Jacob Wants Us Lost

jack_plane.jpg I don't know what is going on on Lost (I never really have), but I do know that it is still the most consistently thought-provoking show on television. And the season four premiere last night did not disappoint.

What is most compelling right now (and, to an extent, what has been the most compelling thing about the show since day one) is the way Lost plays with time. For the first three seasons each episode featured a flashback where the mysteries of the shows were broadened and the characters deepened. But now it appears that this season (and I suspect the rest of the seasons) will feature flashforwards--glimpses of the "after rescue" future of Jack, Kate, Hurley, and whoever else makes it off the island. But this raises the question: is this "future" actually the "present"? Is the island in some alternative space-time-continuum? Does what we do now really change our path for the future?

Indeed, the show has a very complicated fixation on time and fate. The whole Desmond deja-vu storyline, for example, has always been one of the most intriguing threads of the Lost web. I really hope the writers have a grasp on all of it and can tie it together semi-coherently as the final few seasons play out.

In the meantime, season four is raising the deliciously provocative question of whether or not our beloved castaways are better off lost or found? Is it really freedom to be "in control" of one's own life? Or are we better off at the mercy of "others"--both seen and unseen? From the looks of it, Lost could quickly become the 21st century version of The Matrix: a sci-fi pop treatise on fate, free will, and the nature of reality.

I'm especially intrigued by this "Jacob" character--the ghost-like, (mostly) invisible force that lives on the island and seemingly calls all the shots. Is he meant to represent some Judeo-Christian deity? Is he a loving or malevolent being? On freeze-frame Jacob looks faintly like Jack's dad, Christian Shepherd (can someone say Jesus!), which is another piece to the puzzle. In any case (Spoiler alert!), I suspect that when Hurley calls out to Jack and says something like "I think he wants us back!" he is referring to Jacob--obviously the source of Hurley's apparent mental asylum issues...

Whether or not this theory is correct (it probably isn't), we can all be happy to have a watercooler show back on TV which we can all wildly theorize about!