Lost Episode 5.01 "Because You Left"

Lost has literally raised the bar on what can be achieved through the medium of television. After four seasons, I was cautiously optimistic that the quality of the narrative and production would remain just as spectacular in the final two seasons. I never thought Lost could actually get better.
And then it did.
Sure, the time-jumps were confusing. Now that time travel is an overt part of the story, some viewers will be turned off by the inherent science-fiction. But if you can let go and enjoy the ride, Lost remains the tight, clever narrative it always was. It’s still a character-driven drama, with a spicy dose of adventure and science fiction.
And now, my thoughts. Don’t worry, I don’t “recap” like AV Club or TV Squad. If you watch the show, you don’t need to be retold the story. I just expound upon each episode, guessing at where its hints are leading us.
“It’s going to allow us to manipulate time.”

What a cold open! Marvin Candle gets his first real scene in a nice hark back to previous premieres. Fans are theorizing about his baby, claiming it must be Charlotte. These fans must have poor television reception, as the child is blatantly Asian, not a red-haired Caucasian. It could be Miles, I suppose, but this seems like a big jump to make just because of the similarity in race.
The bigger question is how this baby was born. Doesn’t the Island have a ban on births? Maybe that wasn’t the case back in Dharma’s glory days. I once theorized that Ben’s survivor-guilt over the death of his mother during childbirth was the cause of the Island’s infertility.
After seeing Candle’s O’Reillyesque attitude toward film crews, we discover his objective in building The Orchid. Dharma wants to use whatever’s behind that frozen donkey wheel to manipulate time.
But why? If you can’t “break the rules” and change the past, why bother trying? It may be very difficult to change the past, but I think it’s actually already happened on the show (more on this later). And if it was impossible, Dan wouldn’t be doing whatever he’s doing in this episode (giving Desmond instructions and infiltrating Dharma in the 1970’s).
“What happened to them after the Island moved?”

With all these jumps through time and space, Season 5 is confusing, but here’s my rundown:
When Ben turned the wheel, it moved the Island through space, as evidenced by the disappearing Island we saw in Season 4. That or he changed the wormhole used to get there (it’s no longer accessible via the South Pacific).
But that’s not all that happened: the people on the Island were dislodged in time. Though Locke spends most of the ep alone, he moves through the same trajectory as Sawyer, Juliet, Dan, etc. It looks like Richard and the other natives were immune to this discontinuity.
As a storytelling device, this is wonderful, because it allows the writers to show us key events in the Island’s history first-hand, which I’m really looking forward to. Anyone can show up, but I’m really hoping we run into Rousseau and her science team, along with the Island’s ancient inhabitants.
“When am I?”
Locke’s finally getting exactly what he wanted: a real Walkabout. Armed with only the shirt on his back and a knife, he’s on quite the vision quest. According to my beloved Richard, the only way to save the Island is to bring the Oceanic 6 back. And the only way to do that is for John to die (assumingly because this is what pushes future Jack over the edge).
If the past can’t be changed, if fate can’t be altered, why does everyone keep saying the Oceanic 6 “weren’t supposed to leave?” Obviously they each have a key role to play in the Island’s salvation (from Widmore?). I’m looking forward to seeing what those roles are.
Also, Locke’s duck when the Beechcraft flew over his head must have been a shout-out to this scene in North by Northwest.
“The rules don’t apply to you. You’re special. You’re uniquely and miraculously special.”
Dan broke his own rules. He changed the past. By staying behind and talking with Desmond, he literally created a new memory in Desmond’s head in the “present.” Now Desmond’s going to find his mother at Oxford, who I’m guessing is probably Mrs. Hawking, which is cool.
The best part of this exchange, of course, is the bit I quoted above. What makes Desmond miraculously special? His exposure to the Island’s electromagnetism when his turned the fail-safe key? Does that allow him to alter the course of time?
It sure seems like he had the chance to, way back in Season 3. When he turned the fail-safe key, his consciousness zipped back into his past, the day he chickened out on Penny’s marriage proposal. I’m convinced he had the chance to change his fate (it was that decision that ultimately led him to the Island), until Mrs. Hawking convinced him Fate was unalterable.
I’m thrilled that Desmond’s still an integral part of the show; I was worried he and Penny would just ride off into the sunset. But it looks like his specialness may be a key to the Island’s salvation, and possibly the world’s.
Conclusion
Lost has always been about Fate versus Free Will on a thematic level. Now it’s literal. It looks like two sides, “one light, one dark,” are trying to use special people like Locke, Desmond, Walt, etc. (and their communion with the Island’s properties) to alter the course of Time. The how and why should become apparent as the season progresses. Actually, there are some pretty big clues in the next episode, The Lie.
My thoughts on that one soon.
Stray Observations
– Kate is a terrible mother. Which shouldn’t be surprising, since we’ve already seen her as a terrible friend, lover, and spouse. Adding the word “baby” to the end of every callous phrase doesn’t instill a sense of warmth and love in a three-year-old. Aaron needs Claire. Too bad she’s undead or something.
– I totally called the Arrow as a weapons station way back in Season 2.
– Bernard and Rose annoyed me. Not for the first time, either. Hurley is also testing my patience. I understand he’s innocent and loveable, but I get frustrated when he’s downright stupid. Which doesn’t bode well for the next episode…
Widmore owns Oceanic. “They only do what I tell them to.” Does this mean he’s responsible for the original crash? We already know his underling, Abbadon, coaxed Locke to Australia…
– Charlotte has really grown on me. Rebecca Mader is just adorable in interviews, so that might be part of it. As for her nosebleed, perhaps she’s more sensitive to time-sickness because she was born on the Island, and thus exposed to its virile electromagnetism (which Faraday blamed for the sickness last year).
– When Sawyer asks who can stop the time-jumps, the camera cuts to Locke. Hmmm
– Richard gives Locke the compass we saw in Cabin Fever. Creepy!
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