While that was certainly an enjoyable finale, chockful of stuff that was just plain “cool,” I’m not sure it did much to advance the story, instead just filling in some of the holes created by the season three finale a year ago. In a broad sense, this episode served to highlight the transformations some (but not all) of the characters have undergone since we first met them in 2004. I’ll get to the “cool” stuff in a minute, let me handle some old business first.
In my season three finale recap, the lingering questions I felt the episode posed were:
Who rescued them? Did everyone make it off the island? Did anyone willingly stay? Did Desmond reunite with Penny? Did the remaining Others stay hidden? Why is a suicidal Jack so certain he made a mistake in leaving the island? Who was Kate anxious to get back to at the end of the episode?
We got our answers: Penny’s boat, no, yes, yes, no, because Jeremy Bentham (Locke) told him so, and Aaron. The function of tonight’s finale seemed geared almost soley to answering those questions. While it’s nice to get answers, there are still plenty of the larger, over-arching “Questions” the show has yet to answer (what is the island, what is the smoke monster, who are the Others, etc.).
The big question from last season, though, and the big reveal of the night everyone was waiting for was the identity of the Hoffs/Drawlar funeral home coffin’s inhabitant: Johnny Locke aka “Jeremy Bentham.”
Eagle-eyed screencappers were able to provide most of the obituary Jack read in last season’s finale last year, so the Jeremy Bentham alias should be familiar:
The body of Jeremy Bentham of New York was found shortly after 4am in the 4300 block of Grand Avenue.
Ted Worden, a doorman at the Tower Lofts complex, heard loud noises coming from the victimâ€™s loft.
Concerned for tenantsâ€™ safety, he entered the loft and found the body hanging from a beam in the living room.
According to Jaime Ortiz, a police spokesman, the incident was deemed a suicide after medical tests. Bentham is survived by one teenaged son.
Memorial services will be held at the Hoffs-Drawlar Funeral Home tomorrow evening.
I speculated two weeks ago that the coffin would hold Michael, with good reason, as he appeared ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good (justifying Jack’s sadness) and no one attended the service (Michael was a murderer who alienated his own son). While that is plausible, it likely wouldn’t have had the same impact to cap a season that Locke’s reveal does. My first guess at the coffin’s inhabitant actually was Locke, back in my season three finale recap:
My initial instinct was Ben, but the likely candidate would be Locke, though I think heâ€™d at least have a few attendees at the parlor. If he was torn away from the island, he canâ€™t have been too happy or eager to contribute to society when he got back. Being back probably would have killed him, both physically and mentally. In fact, the more I think about it, the more Iâ€™m leaning toward it being Locke. However, that would also mean the best character on the show wonâ€™t be a regular part of the show next year, wouldnâ€™t it?
Well, Ben’s the best character on the show, but most of those sentiments still hold true. How could Locke possibly have come back to the mainland, unless he was either torn away, or forced to in service of the Island? As is obliquely reference throughout tonight’s episode, it looks to be the latter. In his guise as “Jeremy Bentham,” Locke visited members of the Oceanic Six in an attempt to get them back to the island. Kate referred to Bentham as “crazy,” and Jack says that he told him the only way to keep she and Aaron safe was to get them back to the Island. (Ghost Claire takes issue with that, as I’ll address later.)
That will make for some good flashbacks in season five, but the larger question: is Locke truly dead? I think we all find that hard to accept, especially in light of his ascendancy to the Island’s throne toward the end of the episode.
Perhaps, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’ll become “more powerful than [we] can possibly imagine” once he’s struck down. Death seems to be working out okay for Christian Shepherd, after all.
While the coffin didn’t contain Michael, he certainly went out with a -ahem- bang, and I have a sneaking suspicion that might be the last we see of him on Lost. The Island only seems to resurrect those who have a purpose in serving the Island, and Michael seems to have fulfilled his. Christian, as the Island’s avatar, appeared just before it detonated to tell him, “you can go now, Michael.” The Island prevented Michael from killing himself back in the States so he could fulfill his ultimate purpose and delay the explosion long enough for the Oceanic Six to get off the freighter. As star-crossed a character as ever there was, Michael redeemed himself in the end.
- Let’s get right to the coolest scene of the episode, in which Ben journeys into yet another secret room/catacomb to turn a big “frozen donkey wheel” (the codename by which the show’s producers referred to the finale) and move the island.
There’s more than just the wheel to examine in that chamber, of course. There seemed to be two tablets of some kind, or maybe gravestones. The stone structures in the chamber are covered in the same sort of hieroglyphs we’ve seen on the Swan Station/Hatch counter, and on the door Ben opens to seek out Cerberus the Smoke Monster.
(Needless to say, we all know what happens immediately after Ben moves the island from a few episodes back, when he pops up in the middle of the Sahara Desert wearing that Dharma parka.)
- The Orchid, finally revealed in all her dusty glory. The purpose, as we can surmise from the orientation video featuring Dr. Edgar Halliwax, is transporting any organic matter placed in a chamber called “The Vault” through the space-time continuum. In the video, the test subject is a rabbit, who they’ll transport ahead in time 100 milliseconds. Just before that happens in the video, however, it suddenly starts rewinding of its own accord. A faulty VCR or is that somehow a side effect of The Vault’s effects?
The Vault’s effects come courtesy of a Casimir effect generated by a nearby pocket of negatively-charged “exotic matter.”
The attractive force between two surfaces in a vacuum – first predicted by Hendrik Casimir over 50 years ago – could affect everything from micromachines to unified theories of nature.
What happens if you take two mirrors and arrange them so that they are facing each other in empty space? Your first reaction might be “nothing at all”. In fact, both mirrors are mutually attracted to each other by the simple presence of the vacuum.
Imagine trying to hold a pencil upright on the end of your finger. It will stay there if your hand is perfectly stable and nothing perturbs the equilibrium. But the slightest perturbation will make the pencil fall into a more stable equilibrium position. [PhysicsWorld]
As best I can boil that down, whatever effect is generated by the “exotic matter” causes the organic matter nearby (the bunny) to temporarily “perturb” its natural equilibrium with the space-time continuum. The Vault isolates those effects to its’ chamber and the result is whatever material is placed there is sent forward a certain amount of time. The duration would seemingly be the amount of time it takes for that bunny to come back to its natural equilibrium.
Yeah. Time travel, baby.
- So how does all of this allow for a large island to wink out of existence and pop up somewhere else on the globe? I dunno, we may need to resurrect Einstein to help us out here, but you could extrapolate that if The Vault harnesses a small fraction of the “exotic matter” to transport a rabbit into the future 100ms, the matter unleashed at its’ full potential could yield much more significant results.
In fact, maybe the Island hasn’t gone anywhere, but went into the future. It’ll eventually reappear once it returns to “equilibrium.” The Island’s inhabitants, meanwhile, need to wait for the rest of the world to catch up with them. Right? Am I making sense?
- I’ve enjoyed the interplay between Locke and Ben quite a bit, and it’s become more and more apparent that Ben has been grooming Locke (reluctantly, as that bullet to Locke’s gut last year will attest). Locke has a bit to go in terms of getting to the “twelve steps ahead of everyone else” mentality that Ben had and his naivete still shows through at times (“is this the magic box?”), but he’s gained enough knowledge under Ben’s tutelage to take over for him.
Ben knows it’s his time to go, the signs growing increasingly apparent since Locke first had his Messiah-like introduction to the Others last year. Michael Emerson plays Ben magnificently down in the frozen wheel chamber, the pained emotion plainly evident on his face as he knows he’s about to leave the only home he’s ever really had…for good. “I hope you’re happy now, Jacob.”
He has plenty to do back on the mainland, though, as we’ve borne witness to this season. His assassin training program turned out a good one in Sayid, and judging by his meeting with Jack in the episode’s final scene, he’s gone to work ensuring the Six return to the Island, as the Island itself demands. And if Locke truly is dead, the whole “whoever moves the Island can never come back” concept may have to be revisited.
- In that same vein, it occurred to me that Ben was testing Kate when they were running from Keamy in the jungle. He falls (intentionally?) and Kate comes back to help him up. Later, in the helicopter clearing with the Others surrounding them, he turns away from Richard Alpert and toward Kate, asking her to cut his bonds. Like we’ve said countless times: always twelve steps ahead, that Ben is.
- Walt returns, and he looks even older than he did earlier this season. “You’re getting big, dude” is an appropriate response for both Hurley and the audience. Hard to believe he was the small, squeaky-voiced kid from season one.
He questions Hurley as to why he and the rest of the Six are lying about what happened to Flight 815 (one wonders why Walt hasn’t been discovered as one of the survivors; he’s not exactly concealing himself by walking out in the open and visting one of the Six in public), and the big guy tells him it’s to protect those they left behind. It’s not clear if Walt knows his father is dead yet, but I’m thinking he’ll have a more prominent role in the final two seasons, in light of the supernatural abilities he’s exhibited thus far.
- Thanks to the official podcast with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, I made sure to catch the re-airing of the episode from two weeks ago at 8pm because it contained an extended Oceanic press conference that gave us a few more tidbits about the Six’s fabricated story. They’ve long said eight people made it to the uncharted island of Membata, seemingly leaving the identity of two dead castaways up for grabs. Well, it’s actually three, since Aaron wasn’t born when they first got to the island (in their story). Jack reveals during the press conference that the other three were Boone, Libby, and Charlie, all of whom died before they were rescued. I have no idea, at this point, why he picked those three people to lie about, since there’s no way their bodies would’ve made it there….or did they?
- Ghost Claire makes an unexpected appearance in Aaron’s bedroom back in the States, shocking Kate out of what she thinks was a dream. We know better, having seen Charlie make a return to Hurley’s mental hospital earlier this year.
Of import is that she tells Kate not to take Aaron back to the island (“don’t you dare bring him back, Kate”), which would be at odds with what Bentham/Locke was telling Jack (that the only way to keep Kate and Aaron safe was to bring them back), and with the Australian psychic’s insistence that Claire be the one to raise the child, else the terrible danger surrounding him take hold. I eagerly await the conflict between Locke and the Island’s many ghosts next season. Jack mentions to Ben that Bentham/Locke told him that “some very bad things happened” after he left the Island. Intriguing.
- Just before the Others attack Keamy and his team in the helicopter clearing, we hear the familiar “whispers.” This might be the first time we’ve seen so direct a connection between them and the Others themselves. It’s been simple to guess that the whispering came from the Others in the past, but this is tacit confirmation. There still seems to be a slightly supernatural bent to the whispering, perhaps they have some sort of technology that can project their voices. Despite their bedraggled appearances, they have access to plenty of technology, like the electric blow dart that killed one of the mercenaries.
- The voice Kate hears on the phone is clearly playing in reverse, a tactic we’ve seen utilized many times on Lost. I’ll have to wait for another site to do the reversing for me.
- Charlie apparently isn’t the only dead castaway paying Hurley a visit. When Sayid comes to Santa Rosa to take him, Hurley appears to be playing chess with himself.
As he leaves, he makes a final move: “checkmate, Mr. Eko.” Is this an actual hallucination or is Eko actually appearing to Hurley the same way Charlie does?
- Did Sun telling Michael she was pregnant strike anyone as odd? Maybe not that she told him, but the way she told him. There seemed to be some underlying subtext there in Sun manner, one that made me question whether or not that baby might actually be Michael’s. (I don’t think so, as I don’t remember her giving birth to a black baby, but something strange seemed to be going on in tonight’s scene).
- Charlie was right about the freighter not being Penny’s boat, but it turns out Ms. Widmore did indeed have a ship of her own out there, the “Searcher.”
An apt if obvious name.
- From the moment we met Charlotte, her eagerness to see the island seemed a bit off, as if she had a familiarity with it not possible for someone that’s never been there before. That assumption turns out to have some traction, as Miles confronts her as to why she’s about to depart on the Zodiac with Daniel after “all that time you’ve been trying to get back here.” Miles knows more than he’s letting on, but Charlotte more than confirms it when she tells Daniel she’s staying: “would it make any sense if I told you I was still looking for where I was born?” A child of Dharma, perhaps?
- Michael may be gone for good, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Jin. He had time to at least jump off the freighter before it exploded. Yunjin Kim (Sun) did a great job trying to convince us he was dead, however, giving a powerful performance in the helicopter. It’ll be good to see her have more to do than look sad and yell at Jin next season.
- If you blinked during the final commercial break, you might’ve missed the start of yet another online viral marketing game related to Lost. A commercial for “Octagon Global Recruiting” advertised their presence in San Diego July 24-27 to recruit volunteers to contribute to a research project.
The dates and location can only refer to the annual San Diego Comic-Con, which the Lost crew has always provided some juicy stuff at. (We got The Orchid orientation video outtakes last year.) For now, there’s just a website, which reveals that the research project Octagon is recruiting for is with the Dharma Initiative. Stay tuned this summer…
Other Stuff from Other Sites
- One of the items presented to young Locke during Richard Alpert’s test was a “Mystery Tales” comic book. Some dedicated Lost fans got their hands on a copy and devoted an entire site to it: http://www.mysterytales40.com/
- “According to a sound file sent to me by reader Russ Boyd, the backward voice on Kate’s phone said, ‘The island needs you….You have to go back before it’s too late.'”
Here it is (turn up your volume; it’s a bit low):[audio:phone_whisper.mp3]
- Some alternate endings undoubtedly filmed to keep cast and crew in the dark:
It’ll be another long wait ’til January for season 5, but there will undoubtedly be some developments over the summer in this new Octagon online marketing campaign, so keep your Interweb dial tuned right here. As I said last year, it’s nice to see the number of hits these posts get each week, and to know my exhaustive and slightly insane work on these is being read by someone. Thanks again for reading, and see you soon.