Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lost Episode Review 6.01 & 6.02, "L.A. X, Parts I & II"

"Nothing's irreversible..."

(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.

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.
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 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
2) Eko
3) Ana-Lucia
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.

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.
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.

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.


R.C. said...

We've gone from Flashbacks to flash-forwards to flash-sideways! I love it!

Missie said...

I totally agree with Em on the bathroom door kicking!

I like that they've brought back the great back and forth between Jack and Locke. The scene in the airport was amazing, as well as the plan landing montage that you mentioned.

"Locke's" speech to Ben was almost exactly what Ed and I said to each other after last season. That final thought in his head is heartbreaking.

I really liked how they brought back "the pen" from the pilot. Remember when Boone was freaking out and wanting to help Jack get Rose breathing and he starts running all over the place looking for a pen to do a trach, even though Jack had no intent of using it? And last night Jack was going on about getting a pen to do a trach on Charlie. Speaking of which, what the hell did they pull out of Charlie's throat?

I enjoyed the little bits of Smug Sawyer that we got from the plane and airport.

Jay said...

I actually meant to mention this, Miss, but it kinda got lost in my notes. There were many parallels in the this episode to scenes in the first season, not just the pen, but I'm almost certain that the scene where Jack's trying to revive Sayid in the Temple is nearly word-for-word equal to the scene where he's trying to revive Charlie after Ethan strangled him.
Of course, he succeeded in the latter.

Also seeing everyone in their clothes from the Pilot was very cool, especially Sawyer's ugly grey shirt.

Oh, and I think they pulled Charlie's little bag of heroin out of his throat. He might have just been trying to hide it from customs by eating it when he went into the bathroom, but his reactions after Jack saved him made him seem like he just decided to die when it became stuck in his throat.

Missie said...

I think your right about Sayid/Charlie.

I also thought we'd heard Sawyer's "How am I supposed to know what to look for if you don't tell me what it is?" line before too.

I was kind of waiting to hear Frank's name as the pilot on 815. Wasn't he the orginally scheduled pilot of the one that crashed? I thought I recall him saying that when he's on his bender at his apartment.

Missie said...

And I know Sawyer first comes up to Jack on the Island to ask if he can be of some help, but it's in medical care, not kicking down doors. Not that I'm complaining. :)

Jay said...

Yes, Frank was supposed to be the original pilot of 815 but switched with his friend - who eventually became Monster Chow - at the last moment. I was a bit surprised Frank wasn't on the LA X Flight 815 as well.

Carly said...

I forgot that when a new Lost is on I can't sleep after!
The two time lines angle is really interesting to me and I agree with you Jay in a way that these are both not really good for anyone but He Who Shall Not Be Named. The Losties are going to have to decide at some point that it was better in the first place and maybe get the chance to go back again and put it right? But I think they will make Jack more central to that then Desmond. Jack at this point is quite despondent, he feels like he caused all this turmoil and even death and now he just doesn't know what to do, his face was just defeated. He has not had any faith in anything anyone has told him (i.e. Locke), he is the "man of science" who felt he had to "do" something rather then just "believe".
But Desmond will have a big role in this I am sure.

I just don't know if I buy the Sayid being Jacob now thing still. Would it be weird or to "reaching" if they will bring Locke's real body to the spring and use that to give Jacob's soul a body to use so you have like the two Locke's battling each other? Hmm. Just don't know.

Carly said...

I did like the scene with the Nemesis and Ben. He totally creeped me out when they zoomed in on him!
I thought the writing in the Locke/Jack scene was very good and made me miss the old Locke.
I also liked Richard's face when he realized the Nemesis has assumed a real body, not just dead ones this whole time.

I took the whole Nemesis being the Smoke Monster thing, not as that the Nemesis was trying to get people to be repentent, but that he was manipulating everyone - Locke, Ben, to get them to do what he wanted. It is weird because remember Ben called up the smoke monster to kill the men who worked for Widmore, and Ben admitted he had never spoke to Jacob, so was he really working for, even if he really didn't know it, the Nemesis?

I was glad some things were cleared up like the kids and the stewardess and Smokey.
I love thinking Lost-like again!

Hannah said...

I always love to read your posts. I am so happy the show is back. I wonder though, with the very last episode being on 5/23. what will there be to care so much about when the show is over?

Anonymous said...

Awesome episode.

I don't think Jacob is in Sayid's body, though I do think Jacob will come back in somebody's body (remember, Frank was a "candidate" for something).

The most fitting candidate would be Jack, to mirror the rivalry/battle between him and Locke.

Jay said...

Carly/Grub - I would love to see the two Lockes battling it out. That would be just awesome!

But I do agree with both of you that Jack is going to have a central role in the resolution of the show, especially he's certainly the biggest reason things are so screwed up right now. Jacob inhabiting Jack's body would be very cool as well. After all, Jack and Locke do represent the two major philosophical differences on the show, much like Jacob and Smokey. It would be symbolically important to have them face off at the end.

Hannah - Thanks! I'm looking forward to the end so that we can look back at the series as a whole. Lost will always be remembered on TV as a unique show because of its structure and influence. But the show's legacy will be determined on how well people like the ending - will it clunk, like the ending of "The Dark Tower" did with many fans (although I personally loved it), or will we have a twisty, satisfying conclusion that leaves people saying later "you have to watch this show through to the end." I'm looking forward to being able to see the series as a whole. :)

Arcticroses said...

Jacob: Your friend Jin won't be able to see me

Hurley: Why's that

Jacob: Because I died an hour ago

Hurley: Sorry, dude. That sucks.

Jacob: Thanks.

One of the best scenes of the evening!

I'm looking forward to more. Can't wait to see what you're thinking.