So this week we saw the beginning of the end for Lost, a season that has been held in breathless anticipation by most of the series’ remaining fans. No doubt the serialized storytelling and plot intricacies of Lost have caused it to shed viewers over the years – a third fewer people viewed this week’s episode than watched the pilot back in 2004 – but those of us who have stuck with it have a lot invested in this final season.

The season premiere has been summarized and blogged by plenty of people, most of them better writers than I, so I don’t feel a need to rehash what happened in plot detail. Over this season I just am going to share a few of my thoughts and musings about the week’s episode rather than a full summary of it. Spoilers for this week’s episode, natch.

– The “flash-sideways” narrative structure has promise, but the way they’ve done it is going to be a wee bit confusing. It’s clear that detonating Jughead had many other consequences than preventing the plane crash, not the least of which was the sinking of the island. Hurley is clearly not cursed any longer, unless he was being sarcastic. Did he still win the lottery with The Numbers? If the Island was sunk, how would his asylum buddy ever have heard the broadcast that introduced them to Hurley? What about Sawyer, who is clearly not the angsty, tortured just-killed-an-innocent-man guy we saw in season one? And more importantly, are they going to be filling in the backstory on the “alternate” 815’ers, and how their lives changed before the crash?

– Also on the subject of the alternate universe, it’s interesting that items which featured prominently in Lost episodes – the bottle of vodka Kate used to stitch Jack up, Locke’s box ‘o knives, and Christian’s body – are missing in the alternate universe. Is Desmond part of that? Did Desmond and Jack not meet at the stadium a few years ago? When they met in the Swan in season 2, Jack recognized him instantly. This time he just seems plagued by a sense of deja-vu which seems to allude to vague memories of the island.

– In true Lost fashion, they gave us an answer that didn’t answer anything about Smokey. Okay, so the Man in Black (aka. the adversary, Esau, Jacob’s nemesis, etc.) and the smoke monster are one and the same. But what the hell or who the hell is the Man in Black? It seems clear to me now, with the protective ash circle and the Friends of Jacob burning down the cabin last season that Jacob was never in the cabin at all, but rather it was a prison for MiB, and him who said “Help me” to Locke. Are all the manifestations on the Island attributed to Smokey – Kate’s horse, Christian, etc. – the MiB, or can Jacob or another entity also pull off the Buffyverse First’s appear-as-dead-people trick?

– I’m laying bets, as many are, that Sayid will awaken in the temple possessed by Jacob. Maybe it’s a red herring, but it seems certain that the Island’s primary purpose is to serve as the staging ground between the two entities known as the Man in Black and Jacob, and I suspect that the bodies they use for it are borrowed. Things seem to be heading towards placing Locke – who I’m sure is still coming back – and Jack, or maybe Ben, into these roles. I prefer Jack, as the fundamental split seems to be faith vs. science. There may be a hint towards this in Jacob’s serene, spiritual demeanour and the harsh mechanical noises of Smokey. Adam and Eve, the first season’s skeletons with their white and black stones reinforce the assumption that this relationship holds the key to most of the Island’s secrets.

– I can’t believe how long it’s been since we’ve seen Claire. I suspect the fact that we only saw her framed from the chest up is significant, and she’s not pregnant in the alt-timeline.

– The Stephen King fan’s analysis: If Aaron only exists in the original timeline, it recalls to mind The Talisman, which is about two parallell dimensions in which most people have “twinners” in the alternate dimension, much like the situation now created in Lost. The main character (with the suspiciously Lost-centric name Jack Benjamin Sawyer) is one of the few who exists in only one dimension, so he’s able to learn the trick of switching between them. Maybe Aaron will have a similar status.

– Further Stephen King fan’s analysis: The dual timelines bring to mind the plot of the first 3 novels in the Dark Tower series. I’ll be slightly vague but this is still a bit spoilery. One character dies in Dimension A, which causes him to appear in Dimension B, where he meets other characters. He then dies in Dimension B, in a fall very similar to Juliet’s. Later, time travel allows his death in Dimension A to be prevented, so he never enters Dimension B and it negates the sequence of events that led to his second death. Here’s the kicker; both he, and the people he knew in Dimension B, begin going insane from the paradoxical memories caused by this event. Rectifying these memories by merging the timelines becomes crucial to saving the characters’ sanity.

I suspect events in Lost will play out similarly, since we know through the writers that these dual timelines will eventually be rectified. Let’s see if everyone starts going nuts in the interim. That’s about all I have for now. More coming after next weeks episode. I just wish I could skip through the next 4 days like I do commercials on a PVR.

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