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Return to Oz: Home is Where the Heart Is on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Wow. I don't even know where to begin.

I'm talking of course about last night's amazing season finale to Lost ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts Two & Three"), which fulfilled the promise of last season's ender by showing just how the Oceanic Six managed to escape the island (along with Desmond and Frank Lapidus) and gave us an oh-no-he-didn't moment when Ben manages to move the island in time and space... before being exiled from the place he's sworn to protect for the rest of his life.

Sawyer. Before we get into the crux of the episode, I do feel extremely vindicated that my theory about what would happen to Sawyer played out EXACTLY as I had predicted two weeks ago. When faced with the helicopter losing fuel and none of them making it off the island, Sawyer whispers in Kate's ear (a promise about, oh, tracking down his daughter on the mainland), kisses her passionately, and then sacrifices his freedom for his fellow castaways by jumping out of the helicopter into the ocean below, ensuring (hopefully) that the others will make it to the freighter and escape. It was a beautiful manifestation of just how far Sawyer has grown as a character and his selflessness contrasts sharply with the man we met four seasons ago: a feral, selfish loner who thought only of himself. Can this really be the same guy who lied about hoarding Shannon's asthma medication all those years ago? Yep.

The Coffin. Because it's on everyone's minds, we'll talk about the coffin first. I wasn't quite right about my predictions about who was inside and was utterly stunned to see John Locke lying in the coffin as the mysterious Jeremy Bentham, but it's only fitting as English philosopher Bentham was a follower of John Locke's namesake and a proponent for natural rights (he also had his body preserved after his death in a glass case, so there you go) that Locke would choose this name as his alter ego. It also makes sense as Bentham reached out to each of the Oceanic Six (plus Walt, who most of them had completely forgotten about), urging them to return to the island and saying that "bad things" happened after they left. After all, it was Locke who told Jack that he had to stay on the island and not leave in the first place. (Love that Locke is now the de facto leader of the Others.) As for those bad things, I think they are definitely connected to the island being moved in time and space and I believe we'll soon discover that those who stayed behind on the island have gotten themselves stuck in a rather painful time loop from which they cannot escape.

As for why the castaways referred to Locke by his alias, they constructed a massive cover story about the crash, so it makes sense why they wouldn't use his real name when it's clear they must stick to their story. It's also clear that Locke--like Ben before him--clearly has the ability to leave the island at will, possibly through the same as-yet unseen method that Ben used (remember those passports and foreign currencies?) and he too had an alias that he used on the mainland. There was definite bad blood between Locke and the other castaways, so it makes sense why they wouldn't attend the funeral (and Hurley, who might have gone, was in Santa Rosa at the time); plus after his murder of Naomi, he severed any emotional bonds that may have existed between him and the Oceanic Six.

Finally, while the newspaper article claimed that Bentham killed himself in New York, none of the Oceanic Six believe this story for a second. Sayid knows that it was no suicide but a calculated murder, orchestrated by Widmore's men as part of the ongoing war between him and Ben. But lest you think that Terry O'Quinn will be off of the series, fret not: he'll obviously appear in flashbacks as we learn about all of the "bad things" that went down on the island after Jack and the others escaped... and it's not the first time that a corpse has been taken to the island, only to mysteriously get up and take a walkabout. (Ahem, Christian.)

Ben. I was utterly stunned by the revelation that whoever moves the island cannot ever return there again. It does explain Ben's ongoing crusade against Widmore and his efforts to safeguard the island, even though he's in exile. Fantastic payoffs with the Halliwax parka, the Orchid Station orientation film (though why was it rewinding? a clue perhaps to the island's location in the timestream?), and that Frozen Donkey Wheel. Plus, we learned why Ben's arm was injured in "The Shape of Things to Come" and why he was dressed for cold weather, but turned up in the desert, propelled forward in time to the year 2005. I loved that he blew a hole in the Vault by filling it with metallic items in order to gain access to the ancient island-shifting apparatus below. That wheel has obviously been there for thousands of years and the runes seem clearly connected to the four-toed statue that was glimpsed forever ago. Still, the biggest theme of the episode is about the nature of sacrifice: of what we give up for the greater good. Ben, Michael, Sawyer, and Locke all seem to realize this; Jack does not and that is his downfall.

The Orchid. This Dharma station was clearly set up to investigate space-time issues and the Vault was located next to a pocket of exotic matter (obviously the source used to shift the island through time and space). The bunny experiment proves that the Vault actually does work: it can shift organic objects through space-time, resulting in a second Bunny #15 appearing a few minutes in the future (as seen in the outtakes of the Orchid Station orientation film). Loved that Locke asked Ben if this was the "magic box" and how Ben sneered at Locke's gullibility on the subject. Far be it for Ben to tell Locke that there is no such "magic box" on the island. Ben's shift of the island's location in space-time produces a similar noise and electromagnetic discharge as the Swan's failsafe mechanism, turning the sky white and filling the air with an eerie hum; the result is clearly related to the Casimir effect and creates something akin to a wormhole through which the island and its surroundings (including the people aboard the Zodiac raft, the water, and the Hydra island) is shifted. Awesome!

Michael. I definitely think Michael is sadly deader than a doorknob, especially since Christian appeared right before the C4 detonated and told him that he "can go now." To me, Christian's message was a distinct indication that the island has released Michael from his servitude; it had saved him from death dozens of time to ensure that he would be standing right there, keeping the freighter from exploding. Without him, everyone would have been killed aboard the Kahana; his presence and forethought with the liquid nitrogen ensured that the Oceanic Six managed to escape, along with Desmond and Lapidus. The island has a purpose for everyone and once you've outlived your usefulness, it's time to go. Charlie had to die in order for Penny to find them and so did Michael, who redeemed himself for the murder of Libby and Ana-Lucia by saving Jack and the others.

Jin and Sun. As for Jin, I don't think he's dead. I don't know why other than a voice in the back of my head saying that he's still alive, somehow and managed to survive the blast. He hasn't fulfilled his purpose in the grand scheme of things yet, though that doesn't stop Sun from thinking that he's dead and mourning his passing (hence the breakdown at his grave). It was absolutely heartbreaking to see Sun screaming for Jin and Lapidus unable to turn the helicopter around to save him. Michael was meant to send Jin upstairs but Jin stayed behind in order to help by trying to defuse the bomb... and never even got to say goodbye to his wife.

However, like Penny and Desmond before them, I definitely think that Sun will attempt to find the island. While Penny never gave up hope that Desmond was alive, Sun's purpose in finding the island (and how amazing was her scene in London with Widmore?) is far more nefarious. She blames Jack for Jin's death and has clearly chosen her side in the war between Widmore and Ben. We know that Sun is a consummate and skilled liar but I believed her when she confronted Widmore and told him that they shared mutual interests. (I loved her line about how "they are not the only ones who left the island," a clear allusion to both Ben and perhaps Desmond.) I think she's out for vengeance and will stop at nothing to find the island once more. Sun as a villainess intrigues me and I don't see how the other members of the Oceanic Six will be able to persuade her to join their cause. It's going to be quite a journey for her character and one that I am very eager to see.

The Intruder. I got goosebumps when Kate is awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of an intruder and a seriously creepy phone call. Grabbing a gun (I'm surprised she doesn't sleep with one in the nightstand drawer), she heads into Aaron's room where she sees... Claire watching over Aaron. Claire warns her not to take Aaron back to the island and Kate wakes up in bed. I'm a little confused by whether it was in fact Claire (or a manifestation/ghost) or something else entirely. The voice on the phone tells Kate, "The island needs you. You have to go back before it's too late," but Claire's message seems to invalidate this, stating that Kate can't bring Aaron back with her... though Ben tells Jack that they all need to return to the island (even the dead Locke). I'm not sure what to believe, but ghosts seems to be popping up left and right on the mainland, from Claire (if she is in fact dead) and Christian to Charlie and Mr. Eko. What do the ghosts want (seemingly for them to go back) and why does their meaning seem garbled?

Penny. Loved that it was Penelope Widmore who saves them when it was her father who put them in their current predicament in the first place and it was only fitting that her vessel was called the Searcher. How absolutely heartwarming was her reunion with Desmond? It was a scene that I wondered would ever play out on the series (least of all with two seasons to go!) and erased by worry about Frank and Desmond being found with the Oceanic Six. Good to see the listening station's Henrik aboard the Seacher as well. Will Pen and Des have to remain in the shadows, hiding from both Widmore and Ben? And how will they be drawn back into the story again, especially with Ben on a mission to kill Penelope as payback for Widmore's mercenary Keamy slaughtering Alex?

Walt. Man, that kid has gotten old. Four seasons may have gone by on the series but Malcolm David Kelley looks like he got about ten years older and grew about three feet taller. I loved the heartbreaking way that he asked Hurley why none of them ever tracked him down once they returned to the mainland and the sad way that Hurley just shrugged. I've always had a bit of a problem that Walt was just sort of out there, given the survivor's cover story, as he clearly was aboard Oceanic Flight 815 and would have appeared on the passenger manifest. Sure, his grandmother knew to keep silent about what he had told her about the island, but Walt seems like a weak link in the cover story and one that could easily be exploited by Matthew Abbadon, Widmore, and the conspiracy. If it's necessary for all of them return to the island, won't the same hold true for Walt as well? And if that's really Walt, then who appeared to Locke on the island in "Through the Looking Glass"? Curious.

Charlotte. I was blown away when Miles revealed that he knew that Charlotte had been been to the island before and still hadn't found where she had been born. It's a stunning revelation that will obviously play a huge role in Season Five as we learn more about the explorers' backstories. If Charlotte was actually born on the island, how did she manage to end up on the mainland? We are told who her parents are and that she has two sisters, so is she adopted? Did her entire family leave the island? And if so, have we seen her in the past? My money is that she's actually little Annie, Ben's ginger-haired friend from the Dharma days. We never saw Annie die and haven't ever seen her again (plus time moves differently on the island than on the mainland), so it's entirely possible that she could be little Annie all grown up. Hmmm. There's definitely more to our cultural anthropologist than meets the eye...

Juliet. Was it just me or did Juliet seem not too surprised that she wasn't getting off the island in the end? Maybe it's the fact that she's gotten thisclose to escaping several times in the past and yet something has managed, each time, to derail her plans at the eleventh hour. Still, the sad look in her eyes spoke voulmes, as she swigged from a Dharma bottle of rum as she watched the smoky wreckage of the Kahana sink into the ocean and offers a wry smile as Sawyer walks up out of the ocean. Hmmm. Am I seeing some potential sparks here between them? Wouldn't that be just fitting if the two people jilted by Jack and Kate end up together in the end?

Best line of the evening: "So?" - Ben to Locke, after being told that he's just ensured the deaths of every man and woman aboard the Kahana by brutally stabbing Keamy.

Ultimately, I thought this was an astonishingly powerful way to end the season and will make the wait until the series returns next winter unbearable. Sure, there's the Octagon Global Recruiting experience to look forward to this summer (and likely something major will be going down at this year's Comic-Con as a result), but I want to get Lost now and find out just what happened to the survivors who didn't get off the island. I'm already anxious with anticipation for Season Five.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer
(CBS); Most Outrageous Moments/Most Outrageous Moments (NBC;); Friday Night SmackDown! (CW; 8-10 pm); National Spelling Bee (ABC; 8-10 pm); Little Black Book (FOX; 8-10 pm)

9 pm:
NUMB3RS (CBS); Dateline (NBC; 9-11 pm)

10 pm:
NUMB3RS (CBS); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Sarah Jane Adventures on Sci Fi.

On tonight's repeat episode of the Doctor Who spin-off ("The Lost Boy"), a missing boy turns out to be a genetic match for Luke, whom Sarah Jane sends to live with the boy's family while she probes his disappearance. Afterwards, it's the first season finale of Sarah Jane Adventures ("The Lost Boy, Part Two"), in which a Slitheen threat is uncovered as Sarah and Maria investigate Luke's new parents, who have a use for the archetype himself in their quest to destroy the Earth.

9 pm: Doctor Who on Sci Fi.

Season Four of Doctor Who continues tonight with "The Poison Sky," as the Doctor's old enemies the Sontarans attempt to transform Earth's atmosphere in order to suit their needs by unleashing a flood of poisonous gas ingenuously concealed inside ATMOS car emissions regulators/GPS devices.

10 pm: Battlestar Galactica on Sci Fi.

On tonight's episode ("Sine Qua Non"), a Cylon base star with President Laura Roslin and Gaius Baltar aboard disappears, leaving the Colonial fleet in chaos, as a power struggle for control of the leadership manifests itself.

Comments

Vance said…
That was an amazing wrap up post for an amazing finale episode Jace! Wow. Seriously, how many times did you watch it? I missed like half those points you mentioned!
rockauteur said…
Great episode, great wrap up Jace!

Why no talk about Sayid springing Hurley from Santa Rosa? Where will Hurley bring him? I half expected Hurley/Sayid to show up with Ben at the funeral home at the end with Jack.

Question - how far forward in 2005 did Ben end up in the desert? I can't remember from his episode... though seeing when the Oceanic 6 are rescued, its also 2005, how much forward is it? Though finally it came full circle how the polar bear ended up in Tunisia... Seems like perhaps someone in the past used the polar bear to operate the donkey wheel, thus saving someone from actually being exiled from the island... but who? And since it was cold in the room, perhaps the polar bear resided in there.

When was the room built? Seemed like no one had tried to move the island since the orientation films were created, seeing as putting metal in the room caused the chamber to fracture. I think the tape rewound because it was at the end of the tape maybe - usually beta decks automatically rewind like that if the tape runs out... unless of course your theory holds true.

Still so many unanswered questions though!

Good call on Charlotte being Annie. I thought the same thing. But wouldn't see have recognized Ben or thought more fondly of him? Unless she doesn't remember her time on the island.

Can't wait for Jack and Kate to return to see Juliet and Sawyer shacking up! He even looks kind of like Goodwin.

Are we sure that Daniel and the other red shirts got absorbed by the island's movement? I hope so, as I don't want to see the last of Daniel... Though it is hilarious that every single non-named survivor of Oceanic has been killed, save the handful of redshirts with Daniel... Thankfully, we won't have to introduce Nikki and Paulo again! Though I do wonder what happened to the guy that Hurley used to play golf with. Haha.

Jin - he may still be alive... but he certainly couldn't have gotten absorbed with the time shift of the island since the freighter wreckage was still visible (or was it?) from the helicopter after the island was moved... I wonder if Walt is back in the cast for next season, now that they can actually use him again.
Anonymous said…
It's amazing to me everything you pull out of an hour (or in this case, two) of television. I though I knew what was going on, but you always prove that I need to watch the episode again keeping in mind the points you make.

Last night posed so many questions that I don't even know where to begin, but I'll post as I think.

Can't wait for next season!
Anonymous said…
Once again an amazing critique of an amazing episode. My favorite bit was when Locke asked Ben how deep the Orchid station was and Ben said "deep". I know Locke was in the coffin but I don't think he's dead. Or if he is the island will definitely bring him back to life.
"Still, the biggest theme of the episode is about the nature of sacrifice: of what we give up for the greater good. Ben, Michael, Sawyer, and Locke all seem to realize this; Jack does not and that is his downfall."

Very well put!

Fantastic episode. So, so much to think about. And I can't believe how good of a job they did keeping us guessing as to who was in the coffin. I'm heartbroken that John is dead but, luckily in this show, it doesn't mean we've seen the last of him. I'm sure he will still be a huge figure next season as we find out what "bad things" happened when the Oceanic Six left the island.
Anonymous said…
All of the scenes between Ben and Locke in The Orchid were brilliant. I'm going to miss seeing the two of them together!

It will be very interesting to see where everyone is at the beginning of next season. I really hope that Fariday is still around and I'm thrilled that they didn't kill Desmond and Frank off.

And Walt, very possibly, could be back in the picture too.

With everyone scattered everywhere, the real question now is...where's Vincent?
Oskar said…
I'm 100% sure that Jin is dead, and I have been ever since the scene at the gravestone. If Jin survived, that would've totally undermine the dramatic impact of both that scene and now the scene at the helicopter. You can't play it out like that and then have the character be alive.

Also: it would be a HUGE deus ex machina. I mean, come on, he was on a boat that exploded in the middle of the ocean, with the only near-by land removed a few minutes later. The only boat close by, the Searcher, didn't pick him up. In order to survive, Helios literally has to come down on a flying carriage and fly him off to Athens (that's a Euripides reference, just for all you drama-majors). I mean, any explanation would be ridiculous and contrived, and far below the dignity of the writers.

He's dead as doornails, I'm sure of it.
Anonymous said…
I think Jin is dead too though I do hope that he manages to survive somehow. He wasn't below deck after all but could have survived by clinging to some wreckage. Like you said, if the island wants him to live he will. How awesome was the scene where Sayid fights Keamy? Kick ass.
Anonymous said…
How can Charlotte be Annie when Ben has at least ten years on her? Ben and Annie looked like they were close to the same age when they were kids. In fact, he could be old enough to be Charlotte's father. He looks to be in his 40s, and she could be in her 20s. Now that would be interesting. But is Charlotte Annie? I don't think so; the age discrepancy is too large.
Anonymous said…
@Jennifer. We've seen that time on the island moves on a different rate than time for the rest of the world so I think it's possible that she is the adult Annie especially if she left the island at some point.
The CineManiac said…
I had a whirlwind night of Lost last night as I had been away from both internets and tv for about 2 weeks. I watched all 3 hours last night for the first time and LOVED it!
I was surprised to see Locke in the casket as I never thought for a sec it would be him in there.
Can't wait to see where the island ended up, and how it's move effects not only the island itself and everyone on it, but the raft of people with Faraday.
Also I agree Jin's not dead. We didn't see him actually die and I think a character as integral as Jin would be let go without showing us his actual death or at least his dead body. I think he jumped off the freighter just as it exploded and is wandering somewhere in the water.
OVerall a great episode and another great blog.
Anonymous said…
@maggie. I think some people are confused about the time discrepancies with the island. Time moves at the same rate; however, when entering or leaving the island, one can become displaced in time, and they may move forward or backward in time before they reach their destination (depending on whether they are coming or going). For instance, the doctor was killed, thrown overboard, and floated to the island. While his body floated towards the island, he went backwards in time (because he didn't use the right coordinates... hehe). Time itself moves at the same rate on and off the island, though. Hence the people on the island being able to talk to the people on the freighter without any kind of delay. Unless you are suggesting that Annie left the island, and when she returned, she traveled forward in time so that Ben is older and she is not. But I find that highly unlikely...
Anonymous said…
@Jennifer. I am suggesting that she did leave the island as a child and now has aged at a different rate than Ben. The island has many unusual properties, so I don't see why it would be strange that time passes at a different rate (yes, at a different rate not time-travel stuff) on the island than off, seeing as there is exotic matter present on the island. I do think she is Annie and is the last child born on the island before Aaron.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, I'm not sure what else to say here. They have shown that time moves at the same rate on and off the island on the show (what with people on the freighter communicating with people on the island in real time), but if people really want to believe that Charlotte is Annie, then I guess they are going to believe it. It seems like every time there is a new episode, someone else "has to be" Annie. Sigh.
Anonymous said…
Congratulations on a very comprehensive write-up Jace, although I couldn't agree less with the general tenor, though your assessment of Jack's failure to understand the nature of sacrifice being his downfall was absolutely spot-on. It wasn't awful, but I found it awfully disappointing after what has gone before it, from some truly shabby dialogue, wobbly sets and cheap blue-screen effects, it was as if the real production team had skipped off early and let a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs bring the season to a close. It was all about tying up all the threads and nothing else which meant it played out as a succession of story elements completely lacking in the marvelous pacing, tension and jeopardy which Lost has been so good at recently. Watching Lost I occassionally have Emperor's New Clothes moments, and I was squirming in my seat at some of this season finale's contrivances and plot weaknesses. Just a few points. Freezing the battery: laughably bad, it wouldn't have worked and yet all they had to do was freeze the detonators and dissemble the bomb while they were frozen, no more explosion. Sun blaming Jack? Doesn't make sense, any more than it does that seeking revenge on him she would ally herself with Whidmore rather than tackling Jack directly, he can't be very hard to find. But the biggest problem for me is the cover up story, which makes even less sense. It is supposedly to protect the people left behind on the island, but how does leaving Whidmore - who has tried to kill them all - as the only person that knows about their existence help them at all? Better to expose him and the fraud about the fake plane. Unless Jack's motivation was to protect the island, but that can't be right, he is no fan, and although the island is 'special' it's hardly special in a good way. After all, its chief advocate - Ben - routinely kills people and thinks nothing of it. I was elated by the brilliant return to form at the end of season three, and now I'm left glad that there are only 16 more episodes to get through. The first 14 will probably be brilliant, but on this showing, I think I'd probably not know what happens in the final two. For a fantasy show to work it relies on maintaining the suspension of audience disbelief, but when that gossamer veil is broken, as it was for me in the season four finale, everything starts to look, well, just a little bit silly.
Anonymous said…
terraling, i don't agree with your comments at all. was the greenscreen effect when they flew away from the freighter great? no but this ep was obviously rushed thru post to make it to air on time. i thought it was great and when people don't like something they often look for all the flaws instead of seeing what worked. besides, lost doesn't have 16 eps left, it has 34.
Anonymous said…
adam33 - you have me wrong, I do like Lost, I love it, which is why it is so disappointing when it falls short of its own potential, but I'm not such a fan that I'm blind to the difference between a good episode and a bad one. There were some good things in these episodes but their impact was undermined by some very big flaws. 34! Yikes.
Anonymous said…
"so?" - definitely the line of the night.

Man, was that a great finale.

I don't think Jin is dead either, and I don't think his being alive will negate the cemetery scene. I think Sun might know he's alive and that scene was all part of the big lie.
Anonymous said…
Excellent wrap-up although I disagree with your comment about Jack being unable to understand the nature of sacrifice. As he demonstrated in "Through The Looking Glass", Jack was willing to let Sayid, Bernard and Jin die at the hands of The Others in order to make sure that all the other castaways would get home. Whatever else contributes to Jack's downfall, his inability to understand the nature of sacrifice probably isn't one of them.
Jace Lacob said…
Hellresident,

It's the notion of SELF sacrifice that Jack hasn't come to realize. Putting others in harm's way in order to ensure the safety of the greater good but it's another to sacrifice (a) your own freedom or (b) your place on the mythical island.

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