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Well, the Lost writers obviously outdid themselves. For the viewers who feared the premiere might be disappointing (there are just so many unanswered questions — how could the writers address them all?), their fears were probably allayed from the moment they saw Jack sitting on Oceanic Flight 815 — for the second time!

If your home was anything like mine was last night, you saw lots of Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone impressions — except instead of screaming with one hand on each cheek, viewers (or superfans) were grasping each of their cheeks and asking, slowly, “What — is — happening?”

The shot of the island, under the sea, like the lost city of Atlantis, should have been enough to make even the most cynical viewer have that reaction.

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So, what’s happening? It seems the Losties created a new, alternative reality by setting off the bomb (Jughead) in 1977. They made it so their flight wouldn’t crash on the island in 2004… because if they stopped the Swan station from being built, they stopped the electromagnetic energy-fluctuation problem, stopped Desmond from forgetting to push the button on that one fateful day and maybe even stopped Desmond from ever getting to the island in the first place, as evidenced by his randomly showing up on Oceanic 815 in 2004 and taking a seat next to Jack!

If you remember correctly, Desmond was never on that plane the first time around… he had gotten to the island by boat.

You have to hand it to Matthew Fox — how hard must it be to do what he did on last night’s premiere? Here you have an actor, trying to convey with just his eyes that he has this funny feeling of déjà vu when the plane goes through turbulence but doesn’t crash… and yet he has to make it ambiguous enough for the viewers to be left wondering, “Does he know that he was supposed to crash but didn’t? Or is he blissfully unaware?”

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And then, in case viewers were wondering what ever happened to the Losties in 1977, if the bomb did in fact go off, the crew shows up, sprawled out around the Swan station, in the shape it took after Desmond had imploded it. For a while, it seems as though they are still traveling to random points in time… but soon enough, it becomes apparent that their time traveling has stopped and they are now back in present day. Just because they might have altered the reality of their 2004 selves doesn’t mean that their current, time-traveling selves don’t have any more work to do.

Yeah, this is the kind of stuff that makes Lost so confusing. And also great.

There were casualties from Jack’s big gamble. Kate lands in a tree, back in 2007/present day, and seems to be deaf from the explosion (our first clue that the bomb did, in fact, go off). Then Sawyer wakes up angrier than we’ve ever seen him, thinking that Juliet is dead. Fortunately, she turns up, at the bottom of the imploded Swan station — the same place she was when they left 1977. There’s something very familiar about Juliet enmeshed with all that machinery… does it remind anyone else of that scene in Superman III where one of the villains gets sucked into a gigantic computer and comes out part robot? No? Okay, then I guess I’m nerdier than you are.

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Juliet turns out to be alive, to Sawyer’s relief. She then dies in Sawyer’s arms, but she waits long enough for him to finally give her a nickname: Blondie.

Anyone else think, at first, that the important thing Juliet had to tell Sawyer was that she was pregnant? Sawyer surely would have killed Jack, as he’d threatened, if that was the case.

By now, the fans know these characters well enough to be at least one step ahead in some situations… for example, who could be surprised that Jacob would appear only in front of Hurley (the one who can see and talk to dead people)?  And when Sawyer asks Miles to help him bury Juliet, how could he not have ulterior motives (Miles can’t see dead people, but he can talk to them)?

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And yet, surprises still lurk around every corner.  Jacob appears to Hurley and tells him to take Sayid to the temple.  He says Jin knows the way (from his time-traveling-with-French-people days).  Lucky for Hurley that Jin speaks English now!  Lucky for Sayid that Hurley sees dead people!

Jack and Kate blindly follow Hurley’s suggestion… I guess because they just trust him that much at that point. Otherwise, it seems pretty preposterous. But the viewers are meant to believe that Sayid is beyond help, so why not try anything to bring him back?

And so one of the great Lost mysteries is finally revealed — the Losties get to see the temple.

Who do you think the skeleton with all the books is, lying inside the temple walls? I’m betting that it’s one of the French researchers that the smoke monster dragged down there back in the ’80s. Anyone see if the book had a French title? Sorta looked like a Zagat guide.

Why do all these random skeletons show up on the island, anyway? Don’t the Others believe in burying anyone? (That is, other than the gassed Dharma Initiative, but even that grave was an open one. And they do seem to have odd funerals, as shown in the past.  When they do have funerals at all… hell, which Others get to stay alive via Jacob’s fountain of youth and which ones have to die?)

At this point in the show, the viewers are being taken on three different, simultaneous journeys — the Losties in their new, alternative reality in 2004 (which doesn’t seem much more optimistic than it was the first time we saw it), the Losties whoosh-ed back to present day in 2007 and, in case we’d forgotten, Zombie Locke (possessed by the Man in Black, who we also now know is the smoke monster) wreaking all sorts of havoc now that he’s managed to convince someone to kill Jacob.

It seems Richard is not so all-knowing after all. And as many suspected, he was in fact a slave on the Black Rock. Lost always throws those little punch lines in there, just to give it some dose of real banter. We’re led to believe that the last time the Man in Black saw Richard, he was in chains. What does that mean about the Man in Black’s freedom of movement on the island?

He tells the Others, Richard and Sun that he is disappointed in them. What does that mean?

And then there’s the mystery of that crazy temple fountain of youth… where the murky water bears a striking resemblance to Ben’s secret, whirlpool-type smoke monster-summoner that he used to keep in his basement.

The Others left in charge in 2007 say that the water is normally clear. What does that mean? Are the viewers meant to believe that this magic, healing water (that apparently has the power to bring people back to life) might not work anymore if Jacob is dead?

Who actually thought that Sayid was dead forever? There’s no way the producers would force viewers to lose both Juliet and Sayid in the premiere episode!

But is Sayid truly reborn?  Is he still 100 percent Sayid?  Is he Jacob?  Anyone catch that Christian symbolism when Sayid’s “baptized” of his sins and then carried out of the water with his arms stretched out as though he’s on a cross?  Just before that scene, he tells Hurley how he’s scared of where he might go when he dies…

Besides all this crazy, time-traveling, fantasy-laden action, the show still did what it does best and presented moving character relationships.  In its’ alternative 2004 thread, the characters are just as miserable as they always were, and yet they have very similar interactions with each other as they had when they met on the island.  Boone tells Locke that he’d stick with him if the plane crashed, which we all know to be true… but I don’t remember Boone looking like a dark-haired vampire the first time around.

And Sawyer’s the cynical con man. And Charlie’s in the bathroom, trying to hide a bag of heroin (or perhaps kill himself). And Jack saves the day, as usual, despite what everyone else might want. And Kate escapes… again. No surprise there. And Jack and Locke have a typical man of science/man of faith exchange.

The only differences are the things involving the Swan station. For example, Hurley openly tells Arzt (I could have stood without seeing that guy again) that he’s a lottery winner. He never used to tell people that. And, he tells Sawyer that he’s the “luckiest guy in the world. Nothing bad ever happens to me.”

Of course nothing bad ever happens to him. If the Swan station never existed, then Hurley never used the unlucky numbers to win the lottery. And if he never used those numbers, he never got to the island… so it stands to reason that he wouldn’t find himself to be so unlucky after all.

It will be interesting to see how Hurley’s alternative 2004 story plays out. And Jin and Sun’s. And Jack’s — for example, where is his father’s coffin? And corpse?

And poor Ben. The most beaten up (both physically and emotionally) character of the entire show. The pseudo-evangelical preacher of Lost. The one who acts like the biggest believer but is really the biggest doubter of all. How will his fate be determined?

This premiere undoubtedly inspired a whole new series of questions, despite answering many of them.  For example, what is Eloise Hawking’s involvement in everything?  Do she and Charles Widmore know how to find the island because they’ve read Daniel Faraday’s journal? Does Widmore know the full implications when he tells John Locke about a “war coming?” Will Eloise and Charles still exist in the alternative 2004 reality, even though the Losties managed to blow up the Swan station?

What is Jacob?  What is the Man in Black? What are they able to do? What is the island?  Why is it under the ocean in the alternative 2004? Why does Desmond disappear just before the plane lands?  Could he have something to do with the missing corpse of Christian Shephard?  Is he done with the island even though the island’s not done with him, brotha?

Only one thing is for sure:  Terry O’Quinn is a friggin’ amazing actor.  The dude was playing a possessed version of his character, talking about how his character normally behaves, what he was thinking as he was being killed… and did so convincingly enough to make viewers believe that there was no way the real John Locke still resided in that body.  How does he do it?  Was that evil expression on his face when he says, “I want to go home,” all O’Quinn?  Or was some CGI involved?

All thoughts, comments, questions, answers and nerdy fawning welcome below!

By Laura Carney

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