When we started this series back in 2004, a lot of people (me included) thought that Lost would no doubt end with some of the characters being rescued and reunited with their families. Imagine our surprise that this scene comes in the middle of the series.
What is especially notable is the discord between what we know happened and the public story. According to lostipedia, the teaser and the subsequent opening flashback take place on day 108. (Given the significance of this number, I can't help but think this is another example of the writers messing with our heads.) The survivors have now spent 100 days on the island. None of them seem to be particularly happy that they've been rescued; if anything, the Oceanic 6 seem even more wound up then they were on the island. Same as on the island, everyone seems to look to Jack; no one talks about anything before he does.
They are greeted by their families--- such as they are. Kate's mother didn't bother to show up (no wonder she Kate bore her such loathing). Sayid doesn't seem to have any relatives there either, and we'll later learn he did have a family. Sun goes straight to her mother, and pointedly ignores her father--- and he notices. Hurley's parents show up, but the rest of his family doesn't seem to be there.. All of this reminds us how many people on the island are alone in the world. Granted, most of them had so many parental issues, they might not have wanted to see them.
The press conference seems to confirm that the story they are telling matches Widmore. Is Oceanic in cahoots with Widmore? Hell, could Widmore be a major stockholder, and that's one of the reason this plane went down in the first place? Then there are a whole new set of individual questions. A Korean reporter asks Sun if her husband could have survived the crash, and she said no--- after taking a pause that makes the rest of the survivors nervous. And why does the media believe that Kate is Aaron's mother. Even if the child is five weeks, how on earth does that explain who fit and fine Kate looks. (Of course, Claire automatically seemed to go back to her normal size after giving birth to Aaron, but for all we know the island did that? And why is it that Kate isn't immediately locked up the second she gets off the plane? Miles made it perfectly clear that everybody in the real work knew that Kate was fugitive, and Marshal Mars didn't work alone. So why was she allowed to walk around free, not only after this press conference, but for at least another year before anyone slapped cuffs on here?
We also get a look at some scenes immediately after this that Nadia will be waited for him when he gets through with the conference (there's a moment to bring tears to the eyes, especially because we know what's coming) Hurley will seem to return to his normal life, Kate seems to do well with Aaron, Sun will develop the backbone to stand up to her father, and Jack will finally be able to say goodbye to his father. Which would be fine, except we also know from Season 4, Sayid will lose his beloved, and become Ben's triggerman, Hurley will lose his sanity, Kate will find stability with Jack, but Jack will blow it as he self-destructs, and Sun will start the process that turns into a cold, brutal woman.
We get hints of it in this episode. Sun confronts her father, and tells him that he has lost control of his company--- to her. The attitude she takes is so filled with anger (even when delivered through subtitles) that we see a woman we really haven't seen either on or off the island.
Hurley celebrates a birthday (island themed, showing that his parents never really got how hard those three months were) His father tries to engage him by showing that he believed in his son by finally fixing the Camaro we saw in 'Tricia Tanaka is Dead', and giving it to him. Then he sees the numbers on the odometer, and suddenly he freaks out. (Considering that he managed to convince himself there was no curse involving an experience with another car, there's a double irony here.)
But the biggest shock comes at Jack's funeral, where he finally learns that his father was in Australia to see his sister --- Claire. This is obviously a huge shock, but an even bigger shock comes from who delivers the message--- Claire's mother. As we saw in 'Par Avion', Mrs. Littleton was in what was at the time an irreversible coma (Christian told us as much) and the condition was constant right up until Claire got on Oceanic 815. How did she comes out of it, not only alive, but with no apparent ill effects? Who did this? Does it have something to do with why Claire has disappeared? I'm beginning to lose hope that this question will ever be answered-- we're so close to the end of the series--- but it seems a pretty big gap.
Meanwhile, in the present, Jack hears from the radio that Keamy's heading toward the secondary protocol, which would appear to be another Dharma station: The Orchid. Juliet clearly knows nothing about it, but Daniel does, and it alarms him enough to tell Charlotte that they had to start getting people off the island. How is it that Daniel who until a few days knew next to nothing, now seems to know everything about the island? We're still not sure of all the answers, but it's beginning to seem like he's got a bigger connection then anybody else.
Jack (in typical Jack fashion) ignores the fact he just had major surgery and starts charging into the island with Kate. (You can just see how bitter Juliet is that's he made his choice) Even as blood starts oozing from his scar, he doesn't turn back. In the meantime, they encounter Sawyer and Miles, who are carrying Aaron. (There's a reunion neither was looking forward too) Jack continues to do his own thing, and an increasingly heroic Sawyer goes charging off after him. Even when they encounter Frank, they don't seem too happy (though it's nice to see he cares about Hurley).
Meanwhile, Ben seems to have regained some of his purpose, now that he needs to 'move the island'. Hurley is clearly beginning to wish he'd never joined up on this crazy chase to begin with, and Locke, who seemed in control of his destiny in the last episode, now seems as scattered and he did before, especially since Ben won't tell him what's going to happen. (This is particularly true when Locke asks Ben if he was ever truthful, and he doesn't say anything.) Now Ben is confident enough to walk right into Keamy's arms. He seems confident thinks are under control, but then, that could just be another facade.
When the first part of 'There's No Place Like Home' comes to an end it should set up a cliffhanger. But because we already know (or think we do) who's going to live and who's going to die, we're tuning in because we want to know how it's going to happen. Locke is about to enter a chamber that will let him move the island (he still has no idea how) Ben's just walked into the lion's den, and poor Hurley probably wants to run for his life. Sawyer and Jack are in pursuit of them Kate and Sayid have just been abducted by Richard and the Others. (Hi Richard! Where the hell have you been all season?) Daniel is ferrying people from the island to the freighter. Sun and Jin have just reunited with Michael (awkward!) and Desmond has just wandered into the belly of the freighter, where we've found a wall of C-4, with no possible means of escape. Do these guys know how to do a finale or what?