third best overall behind the first two. It was action packed, moved things along, had a nice twist on the show's format and really the only stuff I didn't like was the love triangle. I'd say they really kicked the final season off with a bang. 4/5, maybe higher.