'Lost' could learn a lesson or two from 'Heroes'" columns, you know. Season finale spoilers coming up just as soon as I pick up some good vibrations... Oh, and if you're visiting this blog via an RSS or XML reader (which doesn't have spoiler-protection, since I publish entries in their entirety), I'm warning you right now that I'm getting into some hardcore wackiness right from the jump.
Obvious first question: when did you figure out that the flashback was not, in fact, a flashback, and why? The beard alone had me raising an eyebrow, and once Jack's ex-wife turned up alive and well, my wheels started spinning about whose death in the newspaper story could have Jack this upset (we know how Jack found out about Christian's death, and his mom was still alive when he went to Sydney, and I don't think Bai Ling was a candidate), but the tipping point was the cell phone, which looked far too sleek for Jack to be using pre-2003. By the time the car pulled up at the airport, I knew it would be Kate.
Which isn't to say I was unsatisfied with that portion of the episode, or the episode as a whole, which was packed with the kind of bing-bang-boom payoffs to elements from earlier in the season that the "Heroes" finale was sorely lacking. (And I'm going to stop making the comparisons right now. Or not. I'm writing as I go, a little too keyed-up for bed just yet.)
Hurley's magic bus turned out to be there for more than comic relief and a piece of Ben's biography. Charlie sacrificed himself as Desmond predicted. (And how frikking scary was it to see Bakunin smiling in the porthole as he pulled the grenade pin? Was he blowing himself up because Desmond's spear shot had already killed him, or will he return next season to continue his role as the island's Rasputin?) Alex found out that Rousseau was her mother -- from Ben, of all people, who occasionally does the decent thing, even if it's for a manipulative reason -- and Sawyer finally got his revenge for Walt's abduction on his watch.
(Speaking of which, Malcolm David Kelley's appearance was a good reminder of why Cuselof had to get him the hell off the island. What was he, eight feet tall? On the downside, boo to ABC or Cuselof or whoever for putting his name, and Sonya Walger's, in the guest credits, the same way that the big surprise of the "Veronica Mars" finale got spoiled by that. As "Battlestar Galactica" proved this season, you can shock people a hell of a lot more if you save a name or two to run after the episode's over, contractual obligations be damned.)
But while it's fun to dwell on all the big action beats of the finale (also including a trussed-up Sayid letting his feet do the talking to that dude's neck), what we obviously have to spend the next eight months analyzing is where the hell the show goes next season. Does the flashforward come true -- and, if so, does rescue happen immediately, or is there somehow a way to stall it? Or is this something like the "Five Years Gone" scenario from "Heroes" (there I go with the comparisons again), where someone with time-altering powers (oh, I dunno, Desmond?) prevents it from happening? Or, to get back to "Galactica," is this a legitimate time-jump, one that will eventually have Bearded Jack gathering all the survivors together to return to the island and some kind of premise reboot?
In the here and now, is Ben right about Naomi's people, or is this just more of his paranoid ravings designed to keep anyone from leaving the island? (Naomi did, after all, know who Desmond was, and who Penny was; Penny's "I'm not on a boat" confusion doesn't automatically mean Naomi's people aren't working for her; it could just be that she thought it would be adequately conveyed to Desmond that she wasn't there.) Who's the person in the coffin? Is the "he" waiting for Kate at home Sawyer, or was he the one in the box?
I have pissed and moaned about this show an awful lot this season, and I still feel like a lot of the complaints were justified -- especially about the six fall episodes, and Jack's idiotic behavior throughout -- but I have to give Damon and Carlton credit for pulling things together in the home stretch. They gave us an original castmember flashback episode that didn't feel redundant ("D.O.C."); a great showdown between the two Sawyers'; Locke returning to crazy, when-in-doubt-blow-stuff-up form; some superb action and confrontations throughout the finale, and the massive mind(bleep) of Bearded Jack back on the mainland.
Back at the start of the season, before I had gotten burned out on The Others' torture and manipulations, I said I didn't honestly care if I ever got real answers to the show's mysteries, so long as the series kept me entertained on an episode-by-episode, or even moment-by-moment, basis, and this last batch of shows has sure done that. I refuse to waver from my "they're making it up as they go along" theory until proven otherwise, but at the moment, I don't much care. That was a lot of fun, and this hiatus is going to feel awfully long.
What did everybody else think? I'm sure everybody has their theories and analysis, so fire away.