It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and actually watched something on TV as it aired for the first time. Months, at least. With the advent of internet streaming, I can catch my shows any time I want, sometimes days, weeks, months or even years after the fact. It’s a matter of convenience, and if I have the time, the energy, the motivation or the desire to watch a show as it’s airing. Cos let’s face it: as much as I might enjoy a good episode of NCIS or Grey’s Anatomy, I might not want to clear my schedule. I might have other obligations that have come up. And once upon a time, that would have been it. I would have had to talk to someone else who had seen it, or caught it on reruns, in order to know what happened.
Thank God we don’t live in such barbaric times anymore.
Technologies like TiVo, OnDemand and timeshifting have made the prospect of watching TV on an actual TV much more palatable. It’s no longer about enslaving yourself to the programming schedule set down by the networks; it’s all about conveniencing the viewer in as many ways as possible, because television is a dying media. As the internet continues on its meteoric magnification as a medium of media, network broadcasting is going the way of the dinosaurs. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you check out the American news programs. Any of the American news programs. They run them like any other kind of programming: full of sensationalism and attention-grabbing storylines. The fact that what their program is about actually happens in the world is negligible in the long run: without eye-catching premises and shiny, pretty people to present it, the news can’t get any more viewers than Cougar Town or Flashforward can.
Actually, those two shows probably have better ratings than the news does.
But you take my point.
And yet. And yet. We get shows like Lost, hailed as the last, great television phenomenon, which can make us adhere to the programming schedules set out by the network overlords. Shows that can make us forget about convenience. Shows that have us planning premiere parties and shows that have us turning off our cell phones and getting our asses off our computers with time to spare. Shows that make us arrange our snacks, drinks and bathroom breaks like we were back in kindergarten again, just so we don’t miss a single minute.
Shows that make us sit down and watch them for the hour, or two hours, they’re first being aired on the lumbering monstrosity that is television.
And last night, I did just that.
You bet your ass I did just that.
Lost in Blue
After the major cliffhanger of the last season, when Juliet proved that old adage about never banging on armed nuclear devices with rocks, I wasn’t at all sure what I was going to expect for the new season. I even caught the first four minutes of the Season 6 premiere, titled “LA X”, online a week or so ago, and still didn’t have a clue. We were told that there would be a new storytelling device, like the flashbacks, flashforwards and time travelling used so prominently since Season 1, employed, but what that device entailed was kept a secret right up until the episode actually aired.
I shouldn’t be surprised that they seem to be taking inspiration from Abrams’ incredibly successful take on the Star Trek franchise, and utilizing what appears to be a split in realities, just to make sure that we’re kept guessing about where the fuck this show is going right up until the very end. In the main reality, which I shall henceforth refer to as the “Prime Universe”, the mix of the Jughead and the electromagnetic energy beneath the Swan Station site blows Jin, Hugo, Miles, Hurley, Juliet, Sawyer, Jack and their Dharma van back to what appears to be the present. Not exactly what they were going for. Yet, at the same time, the reset button did what it was supposed to do: In a blatant show of having their cake and blowing the shit out of it too, the writers have separated the simple “Will it work, yes or no?” into both yes and no. The second reality, the one in which the plane doesn’t crash on the island (which appears to be completely underwater, by the way), will be referred to as Earth-815.
Story segments between both the prime universe and Earth-815 are arced together using “flashsideways”. (Cos who didn’t see that terminology coming? And even if you didn’t see it coming – like me – doesn’t it seem just ridiculously logical in circumspect? When you’ve gone backwards and forwards in storytelling, and skipping through time like a madman, where’s left to go? Sideways, of course. Any writer worth their salt should know that.)
If there was a word I could use to describe the mood of the prime universe, it would be “tension”. And even that doesn’t cover it. It doesn’t even begin to cover it. From Benjamin clueing into the fact that the Locke entity has been manipulating him all this time to kill Jacob to Sawyer trying to beat the shit out of Jack again, to Hurley’s conversation with Jacob and subsequently Jack… “LA X” was 2 hours jam-packed with tension on Craphole Island.
The scenes with Sawyer’s determination to save Juliet were incredibly touching. Sawyer’s always been a man who’s been driven – at first, it was self-interest that drove him. But eventually, that self-interest was replaced by his care and concern for others. I was personally sad to see Juliet go; I thought that she and Sawyer were rather well-suited for each other. Even though she’s now only receiving guest-star billing (likely due to her being cast as a regular on V), I do hope that it isn’t the last time Elizabeth Mitchell is on the show. I doubt it will be; there’s still Earth-815, after all.
No, really. He does. Having spent the last episode and a half slowly dying from being gutshot during his attempt to smuggle WMDs through the Dharma camp, he finally kicks the bucket when he’s drowned in the Others’ temple beyond the wall. And eve though I remarked on the symbolism of the three men hauling him out of the magical healing spring – “How Christ-like he looks, with his arms splayed like that” – I didn’t really think he’d be back to life as the cliffie at the end of the episode. I mean, why should I? They’ve killed off a dozen other characters who’ve stayed more-or-less dead, some as important as Sayid too. And him opening his eyes and asking “What happened?” isn’t another instance of someone – or thing – masquerading as him while there’s another body to prove the difference.
Of course, my popular theory is that it’s not Sayid anymore. He sounded pretty strange when he spoke, like it wasn’t Sayid at all. So I’ll lay odds that it’s actually Jacob who’s somehow taken possession of Sayid’s body. And that’s cool. As long as Naveen Andrews stays around for me to drool over, I’ll be kosher with just about anything.
From the very first moment we set eyes on this parallel universe, there’s something just wrong with it. Jack’s hair isn’t the same. Neither is Rose’s. Cindy the Stewardess only gives Jack one extra mini-bottle of booze instead of two. Boone failed to bring Shannon back to Los Angeles (though this might have something to do with the reports that Maggie Grace had other obligations and couldn’t return to the show). Locke seems to have gone on his walkabout, but it’s possible he was lying about having gotten to go. Hurley claims to be the luckiest guy in the world. Desmond Hume is on the plane. At least until he disappears.
What. The. Hell?
As the story flashes back and forth between the Prime Universe and Earth-815, we learn more about the deviations of this world against the one we’ve been following for the last five years. Jack’s father’s corpse was never loaded onto the plane, and Oceanic Airlines has no idea of where it might be. (Underwater on the island, perhaps?)
Chillingly, there are a lot of similarities as well. When Kate attacks the marshal in the ladies’ room, she strikes him where the briefcase did when the plane crashed in the Prime Universe. Charlie did indeed go to the bathroom to get high (or ditch the heroin), but when Sayid kicks the door down, it’s revealed that he’s not breathing, and Jack begins CPR. Eventually, the good doc hauls a baggie of heroin out of Charlie’s throat – I guess instead of trying to flush it, he went the swallowing route. He doesn’t seem to be grateful to Jack at all, instead telling him, “I was supposed to die”, echoing his death in the Prime Universe.
Earth-815 is three years out of sync now with the Prime Universe.
- The smoke monster. Granted, this one was answered by default when the entity pretending to be John Locke didn’t refute Ben’s astounded accusation – in fact, all he said was something along the lines of “name-calling’s not very nice, Ben”. But all that does is point us to a new question: What’s the deal with the John Locke imposter? From previous episodes, we know that he’s a rival of Jacob’s and has been for quite a long time. I have nothing but questions about this guy, ranging from “can he only appear as people who are dead?” to “what is that fucker’s name?” I’m sure that, as the season progresses, these questions will be answered, but until then, they’re going to drive me crazy.
- Richard Alpert. He obviously recognizes the being parading about as Locke, as evidenced by his horrified “You?!” when said entity walks out of Jacob’s home under the statue’s foot. That doesn’t surprise me: Richard’s been portrayed as a man who knows more than he tells. We first saw him in the 50s, temporally speaking, and he quite literally hasn’t aged a day since. Rather like Jacob and his rival, no? What intrigues me now is what Locke 2.0 said to him: “It’s good to see you out of those chains.” What exactly was meant by that? And if he’s capable of recognizing the entity now, why couldn’t he before he was shown the real Locke’s dead body?
- Earth-815. Despite having “reset” the timeline, why are so many things different? Is this an unforeseen side-effect of the Jughead detonation? Granted, string theory is a little above my head, but could it be that ripples from the survivors’ callously changing things that are meant to be have resulted in changing littler, but just as important, things too? (And I don’t buy that the writers were just too lazy to remember that Jack’s head was shaved, or that Hurley had nothing but bad luck, or that Desmond wasn’t on the original flight – they’re way too clever for that.)
- Miscellanity. Are Rose and Bernard the Adam and Eve skeletons? What happened to the statue between the time we last saw it whole and the present 2004/2007 time period? Why is the reset out of sync with the Prime Universe time period? Will there be a meshing together of the two timelines again? Will we see more instances of déjà vu, like between Jack and Desmond on the plane?
With 15 episodes left to the series, I still have no idea as to what’s going on. The husband and I tossed around the most insane ideas we could think of last night – including gods, fallen angels, Cain, Abel and Seth, aliens and the last remnants of an intelligent dinosaur empire – and you know what? No matter how ridiculous the idea, you could make a valid, logical case for each of these suggestions (and a lot more we didn’t make), with facts, tidbits and info gleaned from the show to back you up. The writers know what they’re doing, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times.
“LA X” proved one thing to me: this season’s gonna mirror the first, just like Lindelof said it would, and that’s good. Season One was a mindfuck introduction to the world of Lost. To do less than go out with a mindfuck last season to finish up the experience would be a travesty.
And despite the advent of streaming Internet TV, OnDemand and timeshifting, I know exactly where I’ll be spending my Tuesday nights for the next 15 weeks.
On the couch, tuned into ABC.