Those looking for definitive answers from their television viewing have probably long given up on Lost. No show seems to derive more satisfaction out of turning even the most innocuous of plot points into a Möbius strip of contradictory evidence; the most indisputable of truths into bold-faced lies. If I’ve learned in my year-plus in service of chronicling the show it’s that there’s no quicker way to be made to look foolish than to take something on this show at face value or declare anything as fact.
So, having laid that groundwork and hopefully covered my back end, Lost’s third season finale, the self-referentially titled “Through the Looking Glass,” would seem to have dropped a heck of a bombshell into the laps of viewers just in time for the show’s planned nine month hiatus. We find the survivors of Oceanic 815 on the precipice of rescue, having made contact with Naomi’s boat through a multi-tiered plan to disable the island’s jamming mechanisms. We learn that the rescue itself is steeped in misdirection and ulterior motives with Ben warning that Naomi is not whom she claims to be (something Charlie later confirms in his dying moments). The very fate of every single person on the island hangs in the balance in a way we’ve never seen before on Lost. Yet the bombshell arrives in a place we’ve become least conditioned to expect it: in the show’s character-building flashbacks set in the real world. That’s because this week’s flashback isn’t a flashback at all.