No offense, but your favorite TV show is lame compared to Lost. There’s never been an episodic cinematic series in which all of life’s greatest mysteries –– death, the afterlife, time, space, and, yes, even love –– are wrestled with and by some of the finest character actors in the business. Unless your idea of good cinema amounts to pretty people being catty, witty, and melodramatic and if you haven’t jumped into Lost with both feet, you need to A.) go to Blockbuster and rent the previous five seasons, B.) take a weekend to watch them all (and you will; the show is that engrossing), and C.) tune in to ABC next Tuesday at 8 p.m. for the second episode of the final season. Then we’ll talk. And if you can’t sit through the entire first season, I’ll buy you a Mickey D’s gift card. I’ll disown you as a friend or reader. But at least you’ll be able to satisfy your clearly immature, clearly underdeveloped palate at the Golden Arches.
Last night’s two-hour season premiere was dramatically impeccable, as usual, but maddeningly obtuse. As usual. Lingering questions were half-answered, and a dozen new questions were introduced. (Spoiler alert!) We now know for certain that the entity inhabiting fake-Locke (or Flocke) is indeed Smokey, the murderous cloud of black smoke that snakes through the island and whose pure existence scares the bejesus out of everyone and that probably is a manifestation of the Man in Black, which obviously means that other island corpses –– Christian Shepherd, Mr. Eko’s priest brother Yemi, possibly even tree-chopping Horace –– have also been inhabited by the creature. What I don’t understand is Smokey’s relationship to Ben, who, last season, unleashed the beast on Keamy and his men and after they killed Ben’s daughter. If Ben was an agent of Jacob’s, and Jacob is now and has always been MIB/Flocke/Smokey’s archenemy, why would Smokey have taken orders from Ben? I understand that in last night’s episode Ben said to Flocke/Smokey, “You used me,” which most likely means “You used me to do your dirty work and fatally stab your archenemy Jacob in the heart” but could also mean “You used me to assume responsibility for the murders that you committed ‘at my command,’ ” assuming that morality is immaterial to entities such as Smokey and Jacob but still matters to humans such as Ben. Co-producers Damon Lindelof and J. J. Abrams must ultimately reconcile the Ben-MIB/Flocke/Smokey relationship, a formidable challenge.
One thing you can bet the house on is that Ben, who is still fuming over his daughter’s murder, is planning something and that he will exact painful revenge against MIB/Flocke/Smokey. Which. Will. Be. Awesome!
I don’t have any theories –– I watch the show to be entertained, not necessarily to figure it out. However, I was intrigued to learn that each character in each parallel universe is pretty much the same: Jack is still a doctor, Kate is still a fugitive, Sayid is still a badass, Locke is still a sad sack. Each character’s fate seems to have been determined by each character’s, uh, character and/or the choices that he or she has made through life. Hurley, though, is still a millionaire lottery winner, which could not have been determined by any choices that he would have made. Destiny, not fate, seems to be in control. To what end? Think about the characters and think about the normal progression of episodic cinema. In exceptional movies and TV shows –– and, no matter the ending, I do believe that Lost is exceptional –– the main characters undergo a transformation, mainly from damaged to either less damaged or fixed. Think about, say, what would make Jack “happy”? Probably saving everyone on the island and thus proving himself to his (deceased) overbearing father. Or maybe Jack will come to terms with the fact that no son should have to prove himself to his father and that letting go –– letting things be as they may –– is in itself a form of redemption. In what ways would the island and its myriad powers contribute to Jack’s redemption? You can’t change the past, but maybe the island can allow you to choose –– or help you to choose –– the reality in which you want to live, understanding that your reality isn’t an immoral one, one in which you murder people freely, molest children, or commit other mortal sins and not face punishment.
But what’s up with the “rules” that prohibit Jacob and MIB from killing each other or that at least prohibit MIB from killing Jacob? You would think that fantastical super-beings such as Jacob and MIB would not be beholden to anyone or anything. Weird.
In general, I admit, I perk up when Ben, MIB/Locke/Flocke/Smokey, Richard Alpert, Hurley, Desmond, and Miles are onscreen, probably because their powers, purposes, and intentions are still unclear and the characters themselves are key to the unraveling of the island’s mysteries. Sawyer, Sayid, Juliet, and Jin are cool. Jack is OK. Sun and Charlie? Yawn. Kate, I could totally do without. She’s great to look at, but I’m just not sure what purpose she serves other than as Piece No. 3 in the (forced) love triangle with Jack and Sawyer. Plus, her badass shtick is annoying and hard to believe –– like someone of her stature could take down a U.S. marshal and with not one but both hands tied behind her back. Puh-lease. I’d much rather Kate would have been sucked down the well than Juliet. Then again, that would have made Kate actually interesting …