You don't get cliffhangers much better than the one Lost ended Season 5 on. The mythologised Jacob had died at the hands of Ben, accompanied by a man who looked like Locke but which the dead body in the coffin indicated wasn't. And Juliet had just apparently set off a hydrogen bomb in an attempt to change the timelines so Flight 815 never crashlanded. Not so much a 'how do they get out of that' but a 'what the hell happens next' topped with the intriguingly obligue hint of Lost's usual logo being presented in negative - black on a white background. There's very few shows get to the end of five seasons and leave you with utterly no idea as to what the next season will be like. It's that 'where the fuck are they going?' that's made Lost one of my favourite shows. Other people are hanging on for the answers, for all to be revealed. And I can understand that. But it's very difficult to make the answers satisfying when everyone's been hanging on for them for so long. And I'll bet that, whatever the ending, some people are going to end up disappointed. Certainly Damon Lindelof seemed to be trying to soften people up when he mentioned Newhart's 'all a dream' ending in an interview with MTV News. Even if, as he implies, the ending's clever and germane to Lost, there'll be plenty vocally upset about it. Their loss, particularly when the ride so far's been so enjoyable.
There's no messing about to start the new season. It picks up precisely where Season 5 left off, with Ben killing Jacob in the modern day with a man who looks like, but't isn't, Locke, and, back in the other time zone, 1977, Juliet setting off a hydrogen bomb that - according to the theory of Daniel Faraday (physicist and member of the rescue party for Oceanic Flight 815. And... it immediately heads for left field once again. We go into a timeline where Oceanic Flight 815 doesn't crash, where the turbulence from 2004 is merely brief and doesn't bring them down, and the island they blew up is at the bottom of the ocean. We're back where we started, but this time heading in an entirely different direction, where the crash and subsequent consequences never happened. Desmond's here, not settled down off the island, Charlie and Boone are alive. Interesting to note that Shannon wasn't on the flight with him though - scheduling difficulties or plot to unfold? Hang on, Desmond's on board? We get to see what happened if the flight reached LA. It'd be a shock if it didn't take the full season for those consequences to unfold in this timeline. Part One ends as the flight touches down and everyone disembarks, the only really obviously notable event being Jack saving Charlie's life from an overdose, and Charlie resenting him for it.
And we're also back in a timeline where Juliet didn't manage to detonate the hydrogen bomb. Everybody lives! And just like that we're following parallel alternate timelines. How can you not love a series that actually considers the audience intelligent enough to deal with that without a word of explanation? You have to respect a series that's reformatted itself season by season without, despite appearaces around a slightly flabby midsection, losing direction. Anyway here we've got Juliet dying in Sawyer's arms, seemingly irrevocably breaking their never straightforward relationship down altogether. Even slash fans couldn't mend this one confincingly (unless it's a ritual disembowelling knife Sawyer rams where the sun don't shine). And Jacob's ghost appears to Hurley to tell him he was killed an hour ago, gives him a guitar case and tells him to take everyone to the temple. Which leads us to...
Another 'and', this one being being Not-Locke and Ben dealing with the aftermath of Jacob's death. We discover what Not-Locke is (not who, that's not up for revelation just yet) in spectacularly violent fashion. And gives us a kind of answer to the island's apparent power of cheating death. It's instantly the most gripping element of the episode, partly due to being so close to giving us definitive answers and partly thanks to the endlessly fascinating performances of Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson.
As if everyone hadn't got the idea over the past five years, Cuse and Lindelof are too savvy to satisfy viewers by returning to that. Instead the first half hour or so of part two is spent alternating between the two timelines, Jack discovering his father's coffin is missing and Kate escaping her captor. There's all sorts of meetings that seem halfway significant between characters we've come to know over five years, that have you asking if they mean anything. And meanwhile, back on the island, we find the Temple, although there's a further mystery opened with the people we find there. And some seriously major developments for one of the leads. While it's not dull, perhaps a touch on the slow side at times while events develop, I was hankering to get back to Ben and Not Locke. Yep, that's despite cast fatalities and a foxy lady kicking arse. And when we do get back to Ben and Locke? Explanations of a kind. And hints, and a sense that things are really moving at pace towards a big climax.
I think I know where they're going with the resurrection of Sayid. And with the Ben and Not-Locke storyline. But not a scooby with the LA story.
More answers then, but even at this late stage they open new questions. Lost's back, and it's business as usual. And as ever, business is good.