Lost came back in Season 5 firing on all cylinders tonight - emotional to metaphysical - with every character getting a dynamic, wrenching, heart-tugging workout.
Let's start with the metaphysics. Here's what we probably now know about it: Ben moved the island back in time, and, according to Faraday's account, it's now somewhat unhinged, skipping back and forth at irregular intervals. To be more clear: in this universe, travel to the past and future, back and forth, in any order, is possible, but none of the trips can change anything that happened. Lost thus avoids the grandfather paradox and all the other exquisite twists that happen in time travel stories, ranging from Twelve Monkeys to Asimov's The End of Eternity to Deja Vu with Denzel Washington.
Except ... Desmond is something, someone special in the universe, because he can indeed do things to change the past and therefore the future. He's also Faraday's anchor, which makes sense, given that Desmond is about the only one - other than maybe us, and Ben, and Richard, and probably a few more people associated with the island in one way or another - who understand at least some of this. Come to think of it, Ms. Hawking, who makes an appearance with Ben at the end of the two-hour episode tonight, probably understands a lot of this, too (and good to see Brotherhood's Fionnula Flanagan back again).
Meanwhile, back on the island, some time in the past, Faraday gives Desmond an important message, which Desmond in the future (our present) suddenly remembers. This pulls him out of his sweet bed with Penny, and off on a mission to see Faraday's mother in Oxford. (It occurs to me that maybe Faraday's mother is Ms. Hawking? Or, hey, maybe she's related to Stephen Hawking.)
Lots of good stuff with Hurley in L.A., too. Except for the fact that he gets helpful visits from the departed - tonight, it's Ana Lucia - Hurley's not really crazy. He does believe Sayid, though, who tells him to do the opposite of anything Ben tells him, and Hurley follows this advice, which gets in the way of Ben's plan to bring everyone back to the island, which may be a good thing (that is, bringing everyone back to the island).
And, as has been the case every season with Ben, I'm starting to forget all the terrible things he's done, and wondering if he may be trying to help in some way, after all. (Splash some cold water in my face: I've got to snap out of that. I'm pretty sure Ben is irredeemably bad.)
While we're on the subject of trusting, I'm not too sure about Sun any more, either. I have a feeling the death of Jin turned her soul into cold stone, and I don't believe anything she says to anyone, including Kate. All she wants is to kill anyone she thinks was at all responsible for Jin's death - mostly Ben, but who knows exactly who else. On the other hand, I suppose she could at some point have a pang of goodness.
Coincidences: I've written a lot about their role and meaning in Lost. Tonight we have one - Kate pulls up in a car as Hurley with Sayid are pulling away. But there's nothing inexplicable about that - they're all in L.A. at the same time, after all.
We'll just have to see. It's clear that each and every character we've come to know, even in the slightest, will be on stage - in the present off the island, and on the island, three years ago and who knows when else - as Season 5 starts to slowly, smartly, logically, magically, dance some true answers to our swirling questions.
10-min podcast review of Lost 5 Hrs 1-2
Reviews and commentary on Season 4 ...
2. More Thoughts On Lost 4.1: Those Who Went with Hurley and Those Who Stayed with Jack ...
3. Two More Thoughts about Lost 4.1: Ensemble Flashforwards and Is Noami Really Dead?
and ... Lost 4.1: Back, Full Paradoxical Blast ... Lost 4.2: Five Flashbacks and Three Rational Explanations ... Lost 4.3: Thirty Minutes and Big Ben ... 4.4 Kate and ... ... 4.5 Desmond 1 and Desmond 2 ... 4.6 The True Nature of Ben ... 4.7 Flash Both Ways ... 4.8 Michael and Alex ... 4.9 Daughters, Rules, and Some Truth about Ben ... 4.10: Almost a Dream Come True ... 4.11 Unlocking Locke ... 4.12 Hurley's Numbers on the Dashboard ... Season 4 Finale: Six or More Thoughts Plus One