Getting Lost: Season Six Thus Far

In the absence of a new Lost episode last night (ABC ran a rerun of “Ab Aeterno” instead), this week’s “Getting Lost” will look at where the show’s final season stands now:

Given the hype and anticipation for this season of Lost, has it lived up to the expectations? That, of course, is the big question. I think the obvious answer, at this point, is “No.” We still don’t know how the alternate timeline plots will ultimately resolve themselves into the main narrative, and this season has seen its share of dull episodes, like “What Kate Does,” “Dr. Linus,” and “The Package.”

But it’s probably unfair to judge the whole season as of yet. Lost has always been a show that has made its reputation primarily with premieres and finales. That’s not to say that character development doesn’t play a key role on the show, just that the show has made a habit out of sandwiching some dull episodes with strong beginnings and thrilling endings. Fans tend to forget this, but with the exception of Season Five (which I called one of the best television seasons of the Aughts), every single season of Lost has had a pretty noticeable slump in the middle.*

*Some people would probably object to the inclusion of Season Four, which was only 14 episodes, but I would say that episodes six (“The Other Woman”), seven (“Ji Yeon”), eight (“Meet Kevin Johnson”), and ten (“Something Nice Back Home”) were pretty forgettable.

This season hasn’t had a clear slump, per se, since few of the dull episodes have come consecutively, but it’s been rather uneven. With that said, ever since Desmond made his return, this season has hit its stride and renewed faith that, when the finale comes, the audience will be blown away again.

That’s such a cop-out. You should be able to judge a show as you watch it; you shouldn’t have to presume that it will get better by the finale… Well, first of all, that’s not really true of even the best shows. The Wire, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights… all of these shows gradually got better after the first episode, if at a much faster pace than Lost.

Having said that, Lost is not The Wire or The Sopranos or Mad Men, etc. It is not a show that you expect to be rich or particularly deep on an episode-to-episode basis. After five seasons, the show has established its own standards by which to be judged. We’ve come to expect a fair amount of dull love stories, odd or confusing plot twists, and seemingly unsatisfactory explanations. But we can also expect cool surprises, compelling cliffhangers, and new mysteries. Occasionally, during a particularly good episode, we’ll see a well-earned and well-executed character moment, but most of the time these things are cheesy or over-the-top. By these standards, Season Six has been about average for Lost. It hasn’t been as good as Season Five, or even Season Four, but it’s probably better than Season Two, and just as good as Seasons One and Three.

What about those dumb alternate storylines? As I’ve said throughout the season, the alternate storylines don’t bother me any more than the flashbacks did. Both were pretty generic repetitions of the same stories, in a rather cookie-cutter way. If anything, they seem to have more relevance than the flashbacks, since we now seem to know that they will eventually intersect with the main narrative.

Alright, well, let’s look at where we are now. Have a sufficient amount of questions been answered this season? Before the season started, I said that there were four questions I wanted to see answered by the show’s end. In descending order of importance, they were: What’s the deal with the Island and dead people? What is the relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black? Why these people? Is Locke actually special?

The first question, and last in terms of magnitude, has gotten the most comprehensive answer. Last week, Locke 2.0 admitted to embodying Christian Shephard as far back as “White Rabbit,” and the week before that Michael told Hurley that the whispers on the Island were the dead who are “trapped” in a sort of purgatory. There are still some questions. There are some surrounding who Hurley can see, when, and why, since he has seen people who we have no reason to believe would be trapped on the Island (like Charlie and Richard’s dead wife and even Jacob himself). There are also ambiguities about why the Smoke Monster would have done some of the things attributed to him, like leading Mr. Eko to his death and killing him. Both of these questions, though, are relatively minor, and I suspect we won’t hear much about them.

It hasn’t been particularly satisfying to find out that the dead people on the Island function more or less as puppets used by the Man in Black to manipulate people. I had some hope that the answer would be something more interesting, as in something that allowed the Island to actually give some closure to its inhabitants. But if the dead are merely visages given to the Man in Black, then the Island can’t really bring people back at all.

The next question, regarding the relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black, was treated mainly in “The Substitute” and “Ab Aeterno.” In the former, we learned about the concept of “candidates”: Jacob is bringing people to the Island to put them through a series of tests by which they will prove their ability to replace Jacob as the Island’s protector. What exactly they would be protecting the Island from, though, is unclear. As Locke 2.0 says, “It’s just an island.”

While “Ab Aeterno” gave us the first explicit look at the Jacob/Man in Black rivalry, it didn’t really reveal much we didn’t already know. They’ve been at it for a long time, but we knew that; it seems to be some variant of the “Are people naturally good or bad?” debate, but we already knew that; there are “rules” about their relationship, but we already knew that, and we still don’t know exactly what those rules are. Oh, and Jacob made Richard immortal, but that was pretty heavily implied before.

Despite the lack of clarity, the Jacob/Man in Black interaction continues to be one of my favorite things about the show, and Season Six in particular. I’ve continually praised Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver for their portrayals of these two, and scenes with Jacob have been pretty much universally interesting. It also allows the show to deal with its more philosophical components in interesting ways. Although Lost has a pretty extensive connection with philosophy, that connection consists mainly of name-dropping (Locke, Hume, Rousseau, etc.) and inside jokes. Sometimes, though, the show’s stories end up providing pretty compelling illustrations of standard philosophical debates, like Fate vs. Free Will and Nature vs. Nurture, and Jacob and the Man in Black have been great facilitators of that.

As for the “Why these people?” question, we’ve gotten some kind of answer, regarding the list of “candidates.” But this seems like only the tip of the iceberg. After all, we don’t know why these people are candidates, or even exactly who is a candidate (Jin or Sun? or both?). I also hope the show doesn’t skirt the interesting question of why some people who aren’t candidates—like Ben and Kate and, for that matter, everyone else from Oceanic 815—are not up for the job. And do they have some other purpose on the Island that brought them there? As Ben said about Ilana after her death in “Everbody Loves Hugo,” “It was like the Island was done with her.”

The final question, which I said was the most important, was about Locke. As I said originally about Locke:

“He is absolutely the show’s most important character…. Locke has willingly submitted to whatever he thinks the Island wants him to do since the beginning. Is this because Locke is particularly favored by the Island, or the only one who truly understands the power of it? Or is it a misplaced faith, something that comes from Locke’s deep-seated messiah complex? Is Locke special, or does he just want to be special? How the show answers this question will likely be the most important development of this final season.”

The closest we’ve gotten to answers for these questions, though, has been the contempt Locke 2.0 has shown for the original Locke. In the season premiere, “LA X,” Locke 2.0 called Locke “pathetic,” explaining how he died without any idea as to why or what was happening. Just last week, when Jack asked him why he came back as Locke, the Man in Black explained, “Because he was stupid enough to believe that he was sent here for a reason.”

I highly doubt, though, that this is the last we’ll hear on this matter. There are three episodes left before the finale, and pretty much everyone who you’d expect to get an episode has had one (with the possible exceptions of Miles, Jacob, and the Man in Black). Plus, Seasons One, Three, and Four all featured a Locke episode in the final four before the finale. In other words, I’d be shocked if one of these next three didn’t focus on Locke. In fact, the end of last week’s episode sets up rather nicely for a Locke-centric episode, or possibly even a Jack/Locke combo episode. We left off the alternate timeline with Jack about to perform surgery on Locke after Locke’s car “accident.” Meanwhile, the on-Island action ended with Locke 2.0 carrying Jack to safety and ominously telling him, “You’re with me now.”

So the pieces are, theoretically, in place for a final stretch that does justice for the hype surrounding this season. And every season of Lost thus far has had an exciting finish. Of course, every season thus far has ended with one huge question, whether it was “What is in the hatch?” or “Who are the Others?” or “How did Jack and Kate get off the Island and why does Jack want to go back?” or “How did Locke die?” or “Did the whole Island just blow up?” This time, that kind of ending won’t fly (and they’ve already said they won’t just cut to black). If they can execute an ending without an overriding cliffhanger, though, then it will solidify Lost’s legacy, and prove that the show doesn’t just rely on suspense.

Advertisements

28 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Raul Alanis on April 28, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    There better be a good ending after all these years. I have put a lot of time into this show, and, although I enjoy it, I will be dissapointed if the show does not provide some type of resolution. I am surprised they haven’t found a theme park on the island. It seems as though every time they are about to answer a question another question takes its place. They’re killing me…literally, they’re killing me here!!

    http://www.wutevs.wordpress.com

    Reply

  2. Posted by DBack on April 28, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    so cool

    Reply

  3. I love Lost and have a theory about the end relationship of Jack & Locke, which probably won’t be the big ah-ha moment of the show, but I think is very relevant. I think Jack & Locke will become the new Jacob and Man In Black for the island and will continue the cycle that has gone on and on. They will be the ones sitting on a log and being the yin & yang for good/evil. What do you think?

    http://bucklebuttonzip.wordpress.com

    Reply

    • Posted by John S on April 28, 2010 at 11:26 AM

      Yeah, that’s a very intriguing theory. I don’t know if you’ve the TV critic Alan Sepinwall (www.sepinwall.blogspot.com), but he’s proposed a similar theory, that the last scene of the series will be Jack and Locke reenacting the log scene. Here’s my question, though: Given the changes to those characters this season, will Jack play the role of Jacob and the Man in Black? In previous seasons, it would seem like Locke would obviously be Jacob, but that’s not as clear anymore.

      Reply

      • I didn’t see Alan Sepinwall’s post, but I’m glad that someone more tapped-in than me thinks this theory has legs. My gut feeling is that Jack will be Jacob and Locke will be the MIB. I think that ultimately Jack will be the “hero” and good guy that he has struggled for 5 seasons to be. He will be absolved. It’s interesting that Jack feels he has a purpose now and that purpose resides solidly on the island. He is now a man of faith and not a man of science.

        Reply

    • I have the exact same theory!

      Reply

  4. Very interesting 🙂

    Reply

  5. I’m confident that the ending’s gonna be awesome and tie it all together, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking that the writers haven’t just been bullshitting us for six years. Love the direction the season’s going in now and I LOVED Richard’s latest episode. The time travel stuff is a little much and I’m still getting migraines over the connection between the separate timelines going on right now, but I’m excited to see what happens. Stopped guessing about this show a long time ago, not gonna start now. Awesome post!

    Reply

  6. Do we know who was the Ghost who said “Help me” to Locke in the shack was? That was supposedly Jacob but it wasn’t. Was that the man in black? Because we later saw him in Dr. Shephard Sr.’s body sitting with Claire in the shack. Then the shack was burned down. What was that whole ordeal about?

    Reply

    • Posted by John S on April 28, 2010 at 1:16 PM

      I don’t think we know for sure that it wasn’t Jacob who said “Help me.” The way the cabin figures into the story, as I see it, as follows: The first time we saw the cabin was when Ben brought Locke there, but we now know that Ben was pretty much making things up as he went along at that point. He had no real knowledge of the cabin. It may have been Jacob who said “help me,” but it seems more likely that it was the Man in Black, who of course needed Locke’s help to kill Jacob. Later, when Locke went back to the cabin, the Man in Black appeared as Christian, who claimed he could “speak on Jacob’s behalf,” which was evidently just a lie to gain Locke’s trust. Christian told Locke to move the Island, which was presumably because either, A) he wanted to protect Ben from Widmore so he could use Ben to kill Jacob, or B) get Locke off the Island (remember, Christian was later upset that Locke didn’t move the Island himself) so Locke could die and the Man in Black could use his body. It could also be both or some combination of the two. The Cabin was burned down by Jacob’s army, led by Ilana, who found out that “someone else had been using it.”

      Reply

  7. Why not try to get lost in my new book on line called Anomar’s Journey…This is a great post by the way!

    Reply

  8. So funny…I have never watched the show at all and my best girlfriend is a creative producer for the show! I always hear tons of stories from her (set stories) but still have not watched it! Hopefully I am not a bad friend!!!! 🙂

    Reply

  9. Posted by theaveragepoet on April 28, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    Awesome post. I have been watching Lost for the past five seasons and season six to me is awesome so far! I love the love stories involved and it’s nice to know in an alternate time, Hurley and the crazy chick get together anyway. What would be a twist would be Michael killing the crazy girl in this timeline as well. But… who knows? I’m both sad and relieved that the show will be ending this year.

    Reply

  10. Cop out was a complete failure IMO. Lost, I’ve seen a few episodes and I don’t feel like watching it since.

    Plenty of other tv shows and good movies out there.
    Remain.Simple

    Reply

  11. Posted by pen2sword on April 28, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    If the Man in Black was Jack’s Dad, Christian, then why when he’s down in the well with Locke does he say, “Say hello to my son”? Like, why does he care? And I would like to know: Why didn’t the smoke monster kill Locke in season 1 when it finds him in the jungle? What did it show Locke? Because after Locke sees it he says to Jack “i looked in the eye of the island and it was beautiful”, which makes me think Locke was in with Smokey from the beginning, though he probably didn’t know Smokey was evil.
    But… I do know how the show is gonna end. It all goes back to Lewis Carroll’s “dramatis personae” and his “problem” at the beginning of Through the Looking Glass.
    Plus, I think that the end of the show will be like “the Island is their home, they were meant to be there”, etc, indicated by the way the Dharma stations were named. To leave, they went through the Looking Glass station (the way Alice goes to enter a different world that is not her home) and they come back to the Island guided by the Lamppost station (the same way the four Pevensie children find their way home.)

    Also, my younger brother has been watching the show with me for a long time. He’s a huge Star Wars nerd and he loves it every time Hurley makes a Star Wars reference. For a long time he’s had this theory that Sayid is Anakin, but I never believed him until the last episode where Sawyer says they’re not taking Sayid on the boat because “he’s gone over to the dark side”, and Hugo says “But you can always bring someone back from the dark side. Like Anakin?” So we now think that Sayid is going to come back to the good side, help save everybody and then die at the end the same way Anakin/Vader does.

    Our theory is so complex. whew. It would take me like days to explain our whole thing to someone.

    Reply

    • Posted by John S on April 28, 2010 at 4:00 PM

      Christian/Smoke Monster said “Say hello to my son” because he needed to bring Jack back to the Island, and he knew that invoking Jack’s dead was the best way to do it. Remember, in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham,” Locke seems to get through to Jack when he tells him he saw his father. As for why the Smoke Monster didn’t kill Locke back in Season One…well, he needed to keep Locke alive for his plan. It seems to me that the show has implied that the Man in Black needed Locke to leave the Island to die, and then come back, in order for him to possess his body. That, presumably, is the reason the Smoke Monster never used any of the many other dead characters.

      The question of what Locke saw that was “beautiful” in the eye of the Island, though, is more complex. I don’t think Locke was ever “in with Smokey,” because I don’t think he ever knew about the Jacob/Smokey rivalry. I think he figured that the Smoke Monster was a tool of Jacob’s and the beautiful glimpse he got was of a sense of purpose that the Smoke Monster gave him. It’s probably not likely, though, that Locke knew that this purpose involved killing Jacob.

      I definitely agree that the Sayid/Anakin comparison holds up; Anakin, too, was driven to the dark side by his desire to hold on to his true love. And the show indicated that Sayid is on his way back, too, by heavily implying last week that he didn’t go through with killing Desmond.

      Reply

      • Posted by pen2sword on April 28, 2010 at 8:20 PM

        Ah, yes, I forgot about that… Well it all makes sense then. Speaking of “the Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”, do you suppose they refrenced Bentham to allude to the Panopticon (basically the idea of some omnipresent watcher knowing/seeing all)? Because Jacob is very Panopticon-ish, with that lighthouse and all.

        Sayid also fixes stuff and is very good with mechanics; he also fought in a war as the Republican Guard. In Star Wars, Anakin builds ships and driods and fights for the Republic.

        This is why my brother and I love Lost. The detail is just so cool. We spent last summer watching all the seasons and picking everything apart. When this is over, we are going to die unless we find a new and just as intricate puzzle to think about.

        Reply

  12. Posted by JFB on April 28, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Hello? What about the little boy, the one who comes up to Locke faker in the forest clearing when he is thinking about killing Sawyer and reminds him of the rules. Also he popped up again in a newer episode, I just forget which one and why. Whose ghost is he? or is he alive? Is he Jacob as a little boy, because he’s dressed very old fashioned. Also, will we ever see Walt again? He creeped me out.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Andrea on April 28, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Nice take on Lost. I’ve never watched it but I may find the earlier seasons and watch them now.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Songbird on April 28, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    I have never been into “Lost” before- but your post has peaked my interest… I think there’s a DVD somewhere calling my name… :o)

    Reply

  15. Great summation. My question at this point is, If the smoke monster can kill people then why can’t it fly over to the other island and do away with Whitmore? I don’t get it.

    Reply

  16. Love your blog! Love Lost, but with you every night I get more confused, what the heck with last night, and the Finale will be awesome! It has to be. The network has a lot to lose.

    Reply

  17. Hi,

    I share your frustrations and hopes! I personally have been left a little angry though at the overall legacy of THE John Locke. He was such a hero and the heart of the show and I feel cheated on his behalf that he never got to truly ‘know’ and save the island after all he’d been through (bitterly ironic that he would’ve been the best Candidate). I truly believe Smocke/Locke 2.0/Flocke was created purely as way to keep Terry O Quinn on screen. And as much as I love TOQ I loved the original John Locke more! It is just not good enough that we only get ‘Locke’ in a very negative light. Like you said: contempt.
    I’m still holding out for the chance he may still show up on the island – and I only have this hope since noticing something in The Substitute: when Lapidus covers Locke’s body on the beach a huge spider can be seen running over his head – the same type of spider that paralized Paolo & Nikki so convincingly that they were assumed dead. I cling to this glimmer… :-p

    – Joanna

    Reply

  18. I like Survivor!!

    ~Ramona Kent~
    Author of Anomar’s Journey
    http://www.ramonakent.wordpress.com

    Reply

  19. Posted by james Schneider on May 1, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    My confusion is if all the dead people on the island that Hugo can talk to are dead and are in island purgatory, why was he talking to them off the island?

    Reply

  20. […] were Jin and Sun and Sayid killed for Sawyer’s lack of faith? Well, they weren’t, really. As many have predicted, Sayid sacrificed himself by taking the bomb and running with it to another part of the sub.* It […]

    Reply

  21. I found your site from the WordPress.com page which has several sites that are strong enough to make the page. Your site is wonderful and beautiful.
    Thanks…

    Reply

  22. […] is important because he needed to use Locke to get off the Island. Why did he use Locke? As he said in “The Last Recruit,” he chose Locke because Locke “was stupid enough to believe he’d been brought here for a […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: