After some not-so-subtle comments that I should get off my arse and start blogging properly, I’m going to try and do just that. And what better way to start than with the TV event of the year (even if it is only January)? Spoilers.
Lost has had a bumpy ride, from an amazing first series to a long-winded and baggy second one, after which many viewers gave up. The first six episodes of series three were more of the same– tedious and unnecessary– but after the writers’ strike it seemed that the show was given a new lease of life. Answers! More mystery! Plot! Decent new characters! The tables were proven truly turned with the revelation at the very end of series three: some of the characters escaped the island, and what we assumed was the past is in fact the future. Finally it seemed as though the writers and producers knew what they were doing with their show, and they proved to the viewers that being led on would eventually give them some sort of pay-off.
Series four benefitted enormously both from its shorter length and from the setting of an end date in 2010– pretty much unprecedented for a hit American show. The plotting was tight, the pace was quick, and the answers came as thick and fast as the questions. Now, I admit that I’ve never understood the complaint that Lost just doesn’t answer enough questions. I absolutely love the mystery and the open-endedness of everything and, let’s be honest, Lost has answered a ton of questions since the beginning. Who is the French woman? What’s in the hatch? Is Henry Gale really Henry Gale? Who are The Others? What did Kate do? How did Locke end up in a wheelchair? Who’s the “real” Sawyer? I could go on and on. I feel, as you can probably tell, that this is an unfair criticism.
Lost is like a novel (a simile I’m stealing unashamedly from Empire). A series of novels, if you will. If, once you started, you knew all the answers by the end of the first book, what point would there be in reading the rest? Yes, I really want to know what the smoke monster is, and I would absolutely love to find out exactly who the hell Jacob is, and please, for the love of Darwin, what are the numbers about? I’m pretty sure one day I will find out (well, maybe not the numbers), but right now I’m content with the gaps that are already being filled in series five. I just have one request: no more pointless Jack episodes, please? I really couldn’t care less about his ridiculous tattoos, which should have stayed as a one-off joke early in series one.
Series five started off fantastically. The opening scene of the first episode, “Because You Left”, is typical Lost fare: we have no idea where we are, when we are, or who we’re following. Interestingly, the big reveal that we were watching Pierre Chang (aka Dr. Marvin Candle) is surpassed only moments later by the revelation that Daniel Faraday is seemingly working for Dharma. The episode’s focus on time travel of course opens up the most enormous can of worms known to man– suddenly even chronology is not a barrier in Lost. I am inclined to think that Faraday has infiltrated the Dharma mine during one of the island’s skips, though there is a theory that he worked there before and his time on the island with the Lostaways is him skipping in time. I much prefer the neater first theory, but the second has potential: Daniel, along with Desmond and Richard, seems to have a different relationship to time.
Another theory relating to Daniel sprung up at the end of the second episode “The Lie”. Daniel tells past-Desmond to go to Oxford to meet his mother, and in the future we see Ben meet up with Ms. Hawking, that creepy old lady who refused to sell Desmond the ring. The theory, naturally, is that Ms. Hawking is Daniel’s mother. Now, with Lost it can go either way– they are either throwing you an obvious red herring, or they really are just that transparent (I’m sorry, but Michael being Ben’s spy on the boat was obvious even if you didn’t see Harold Perrineau’s name on the credits). Daniel sending Desmond to find his mother suggests she is an expert in theories of time travel, and Ms. Hawking certainly seems to be that, never mind that she possesses the Richard-like quality of knowing about past and future events. Her name is not Faraday but that doesn’t mean anything: she could quite conceivably be using her maiden name, and when Daniel spoke to Desmond he finished by trying to tell Des his mother’s name. He had already introduced himself, so there would be no need to give Desmond her name if it was Faraday– it’s hardly a common name. Plus, it would be just like Lost to align two characters by similar namesakes (obviously Michael Faraday and Stephen Hawking), as it did in series two with John Locke and Desmond David Hume.
Of course, this is all assuming her name is Ms. Hawking on the show and that it’s not a fan-creation. Right now I genuinely cannot remember.
Other theories are that Miles is Pierre Chang’s son, who we see as a baby in the opening scene. Of course, I could get called out here for racial profiling… but children, and the parentage of those children, has been important to the mythology of Lost since day one, so I don’t think I’m stretching too much here. Of course there would have to be an explanation for Miles’ surname being Straum rather than Chang, but right now that seems to be the main obstacle for this theory.
Charlotte also appears to be suffering the dreaded nosebleed-and-memory-loss, but frankly we know so little about her character that any theory, however wild, seems plausible to me. She’s Daniel’s daughter from when he travelled back in time! She’s Desmond and Penny’s daughter! She’s Ben’s friend Annie with a new identity! All we know about her is that she’s English, she has her PhD, and she was born on the island. Ben reiterated a lot of information on her at the end of the last series, but Ben’s information is not necessarily trustworthy.
The main appeal of Lost, for me, lies not in the over-arching story, but in its intricately layered mythology and the new revelations that that brings. This series the writers have introduced the concept of time travel, which completely upturns everything that came before. As soon as you think you have a handle on Lost something is switched; there is nothing concrete and nothing certain, and the fun lies in trying to walk the tightrope of speculation before everything, inevitably, is turned upside down.