“It worked.” “Nothing’s irreversible.” “Am I alive?”

In the premiere episode of Season 6, the gloves came off, the avalanche of answers began, and things were just as head-scratchingly maddening as ever. In other words, Lost is back, baby! For one last hurrah.

It was not easy stuff to wrap one’s head around, so do yourself a favor and allow yours truly to guide you smoothly through the wildly imaginative waters of Lost‘s final season. I even saw enough to formulate my first theory on what’s really going on and how it’s all going to end.

Let’s get into it!

Immediately after the hydrogen bomb went off, the show presented us with what appears to be the formation of a new version of reality, where history has been changed and Oceanic 815 never crashed on the island.

Instead, we see Jack sitting in his same seat on the plane as before, flying over the Pacific. There’s a tickle in his mind for just a moment, almost as if he senses the old reality, but he shrugs it off. From there, the scene plays out much as it did before, with flight attendant Cindy offering Jack a tiny bottle of alcohol, and Jack meeting Rose across the aisle. But there are some subtle differences: it’s Rose who comforts an anxious Jack, telling him that turbulence is normal. The turbulence intensifies, and it looks for a moment like the crash is going to happen again… and then suddenly it stops. “Looks like we made it,” Jack notes with relief.

Captain Norris comes over the intercom and announces that everything’s okay, and Bernard returns to his seat beside Rose, humorously complaining that he “almost died in that bathroom.” Jack goes to the bathroom that Bernard just left and looks himself over in the mirror. Something strikes him odd in what he sees, and then he notices that he has a small cut on his neck.

Jack returns to his seat to find an empty seat next to him in use — by Desmond! Desmond says that the stewardess told him the seat was empty, so he moved to get away from a snorer. When Desmond tosses out the phrase “brother,” Jack is caught off guard, and stares curiously at Desmond. “Do I know you from somewhere?” Jack asks. Desmond isn’t sure, so the two men introduce themselves.

From there, the camera pans across Jack and out his window, into a single, continuous shot that plunges through the clouds below and down into the waters of the Pacific Ocean. There, an incredible sight unfolds: the island, largely intact, is resting at the bottom of the sea!

Later, Jack goes to the restroom again, and this time runs into U.S. Marshall Mars, who’s waiting just outside for Kate to come out. When she does, she bumps into Jack, and the two meet for the first time all over again. Sparks briefly fly in the look they exchange, but Mars quickly escorts Kate back to her seat. At their seats, an in-flight meal is delivered to Kate, but Mars won’t let Kate use the utensils. Sawyer bumps into Mars as he passes by their seats, and he and Kate make momentary eye contact — another first meeting.

Sawyer continues on to his own seat, passing by Dr. Leslie Arzt, who’s bugging Hurley, begging him to do an Australian accent from one of his popular “Mr. Clucks” restaurant commercials. Arzt is highly amused when Hurley complies, and asks how Hurley came to own Mr. Clucks. Hurley explains that he won the lottery and bought the company. Arzt is less amused at this, and leaves Hurley alone. Across the aisle, Sawyer offers some friendly advice, warning Hurley not to tell people that he won the lottery, because people will take advantage of him. But Hurley argues that that would never happen because nothing bad ever happens to him — “I’m the luckiest guy alive.”

From their seats, Sun watches Rose and Bernard, enjoying how much in love the two of them are. Jin observes her childlike fascination with amusement, but then tells her to button the top button of her blouse.

Locke reads from his in-flight safety brochure, but nearby, Boone tells him that he’s wasting his time, because there’s no way they’d survive a plane crash into the Pacific. Locke corrects him with a friendly education about the mechanics of safe water landings, and Boone’s impressed. He tells Locke that he went to Australia to rescue his sister from a bad relationship, but it turned out she didn’t need rescuing. Locke tells Boone that he went to Australia for a walkabout, spending ten days in the Outback, hunting his own food, building his own fires, and sleeping under the stars. Boone’s impressed again, but checks to make sure Locke’s not pulling his leg. Locke says he’s not (though he probably is), and Boone pledges to stick with Locke if the plane should go down.

Cindy asks over the intercom if there’s a doctor on board, and Jack comes forward. She explains that a man entered the bathroom half an hour ago and now they can’t get him to answer the door. Sayid also comes forward to ask if he can help, and he promptly kicks in the bathroom door. Inside, they find Charlie, who’s not breathing. Jack determines that something’s blocking his air passage, and pulls out a tiny bag of heroin. Charlie regains consciousness, and the airline takes him into custody. Before they take him back to his seat, he tells Jack that he shouldn’t have saved him. “I was supposed to die,” he says, which rattles Jack.

Jack goes back to his seat to find that Desmond has mysteriously vanished. Captain Norris comes over the intercom and announces that they’re about to land in LA. Once they’re on the ground, Charlie’s escorted off the plane by the authorities, while Sayid looks at Nadia’s photo, hopeful that he’s about to be reunited with her (since he presumably just helped the CIA take down the terrorist cell in Australia, and they gave him her location). Everyone disembarks, all but Locke, who must wait for the airline to help him into a wheelchair so he can get off the plane.

In the airport, Jack is paged by an airline spokesman who informs him that the coffin bearing his father never seems to have made it onto the plane, and they’re having trouble locating it now. Jack is irate, because the funeral is two hours away, but the man can only apologize to him.

Kate asks Marshall Mars to let her go to the bathroom, and inside, she overpowers him, knocks him out, and escapes with his gun. She runs for it and hops on an elevator that Sawyer is already on. He notices her handcuffs, though she’s trying to hide them beneath a coat. Two airport security personnel get on the elevator at the next stop, but Sawyer helps her escape their notice.

Jin is stopped by security, when they notice his expensive watch. They also find a large stash of money, which he failed to declare. Sun watches nearby, seeming to understand the security men’s English, though she says nothing. Jin is taken aside by security, but after he’s gone, an intuitive security woman steps forward and asks if Sun speaks English, and can vouch for her husband. But Sun merely replies, “No English.”

Kate makes her way to baggage claim but finds the exit blocked by security, who’s onto her now. She follows a flight attendant through a secure passage, and makes it out onto the street, but she’s forced to jump in a cab that’s already occupied — by Claire. She holds the driver at gunpoint and forces him to drive away, though not before Mars spots her and tries to chase her down. But she escapes before Mars can reach the cab.

In an airport room where missing luggage is kept, Jack meets Locke for the first time. Locke’s luggage bag full of knives has been misplaced by Oceanic, and he’s surprised to learn that they lost Jack’s father, too. But he wisely points out that Oceanic didn’t lose Jack’s father, only his body. Surprisingly, man-of-science Jack seems to like this idea, and quickly warms up to Locke. Jack asks how Locke ended up in the wheelchair, pointing out that he’s a spinal surgeon. Locke explains that surgery isn’t going to help him, because his condition is irreversible. “Nothing’s irreversible,” says Jack. He gives Locke his business card, and offers him a consultation on the house. They introduce themselves, and seem to have struck up what could become an unlikely friendship.

Juliet bashes the hydrogen bomb, and it goes off. But it doesn’t work! Instead, the blast has somehow sent the castaways through time one last time, back to the present-day island.

Kate awakens high up in a tree, climbs down, and runs into Miles. Together they find the back door entrance to the Swan station, and Kate realizes that they’re back in 2007. She runs off and quickly finds the Swan’s remains, from after Desmond imploded it. Laying on the ground nearby are Jack and Sawyer, and she wakes Jack up. He asks what happened and where they are, but Sawyer has woken up too and he furiously kicks Jack in the head, causing him to fall down into the imploded hatch pit. “You were wrong!” Sawyer screams, and launches into a tirade against Jack for failing to keep the plane from crashing, and causing Juliet’s death. Jack is despondent, not understanding why the plan didn’t work.

At the Dharma van, where Sayid lays dying, Jin tells Hurley that they must’ve moved through time. He recognizes the symptoms. They hear Sawyer shouting in the distance, and Jin runs off to find Sawyer still raging at Jack. He’s about to drag Jack back to help Sayid, when Kate hears someone calling out for help. It’s Juliet! Down at the bottom of the Swan shaft, and she’s still alive! Sawyer and the others hear it too, and immediately begin working together to dig her out.

At the van, Sayid is bleeding heavily and dying, and he tells Hurley his belief that he’ll be going to Hell when he dies, to pay for his many sins. Hurley hears footsteps in the jungle sneaking up on them, and finds a pistol in the van. But he’s not confronted by an enemy — it’s Jacob!

Inside the foot of the statue, the Man in Black (still posing as Locke) cleans the knife Ben used to kill Jacob. Ben stands nearby, in shock over what he’s just done. Jacob’s body has vanished from the fire, and the Man in Black merely says that “Jacob’s gone.” He asks why Jacob didn’t fight back, but the Man in Black asks him to go outside and bring Richard inside so he can talk to him.

Outside the statue, Richard is talking animatedly with Ilana and Bram over the revelation of Locke’s body. Ilana and Bram want to go inside the statue to help Jacob, but Richard argues that no one is allowed in there unless Jacob invites them. Ilana points out that that’s exactly why they’re here: because Jacob invited them. Ben appears and asks Richard to go inside to speak to Locke, but everyone wants to know what happened inside, and if Jacob’s alright. Ben lies and says that Jacob’s fine, but Richard grabs him and drags him to the emptied steel crate, where Locke’s body still lays on the sand. Only then does Ben realize that the man inside the statue is not Locke at all.

The survivors work frantically at the Swan site to dig a hole in the wreckage so that they can reach Juliet. One last huge beam stands in their way, but it’s too heavy, so Sawyer sends Jin back to the van so they can use it.

At the van, Jacob tells Hurley that nobody but Hurley can see him, because he died an hour ago. “I was killed by an old friend who grew tired of my company,” Jacob says. He asks Hurley to save Sayid by taking him to the Temple, which is also a place where all of them will be safe. Hurley’s never heard of the Temple, but Jacob says that Jin knows all about it and can take all of them there. He tells Hurley to bring the guitar case with him, because he’ll need it. Just before Jin returns, Jacob finally reveals his name to a stunned Hurley. Jin and Hurley load Sayid into the van, and as they drive to the Swan site, Hurley confirms with Jin that Jin’s able to find the Temple again.

Jin and Hurley arrive and Jin throws a chain down to Jack, but while they’re waiting alone, Sawyer vows to Kate that if Juliet dies, he’ll kill Jack. They hook up the chain and Jin drives the van until it pries the big metal beam away, and Sawyer immediately jumps down into the hole. At the bottom, he finds Juliet, who’s badly hurt but still alive. She doesn’t understand why the bomb didn’t reset history, telling him that she hit the bomb. He asks why she would do that, and she says that she did it for him, because she wanted him to be able to go home. He vows to get her free, and get her home.

Inside the van, Jack declares Sayid a lost cause, because there’s no way to stop the bleeding. So Hurley steps up and takes charge, explaining that they can save Sayid if they get him to the Temple. Jack, Miles, and Jin don’t understand how Hurley knows so much, but Hurley cuts through their skepticism by asking Jack if he can fix Sayid. Jack says no, so Hurley says, “Then you’re going to have to let me do it.”

Outside the statue, Richard tries to get Ben to tell him what happened inside, but Ben won’t tell him. Fed up with waiting, Bram grabs Ben and drags him inside along with several of his men, though Ilana chooses to wait outside. Inside, Bram and his three friends are confronted by the Man in Black, who presumes them to be “Jacob’s bodyguards.” He tells them that they’re free now because Jacob is dead. Bram and his buddies fire their weapons, but the Man in Black ducks behind a pillar and disappears. Bram notices that his bullet bounced off of the Man in Black, as if he were impenetrable. The smoke monster shows up and violently attacks them. Bram’s friends are killed, but Bram pours ash around himself in a circle, and the monster can’t touch him. So instead the monster bashes against the ceiling of the chamber, causing Bram to have to jump out of the way of falling debris, and gets to him that way. When the monster’s gone, Ben emerges from where he’s been hiding to find the Man in Black (still appearing as Locke) standing in the monster’s place. “I’m sorry you had to see me like that,” he says.

Down in the Swan shaft, Sawyer works hard to free Juliet from the rubble, but she starts talking nonsense about “getting coffee sometime.” Sawyer brings her around and she asks him to kiss her, and he does so. “I have to tell you something, and it’s really, really important,” she says. But before she can get the words out, she dies in his arms. A short while later, the survivors watch in sadness as Sawyer emerges from the hole carrying his dead love in his arms. “You did this,” he says to Jack, with murder in his eyes.

Sayid is loaded onto a makeshift stretcher, and Miles notes Hurley’s guitar case, wondering what’s inside, though Hurley won’t say. Sawyer tells Kate he’s staying behind to bury Juliet, and asks Miles to help him. Kate offers to leave a trail that he can follow, but Sawyer tells her he’s not interested in following anyone.

Jin leads them to the outer wall surrounding the Temple, and Hurley follows Jacob’s instructions, pointing out the hole beneath it that leads to the Tunnels below. They cart Sayid down inside, and in there, Kate comes across a skeleton that’s missing an arm, which can only belong to Danielle Rousseau’s friend Montand. The survivors get separated from one another, and Jack hears Whispers before a stranger appears and knocks him out.

When Jack wakes up, he’s deposited outside with his friends in a group of Others. They’re led straight to the Temple, which is revealed to look an awful lot like an Aztec pyramid or ziggurat.

After they finish burying Juliet, Sawyer asks Miles to do his thing and find out what important thing she wanted to tell him right before she died. Miles is reluctant, but finally agrees, and when he reads Juliet’s body, the message Juliet meant to convey is revealed: “It worked.” But Sawyer doesn’t understand, and walks away alone.

At the Temple, the survivors are met by an Oriental man, who is in charge here, and a man named Lennon, who translates for him. Cindy steps out from the crowd and identifies them as survivors of Oceanic 815, and the Oriental man orders them killed. But Hurley tells them that Jacob sent them there, and produces his guitar case to prove it. Inside the case is a large Ankh symbol, carved out of wood, but to Hurley’s dismay, the Oriental man breaks the symbol apart and finds a handwritten note inside (presumably written by Jacob). The note contains a list of names which matches up with the survivors’ names, and instructions to save Sayid’s life. Hurley asks them exactly what the paper said, and Lennon tells him it said that if Sayid dies, all of them are “in a lot of trouble.”

Inside the Temple, there’s a large open area where children — including Zach and Emma from the tail section of Oceanic 815 — are playing. Beyond the open area is another closed-in section, inside which is the Spring, a large pool of flowing water. Lennon points out that the water is usually clear, but now it’s a murky brown color. The Oriental man cuts his hand and dips it in the water as a test of its healing properties, but is dismayed to see that it’s not working properly. The Oriental man tells him that if they help Sayid, there are risks. Jack agrees that they should do it anyway, and Sayid is lowered into the water by several Others. The Oriental man retrieves a large hourglass nearby and turns it over once Sayid has been dunked under the water. There they hold him, even when he starts thrashing around, until the sand in the hourglass is empty. The survivors protest that Sayid is drowning, but the Others are unmoved, and keep him under the water until the hourglass runs out. When it’s done, they carry him out of the water, where the Oriental man examines him. He declares Sayid dead. The survivors are stunned at what’s just happened, and Jack steps forward to attempt CPR. He goes at it for several minutes until Kate makes him stop. It’s too late: Sayid is really dead.

Cindy brings the survivors in the Temple something to eat, alongside Zach and Emma, right before Sawyer and Miles are brought in to join their friends. Sawyer’s unconscious, and Miles explains that he took out four of the Others in the jungle before they were captured. Lennon appears and asks Hurley to come with him to see the Oriental man.

In a botanical room within the Temple where plants are being cultivated, the Oriental man asks Hurley what Jacob told him. Hurley realizes that the Oriental man understands English but refuses to speak it, and the man explains that he doesn’t like “the taste of English” on his tongue. When Hurley informs them that Jacob’s dead, they sound an alarm and send the entire population of Others into a frenzy. Ash is poured around the edges of the Temple, everyone is sent inside for safety, and a giant flare is set off, soaring high into the sky. Hurley takes all of this in curiously, asking Lennon why they’re going to so much trouble to keep the survivors here. Lennon explains that all this isn’t to keep the survivors in — it’s to keep “him” out, referring to the Man in Black.

Inside the statue, Ben asks the Man what he is, finally understanding that he’s the smoke monster. Ben accuses the Man of using him to kill Jacob, since he couldn’t kill Jacob himself. The Man in Black replies that he didn’t force Ben to do anything, he made his own choice. The Man tells Ben that Locke was very confused when Ben killed him. Locke’s last thoughts were “I don’t understand,” which the Man calls “the saddest thing you’ve ever heard.” The Man tells Ben that when Locke first came to the island, he was weak, pathetic, and “irreparably broken.” Ben takes all of this in warily, and asks the Man in Black what he wants. The Man says that he wants the one thing that Locke never did: he wants to go home.

At the Temple, Hurley says his goodbyes to Sayid, and reminds him that if he ever wants to talk, he can always talk to Hurley. Miles, nearby, observes this as if he’s trying to read Sayid’s last thoughts, but doesn’t seem to pick up on anything. On the other side of the chamber, Kate cleans Sawyer’s wounds and he wakes up. She offers her condolences again for Juliet, but then defends Jack as trying to help all of them. Sawyer tells her he’s decided not to kill Jack, because he’d rather see Jack “suffer on this rock just like the rest of us.”

Outside the statue, Richard sees the flare from the Temple and reacts in horror. The Man in Black exits the statue and Ilana and the Others draw their weapons on him. Richard warns them frantically not to shoot him, and the Man strides right up to Richard and greets him, saying “It’s good to see you without those chains.” Richard can’t believe his eyes, and recognizes this version of John Locke for who he really is. The Man in Black brutally knocks Richard out and then tells all of the Others that he’s “very disappointed in all of you.” He picks up Richard and carts him off into the jungle alone.

At the Temple, Lennon comes to get Jack with a pair of goons and asks to speak to him privately. Jack doesn’t want to talk to him privately, he wants to talk right here in front of his friends. Lennon insists that they’re going to have a conversation and it’s not going to be there, so Jack can come willingly… or unwillingly. Jack nearly gets into a fight with Lennon’s two goons, until Hurley yells Jack’s name, because Sayid has woken up. He’s not dead! Sitting up, Sayid looks at his friends and asks, “What happened?”

  • The monster is another form of the Man in Black, Jacob’s nemesis.
    What is the smoke monster? [1.01]
  • Considering the show’s repeated use of the phrase “they built it,” referring to the Swan station, it looks like the Incident was a combination of breeching the pocket of electromagnetic energy, and the detonation of the hydrogen bomb. Somehow, they must’ve combined, leading the Dharma Initiative to seal off the site with concrete and create the button to siphon off the endlessly-building energy every 108 minutes. (This leads one to wonder once again just what happened when Desmond turned the failsafe, though.) This can only mean that the bomb is related to the heavy shielding that was around the electromagnetic energy.
    Is there anything to Sayid’s suspicions that the heavy concrete shielding around the Swan’s electromagnetic source could have connections to something powerful enough to emit dangerous levels of radiation, like a nuclear bomb? [2.04]
  • It’s conclusive: Hurley really is seeing and talking to dead people.
    Is Hurley really seeing visions of dead people, or is it all in his head? [4.10]
  • Based on what we saw in the Tunnels beneath the outer Temple wall, we can infer that Montand, Robert, and the rest of Danielle’s French science team that went down there, never came back out. The smoke monster killed them all, and then took their places to try and kill Danielle, who never went down into the Tunnels with her friends. They were never “sick” after this experience, as she believed them to be — they literally weren’t themselves.
    What exactly happened to Montand and the other Frenchmen beneath the Temple? Did the monster do something to them, as Danielle believed? [5.05]
  • Presumably, Richard and the Others did exactly the same thing to young Ben that was done to Sayid in this episode: dunked him in the Spring, though it would appear that the experience was probably different for Ben, since the water was clear until very recently.
    What exactly did Richard Alpert do to young Ben inside the Temple? Why did it cause Ben’s memory to be erased and his innocence to be lost? [5.11]
  • Inside the guitar case was a massive Ankh symbol made out of wood. Inside the symbol was a note written by Jacob, containing a list of the Oceanic survivors’ names, and instructing the Others at the Temple to ensure that they lived.
    Why was Hurley carrying a guitar case? Is there really a guitar inside? [5.06]
  • The smoke monster and the Man in Black are indeed one and the same.
    Since we’ve seen other dead people (like Locke) on the island before, such as Alex Rousseau and Yemi, who very likely were the smoke monster taken human form, does this mean that the Man in Black is the smoke monster? Could they be one and the same? [5.17]

  • Why are there two realities?
  • Alternate Reality: Why did Jack have a cut on his neck? Was this significant, or did he just cut it shaving that morning?
  • Alternate Reality: What was Desmond doing on Oceanic 815?
  • Alternate Reality: Why is the island on the bottom of the ocean? Did the hydrogen bomb destroy the entire island, or sink it?
  • Alternate Reality: Where did Desmond disappear to? Did he return to his original seat?
  • Who is the Oriental man at the Temple? Why is he in a position of leadership there?
  • Why was it so important that Sayid not die?
  • What is the Spring, and how does it have healing properties?
  • If the Spring is usually clear, what happened to change it to a muddy color?
  • Why does the Man in Black want to go home? Where exactly is his home? Is it off the island?
  • Why did Richard not want the Others to shoot at the Man in Black? Did he know it would be futile, that the bullets would bounce off?
  • How does Richard know the Man in Black? When have they met before?
  • What did the Man in Black mean when he said it was nice to see Richard “without those chains”?
  • What did the Man in Black mean when he said that he was very disappointed in the Others?
  • What was the conversation Lennon wanted to have with Jack in private?
  • What happened to Sayid? Did he really die? How was he healed? Or is he, like Locke, no longer himself? Is someone else inhabiting his body?

I could write up an entire section about all the winks-and-nods that are built into this landmark, 2-hour episode. So many little echoes of things gone before, and shout-outs to the fans. Jin telling Sun to button up her blouse. Boone asking if Locke was “pulling his leg,” when it was a severe leg injury (that occurred in Locke’s presence) that caused his death. Boone pledging to stick with Locke if the plane goes down, when that’s exactly what happened on the island. Jack asking for a pen while trying to save Charlie’s life, when he needed a pen when he first crashed on the island to save a crash victim’s life. Charlie asking “Am I alive?”, which was the phrase written on his hand that he showed to fans when he made his surprise appearance at Comic-Con. I could go on and on… And to top it all off, we also got the return of the Dharma Shark!

Just for the heck of it, let’s count up all of the supporting players and former cast members that returned in this episode: Cindy the flight attendant, Rose, Bernard, Captain Norris (heard but not seen), Boone, Frogurt, Marshall Mars, Juliet, Jacob, Dr. Arzt, Charlie, and Zach & Emma. Did I miss anyone?

Okay, that opening scene where the camera swooped out of the plane and down to the underwater island was one of the coolest things this show has ever done, and a humongous signpost letting us know that this really is the final chapter, because the show is doing things it’s never done before. Lost isn’t exactly known for big, long, special-effects filled sequences like that, and to see them just go for it like that was just thrilling. It was like the opening of a big summer blockbuster movie.

Did anyone else notice that the flash sound — that big whoosh sound that’s always heard when they transition to a flashback or flash forward — sounded different? It was layered, and had other sounds mixed in, reminding me of what we heard in Season 5 every time there was a time jump. Significant?

Now that we know that the Swan station was indeed built, this can only mean that the hydrogen bomb blast was part of the Incident. It was the bomb added to the electromagnetic energy pocket, which had been breached in the drilling. The blast must’ve fed the pocket somehow, making it severely unstable and causing the rise in energy that had to be siphoned off every 108 minutes. This is why the magnet was surrounded by heavy concrete shielding at the Swan station, and I also wonder if the radiation emitted by the bomb is related to why pregnant women die on the island.

Clearly, Jacob has the power to see the future. He knew enough to plan out how the castaways would need his handwritten note to gain access to the Temple, and he placed that note into an Ankh symbol that he gave to Hurley inside a guitar case, quite a long time before he died. This can only mean one thing: he knew that his death was coming, and he allowed it to happen. Ben even echoed this when he wondered why Jacob didn’t fight back. The question still remains though, why did he allowed it to happen? Did he believe it couldn’t be avoided — the whole destiny vs. choice thing? Or does he have some kind of master plan at work, that’s still playing itself out? Hmmm.

Just in case you’re wondering how that 1970s Dharma van ended up traveling with the castaways to the future… The Season 5 premiere, “Because You Left,” established that anything the survivors are touching when they jump through time is taken along for the ride. Hurley was leaning up against the van as he knelt over Sayid, and Jin was inside the van, so that’s why it came along for the ride.

I loved seeing Hurley take charge. That was just plain awesome, after all of his struggles with guilt, with feeling that he was crazy, with wondering why he could talk to dead people. All of his doubts vanished in that moment, and it was a nifty payoff.

So the ash we saw around Jacob’s cabin acts as a deterrent to the smoke monster. Pretty much what I expected it to be, and reinforces my theory that Jacob was never using that cabin at all — instead, it was a prison for the Man in Black.

As happy as I was to see Juliet again so soon… Come on, how cruel was it that we had to watch her die again?!

For the curious, the book that Hurley picked up in the Tunnels was a French translation version of Soren Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety.

Based on what we saw in this episode, the Whispers appear to be caused by the Others. I’m tempted to call that question answered, but I’ll hold off for a while to see if a more definitive explanation is given.

The Temple has been revealed at long last! I can’t wait to find out more about it. Why does it have an Aztec-style design? Who was the oriental man in charge there? What’s up with the Spring? So many questions!

The Spring, we can assume, is how young Ben’s life was saved in 1977. But we can also assume the water was clear back then. So whatever’s muddied those waters now means that Sayid’s healing is something very different. It probably means that Sayid won’t end up the same as Ben — “always being one of us,” and all that. Hopefully, there’s more to it than that.

I’m also struck by the fact that again and again the show has gone out of its way to point out that “dead is dead.” Nobody comes back from death. Yet here we saw Sayid do exactly that. Was he really dead? It sure looked that way. Maybe the healing waters of the Spring just needed extra time to work, since they were all muddy. Or maybe… death is no longer permanent? Hm.

Another thing that jumped out at me is that the episode demonstrated plainly to us that the Man in Black has all of John Locke’s memories, at least when he’s inhabiting Locke’s form. Does this mean that some part of Locke still lives on, inside him? Is there, somehow, still hope for Locke?

My gut tells me that the exchange between Jack and Locke at LAX is going to have major ramifications yet to come. And I don’t mean an attempt by Jack to operate on Locke and repair his spine — though that could certainly happen. Jack’s willingness to believe in Locke’s more faith-based ideas, and his own declaration that “nothing’s irreversible” both point to a difference in this Jack Shephard than the one we knew in Season 1. By the same token, Locke seemed different too. He wasn’t the angry, pathetic man that he was before the crash (as the Man in Black reminded us). He was much more grounded, happy, and he had a lot of inherent wisdom. Methinks something’s afoot here, which leads me to…

As much fun as the alternate timeline scenes were, at first they still felt like nothing more than a diversion to me. Unlike the flashbacks and flash forwards, which were connected to the island story, these felt like little more than a “what if?” scenario, pondering what life might have been like for the castaways if they’d never crashed on the island. It was fun, but it didn’t feel like it was adding anything to the story, and I mostly wanted to just be done with those scenes so we could hurry up and get back to all the really juicy stuff happening on the island.

My big theory since Comic-Con has been that Lost was going to do exactly what it did tonight: shift between two versions of reality. The thing I couldn’t figure out then is how the show is going to resolve this. Lost isn’t given to devoting extensive periods of time to extended dream sequences, so there has to be a reason for it, a way to explain how both realities can exist. I think it’s safe to assume that these competing realities are going to continue to unfold for the rest of this season, but the question inevitably becomes… Why? What’s the point?

Here’s what I think. There are several clues that are just starting to hint at this, and following them to their logical conclusion, this is where I arrive. Juliet insisted that “it worked,” and yet from Sawyer and everyone else’s perspectives, it didn’t. This discrepancy strikes me as the important clue. Likewise, her serene, happy exchange with Sawyer about going for coffee, I believe was Juliet seeing into the alternate reality with her dying breaths, realizing that the bomb really did work. (I believe that her words are going to come back into play later in the season, when Sawyer runs into Juliet in the alternate reality and asks her to coffee.)

This leads me to wonder… What if the plan to change history worked — it just didn’t work yet? What if our survivors are still on the island playing out some final pieces of the puzzle, before the change to history is finalized once and for all, and that’s what we’re getting glimpses of — flash-forwards to a time after the castaways have finally succeeded in resetting history? If that’s the case, then maybe the island was sunken to the bottom of the sea, and not destroyed entirely in the alternate reality, because of something that the castaways have yet to do. It would also mean that Jack was right — it really was their destiny all along to change the past. Just because the bomb was a failed attempt to make it happen, doesn’t mean that another method they might try won’t work later on.

So here’s how I think Lost going to end. By the end of the season, they’re going to find a way to change history again, only this time it will work (submerging the island below the sea instead of destroying it), and they’ll take some of their memories from the island into the new reality with them, just as we saw Jack repeatedly having a dawning awareness that some of this stuff had happened before. I think that awareness will grow as the season progresses, and all of the castaways will eventually feel it and realize that their destinies are intertwined. Everyone who died on the island will live, Jack will finally get the girl (Kate), Sawyer will get a second chance with Juliet, and so on. And when things between the alternate reality and the original reality finally sync up in the end, we’ll realize that the alt reality has been showing us epilogue scenes from after the main story ended, all along.

What do you think?

Whether I’m right or wrong, this is the question that we will be scratching the insides of our skulls out over all season long: Why are there two realities?