The Premiere

Jan. 21, 2009, has been circled on the calendar for quite some time. The little gathering we had over at our place last night left for home finally having had the chance to peek behind the curtain at what happens when you turn a huge frozen wheel ... hmmm ... ah ... LOST is back! On we go!

Below I'll list some of the most intriguing portions of the back-to-back episodes and then pepper some questions.


[Note: In this column, many weeks I borrow from other LOST sites, primarily Doc Jensen and EW.com. I'll try to put as much of myself in these as I can, but EW gets to screen the episodes in advance and I certainly don't ... so ... much love to the Doc, we couldn't dig in quite the same without you.]

Being a huge fan of the Dharma Initiative in all of its free-thinking, utopian-or-take-over-the-world-for-evil glory, I was stoked that Season 5 faded in with a frustrated Pierre Chang in the mid-'70s Dharma heyday. After being interrupted in the middle of shooting one of the orientation films, he heads off to oversee a construction snag in what is to become the Orchid station. I could watch an entire movie-length feature on the beginnings of Dharma, but I digress; what's most important here is that on his way out of the Orchid, after barking out orders to the hired crew, Mr. Chang bumps into our favorite physicist, Daniel Faraday.

Two Season 5 linchpin characters emerged last night. Faraday is one of them; the second is Locke. Apparently, unless Ben and the Oceanic 6 get him back to the Island, ''everything we're about to do won't matter at all.'' In fact, at the end of the second episode, we see Ms. Hawking, (Faraday's mother?), flanked by a Foucault Pendulum, feverishly calculating possible "Event Windows." She warns Ben that he has a 70-hour window to return to the island or "God help us all."

HELPFUL TIMELINE

Island time travel (the skipping record) ... roughly, here's where our island friends went last night:

  1. Island moves with the first turn of the wheel ... back to late 1990's — Mr. Eko's brother's yellow plane crashes.
  2. Flash-forward to a time where the Oceanic 6 are home and need to come back (2007) — as stated by Richard Alpert as he cleans Locke's wound.
  3. Back to early 2000, when Faraday confronts Desmond in the Swan station.

THEORIES TO DISCUSS

  1. Faraday makes a stop in the mid-'70s Dharma Initiative past, perhaps right about the time Ben and his widowed father arrived on the Island. If the rest of the time-traveling castaways join Faraday in the Dharma heyday, the implication is clear: Ben has probably known the castaways — or known about them — since he was a kid.
  2. If the castaways' departure has made a big mess of the timeline — if it has created a fraudulent timeline that is quickly becoming as untenable as the Oceanic 6's conspiracy — then maybe Locke's death is one of the anomalies that will get course-corrected once the castaways return.

FACTS CONFIRMED

  1. Charles Widmore has been searching for the island for 20 years — thank you Miles Straume — or roughly since the Dharma Initiative was purged by Ben, Richard and the Others.
  2. Ben has off-Island helpers. OK, we knew this, but we were able to see some of them, these "secret society of normal-folk Others" ... a la the woman/butcher.

BURNING QUESTIONS

  1. Can the past be changed? Faraday said ''Nope.'' Apparently, Fate has rules.
  2. However, there are exceptions to the rules, at least to those who are ''uniquely and miraculously special'' — and Desmond is one of those people. Why? Because Faraday knows he already understands the "Constant" concept?
  3. Why did Richard Alpert and the rest of the Others not move through time like Sawyer, Juliet, Faraday and the rest?
  4. Who hired Dan Norton/lawyer sent to get a blood test for Kate? Was it Ben or Widmore?
  5. How about Sun? Is she really after Ben (who killed the man that set off the bomb that ultimately killed Jin) ... or is she using Ben to exact revenge on Widmore (who hired the men to kill everyone on the island anyway)?
  6. What did Ben do that caused Sayid to stop working for him (he told Hurley to do the opposite of whatever Ben might ask of him)?
  7. Do you think Pierre Chang's baby is someone we know — maybe Miles Straume? It's not Jin, we've seen his fisherman father.
  8. The flaming arrow beach attack on Sawyer, Juliet and the rest of the Flight 815ers: where did it come from? Next week's "Jughead" episode will assuredly tell us more.