We are hours away from the arrival of the third episode of Lost’s last season, a Kate-centric affair entitled “What Kate Does.” That’s right, you heard me: third episode. Even though this is only week two, last week’s two-hour premiere counted as two episodes. Which means that after tonight, we will already be finished with 1/6th of the season. Holy Smokey! And it feels like the season only began last week. Wait…what?!
My mind is still reeling — in a good way — from what we got out of “LA X.” The premiere inspired a wide range of reactions — mostly positive, but with varying degrees of confusion (from severe frustration to just-rolling-with-it) or interest in the parallel world storyline the show has introduced this season, tracking the lives of a group of familiar characters who are actually profoundly different than the castaways we know, alterna-world people who landed safely in Los Angeles instead of crashing on an Island which, in their world, is actually sunk. One of my fave Lost bloggers, a very astute and very creative fellow who goes by the handle Fishbiscuit, has posted an insightful, well-researched and somewhat mixed assessment of “LA X.” I encourage you to read it. I don’t share his opinion, but I respect — and am greatly entertained — by his engagement.
Here within the halls of EW, our contingent of Lost fans had a variety of different reactions, too. Periodically through the season, I’m going to be sharing their thoughts with you, so that together, we might be able to reflect back the Lost community’s varied responses to the final year of the show. Perhaps one of these fine folk speak for you. Consider:
WHITNEY PASTOREK: The revelation of Smokey Locke was cool, the alternate-universe plane stuff a real brain-buster, and I’m glad Sayid’s not dead. But I’m not sure we needed the introduction of yet another mysterious group of people, or more fake-looking ancient architecture. If they don’t come up with some answers by the end of this season, I’m gone. Oh, wait.
ADAM B. VARY: Despite all my concerns about a continuity-free reboot going into Season 6, what was most surprising and satisfying about the premiere was how completely engaged I was with the rebooted timeline — after spending five seasons with these people, seeing (most of) them (mostly) back to their pre-crash selves was incredibly moving and resonant to me. And Terry O’Quinn’s killer pimp acting kicked my keister five ways from Tuesday. But the writers really need to begin shifting gears away from answering mysteries with more mysteries. The New Big Mystery of the dual timelines is great, but the new small mysteries — the Japanese dude and his superfluous translator, the dirty hot-tub and its all-important hour glass, etc. — just felt tedious and unnecessary. The ground is already fecund with storytelling possibilities; there’s no need to seed it with even more fertilizer.
DALTON ROSS: My biggest problem with the Lost premiere was this: Too much Kate, not enough Locke/Fake Locke. Never really cared about Kate as a fugitive, so it was kind of a bummer to be served a heaping helping of that yawner of a storyline. I’m also worried that the flash-sideways trick won’t carry the same emotional resonance as the flashbacks. In the flashbacks, the present and past were linked in that we saw how events that had already transpired forged the personality of a person in the here and now. The flash sideways, however, had no such connection and was instead merely a case of “now you’re here; now you’re there.” Oh, and the underwater scene looked like bad CGI from a SyFy channel movie starring Dean Cain and a posse of serpents. I’m just sayin…
SEAN SMITH: It was wonderful to see all these characters again, but an hour into the premiere, I found myself suffering from mystery-fatigue. This series has always been so brilliant about implanting new burning questions into our brains, and we’ve been soooooo patient, but now that we’re in the final season, I’m ready for some f—-ing answers already. So, okay, the Man in Black is the smoke monster and John Locke is really dead (and Terry O’Quinn needs an Emmy, stat!), but now we’ve got these characters in two different locations in two different versions of reality, and we don’t know why or which reality (Both? Neither?) is real, and whether Juliet’s really dead, or just dead on the Island. And if Sayid is alive on the Island, does that mean he’s dead in Los Angeles? And why is it that no one on this series ever asks follow-up questions? These characters may be comfortable with not knowing, but I’m increasingly not. Of course, I’ll be sticking it out to the bitter end, but I have to say I’m frustrated. We have five seasons of questions burning in our brains. Did we really need a whole set of new ones? I feel like my head needs a hug.
As for me… well, you know what I think. All 8000-plus words of it. If you haven’t read my recap of “LA X,” feel free to read it now in preparation for tonight’s new episode. Then come right back, because as it happens, I somehow managed to miss some stuff. Can you believe that? Truth is, as much as I write about Lost each week, I can actually write even more. Yes, it is a sickness. Also, when I’m blurry-eyed and blurry-minded at 3 AM, little things can slip my mind. Little things like… Charlie’s entire storyline last week. (The shame, the shame…) So beginning this week, I’m going to post a list of “Things Doc Missed” as part of each Tuesday’s “Countdown To Lost” PopWatch post. The title was inspired by two top-notch Lost bloggers, Vozzek (“Things I Noticed”) and Nikki Stafford (“Things Nikki Noticed”). Without further ado:
THINGS DOC MISSED: “LA X”
Desmond’s got a wedding ring. But are Jin and Sun even husband and wife?
Sharper eyes than mine alerted me to the fact that Sideways Desmond was wearing a wedding ring on the airplane. Maybe he’s living a happily ever after life with Penelope somewhere in the world. Last week in my recap, I speculated that perhaps Desmond found new love with the woman he got his sailboat from—Libby. (As expected, the DesPen/PenMond lobbyists are now calling for my censure.) As for Jin and Sun, I defer to this email I received from reader William Riedel: “Doc, Nobody seems to be mentioning it, but it doesn’t appear that Jin and Sun are married. You don’t see a ring on either. Watch the scene with the customs again. The second customs lady asks Sun, “Ms. Paik, do you speak English?” It’s very quick, but she uses her maiden name…Thought it was interesting.”
I actually feel really horrible about this. Allow me to atone for that error right now, using the format I employed for the other characters:
ISLAND WORD: The ex-rocker went to Australia to talk his brother into reuniting their band Driveshaft. When he said no, Charlie got wasted on drugs and booze. On the plane, an altercation with Cindy the flight attendant caused him to flee into the bathroom and attempt the old drug-flush. Then… CRASH!
SIDEWAYS WORLD: It was cool seeing Cindy, Boone (who went down under to bring Shannon back from a bad boyfriend; this time, she wouldn’t go), and especially Charlie, though the Sideways circumstances were pretty grim for this particular iteration of Mr. Pace. Charlie tried to swallow his bag of H — an apparent suicide attempt. His crisis gave Jack a hero moment that required him to improvise, which reminded of the early Lost stories in which the clever, unbeatable doc relied on wits and scraps to pull off life-saving procedures for his fellow castaways. Still, Sideways Charlie was embittered toward Jack for saving his life, embellishing Jack’s status in castaways lives as the unwanted/pathological savior-fixer. But I would say Jack made the right call in helping Charlie. It’ll be interesting to see if Jack’s hard-charging hero act will play as a virtue or vice in this world.
Last week, I claimed Sayid’s Sideways storyline didn’t appear to have any deviations from Island Sayid’s history. That’s not true. Sharper eyes that mine have pointed out to me that former Iraqi soldier and torturer had an Iranian passport. I’d be surprised if it’s a continuity error. Does Sideways Sayid have a whole new nationality in the Sideways world? Might this be a fake passport for some manufactured identity he’s using? Something to track.
I neglected to mention last week that The Temple’s English-hating master continued Lost’s tradition of naming characters after notable deep thinkers. Dogen = Dogen Zenji, the 13th century Japanese Zen Buddhist master, founder of the Soto School of Zen. I’m no Zen expert, but my understanding is that Dogen emphasized the practice of sitting in silent meditation. But he put even more emphasis on the idea that there should be no distinction between daily living and spiritual discipline, that they should be integrated in a kind of lifestyle/mindset of constant, moment-to-moment enlightenment seeking, or what Christians might call “ceaseless prayer.” In doing so, “the Truth appears, there being no delusion. If you understand this, you are completely free…” How much of this might get reflected in the Lost matrix this season? We shall see.
A new name for Fake Locke
David Skidmore in Murfreesboro, TN writes: “Please use the phrase Locke-ness Monster in your write up. Pretty please? My friends are trying to settle on a name for the Lockes beyond Flocke, Alterna-Locke, Beached Locke, etc. We have a contest going and if you validate this and give me a dash of credit it would be the checkmate I need.” David, feel free to declare victory! From now on, “Locke-ness monster“ it shall be! (But I must tip my hat to my “Totally Lost” pal Dan Snierson, who coined this phrase for me weeks ago.) Also a big shout out to Adam B. Vary’s father, from whom I am swiping “dirty hot tub” to label The Other’s polluted magic spring. Look for the new jargon to make their first appearances in my recap of “What Kate Does,” posting tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for other stuff to do in advance of Lost tonight, there’s my Doc Jensen column, or the new episode of “Totally Lost” below, complete with guest appearances by Matthew Fox, Terry O’Quinn, and Michael Emerson, whose cryptic comments about the Sideways storyline have had Lost fans buzzing all day. Check it out—and come back here right after the episode to start the conversation about “What Kate Does.”
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Photo Credit: Mario Perez/ABC