'Lost': Juliet's Odyssey
Doc Jensen's post-finale thoughts focus on the woman who may foretell the essential storyline for season 6. Plus: The start of Doc Jensen's Hiatus Reading List, a ''Lost'' character as Oedipus, an update on that Survey, and a new Totally Lost
THE BURNER OF SHIPS
Mourning Juliet, Nausicaa-Isis. PLUS! Meet the secret father-killing, mother-humping Oedipus of Lost!
In the aftermath of last week’s season finale, ”The Incident,” there has been much gnashing of teeth and shredding of hairshirts over the death of Juliet Burke, who tumbled down a Swan hole and may have incinerated post-September 2004 history. I, too, am sad to see her go, and much more sad to see the departure of Elizabeth Mitchell, whose simultaneously sad and steely performance — assayed with cool and witty understatement — was a great gift to the series. I hear Mitchell — who has been tapped to headline ABC’s reboot of the cheez-o-riffic sci-fi series V — may appear next season in cameo spots. I hope so: Juliet’s romance with Sawyer was one of season 5’s biggest surprises and creative successes, and I have to think that if Mitchell were available, Lost would want to explore this storyline, or give it just one more beat of closure. Here’s how I think they would do it:
Last week, I speculated that in the new Lost timeline that will flow out of Juliet’s detonation of Jughead, the characters that angelic Jacob visited and conspicuously touched during the flashbacks — definitely Sawyer, Kate, Sun, Jin, Jack, Locke, and Hurley — will retain their memories of the previous, now-deleted timeline. (Similar yet slightly different to what happened to Desmond after he was physically obliterated by the Swan’s implosion — his consciousness migrated to the fateful week in which he broke up with Penny.) If that conjecture proves true, I can easily see a poignant moment in which James Ford seeks out Juliet in her pre-Island life, finds her, and realizes that, unlike him, she has no past-life memory of the Island or their life together. She’ll look at him as if he’s crazy; he’ll look at her with forlorn eyes. Goodbye, my Dharma lady. I’ll always have your back. And then he’ll walk away. I’m already investing in the Kleenex!
DOC JENSEN’S LOST HIATUS READING LIST
Selection No. 1: Replay
A number of you have been asking me to do this — and so we shall! Your first assignment is Replay by Ken Grimwood. It’s not so much a science-fiction novel as it is a really wonderful human story built around a sci-fi conceit: The hero is stuck in a circuit: Every time he hits the age of 43, his consciousness automatically zip-lines backward in time to a point in his early 20s and gets the chance to live the next 20 years over. There’s more to this premise, including a couple of twists. The story’s beauty lies in its emphasis on character and how each richly imagined cycle through the hero’s life affects him and builds upon the others. It gives you moments like the aforementioned James-Juliet scenario that I sketched — but with much, much better dialogue — and much more. It’s a book that will move your heart and expand your mind without hurting your head. If season 6 of Lost can possess the emotional texture of Replay, we will be very, very happy. Or at least I will be.
Back to grieving Juliet. In retrospect, cryptic bits of business now pop as foreshadowing. Remember the opening sequence of season 3? We met Juliet as she woke up in her Dharma cabin. She was in tears; she had just learned that Ben had been diagnosed with a tumor on his spine, which was upsetting to her because it made her doubt Ben’s promise that all-powerful, never-seen Jacob could heal her sister’s cancer. We saw her listen to a song — Petula Clark’s rendition of ”Downtown” (”When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go/Downtown!”), though the Clark disc had been inside a different jewel case: Talking Heads’ Remain In Light (which includes the Lost-ironic track ”Once In A Lifetime.” She got her home ready to host book club. Her choice: Stephen King’s Carrie, a character who, like her, literally went down in blazes, burning down her house and the downtown portion of her town in the process, too. During book club, Juliet made an angry point about free will (or the lack thereof) on the Island — or at least, she tried to, but she was rudely interrupted by the crash of Oceanic 815. We now know from the finale that free will is very important to Jacob, and what’s more, could be the philosophical bone of contention between the seemingly benign, Christ-like entity and his mopey, nameless adversary, the Man In Black.
Like King’s Carrie, Juliet was a victim of deception — she had been brought to the Island under any number of false pretenses, including the unspoken assumption that she had the freedom to leave at any time. But in the season finale, we saw her finally get the chance to escape her weird prison — and we also got to see her choose to go back. I think this is significant: It is the model, I believe, for every character’s heroic arc in Lost. The first time to the Island, you are a victim of circumstances and possibly manipulation. The second time to the Island, you do so freely, as the captain of your fate — as a hero. Juliet may have given us a peek at the essential storyline for each character next season. Born again off the Island, the ex-castaways are all going to choose to come back, hard and heroically — to save the Island and Jacob; to complete the ongoing, unbroken redemption projects of their strange, timeline-bent lives.
ABC had already given season 6 a tagline: Destiny Calls. But maybe it needs to be five words longer:
Destiny Calls. And this time, it’s personal.
NEXT PAGE: My big fat Greek unrequited romance!