If the first two hours of this last season are any indication, the writers have decided to do what is probably, in my opinion, the best possible course of action.
They’re ripping off/paying homage to/inspired by one of my favourite movies of the last 30 years.
Sliding Doors tells the two stories about one woman and the divergent paths her life takes. In one storyline we see how things play out when she catches her train. In the second storyline, which runs concurrently to the first, we see what her life becomes when the tube doors slide shut a moment too soon. It’s a philosophical conceit–how does any person’s life alter with the tiniest of changes?–and a great chance to play the If Only game with someone else’s choices. What I love most about it, though, is that neither path for Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is all bad or all good. The stories are realistic in that both of them have ups and downs in the same way that any real life has. And yet, there are relationships which are Meant To Be, and that sweet hopefulness ends the movie on a happy shimmer.
This final season of Lost seems to be telling us that style of story, which isn’t surprising given the current trendiness of parallel universe theory in popular culture. (See also: everything else J.J.Abrams has his hand in.) This 2 hour episode is called LA X. I’ll go with the writers’ designations then.
This is the part where we see what would have happened to the Losties if their lives had taken the ‘normal’ course. How would they have gone about life if the plane never crashed? I liked many of the grace notes, like Jack and Locke trying to comfort each other in Lost and Found. Fitting that the two men whose baggage has ruined so many lives meet in the alternate universe in a place to find one’s LOST baggage. Do I think it’s significant that Oceanic lost Jack’s father? Yes and no. Jack lost his father’s body, which was symbolic of all the things weighing him down, causing him to question and rail against this life. Locke lost his knives. Those were symbolic of his self-destructiveness and violent nature. Perhaps in the LA version they can build a friendship now that they’ve moved beyond that baggage.
Unfortunately Kate goes on the run again. Which means that the producers think we still even remotely care about watching her elude pursuers. I frankly would have been just tickled to see her spending the next chunk of change in a jail cell.
The rest of the folks are about doing their things which are passably interesting in that “Huh” sort of way–Hurley is lucky this go-round, Charlie is still a junkie–but there’s nothing so far that makes me think that the LA version of things is a preferable alternative, save Jack and Locke’s civility. I am really interested, though, in seeing the way the writers put together the puzzle given different jigsaw lines.
Now in Sliding Doors both of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lives are normalish. There’s the usual job stuff and love stuff and friendship stuff. But here in Lost land the second story line–the one we call simply X–is surfing on wave after wave of weird. I think the Smoke Monster/Locke entity is Anubis or another one of the trans-cultural Death Entities who is trapped on The Island by some sort of magic. Since the pantheon of gods crosses cultures willy-nilly I don’t know if the writers intend to be specific about Evil!Locke, but I’m betting I’m right in general. Given their intensely Catholic worldview it makes sense that they would be wrestling with a demon. Of course I personally think it would be just flat-out hysterical if he turned out to be nothing more than the reincarnate soul of Napoleon Bonaparte. That’s who I automatically think of when forced to recall Bad Guys Punished By Exile To Islands.
The great thing about this new sort of storytelling is that it gives both sides of the fandom something to be happy about and gives the writers a chance to strut their stuff in both normal and paranormal worlds. I think that I like the direction this is going.