After eight long months of waiting, the sixth and final season of Lost has finally started. After all those twists and turns since Oceanic 815 crashed in September 2004, we’re now nearing the end. As usual, spoilers of course follow if you’ve not seen the episode yet.
Season five of course ended with Juliet detonating Jughead, and the episode started with a recap which ended with that brilliant flash of white light. We’ve all been waiting for so long to see what happened next and finally got our answer as the white turned into the clouds outside the window of flight 815, as Jack sat in his seat. What followed was very similar to Jack’s first flashback in the pilot episode, but with a few small intentional differences, for example Cindy, the air stewardess, only gave him one miniature bottle of vodka, instead of the the two bottles we saw back in 2004. But, of course, there was a much bigger difference than this, because following the same sort of turbulence experienced before flight 815 broke up over the island, things settled down and Captain Seth Norris (him off of Heroes) came on the intercom to apologise. Amazingly, Jack’s plan really did work. As Bernard finally made his way back from that toilet break, Jack felt something was wrong and went to the bathroom to look in the mirror. This was a very strange moment which just hinted at the idea that Jack senses something isn’t quite right. After finding a mysterious cut on his neck, he returns to his seat to find Desmond sitting next to him, and Jack thinks he’s seen him before. Quite why he is on flight 815 is anyone’s guess, but if Jack’s plan worked, there’d have been no Island for him to be shipwrecked on three years earlier, and perhaps no Charles Widmore to try to impress in a round-the-world race. This opening scene was played just about as perfectly as it could in every way, from Giacchino’s quiet, understated version of Jack’s theme to Matthew Fox’s ambiguous performance. We then discover the fate of the island, as the camera zooms out of the window and dives below the ocean, and we see that the major landmarks of the island, including the Barracks and the four-toed statue are all underwater. But at least we got to see Ezra James Sharkington is alright.
After commercials, we see the detonation of the bomb again, and again the screen flashes to white. Slowly an image of Kate’s eye comes into focus and we see her up a tree, just like the old days. The bomb has affected her hearing, which we experience through the muffled audio which might have had some viewers wondering if their TV was broken. She finds Miles and then Jack, who is promptly kicked into the crater that once was the Swan station by a very angry and distraught Sawyer. They find Juliet under the rubble, and try to save her but it’s too late, and after mumbling something which will surely prove significant about getting coffee sometime, she dies. As Sawyer picks up her body and tells Jack “you did this”, the anger and emotion is palpable.
So, there are two separate realities in play here, and throughout the episode we “flashsideways” back and forth between the timeline where Jack’s plan worked and Oceanic 815 didn’t crash and the one where it didn’t and the Losties were catapulted 30 years from 1977 to 2007. Writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have been at pains to point out that what we are seeing on the plane in 2004 is not an “alternate reality”, because that would suggest that one is more important than the other. Instead, both timelines are valid and “real”, with time splitting into two directions. I’m quite certain that, in order to provide a satisfying conclusion, these two separate timelines will not stay separate until the very end of the series, and one way or another will converge somehow.
Aside from Desmond being on the plane, there are many other differences in the world where the island was blown up. Hurley says he’s the luckiest guy in the world, instead of cursed by the numbers, and Shannon isn’t on the plane. Boone is, though, sitting next to a sleeping Neil Frogurt and John Locke, who he says he’d follow if the plane crashed. We all know how well that went. Jack saves Charlie, who swallowed his bag of heroin, his first words being “Am I alive?”, the words he had written on the palm of his hand at Comic-Con. There’s some excellent attention to detail in these scenes on the plane, the costumes are the same as the pilot, and some of the characters whose appearance has changed quite a lot over the years, such as Sawyer, Sun and Jin look just like they did back in 2004. The first hour ends with the scene many of us never thought we’d see until the final ever episode – Oceanic 815 lands in Los Angeles. The scene mirrors the ending of season one, when we saw the plane being boarded in Sydney, again slow motion footage set to a beautiful score. The flashsideways then continue, as Kate escapes from the world’s first empty airport bathroom, and gets a little help from Sawyer along the way, before getting into a taxi with Claire in the back, as US Marshal Edward Mars gives chase. Sun and Jin are held at customs after he tried to bring lots of cash into the country. In a brilliant scene, Jacks has a conversation with Locke while they wait for news of some things Oceanic has lost – Locke’s case of knives, and Jack’s father’s body. This doesn’t seem to be the same Locke we remembered off the island, he seems much more sure of himself, more like the person we first saw on the island.
Back in 2007, Hurley sees Jacob (it’s now pretty much confirmed that he sees dead people) who tells him to take the dying Sayid to the Temple, a place we’d heard about since season three. Meanwhile, Sawyer and Miles stay to bury Juliet, the close relationship they built after three long years as boss and employee at the DHARMA Initiative staying intact. Sawyer asks Miles to read what Juliet’s final thought was, reluctantly he does and discovers it was “it worked”. When Jack, Hurley, Jin, Kate and Sayid arrive at the Temple, they meet one of the Others they’d never seen before, a Japanese man who seems to be in charge of this group. But there’s a few familiar faces too – Cindy, Zach and Emma, the two kids who we hadn’t seen for quite some time, but still look pretty much the same as before. Now came the only part of the episode that grated slightly, as Hurley handed over the guitar case, which contained a giant wooden Ankh, with a note inside saying that if Sayid dies, “we’re all in a lot of trouble”. In order to save Sayid, he is put underwater in a pool inside the Temple, although the water isn’t as clear as usual. Sayid drowns, and despite Jack’s best efforts to resuscitate him, he lies dead by the side of the pool. Hurley speaks to the Japanese man, who had been talking through a translator until that point, because he dislikes the way English “tastes on my tongue.” Hurley mentions that Jacob is dead and suddenly everyone in the Temple springs into action, putting up barricades, lighting warning flares, and pouring protective lines of ash around all entrances.
The best scenes of the whole episode were back at the four toed statue. As Ben is dragged by Richard Alpert to Locke’s body, he realises he was tricked. Bram and his team come inside and shoot at the Man in Black as Ben cowers in the corner. Suddenly the man who looks like Locke has disappeared, and in comes the smoke monster, which picks them Jacob’s bodyguards and throws them across the room, all except for Bram who surrounds himself with the same ash previously seen around the cabin, which prevents the Smokey from getting near him. But the pillar of black smoke knocks over some bricks which makes Bram fall outside of the ring of ash, and he is picked up and impaled on loom. As ben is about to flee, he finds the man who looks like John Locke standing behind him, saying “sorry you had to see me like that”. And, there it is, the mystery of the smoke monster revealed. Jacob’s Nemesis, the Man In Black, Esau, Flocke, call him what you will, is the smoke monster. This really is the season when we’ll get all those answers we’ve been waiting for. He tells Ben what the tragic John Locke’s final thoughts as he was being strangled – “I don’t understand”. He tells Ben that he admired Locke for being the only one of the survivors to recognise how pathetic his life of the island was, but says that he ironically wants the one thing Locke didn’t – to go home. He then marches outside, telling Richard that “it’s good to see you out of those chains” before knocking him out, picking him up and telling everyone else that he’s “very disappointed”.
BEN: What are you?
MAN IN BLACK: Wha.. I’m not a what Ben, I’m a who.
BEN: You’re the monster.
MAN IN BLACK: Let’s not resort to name calling.
The episode ends back at the Temple. Sawyer and Miles have been dragged in by the others, but everyone suddenly turns to the presumed dead Sayid – who is sitting up. “What happened?” he asks.
This was a spectacular and exciting start to the new season, at once embracing the history of the previous 103 hours of the show and many memorable characters from Artz to Charlie, while moving the story along quickly towards it’s conclusion.