I Have Now Seen Lost Season 5

Posted: December 18, 2009 in Braak
Tags: , ,

I think this means that I am all caught up, and am bouncing out of my head wanting to talk about it.  I feel like this makes me like those lame people I used to mock at the water cooler (when I worked somewhere that had a water cooler) who were all saying shit like, “What do you think the polar bear means?”

It doesn’t mean anything, it was just a fucking polar bear.  Cope.

Here are some ACTUAL important questions:

How does Season 5 end without creating a basic grandfather paradox?  I see three essential options:

1)  You can’t change the past.  Detonating the bomb WAS the incident referred to in Pierre Chang’s orientation tape.

2)  You can change the past.  Time works like this:  there is a “real” timeline, and innumerable potential timelines.  When you change the past, the “real” timeline jumps tracks from one potential to another — but you don’t go with it, because when you traveled back in time, you were cut off from your timeline anyway.  This means those guys are stuck back in time, but they’re also growing up and going on about their lives, and will eventually get on a plane that doesn’t crash on the island.

3) Time is shattered in a new and interesting way.  Maybe some people go far into the Island’s past, and some people go far into the Island’s future, or they all get spun off into their own tangent universes.

Option 1 seems unlikely to me.  It offends my sense of storytelling, which demands that all of the events that I watched them work for in the last season be relevant.  If I’ve just seen Juliet sacrifice herself to set that damn bomb off, then we’d better be making more progress than just getting us back to where we started.

Option 2 is possible but would either be really confusing — because there’d be a 2007 Sawyer and a 2006 Sawyer, and they’d be exactly the same and that’d piss me off — or, alternately, it’s how you’d end the whole series, not just the season.  Kind of like Donnie Darko, where the whole point was to create a new timeline in which all the bad shit didn’t happen, and the universe failed to be consumed by a swirling vortex of un-time.

Option 3 is most likely, being as it is concomitant with Jacob’s death — so, the temporal-spatial underpinnings of the Island are destroyed at the same time as its apparent…uh.  Demiurge, I guess?  Caretaker?  Hm.  This leaves season 6 set up for some kind of insane thing where they’re all isolated from each other by decades, and have to establish some kind of new order to the universe.  It also presents some zany opportunities, like someone going all the way into the future in order to go all the way into the past and become Jacob, or some pair of people going back in time and dying in those caves in order to be the skeletons that the castaways would later find.

I’m also wondering now if Esau — which is the name that I’m using to refer to the guy that arranged for Jacob’s death — was all of the “dead” characters:  Christian, Alex, &c.  Maybe that’s just a thing he can do.  Locke…er, sorry, “Locke” wasn’t around when Ben saw Alex, so maybe that was really Esau.  And Christian’s insistence that he couldn’t help Locke turn the wheel certainly bespeaks the arcane restrictions that these two guys seem to be under when dealing with each other.

Which is probably some kind of vast and incomprehensible game, of which backgammon is only a rough approximation, and began in the time of ancient Egypt, otherwise what is that statue of…well, I thought it was Sobek, but the internet advises me that it’s actually Taweret.

Speaking of, where did all this stonework come from?  This is tied into certain questions that I have about what the hell is going on here.  We’re not given a world in which “supernatural” is real in any classical sense, except that some people can see ghosts.  I mean, there are no vampires or werewolves, or even anything that might be reasonably mistaken for an angel.  There’s not any intense Christian mythic structure, like you’d expect if the Island was the secret repository of the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant.  Likewise, nothing that really suggests space aliens — I feel as though the space alien explanation would be kind of a let down.

This leaves us with science, and there are basically only two ways the science can go:

1) far future science, brought back in time because of it being really good science.

2) Ancient culture super-science, which is what I’m leaning towards.  Is the Island really Atlantis?  WHO CAN SAY?  (Though, how ancient can it be, if the Others are speaking Latin?  If it were really ancient, they’d be speaking Greek or Sumerian.  Unless the Others, who are clearly some kind of cult that exists to support one side or the other in the conflict, are a relatively recent development.)

I think it’s interesting that the Island can move around, and yet we still assume that it always tends to be an Island.  What if it appeared on land?  Would it just look like a mountain?  Presumably, it didn’t always move.  Maybe it actually started out as a mountain in Tunisia (where the exit is, because why should that always be in the same place when no other god-damn thing is?), before Jacob and Esau made their deal/bet/argument and transported the Island out to sea?

Did they make the deal with each other?  Or are they abiding by rules set down by someone else?  It seems a little late in the game to introduce an even higher authority.  And what Jacob and Esau are up to seems like more than just a game with an arbitrarily-defined set of outcomes.  That little scene the two of them had when they saw the Black Rock bespoke of a fundamental difference of viewpoint, similar to the way that Goethe describes the Argument in Faust.

I feel like I’d be disappointed if these guys turned out to be gods, or God and the Devil, or space aliens.  The only thing that I can think would be interesting, to me, would be if they were empowered somehow by the Island (presumably via electromagnetism which, as has been shown, can do any damn thing we can think of) over the course of their ten thousand year stay, then they went back in time to the Island’s inception in order to insure that the Island existed and that they were so empowered.  Consequent to this, when Ben kills Jacob, he doesn’t just kill Jacob now — he also kills Jacob in the future.  And, because Jacob’s timeline is actually a loop, he also kills Jacob in the past, throwing the entire chain of events that lead to the entire TV series out of whack, and requiring the creation of a new, over-arching timeline — someone else to loop all the way around through the future and into the past, and permitting things to work out the way they should.

It kind of has to be something like that, because you can’t talk about “destiny” without God, really, unless you’re talking about time travel.

  1. Jeff Holland says:

    I have been doing a really good job of NOT thinking about what the final season will look like/tackle, because frankly every time I think of what they’re likely to do, I also have to catalog in my brain all the dangling story threads and theories that they should also service if only briefly…

    And then I start thinking of ways they could do that, while also writing a show that’s thematically and dramatically resonant and doesn’t just “tie up loose ends,” AND somehow factor a way to get Jeremy Davies back on for at least a couple episodes.

    And then we’re in nosebleed territory. So, I guess, in conclusion: WASN’T IT SO CUTE THAT DESMOND AND PENNY NAMED THEIR SON CHARLIE AWWWWWWWW

  2. braak says:

    You’re not doing THAT good a job.

  3. Jeff Holland says:

    Well, from the months of May through November I was nailing it.

  4. deb says:

    I hate temporal mechanics.

  5. braak says:

    I don’t know why. Temporal mechanics is awesome. It’s probably the most consistently entertaining science fiction topic in history.

  6. Carl says:

    Okay, so a few things here:

    First, I really hope you’re right about the handling of the paradox created by the season finale, though I much doubt it. I STRONGLY suspect that the ‘you can’t change the past’ solution is the one we’re to be met with. It’s been a few months since I’ve seen the fifth season, but I feel certain that the ‘you can’t change the past’ theme was sounded repeatedly throughout, probably to buffer any fan objections that might arise when it DOES, in fact, turn out that the time-traveling business is a narrative dead-end. (Well, not a dead-end, but a causal-loop by which the entrance of the LOSTies into the narrative is the result of the LOSTies being in the narrative.) I hope I’m wrong. I hope we don’t find all time-traveling characters (minus Juliet) back in the present together on the beach at the opening of season six. But the people behind LOST have proven that they aren’t too concerned about creating dead-ends of this kind, so long as it makes for compelling TV in the moment (I refer you to the second season and the introduction of a dozen seemingly central new characters, codified with individual flashbacks, all of whom promptly bite it and exit the narrative by the season’s end. Or consider the convoluted storytelling that has our heroes returning to temporally displaced island by randomly hopping a plane that enters into an electrical storm). Guess we’ll see.

    Second, with regards to Jacob and Esau and the mythos of the island, I entirely agree. (I’m fairly certain that everyone is referring to that character as Esau’s, by the way, because he’s listed as such in the credits.) Clearly there is a thinly-veiled religious allegory at work here, complete with the false god/prophet thread in which Esau’s followers mistake him for Jacob, and believe themselves to be acting in His name. Thus Ben’s, “We’re the good guys, Michael”. But I, too, hope this allegory doesn’t enter into the narrative proper and that these guys are actually just men. I’ll be disappointed by any easy out that doesn’t thoroughly incorporate into the narrative-cause, all the pseudoscience we’ve been fed for five seasons. I think it’s absolutely CERTAIN that Esau can assume the form/ reanimate the bodies all of the dead on the island. Which means that Hurley was, in fact, hallucinating when he was in the asylum but probably not hallucinating when he was island, unless Smokie/Esau can get himself off the island, somehow, which seems like it would violate rules of the game, and strongly diminish the need for off-island emissaries of the two players, as is apparently the case (Esau’s Others and Jacob’s ‘What Stands in the Shadow of the Statue’ folks).

    Lastly, if the religious allegory is to holdup here, Jacob has to come back to life somehow. You know, the game is stacked against the dark deity from the work go, but he doesn’t know it. Perhaps a thousand years of exposure to electromagnetism, as you say, has made him a sort of unkillable uberLocke. All of this has to be related, from a storytelling perspective, with the fact that no children can be born on the island— except, seemingly, Aaron. I’m not sure how, but that must be the case. Of course, it makes me wonder if Aaron is one of these characters— Esau or Jacob. Being blonde, you suspect that Aaron will grow up to become Jacob and travel backwards in time in some kind of temporal loop of the sort that we’ve just observed with the LOSTies. Even weirder would be this: since we know that Esau can assume the form of the dead, we might wonder if Jacob cannot do so as well. In which case ‘Aaron the fetus’ may have actually died in the crash (note that Claire said she didn’t feel the baby moving in the first season) and that what Claire ‘gave birth to’ was, in fact, Jacob pulling Esau’s trick with Aaron’s fetus. That somehow, Claire gave birth to Jacob again and so, even though Esau thinks he’s gotten Ben to kill Jacob, he’s actually quite alive and (most shockingly of all) off the island.

    Or not. I don’t know.

  7. braak says:

    It’s interesting about Aaron, now that you mention that, but the two things of note there are 1) only babies conceived on the island can’t be born on the island, and 2) the dying babies also plays into a kind of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents allegory, too, so interesting.

    We’ve been told that Claire was supposed to raise Aaron herself, but we can’t really trust anything we’ve been told anymore, can we? Only things that we know that we’ve seen. That guy lied about all kinds of stuff, and even if he wasn’t lying, he could have easily been lied to.

    I don’t know that Jacob necessarily needs to be reborn, per se. If we imagine that Jacob’s timeline is a loop that encompasses the existence of the island, and that the island’s timeline is thrown into disarray because of his death, it’s possible that he could be replaced — something the way Alan Moore used to treat the idea of the “retcon” in Supreme. Jacob is (hypothetically) replaced by Aaron, and the island’s timeline is unequivocably new, but it’s also always been new, replacing Jacob’s rulership of the island wholly, instead of sequentially.

    I did not know he was called Esau in the credits. I just…you know. Figured. But anyway, it’s possible that he couldn’t get off the island, but something is definitely now different. When the other Others found Jacob’s cabin, remember the circle of ash around it, that had been broken? The symbolic content there is clear: circles keep things out, or keep things in, and when they’re broken, they stop working. If that circle of ash was a form of metaphysical prison, for instance, that kept Esau on the island, interrupting it could permit him to engage an entire new suite of abilities.

  8. Carl says:

    A very good point about the circle. Esau/Smokie (if they are one in the same) certainly wasn’t constrained in terms of use of his power within the confines of island PRIOR to the breaking of the circle. So it could very well relate to the exercise of power beyond those confines. If Smokie is loosed on the world withThis has the makings of some VERY spectacular possibilities.

    I haven’t read Alan Moore, but that’s a nifty idea. Does that necessarily wipe out five preceding seasons of narrative that transpired in a timeline that now, after Aaron’s ascension, no longer ever was? Will fans stand for that radical an upheaval of the established LOST universe? Or is its upheaval the culminating event of the narrative, wiping itself out and bringing it to a close all at once.

    Hmm. I have to tell you, this sounds a little like Patrick Duffy turning up in the shower.

  9. Carl says:

    The stupid computer touchpad posted before I was finished.


    *If Smokie is loosed on the world-without, this final season has the makings of some VERY spectacular possibilities.

  10. braak says:

    Well, I think the key difference between this and the Dallas dream season would be that the dream season was retroactively revealed to be a dream in order for the writers to pretend it hadn’t happened. That is, we, the audience, were expected to forget all the things we just watched so that the “real” series could proceed in such a way that all of those events were irrelevant.

    In this case, the preceding events wouldn’t be irrelevant–they’d be a necessary sequence of events to destroy the timeline. The season would be non-existent to the characters, but not to us. We’d recognize them as being important, even if those guys didn’t.

    It kind of lets us look at time as being a two-dimensional phenomenon, rather than a single dimension–time can proceed along a line, yes, from beginning to end, but we can also view timelines as stacked on top of each other; they’re complete in their execution, and the action of the universe is not progression across and individual line, but progression across the lines themselves.

    It would be satisfying to me, anyway.

  11. […] on the information available on the two episodes last night, we can see that virtually everything I think is, as usual, completely correct.  Esau was Locke and Alex, the ash was some kind of metaphysical […]

  12. […] UPDATE!  Remember how, before this season started, Carl and I were trying to guess where it was headed?  And we basically turned out to be completely wrong, because the writers did everything we thought would be the worst possible choice?  And how the solution that we came up with was actually about a thousand times better than the one we got?  Hah.  That was funny. […]

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