Episode Title: “The Beginning of the End”
Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: It’s about damn time.
Sure, I’m sure that other people in the history of mankind have used the phrase “the beginning of the end” before, but I have to think I was the first to use it when referring to Lost. In fact, I was referring to episodes of Lost as “the beginning of the end” back on March 1st, 2005 (in regards to the “Numbers” episode, since it was the last main character to receive a flashback – Hurley – and featured some huge explosions in the preview – which I assumed meant we were leading up to the big Others / Survivors showdown… hey, I was only two years premature on that prediction). I would later use the same phrase in reference to last season’s episode “The Brig”, and referring to the announcement about the planned end date for Lost in 2010. All this before, the line was actually uttered on the show during “Through the Looking Glass”!
So it’s only fitting that the phrase finally becomes an episode title of its own, as some of Ben’s final, foreboding words of Season Three, “I’m telling you Jack, making that call is the beginning of the end.”
But is there actually any “deeper meaning” behind it? Unlike so many episode titles, I don’t feel like this is a reference to any sort of book (1950’s “The Beginning of the End” by Harekrushna Mahtab about politics in India), movie (1957’s “The Beginning of the End” featured huge killer grasshoppers attacking Chicago), or song (H.I.M., Nine Inch Nails, and Guster all have songs with the title with equally somber lyrics) – but a simple reference to our current place in the storyline of Lost, and the state of current life on the Island.
On the storytelling side, it’s the beginning of the end, because we’re just starting to see the “end chapters” of the Lost saga through flashforwards. We already know that Kate and Jack make it off the Island alive – but what about the rest of our Survivors? As we start to make our way through the fourth season, it will quickly become evident who made it off the Island and who didn’t. I’m sure it won’t answer all the questions, but it will begin to paint the picture about the end-game of Lost.
On the Island side, it’s the beginning of the end, because everything is pointing to Ben being absolutely correct in his warning about Naomi’s people – that they are bad news for the Island and everyone on it. While we know that they don’t kill “every living thing on the Island” since Jack and Kate make it off the Island alive, based on the tortured state of Jack in the flashforward, they weren’t simply a rescue mission sent to find the Survivors of Oceanic Flight 815… some bad stuff clearly goes down between Jack making that call and Jack getting off the Island – and we’re about to find out what.
But in the end, I think it’s the overall meaning of the episode title that hits me the most. This is the beginning of the end of Lost (tear). It’s now clear that during the first three seasons, the Lost writers were treading very gently when it came to progressing the storyline – not sure how long they would have to stretch it out for, not wanting to wrap up the story too soon and be forced to add seasons that felt “tacked on”. This resulted in some of the lamer episodes each season, with boring character flashbacks, slow on-Island action, and a sense that some episodes were simply a filler to kill time before the story could move on. I’m hopeful that now that there is a set ending for Lost, the writers can start wrapping up storylines without fear of running out of ideas. I’d like to think that they always had an ending for Lost in mind, knowing exactly what was going to happen, and exactly how many episodes it would require to tell that story. The “ending” of Lost, if you will.
Now that we’re starting the stretch of the final 48 episodes, it marks the beginning of that ending.
ABC Description: So this is a pretty strange week for the standard episode description from ABC – because they actually released two separate episode previews, each with different information – but neither feeling like it is actually describing the episode, but rather being an advertisement for the series in general. Here was the first one released:
With only 48 original episodes left until the final episode airs in 2010, this season truly is the beginning of the end with the promise of rescue at hand. Jack has radioed a freighter stationed somewhere off the island. But when it's disclosed that Charlie's dying warning was that these people may not be who they say they are, the castaways are split as to what to do. Jack is convinced that the freighter people are there to rescue them, while Locke is not. A division occurs among the survivors. Who is on the freighter? What was the significance of the flash-forward showing Jack and Kate off the island at some point in the future? What will the consequences be when the characters once again encounter Michael, who seemingly escaped the island after murdering two of the survivors? These are some of the questions "Lost" will explore during the action-packed fourth season. The band of friends, family, enemies and strangers must continue to work together against the cruel weather and harsh terrain if they want to stay alive. But as they have discovered during their 90-plus days on the island, danger and mystery loom behind every corner, and those they thought could be trusted may turn against them. Even heroes have secrets.
(Did they really just write “even heroes have secrets”? Apparently they enlisted some help of a third grader to come up with that tag-line. Yikes.)
There are a few bits of information that we can pull out of that wordy paragraph that might actually happen in this episode – such as Charlie’s warning being passed along to the Survivors via Desmond (probably occurring at the mid-point of the episode, if I was guessing) and the division of the Survivors once that warning is received – but I don’t think we’re going to find out who is actually on the freighter this week. I don’t think we’re going to run into Michael this week (unless it’s during the final scene of the episode). I certainly don’t think we’re going to find out the significance of Jack and Kate’s flashforward this week. So let’s look to the second episode preview to be released, which feels a little more like a normal one:
In the season premiere episode, "The Beginning of the End," feeling that their rescue is close at hand, the survivors don't know whether to believe Charlie's final message that the people claiming to liberate them are not who they seem to be. The band of friends, family, enemies and strangers must continue to work together against the cruel weather and harsh terrain if they want to stay alive. But as they have discovered during their 90-plus days on the island, danger and mystery loom behind every corner, and those they thought could be trusted may turn against them. Even heroes have secrets. "Lost" stars Naveen Andrews as Sayid, Henry Ian Cusick as Desmond, Emilie de Ravin as Claire, Michael Emerson as Ben, Matthew Fox as Jack, Jorge Garcia as Hurley, Josh Holloway as Sawyer, Daniel Dae Kim as Jin, Yunjin Kim as Sun, Evangeline Lilly as Kate, Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet, Terry O'Quinn as Locke and Harold Perrineau as Michael. Guest starring are Mira Furlan as Danielle Rousseau, Sam Anderson as Bernard, L. Scott Caldwell as Rose, Tania Raymonde as Alex, Blake Bashoff as Karl, Marsha Thomason as Naomi, Michael Cudlitz as Mike Walton, Lance Reddick as Matthew Abbadon, Grisel Toledo as orderly, Steven Neumeier as Lewis, Billy Ray Gallion as Randy, Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday and John Terry as Christian Shephard.
Now that’s a little easier to breakdown, even if does include the “even heroes have secrets” line again. Let’s get to it!
Episode Breakdown: Right away, it’s clear where a number of storylines and characters are going to go as the fourth season starts. We’re going to have Desmond racing back from the Looking Glass with Charlie’s dying warning message about Naomi’s boat contrasting with the celebration that will be happening around Jack and Co, who think they’ve just found their ticket home. We’ll have Ben continue to warn our Survivors about the danger of the Freightors (my current nickname for the Freighter People). We’ll probably have Jack radio Hurley with the good news, which will result in an equally jubilant time on the Beach… and then Desmond will show up and ruin the party… resulting in a very opposite radio transmission back to Jack. Suddenly, there will be questions about who to trust (Ben / Dead Charlie / Locke or Jack / Naomi / Freightors) and divisions will begin to be formed as people pick sides in the debate.
So how will the parties break up? Well, it’s pretty clear how some are going to go… and you can make some educated guesses based on storytelling 101 for some others:
- Jack – obviously, he’s totally obsessed with and leading the rescue.
- Juliet – she went “all in” with Jack on his scheme to get off the Island on the sub. This will be no different.
- Sun – she is seen in the episode preview stating “I can’t believe I’m actually going to have my baby in a hospital”.
- Jin – will clearly follow Sun into the dark, just like a Death Cab song.
- Claire & Aaron – the first two to get off the Island, here’s hoping it leads to either the exit of the character of Claire from the show, or the introduction to some type of interesting storyline for her with the Freightors.
- Hurley – seen saying “when we get rescued and I go back, I’m going to be free” – also made the speech in last season’s episode “Greatest Hits” about being tired of trekking and explosions – he seems ready to take his chances to get off the Island, now curse-free… or is he?
- Locke – aside from Ben, the person who would do the most to stay on the Island no matter what.
- Ben – willing to lie, cheat, kill, and deal to protect the Island.
- Sawyer – when Kate asks what he’s doing in the episode preview, he says he’s “survivin’” – which seems to indicate he believes Ben and thinks the best odds for survival are fighting the Freightors.
- Kate – the surprise, since we know she gets off the Island – but I still see her siding with Sawyer after he gives his “Survivin;” speech to her. This will also create the dramatic romantic tension between Kate / Sawyer / Jack / Juliet that the ladies (and me) love.
- Sayid – while he seems logical enough to not trust Ben, he’s also wise enough to analyze the situation before throwing all his faith behind the words of Naomi. In the preview, he’s shown tossing a Sawyer a gun, as if they’re both getting ready to defend. As a cautious skeptic, he’ll start out on Team Locke for sure.
- Rose – the Island is her ticket to being footloose and cancer-free… she stays.
- Bernard – what’s he going to do, go back to being the Principal on “Growing Pains”? Nah, he sticks by his lady on the Island, like he promised back in Season Two.
- Desmond – Charlie used his last dying moments to warn about “Not Penny’s Boat” – no way Desmond overlooks that, even though he’d do anything to get back to his precious Penny.
So as you can see, there will probably be a fairly clear division between the two teams. I do enjoy that once again we have the recurring theme of Jack vs. Locke coming back up again (what is this, the fourth time?) and there is a nice breakup of fan-favorite characters on each side. Based on Jack’s flash-forward last season (and my season one series finale predictions), joining Team Locke is probably the correct answer… but again, based on Jack’s future – it doesn’t look like it’s the side that is going to win.
But I’m getting ahead of myself – based on the lack of guest starring appearances by Freightors this episode, it probably won’t be until next week that we start to learn who is right and who is wrong… but that’s okay because there are still some quite interesting guest stars this week…
Flashes. While we always touched upon the centricity of episodes, we now must include the question of where the flashes will take place – in the past, in the future, new takes on previous on-Island action, or trippy alternate reality flashes, Desmond-style.
This week it’s pretty clear to be a Hurley-centric episode. Featured guest stars include Grisel Toledo, who played the nurse in the mental institution in the Hurley-centric “Dave” episode from Season Two. Likewise, we’ve got the return of Randy Nations, who has thus far worked as Hurley’s boss at Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack and Locke’s boss at Hurley’s Box Factory.
Based on these guests, it’s looking like a flashback is the most likely scenario, but it’s not without holes. For one (and I’ll get to this in more depth later), I think Hurley is an excellent candidate to get off the Island, so letting the audience know he makes it off right off the bat isn’t revealing too much. For two, the timelines of Randy and the nurse don’t really mesh – all the mental institution stuff came well before any of his Randy interactions. I think it’s much more likely that we see a flashforward situation where Hurley ends up back in the mental institution and Randy comes to visit him.
Lastly, and maybe this is just a pipe dream on my part – but unless we’re talking Libby, there really isn’t anything else in Hurley’s past that I especially care about – and without Libby being listed as a guest, I don’t think that’s where we’re going. The season premiere episodes usually have featured pretty solid off-Island storylines (Season Three probably being the weakest), and the only way I see that happening with Hurley is going the flash-forward route.
Newbies. But Hurley’s former contacts aren’t the only intriguing part of the guest stars listed for this episode. While I still think the mass arrival of the Freightors isn’t until next week, we do get at least one of them this week – Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday, seen in the preview telling Jack (quite eerily) that he “can’t say rescuing people is their primary objective”. Is he the scout sent before the cavalry comes next week? Or is the cavalry already there, but just scattered about the Island? There is the possibility that the other new characters “Mike Walton” and “Lewis” could also be Freightors – but I’ve got nothing to back that up.
Old Favorites. I saved the best guest stars for last. First up, I find it very interesting that Naomi is still listed, even though she was last seen face down with a knife in her back courtesy of John Locke. Is it possible she is still alive? Or, can someone earn a guest starring shout out for simply lying on the ground in the background of shots? If she is alive, here’s hoping it’s one of those “I’m dying” moments where she can only get out a few cryptic words before leaving this mortal coil – anything else would feel like the writers cheated Locke going crazy killer at the end of last season for the sake of protecting the Island, don’t you think?
We also have Michael Cudlitz, aka "Big Mike" from Ana-Lucia's flashbacks in Season Two featured. Truth be told, I didn't even remember this guy and assumed he was just another Freightor (thanks to GeZus for pointing it out on the Message Board), but this would seem to indicate that Hurley's in Los Angeles, and maybe in a run in with the cops? Maybe the future isn't so bright for Hurley after all! More evidence for the post-Island curse!
And finally we have our good friend Christian Shepherd… who, if you look closely, was actually featured in the preview clip for this episode. To me, it looks like he’s sitting in a chair that looks an awful lot like Jacob’s (and inside Jacob’s house too!), which has me thinking it’s some sort of Island image courtesy of Smokey / the Spirit of the Island. He wouldn’t really fit into a Hurley flashback (or flashforward), and we’ve gotten confirmation that he is indeed dead (and not some mastermind behind everything happening on the Island) – but this remains the biggest mystery in the episode preview to me. Why would Jack be seeing images of his father during a Hurley-centric episode? Why would Hurley be seeing images of Jack’s dad, who he didn’t even know? Neither one seems to add up. I guess this is why we watch the shows.
Preview Clip. Phew. 2800 words so far and I am just now getting to the episode preview that I promised a breakdown of over a month ago? Yikes – I’m getting wordier in my old age. Although I’ve already talked about a number of things in the preview, let’s walk through a few particulars piece by piece, because there are some potentially quite revealing things contained within:
Wow - you really should watch that once a day to get jacked up for the season premiere. I still get chills!
Wasn’t it like a day’s hike from the beach to the radio tower? Sawyer ended Season Three on the beach. Ben ended Season Three at the radio tower. How are the two suddenly face to gun like this? How much time elapses in this first episode? Did Sawyer drive Hurley’s van to the radio tower? Something seems off here.
Well, maybe I answered my earlier question – here we see Hurley peering through some broken glass (of what looks to be Jacob’s cabin) and seeing Christian Shepherd sitting inside – but again, what sense does this make? What’s the connection? Wouldn’t Hurley just think “Oh, there’s a creepy weird guy in a chair” – wasting the fact that it’s Jack’s dead dad?
What the heck are these things? Random island fruit being used for target practice? A Freightor helicopter landing and disrupting all the supplies the Survivors had so delicately stacked in a pile on the Island? No idea. Why include this in the preview? There has to be some deeper meaning here.
Patchy’s cow! It appears as though Desmond is standing in the foreground, which doesn’t make much sense since he should be headed from the ocean back to the beach with Charlie’s warning. Perhaps a later scene in the episode involves Desmond heading to rendezvous with a Freightor helicopter seen landing in the distance, which leads him past the Flame hatch?
A strange skull – maybe a polar bear? We also see an image of the Hydra station on a staff during the preview, which might indicate a trip back to Alcatraz is in order. If that was really the animal testing area, it makes sense there might be a bone yard of earlier test subjects – but again, why head out to Alcatraz? Is Team Island heading there for supplies? To hide from the Freightors? Intrigue!
Charlie. He’s alive! Heather’s Brain rejoices! Just kidding… as you can see Hurley in the foreground, this is absolutely some sort of Island image / hallucination (a la Dave) / dream of Hurley, who is the main character of this episode. Still, it’ll be good to see Charlie again since my opinion of his character has gone from “hate” to “fondly remember” after his extremely solid performances in the final two episodes of last season.
Six. That’s not one of our Lost numbers (which, as you recall, have basically disappeared from the show over the past season – ever since the Swan Hatch imploded), although it does indicate how many seasons that Lost will last. Initially, I was thinking it was some number tied to the Freightors, who are really the only “new entity” introduced to the Island, that could potentially bring some sort of numeric symbol / mojo with them, or be the name of their ship or the name of their crew…
…but then I stumbled upon a few quotes in various non-spoiler locations like TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly which (at least for me) totally gave it away. For the sake of keeping the Blog spoiler free, I won’t go into it here – but I will tell you that my original musings were waaaaaaaaay off and that it actually is a pretty big plot point, so it deserved a place in the preview clip.
Two more things to discuss…
Flashforwards. So we know that Jack and Kate make it off the Island, based on their flashforward finale of Season Three. But what about everyone else? Time to rank the odds of each character making it off the Island!
- Jack – clearly, we already saw him off the Island all bearded and angsty.
- Kate – ditto here, saw her all dolled up – proving once again that for a truly attractive female, makeup just ruins them.
- Claire – if I had it my way, Claire would board a helicopter in these first two episodes, and we would never see her again. You have to assume it’s going to be women and children off the Island first, right? Well, with Aaron, Claire has got both covered. Now, this isn’t to say that she simply escapes the Island to fall into the clutches of the evil Freightors – but either way, she’s getting off the Island.
- Sun – see rule above – pregnant women probably get preference over the non-pregnant when it comes to seats on the helicopter.
- Jin – although it seems like Jin is a good candidate to die in some sort of Island battle, I think the better storyline is how the Island took a marriage that was falling apart and somehow made Sun and Jin fall in love and conceive a child. One of the few happy endings I’m okay with for Lost.
- Desmond – he has to reunite with Penny, right? His selfless act in the Hatch implosion was basically the reason rescue is possible, and he did it all for a chance at love. Also, the writers have already had two perfect opportunities to kill him off, and passed on both (the hatch implosion and sacrificing himself for Charlie).
- Hurley – as I mentioned earlier, I think Hurley is a pretty good candidate to make it off the Island. He’s a fan favorite, not really a bad guy (unlike most of his fellow Survivors), and might have finally shaken the curse of the Numbers – since they seem to have disappeared from the show. Although it would be ironic if Hurley was just as miserable post-Island as Jack, meaning he traded in once curse (the Numbers) for another (not living in paradise).
- Juliet – I go back and forth on Juliet. She’s got the whole sister storyline to get back to on the mainland, and has been actively doing everything she can to get off the Island for the past few months. She seems smart enough to figure out a way off, and tough enough to handle herself in any battle skirmishes that might break out. Also, she didn’t do anything wrong pre-Island (putting her in the same boat as Hurley), and has done a lot of time on the Island, making her pretty deserving in the grand karmic scheme of things.
But after that, I’m not really feeling any of the other main characters making it off:
Sawyer – while there’s always the chance that he gets off the Island, marries Kate, and they have their cell-love-child baby together, he seems like a much better option to die heroically, protecting Kate. After all, the Island has allowed him to tie up all his personal loose ends in the killing of Anthony Cooper.
Sayid – he’s really got nothing waiting for him off the Island, and was all too willing to give up his life to get everyone else off the Island last season. I could see him dying to save some other Survivors, especially since with his military background, he’s going to be front and center in any potential battles.
Locke – he would rather die than leave the Island, but I actually don’t see John Locke dying. It seems that getting to the Island was Locke’s purpose in life, and now that he’s there, he’s got meaning and found happiness. With all the terrible stuff that happened to Locke pre-Island, he seems pretty deserving of a long and happy life on the Island.
Ben – unless Jack forcibly removes him from the Island as a way to punish him for his crimes, or the Others excommunicate him for his lies, Ben’s sticking with the Island. Actually, I think forcibly taking him off the Island makes for a better story (and gives us the body in the casket from the season finale) – but no part of Ben would ever voluntarily want to leave the Island.
Rose and Bernard – going off the Island might mean that Rose dies, and that’s not a chance that either of them are willing to take. They could very easily join in the Others crazy cult and live out their lives on the Island quite happily.
I think that’s it. We’ve got some minor characters left (Krazy Karl and Alex will probably get off and learn about MTV and emo music, CFL is sticking to the Island, etc.) but that should take care of the big players. Oh, except for one last guy:
Michael. So what’s his story? The easiest explanation would be that he ran into the Freightors on his way to the shipping route per Ben’s coordinates – but there are a few issues with that. Namely, it seems as though the Freightors are specifically sent to find the Island, since they have fancy equipment, a picture of Desmond and Penny, etc. It’s more likely their mission originated with the Hatch Implosion at the end of season two, and it took until now to actually arrive at the Island.
Another option is that Michael ran into the same problem as Desmond, not being able to actually get away from the Island, feeling like it’s a giant snow globe – but that would mean Walt is with him (in the present), and that’s impossible due to Walt’s aging being out of synch with the show’s timeline.
A third option is that Michael encountered another boat (not the Freightors), and being unaware of the potential rescue from the Freightors, is on his way back with some random fishing boat / merchant vessel to try and save whoever he can. This option would work because he could theoretically “send Walt back to the mainland” with another boat, but come back for the Survivors in a smaller boat / secondary boat. It would also introduce Michael as a potential hero, if our Survivors find themselves in peril after the Freightors arrive. Suddenly Michael and random boat people could serve as the Deus Ex Machina to sweep in unexpectedly and save the day.
(If you want to really get crazy – for those following the Find815 ARG – how about if Michael runs into the Christiane I and shows up on the Island with our buddy Sam Thomas? Talk about a beautiful payoff to the ARG!)
However it happened, I’m looking for Michael to have a little bit of redemption on the Island, and then eventually make his way back home with Walt – if only to have the flashforwards showing Walt older, proving that the writers were geniuses all along and knew exactly what they were doing in casting a child for a show whose timeline moves so slowly.
Start. I think that brings me to my last thought – how Season Four is actually going to start. If you remember, Season One started with Jack opening his eyes, Season Two started with Desmond opening his eyes, and Season Three started with Juliet waking up. Each season started with a new character (Jack being new to us at the time), and each season introduced a new setting that seemed totally foreign at the time. So what will Season Four bring?
Based on the trend, we’re due to have it start with a Freightor, possibly waking up on their fancy pants boat and picking up Jack’s radio message that we heard at the end of last season. At least now we know that when Lost starts and looks unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the show before, it’s not that we’re on the wrong TV channel and we start freaking out – like I did during the Season Two opening.
One last thing – here’s the schedule for this week:
Wednesday at 9:00 pm – “Through the Looking Glass” Enhanced!
What does this mean? Well, ABC is re-airing the two hour Season Three finale with bonus features included on the screen - with information about the episode scrolling on the bottom of the screen – it’s probably a good way to help remind people about where we left the storyline and explain backstory items the less obsessed among us probably forgot years ago (I’m going to guess it’s kinda like reading the commentary for the episode). Here’s the official press release:
Get ready for the Season Four premiere of "Lost" with a special presentation of the Season Three two-hour finale, "Through the Looking Glass," enhanced with on-screen facts and back story about one of the most talked about dramas on television. Whether you already watched the amazing conclusion of "Lost" last season or this is your first time viewing it, the special enhanced "Lost" catches viewers up on the story of the Oceanic 815 survivors in a way you've never experienced before. Be there for the enhanced "Lost" Season Three finale, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT on ABC.
The enhanced version of "Lost" will include text on the lower third of the screen and will "let viewers in" on clues in the show, as well as give back story to catch new viewers up for Season Four.
Thursday at 8:00 pm – “Lost: Past, Present & Future”
Another year, another recap show – for those keeping track at home, this makes the EIGTH clip show Lost has had. That’s like a clip show once every eight episodes! Are people really that stupid, or is Lost really that hard to follow? Here’s the official ABC writeup of that as well:
ABC once again invites new and avid “Lost” viewers to take another look at one of the most talked about and critically acclaimed shows. “LOST: Past, Present & Future” will explore the series in a way that will bring new viewers up to date -- but which current viewers will also find illuminating – in anticipation of the fourth season premiere episode. The special will take an in-depth look at the mysteries of both the island and its inhabitants and recap the secrets that have been revealed, as well as those that remain unanswered. “LOST: Past, Present & Future” airs THURSDAY, JANUARY 31 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
When Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on an island in the middle of the Pacific, each survivor was given a choice to live together or die alone. Thrown together in this mysterious place, they have struggled to overcome shadows from their past in order to survive and answer the questions that plague their new lives on the island. Where are they? Is rescue on its way? What else is on this island? In “LOST: Past, Present & Future,” relive their story of survival to prepare for the shocking season four premiere that will change everything.
Thursday at 9:00 pm – “The Beginning of the End”
Apparently there is a new episode of Lost airing. I guess I’ll watch it, since “Grey’s Anatomy” isn’t on….
Don’t forget to utilize the Message Board for the more in-depth comments! Here’s the official link for this post:
I think that's it. If I missed anything, let me know. I still can't believe Lost is coming back. It's been so long that I'm almost waiting for something to happen to derail it, like the writers deciding they can't air it due to some clause in their contract or the power going out Thursday night preventing me from seeing it. But I really cannot wait. Fresh Lost is mere days away!
God, it’s good to be back.