On Wednesday's two-hour premiere of Lost, we learned what happened when Ben "moved" the island, what that meant to those left behind and why he's suddenly so keen on getting the Oceanic 6 to return to that wacky funhouse of terror. Somebody dies, lots of people cry, and Sawyer went topless... for the entire first hour.
Namaste, y'all! I'm Mickey O'Connor, and I'll be writing the Lost recaps for this season. Every now and then they take me out of the underground hatch they keep me in and have me write things. For example, I popped in here last season to fill in for the lovely Trish Wethman to write about "The Constant" and "Meet Kevin Johnson", and writing the recap blogs of Desperate Housewives and Dancing with the Stars, has clearly more than qualified me for this job! So let's crack open a bottle of Dharma Initiative rum and get to it!
First off, I have to apologize for not recapping the recap episode, but I was on another (particularly tricky) deadline, so I wasn't able to watch it live. But rest assured that if there is any particular insight to be gleaned from it, I'll add it later. Once I saw both episodes, it seemed to make more sense to recap them separately, even though they aired together. Hopefully I'm right. So here goes...
"Because You Left"
In a characteristic season opener, we see a man rise (at 8:15 am), greet his Asian wife, and prepare a bottle for his newborn baby. As Willie Nelson's "Shotgun Willie" plays on the turntable (Aside: Google tells me that Shotgun Willie's is also the name of a strip club in Denver — you're welcome!), I prepared myself for a shocking reveal — perhaps of Jin living a new life on the island. As I'm sure you can all relate to, this show has my mind bent like a pretzel, but at least it has retrained it to consider possible some fairly outlandish scenarios.
But no, instead we discover it's the very surly Dr. Pierre Chang (aka Dr. Marvin Candle, aka Dr. Mark Wickmun, aka Dr. Edgar Halliwax), the guy from all the Dharma training films, on his way to a taping. Shooting is interrupted, though, with news that drilling in an underground cave of sorts has halted because the drill bits suddenly melted. It's then that we see that we are in fact in the vicinity of that frozen donkey wheel that Ben enlisted during the season finale. Dr. Chang exposits that harnessing the island's mysterious energy will allow them to time travel. "So what? We're going to go back and kill Hitler?" asks one worker. "Don't be absurd; there are rules," spits Chang. Do tell!
As Chang charges out of the cave, he bumps into a worker whose identity is hidden by his giant hardhat, but we soon discover that it's Daniel Faraday, in the full-on 1970s mode that I dubbed Shagaday when I recapped "The Constant." What could he be doing there?
JACK AND BEN
Meanwhile, back at Hoffs/Drawlar, Ben, Jack and Locke's corpse chat about what comes next. Ben reveals that Jack's bad luck is "because you left," hence the title of the episode. But since the last time Jack saw Locke, Locke told him that everyone on the island would die if he didn't come back, Jack is ready to team up with Ben and get back to the island posthaste. They see on the news that Hurley is in some hot water (see below). "Did [Locke] tell you what happened after the island moved?" Ben asks. No. "Then I guess we'll never know," he says. Don't be so sure, Benny Boy!
Because it's then that we see in rapid succession what everyone saw when the sky "flashed." [Note: I'm going to call them flashes, OK? It seems to be the most concise description of what happens. But that sound effect — all stretchy and metallic, as if to indicate the rending of the very fabric of time. Perfect.] The Oceanic 6, Frank and Desmond watched the island disappear from the helicopter. Daniel and his crew in the raft were "inside the radius," he says, so they're still with the island. Locke, who had recently settled down to a long jungle nap with his new Other family, sees Richard & Co. vanish at the flash, leaving him alone surrounded by rubble. Everyone else, including the googly-eye-making Sawyer and Juliet, watched as the freighter and the helicopter went bye-bye. But wait, there's more! Bernard and Rose come tumbling out of the jungle with the news that their camp is gone -- all of it.
Back in L.A., some very serious-looking lawyers (including the dad from My So-Called Life) pay Kate and Aaron a visit, saying they represent a client who wants to solicit blood samples to determine Kate's relationship to Aaron. This motivates Kate, ever the fugitive, to hit the road. She grabs some clothes, money and a handgun. "We're going on vacation, baby," she tells Aaron. "Say bye-bye." Hope Aaron likes the beach!
HURLEY and SAYID
I like the idea of Hurley and Sayid as some buddy-movie team on the run together. The awkward pairing crackles with energy. "Maybe if you ate more comfort food, you wouldn't have to go around shooting people," Hurley wonders aloud. Sayid tells Hurley that he sprung him from the loony bin because someone is after them. He also reports that he has been working for Ben, and that Hurley shouldn't trust him. Through various plot manipulations, the pair shake off their pursuers, but not before an onlooker snaps a cellphone pic of Hurley holding a gun and Sayid gets himself shot with a tranquilizer gun. "We never should have left that island," says Hurley. That seems to be the consensus tonight!
Locke wanders around the island alone, and has the fortuitous timing for a near-miss with Eko's brother's heroin-running plane crash. Upon investigating the wreckage, he encounters a gun-toting, formerly dead Ethan Rom, who shoots him in the leg. Just as things get really confrontational, there's another flash and Ethan is gone and it's raining. He's still shot though — bummer!
As he often does, the eerily calm Richard emerges from the trees, helps Locke remove the bullet from his leg and gives John some quick instructions. He gives him a compass ("It points north, John.") and tells him to give it back to him the next time they meet, since he won't recognize him. Then he unloads this whopper: "The only way to save the island is to get your people back here. You have to convince them to come back." But how's he going to do that, Richard? "You're going to have to die, John." Flash! Richard is gone, but the sun is shining and John still has the compass.
Speaking of Sun, she has another secret rendezvous with Charles Widmore at the airport, where C.W. apparently has enough juice to get the gate agent to tip him off about Sun's arrival. It's then that we discover their common interest: to kill Benjamin Linus. Ominous! I likes me some Evil Sun!
ON THE ISLAND
It's a testament to the strength of Lost's acting ensemble that the writers can change up the show's constantly shifting pairings, and the narrative is instantly rejuvenated with a new dynamic. Such is the case back on the island, where — without Ben, Jack, Kate, et. al. to kick around — Sawyer, Juliet, Daniel, Charlotte and Miles form a new micro-society, with all its own new conflicts and alliances. So far it really works for me.
After the first flash, the biggest surprise is that Daniel isn't that surprised at all really. He seems to know what's going on: If the island were a record on a turntable, Ben's activities in the Orchid Station have caused the record to skip, dislodging them from time periodically. Thus, the camp isn't gone; it just hasn't been built yet. I'm not going to go into too much detail about when they are in each flash, mostly because there are clues (hatch, no hatch, etc.) that give you a basic idea. Plus, I will be institutionalized by Episode 6 if I pay too close attention to it. Instead, let's chuckle at the fact that Sawyer goes shirtless the entire episode, a winking detail that endears me to co-executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. They know their audience well. Amirite, ladies? Holla!
Daniel also exposits — as if in response to Dr. Chang's earlier assertion that there are rules to time travel — that you cannot change anything, even if you tried. "Time is like a string," he muses. "You can move forward or in reverse, but we cannot create a new string. Whatever happened, happened." It seems that Shagaday has spent his entire adult life studying all this space-time jazz and the Dharma Initiative, so for now we have no choice but to trust him, right?
Once the hatch reappears after a flash, Sawyer speaks for the audience — which really doesn't want to watch all those fire-building and boar-hunting scenes again — and says he's going to get Desmond to let him into the Hatch, which contains a promised land of world-saving TRS-80s, Mama Cass albums and ranch dressing. Daniel warns him that he can't change the past, but he bangs on the door anyway. But nobody answers.
Once Juliet convinces everyone to go back to the beach ("That chick likes me," reports Miles. Heh.), Daniel hangs back to see if he can get Desmond to open up, as they've met before (see: "The Constant"). Once he makes contact with the cabin-feverish Des, instead of stocking up on Apollo bars, Daniel gives him this rapid-fire assignment: "Go back to Oxford University and find my mother; her name is..." Flash! The hell?
(Oh, also, Charlotte gets a nose-bleed, and we all know what that means.)
We cut to Desmond, who wakes with a start from a dream of sorts. Des appears to be living a langorous life with his beloved Penny on a boat somewhere far from the evil clutches of the worst father-in-law ever. He tells Penny he had a dream about the island. She exposits that he's been off the island for three years now, and that it was just a dream. "It wasn't a dream, Pen, it was a memory," he reports. As Des prepares to raise the anchor and set sail, Penny asks where they're headed. "Oxford," he answers, and my head explodes.
So I think "Because You Left" did a good job at setting the scene for what's to come this season. I'm relieved that, thus far, the off-island action is as exciting as the on-island scenes because I was worried that "Lost-in-L.A." might not be as compelling.
THE OCEANIC 6 (and FRANK)
We see the Oceanic 6 — and Frank — agree to Jack's cover story to protect the castaways left behind. Hurley is the only holdout, as he doesn't like to lie, but begrudgingly gives in, although not before telling Jack basically that he's dead to him.
Kate and Aaron are on the run. She begins to call Jack, but thinks better of it, just as her phone rings. She agrees to meet someone in a half-hour. That someone is Sun, who says she's in L.A. for a few days on business. Once they get the "aren't babies precious?" chit-chat out of the way, Kate tells Sun about the men who visited her. Sun sizes up the sitch, and tells Kate that they're not interested in exposing her secret, otherwise they just would have. She then says a lot of stuff about being a fierce, protective mother and making difficult choices, as Kate did when she pushed Sun on the helicopter just before the freighter blew up. Sun doesn't blame Kate for Jin's death. "If you hadn't done what you did, we probably all would have died instead of just my husband," she says evenly. "How's Jack?" Sun asks, and the scene ends on Kate's "It's Complicated Facebook update" facial expression.
JACK, HURLEY and SAYID
In an effort to save us all from more scenes of Sad Beardo Jack, Ben has flushed Jack's pills back at the hotel. He instructs him to go home and pack a suitcase full of anything he wants in this life... because he's never coming back. (Gulp.) "Good," says Jack. Ben has to move John's casket to somewhere safe. "Safe?" Jack asks. "He's dead, isn't he?" Ben dodges the question, sending my mind reeling of visions of Mikhail "Patchy" Bakunin, Locke's functioning legs and a cancer-free Rose.
Meanwhile, Butch and Sundance (aka Sayid and Hurley) are in a pickle, as a sedated Sayid rides shotgun while Hurley basically loses his freaking mind on a drive that's a nice echo of the joyride he took when we first learned he was one of the Oceanic 6. This time, however, the cop who corners Hurley is the dearly departed Ana Lucia (!), who pulls him over to give him instructions of how to evade the boys in blue. It also gives Michelle Rodriguez a chance to show off her gigantic new veneers that mesmerized me to the point that I have no idea what she told him to do. "Libby says hi," Ana Lucia says with an exit-stage-left smirk.
After picking up an "I (Heart) My Shih Tzu" T-shirt and narrowly escaping recognition by a hipster store clerk, Hurley heads to his folks' place, where Mr. Reyes is settling into a comfy chair with a hoagie and the remote at the ready. It's time for "Exposé," the cheesy TV show you remember from the divisive Paolo-and-Nikki episode. Heh.
"Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch?" Mrs. Reyes shrieks when she comes home. Hurley's dad sneaks Sayid out to meet Jack, who can hopefully rouse the Iraqi from his slumber. Jack, who is very skilled at sneaking into hospitals, revives Sayid and calls Ben to tell him where he is.
Back at Casa Reyes, Hurley tries to explain his predicament to his mother without actually, you know, telling her anything. Sayid is his friend, he says, but he also has a secret life where he does "crazy Ninja moves and spy stuff." As anyone knows who has tried, you can't lie to your mother without her figuring it out eventually, and "Oo-go" is no different. In a moment of nice, restrained acting by Jorge Garcia, Hurley caves and tells his mother the whole, insane truth. It's hysterical really to hear it all in a stream-of-consciousness like that. What a crazy show, right? Hurley, who obviously isn't aware of the title of Episode 1, says that bad stuff is happening because they lied. Mrs. Reyes stands in for the audience when she says, "I don't understand you, but I believe you."
ON THE BEACH
Rose and Bernard are trying to start a fire (I thought I said we didn't want to see these scenes again!) while Neil/"Frogurt" negatives all over the place. "We're all going to be dead by sundown," he foreshadows.
Charlotte has a headache. "Earlier I was thinking about my mom, and all of a sudden I couldn't remember her maiden name," she tells Daniel. "Do you know what's happening to me?" Daniel lies, of course.
Miles uses his ghost-whispering skills to locate a boar that had died in the jungle three hours prior, but needs a knife to properly filet his humane conquest. "You need a knife? It's over by the Cuisinart next to the stove," snarks Frogurt. "We can't even get fire," he whines, which is the producers' cue to summon a sky full of flaming arrows, one of which pierces Neil's cold, black heart and delivers us all from his evil. Other, nameless people die too, but the biggest revelation in this scene is that Vincent the dog is still in the hizzy! Woof!
Juliet and Sawyer take cover in the jungle, where naturally they are attacked by mysterious soldiers, one of whom speaks with a British accent. "What are you doing on our island?" he barks, which is hilarious for the number of times that different people have planted this same metaphorical flag. Just as he's about to cut off Juliet's hand, Locke shows up in the nick of time to stab people with his "Crocodile" Dundee knife and save the day. But who are these guys? Dharma? Hostiles? Difficult to say.
While Jack is off packing his Suitcase of Destiny and giving Sayid the ol' Pulp Fiction treatment, Ben has some errands to run. First stop: the butcher! But instead of picking up a nice tenderloin, Ben has an appropriately Other-y non-chat with Jill, the animal-slaughterer in question. "Is it what I think it is?" Jill asks. "Have Gabriel and Jeffrey checked in yet?" Ben asks. "Keep him safe, Jill, because if you don't, everything we're about to do won't matter at all." The Lost cliffhanger thump goes off in my head, and we still have two more scenes to go!
Next stop: Hurley's house, where Ben materializes in the kitchen while Hurley is heating up a Hot Pocket. "We have to go back to the island," Ben says. Hello? Broken record! Because of Sayid's warning, though, Hurley doesn't listen to him. Instead, he runs out the front door and surrenders to the police who have been casing the joint and confesses to the murders he didn't commit. "Just get me away from here," he says.
Final stop: The set of The Da Vinci Code, where a hooded figure is furiously scribbling on a blackboard and determining an "event window" on one of those TRS-80s as one of those things that demonstrates the earth moving on its axis drips sand in an ominous asterisk-like pattern. It's Mrs. Hawking, who emerges from the church basement, just in time to get an update from Ben. He reports that he lost Reyes tonight, which isn't good news, since Mrs. H. says they only have 70 hours. "What happens if I can't get them all to come back?" Ben asks, for once not the one controlling the conversation. "Then God help us all," she answers. Thump!
How does it feel to be back, everybody? Any early theories on where the "flashes" will take us next? Who's Daniel's mother? Who is Charlotte's "constant"? And how is Ben going to get the 6 together for their Plane Crash Reunion Tour?
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