I'm naming my weekly LOST episode column "Where Are We?" both in acknowledgment of the show's primary question, as well as this column's mission: to analyze where we as viewers are in understanding this crazy, wonderful show. I hope to do this by breaking down the multitude of questions and mysteries into as few bullets as possible each episode, clarifying what about a given topic has been confirmed/answered by an episode, as well as what has been confirmed and/or introduced as a legitimate mystery. Here goes:
The Altered Universe: The world "alternate" seems to denote a subordinate status, so let's call this the "altered" universe until we know what exactly it really is and where it belongs in the pecking order. There are of course a bajillion niggling little questions about what's going on in the AU (Desmond's sudden appearance and disappearance, slightly remixed versions of characters and their back stories, moments where characters seem to know there's something odd going on and/or some connection to the Original Timeline) -- but all of this pairs down to the single broad question of: What is the Altered Universe and how is it connected to what's going on? I don't feel we have enough info to soundly approach this yet (though we can speculate 'til the cows come home), so I'll abstain at present. Suffice to say: it's cool, it's intriguing, it's sentimental, and I hope it pays off big-time with a nifty connection to the Original Timeline (hinted at by Juliet's Charlotte-like, possibly-time/reality-jumping, last words and message from beyond-the-grave.
Electromagnetic Explosions: If LOST is overly mysterious, at least it's consistent in its presentation of some of the more major mysteries. What the hell happened that allowed anyone to survive the crash of the 815 Fuselage in 1.01 (Pilot)? What the hell happened that allowed anyone to survive the Swan Hatch implosion in 2.24 (Live Together, Die Alone)? What the hell happened that allowed anyone to survive the H-bomb detonation that was the Incident in 5.17 (The Incident)? Whatever the specifics are, the answer is: the same thing. This is primarily suggested by the presence of a large burst of electromagnetism at each of these occurrences (usually accompanied by blinding light), as well as the manner in which the survivors of such incidents awaken: on their backs in the jungle (accompanied by extreme eye close-ups) with a touch of hearing-impairment. Jack got this wake-up treatment after the plane crash in 1.01 (The Pilot), Locke got it after the hatch implosion in 3.03 (Further Instructions), and now Kate gets it after the H-bomb in 6.01 (LA X). The Will of The Island or Island Magic or The Hand of Fate (whatever you'd like to call it) can clearly rip people out of immediate peril and time jump them whenever it likes (often perhaps only seconds/minutes later) to save their lives. Many 815 fuselage crash survivors clearly benefited from this, the quartet down in the hatch benefited from this, and now our A-Team characters have not only been saved but returned to the present. In all likelihood it's this same Island ability that ripped four of them off the Ajira 315 and into 1977 to begin with in 5.06 (315), accompanied - of course - by flashes of light and waking up in the jungle an eye close-up (Jack again).
Hurley's Power: "Can he really speak to the dead or is it just the Island/Jacob sending him visions?" has been a question since Charlie first popped up at Santa Rosa in 4.01 (The Beginning of the End). Here we get confirmation for the first time that he CAN speak to at least one dead person: the dead Jacob. But there's still a chance that it's been Jacob in different forms the whole time anyway, so maybe his power is just that he can speak with Jacob, alive or dead, on-island or off.
The Man In Black (MIB): Next to the AU, the MIB is the other Big mystery (yes, with a capital B!) of the Season 6 premiere. We now have confirmation of the very largely hinted at and implied revelation that the MIB is both Fake Locke as well as Smokey the Monster. We also have the second piece of his agenda: to go home. (The first piece being, of course, to kill Jacob). All the gazillion questions about the MIB can be summed up under the header question: "Who Is The Man In Black And What's His Story?" When we know this - and I have confidence that we will - we'll know why he's up to the things he's up to, what his relationship is with both Jacob and the Others (he's "disappointed" in them), and why getting into Locke's body and killing Jacob has so clearly turned the tables for him. Judging by Richard's expression at his identity-revelation, the MIB has been dormant for quite some time, so what measures did the Others previously take in trying to prevent the MIB from gaining the current corporeal power he seems to now have. They've evidently always known how to repel Smokey (with ash circles), but they've never seemed quite this afraid of him before. Ben even actually called on his aid during Keamy's raid on the Ex-Dharmaville in 4.09 (The Shape of Things to Come). What's changed exactly? Could they not have known he was the Smoke monster? Perhaps Jacob's mere presence on the Island had been enough to keep him in check before...
The Others: Season 2 established them as the Island's original inhabitants and protectors. Season 3 refined them into the followers of Jacob. As we now slowly learn more about Jacob and his Nemesis, their role comes further into focus and most of the questions about who they are, why they employ such strict/cruel methods to carry out their mission, why they choose only very specific outsiders to join them, and what their group structure and goals are -- can all be lumped into the single question "What Is Jacob's Agenda?" and the related question of "How Did the Others Come to Work For Him?" When we know these things, everything else that's weird and inexplicable about the Others should fall into place. Hopefully this will include "the Rules" that Charles Widmore apparently broke, as well as how the Others are intrinsically connected to the Island (unaffected by the Season 5 time skips that affected the outsiders), and what it means to be banished from their ranks: was Widmore literally branded for his crimes with the same way Juliet was in 3.09 (Stranger in a Strange Land)? Is this physical mark and banishment the reason Juliet suffered the Season 5 time skips with the rest of our outsider heroes?
Illana and the "What Lies in the Shadow of the Statue" Folks: We have yet to be given a simple name for the team of pro-Jacob enthusiasts that arrived via Ajira 315, but they're pretty clearly NOT directly connected to the others. Richard doesn't know them, even though the MIB address them dismissively as "Jacob's Bodyguards." So where do they fit into all this? This is an open mystery.
The MIB and Bodies: In 5.08 (La Fleur), 1970s Richard made a big fuss over wanting to collect that dharma dude Paul's body. Are the others so concerned about leaving dead bodies around the Island because they know the MIB can use them as avatars? (Christian, Yemi, Now Locke). If so, this is a bit inconsistent. Richard didn't seem too worried about letting Ben leave his dad's body in the VW van. Also, they left the entire Dharma Initiative in an open mass grave, but perhaps that was filled with magic ash. Also someone ought to let them know there's a whole buffet of avatars available on the 815ers beachfront village...
The MIB and Possession: Related to the "Bodies" matter, but a good bit different. Now that we know there's still a body around when Smokey/MIB takes the form of the dead (Locke's body carried to the beach by "Jacob's Bodyguards"), we have to wonder what different "power" of his allowed him to take possession of the living. I'm referring of course to "the Sickness" that Rousseau's team endured when they entered the walls around the Temple as seen in 5.05 (This Place is Death). They were pretty clearly not dead when they emerged since Rousseau was subsequently able to kill them. So what exactly did MIB do to them and why? If it was just a matter of wanting the French science team killed off, this seems a bit extraneously circuitous for a monster that can smash people into trees.
Sayid's Resurrection: The Season 6 premiere's cliffhanger deals closely with these matters of bodies and resurrection since Sayid has now undergone some kind of change. This is pretty clearly not the MIB's doing, since we've never been given reason to think he can be in two places at once. Plus we're given every reason to believe that his resurrection is the will of Jacob, not the MIB. Has he been possessed by Jacob? Or is his resurrection more akin to whatever the Others and Jacob did to young Ben in 1977? Reborn but somehow changed... We shall see.
And that's where we are!
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