PremiereWatch: 'Lost' goes back to the future

Jorgegarcia_lost_s4_240 Well, campers, was it worth the wait? Was it? Hold on, don't tell me. I think I know the answer. And that answer is "oh sweet Mary in the morning yes." And that's about the only concrete answer I have after that mind-altering, perspective-shifting, awe-inspiring premiere episode "The Beginning of the End." Lost has been called many things in its first three seasons: an action-adventure, a sci-fi thriller, a character-based drama. All apply, to be sure, but I think we can add a fourth category at the outset of Season 4: heartbreaking tragedy.

Given that we've already seen the effect the "rescue" will have on Jack Shephard in some near future, heavily bearded time, we know that this rescue will end more poorly than Britney Spears' comeback performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Kate didn't exactly seem terribly pleased when meeting Jack at the airport, either. And tonight, add one Hugo Reyes, aka Hurley, and you get one half of an insanely depressed Oceanic 6. As such, the narrative of the show has radically shifted: off the island, those six are living with the consequences of what happened to them. And on the island, they are unknowingly hurtling towards a cataclysmic event that will alter everyone's life on the show.

But other than that, you know, there's not really a whole lot going on with the show. But I'll try to make this recap interesting, nonetheless. It's a tough job, but someone who wants carpal tunnel syndrome has to do it.

Let's start off with a pile of exploding fruit. Seen in the trailer for Season 4, it serves to once again mislead the audience's perception as to the location of the scene in question. Over the last two seasons, the show has used misdirection in order to fool the audience into believing a scene on the island was happening off of it. In this case, the complete opposite occurred, which I think is symbolic of the narrative shift the show has taken. I hesitate to even label Island events in this episode "flashbacks," because if we've learned anything over the past year concerning Lost, it's that time is a slippery thing. And only fools are enslaved by time and space.

That last line is one I use quite often when talking about the show, derived from a line buried deep with the video displayed in Room 23. And I use it so often because for one thing, it sounds wicked cool and stuff. But more importantly, it points out one of the central tenets of the show. Linear time and consistent space must NOT, under any circumstances, be taken as constants within the world of this show. And as such, perhaps it's best to avoid talking about "flash backs" or "flash forwards" and simply talk about story. (In case you were curious, talking about "flash dancing" is likewise prohibited.)

Instead of talking about time, let's talk about deployment of information. The structure of the show essentially allows us to approach one singular event from two different perspectives, closing in on each side slowly like a vice grip controlled by the writers of the show. On the island, events are moving towards this event. Off the island, minds are drifting back to this event. This singular event will be the great mystery of Season 4, and perhaps even of the show as a whole. It's unclear at this point, and deliciously so.

34534077This event, in whatever form it takes/took (darn you to heck, multiple perspective narrative), seems to have sent six people from the Island back into the "real world," for lack of a better term. We now know three, and if you know the other three via spoiler, please please please do not drop their names below. I don't know them, and I'd like to keep not knowing. It makes me happy not knowing until the show wants me to know. If you drop spoilers below, God will drop anvils on kittens everywhere. So spare Mr. Pussyfoot and Cuddlekins and keep them to yourself, OK?

These Oceanic 6 seem to be celebrities, of a sort. Why are they celebrities? Well, if you've been following the alternate reality game Find 815, you'd know that the wreckage of Oceanic 815 had been located in the Sunda Trench by the game's protagonist, Sam Thomas. Having six survivors from a plane thought to have been at the bottom of the ocean might have stirred up a wee bit of publicity, methinks. But curiously, among all of the six, there seems to be a code. And it seems to be the same code that Tyler Durden has about Fight Club.

Hurley denies knowing Ana Lucia when confronted by her ex-partner, Big Mike. Jack seems quite concerned that Hurley's mental condition would lead to loose lips, which in turn might sink ships (or, you know, freighters). At the end of Season 3, Grizzly Shepard tells Kate he's sick of lying. What on God's name are they lying about? Because it sure isn't about how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, I can tell you that.

Thanks to a visit by Matthew Abaddon, supposedly a lawyer for Oceanic Airlines, we got another piece of the puzzle. If you played Find 815, the name Abaddon stuck out at you, in that the word was revealed as the answer to one of the puzzles in the game. The word means "underworld," the same as the meaning of the hieroglyphics in the Swan. This also means, more importantly, that this guy's name is Matthew Underworld and therefore means he's one bad mutha. If his name was something "Matthew Underpants" he's be a lot less menacing.

His piece of the puzzle is asking Hurley, quite forcefully, "Are they still alive?" Talk about your chill moments. As in, a chill filled the air of my apartment. A truly creepy line that potentially sets the stage for the entire season. It drives the mystery of the Oceanic 6's secrecy as well as provides a reason for dramatic tension off the Island. Who does Abaddon truly work for (I think it rhymes with the BidMore Dorkaration, hint hint), who is he looking for, and why must the Oceanic 6 protect that answer at all costs?

Over at Zap2It's Guide to Lost, I'll be attempting to posit a possible scenario under which all of this could happen: how we got from Charlie Pace sacrificing his life to save his friends up until the point where Hurley went all O.J. Simpson in Los Angeles. But there's time to get to all that over the next few days. For now, let's focus on the events of tonight's installment, since I haven't gotten to one of the key moments of the show yet: the return of Jacob's Amazing Technicolor Cabin!

OK, maybe it's not Technicolor, but boy, it's sure slippery, ain't it? Here today, gone tomorrow, and then twelve feet behind you. Least, that is, if you're Hurley. As far as I can tell, Jacob essentially drew Hurley towards him in order to play "I Spy With My Creepy Eye". How? Dude, it's Jacob. Guy can do a lot for an essentially non-corporeal being that lives in a teleportation-capable cabin of unknown origin. The "how" doesn't matter to me so much as the "why," and it ties in to something Hurley said during the most subtext-laden game of HORSE since Larry Bird and Michael Jordan squared off for a Big Mac.

800pxcshepardinjacobshouse Hurley said the following to Jack once Doctor Schmucktastic was satisfied Hurley wasn't going to squeal: "I think it wants it to go back...and it's gonna do everything it can..." at which point Jack shouts, "We're never going back!" Notice the pronoun "it" there. Not "he" or "she," but "it." Could this be tied into the identity of Jacob, who seems to be sharing ghostly tea for two with Christian Freakin' Shephard in the Cabin of Shifty Goodness? What about Hurley caused Jacob to literally turn the light on for him? Jacob's cabin is the creepiest. Red Roof Inn. Ever.

As far as Christian Shephard inside, rocking away...wow, I'm not even going to try to answer this one just yet. Read this for my previous attempts to explain sightings of Christian on the Island, but I'll warn you, I don't know how to explain what I saw tonight versus what I previously believed. Lost, once again you've taken my poor little brain and showed it how tiny it is compared to yours. As Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction might say, "Check out the big brains on Lost!"

But let's forget Christian for the moment and return to his son, who developed quite the taste for blood during his final days on the Island, didn't he? He beat the snot out of Ben, threatened to kill Tom, threatened to kill Locke, actually pulled the trigger of an unloaded gun on Locke, and then, for good measure, beat up a ficus plant, just because. And yet, when we see him in the future, he looks...well. Calm. Maybe he read The Secret. Who knows? But the point is this: I'll be willing to wager, when all is said and done, that Hurley is the first of the Oceanic 6 to crack, and Hurley's exhortation that they did the wrong thing is the singular moment that sends Jack down a spiraling path that ends up screaming at Kate outside of a Los Angeles airport. In that scene can you see the first dent in his mental armor.

Back on the Island, Hurley dents a good chunk of Jack's good will and support within the group, as he provides the heart to Locke's head and convinces what appears to be half of the Lostaways to return to the Barracks, turn on the sonic fence, and hide from the Freighters. By episode's end, one of them has died (Naomi), while a new one arrived via parachute from a helicopter that, unlike Naomi's, seemingly had no trouble navigating its way to the Island. By this point, even Jack is starting to wonder whether or not he's done the right thing.

800pxthey_need_you Driving in his Camaro, speeding down the highway, Hurley knows for certain that the right thing was not done, and he's literally speeding away from the guilt. This guilt takes the form of Charlie Pace, Driveshaft bassist, surrogate father to baby Aaron, and owner of a slick new hair-do. No, this wasn't Smokey masquerading as Charlie, but rather a figment of Hurley's re-fractured mind. Think Dave with a better singing voice and you've got it. That guilt takes the form of a line Charlie repeats more than once: "They need you."

Clearly, they "they" in question are the same "they" like Abaddon is so interested in. And "they" are they ones the Six have vowed to protect. The question then becomes threefold.

  1. Who are they?
  2. Where are they?
  3. When are they?

Three excellent questions that I hope are addressed in somewhat satisfactory manners in this shortened Season 4.

What did you think of tonight's premiere? Did it live up to your expectations or fall short? What are the Oceanic 6 protecting? Your thoughts, theories and predictions are welcome below! And be sure to check out more news, theories, and insight over at Zap2It's Guide to Lost.

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.