Lost, Season Six: “The Substitute” Recap

02/17/2010 10:45 AM |

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The promos for the sixth season of Lost declare that “the time for questions is over”. Really? When will that time be—next week? Because the answers so far have been few, while new questions keep piling up. At the same time, it’s getting harder and harder to see how the investment in Reality X’s storylines is going to pay off, beyond the cheap and immediate thrill of discovering a bitchy Ben Linus teaching European history.

And how about the storyline in which regular viewers are already heavily invested? I could have punched Richard in the throat myself when he refused to accompany an answers-promising Flocke. Why do none of the characters want answers as badly as the audience? Well, at least there’s Sawyer, who was magnanimous enough to take a walk with Flocke—whom he met, not coincidentally I’m sure, while whiskying out to what may as well be the Smoke Monster’s theme song: “Search and Destroy”. (Hey, how about those Smoke Monster P.O.V. shots? Neat, I guess.) When jungle-distressed Richard asked Sawyer why he was following Flocke even when he knew it wasn’t Locke, Sawyer basically answered: ‘cos he’s gonna give me some fucking answers! Right on, man!

So, as far as answers: Jacob’s (Master) List is not printed on parchment, but carved into the stone ceiling of his cave hideout! Now, for the questions: yeah, and? What do those names mean? (Notice Kate’s was not among them; apparently, Jacob felt about her as much of the audience does.) Who are all the crossed-out names? Deceased 815ers? Black Rock passengers? And: who’s that creepy ghost kid? The Island’s Edmond Hoyle? I always admired the way Lost would let a mystery build over the course of several episodes, especially in contrast to junk like Heroes, which could barely ever wait a scene before answering, “who’s that?” But now that we’re approaching end game here, I have no patience for what now feel like Lost’s old time-buying tricks. If they’re going to introduce a new character at this point, I want to know who the hell it is!

As for Reality X, I suppose the overarching question is: is life better for the passengers in this timeline? (The producers don’t want us to call it “alternate” because it implies that it’s somehow less real than the other timeline. In our emotional involvement, it certainly is!) Well, in the old reality, Locke is dead; his island funeral, and Ben’s touching and hilarious eulogy (“I’m very sorry I killed him”), were a sweet finale to that character’s arc. But in the new reality, Locke is still alive. Granted, he can’t walk, and he still couldn’t go on his walkabout, but he’s engaged to Helen, it was suggested he’s on good terms with his father (!), and he got out of his soul-crushing gig at the box factory. But, really, what’s the point of all of these side stories? How many more episodes must we sit through before they start to mean something?

Though the most pressing question for now is, what’s the Smoke Monster’s plan, and if he succeeds, what are the implications? As he tried to convince Sawyer to aid in his escape, he told him they could just ditch the island. After all, “it’s just an island.” Now, we all know that’s not true!