Oh, joyful night, "Lost" has returned. Let's rewind from the above quote that ends the fabulous season preem, "The Beginning of the End," written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and helmed by Jack Bender.
The seg dives right back into the flash-foward storyline that was so tantalizing in the third season closer. Oblique references, clues, hints and undoubtedly, red herrings, are dropped all over the place. Once again, Messrs. Lindelof and Cuse give us credit for brains and having the dexterity to roll with story developments that we don't have full context for -- yet. "Lost" fans live for the euphoria of discovery, analysis and interpretation, of piecing together the threads and tidbits that the scribes so carefully lay out. None of us are bozos on this bus.
(Other "Lost" addicts are talking about the firecracker of a season premiere over at the Variety Season Pass blog. Head on over.)
After the long drought of the summer, fall and first half of winter, it was absolutely phenomenally cool to see Hurley emerging from the Dukes of Hazzard-looking Camaro after the car-chase sequence. My first guess was that Sawyer was behind the wheel, just because it looked like his kind of car, and his kind of reckless driving. Is there symbolism to the big pile of lemons (note: an eagle-eyed viewer and On the Air reader reports they were actually papayas) in the opening shot that Hurley drives through? Maybe it's like oranges in the "Godfather" movies, a sign of trouble ahead.
First big clue, of course, comes as Hurley hollers "Don't you know who I am? I'm one of the Oceanic 6" as he's being taken into custody after his romp in the Camaro. Then the cop who's interrogating him mentions that he knew Ana Lucia, that she was his partner. Forgive me, "Lost" fanatics, but did we know she was a cop? I honestly can't remember.
As we segue to the island, our heroes look great, in their own sweaty, stubbly, dirty-raggedy way. But here's a "Gilligan's Island" issue: How come the women in the group have a never-ending supply of form-fitting undershirts, and how come they never have a hint of underarm hair? Did they find a stash of Daisy razors somewhere in season one?
Our chief villain, Ben, also looks great -- so genuinely bloodied, swollen and bruised you can feel his pain. The first shot of him tied to the tree is a tribute to "Lost's" makeup team. He looks miserable -- but not beaten, if you know what I mean. Shortly there after, Rousseau makes crystal clear what had already been hinted at last season. Alex is not Ben's daughter, in the strict biological sense. No doubt the matter of who Alex's dad really is will come up at some point in the Great 48 of the next three seasons.
Hurley's exchange with Bernard about the "cannonball" is swell -- even the slo-mo shot of him running and jumping into the ocean works. The generous helpings of fan-fave Hurley in this episode seem to be at least in part an effort by Lindelof and Cuse to signal to the "Lost" faithful that they took the complaints of last season to heart...dude.
Was it my imagination or was there a fleeting musical quote from the "Magnificent Seven" theme as Hurley, Sawyer, Juliet, Sayid, Bernard et al grab their guns and head out to warn Jack, after realizing the potential threat posed by their "rescuers."
Another treat: At the mental hospital where Hurley was parked after his arrest, and who should walk into the scene but Capt. Daniels from "The Wire." Did Hurley get in trouble in B-more after winning the lottery? Actor Lance Reddick is fantastically steely and creepy, and my goodness what did they do to give his eyes that reddish-yellow tint. He looks demonic as he demands to know: "Are they still alive?" Oh what a web they're weaving....
Back to the island. Just as the cast of "Apocalypse Now" was instructed to "never get out of the boat," Hurley by now should know by now to never fall behind the group when they're trudging through the jungle with guns and torches. Hurley's encounter with the freaky cabin has a definite "Pyscho" touch with the quick shot of what appeared to be a gaunt man (Jacob?) in a rocking chair. Sheesh, even as I write this I'm looking over my shoulder with goosebumps rising. My husband thinks I'm nuts.
There are so many more twists in this opening hour. A highlight is the appearance of dead Charlie. He looks better than he did in life. He's at peace, somehow, behind those tinted shades. We'll have to wait a bit longer for our reunion with Michael, however. Harold Perrineau is listed in the credits of this seg but doesn't appear.
Jack looks handsome, if haunted, in his suit back in civilization as he visits Hurley in the mental hospital.
"Checking to see if I was gonna tell?" Hurley asks -- even after apologizing to Jack for bailing on him in favor of Locke's group back in the day.
Back on the island, the scene where Claire learns that Charlie's dead is heart-wrenching indeed. Josh Holloway has grown tremendously as an actor during the run of the series so far. He telegraphs so much just by the pained look on Sawyer's face as he watches her get the news from Hurley.
How'er we gonna wait another week? OK, that's disingenuous because ABC did service journos with the second episode too. No spoilers here on my watch, if I can help it, so let's just say that seg 2 takes the mystery to new heights, and depths. Which only makes it harder to wait patiently for episode three.