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Good Vibrations: Through the Looking Glass on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Oh. My. God.

I am still completely gobsmacked after watching last night's season finale of Lost ("Through the Looking Glass"), which--as promised--totally altered the series in a game-changing episode that will have all of us scratching our heads until the show returns next February.

As soon as a grizzly bearded Jack appeared on screen at the beginning of the episode, I instantly knew that we were seeing a Lost first: a flash forward in time that would change the direction of the series forever. It's an ambitious gambit to change everything about a series in the fourth season, but if anyone can pull it off it's the awe-inspiring duo of Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (whose voices, FYI, appeared in last night's episodes); the fate of the series balances on a knife's edge but I have faith that this turn in direction is a positive thing.

Many of us thought that last night's episode would contain some explanation for Jack's strange behavior of late, following his incarceration with the Others, but instead just what happened to Jack during that time will remain shrouded in mystery; instead we're given a tantalizing flash forward in time to see a beleaguered and increasingly drug-addled Jack try to cope with life post-island but he appears to be weighed down by some massive guilt connected with his leaving the island (did he leave some people behind?) and an addiction to Oxycontin that plays with his mind. (Is Christian alive? Or is Jack just confused?)

In the future (which, thanks to that Motorola RAZR phone, appears to be post-2006 Los Angeles), Jack has taken to using his golden pass on Oceanic to take constant Friday night plane trips in the hope that the aircraft will crash and he will end up back on that damned island again. His ex-wife Sarah (Julie Bowen) is pregnant and wants nothing to do with him. He's suicidal and an attempt to take his own life causes a massive car crash that leaves yet another woman clinging to life. Kate has apparently sworn off all contact with Jack but he reaches out to her anyway, after reading an obit in the paper, and arranges a rendezvous at the airport.

Just whose corpse is in that coffin in the Hoffs/Drawlar Funeral Home? (My thoughts: Ben, Locke, or a new character.) And why did no one show up to that particular viewing... and why is Kate so insistent that she won't attend? (It's the little touches that count: Hoffs/Drawlar is an anagram for "Flash Forward," of course.) As for why Kate isn't in prison, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the castaways conspired to fake her death in the Oceanic crash and, presumed dead, she's assumed a new identity, a life which she apparently shares with someone (Sawyer?) who wouldn't be too happy about her meeting Jack. Especially given the fact that Jack, obsessed with the notion that they were never meant to leave the island, now wants them all to go back there.

To put it bluntly: I loved this new direction and everything it offers in terms of storytelling possibilities. Did any of us really think that they'd get off the island in the third season finale, especially with a 48-episode order for Lost?

Meanwhile, I loved how our castaways have become more and more like the Others over the course of this season and last night's episode pushed this even further, as they exterminated the Others without a second thought, racking up a body count that included fan favorites such as Tom. Hmmm, could it be that the island recycles its population in a purge every few years by turning one population against the other? Does it thrive on warfare and murder?

Never for a second did I think that Jin, Sayid, and Bernard would get killed (and if they did, it would have been shown on screen), which was a great relief. But I'll admit I got a wee bit misty-eyed when Charlie sacrificed himself to get everyone (especially Claire and Aaron) off the island. Down in the Looking Glass, Charlie encountered the exceptionally deadly Bonnie (Tracy Middendorf) and Greta (Lana Parrilla) who, in turned out, did work for Ben, after all. No one other than their bespectacled leader had any idea that they were down there: their cover story was an assignment in Canada! Once Mikhail breached the station and learned that it wasn't flooded as Ben had told them, Patchy (whose prosthetic makeup was absolutely brilliant, BTW) set out to follow Ben's orders and eliminate Bonnie and Greta. Fortunately, Desmond had made it down into the station and managed to stop Patchy--albeit temporarily (can this guy ever be killed?)--and he and Charlie were able to learn the code to turn off the communications jammer. Hmmm, was it a coincidence that a musician programmed the code to the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and Charlie, also a musician, just happened to be the one who had to turn off the machine? I don't think so.

I knew that Naomi was hiding something and she wasn't who she claimed to be (though she wasn't, as I had originally thought, working for Ben) and I loved the clever Star Wars homage as Charlie gets to speak to Penny Widmore (Sonya Walger) over the microphone, only to discover that Penny isn't on that nearby freighter, after all. As Mikhail detonates a grenade next to the station, Charlie seals himself in the communications room and--in yet another heroic move--writes on his hand that it's not Penny's boat and presses it against the glass. Sniffle.

I believe that Ben is actually telling the truth for once; these are evil people who have been trying to find the island for years (though why not just follow the Dharma drops?) and I think that Naomi is part of the same organization that the sinister Mrs. Hawking is. After all, it was Desmond's flashes that kept Charlie safe from death until he could get down into the Looking Glass and crack the "Good Vibrations" code. Whoever these people are they were able to use Desmond to manufacture an outcome that worked for them; they outfitted Naomi with a photograph of Des and Penny and a convenient cover story. After all, it was that photo that clinched things for Desmond; he helped Charlie obtain access to the Looking Glass and turn off the jammer, which in turn lead Naomi's people to the island. So maybe things aren't always as coincidental as they seem on Lost, after all...

What else did I love? Jack finally telling Kate that he loves her but he kisses Juliet and not her; Rose's line to Bernard to remember that he's a "dentist and not Rambo"; the fact that everyone discounted Hurley and he still managed to singlehandedly save the day with the VW van he discovered (which belonged, natch, to Ben's dead father in a sign that karma always gets you in the end); Sayid snapping an Other's neck with his legs; Alex finally meeting her mother Rousseau, whose first words to her daughter are "let's tie him up"; Aaron sensing that Charlie had died (signs of some extrasensory abilities?); Sawyer executing Tom because he took the kid off the raft; and Juliet's fear that Sawyer could turn on her next.

But let's face it: my favorite thing had got to be the reappearance of Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) standing above a newly paralyzed Locke, about to kill himself in the mass grave. While definitely looking more than a little older (puberty is a bitch), his appearance gave me chills. Is it Walt? Or a manifestation of the black smoke monster? Did Walt and Michael ever truly make it off the island or is this more trickery from the island itself? Or, finally, is it a projection of Walt himself, a la his dripping wet appearance at the beginning of Season Two?

In any event, Walt tells Locke that he can walk and that he still has work to do. Work, apparently, that includes killing Naomi with a thrown knife and attempting to prevent Jack from completing the call on the satellite phone. But at the final moment, Locke can't bring himself to kill Jack, who makes contact with a man named Spokowski aboard Naomi's boat. Rescue is on its way. What made Locke not follow out the island's instructions? And, even more tantalizing, is Locke STILL on the island in the future? Did he rejoin the Others at that mysterious temple?

The wait until next February is going to be an extremely painful one, methinks. The season finale's twist--a flash forward in time--could have been gimmicky had this been the end of the third season in an interminable series run, but with a clearly defined end date for Lost (May 2010) I do think that Season Four is going to potentially be the best season yet. Now if only we could flash forward to that season premiere in February...

What's On Tonight

8 pm: The King of Queens (CBS); My Name is Earl/30 Rock (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); So You Think You Can Dance (FOX; 8-9:30 pm)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); The Office/Scrubs (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); On the Lot (FOX; 9:30-10 pm)

10 pm: Shark (CBS); Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC); Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-10 pm: Innocent on BBC America.

It's two back-to-back episodes of new series Innocent, which follows the Innocence Project team as they try to help people wrongly imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit. In the first episode, the team attempts to help a convicted drug dealer receive a reduced sentence; in the second, they reach out to a man convicted of murder who claims all he did was try to help the victim.

8:30 pm: 30 Rock.

It's a repeat of my favorite new series of the year. On tonight's episode of 30 Rock ("Blind Date"), Liz gets set up on a blind date with Jack's friend only to discover that it's a woman, while Jack uses the opportunity to crash the writers' weekly poker game. He's a crafty one, that Jack.

9 pm: The Office.

On tonight's repeat episode of The Office ("The Convention"), Michael, Dwight and Jan attend a convention in Philadelphia, where Michael attempts to organize a rather sad party in his hotel room, leading to a reunion of sorts.

Comments

The CineManiac said…
Absolutely one of the best episodes of Lost yet. I have to admit I never saw it coming that it was a flash forward. In fact at the end I thought he had helped plan the plane crash (hence the maps) and that he was meeting with someone sinister because he wasn't sure he could go through with it, I at turns thought it would be Ben or Naomi.
Boy was I wrong!
Brilliant!
Anonymous said…
Argh! I can't believe we have to wait until February!!!

Such an amazing episode. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The second half of this season has had the same sort of intensity and intricacy that made Season One so brilliant. And this was definitely one of the best episodes yet.

I love the flash forward and commend Cuse and Lindelof for constantly pushing the envelope and being daring. I think that has been a huge part of Lost's success.

And I think that Matthew Fox's performance was absolutely fantastic. He really did seem like a completely different person and perfectly balanced being vulnerable, angry, and hearbroken all at the same time (while also having to act heavily drugged, nonetheless)!

Poor Charlie. I'm glad they had the guts to kill him off. If they hadn't, it would have discredited the entire Desmond storyline. But he will be sorely missed. And the final scene with him was compelling and sadly beautiful.

I am going to be thinking about this episode for weeks! Can't it be February already?!
Anonymous said…
Good episode, but not as great as I expected. The flash forward stuff is a nice twist, but there were a couple of things that put me off last night.
1. Charlie rushing to secure the door so that he can drown. Why not just rush out of the room and secure the door so he can live?
2. Why didn't the Others kill the 3 when told to? They blindly followed Ben's orders to go to the camp so there's nothing to suggest they're were not loyal and with 7 of their mates dead they would have relished the go-ahead to kill the 3. Putting the bullets in the sand was a weak ploy to allow them to be rescued.
Don't get me wrong - love the show and am looking forward to next February. I guess I'm just not as awe-struck with the finale as others appear to be.
Vance said…
I'm still blown away and haven't been coherent enough to write a half ass recap but yours does it so well! Man, February is looking mighty far away...
Anonymous said…
I agree with anonymous above; but to expand on the Charlie thought: Even if he didn't go to the other side of the door, once the water stopped rushing in he could have gone out the window. He's small enough to fit, and it certainly wouldn't have required him holding his breath any longer than it took him to swim down there.

Great episode, but not the shocker I was expecting.
Anonymous said…
So much to say, so much to say...

First - like you, I totally called it. When he was on the phone, at the beginning, I yelled out "It's future jack!!" and my friends laughed at me. Laughed! Sure, they were annoyed all through the ep that he was using a Razr, but they still wouldn't get on board my future jack theory. :) Towards the end, one said, "I think you're right - it may be future jack." and I just yelled "FUTURE JACK!!!!!!!!"

I was a little out-of-control last night. It's just that...the episode was so damn good!

All the future stuff was brilliant. Matthew F was brilliant. I have a whole list of reasons (I typed them out) as to why I am sure it's Ben who died, but Carlton and Damon will find some way to make that not true.

Hurley saving the day - LOVED it. Great, great moment. When the rattling in the bushes started, I yelled "It's Hurley," and my friends thought it was Locke. Ally: 2. Friends: 0.

Charlie. My only bump of the episode. [anonymous] said: "1. Charlie rushing to secure the door so that he can drown. Why not just rush out of the room and secure the door so he can live?"

My thoughts exactly. I know it's destiny and all that, but it just didn't make a lot of sense at the moment. Desond's vision saw Charlie unjamming the button and the place filling up w/water, but it became clear that he could unjam it and it wouldn't fill up w/water (till patchy came along), so he should have known to alter the course. It didn't play. And musician or not, his immediate ability to play "good Vibrations" was a total "oh, please" moment.

Sayid breaking that guy's neck with his legs? One of my favorite moments in Lost...ever. Kick. Ass.

Yeah, it was completely clear the others didn't shoot the three, but it was still great since Jack and co. didn't know that.

I loved Juliet getting sawyer away w/the promise of a hidden stash of guns (the notion of which made me roll my eyes) and then telling him she made it up (which made me unroll my eyes).

I am going to miss Tom.
Anonymous said…
Like anonymous and Ally I had some major problems with the Charlie drowning scene.

Right before Charile enters the code Desmond and him spot scubba gear.

They had previously thought that the station would flood when the code was entered. Why not take an extra minute or two to check out the gear and be prepared to leave if the station flooded.

Had they done that, like most sane people would have, then when Patchy blows the window and the water starts to flood they would be prepared and not need to panic.

If Charlie needed to die, why not have a shard of glass come flying from the explosion and tear the artery in his neck. He could have then still told Desmond "not Penny's boat" and died without these sort of issues.

I was not not thrilled with the flash-forward. I hope that in future episodes we only have flash-forwards or the segements are clearly defined as past (flash back), present (island) and future (flash foward).
Shawn Anderson said…
Charlie believed he had to drown to fulfill Desmond's vision, which ended with Claire and Aaron getting rescued.

Intereting tidbits floating about the net:
The LA Times that Jack was reading had a headline that matches an LA Times from this year, April 5.

The funeral parlor's name (Hoffs/Drawler) is an anagram for Flash Forward.

The blog Lost Easter Eggs is frackin' addictive.
The CineManiac said…
I have to agree with Drake, the reason Charlie died was because he was afraid if he didn't Desmond's prediction wouldn't come true and Aaron and Claire wouldn't have gotten off the island, he sacrificed himself to save everyone else.
Let's just hope everyone got off the island, although I have a sneaking suspicion that Jack, Kate, and a very few others are the only ones who got off, leaving the others behind.
Anonymous said…
Did anybody notice that the number-plate on Kate's car was LOKD595?
Anonymous said…
Sorry, in a darker shot it looked so...

It's actually... 4QKD695

Although was still spooky at the time!
Paul Levinson said…
Great episode and review - gobsmacked is the word for that finale! I actually pretty much predicted the flip from flashbacks to flashforwards in my review the week before of the Greatest Hits episode ... Flashforwards...

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