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Desmond is my Constant! (Lost Returns!)

January 23rd, 2009

With Battlestar Galactica, Scrubs, 24, and now Lost all returning to life within the past two weeks, I feel like this year’s TV season has finally gotten underway!

Wednesday night saw the airing of the first two new episodes of Lost in quite some time:  “Because You Left” and “The Lie.”  Typical of a Lost season-opener, it began with a totally unexpected and bizarre scene:  Dr. Marvin Candle (or Edgar Halliwax, or Pierre Chang — this man has gone by a different name every time we’ve seen him!) recording another Dharma instructional video and being interrupted by the discovery of the power source (and giant wooden wheel) at the heart of the Island.  What a great way to dive right back into the weirdness that is Lost!  

I’ve been wondering for a while whether the Dharma videos that have been popping up every now and then are real insights into what the Dharma Initiative was up to, or if somehow they’re just a put-on, to distract from whatever was REALLY going on.  At first, when we see Candle/Chang being recorded in this year’s opening, it looks very much like he’s sitting on a set, leading one to suspect that my initial idea is correct.  But then he seems genuinely concerned about the potential danger of the energy source discovered, so that would seem to indicate that the Dharma folks really WERE investigating all the weirdness of the island (including time-traveling bunnies).  SO I remain uncertain on this issue.  But intrigued!

There were a lot of balls in the air, story-wise, in these two episodes.  I was fascinated, and also a little nervous, by the distinct sci-fi elements of the story: that is, time-travel.  Time-travel is a tricky, tricky thing.  It has become a most over-used story device in sci-fi/fantasy TV shows and movies, and it is very tricky to tell a time-travel story properly.  The jury is still out as to how this time-travel story will shake out on Lost.  While one might not have predicted all the craziness on display in this season premiere, attentive viewers knew that this sort of time-travel story was on the horizon.  We’d already been introduced to Desmond’s mis-adventures through time, and the mysterious importance of finding one’s “constant” to keep from becoming unglued in time… and we’d also seen Faraday discover some sort of time-differential between the Island and its surroundings.  So clearly some time is not always quite linear on Lost.

I am excited to see these background story-elements get pushed front-and-center.  (As we enter the penultimate season, we need to have some of these long-running mysteries addressed and solved.)  But so far, as usual with Lost, I have far more questions than answers.  How/why is the Island moving through time?  (Was that caused by Ben’s wheel-pushing in last year’s finale, or by the departure of the “Oceanic Six”?)  Why is this only affecting the cast-aways and not the Others?  (Locke shifts through time, but Richard and the rest of the Others apparently do not.)  I am interested to see where this goes, and how long this time-jumping keeps up.

Lots of other mysteries to ponder, which of course is what I adore about this show.  Richard gives Locke a compass, which clearly is a method for Locke to prove to another-Richard-from-another-time that Locke really is jumping through time.  (“What does it do?”  “It points north, John.”)  But it seems to me that there must ALSO be some special significance to that compass itself — because isn’t that one of the objects with which we saw Richard test little-boy-Locke in one of the flashbacks last season?  

What are we to make of Faraday’s appearance in the 1970’s opening scene with Marvin Candle?  (There was so much going on in the episode that it wasn’t until the next day when I remembered that particular bit of weirdness.)  Was Faraday originally from the 70’s, or are we to assume that at some point he time-travels back to that time-period?  If so, why?

Then there was the re-appearance, in the closing scene, of the old woman who we’d previously seen help Desmond through one of his alternate timeline/alternate universe adventures.  (A quick internet search reveals the character’s name as Mrs. Hawking.  I know the actress from her role in Waking Ned Devine.)  What a surprise to see this character appear in “real life”!  Is her pendulum-machine tracking the Island’s movements?  What’s up with the 70-hour deadline?

Other things that I enjoyed from the premiere:

The re-appearance of Anna-Lucia.  (“Libby says hi.”)

Hurley’s attempt to explain the show to his mother.  (I particularly enjoyed his confusion as to the reason for all the button-pushing, a past story-line that was actually referenced several times in the premiere.  Do the writers think that they have sufficiently explained the reason for the button-pushing?  Because I am as confused as Hurley is on that point, and would really love some further clarification!)

Charles Widmore.  (When is HE getting a flashback episode?)

Hurley’s becoming the first character to out-wit Benjamin Linus.  (At least temporarily.)

Ben’s sticking-up for Jack when chatting with his butcher friend.  (It would also be nice to see Ben admit to Jack — or to anyone — that everyone would have been spared a whole lot of grief had Ben just told Jack and the other cast-aways more about what was going on with the Island two seasons ago…)

John Locke and his interactions with the drug-loaded (and brother-of-Mr.-Eko-carrying) plane that crashed on the Island.  (I was sort-of hoping we’d see a freshly-killed Boone carcass during one of Locke’s trips back in time near that plane…)

Daniel Faraday’s explanation of the significance of a record to the story of Lost.  (Note that almost every season except the first one has opened with a character listening to a record.)


So… where is this all going?  Is the past immutable on Lost, or is there No Fate But What We Make?  

Can’t wait to see what’s next for us, next week…!

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