LOST: Return to LA

The final season of Lost is off to a good start. They found a way to follow through on the cosmic reset button that didn’t bug the heck out of me, explained some things, and set up an intriguing direction for the final arc. It will be really interesting to see how the two narratives relate.

The only downside is that it looks like ABC has decided to throw Better Off Ted under the bus. I was really hoping that it was only preempted for the two-hour premiere, but there’s no sign of it next week. It would be nice if they’d at least let the show finish out the season.

Also: really angry at ABC News’s scare tactics of “OMG Al Qaeda intends to attack us!” Um, yeah. We knew that. We’ve known that for over a decade. We’ve known that since before 9/11. Trying to scare your viewers into a panic at every commercial break is not what I’d call responsible journalism.

Anyway, Lost spoilers below

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I’ve never liked the “none of this ever happened!” approach to ending a story, since it always makes me wonder what the point was. Exceptions are those where there are clear consequences. Someone who experienced the erased timeline is changed by it, for instance, like in It’s A Wonderful Life or Groundhog Day. “LA X” managed to do this twice: First by clearly establishing that in the alternate timeline, the island had actually been destroyed, and second by picking up five minutes later in the original timeline, making it clear that everything the show has built over the last five years hasn’t been a waste of time.

Okay, it’s sort of an “eat your cake and have it too” approach, but it works for me. It even makes some amount of sense that they’ve changed the rules of time travel, because changing history — or rather creating an alternate timeline — takes a lot more energy (adding a nuclear bomb to the island discharge) than the fully self-consistent time travel we’ve seen before.

It seems clear that the point of divergence isn’t whether the 815 survivors were present in 1977, or whether they tried Faraday’s plan, but whether the bomb detonated or not. They were instrumental in making sure that young Miles and Charlotte and their families left the island, cementing Ben’s connection with the Others, and saving Dr. Chang after his arm was crushed in the “incident.”

So far it’s been fun to look at the way the crashless reality aligns with and differs from the original, and look back at how characters have grown and their relationships have changed during the show. (Jin is a much better person, and Sun much stronger, for their time on the island.) It remains to be seen whether it’ll ultimately be anything more than a “what if…?” and a way to illustrate character traits. I’m not sure I want to see the timelines actually merge or cross, but I’d like to see some sort of link between the two.

Some things I want to see this season:

  • What’s up with the Others at the temple?
  • Jin and Sun reunited in the main timeline.
  • What’s up with Desmond and Penny? (both timelines)
  • More focus on people who aren’t named Jack.
  • How will destiny play out in the alternate timeline?
  • What’s the cost of saving Flight 815?

We can assume everyone on the island in 1977 died. No Eloise Hawking, no Daniel Faraday, no Mittelos Bioscience, etc. The island itself was apparently destroyed, though it seems to have sunken relatively intact (suggesting something else was going on and not just the bomb). Clearly Desmond wasn’t shipwrecked there, but what about Rousseau’s expedition? Was it recovered, or simply lost at sea? Did Charles Widmore know the island was destroyed, or did he keep looking for it? Edit: I just remembered that Widmore was still on the island in 1977. Which might also mean no Penny, depending on when she was born.

As for the passengers on the uneventful Flight 815, Rose’s cancer won’t be healed, Locke won’t find his calling, and Jin and Sun may never reconcile.

And what about the island itself? What does it mean for the rest of the world that the mysterious island no longer exists?

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