(Note: Consider this whole post as a spoiler. If you haven’t seen the finale yet, read no further. You will be spoiled worse than John.)
With all due respect to Heroes, whose season finale was underwhelming, LOST‘s finale pretty much shows how its done. While we didn’t learn a lot mythology-wise, we did get some stuff. Like, Penny Widmore isn’t behind the ‘rescue’ ship from where Naomi came, the Others (and the island) are fighting another group of people who are behind the ‘rescue’ ship (DHARMA? Someone else?), the island has chosen Locke to help and we see Locke is a mean shot at knife throwing. Ouch.
We get the resolution of the Other storyline that’s been running throughout this season. We see Ben’s plans slowly fall apart as the situation spins out of his control, but we also learn that Ben is doing everything he does in the belief that he is protecting the island. He’s still a lying, manipulative bastard which leads to the long awaited and much warranted pwning at the hands of Jack, and we see that he is not infallible. This is spectacularly illustrated in Ben’s failed bluff to get Jack to destroy the satellite phone by having his cohorts on the beach pretend to kill Sayid, Bernard and Jin. Ben obviously felt Jack would cave and all would be alright. The obvious flaw in Ben’s plan is what happened after Jack, finally becoming a real leader and sticking to his guns come thick or thin, calls Ben’s bluff. Again, ouch. And, really, the way the Others come out of this episode being devastated was something I wasn’t expecting. Now it looks like Ben’s power is gone and the anti-Ben faction will be able to openly move against him. I also liked Hurley’s heroics to save Juliette and Sawyer. You can’t help but feel good for Hurley who finally got a chance to be a hero. Nicely done by the writers.
The second storyline about the Looking Glass I felt was well done as well. The mind games being played between Mikhail, Ben and the babes in the hatch was well done. Ben being forced to admit lying to Mikhail only highlighted how much things had gone out his control, and yet, Mikhail is still loyal enough to do what Ben asked. The claustrophobia induced by being in a small hatch 60 feet or so underwater certainly helped add to the tension of the situation as Charlie, Mikhail, Desmond and two other Others maneuvered for control of the situation. And who didn’t know that Mikhail wasn’t really dead even after taking a harpoon to the chest? And I hope all you Charlie haters are happy now. Charlie did everything he did with the full expectation of dying, which happened, just as Desmond predicted, but not as we were lead to assume. Again, a nice mis-direction by the writers which added even more poignancy to Charlie’s death. I was sad to see Charlie go, especially since his actions may not have the happy outcome he expected. And now Desmond has take take the news back to Claire. Sad.
The only thing I thought was just OK was Jack’s ‘flashback’. Aside from the twist at the end of it, we pretty much see Jack being a drunken, drugged-out loser. A far cry from the man we see who, apparently, has lead his charges to rescue. He’s pretty messed up, and we only learn why when we discover it’s not a flashback at all, but a ‘flashforward’, and his ‘It wasn’t supposed to happen this way’ line paints the actions on the island in a new light. Is this truly the future? Ben said if the rescue helicopter came, then Jack and his friends would all die. According to the flashforward, they don’t but are given ‘Golden Passes’ on Oceanic Air. Which is odd. Doesn’t the world think they are all dead? That one scene with Kate opens up a slew of new questions as to the nature of the island and the hell is actually going on.
Which leads me to the one question that was never asked, with one exception. That being ‘Why?’. Alex actually asked Ben, as they were trying to intercept Jack and the Losties, ‘Why don’t you just let them leave?” Yes! Finally, someone asking the right question. Ben’s non-answer answer: “I can’t, Alex”. This should have been the time Alex asked a two-year old’s favorite question: “Why?” But she didn’t. I would have kept on asking why until Ben couldn’t take it anymore. They had time during their walk to explain why, but Alex just accepted the answer and moved on. Later, when Locke shows up to confront Jack of the satellite phone, he says: “This isn’t supposed to happen this way.” Did Jack bother to ask “why?” or “What isn’t supposed to happen this way?” No! He just called Locke’s bluff and answered the sat phone. Gah. Come on, ask the damn question.
Of course, the ‘why’ of the situation will be explained over the coming 48 episodes, so we’ll just have to wait (until 2008!) to start learning why. Still, I felt this was a finale that lived up to expectations and the stellar writing that we’ve seen in the second half of season 3. It’s a long haul till January of next year, I’m sure there will be much gnashing of teeth over the wait and there will be even more theories as to the what is going on. Hopefully, the writers will begin to give us more answers starting next year. I can’t wait.