OK everybody, we are about to embark on another season of what may be my favorite show ever. Last season saw some of the best writing and acting around, especially the pilot, the episode where we discovered Locke was wheelchair-bound before the crash, and the one where Boone and Locke find another downed plane. (Wow, Terry O’Quinn! Look at you sneaking up and becoming my favorite cast member!) Having said that, the show could also be disappointing when they weren’t bringing their A-game. It threw clues and new mysteries at us left and right with essentially no payoff, and the writers will be hard pressed to provide answers to everything, especially answers that mesh. I mean, sure, there’s polar bears living on this tropical island. And OK, there’s a free-willed moving column of black smoke that tried to pull Locke underground. I can accept those things on their own, but I want to know how they fit together to explain what the hell is happening on this island.
Neither of these occurences were explained in the premiere last night, but I’m okay with that. Why? Well, check out the title of this post. Lost even managed to surprise me, the ultimate jaded viewer, with their revelation of what exactly was down the hatch. I think I had my first TVgasm last night.So, because the opener was so good, I’m going to give you a stream of consciousness reaction to the first three minutes of the show: We hear beeping, and a man’s eyes fly open. He walks over to this old, War Games-style computer. It’s huge and clunky with a black screen, but it looks like he’s sending an email from it. Maybe he just likes things retro, though, because his apartment has all this mid-century furniture and decor, but we can definitely see a brand-new washer and dryer and a fancy blender, so we know it’s pretty close to present day. Now he’s picking out a record to play on his tricked-out (as it were) old school stereo system. Is one of the characters a hipster? Maybe one of the other castaways is a music executive from Echo Park. Hee. Wait, is this Sawyer? They don’t show his face but he’s big and has longish hair. Must be Sawyer before the crash, then.
Actually, now I’m not so sure. This guy is way more ripped than Sawyer. Aaaaand now he’s injecting himself with a big ol’ helping of steroids. Sweet. So, professional athlete? Oops, earthquake! The whole house shakes, so he….WAIT A SECOND! Wait a damn second! Is this the hatch? Holy poop, I think it is! What?! The guy starts freaking out and running around. He changes into a snazzy uniform (which I can respect. If you’re going to start shooting people, you may as well look good doing it), then grabs a gun and starts fiddling with dials on the walls. The lights go out, wall fixtures change direction, and we slowly pan up….to where Locke and Jack are staring into the dark hatch. Dudes. Somebody lives there. Not what I was expecting. And, may I say, a far better choice than any mystical nonsense they could have tried to throw at us.
Now, it occurs to me that some of you may be new to the show, or maybe just need a refesher course on last season. If not, just scroll down a few paragraphs. Here’s a quick(ish) rundown on the main characters from last season: Jack is the reluctant leader of the group; he was given that responsibility mostly because he’s a doctor and seems pretty unflappable. He had gone to Australia to get his alcoholic father, who turned up dead – the body was on the plane, but only the empty coffin turned up after the crash, which led to Jack having visions of his father walking around the island for a while there. Sawyer is one of two anti-Jack characters. He’s a hothead and is Jack’s competition for the affections of Kate, who is perhaps the worst character ever written for primetime television. Nothing redeeming about her. She’s also a murderer and a bank robber, which means she has more in common with Sawyer (a con man) than Jack.
Locke is Jack’s other competition; here it’s for the loyalty of the castaways. While Jack wants to be pragmatic about keeping people safe and trying to get off the island, Locke believes in destiny and says the island chose them to come. He would believe that, as where he was once confined to a wheelchair, he regained the ability to walk when the plane crashed (it’s still a mystery why he was paralyzed – he was NOT paralyzed from the kidney donation surgery he had for his long-lost manipulative biological father; if you try to offer that theory in the forums or comments section you will feel my verbal fury). Let’s see, who else? Jin and Sun are a mafia couple from Korea whose backstory at this point isn’t as interesting as everyone else’s, but we can forgive them because they are two of the prettiest people ever put on god’s green earth. Oh, and Jin doesn’t speak any English. He left on the raft at the end of last season with Sawyer and Michael and Walt, the father-son duo who were reunited for the first time since Walt was a baby, when his mom died. He was kidnapped off the raft by The Others, and it was very sad. The Others have some sort of obsession with children.
Walt had left his golden retriever Vincent on the island (Vincent might be some sort of magic doggy) in the care of Shannon, a spoiled princess basketcase whose step-brother/secret lover Boone died last season. Now she’s taken up with Sayid, a deeply conflicted Iraqi solider who is one of the most useful castaways. He knows all about radio transmissions and codes and stuff. He was kidnapped briefly by Rousseau, a crazy murderous French woman who’s been on the island for 16 years. She’s into kidnapping, as she also stole the baby of Claire, the pretty Australian single mom who was also kidnapped while pregnant, though she doesn’t remember anything about it (like I said, The Others have a thing about kids). Charlie, a heroin-addict has-been rock star, is in deep like with Claire, and has become friends with Hurley, a lottery winner who is the most likely culprit for causing the crash (if you want to go that route), since he won the lottery using the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 that are all over the island, and his life has been hell ever since. Finally, there’s Ana Lucia, who we only saw once, in a flashback to the airport bar with Jack. She was to be seated in the back of the plane, and we haven’t seen her on the island yet. She’s a regular cast member now and it’s easy enough to find out what her role will be, but for those of you who like the suspense I won’t go into it until she makes an appearance again.
Dang, that was longer than I meant it to be, but trust me, that’s the bare bones plot summary. OK, on to the show!
Jack and Locke (along with Kate and Hurley) of course have no idea yet of what’s going on in the hatch. They have enough to deal with up top, anyway. Hurley is in full freak-out mode, muttering the number sequence and talking about the “hole of death,” etc. Jack and Locke are ignoring him, the better to start fighting immediately. Locke is what you might call impulsive, and wants to go down the hatch right away, even though it’s the middle of the night. Jack argues in favor of going back to camp to let the other castaways know what’s going on. Kate says something irrelevant, per usual.
It’s flashback time! New viewers, this is something you’ll want to get used to. Lots of flashbacks going on in Lost. At least they seem to have done away with the Thoughtful Look of Impending Flashback that we’d see last season every time a castaway starting thinking about the past.
Anyway, back to Jack’s flashback, where he’s in the ER—oh, check out that hair! That has got to be a shout out to Party of Five. That is some hilarious mid-‘90s coiffage right here. OK seriously, on with the show. Two people are being rushed into the ER after a car accident. We know intuitively that the woman is Jack’s future wife, who we’ve seen in flashbacks before; he’s apparently divorced now. The new tidbit we learn here is that he made a definitive choice to save her life over the life of the other driver. There’s no real reason given, though there is a slight hint that Jack is a dirty hippie when he asks about “the driver of the SUV” before he lets him die.
Back in camp, Charlie is telling people that Rousseau is nutters and there’s no reason to be afraid of “The Others” she keeps going on about, since they can’t possibly exist. Shannon is running around freaking out; she already managed to lose Vincent the dog. She and Sayid run off into the jungle and spot Vincent, but get separated as they run after him. Alone, Shannon starts to hear the whispering voices that a few others, including Sayid, have already heard. I don’t think we’re supposed to be able to hear exactly what they’re saying, but I personally have really bad hearing. Did any of you manage to hear something distinct?
Shannon turns around, and standing behind her is a completely drenched Walt. Now, there’s no way that kid escaped four adults on a boat, so this does not bode well for him. No dead kids! I can’t handle it! He just stands there and shushes Shannon, and then whispers something. Again, I have bad hearing, but I think he says something like “there’s no one going through,” but his mouth doesn’t match the words. When Sayid runs up, Walt disappears. I really hope he isn’t dead. I mean, what other option is there, really, but that makes me very sad. Walt was a nice little kid, and it wasn’t his fault he had some sort of mystical powers that could kill animals and crash planes…Hm. Might have to rethink that.
Back at the hatch, Jack and Locke are arguing again, some more. Turns out the hatch had the word “quarantine” stenciled on it. Jack makes fun of Locke’s belief in destiny, and Locke laughs at Hurley’s overwhelming terror. Then he corrects Kate’s grammar. You know, I’ve been viewing Locke as kind of a scary-devil-guru-type guy, but I’ve decided to change tacks—he’s just a harmless old grandpa, looking for a little adventure. This is a fun new way to think about him.
In the other direction, Hurley tells Jack about the numbers, and how he won the lottery with them and they’re cursed. We already knew that his grandpa died and his house caught fire, and here we get to learn about a new catastrophe that befell him: “The chicken joint that I worked at got hit by a meteor….well…actually, a meteorite.” Oh, Hurley, you are a ball of humorous sunshine. He even got Jack to laugh!
Nevertheless, Hurley feels that Jack wasn’t sufficiently sympathetic to his plight, and tells him to work on his bedside manner. Which of course leads to a flashback, where Jack tells his future lady that she’ll probably never walk again. She’s all, “…oh,” because really, what else can you say; then Jack’s dad (also a doctor, at the same hospital) calls him out for being kind of a dick to the patients. That’s enough of that, back to the island!
Shannon is telling the gathered crowd about seeing Walt, and there is much murmuring amongst the extras. Then Jack et. al. show up and tell the crowd about the hatch, and there is more murmuring. I would have to say that if there is a weak spot in this episode, it’s the crowd scenes. I know they’re hard to pull off, but hearing five minutes straight of “rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb” got pretty old. But then I was happy again when I realized Sayid and Shannon were passing the time with a friendly little ‘fro competition.
Locke approaches the group with a line of cable he got from the crash site. He’s going into the hatch, and he’s going now, Jack’s leadership be damned! Ooh, Jack is pissed. This is the first overt insubordination he’s been faced with, and now Mr. Reluctant Hero isn’t sure how to take it. And when Kate decides to go with Lock, Jack gets kind of sulky. Locke decides that he’ll belay Kate down the hatch first, since she’s smaller. Hopefully he’s trying to kill her, too.
Locke’s hands get all torn up as he lowers Kate down. In all fairness, it’s quite clear that he doesn’t have any nefarious plans for her. He stops the rope when she screams and asks if she’s OK. And for the first time, I had a feeling for Kate that wasn’t sheer hatred, since the actress actually managed to look scared rather than just vaguely bored and pretty. Looks like someone’s been taking some acting classes!
Right when Kate’s about to get to the bottom, the lights coming up from the bottom of the hatch turn off. From the top, Locke calls out to her, but instead of a reply a huge beam of light shoots out of the hatch. Once again, Locke really does try to save Kate by pulling up the rope, but something much stronger than him is pulling the rope from below. The skin on his hands is ripping off, and eventually he collapses.
Now I don’t think Jack and Kate have any sort of cosmic connection, but all of a sudden he’s rushing off to the hatch. Maybe it’s Jack and Locke that have the connection? When he sees that they’ve disappeared, he heads down after them. This leads to a flashback, where Jack is running stairs in a stadium at night. Another guy comes charging up behind him. Slap my ass and call me Sally, I do believe it’s the man from the hatch. Same hair, same body type. Jack stumbles and the man comes over to help him. He looks like a pumped-up Pee-Wee Herman. He also has an accent, Scottish or Welsh or something that American girls will find sexy. “See you in another life, yeah?” he says as he runs off. Oooh, foreshadowing!
Back in the hatch, Jack is venturing in deeper with the flashlight in one hand and his gun in another. He sees a pair of boots and starts to really freak out. I’m not sure why it’s the boots, of all things, that give him the shakes. The mural on the wall isn’t helping either. It seems like it’s new; there’s paint jars on a table beneath it. I could make out a sun with ‘108’ written on it it, and a woman who I bet is Rousseau. There’s also an arrow pointing upwards, a ’42,’ some small houses, and the word ‘sick.’ There a lot more, obviously, but that’s all I could make out.
There’s also some sort of magnetic force down there, that attracts the key Jack keeps on a string around his neck. You guys, I can NOT do justice to how creepy this is. Just as Jack discovers a mirror on the wall that is tracking his movements, “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Cass Elliot starts blasting. I have chills! I love it when happy songs are used to creep people out; I don’t know why exactly but there’s something really effective about it.
Jack stumbles into the control center of the hatch. There’s even more cheesy-looking equipment in there, recorders and enormous computers and whatnot. Just as he’s about to type something into the computer, Locke steps in and orders him not to. Did Locke know the whole time?! No, it’s not what you think! There’s a gun to Locke’s head! And sure enough, the man holding it is the guy from the stadium. It’s unclear whether the crazy guy recognizes Jack, but Jack sure recognizes him.
I realize now that there wasn’t much to say about the middle half-hour of the show. Not much happened other than a little more backstory on Jack, and the Walt apparition, but the beginning and end MADE this episode. What did you all think? Were you as surpised as I was by an actual human living in the hatch? Do you like the direction this is headed? Also, if anyone has any theories as to what Walt said to Shannon, I’d love to hear them. But please, no spoilers. My esteemed colleague EdHill will be taking next week’s recap, and we’ll be alternating throughout the season. Let the comments speculation commence!