Analysis: 6.1 LA X - Part 1

“What happened?” Sayid asked, roused from beyond the grave. It’s a question that many a shellshocked viewer might have echoed at the end of Lost's sixth season debut – but Sayid’s resurrection is for the second part of this analysis. Here I shall be focusing on Part 1 of the two-part season opener, up to the point where Locke, in his wheelchair, departed the safely-landed Oceanic 815 (though I may stray ahead on occasion - do forgive me!).



That Oceanic 815 didn’t crash was the opening gambit here, though the big wow was saved for the sky-to-ocean plunge to reveal a submerged Island, Dharma sharks and the remains of a four-toed statue all underwater.



Before we go any further it’s important we grapple with this split between the two plotlines, or realities. As we know, in 1977 Juliet detonated Jughead with the intention of destroying The Swan to prevent the crash of Oceanic 815. Apparently, in one reality at least, this worked. The detonation, fused with the electromagnetic 'incident', resulted in the Island apparently sinking to watery depths. (I am willing to believe that something further could have happened to sink the Island yet if the detonation of Jughead didn’t directly cause the sinking it did at least begin a sequence of events that produced the same result.)

Considering that this is an Island that moves freely in time and space I suppose we have to think of it as capable of being above water, below water, or floating in mid-air. Since the electromagnetic anomaly went haywire, which apparently controls this time-space orientation, it would seem the Island was eventually sunk and, presumably, all who were on it were killed. People like Widmore and Ms. Hawking, for example.

Remember, this was in 1977. And the resulting effects of this in 2004, when we meet Jack and the rest of the gang onboard Oceanic 815, are noticeable. In this version of the world Hurley is always lucky and Boone didn’t persuade his sister to return to LA with him. . .



Maybe Rose didn’t have cancer. Perhaps Sawyer didn’t kill Frank Duckett. It’s difficult to know, but some things remained as we knew them: Jack’s father died, Kate was still arrested, and Locke was still in a wheelchair (and I am thinking that he did, indeed, lie to Boone about that whole walkabout trip – but, who knows, maybe in this version of the universe he was allowed to go!?).

Obviously this whole scenario is fantastical, but we can accept it. History got changed and produced this alternate timeline. A timeline where Oceanic 815 didn’t crash and the Island was rendered to a watery grave.



Of course the problem here is that Jack and the gang that were on the Island during the moment Jughead detonated did not suddenly get erased from existence, or remain on an Island doomed to sink below the depths. Instead they were transported to 2007, to the same timeframe that Sun and Frank and dead Locke were all existing in at the end of Season 5.



So we have an Original Timeline. It’s the one where Oceanic 815 crashed in 2004. Where Ajira 316 crashed in 2007. And where, in 1977, there was ‘an incident’ but it didn’t prevent The Swan from being built and Desmond from being there and everything else we’ve seen and know of. Then there is the Alternate Timeline that got introduced in this episode for Season 6, one where Oceanic 815 didn't crash. Everyone with me? Everyone comfortable so far? Good.



I’m going to keep it simple and state that the reason the Swan hole looks different is because, during the detonation, like Jack and Hurley and Juliet, bits of rubble and some of the construction work got shifted through time also. This does beg the question of what happened to Radzinsky and Pierre Chang and the rest, of course, but for now let’s consign them to being blasted by a massive explosion and rendered to a watery demise back in 1977 on a sunken Island and leave it at that.



I’ve got the feeling this alternate timeline, and the submerged Island, is only a temporary one anyway. Like Charlie’s remarks to Jack after he had saved his life, it was an event that wasn’t supposed to happen. Charlie was supposed to be dead, is supposed to be dead, and this isn’t the first time he has cropped up to say as much despite the circumstances.



Back in Season 4 Charlie was an instance of a character appearing in a place in time that he couldn’t have possibly been, and in LA X there was another:



Since his brush with The Swan Station electromagnetic anomaly the rules of time and space have never fully applied to Desmond, the wild card element, and so there he was, on a flight he didn’t seem to have any reason to be on. There’s a good chance that no one else could actually see or hear Desmond other than Jack, like how only Hurley could see Jacob. It may be that Desmond is fulfilling the role of a temporal police, a bit like how Ms. Hawking once coaxed him towards making the decision not to ask for Penny’s hand in marriage in the episode Flashes Before Your Eyes. Desmond turns up, saying “brotha”, prompting Jack to wonder if he knew him. Of course, once upon a time, Jack and Desmond had met previously. . .



. . . but that was back in the old timeline. In this new timeline there is no indication or reason to believe Jack and Desmond ever met at that sports stadium. Desmond was only there running to train for a race around the world on a yacht to win Charles Widmore’s favour to earn the right to Penny Widmore’s hand in marriage. But Charles Widmore may have died on the sunken Island, or even if he didn’t he’d not be the same man, so it’s highly improbable Desmond would have ever even met Penny. The whole ‘history’ of Desmond as we know it would be very different. Yet despite this Jack’s memories still prickled with the hint of recognition and I believe this was very much Desmond’s purpose and intention. To prompt Jack into recalling the reality he averted. Like how he bumped into Kate outside the toilet, familiar recollections may have been distracting him whilst she was pickpocketing his pen! And what about the little cut on his neck?



Actual physical residue of a different timeline, a different universe? It’s inexplicable yet must be significant and it’s these such things which convince me this alternate reality can only be temporary. It’s a timeline produced from a freak event in the Original Timeline that probably can’t be sustained. Either one will ultimately collapse, or they’ll collide. Personally I think this offspring timeline will eventually falter. I suspect that Jack may have a full awakening and realise this alternate reality is worse than the one he tried to erase and it will bring the whole thing to an end. He’s a stranger in a strange land at the moment – he walks amongst the alternate timeline but he is not fully part of it.

Symbolically, the Island being submerged works on the level of Alternate Timeline Jack's psycholoogy; like the Island has been pushed down to the depths of his unconscious mind.

Meanwhile, back on the above-water Island in 2007, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Miles and a dying Sayid remained to shake out the ringing in their ears and dig out the trapped-under-rubble Juliet (I always had her marked out as dead, but she surprisingly hung around into Season 6 anyway) who was somehow in possession of the knowledge that her efforts at changing history had succeeded.



Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if those bizarre remarks she made about grabbing a coffee were not her mind lapsing into this alternate world and we will witness, at some point, Juliet suggesting getting a coffee in the other timeline. That would be cool.

Meanwhile Jacob appeared to Hurley to, as ever, cryptically bestow guidance from his apparent omniscience beyond the grave. We find out that at this point. . .



. . . Jacob had already written down a list of the exact people that would show up at The Temple, stuffed this paper in an ankh and then sealed it in a guitar case. Even after death Jacob proves he’s got a magician’s showmanship and further validates what we probably all suspected: everything that is happening is exactly how he intended it to happen. Meanwhile, his counterpart, in the body of John Locke, blew open a whole new set of speculation and revelation for us.



It was revealed that the man in black, Nameless, and the Black Smoke are, indeed, one and the same. Probably not that big a surprise for most of us. But what I found interesting was how the ash was used as a potential defence, by Bram, when ‘the monster’ went on the rampage.



I don’t believe that Nameless has always been the Black Smoke that we’ve seen rampaging through the jungle. I think the circle of ash that we saw surrounding Jacob’s cabin, that Ilana and her people discovered had been broken, clues us in to this idea. I believe that, at some point, Nameless was trapped within the circle of ash, in the cabin. The ash served as a barrier that prevented him from ‘rejoining’ with the Black Smoke, and so this destructive and powerful force remained apart from him. Perhaps it was operating under its own ‘instinct’, or it was part-controlled by the will of Nameless.

I think of the Black Smoke in the early seasons now like a dismembered limb – a restless element cut adrift from its host, Nameless, that had been incarcerated in a weird wooden shack.



The Black Smoke still functioned via similar rules to Nameless. Note how Nameless didn’t attack Bram and the rest until they fired at him. They needed to do a terrible act before he could inflict judgement and death upon them. Consider that alongside, say, the death of Eko and his defiance at repenting. Indeed, this may quite simply be the reason why Nameless could not kill Jacob – Jacob never did anything bad to him to deserve it! Maybe it was that very same lack of sin that was the very source of the hatred Nameless felt towards Jacob.

Ben’s realisation of who ‘Locke’ really was will, I feel, represent a major turning point for his character. There was always something very telling about the “What about you?” remark Jacob hit Ben with at the end of Season 5. Ben, now realising what he is dealing with and what he has done, will be forced to ask himself that question. I’m staking a prediction that Ben’s atonement will come in the form of self-sacrifice for a greater good.



“They are coming,” Jacob remarked, meaning Jack and the rest of the people he once touched in the past. As of the end of LA X – Part 1 they have arrived in the same timeframe as Nameless, but there’s a long way to go before they comprehend the scale of the battle they are involved in. The foundations for war appear to be marked out at The Temple – a place we’ll see up close in LA X – Part 2 where, in grand Lost tradition, answers always come with further mysteries. . .

14 comments:

Corellian said...

The decisions of Nameless/Monster are still quite confusing.

Eko, for example, has committed every kind of atrocity before, but had been given a chance to redeem himself. On the other hand, we have the pilot of the plane, who was barely awaken and got no mercy from smokey...

Kit Foster said...

Great Analysis as ever AC. I look forward to reading these almost as much as i look forward to watching a new episode. Thanks for quenching our thirst during the drought of the last hiatus with your pieces on the Dharma stations - cracking reads.
'We're back... Back where? Back to the future!'

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post AC. When I saw the underwater island, the first thing that came to mind was the scene when Ben appeared in the desert in Tunisia and there was a mountain in the background that had an errily similar silhouette to that of the island. I do not recall if the same mountain was visible when Locke ended up in Tunisia. I strongly believe at this point that someone, perhaps Eloise, turned the wheel at the same time Juliette was hitting the bomb, and that turning the wheel could have had something to do with sending the island to the bottom of the ocean in that particular reality. Do you think there is any correlation? I look forward to reading part 2!

Anonymous said...

Hey AC

Just wanted to let you know in advance that the 'alt' is actually a flash-forward. We will see how Jack came to be scratched as the on-Island events this season lead up to the island being sunk, Jack being scratched, and a cataclysmic event which results in a similar reset.
From the ALT, Claire will name her baby Jacob, Jacob will time travel with Jin & Sun, who will raise him on the Island(they are after all a fisherman and a gardener) and will tell him about their past, and his future, thus explaining his omniscience and acceptance of his own death. Jin & Sun are Adam & Eve.

This is the big reveal of the entire show which will happen in the finale. We will realize that not only is season 6 itself circular(the on-island ending leading to jack's scratch opening), but the entire show has a circular causality to it.

Desmond remembers their past(google the book he's holding) and will help them unlock their memories in the ALT.

Keep all of this in mind as the season goes on.

Best,
Solved

Acharaisthekey said...

AC - with you 100% on Ben's character turn. When the Nameless was telling Ben about John's last thought, I felt Ben was realizing...he is nothing more than John....they both are Pawns in a much bigger game of Chess then he ever realized.

Also, Kudos to Terry O'Quinn for making us feel and see a difference from John Locke to what he is now. That was a tremendous acting job...you can actually feel the evil now....

Tyler said...

I am a character guy and I can say that I about pissed myself when Jacob was coming out of the woods and Hurley was messing with the gun, "I got a gun, and I know how to use it!" Priceless! Also, I love where Sawyer's character arc is going. He is going to be a crux of this whole OG timeline. He will be the right hand man of NotLocke/MIB/Smokey and do some real dirt, welcome to the dark side my son!

If someone can enlighten me, what book was Des reading on the plane? I tried pausing it but could never get a good look at it b/c the stupid DVR counter was in the way.

Love the thought that Des may be part of the "Time Police" in the ALT. It did seem just too conveinent that he was there, but I did have a sit back and grab my head, "HOLY CRAP" moment when I saw him. That guy is going to be more involved in the mystery than we probably think.

Sorry for the length, but just love the show and AC your recaps are second to none! Keep it up brotha! Oh and Solved, no mas, can never see it happening because how do they get back to the island knowing anything with a random baby in tow? Sorry, no disrespect, I guess I just do not understand your logic.

Take care folks!

HugoReyes23 said...

Terry O'Quinn you've done it again, really enjoy seeing him act and how one can actually see this man converting from light to dark, and how it just doesn't seem like John Locke.I'm anxious and hope they don't kill off Richard Alpert.I'm dying to see what becomes of all of this."What happened?" -Sayid

AngeloComet said...

Thanks for the comments all, the compliments certainly make me feel good about myself.

Corellian - Yeah, I agree the 'monster' decision-making is confusing. Although Eko had made his peace with his crimes by the time he arrived on the Island and was making amends - his 'sin' was in not being sorry for what he did. (Pretty harsh judgement, really!)

Kit - Where we're going we don't need roads.

Anonymous 1 - Whilst I still struggle with how the bomb detonation could sink an Island, I'm not sure turning the donkey wheel really clarifies it. As such, I think we either accept that the bomb detonation did sink the Island and move on, or we wait to see what else happened (though I struggle to consider how they'll show such a thing in the alternate timeline).

Solved - With all the will in the world I can't make your theory fit. I think it's important we accept the alt-timeline as that: a definite alternate reality. At the end of Season 5 Jack did have an old cut on his neck right around where this fresh cut appeared (when I get chance I'll backtrack through Season 5 and try and pinpoint where he got it).

Achara - Yep and yep. The scales have fallen from Ben's eyes and O'Quinn is clearly having a field day as an actor sinking his teeth into this new role.

Tyler - I'm not so quick to write Sawyer off just yet, at least not willingly. Potentially he could be conned into doing something terrible, but as he was one of Jacob's 'chosen ones' I hold out hope for decency from him.

And a Desmond-centric episode with him as a timecop would be ace!

Andre said...

Excellent recap AC. I somehow missed that it was Jack's pen that Kate filched! Good one.I also would like to know what Desmond is reading (Our Mutual Friend?).

The speculative look Jacob gives Sayid just before telling Hurley to take him to the temple is precious. Add that to Miles' "Nothing" (as in he senses nothing from Sayid's body and you do have the much awaited war. Not between Ben and Widmore or Jack and Sawyer, but between the fake John Locke, Man in Black, smoke monster and Jacob reincarnated into Sayid's body. Chose your sides, people!

Anonymous said...

Angelo,

Thank You!

Tr41c

Alainamoon said...

Best lost recaps on the web!!! I look forward to reading this as much as I do watching the show.

glf said...

Hi and thanks for the Dharma Reduxes to help fill in the hiatus.
Absolutely loved and agree especially your thoughts re:
- the island is submerged in Jack’s mind thought
- that the scar and Desmond giving Jack the déjà vu’s are very significant as being physical residues of a different timeline which will lead to Jack ‘waking up’ from this reality etc.
- Nameless rejoining Black Smoke as they had been separated.
– lack of hatred in Jacob is the key. Remember how Jacob’s list of those to pick from the 815 tailers were those that were ‘good’. Purity of heart may be the key to surviving and protecting the island from the Black presence. (Mind you what was wrong with Rose, Bernard and Hurley who to my mind are all good eggs to me). PS Why DID Smokie leave the 815ers alone while they were at the camp? Did he not go or like that part of the island?

abid said...

I'm new to your blog but am really enjoying your writing, so hope to drop by here more often as the season progresses.

You're about the only one who seems to have picked up on the 2007 hatch ruins being different than the 2005 wreckage. I took a look at the scene in Season 5, Episode 1 where Faraday and the rest stop by the hole in the ground, and the place is a huge mess.

In the post-bomb 2007, the whole place doesn't look right at all.

Is there really enough evidence in this episode to suggest that everyone's now on the same timeline? Maybe the submerged island is the future?

My head's still spinning from the first 3 episodes...

AngeloComet said...

Abid - Thanks for swinging by. About The Swan 'pit', whilst they did look a bit different I chalk this up to the fact that bits of the 1977 timeline came along for the ride (pieces of construction debris stuffed in the hole). Tellingly, the Dharma van near Hurley and Sayid also came through time as well, so it's curious but not unprecedented.

And we got definitive proof during the second episode that everyone was now on the same timeline. When The Temple Others launched their firework after Hurley told them Jacob was dead it was seen by Ilana and Alpert and the rest near the four-toed statue. I think that counts as absolute proof.