Jeff Jensen, EW's resident expert on all things ''Lost,'' has seen the season premiere! Here are his first impressions...
‘Lost’ (S3): Teasers about the season premiere!
IN MY OFFICE.
The season premiere of Lost.
I have watched it. TWICE.
What can I tell you?
For starters, the first five minutes = pure Lost genius.
The rest of it is pretty damn good, too.
It’s a typical Lost premiere. Think of it as an overture, filled with thematic motifs and melodies to be elaborated upon throughout the season.
It even begins with real musical overture, just like last season. Last year, it was Mama Cass singing ”Make Your Own Kind of Music.” This year, it’s Petula Clark singing ”Downtown.” You know the tune: ”When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go… Downtown!”
Here are some of my in-the-moment reactions/thoughts/questions about the episode, titled ”A Tale of Two Cities.” I tried to make these as cryptic as possible, but if you wish to preserve your own first-time experience of the season premiere, you better skip this part. In NO particular order:
Better renew my library card — looks like I’m going to need it for this season, too.
She looks sad. Why?
I’d love to know what inspired the line that the guy says about ”science fiction.”
It’s a twister! It’s a twister! It’s…
…not a twister.
Why does that character suddenly remind me of the Wicked Witch of the West?
Isn’t he a take-charge kind of guy! (But why do I sense he might not be the most well-liked guy on his block?)
One of the BEST Lost lines EVER.
Wasn’t that the song that Sayid and Hurley heard on the radio at the end of ”The Long Con,” the one that prompted Hurley to speculate about time travel? Funny we’re hearing it again, in a flashback…
He has a bandage…
She has a bandage, too…
But how come he doesn’t?
Okay, Mr. Friendly: What IS your type?
So… is there a Romeo wherefore arting around someplace?
Why is Julie Bowen smiling as she walks away from Jack?
Why does the COMMUNICATE box do the strange thing that it does?
Why is the boy forced to apologize?
In light of what happens later in the episode, how important is it that Jack is warned about the possibility of hallucinations?
What do you think that biscuit tastes like?
How did they compile that file?
Unless, of course, the file is pure bluff.
Of course. He even looks like a rat.
Yes, friends, you DO get answers to significant Island-mythology questions, including: where The Others live; a sense of how they live; Henry Gale’s real first name (hint: Mr. Creepy and I have something very personal in common); a more logistically expansive understanding of the Dharma Initiative (the closest I can come to a hint is to remind you of the specific areas of Dharma study: psychology, parapsychology, zoology, meteorology, and electromagnetism). HOWEVER, in typical Lost fashion, these answers are presented in ways that pose bunches of new questions. (What’s the significance of ”two weeks”? How does Mr. Friendly know about what was accomplished in just ”two hours”?)
Nonetheless, these new questions are deliciously intriguing and certainly provide plenty of mystery meat for Lost theorists to chew on. The episode even has Jack giving explicit voice to a very popular hypothesis as to the identity of the Others. The response he gets from his captors is Lost-in-a-nutshell: not a confirmation, but not a denial, and as such, very intriguing.
But not frustrating. At least, not to me. The reason is Jack’s flashbacks. Yes, this is an episode that’s full of teases. But it’s also an episode that means something, and by the end, you get a sense that Jack has at least BEGUN to turn a corner in wrestling with the personal demons that he’s brought with him to the Island. And when you take the very last scene in Jack’s flashback story, and place it in the Big Picture context of what we know about Jack’s daddy issues, and in particular the scene in the very first episode of Lost in which his mother asks him to go to Australia and fetch his father — well, the implications are devastating, and you begin to realize that Jack’s unresolved inner turmoil is a lot more complicated than mere ”I Wish My Drunk Disapproving Daddy Loved Me Better.”
After two viewings, I’m still reeling. My Doc Jensen theorizing faculties are fully ACTIVATED. In the coming weeks, you’re going to see some crazy crap spill out of this brain of mine, filled with all the possibly relevant/probably-just-nutty pop connections and pretentious blather you’ve come to expect from me. If you want to get a head start on the homework/headaches, here’s what you should be boning up on:
Don DeLillo’s Underworld. Alan Moore’s V For Vendetta. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The Book of Revelations. The Greek word thipsis. John Mayer’s ”Waiting for the World to Change.” Creed’s ”My Own Prison.” The lost continent of Mu. All things H.G. Wells. Pink Floyd. George Orwell. The defunct performance art/electronica band The KLF. The word oulipo.
Oh, and there’s a shout-out to a certain iconic EW columnist in the first minutes of the episode. I’d ask you to become acquainted with his many, many famous works… but I’m sure you’re already intimately familiar with the great Stephen King.
FYI: The episode is called ”A Tale of Two Cities.” Yep: more conspicuous literary name dropping — although you MUST let me know what you think of the wink-wink/nudge-nudge early scene with newcomer Elizabeth Mitchell (first impression: a sterling addition) and the dude with the glasses. My sense is that this very ironic scene will be one of the most discussed sequences from the premiere. But I risk giving too much away by explaining further.
It wouldn’t be a Doc Jensen column without a theory. Or two. Or 10. So I leave you for now with the following. Last spring, in EW’s cover story about Lost, I wrote that the best theory of Lost is that it’s an allegory for itself. That theory was very much on my mind as I watched the season premiere, which I’m sure will be accused of (or praised for) being rather self-conscious. Jack’s obsessive quest for the answer to a burning question is not unlike, say, a certain EW writer’s obsessive search for a super-string theory of Lost. Sawyer’s struggle to figure out the mechanical puzzle in his cell could be fans like me, trying to figure out the proper combination of button-pushing that will get me the Cracker Jack prize I desire — but it could also be symbolic of the show’s writing process, too. As for Kate’s sad debasement in the season premiere, well… in order for me to talk more about the spiritual cost of making choices for self-preservation’s sake, I’d have to tell you about the thing on the hanger and the bloody wrists. But those are spoilers.
However, each of these character arcs has something in common: In the end, there is nourishment. It’s not always tasty, and it’s not always as much as we would like. But it’s enough (at least, until the next meal/episode), and better yet, it just might be really, really good for us, in ways we don’t immediately recognize.
I think the burning question for fans of the show is this: Do we trust Lost? If we do… why? And if we don’t… why? And in both cases, does the answer lie with the show and its makers, or in ourselves?
This is something I wrote to a friend in an e-mail right after seeing the episode: ”The obsessive pursuit for answers, for so-called TRUTH, is often undertaken by a seeker who, ironically, is assiduously avoiding/denying hard, painful truths about him/herself. In fact, said seeker may be looking for external answers that will get him off the hook of addressing internal answers. This is Jack. This is me. This is EVERYONE.”
And while I’m being ridiculously, embarrassingly, pathetically high-minded, this is something I found in a book called Massive Change that I read the same night that I watched the premiere:
”Most of the time, we live our lives within invisible systems, blissfully unaware of the artificial life, the intensely designed infrastructures that support them. Accidents, disasters, crises — [when] systems fail we become temporarily conscious of the extraordinary force and power of design, and the effects that it generates. Every accident provides a brief moment of awareness of real life, what is actually happening, and our dependence on the underlying systems of design. Every plane crash is a rupture, a shock to the system, precisely because our experience of flight is so carefully designed away from the reality of the event. As we sip champagne, read the morning paper, and settle in before takeoff, we choose not to experience the torque, the thrust, the speed, the altitude, the temperature, the thousands of pounds of explosive jet fuels cradled beneath us, the infinite complexity of onboard systems, and the very real risks and dangers of takeoff and landing.”
What does this all mean? I don’t know. Yet.
But as I drove to work this morning to write this, I found myself stuck behind a slow-moving car that had a bumper sticker on it that read — and I kid you not — ”Namaste.” How’s that for a Lost-esque coincidence?
Clearly, someone’s trying to tell me I’m onto something.
Welcome to a new season of Lost.
And welcome back to my trip into crazyland.
— Doc J