On ‘Lost,’ nothing’s irreversible

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“Nothing’s irreversible,” says Jack Shepherd (Mathew Fox) to John Locke (Terry O’Quinn)
in the second hour of the first episode of “Lost’s” final season, and
on top of the obvious and tantalizing T-shirt possibilities of this
statement, one can’t help but imagine it graven in stone on the archway
leading into the show’s writers’ room. Possibly in hieroglyphics of
their own creation.

Not since the last few episodes of “The Sopranos” has a show’s final been so breathlessly anticipated. For five seasons, ABC’s “Lost” has defied the laws of time, nature, physics, character development (do any of us believe that Naveen Andrews’ Sayid tortured anyone? Or at least anyone who didn’t really really
deserve it?) and narrative form to create a sprawling circus act of a
show. Even the few smashed plates (OK, there were more than a few) only
made the array of those still spinning in the air that much more
breathtaking.

So it’s not surprising that Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and their writers would smash a few more rules by not only addressing
all “Lost” questions in one fell swoop, but with the same resounding
answer: Yes. (Spoiler alert, stop reading if you have it on your DVR.)

Was Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) killed by the nuclear blast or did she somehow survive? Yes! Is John Locke dead or alive? Yes! Is Ben (Michael Emerson)
the ultimate villain or the ultimate victim? Yes! Does the blast
reconfigure time and allow Oceanic Flight 815 to land safely in Los Angeles or are our favorite castaways still stuck on the island? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

In a glorious
have-our-cake-and-feed-it-to-the-smoke-monster-too conceit, Tuesday
night’s premiere followed two disparate storylines, both chronicling
the aftermath of the nuclear blast that ended Season 5. In one, Jack,
Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Sayid, Hurley (Jorge Garcia)
and the gang found themselves alive and well and still stuck on that
blasted island, Sayid still bleeding, Sawyer still smoldering and Kate
still gorgeously sweaty.

In another, they are all safely en route from Sydney to Los Angeles. Oh look, there’s Rose (L. Scott Caldwell) and Bernard (Sam Anderson), there’s Desmond (Ian Somerhalder) saying “thanks, brotha” and, oops, there’s Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) choking on what appears to be a condom full of heroin so that Jack has to save him. And Charlie’s not the only one brought back to life — isn’t that Boone, shaking the clearly still crippled Locke’s hand?

Nothing’s irreversible, that’s for sure. In a scant
two hours, everyone but Elvis came back to life one way or another —
Juliet (though only to die tenderly in Sawyer’s arms), Jacob (though
possibly only in a ghostly way), Sayid (in an eerie reverse baptism).
But the writer’s inspired decision to address all the possibilities by
making all things possible creates a whole new set of questions (like
isn’t it time we move O’Quinn and Emerson out of Best Supporting and
into the Best Actor category?) and, amazingly, a whole new group of
islanders — the followers of Jacob who seem equally prepared to preside
over murder and miracles.

But at its best “Lost” has always been about the
contradictory nature of life. Just as the past two seasons dealt with
the porous and untrustworthy nature of time, the final episodes of
“Lost” seem to be taking a similar approach to life and death, which is
frankly more interesting.

The passengers of Oceanic 815 are now experiencing
life (and death) in parallel universes. And why the heck not? Early
theories about the nature of the island posited it as heaven or hell
and if we weren’t dealing with the godless media here, it would be
tempting to ponder the mysterious Jacob as a Christ-figure, or at least
a quasi-Aslan for grown-ups. Though where the kohl-eyed Richard or that
wacky smoke monster, which is apparently a manifestation of the guy in
the black shirt currently inhabiting John Locke’s body, fit in is anybody’s guess.

(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.

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