Lost season 4 finale: the epic review

Our second opinion on the ending of Lost's fourth season - and there's quite a lot to say...

Nice beard, Jack

So it wasn’t Vincent in the coffin. A year of theories, ruined!

In all seriousness, throughout this season of Lost, I quietly feared that the success of the flashforward structure would unravel wildly come the season finale, showing us loyal fans that such storytelling traits were really just the Emperor’s new slacks. Too many things had been built up, with various storylines already holding an outright conclusion: Jin’s “death”, Ben’s war on Widmore, Kate’s freaky baby, Hurley’s communion with the dead, that pesky casket… For the first time in Lost history, I felt it was time for Darlton to drop the ball already. Big time.

Turns out that my fears were unwaveringly defeated. The great news is that with the final instalments of the fourth season finale “There’s No Place Like Home”, Lost launched itself leaps ahead of the competition yet again. Last season’s finale “Through The Looking Glass” introduced the notion of flashforwards and all of a sudden, the world of the show opened up in a way we’d never seen before. “No Place” isn’t quite as iconic a watercooler moment as its predecessor but it was of a far grander scope than any finale the show has seen before. What’s even better is that the finale achieved what the season had set out to do – completely change our ideas of what the show is. With the whereabouts of the island now unknown, Lost has become a far different beast to the flashback/flashforward/island story we know – it’s become a game of time and location, a drama concerning regret and redemption on a just-realised epic scale; smarter, faster, stronger, more arcane and teasing than ever before as it hurls itself towards its final chapters.

Ooft. I love this show. There was, despite all the pretention-talk above, some flaws with the finale that I’ll voice now. The big one for me has to be the death of Michael. In a way, his semi-heroic passing in the freighter explosion was reminiscent of Charlie’s death last year – watch how he sacrifices himself, makes amends with Sun and Jin, etc etc – but what we got with Charlie was a fully realised on-the-cusp-of-death arc, in comparison to Michael, whose return was hyped up beyond belief, who appeared in four episodes, who we got little-next-to-no-closure from. It’s the most disappointing death since the offing of Eko, purely because we’re left to ponder what could have happened if we got a little more time with the dude. (Damn you, writer’s strike!) It’s a shame – Harold Perrineau is a fantastic actor, and he delivered an unsettling desperation in every episode he was in, making it hard to swallow the death of the character and easy to side with Perrineau on the matter: “Not cool.” Still, that’s how death works on Lost – you don’t always get the closure you want. It’s respectable that the show can carry off that idea, but it annoyed me here. Grunt. Bye Michael.

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And goodbye Jin, it seems! (And Keamy too, but he had it coming. Oh, the man in the casket too, but I’ll get to that soon.) The premonitions we came to face with in “Ji Yeon” came true here, as Jin couldn’t make it in time to reach the helicopter and died when the Kahana (the name for the freighter, by the by) blew up. As the helicopter flew further and further away, it seemed like Sun was really going to throw herself into the wreckage to find him, but Jack (never the best with his bedside manner) delivered the cold, hard truth: “He’s gone”. Jack’s behaviour in the two-parter was close to obsessive as he focused on his objective at hand: getting off the island. Here, his leadership was unsettling – you could see that what Locke told him outside the Orchid was playing over and over in his head: that he’d have to lie to live. There he was, looking at all he’d have to pretend to forget and making promises he knew he couldn’t keep, especially concerning Sawyer…

Damn, this is too much to reflect upon with my usual all-over-the-place steez. Let’s take it from the top, shall we not?

FLASHFORWARD CITY

The first scene of part one continued straight on from the final moments of “Through The Looking Glass”, with Kate angrily confronting Jack over his famous Grizzly Bear yells of “We have to go back!” She slapped him for his abandonment of both her and Aaron, dropping as well the episodes’ first hint of the mysterious Jeremy Bentham (Locke! LOCKE!!!!) and what was still to come: “I spent the last three years trying to forget all the horrible things that happened on the day that we left. How dare you ask me to go back.” So that’s Kate out of the picture in the whole Return To Craphole Island mission, it seems. (For now.)

Kate has a wacky dream that night with backward voices and creaky noises – the usual – and leaps out of bed to protect Aaron, only to be confronted by a pissy Claire, presumably still under the Jacob Effect. “Don’t you dare bring him back,” she warns, and Kate wakes up again. She sides over to Aaron’s bed and tearfully apologises to him – seems that this could be the breaking point in Kate’s post-Island life. I expect a Flashforward Beard in season five! Even though, is Claire a manifestation of the island or even the monster? Think how Horace Goodspeed, the guy that built Jacob’s cabin, appeared to John in a dream so he could achieve his destiny. Is Claire trying to sabotage the possibility the Oceanic Six make it back to the island? Following all the awful things that apparently happen on the island post-Frozen Donkey Wheel (you know what I’m talking about), has a new hierarchy come to being on the island and Claire is the new leader? Or is she a manifestation that Smokey the monster has taken on to throw folk off their bearings, just like it did with Eko and his brother? Hmmm. For my money, Claire’s the off-island spokesperson for Jacob and Christian Shephard the on-island spokesperson. Yes, Jacob has PR.

The death of Jeremy Bentham – Locke, if you’re not catching on yet – has thrown the remaining male contingent of the Six for a loop, it seems. Sayid, who lest we forget works for Ben, is breaking Hurley out of Santa Rosa and taking him someplace “safe”. (My bet: Berlin, Ben’s last hiding place.) Hurley, who nearly refers to Bentham by his real name, is told the Six are being watched and leaves with Sayid. Widmore, I’m guessing, is tightening his grasp in the race for the island – if him or his associates see the Six make a wrong move, he can take advantage of that.

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Somebody who’s been smart enough to live away from the glitz is the original Oceanic survivor, WAAAAAAAAALLLLLTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!! (Ahem.) How sad was that when he said that none of the Six had come to visit him upon being rescued? I can see why, but it’s still hard for the teenager, especially when his former mentor comes to break the truth to him about Jack’s lies he cooked up for the Six’s return. I see Walt returning to the show, hopefully in a bigger arc than his late father got. It’d be cool to get some closure to the whole Walt Is Special storyline, don’tcha think? Plus, Malcolm David Kelley’s turned into a better actor with age. Watch this space.

Sun seems to be really putting the smackdown on everyone in her post-island life. Owning her dad’s company? Putting moves on Charles Widmore? Sweet. To be totally honest, I’m most intrigued by Sun’s storyline, because she seems to be fuelled on one hand by vengeance, and on the other, the love she has for Ji Yeon. (Seriously, just watch her face when she hears her daughter call out for her. Super sweet.) I don’t believe that she’d sell out the Six so easily, even if she blames Jack for Jin’s death – she seems to still care about Hurley, who flew all the way to Seoul to see her and her daughter. Really, I hope she’s playing double agent, leading along Widmore and taking advantage of his resources so that she can return to the island and make amends with… whatever she needs to make amends with. Still, I can see her aiming for Jack very soon…

Then, of course, the big reveal: THE MAN IN THE COFFIN IS LOCKE OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!! I was watching the finale with a group of friends and I’m telling you, the sound we made following the reveal was akin to an elephant yelling. (The Big Ask: do elephants yell? Answers in the comments below, please.) I always had an inkling that whoever got off the island would have to return altogether, but the fact that Big Dead Locke has to come as well? How are they going to carry that off? I’d like to believe that Ben is going to introduce the Six to the benefits of four-dimensional travel through space and time…

In short: the Locke reveal was awesome.

FREIGHTER FOLK

Who honestly thought that Frank Lapidus was going to be this important at the start of the season? Sure, he flew the helicopter and was supposed to be on 815, but what? He leaves with the Six and Desmond and lays low? I can accept that. Seeing how he’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist and seems to be laying low from Widmore and his dangerous affiliates (Abbaddon?) for the time being, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this isn’t the last we’re going to see of Lapidus and his crazy facial hair. Flashforward and some backstory, please?

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One person we’ll certainly be seeing a backstory for is Charlotte, who decided to stay on the island, having seemingly been… born on it? Trace your mind back to “Confirmed Dead”, where she arrived on the island in a sense of what I called “giggly wonderment” – the same feeling she conveyed upon discovering a Dharma artefact. Sure, the island can’t have been all it was knocked up to be for her, judging by her recent over-defensive attitude, but at the end of the day, she’ll get to recapture that feeling somehow. Were her parents, David and Jennette, not the parents she lived with in Bromsgrove? She was born 1979, within the Dharma era so could she have lived on the island for a few years before breaking away for some reason – probably away from the conflict concerning “the Hostiles”? Fan consensus seem to think she’s Juliet’s sister’s daughter, except she’s time-travelled to find a way to get to the island. That doesn’t work for me, but colour me intrigued.

Miles is staying because he’s awesome and doesn’t need a reason. I think he wants to talk to the dead some more and try to make some money out of it. Maybe he wants to get back at Locke, pressure him in his new leadership role for the Others? Maybe he’ll find himself in a Freighter Folk Love Triangle involving him, Charlotte and Daniel, who may or may have been moved in space and time along with the island, seeing how he was on the Zodiac raft with a bunch of redshirts at the time, facing the burden of rescue pretty much alone. Could the shift in time give him a chance to live out his past theories of time-travel, and if so, is he screwed due to his constant having left the island? Yikes. On an easier note, the look on Daniel’s face when he and Charlotte said their farewells was really sad – the man’s a puppy dog, except full of jitters.

Oh, and Keamy’s dead. Not by lack of trying, mind – first he gets shot in the back by Richard “Guyliner” Alpert following a super-mega-awesome gunfight with the Others and a hillside tussle with Sayid; then he gets stabbed multiple times by Ben after he taunts him with the details of Alex’s corpse. (I can’t believe I just typed that. Eww.) Turns out that guitar tuner attached to his arm wasn’t to help him torch the island in E major, but worked as “a dead man’s trigger”, causing the aforementioned freighter to blow up via a radio signal So when Ben, fuelled by anger and mourning, whacked him, he basically delivered a death sentence straight to Jin and Michael (amongst others’) doors. Loved Ben’s reaction to him practically killing everyone of the freighter: “So?” Spoken like a petulant teenager. As Rick James would’ve said, coooolllddd blooooddeeeddd.

THOSE OTHER GUYS THAT ARE NEITHER FISH OR FOWL(including that guy in the casket)

If you ask me, Sawyer’s arc has been beautifully written this season. After damning himself following the murder of Anthony Cooper last season in “The Brig”, we saw him drive himself apart from Kate and pretty much the rest of the group, continually threatening to kill Ben until they reached the relatively safe haven on New Otherton. (Oh, New Otherton, we barely knew ye.) Slowly, things started to turn around as he quietly began to redeem himself, finding a new appreciation for Hurley and Claire alike. (As an aside, Sawyer’s threat to Locke about keeping Hurley safe – “if you harm so much as one hair on his curly head, I’ll kill you” – was one of my favourite little character moments this season.)

He’s now ascended into rugged Big Damn Hero status, sacrificing himself for the sake of the folk on the helicopter and returning to the island, even managing to jam in a kiss for Kate all the while. He whispered something in her ear before jumping into the ocean below, this being the mysterious promise that drives Jack crazy in “Something Nice Back Home” – online consensus says that he is saying “I have a daughter in Alabama/Albuquerque, you need to find her. Tell her I’m sorry.” I gotta agree on this one, seeing how Sawyer really has no-one else off the island bar his daughter… and he believes that everyone on that helicopter is dead anyway, judging from his reaction upon seeing the smoke rising from what used to be the Kahana.

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Juliet played a smaller role in this finale than she did last year – she’s mostly had to play the woman put to the side this year, especially to Jack, but she’s made a full immersion into the castaway society. That Juliet, what a social chameleon! Anyway, she spent a lot of time ferrying folk into the Zodiac and onto the freighter, claiming that she wouldn’t leave until everybody else made it off the island. “Relax,” she told Daniel, “I’ll be here when you get back.” Way to tempt fate, Juliet. As for her rum drinking on the island, “despondent” is the word I would use for her at this moment in time. Poor Julie.

Ben and Locke: wow. From old married couple (B: “You couldn’t find the anthuriums, could you?” L: “I don’t know what they look like!”) to butting heads (Locke can’t get around why Ben killed Keamy and, by extension, everyone on the freighter) to something close to allies, it all came full circle. The handshake and apology from a grief-stricken Ben (“Sorry I made your life so miserable”) that brought round the changing of the guard was one of the episode’s unexpected gut-punching moments: it’s hard to think of another show that’s allowed you to feel so much for a villain like Ben, and when he said that his banishment from the island was the price he needed to pay for moving it, it was a sacrifice from a man you couldn’t see doing such things. Surprisingly, Ben was heroic in his final actions – and he’s now taken the battle to the mainland. Just like he said to Keamy as he died, Widmore wasn’t going to find him unless he found him first.

Locke, meanwhile, became the new leader of the Others, his destiny finally fulfilled. Before he entered the Orchid, he warned Jack of the repercussions of leaving the island, telling him how he’d have to lie to “protect the island” and there he was in the future, confronting him over exactly the same thing. Our man in the casket, travelling off-island under the alias Jeremy Bentham, told Grizzly Bear Jack that once he left – code: “once the island moved” – that a lot of bad stuff went down and that it was his fault. In season five and six, we’ll see whether or not this is true, but I’m guessing that the following things will be involved in the death of Locke: Widmore; the island volcano; abuse of the Orchid; his inexperience as a leader; his newfound lack of a foil and mentor in Ben. And even in a casket, I get the feeling that death is not the end for John Locke, no siree.

Finally, the second biggest deal of the night – Desmond. Penny. Reunited at last. I’m telling you, if you didn’t feel anything from this scene, there is no talking to you. (I kid you not.) Absolutely perfect to see them reunite – even though Desmond is now laying low on Jack’s advice. How is this going to be possible when the love of his life is Widmore’s daughter? Is Penny estranged from her father following Desmond’s disappearance? It’ll be cool to see this one play out, especially if Frank sticks about to work for her as well on the Love Boat. Jack’s farewell to Desmond was lovely too – the rich history between the characters makes moments like the “See you in another life, brother” more affecting than anything else.

Note to Darlton: keep using Desmond. Just do it. Find some way to do it.

THE THING ABOUT THE ISLAND MOVING…

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…is that due to all this space/time stuff, we may still get a Rousseau flashback. We can only hope.

Well, then, it’s been a big one – what a season, guys. And now we head into radio silence, waiting patiently for the DVDs later this year and until 2009 for the penultimate series soooooo… How will you guys be spending it? (I’ll be spending it waiting for the Battlestar Galactica hiatus to be over as well, to be totally honest.) And what were your favourite moments of the season finale? Why did the Orchid orientation rewind itself? Are we closer to understanding what the oft-mentioned “incident” was by seeing the moving of the island? When Ben says “all of you” have to go back, does that include Walt, Desmond and Frank? Was the Jeremy Bentham reveal as big as you thought it would be? Are you satisfied with the Frozen Donkey Wheel? Do you guys understand the Frozen Donkey Wheel? And wasn’t it awesome to see Mr Eko again? Checkmate!

It’s been a pleasure – ‘til next year, I’m Lost. Namaste!

Read what James had to say on the Lost finale here…