LOST – Episode 5-1 & 5-2 Review

Mmmmm…a double shot of Lost. It always goes down smooth.

However this shot was more like Wild Turkey, Absinthe and Triple Sec chased with tabasco sauce.

Lost has never been the kind of show that has “casual fans”. People don’t drop in and out for an episode or two here and there. It has always been a show that required dilligent, attentive viewing. And tonight,  the season premiere to the show’s penultimate fifth season proved that is the case now more than ever.

It was like watching a ping pong match…between seven different people…and the balls are on fire. The special double feature anwered some questions, posed some more (of course). That said, let’s get our hands dirty.

The show’s tradition of a jaw-dropping opening sequence did not disappoint, as we found ourselves in the heyday of the Dharma Initiative, that found Dr. Pierre Chang (he of Dharma orientation video fame) tending to several tasks such as rectifying a broken record, beginning to film another video and tending to a small child. (My guess: Miles)

That most likely would have been enough for me, but the secondary reveal of Daniel Faraday exisiting as a Dharma lackey in what is probably the early 1970s. Is that where he “belongs” or has he time travelled there from some unknown point?

The message was very, very clear tonight: Lost is a show heavily steeped in time travel. Deal with it.

I suspect some people were most likely turned off by the head-scratching, somewhat convoluted time travel angle the show has now taken. But not me. Tonight’s double bill featured many examples of the superb writing staff easing us into these new murky waters.

For starters, if you don’t like Sawyer, you can go right ahead and stop reading. Man, that dude is awesome. More specifically, the writers are using him in a very awesome way for us, the audience.

Obviously there is a lot of complicated stuff happening on the Island. Not only did it move in the Season 4 finale, it now appears to continue moving through time, “flashing” back and forth between present and future. Sawyer being the down-home country boy that he is, needs the straight dope on what exactly is happening, and he needs answers now.

In the early scenes of  episode 1, “Because You Left”, Sawyer essentially is us, the Lost viewer. He needs answers and so do we, and he gets them from a man who has launched himself into the upper echelon of mythology-related characters: Faraday.

The scenes with these two are absolutely hilarious. First of all, they’ve never met, as evidenced by Sawyer’s “who the hell are you?”. Second of all, are there two people more ill-equipped to ever be having a conversation than this brilliant but severely odd physicist and this redneck con man? It’s so maddening, that even Sawyer couldn’t take it, and prmptly smacked Danile right across his bearded face. It was so perfect. It’s like Sawyer didn’t want to break this puny little pipsqueak by slugging so he opted for a lighter option. It’s what the show is all about, people who under normal circumstances would ever interact suddenly thrust together to get themselves out of a fix. And boy, are they ever in a fix.

But they’re not alone in their troubles. The Oceanic Six are off the island, and we are shown their struggle three years ahead of what we can consider “Island Time”. Not a single one of them is happy. The driving force of the O6 storyline was Hurley, who I am convinced should get an apartment with Sayid.

I would suppose we can assume the men who attacked Sayid in the hotel room were agents of Charles Widmore, but as we all know, nothing should be assumed with this show.

Speaking of Widmore, how about that airport rendezvous with Sun? A question I posed in my last post had to with Sun’s common interests with Widmore. Tonight we of course figured it out. She wants to kill Benjamin Linus, as does Widmore. Why? How does she know that Ben is the one who essentially blew up the freighter, killing her husband?

As I suspected, Ben and Jack’s scenes brought me the most joy. I could listen to Michael Emerson read the dictionary as Benjamin Linus. As is always the case, you just can’t shake the feeling that Ben knows more than he’s letting on with Jack. He would have Jack believe that the plan is simply: round up the O6, go back to the island, make everything right again. But as we saw in the night’s second episode, Ben’s got a lot more in play here. (More on that later).

Back on the island, Faraday was busy explaining the “rules” of the time travel element that we’re now experiencing on the show. It would appear that, for the most part, nothing can be changed. That things that have to happen will just happen. And that you can only move forward or backward a long a given timeline, you cannot branch out and create new ones.

Herein was my one majore qualm with last night’s episodes. I couldn’t help but think: “If the same things are going to happen, and nothing can be changed, then what exactly is at stake here? Why send the island spinning through time in the first place?”. These are blurry spots that I’m sure will eventually become clearer, as is what usually happens on Lost.

Oh, and then there was Locke. Glorious, soon-to-be-dead Jon Locke. He was having his own issues with the Island’s time jumping with a few blasts from the past thrown in for good measure: Eko’s Plane! Ethan!

But the meat of the Locke story was clearly his meeting with Richard, who seemed to  have as much knowledge as Faraday did about what was happening to the Island. Richard also commissioned Locke with the task of getting the the Oceanic Six back in order to “save the island”. Again, the questions loom: What exactly is the island in danger from? And what do the O6 have to do with it?

The episode, as expected, ended with an electrifying coda. Daniel made contact with Desmond, at some point during his stay in the Swan, and implored him to go to Oxford and get this…find his mother. Yeah, Daniel’s mother is apparently going to figure prominently in this season.

Desmond got the message, three years in the future and had to cut short his happily ever after existence with Penny. Henry Ian Cusick has always sunk his teeth into the Desmond role, making the character easily the most endearing on the show and often saddled with the burden of making complicated plot points simple for the viewers. This scene was no different. Rationally, you would think Desmond would never want to be involved with anything having to do with the island ever again. But Cusick made me believe that this memory he had was so alarmingly disturbing that he absolutely had to leave right at that very moment. Excellent, excellent stuff as usual.

The evening’s second outing, “The Lie”, is what can best be described as a Hurley-centric episode. With Sayid incapacitated, the portly and lovable O6-er was beginning to lose it. Right from the get-go, we saw he wasn’t quite there, engaging in a delightful little banter with the dearly departed Ana Lucia.

Sidebar: Michelle Rodriguez caught a lot of flack during her original run on the show in Season 2. Fans didn’t like her, her character, or her story. That said, it was a pretty big gamble by the show’s braintrust to bring her back into the fold. I have to say she delivered pretty nicely.

While Hurley was trying to figure out what to do with Sayid, we were treated to a cryptic little vignette between Sun and Kate, with Aaron in tow, on the run from some shady lawyers whose motives are not quite clear. As the two female members of the Oceanic Six talked, didn’t it seem like Sun was just a little too warm, given her icey demeanor in her meeting with Widmore? She excused Kate from any responsibility over Jin’s death, only to impress upon her how important it is that she keep Aaron safe. Sun clearly thinks that those “lawyers” weren’t interested in Kate’s realtionship to Aaron at all, and just wanted to kidnap the kid for some yet unknown purpose, and frankly I’m inclined to agree with her.

The on-island story in episode 2 was little wavering, as toggled between Charlotte’s odd physical state (nosebleeds? losing memory? bad news for the redhead) and  a new enemy for the survivors. An enemy with a penchant for flaming arrows. Juliet and Sawyer were able to dodge the flaming assault, but were then met by men in the jungle carrying machine guns who demanded to know what they were doing on “their island”. Were these men the same people who  launched the arrows? I’d have to guess no, since their AK-47s seem like a much more effective killing tool. Anyhow, that’s an answer that may be a way down the road since the men were soon iced by Locke’s knife.

As Jack tended to Sayid in the hospital, Hurley officially became the first to spill the truth on the Oceanic Six’s lie. In the process, he delivered one of the finest monologues in the history of the show, essentially summing up the last four seasons in about a minute. Mama Reyes was left only to say, “I don’t understand you, but I believe you.” What are moms for, huh?

As Ben was trying to coordinate the whereabouts of Jack, Hurley and Sayid he found time for a secret meeting with what appeared to be an off-island other named Jill. Jill is working in a butcher shop and Ben told her to look after Locke’s body and that if anything happens to it, everything they’re about to do won’t matter. It’s occuring to me as I’m writing this that Ben was doing a LOT in this episode. Emerson’s two best scenes were essentially the same scene where he had to convince both Hurley and Jack that they would never be going home once they went back to the island. Jack bought into it, Hurley did not and promptly gave himself up to the cops, despite direct orders to the contrary from Ana-Lucia.

You knew Lost would cap off this two part opus with a supreme “WTF?!” finish. In a scene that will surely have viewers’ DVRs pulling overtime,

A hooded figure frantically scribbles equations on a chalkboard, while a giant pendulum swings in the background, marking off intersecting chalk lines as it goes back and forth. A computer screen with a global map and several instersecting  flashes the message “EVENT WINDOW DETERMINED”. Upon further review, most of the intersections are in the South Pacific portion of the map. Is the island being tracked as it moves through space and time?

The figure emerges in a church, revealing itself to be none other than Mrs. Hawking, Desmond’s time-travel sherpa from the Season 3 episode “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” She tells Ben (I told you he was busy) that there is a 70 hour deadline looming. A deadline that, if not met, then “God help us all.” Could she be Daniel’s soon-to-be-prominent mother?

I tell you what got to me the most about this scene. Upon hearing this revelation, Ben, always the picture of level headedness and in control of all circumstances, looked completely terrified.

So, there we are. Lost has come back like an unholy freight train filled with time machines, flaming arrows, evil computers and flying hot pockets barreling right into our collective psyche.

Sound off below! What did you think? Did it live up to the nearly impossible hype? What did you love? What did you hate? Let me know!