I know what happens on Lost this Season. I haven't seen all the episodes or read any spoilers, but I don't need to. As I argued on Wednesday, you can learn everything you need to know about a given season by watching the opening sequence of the premiere. Usually this sequence is short—three, maybe four minutes. But Wednesday night's premiere treated us to nearly 10 minutes of action before the Lost logo crawled ominously across the screen. In a flashback to the 1970s, we saw Dharma employee Pierre Chang (whose aliases include Mark Wickmund, Marvin Candle, and Edgar Halliwax) waking up, going through his routine, and surveying the construction site for Dharma's time-travel station. In a flash-forward, we saw Jack and Ben discussing their plan to lure the Oceanic Six back to the island. And in the "present" (whatever that means at this point), we saw the effects of Ben moving the island through time (and perhaps space).
In the spirit of time travel, here are my predictions for the season to come, based only on the first episode:
- That the show's writers chose to present three time periods before the commercial break suggests that Season 5 will be the most experimental one yet—with little or no regard for the usual rules of chronological storytelling. The motto of this new season was delivered by John Locke, while Richard Alpert was taking a bullet out of his leg: "When are we?"
- In the first scene, Chang picks up a baby, but it's unclear whether it's actually his. Could it be Charlotte, the British anthropologist who, it seems, has returned to the island to find her birthplace? Or is it Ben's childhood friend Annie? I venture it's Charlotte, and also that the baby holds the key to one of the show's long-standing mysteries: Why do women on the island die during childbirth?
- When Chang surveys the Orchid station, he says that there are rules to time travel. My groundbreaking guess: We'll learn the rules.
- The physical effects of time travel will be more fully explained this year. When a miner gets too close to the energy source on the island, he gets a nosebleed—surely an indication that jumping from decade to decade messes with your brain, as it did for Minkowski last year. I expect the answers will come via a reappearance of Horace "My Nose Only Bleeds When I Wants It To" Goodspeed. Was he time-tripping when he saw Locke in the jungle last season? I think so. Don't know what I'm talking about? Rewatch Season 4's "Cabin Fever" episode.
- While Jack and Ben discuss how to get the Oceanic Six back to the island, they see a local news report on Hurley's alleged killing spree. This juxtaposition as well as Hurley's run-in with the law at the end of the episode suggest Hurley won't return willingly. He'll have to be forced.
- Daniel Faraday is the only character to appear in two parts of the three-part introductory segment. Expect him to be a major player this year, both as the time traveler in residence and as the guy who translates what's happening to an increasingly bewildered audience. Faraday, you could say, is our Constant—the guy who makes sure our heads don't explode while we try and make sense of all this time travel.