Saturday, 6 February 2010

LOST 6.1 & 6.2 - "LA X: Part 1 & 2"

Saturday, 6 February 2010
WRITERS: Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse
DIRECTOR: Jack Bender
GUEST CAST: Emilie de Ravin, Zuleikha Robinson, Jenni Blong, John Hawkes, David H. Lawrence, Robert Miles, Daniel Roebuck, Ian Somerhalder, Sean Whalen, Sam Anderson, L. Scott Caldwell, Brad William Henke, Kimberley Joseph, Fredric Lehne, Mark Pellegrino, Hiroyuki Sanada, David Coennen, Mickey Graue & Kiersten Havelock
[SPOILERS] The final season got underway with a tremendously confident feature-length premiere that answered a surprising amount of questions, posed some more (naturally), and gave us a fascinating trio of storylines to follow till the conclusion of this landmark TV series. Now, because the show's so dense and complicated, my reviews aren't going to get too knotted up with trying to explain/recap events as I go along. So, if you're not watching this season, or have only been reading my reviews to get a sense of what's going on, well... you're ironically going to feel lost.

Flight 815 / LAX, 2004: Alternate Universe

To steal a phrase from Donnie Darko, it appears that detonating the Jughead hydrogen bomb in '77 created a "tangent universe"; essentially, a parallel dimension where Flight 815 didn't crash on its return trip from Sydney to Los Angeles in '04, and where the Island is now uninhabitable underwater (for reasons left unexplained.) I'm referencing Darko with the phrase "tangent universe" because, as Darko mythology attests, I get the feeling that this universe isn't going to exist for long because it's "unstable". That could be the reason Jack discovers a bleeding sore on his neck? How long before everyone starts bleeding? That's just a pet theory right now, but I predict that Jack (Matthew Fox) will come to realize he's existing in a divergent timeline and have to do something about it before his temporary reality collapses. He's already started to sense some of the strangers on his flight are "familiar", and might even have imagined Desmond's (Henry Ian Cusick) presence entirely, because it felt too coincidental that the Scot would be on Flight 815 in this alternate timeline and, well, he disappeared very mysteriously.

As mentioned by showrunner Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, this final season is going to reflect season 1, and this alternate timeline is the perfect way to bring back familiar faces or see characters taken back to their early forms.

Kate's (Evangeline Lilly) still a convict being transported back to L.A by Marshall Mars (Fredric Lehne), who escapes after landing at the airport and jumps into a taxi occupied by Claire (Emilie de Ravin); Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) is found choking on a pouch of drugs and resuscitated by Jack, although he's not too happy to still be alive for some reason (suicide attempt, grieving his brother?); Hurley's pretty much the same, but now believes he has good luck (the "bad influence" of The Numbers has assumedly been annulled because the Island's underwater?), Sawyer's back to being a laidback dude (is he a reformed conman now?), dead Boone (Ian Somerhalder) makes a return to the show as a helpful passenger; Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun (Yunjin Kim) are back to having a very strainged old-fashioned marriage, with Jin later stopped by security for carrying over $10,000 into the country undeclared; and Locke (Terry O'Quinn) is still wheelchair-bound after his tragic fall. The latter's presence was particularly bittersweet, knowing that the "real" Locke is now dead, and I was intrigued by the scene where Jack offered Locke free consultancy with his damaged spine. I think it's likely Jack's surgery will give Locke his mobility back in a later episode, and perhaps the two of them will eventually team-up to put history back as it was meant to be?

The Island 2007: crater rescue

For the losties around when the bomb went off, they appear to have jumped back to the future (from 1977 to the present of 2007), meaning they're now in sync with Ben (Michael Emerson), Alpert (Nestor Carbonell), Lapidus (Jeff Fahey) and Sun, whom we last saw on the beach beside the four-toed statue.

The Swan Station's back to being an imploded crater, and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) made the time trip without dying in the bomb blast, only to find herself buried beneath Swan rubble and prompting a desperate rescue attempt by Jack, Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Kate, Miles (Ken Leung), Jin and Hurley (Jorge Garcia) using a DHARMA van.

This rescue was actually the biggest reminder that, while the script was certainly pouring on the mythology and surprises, it never lost sight of the characters and emotions. Seeing Sawyer enraged at Jack for killing Juliet for a harebrained plan that, from their perspective, didn't even work, was fantastically emotive stuff.

You're really feel the benefit of having spent five years with these characters now. And Sawyer discovering Juliet survived, only for her to die in his arms by the time he burrowed down to her, was a genuine lump-in-the-throat tragedy, beautifully performed by Holloway and Mitchell. How strange that their relatively recent romance has proven to be more motivating than the Sawyer/Kate/Jack love-triangle that had four preceding years of back-story.

The Temple 2007: the ash, the spring, Others

Hurley was visited by (the ghost of?) Jacob (Mark Pellegrino), who told him to take the injured Sayid (Naveen Andrews) to The Temple to be healed, and at this point in Lost's history nobody's going to start asking questions about why Hurley wants them to do something so peculiar. Jin leads everyone to the Temple wall, where they crawl through the gap in the foundations, before they're kidnapped by an unknown faction of Others and taken to The Temple itself -- a very impressive pyramid set -- where they're reacquainted with Flight 815 stewardess Cindy (Kimberley Joseph), whose fate has been a mystery since she was last seen in season 3.

More importantly, they're introduced to the Temple leader, a forthright Japanese man called Dogen (Hiroyuki Sanada) who speaks through an interpreter called Lennon (Eastbound & Down's John Hawkes) because he hates the "taste of English" on his tongue. Initially skeptical of the visitors and ready to have them killed, he's only persuaded to help when Hurley mentions Jacob and reveals the contents of the guitar case he was asked to bring to the island: which contains a wooden Ankh (like that held by the four-toed statue of Tawaret), inside which is a message that apparently tells Dogen his group will be in trouble if they don't help Sayid...

It was a big surprise to get inside The Temple so early in the seasom, but perhaps another sign that season 6 isn't going to waste any time -- there's too much to cover and far too many questions to explain to bother teasing us with too much now. What I found fascinating was trying to guess the purpose of the Temple -- is it there to worship whatever Jacob is? Why are the Others inside wearing rags, which we'd assumed was just a disguise back in season 3? Is this faction of Others a higher, more privilged echelon? Were this group the reason the Others were initially so interested in children, as there were quite a few around (most notable those taken along with stewardess Cindy, who incidentally seems very at ease with everything now.)

Anyway, the big development here was seeing Dogen take Sayid's body into the Temple to be healed inside the waters of a spring, although its healing powers have apparent diminished (it will not longer heal Dogen's cut hand, and its colour has clouded). Sayid is submerged for a specific length of time, using an hourglass, despite protests that they're just drowning him, but the ritual doesn't appear to have worked and Sayid dies.

The spring's ineffectivness perhaps stems from the fact Jacob has been killed, which Hurley mentions in passing to Dogen and Lennon, setting in motion a lot of panic and activity as the Temple dwellers surround their compound with ash (to defend against Smokey) and launch a flare into the air. Later, after Jack and the others have paid their respects to Sayid, he miraculously comes back to life with a confused "what happened?" –- so should we assume the ritual worked, that Sayid will be "changed" in someway (as happened to Ben), or that he's perhaps going to be a more corporeal conduit through which Jacob will fight against his Enemy?

Also, considering the regenerative powers of this spring, is it possible the spring was responsible for bringing Christian's corpse back to life? Or was that just Smokey using a different disguise to manipulate certain people (Locke, Ben, Claire)?

The Statue 2007: Ben, Locke & Smokey

Ben has killed Jacob and burned his body on a fire, manipulated into this act by Jacob's "enemy", who has taken the form of dead Locke. One of the biggest surprises of the episode was getting confirmation that this mysterious nemesis of Jacob's is also the Smoke Monster, as Locke transformed into Smokey to attack and kill Bram (Brad William Henke) and his cohorts, who were themselves revealed to be Jacob's "bodyguards" summoned to the Island. Quite how they know so much about the Island has yet to be explained, especially as Bram knew how to defend himself against Smokey (standing inside a circle of ash.) Perhaps they're former-inhabitants who left the Island, or disciples of a secret society that know about the Island's role and that it needs protecting? Are they Temple dwellers and disciples of Jacob, sent out into the world long ago?

Regardless, with most of the team killed, Smoke-Locke leaves the statue with the bewildered Ben, strolling through the beach of rightfully confused people who know Loke's realy dead, before spotting the signal flare from The Temple in the sky. Interestingly, Alpert seems to realize who this new Locke must be and looks petrified, before Locke viciously beats him to the ground, announces his disappointment in the Others, and marches into the jungle...


While definitely something of an information overload in some respects, "LA X" was nevertheless a very exciting and revealing double-bill that confidently got down to business and maintained a strong, purposeful pace throughout. I'm very intrigued by the decision to create an alternate timeline (as it will be equally fun and fascinating to see how the character's lives would have developed had Flight 815 not crashed), and I'm at a loss to predict how that timeline's going to connect with the original. Clearly, inanimate objects like Locke's knives and Christian's body didn't make the "jump" to Timeline-X, so maybe there's a reason for that. After all, why didn't all of Flight 815's entire cargo disappear? Anyway, a huge part of the fun with Lost is theorizing over events, and this episode will certainly keep you scratching your head for a week.

Questions, Questions, Questions!

-- Why is the Island underwater in the timeline-X? Was it in some way a result of the hydrogen bomb going off in 1977?

-- Why does X-Jack have a bleeding sore on his neck?

-- Why was Desmond on Flight 815 in the X-timeline? Is he even real?

-- Why was Charlie disappointed he didn't die? Was he somehow aware he should actually be dead, so was subconsciously trying to put things right?

-- Where is Christian Shephard's coffin and body, and Locke's knives?

-- Why is Jin in America with all that money?

-- Why must Sayid survive, according to Jacob?

-- Will Sayid be "changed" because of his resurrection, as Ben was?

-- Why are the Temple Others dressed in rags?

-- Why does the ash protect you from the Smoke Monster?

-- Where is Jacob's Nemesis' "home", why does he want to go back, and why is he so "disappointed" in the Others?

-- When and why was Alpert once "in chains"? Was he a slave for someone? Perhaps aboard the Black Rock ship?

5 FEBRUARY 2010: SKY1 (HD), 9PM