Friday, May 30, 2008

The Lost Season 4 Finale - What's in the box?

Everyone who watches Lost, male or female, has experienced blue balls. The scriptwriters are masters of misdirection worthy of David Copperfield, who once moved the Statue of Liberty, which is on an island. He didn't move the island, he had the audience on a slowly rotating platform so they didn't realize they had moved. It wasn't that great a trick if you ask me. Claudia Schiffer must be sapping his essence.
Pop goes the island

The other night on Lost, they moved the island. It wasn't quite the release that we'd seen in previous season finales, such as when they discovered the hatch and opened it, or when they didn't enter the numbers and the hatch caused an electromagnetic anomaly and made Desmond unstuck in time, or last season when they flashed forward to seeing Jack and Kate off the island. But it was fucking awesome.

They'd long hinted that the island was mobile, or surrounded by a space-time anomaly, or something similar that made its location difficult to reach by conventional means; helicopter pilot Frank found that the only way to reach it was to follow a precalculated bearing and ignore your senses. Faraday's time rocket experiments on the island reveal that time behaves differently there. Even beforehand, once they met the Others it was constantly hinted that escape and rescue were impossible due to the nature of the island.

Last night blew all that away. Many of the show's detractors pine on the idea that the writers have no idea where the story is going, and I think that's not only true, but the show's strongest point. It's led to some forgettable episodes like that Tales from the Crypt-esque Exposé with Nikki and Paulo, and the unfortunate end to my favorite character arc, that of Mr. Eko. But on the other hand, we've gotten a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" story that just keeps on giving. If you harp on past mysteries like "what is the black smoke," you'll be disappointed. If you enjoy the sense of wonder the show gives with having almost anything happen within a certain wavy set of rules, there is no better show on television.
He may look like a bug-eyed hedgehog, but he is a bad-ass

Ben has quickly surpassed Locke and Sawyer as the most interesting character on the show. Locke first appealed as a sort of shaman survivalist and is still living proof of the island's miraculous power; Sawyer is still the show's greatest source of comic relief, even if he's slipped a bit from bad boy to the good guy and reluctant hero, snatching that away from the whiny and driven Jack. Benjamin Linus began as an infiltrator we despised, oh how we wanted Locke or Sayid to paint the walls with his brains! But he has grown to have such depth, and such a wry sense of humor that it's impossible not to admire him if only for his Machiavellian cunning.
Wait, who's behind the bomb?

The show also rarely cheats; if we see a gun in the first act, it will go off by the third act. This time the gun is a huge chunk of C4 on the rescue freighter, and the writers do not disappoint us with a red LED timer that stops at 00:03 thanks to the gumption of our wily protagonists. They sometimes play fast and loose with the technical aspects. For example, Keamy, the psycho mercenary sent to hunt down Ben, has a transmitter on his bicep that will detonate the bomb if his heart stops. When he follows Locke and Ben into the deep underground chamber, the Orchid hatch where the mechanism to move the island resides, there's no way the transmitter would send through hundred of feet of rock and topsoil. Of course, the island may exhibit strange properties that allow this. I would have liked Michael, tending the bomb as one last act of redemption for murdering Linda and Ana-Lucia, to have set it off manually. After all he has little to live for now that Walt won't talk to him.
"And then the Texan says 'Remember the Alamo!' and throws out the Mexican!"

We got a lot of fan service this show but it was deftly handled. Kate & Sawyer get one last kiss, and a whisper we'll be wondering about. I must say I laughed when their chopper was running out of fuel and they cut to Hurley when Frank said they needed to lost a few hundred pounds to make it. He's been one of the funniest characters and now he doesn't even have to say a word to get a laugh. It's been refreshing to see a huge hairy fat dude and and a hawk-nosed bald guy star in a show that is otherwise crammed to the gills with six-pack abs and eye candy. It's part of what gives the show its character.
"Freckles, I faked all my orgasms."

We also get to see Sayid, eye candy for girls and combat candy for guys, beat the living shit out of Keamy in one of the show's best-choreographed fight scenes. Usually we have two brawlers going at it, now that superhuman Ethan is gone, but two trained fighters was a treat. Nice touch having him get stabbed with his own knife, too. Another fun bit of action was when the Others took out Keamy's squad by the chopper; we hadn't seen the Jungle Others or "Other Others" as I like to call them in a while; they took out the mercs with tasers, bolos and grenades- apparently trying to take out the chopper as well. They went down like Reepicheep was after their ass (see the Prince Caspian movie for details).
Yay, blood!

And while they gave us one hell of a cliffhanger (what's in the booox!?!) they tied so many loose ends this time around that you can't give the usual complaint that nothing happens. Penny and Desmond are finally reunited, in a touching scene; I doubt it will be the end of that story arc, since Widmore is still out there. We also get to see what happened to Jin, though I have a feeling he's in the water surrounding the shipwreck after the explosion.
Penny, like the viewers, I have a 4 year case of blue balls.

We also find out how Ben got off the island to do his work against Widmore & company with Sayid, and why he was wearing a parka in the desert when he showed up. Moving the island from that hieroglyphic-marked chamber sent him there, leaving Locke to lead the Others. The big reveal at the end tells us that will be short-lived.
Sweet dreams, Mr. Clean

According to TVIV, the alternate endings hinted about were ruses in case it got leaked-
In addition to the televised ending with Locke in the coffin, two more possible endings were shot, likely as misinformation so that the true ending would not be leaked. These endings were broadcast the morning after season finale on Good Morning America, one showing Sawyer in the coffin and the other showing Desmond.
Just imagine the pranks you could have played with that Sawyer clip. The collective scream of female Lost fans keening out from across the country would have been deafening. Though admittedly, I'd have missed his attitude and the nicknames he gives everybody.

Of course we have some new mysteries; what happened to Locke? Did Michael and Jin die in the explosion, or where they saved by Jack's Ghost Dad? Is Sun working with Mr. Widmore against Ben, or is she planning to betray him? Does the island want everyone back, including Walt and Aaron? Can't they just move the island like Ben did and get pooped out in the Sahara? Why does that Aussie chick from the freighter look like Rocky Dennis from Mask?

All this and more next September... and I'm sad to see a sixth season mentioned. I really liked the idea of a 5-season encapsulated series. Good stories have endings. And they aren't too long.


Catch up on Lost, you loser!

2 comments:

sarah said...

dude i was thinking the same thing about the heart monitor bomb thing - no way that signal would go through all that rock. And I was like a little girl at a Hannah Montana concert when i saw Penny. Hurray for Desmond. (man i love the Scots)

Anonymous said...

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/research/4266333.html?series=6

Adam from Mythbusters agrees with you!!

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