We’re trying something just slightly different with this week’s installment of The Great “Lost” Debate. Rather than discuss something specific in the most recent episode, “Sundown” — because it would inevitably devolve into, “OMG Smokey! Kewl!!” — we’re panning back just a little bit to look at the first third of the season.
Come on along as we consider what the first six episodes have shown us, what they haven’t, and what it all means for the show going forward (T-shirts sold separately).
Rick Porter: So we’re now a third of the way through the last season of “Lost” — and I have to say, typing those words bums me out a little. I’m trying not to let expectations for the end get too far out of whack, but it’s safe to say that after six episodes, I’m pretty primed for good — by which I mean surprising, possibly tragic, and not necessarily tidy — things to come.
But since we had a pretty definitive ending to Act 1 of the season with “Sundown” — Smocke cleaning house at the Temple and gathering his newly infected minions — it’s probably a good time to assess where things stand in the “Lost” universe, and what’s been set up for the rest of the season.
Obviously, we don’t yet know exactly what the sideways timeline represents — Ryan, you and I both have pretty strong opinions on it, but any and all theories are still on the table at this point. So let’s set that aside for a moment and look instead at the most recent events: Smocke marching away from the Temple with a cadre of followers, and Ilana, Ben, Sun and Lapidus running the other direction. Something’s a-brewin’, to be sure — but what, exactly? Is it throwdown time?
Ryan McGee: I think throwdown time starts in full in the final third of the season. The middle third will probably consist of a few big character downloads (I’m thinking people like Ben, Richard, maybe Widmore) in addition to establishing the two sides of the War of the Island. Right now, the odds seem hopelessly stacked against Team Jacob, which is the entire point. Things SHOULD feel dire. Smocke SHOULD seem invincible. If Dogen’s Magic Dagger is not as powerful as Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, what can harm Smocke?
So, in addition to establishing the sides, the second third should hopefully establish the context of this war. We know Smocke wants to go home, but we don’t really know the import of that wish. Is that what creates the separate timeline? And if it has a hand in it, what does it say about Desmond’s presence there as a Puck-like figure, a sprite that can pop in and out of the action by the whims of higher beings? Establishing the conflict on the Island should establish the nature of the sideways timeline more definitively. If we can’t draw a fairly reasonable conclusion as to its nature by hour 12, I might dig up Nikki and Paulo only to bury them alive AGAIN to release my rage.
The purpose of the first third was to declare The Island a “no safe zone” — what was once called “the last safe place on the Island” is now in smokey, Smocke-laden ruins. Nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide. Help is apparently on the way, in the form of a mysterious visitor alluded to by Jacob. But can his remaining acolytes/unwitting followers hang on long enough for the human equivalent of a Dharma pallet drop?
RP: It does sort of feel like the Temple was the Jacob-following equivalent of Helm’s Deep, doesn’t it? Only the outcome of the battle — if you can even call it that — was not nearly as positive as it was in “The Two Towers.”
So in terms of the on-island action, I think we’re going to see a lot of the ostensible good guys — Ilana, Sun, Hurley, Jack, Ben (in an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend sort of way) and Richard — on the run, sort of like the survivors of Flight 815 were living in fear Others early in the series. Smocke, meanwhile, will be consolidating his power and setting his plan in motion by continuing to tell his followers whatever they need to hear to keep them in line.
What I want to see, though, is some of what you suggested: a couple of big fill-in-the-blanks stories involving some of the characters — particularly Richard (Nestor Carbonell has promised that’s coming soon) and Ben, who have both been on the Island a long time and thus and probably hold at least some keys to whatever the final battle might be. I also think we’ll get a lot better sense of how the sideways timeline fits into the larger narrative, be it an epilogue or something that will converge into the Island timeline (and, by the way, I’m totally having “Team Convergence” and “Team Epilogue” T-shirts printed up).
So that’s my best guess as to what WILL happen. My question to you, then, is what do you WANT to see happen?
RM: The issue with asking something like “What do I want to see happen?” is that the answer is insanely specific. What I want is nothing like what you want or what anyone else wants. But to answer it in a way that’s as vague as possible: I want to see why this final chapter of the “Lost” saga matters. And I don’t mean “last chapter” simply in terms of the events on the show, but the events on the Island. That sucker’s been around long enough for ancient civilizations to erect massive statues upon it, and everything that’s happened on the Island had led to the destruction of The Temple by Smocke.
In working through the back stories of people like Ben, Richard, and Ilana, I hope the show gives context to this battle in addition to giving us as an audience reason to fear Smocke leaving the Island. It’s all fine and good to paint Jacob and Smocke as in varying shades of gray — not simply “light” and “dark” — but at some point, I want to root for someone! I’m pretty sure I should be siding against Smocke, but I need a more definitive reason WHY I should be doing so other than mere intuition.
More specifically, want I want to see in the next third: Ben finding a purpose. Ilana reminding Richard of HIS purpose. Learning the purpose of the mysterious visitor coming to the Island. And, yes, a “Team Convergence” t-shirt. Halter top, if you please.
RP: That’s a good deal to ask — but the thing is, I don’t really see it as asking too much at this point. Inevitable ups and downs aside, these six episodes have done a pretty excellent job at setting the table for the conclusion of the series — and going back and forth here has reminded me not just to look week by week at what’s happening but to remember that what we’ve seen so far is part of a whole. With that in mind, I’m reasonably confident that “Lost” is going to give us what we need (if not exactly what we want) over these next 12 hours. (Oh, and one halter top, size extra small, coming up.)
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Photo credit: ABC