Spoiler Warning: if you haven't seen Wednesday's mind-blowing season finale of Lost, then A. read no further, and B. what the fuck is wrong with you?
With that out of the way, Lost producers Cuse and Lindelof just executed not only the best season-ender of the television season (BSG is a close #2), but quite possibly, one of the best of all time. Everything was there. Almost all our Lostaways had a moment, some more than others (or Others). We got drama, we got laughs, we got tension, we got emotional release, and as is the case with any good episode of Lost, we got some answers but yet more questions.
I know some fans have a low tolerance for Jack and his tortured leadership. I've never been that down on Jack's story (tattoo ep aside) and nobody on the cast does bottled up angst better than Matthew Fox. And this storyline certainly gave him a broad canvas on which to paint. Before we get to the questions, let's look at what was delivered:
A "flash forward" in time, unique (as far as we know) to the show, that indicates that at least Kate and Jack got off the island. My non-spoiler policy played out in spades as this came as a total, mind-blowing "what the fuck" surprise when Kate stepped out of the car. Sure there were a few hints along the way that this wasn't your typical flash back, most notably Jack's use of a Motorola KRZR cellphone, which wasn't released until October 2006. Also, the funeral parlor where Jack was the sole visitor to a mysterious decedent, was called "Hoffs/Drawlar" -- an anagram of "flash forward." (also, if you want to get even wackier about it, "funeral parlor" could be an anagram of "plan for real").
Sayid getting all Jack Bauer on an Other, breaking his freakin' neck with his legs while still tied up. If Saddam and the Republican Guard ever did one decent thing, then it could be considered giving us Sayid.
Hurley wanting to contribute, and finally saving the day with the VW Microbus of Death barreling through the jungle and taking out one of the beach gunmen.
Sawyer continuing to feel the impact of his actions on the pirate ship with his namesake, offering up a dish best served cold, and gunning down Tom as payback for kidnapping Walt. Even though Tom had surrendered, Saywer breaks off "I didn't believe him."
Though the love "quadrangle" can annoy at times, there were some curious moments. Jack kisses Juliet goodbye, then later admits to Kate that he loves her. Sawyer, still troubled by killing Anthony Cooper, pushes Kate further away and even calls her by her name (no "freckles?"). Which lead to Sawyer and Juliet heading back to the beach alone, and giving us this priceless exchange: "So, you screwin' Jack yet?" Juliet answering Sawyer back with "No... are you?"
Rousseau and Alex finally recognizing the familial bond between them. And her first words to her daughter? "Would you help me tie him up?"
Desmond's prophecy regarding Charlie finally paying off, and Charlie getting a great send off and goodbye. Figuring out the "Good Vibrations" key code, laughing in the face of death with the two gun-toting babes in the underwater station, sacrificing himself to save Des (and presumably the rest of the 815ers) and even letting Des know that Naomi may not be all she claimed, using his sharpie to write "not Penny's boat" on his hand. The little hobbit went out in touching fashion; Desmond's view of his demise echoing the title of the episode "Through the Looking Glass."
Mikhail being the freaking Terminator yet again, getting up from a speargun to the chest wound to uncork a grenade just outside the window. Surely this killed him. I think. Glad the "cold war" is over, as the Soviet army obviously had some serious survival training.
Ben's exchange, wryly delivered (as always) by Michael Emerson, with Alex about her boyfriend Karl, who alerted the 815ers to the Others' early attack:
ALEX: "You put Karl in a cage! You tried to brainwash him!"
BEN: "I didn't want you to get pregnant! ... I guess I overreacted."
Walt's return! Locke gets out of the mass grave and finds his way to the radio station, and knifes Naomi in the back. A quick nitpick about this: Walt's return would have had far more impact if I hadn't seen the actor's name in the opening credits. This happens frequently on TV (two exceptions I can think of off the top of my head: Darla's return in the cage in a season ender of Angel, and Lindsay's return in bed with Eve on the same show). Can't the actors or the union make an agreement with the producers to NOT show "surprise" characters during the opening credits? Have a "special guest appearance" title at the END of the ep, at least for the first run airings?
All of Ben's manipulations, and his urging to Jack that the Others aren't quite as bad as they seem. Plus, Jack's vicious and long time coming beat down of Ben. Was Ben telling the truth?
Penelope still looking for Des, and appearing as the first signal received to the island seen by Charlie.
Other cool things:
The press clipping for the person who died, getting Jack visibly upset and pushing him over the edge toward suicide, appeared to show a name beginning with a J and having "ntham" in the last name. Could this be "Jeremy Bentham?" Another philosopher, who was influenced by, among others, John Locke and David Hume.
There are 16 numbers on the key pad in the Looking Glass.
Kate's "future" cellphone number ends in 48.
The song Jack was listening to in the car, before he decides to off himself, was Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice" from the "In Utero" album. A nod to the mysterious and complicated pregnancies on the island, perhaps?
Maybe it was just watching the Beatles homage on Idol, but "A Day in the Life" references "I read the news today" and "blew his mind out in a car." Sound like Jack?
The person who Jack reached on Naomi's phone was named "Minkowski." Not an ordinary name, chosen at random. Could it be Hermann Minkowski? Who developed theories about time and space? Or, there are other (many related) Minkowskis in the fields of astronomy, psychiatry and medicine. Google it and enjoy.
Another car wreck (the one that caused Jack to not jump off the bridge, and save the victim). There have been several for our Losties, including: the one with Kate and the guy who turned her in (she saved him, and got caught); Kate was also with her childhood sweetheart in a wreck, which killed him; Shannon's dad and Jack's future (past) wife Sarah were in a car wreck that hurt her spine; Kate escapes from the Marshall after they have a car wreck; Claire and her mom were in a car wreck; and Anthony Cooper referenced being in a car wreck in Tallahassee before "waking up" on the island.
Jack is told in the "flash forward" that a Dr. Nadler will be performing the surgery on the woman he saved from the car wreck on the bridge. "Nadler" is also Bernard's last name.
Then, of course, we have the questions.
Who else gets off the island in the future? And was it a rescue from Minkowski, or much later?
What truth is in what Ben says?
Whose funeral did Jack go to? He says it's neither "friend" nor "family." Ben? Someone else? Could it be this "Bentham?" And was it just the film angles, or did the coffin look small? And why was the funeral in such a bad part of town?
''I'm sick of lying. We made a mistake!'' What is Jack lying about? What is the mistake? We're lead to believe getting off the island is the mistake in question, but is there something else?
Kate: ''He's going to be wondering where I am.'' Who is he? Sawyer?
Why did Jack reference his dad twice in the flash forward? (once about "get him down here and we'll see who is drunker" and another when his dad was on the forged RX). Is Jack's dad alive somehow in the future? Or is Jack just strung out and drunk?
Why isn't Kate arrested in the future? Or why doesn't she appear concerned about being arrested?
What did Ben know about Naomi, other than she's not who she appeared to be and that her people were "bad?"
If Naomi wasn't working for or known to Penny, then how did Naomi get the picture of Des and Penny? (And exactly how many copies of this thing are there? I thought there was, or should be, only one, that Desmond keeps with him).
Why did the first transmission received to the Looking Glass come from Penny?
Who else did Jack call in the future? After all, it appeared he reached Kate (or left messages for her) and she responded. But one of the calls he made in the car came back with a recording about a disconnected number?
Does Sarah being pregnant have anything to do with the story, or was it simply a case of actress Julie Bowen expecting?
Was it really Walt who appeared to Locke? Or a vision? Or the "smoke monster?"
Why were the Looking Glass babes supposed to be "in Canada?"
Did Charlie "have to" die in his situation? I found some references to the "moon pool" on the Looking Glass, and it appears they maintain their stability via air pressure. If Charlie had not closed the door to the communications room from the inside once Mikhail broke the glass, the whole station would have flooded and Des most surely would have perished also. Did Charlie know this? Or did he simply think, according to Desmond's vision, that he HAD to die in order for the 815ers to get rescued?
Why did Ben lie to his people about the jamming device, and the Looking Glass being "flooded?"
When Jack is on the bridge, who is he asking forgiveness from? And for what?
Did the outside world really know anything about 815, as Naomi claimed? If so, why didn't anyone mention this to Jack? Obviously, Oceanic knows something about the crash, as he has "earned" a Golden Pass to fly free.
Why didn't Kate want Jack to contact her?
Hell, those are just the ones off the top of my head. Those are "legitimate" questions, that make you ponder the mythology and events of the show, as opposed to the questions arising from the Heroes finale, which make you question the internal logic of the show and strain credulity.
We'll have to wait until February of 2008 to find out more, unfortunately, but THAT is how you rock a season finale.