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Lostwatch: Time to Drag In the Magic Puff

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Last night, Lost returned, after a hiatus of—what was it, five, six years?—and came through on one of the promises of the producers to resolve some of the show’s tantalyzing questions: we finally saw the monster. Kind of. On an excursion into the island’s jungle, rocker-cum-junkie Charlie and African enigma Mr. Eko heard the by now familiar distant rumblings and not-so-distant explosions, then were confronted by a long, coal-black, and seemingly sentient cloud of smoke that stared Eko down and then vanished into the foliage.

Hats off to Lost’s puppetmasters for solving a problem that must have stumped them for some time—how do you create a monster that doesn’t look like a B movie, on a TV budget, while not resorting to some pop-psychology ruse like having it take the form of “whatever the character fears worst”? More to the point, in typical Lost fashion, they managed to make the creature both real (because two characters witnessed it, so we can assume it’s not a hallucination) and not real (because, well, it’s freaking smoke). As always, the answer raised more questions, along the show’s science/faith divide. Is it spiritual or natural? Biological superorganism or mystical fart? And either way, how did it manage to disembowel Greg Grunberg and hang him in a tree in the pilot?

You have to hand it to Lost’s writers. Rather than play it coy, they’re giving us tangible answers—see also that kooky utopian/Dutch doomsday hatch—that, on a lesser show, would simply have us wonder what its creators have been smoking. Instead, we can now drive ourselves crazy wondering what’s been smoking them.