Previously on Lost, Locke was resurrected from the dead, Jack was detonating a nuclear bomb, and everyone—the Survivors, the Others, the Hostiles, the audience—wanted to find answers. Here's our ultimate primer to tonight's season premiere.
Brief (as possible) recap: In 2007, Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Ben, Sun, and Locke's dead body hopped on Ajira flight 316 after creepy-eyed Eloise Hawking (Daniel Faraday's mother) told them it was the only way to get back to The Island to (presumably) retrieve those they left behind. And it worked! Sort of. They all managed to end up in the same place, but they landed in different times. (Jack, Kate, Sayid and Hurley joined Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, and Daniel in 1977, while Sun, Ben, Captain Frank and a resurrected Locke were still in 2007.)
Sun and Ben followed Locke (who isn't the same after returning from the dead) to meet up with Richard Alpert (aka Guyliner), and on Locke's orders, they all traveled to the four-toed statue (which has been confirmed to be Taweret) to find Jacob. Ben and zombie Locke entered the statue where Ben stabbed Jacob—fn his own free will, but totally under the suggestion of zombie Locke—while Richard, Sun and the Others/Hostiles waited on the beach. That's when Ilana and Bram—who claim to be "the good guys"—showed up with Captain Frank and showed Richard something disturbing: Locke's dead body.
Meanwhile, back in 1977, mad scientist Daniel Faraday was shot and killed by his mother (Eloise) while she was pregnant with him (trippy, I know!) and Jack decided that the only way to correct all the shit that they fucked up was to detonate the nuclear bomb that the Hostiles hid under their Temple, with the theory that if they could destroy the construction of the Swan (aka The Hatch)—the source of "unique electromagnetic fluctuations" on the Island—then Desmond would never have activated the fail-safe in 2004, and Oceanic flight 815 never would have crashed on the Island.
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After finally getting Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet on-board with this plan, they traveled to the construction site of the Swan to toss the bomb in the hole that DHARMA workers were drilling. However, it didn't go off, and the magnetic energy went haywire, sucking everything metal into said hole, including Juliet, who got tangled in a bunch of chains. After she fell down the hole, Juliet—who was barely alive—landed next to the nuke, and began smashing it with a rock until it blew, causing a bright white light, and leaving viewers waiting - for nine freaking months - to find out what the hell happened.
(You can read the full recap of the finale of season 5 here.)
So, now with that out of the way, onto the questions:
1.) When are they now?
If Jack was correct, then the passengers of Oceanic 815 should be on that plane in 2004, and safely landing in LAX. The title of tonight's season premiere is "LA X," so presumably, the plan has worked. But was it really that great of a plan? Most of them were in pretty shitty situations that had, for the most part, been resolved by being on the Island:
Sun and Jin have a bad marriage and their daughter will most likely never be conceived.
Jack is becoming an alcoholic.
Kate is headed to jail, most likely, for the rest of her natural life.
Sawyer is an asshole conman.
Shannon is a selfish bitch.
Boone wants to engage in incest.
Hurley is tortured by what he deems is his curse of the Numbers.
Locke is paralyzed.
Charlie is a junkie.
Claire will give her unborn son Aaron up for adoption.
Rose is dying of cancer and Bernard's heart will be broken.
Michael and Walt don't have a great relationship.
Mr. Eko is still tortured by the guilt of getting his brother killed.
Ana Lucia is still miserable.
Libby must have some shit going on.
And as for Desmond—who wasn't on the flight—who the fuck knows what his alternate life has in store for him, but it probably doesn't involve happiness with Penny, or the birth of their son Charlie.
Theory: While the first three seasons of Lost centered on the the castaways trying to get off the Island, the fourth and fifth season centered on why they wanted to get back to it, the sixth and final season might play out sort of like It's a Wonderful Life, except in this case, It's a Shitty Life. Instead of seeing how crappy life in the "real world" would be without them, the passengers of Oceanic 815 will experience how crappy life in the "real world" is with them.
For the castaways, the purpose—of trying to get off the Island, trying to get back on the Island, trying to destroy the Island with a nuclear weapon—is always they same: they want to find their own personal paradise, and until they do, they will always be "lost."
In Dostoyevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov—which has remarkably similar themes to Lost: spirituality, free will, morality, faith, doubt, and reason—paradise is described as life itself.
Do not weep, life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we don't want to realize it, and if we did care to realize it, paradise would be established in all the world tomorrow.
Much of the mysticism of Lost is tied up in a "higher power," which culls from a number of sources like Buddhism, Egyptian gods, the 12-Step program, and Christianity. Take a look at this season 6 promo photo (click image to view full size):
Obviously based on da Vinci's The Last Supper—which is supposed to depict the exact moment when Jesus said to his apostles, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me"—Locke is the resurrected one, Jack stands in the place of Doubting Thomas, and Kate sits in what's arguably (and obviously it's totally a female!) Mary Magdalene's place.
Which brings me to Milton's Paradise Lost, the epic poem that tells the story of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, aka The Fall of Man, which is also based on the concept of "free will." The most applicable passage:
The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
Basically, when these idiots crash-landed on the Island, their problems had been solved and they were too caught up in their own paranoia to recognize what they had around them. So they ran around with guns and bombs and fucked shit up, instead of eating mangoes, getting a tan, enjoying themselves, and avoiding the Smoke Monster.
That brings us to the next question:
2.) What is the Smoke Monster?
Theory: It's totally this guy:
He takes the form of dead bodies on the Island (first Christian, and now Locke).
He's Jacob's unnamed nemesis—aka, the Man in Black—who, in last year's finale, promised to find a "loophole" to kill Jacob. And it would appear that he did. Black and white have also been a major theme of Lost, ever since the pilot when Locke explained backgammon to Walt.
Black shirt would obviously represent black, while Jacob (seen in a white shirt) would represent light. While it would appear that Black would be "evil" and White would be "good," it's a little more complex than that. I think instead, the colors—and Black Shirt and Jacob, respectively—represent negativity and positivity. In their discussion on the beach in the opening season of the last episode, Black Shirt expresses dismay at the approaching Black Rock (the slave ship) telling Jacob that they will just come to the Island and destroy it, insisting that "it always ends the same." Jacob tells Black Shirt that "it only ends once" and that "everything leading up to that is progress." Jacob is obviously a "glass is half full" guy while Black shirt is "glass is half empty." North and south poles are required for magnetic fields, of which the Island is apparently a gigantic version.
So what else? There are a bajillion unanswered questions! Here are a few more:
3.) Is Claire dead?
4.) What's with the food drops?
5.) Who ran over Sayid's wife?
6.) What's the loophole?
7.) Who built the statue?
8.) Who was Ben having Sayid kill?
9.) How did the DHARMA barracks get updated furnishings?
10.) What's the significance of Ben's painting?
11.) Why did the Others speak Latin?
12.) How did Charlie appear to Hurley?
13.) What's the significance of the Numbers?
14.) Why does Eloise Hawking have a different last name than her son Daniel Faraday?
15.) Why doesn't Daniel Faraday have a British accent?
16.) Why doesn't Daniel have a relationship with his father Charles Widmore?
17.) Who is Penny's mother?
18.) Why did Christian's body disappear but Locke's did not?
19.) Why can't women on the Island give birth?
20.) What's inside the Temple?
21.) Why doesn't Richard age?
22.) Who is Ilana?
23.) Who built the ancient time wheel?
24.) Why does Miles have a different last name from his father, Dr. Chang?
25.) Why does Widmore want to get back to the Island so badly?
26.) Why didn't Eloise want to return to the Island?
27.) Who funded DHARMA?
28.) What's the Ann Arbor station like?
29.) Why does Walt have special powers?
30.) Why does Miles hear dead people?
31.) How did Claire's mother recover from her irreversible coma?
32.) What dangerous mission was Christian on in Australia that he needed a body guard?
33.) Why was Amy (Horace's wife) so obsessed with "the children"?
34.) Was Karl conceived on the Island?
35.) If so, how and by whom?
37.) Why did Jacob need to touch certain castaways in their flashbacks?
38.) Is Bram really a good guy?
39.) What's fake Locke's plan?
40.) Geronimo Jackson!?!?!?!?!
41.) How did Eko's drug plane land on the Island?
42.) How did Eloise and Charles come to live on the Island?
It's very unlikely that all of these questions will be answered in this final season, because it's clear that even Richard Alpert is clueless about some things. Basically, what we can expect is that some of our burning questions will be resolved, but that, in the end, nobody really has all the answers…except maybe God. (And is Jacob God!?!?!?!?)