Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lost Season 6 Premiere ('LA X")


In a series known for offering up so many complicated questions, the two-part episode of Lost's sixth and final season asked some big ones this time. The biggest: Is it possible Jack's plan to reset the clock and prevent the crashing of Oceanic Flight 815 actually worked? The 2004 "flash sideways" scenes depicting what seemed to be an alternate reality with the plane landing safely, along with ghost whisperer Miles' interpretation of Juliet's final words to Sawyer ("It worked") in the 2007 timeline, lead us to believe that it could have. If not, what's the point of that? Or showing the island submerged underwater Atlantis-style? And if the plan worked, why has nothing SEEMED to change following the detonation of the H-bomb in the season 5 finale ("The Incident") other than the gang being transported to the present?

Of course, we'll get our answers (and I have my theories) but overall I felt a little let down by this premiere for a couple of pretty valid reasons. I enjoyed myself watching it and as usual it's fun to speculate how the writers will sort this out but it couldn't help but feel like a step backwards at least in comparison to the groundbreaking direction the show headed in these past two seasons. Seeing a reality in which Oceanic 815 didn't crash was fascinating in some ways, but unpleasant in others because it unfortunately resulted in the return of some uninteresting characters I didn't want to see again and situations the series had wisely moved past. I understand the necessity of their inclusion from a mythology standpoint but it did hurt the episode as a premiere and decreased its entertainment value, especially in the first hour.

I can't say I was thrilled getting to spend quality time with Charlie, Claire and Boone again. Necessary I know, but unenjoyable just the same considering those characters' departures really benefited the show. It's no coincidence the series only really started to pick up steam after Charlie's demise. I'm hoping all of this was just something that the writers had to get out of the way in the premiere and they won't be seeing as much face time moving forward. Revisiting Kate's problems with the law was also a drag since we've been there so many times before and you wonder what will be done with characters like Sun and Jin whose pre-crash back stories were such a bore the first time around. That can't be said for Jack and Locke, whose backstories are the most interesting of the series, which is why their first meeting was the highlight of this entire episode.

When Jack asked Locke how he ended up in the wheelchair was I the only one thinking he would tell him: "Well, my father stole my kidney and tossed me out of an eight story building." The possibility of Jack helping him (giving him his business card) and that we could see further appearances from Locke's evil father practically made the two hours for me. It was also great to see Rose, Bernard and Desmond again and a nice shout out to observant followers of the series that Jack and Rose seemed to have reversed roles in the conversation they had in the pilot episode and that Jack thought Desmond looked familiar.

What frustrated me most about the episode though was the tease that Juliet would live. It was bad enough that they killed her off but now it felt like they were just rubbing it in. Of course they really weren't and there was a distinct purpose in having her survive long enough to say goodbye to Sawyer and attempt to relay some important information. It's less a flaw than simply a reasonable creative decision on the part of the writers, but it speaks volumes about that character and how well Elizabeth Mitchell played her that I was still bothered by it. I can't imagine Sawyer being nearly as interesting now without her and even just in this episode you could feel her absence, regardless of how her death plays into the larger picture. At this point though, every "death" (whether it be Boone, Shannon, Faraday, Charlotte, Mr. Eko, Locke, Jacob or anyone else you could think of) has to be taken with a grain of salt now that we've been presented with the possibility that Oceanic 815 may not have crashed.

The lack of Juliet and Ben in the premiere is likely causing much of my lukewarm reaction to it since this show was in serious trouble (borderline cancellation if you remember) until the writers introduced them and shook everything up. Seeing both marginalized (and one dead) didn't sit well with me and I question how much longer they can continue with this wimpy, helpless version of Benjamin Linus before we tire of it. I know I'm ready to see the return of the psychotic mastermind. By the way, how smart was it to have Michael Emerson (with his creepy, droll delivery) narrate the one-hour recap show? Interestingly, by recapping the events in the order they happened instead of the order they occurred on the show the producers made everything easy to digest for non-viewers but probably confused the diehard fans even further by jumbling the information up.

Nothing was really advanced in terms of the Fake Locke (AKA "The Man in Black") -Ben-Richard Alpert power struggle and Jacob's death. Nothing at all. It was pretty obvious Fake Locke would transform into the Smoke Monster but it's too early to pass judgment on this constantly evolving storyline anyway. Same with everything involving the temple and this mysterious new Japanese Samurai-type character that Hurley and the gang took the injured Sayid to as per Jacob's command. The ending "shocker" that Sayid was brought back to life after drowning wasn't much of a shock. Or even a mild surprise. Again, we'll have to see how this plays out.

To be fair, I'm really nitpicking here and after the fourth and fifth seasons the writers have earned my complete trust in taking me wherever they want to go and hopefully closing the series out on the highest possible note. Nothing on Lost can be judged as a "stand alone" anything so I'm looking forward to seeing how all the pieces fit together. This was one of those very dense episodes that could probably benefit from another viewing or two before attempting to form an opinion on its quality. But I tried. It may be the only series I'd consider a mandatory DVD purchase because you're constantly discovering new details you didn't notice before only to later discover more details that cause you to re-think everything you thought you knew. It's safe bet to expect plenty more of that heading into the series finale.

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