Friday, February 5, 2010

Lost Premiere: What It All Means

Heading into the premiere of the final season of Lost, I, like most fans, had some predictions about what we were going to see in the aftermath of the bomb. Aided by a commercial that seemed to show a clip of a jetliner landing on a runway, I came to the conclusion that the premiere would begin with the revelation that Juliet's bomb gambit had worked and that as a result of the explosion, an alternate reality where the plane never crashed would be created.

Well, I was half right. Because the bomb worked, but the scenes that take place after the plane's safe landing are no alternate reality. Rather, they are flashbacks to the events that led up to the plane's crash to begin with.

Now, I know what you're thinking: wtf? How could the events after the plane not crashing lead to the plane crashing? Are you, in fact, deranged? But bear with me, everyone, because thanks to the crazy writers at Lost, we're about to be treated to yet another epic time travel mind-bender that would make Steve Englehart green with envy.

Right from the start of the series, fans have been puzzled and occasionally irritated by the number of unbelievable coincidences that apparently led up to the crash of Oceanic 815. Sawyer and Christian just happen to share a drink at an Australian bar? Locke's father is the same guy that conned Sawyer's parents? Libby not only gave the boat to Desmond, she was in the same institution as Hurley? Really? And the only explanation given for these events was the repeated warning, echoed season after season, not to confuse coincidence with fate.

Well, now we're about to discover the truth of this, because the bomb did work, the plane didn't crash and everyone safely landed in Los Angeles. But that's not the end of the story: it's only the beginning. Remember Daniel's repeated insistence that everything that has happened will happen? Well, he might have changed his tune at the end, suddenly deciding that fate could be changed after all, but then again, maybe he didn't. And if he did, maybe he was wrong. Because my theory is that the plane safely landing isn't changing history at all, but is merely another part of the time loop the characters are caught in. Blowing up the bomb so the plane landed safely wasn't changing history, because it had already happened that way. And the events that followed (or will follow, from our point of view as viewers the plane's safe landing directly lead to the plane crash in season one and all the events that have happened since. Just as season five focused on the gorup's efforts to prevent the plane's crashing, then, season six will revolve around their (previous) efforts to cause the crash in the first place.

Just what will be the trigger I'm not yet sure, but we already see some of the threads: Kate's madcap escape with Claire as a hostage, Jack and Locke forming a doctor-patient relationship that likely can go nowhere good, Hurley's new, happy-go-lucky demeanor and Sawyer's conman instincts. My guess is that these thread will combine to cause one disaster after another for everyone involved; and that the lives of the Oceanic Six and the other passengers of 815 will become hopelessly ruined; and that as a result, Jack, with his endless desire to fix everything, will end up going back in time to change the past in an effort to prevent the disasters that have befallen him since the plane's landing. His answer? To crash the plane and erase those events from history.

And so everything taking place in the 'safe landing" timeline will actually have occurred prior to the opening of season one; and all those coincidences will turn out not to be coinicidences at all, but rather carefully orchestrated manipulations by Jack and company as, armed with knowledge of their future, he pushes and nudges everyone into place to ensure the plane goes down and erases the mistakes of that timeline.

So how will all this be arranged? Just as Juilet's declaration that "it worked" is evidence that this new timeline isn't a dream or alternate reality, I think the presence of Desmond on 815 is a clue towards how the events of that timeline will resolve. Desmond, with his ability to travel back and forth through his own timeline, is the one character whose memory will not have been altered by the bomb; rather, as this is just one of the inevitable loops of fate, he would retain knowledge of it. I think he will appear again to Jack and begin guiding him towards causing the plane crash, though for what purpose I'm not yet sure.

No doubt it will have something to do with Jacob (who totally was resurrected in Sayid's body), but whatever the reason, we're all in for a treat. Because this new timeline isn't some alternate reality but instead will be the key to understanding all the mysteries of the show.

And as Daniel might say: it's about time.

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What do you think about Jack's familiarity (" I know you?") with Desmond? Misdirect?

No, I don't think so. Jack and Desmond did meet prior to the Oceanic 815 flight. That's one of the "coincidences" I mentioned. They both showed up at a track in Los Angeles one night to run away their troubles or something, when Desmond was there getting ready for his boat race and Jack was dealing with his ex-wife.

Good memory! I'd totally forgotten about that.