In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, ABC
In the UK: Fridays, 9pm, Sky 1/Sky 1 HD. Starts February 5th
There's something to be said for the "DVD box set" approach to viewing TV series. Why watch episodes live when you can wait until a season has finished and watch all the episodes in one go?
I'll tell you why I'm suddenly thinking this is a great idea - I've seen the first two episodes of the new season of Lost. Where's the next one, huh? Next week: that's where. What use to me is that?
Discussion and spoilers after the jump.
The latest season of LOST definitely ended with a bang. Like, literally. A nuclear bang. That kaboom sets the stage for the final season, and we're counting the days for the Premiere Event Tuesday February 2nd 8/7c.
The show has always been teasing us with mysteries, but we do know some things. The island is always moving and it contains a pocket of powerful electromagnetic energy. That energy caused Oceanic 815 to crash. Fate, or maybe Jacob, seems to have brought all the passengers together. But then they all got separated, either by getting rescued from the island or by traveling through time or maybe it was a little of both. And now Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) is rallying the survivors to rewrite their fates by preventing their plane from crashing in the first place. Oh, and we also know that a lot of you prefer Sawyer (Josh Holloway) to wear only his trademark sneer rather than a shirt.
Some of you were also probably thinking that LOST exec producers/masterminds Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were making everything up as they went along. But after five seasons, everything is coming together into a grand master plan. And since Season 6 is the final season, start preparing for your mind to be blown because they're gonna have to tie up all those loose ends and pay things off with some answers. Pretty monumental, right? Or, to quote Hurley (Jorge Garcia),"Duuuude."
Is it any good?
First off - boy was I amazingly right with all my predictions at the end of the last season. That's got to be a first.
Self-congratulation over with, let's head on to the review. Bar a little bit of a lull at the start of episode two, it was a cracking way to start the season. More or less every season we've had a new narrative device to deal with, with flashbacks, then flashforwards, then a mix of flashbacks and flashforwards. So it seems appropriate that, for what producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have been (everyone assumed jokingly but in actual fact, completely accurately) calling the "zombie season" for the last x years, a new narrative device has been developed, complete with new sound effect: the "Sliding Doors, alternative reality, zombie flashsideways".
Yes, the nuclear bomb at the end of last season worked, but instead of killing everyone, it's thrown everyone stuck in 1977 forward in time to the present, where the other Losties have been hanging out. Except it's also created an alternative reality, one in which a great big bomb-sized hole sunk the island in 1977, so Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed and everyone lands in LA as promised.
The two episodes alternate between the two realities. In the island-free reality, almost everyone you knew and loved from season one is alive and with us, including Charlie, Boone, Doc Artz and Claire - none of the tailies yet, but you never know. Desmond's mysteriously on the plane-flight, too, although he equally mysteriously manages to disappear before it lands - something's up there. Jack's dad has mysteriously disappeared, too, which is a surprise given he made it to the island in season one.
I'm liking this alternative reality. We have everyone in their normal, simple lives, meeting up for the first time. Who will be friends, who will be enemies, what will happen to everyone when they land and will their lives intersect coincidentally in typical Lost fashion? Equally importantly, it seems this is a reality where maybe everything isn't quite as disconnected from the island reality as it might appear. That'll be another mystery to be solved.
Back on the island, things aren't going well. It turns out that Jacob's nemesis is actually the smoke monster and he wants off the island - or at least to go home, wherever that is. Egypt, maybe, or even Tunisia, given that's where Ben popped up when he turned that wheel. He takes over the group led by Richard, after killing everyone who was on Jacob's side. Worth noting - a circle of ash or something similar can be used to repel smokie, although he's smart enough to figure out ways round that little issue.
Jacob's dead, although that isn't stopping him from give Hurley advice and sending him to 'the temple' with the dying Sayid. There we meet yet another group of others led by a Japanese guy who understands but doesn't like to speak English, as well as one of the Oceanic air stewards.
I have to admit my heart sunk a little bit when this wrinkle emerged at the start of the second episode. Oh dear God, no. Not more mysteries. Not more groups to meet and learn about.
Fortunately, answers started to come pretty quickly on this, although we've got a fair few more to come. Jacob it seems knew all this was going to happen and in Hurley's guitar case was a message to the new others, including a prophecy of Sayid's poorliness, telling them what to do.
The most depressing thing about this reality is that Juliet is dead. Okay, Elizabeth Mitchell's off filming V but I want Juliet back. I'm sure she will be in it a bit, maybe in nice world, but it seems a shame that she's bitten the dust.
Fast-paced, tense but with all the emotional depth you've come to expect of Lost, this was great stuff. Complicated, but great stuff. Props to everyone involved, but particularly Terry O'Quinn and the writers. There's obviously a fair way to go until the end of the season, but I suspect it's going to fly by, and whether the two different worlds are going to unite by the end is going to be one of the big things driving everything forward. If I'm going to predict anything, it's that Jacob has been using Smokie to end both their lives and get rid of the island, and a bigger plan is going to emerge soon.
I doubt the average newcomer to Lost at this stage would stand even the slightest chance of understanding what's going on. As well as missing all sorts of character detail and important cluelets, you'll find the show makes no concessions to anyone who hasn't been following the show. But if you've been sticking with it, you're bound to be feeling rewarded for your effort because everything's coming together in just the way we'd hoped it always would.
Heroes, take note: this is how to do ensemble dramas with multiple characters in every episode, pile on tension and action, have mysteries yet answer them quickly and still have it all make sense.