Monday, June 16, 2008

Some Thoughts on the Season Four Finale Before I Retire for the Summer...

I've been avoiding blogging about the LOST finale since I know I have so much to say about it, and since I figure I'll never remember it all at once, and it'll probably take me hours to get it all down. I wrote ten pages about last year's finale, and I liked this year's so much better. By that measure, it seems like it ought to go on for what... 20 pages? But nobody wants to read that.

In some ways, There's No Place Like Home Part II was less ground-breaking than Through the Looking Glass, since much of what we saw was stuff that we already knew would happen, particularly the rescue of the Oceanic Six. But there were so many details we didn't know about - such as the fact that Penny rescued them. I'd like to think that Charlie's death did some little bit of good in helping Penny keep the faith, though it's not like she had to wait too long after that before she talked to Desmond. I guess the point is that Charlie had to die one way or another, and better in one of the most gorgeous, self-sacrificial death scenes ever than with an arrow to the neck. Blech.

Charlie's death bothered me, but not nearly as much as the fact that it achieved the exact opposite of what he had hoped. I just found last year's finale so depressing on so many levels. So much pointless carnage. I never liked Jack's beach massacre to begin with, especially considering the fact that they were all leaving to get rescued anyway. What would have happened if Ryan and the gang had gotten there and found the camp empty? I don't know. Complications for sure. But that doesn't mean I condone Jack throwing the Hippocratic Oath out the window and doing great harm. Of course, Sayid, Jin and Bernard were in on it too, and Sawyer and Hurley participated as well - though I tend to give Hurley a pass since his intention was primarily to rescue rather than to kill, and perhaps Ryan needn't have died if he hadn't insisted on standing right in the van's way and shooting at Hurley. Anyway, ten dead Others on the beach. Ben should have sent them off to the Temple instead of on their kidnapping mission. Nobody seemed to be thinking too clearly. But what a waste.
What a waste, too, to kill Naomi, which accomplished absolutely nothing. And Charlie going down into the hatch resulted not only in his own death but in Bonnie, Greta and Mikhail's as well. And by extension, the presumption is that Keamy and the gang's landing was facilitated by the Island making radio contact with the ship. So I consider The Shape of Things to Come a bookend to Through the Looking Glass, with Charlie's actions, so well-intentioned, resulting in the deaths of every member of Camp Locke, with the exception of Ben, John, Hurley, Sawyer, Aaron and possibly Claire. And Claire is a big fat maybe. What. A. Mess. And the good guys are at least partly to blame for all of it, whether intentionally or not.

There was death in this season's finale too, but it didn't feel like as much of a bloodbath, and the castaways were victims or acting in self-defense. Keamy's guys make the Others look like a bunch of pussycats, so I can't feel too badly about them getting killed. I thought maybe some of redshirt mercenaries might make it, but it never got to that point; it was just complete combat, with Richard and the gang doing most of the dirty work, though Sayid's hand-to-hand battle with Keamy was pretty impressive. I worried for him for a minute, before I remembered he was safe; kinda takes the edge off some of these scenes when the survival of some is so certain! For a moment, I allowed myself to think Keamy was taken care of, but of course there was that explosive device to be concerned about, which would have made a big mess if he's actually died that early on. What was he thinking, anyway, baiting Ben like that? Did he have a death wish? After surviving such a brutal fight, if I were Keamy, I'd think I would just be glad to be alive. Forget Ben! Run away, Keamy, and never return! And honestly, it seems to me Keamy is the only one Ben should be blaming for Alex's death, and he got his vengeance as bloodthirstily as he possibly could. Why drag Widmore into it - and especially Penny? I swear, Ben, if you kill her, I'm giving up on you altogether...

Now, Jin... That's troublesome. The scene with Sun flying away from Jin was horrible, and I was a little upset with him for not having left just a minute or two earlier... though of course he was trying to save everyone on the ship. That scene of him maneuvering his way through the corridors reminded me a lot of Titanic. Bad times... But maybe it's the eternal optimist in me - I'm still not 100% convinced Jin is dead. I think Sun is convinced, but all we actually saw was Jin running and the ship blowing up, right? No kind of actual close-up on him? I want to re-watch the episode and haven't yet, but the ship blew up from the middle, and it seemed he was close enough to the edge he might have been able to jump off the edge and cling to somebody in a lifejacket. (Again, I *think* most of the people on the ship got off and were floating in the water, but with the island gone, where can they go? Seems like their only hope is another ship passing by, and how likely is it that those who were castaways would not identify themselves as crash survivors, thus making it the Oceanic 12 or 18 or whatever?)

I've been worried about where Sun's going ever since The Glass Ballerina, when we saw a much darker side to her than we're used to. Seeing her in the future with her father makes me wonder if ruthless business mogul is her future. I certainly hope not. It also makes me feel sorry for Widmore for the second time this season, even though I've been saying for ages that he's more malevolent than Ben. He looked really haggard in the last episode. Was that before or after Ben threatened Penny? It's interesting that Sun blames him for Jin's death. Because it was his ship? Or she figures rigging the ship with explosives was his idea? There's a long string of people, from Daniel and Juliet to Desmond and Jin himself, who could be considered as having an accidental hand in his death. Widmore's so removed from everything that has happened on the Island this season, again, I'm not sure it makes much sense to go after him from a vengeance point of view.

It's a shame that Michael died - and I am pretty positive he did, since he was at the dead center of things and creepy Christian even showed up to give him his exit papers - but I guess under the circumstances it was sort of a relief. I would have rather seen him be able to go back home and rebuild a life with Walt, but I'm glad that he at least was able to do some good. Assuming some of those people did get off the boat; if not, I don't know that he actually did accomplish much... In Michael's episode, Ben told him not to blow up the ship because there were innocent people on board and he didn't want to kill them if he could avoid it. It was a nice bit of humanity from Ben, but I don't know what his plan was beyond that. Seems like in reality, everybody on the freighter was decent except for the mercenaries. If something could have just been done to keep them from getting to the island - disabling the helicopter seems like it would've been a good start, and within the realm of possibility for tech-savvy Michael - a whole lot of trouble could have been avoided. Anyway, though, I'm glad he managed to redeem himself in some sense, and to do it without killing anybody. I suppose one of the reasons the Oceanic Six didn't contact Walt was that they wouldn't have wanted to deal with questions about Michael. Who wants to break the news to a kid that his dad blew up? And they must have known, especially with Desmond joining them. I don't blame Hurley for his evasion on that topic when Walt came to visit. Incidentally, what's with Christian being the Angel of Death? His presence was especially weird because he and Michael had nothing to do with each other. I can't decide if it was creepy or comforting; it kind of reminded me of the Black Rabbit at the end of Watership Down, which is one of my favorite book endings ever.

Speaking of rabbits, I love that last year's finale was a reference to Lewis Carroll and this year's showed us "time-traveling bunnies," which just happened to be white. The first ones making the magical journey into the future, just like Alice's White Rabbit into Wonderland. Speaking of weird hatch stuff, I loved that John couldn't find the Arthuriums; when Ben said that the episode before, I said, "What makes him think John has any idea what those look like?"

I'm so conflicted about Ben. I'm pretty steamed at him for setting off the dynamite; on the other hand, I can't figure out how anybody on the island could feel safe if Keamy was still alive. Maybe they could keep him locked up in that big room where they kept Locke's dad last season... If that didn't get blown up when Keamy stormed "New Otherton," which I suppose it probably did... Anyway, Ben sure isn't much of a heroic character, and I'm pretty unsettled by what we've seen of his future. But I can't help seeing him as an anti-hero rather than a villain, and I really did feel bad for him this season, especially since The Shape of Things to Come. He's been through quite an ordeal. And after all that, in order to save the Island he has to banish himself...

The sense I'm getting is that Ben never really was supposed to be in charge at all, that Locke is "the chosen one" but since circumstances kept intervening to keep him from getting to the Island, Ben was his somewhat unsuitable replacement. I've been hearing rumors that Ben and John may actually be brothers, which actually seems somewhat plausible and would add another whole layer to the making-John-kill-Anthony-Cooper weirdness, presuming he is the father of both. Or could they both be like Anakin, the result of virgin births? I feel like that's getting a little too out there; I'll stick with Cooper, I think.

Speaking of strange familial connections, I'm really curious about Charlotte's relation to the Island. Didn't she say she was born there? The way I figure it Charlotte is probably in her late 20s, which means that she could conceivably be Ben's daughter. Maybe he got Annie pregnant and she was taken off the Island to deliver the baby and never came back, and that's why he was so adamant against Juliet taking the pregnant women elsewhere. (Though that would mean she was conceived, not born on the Island; I'm assuming women then couldn't give birth on the Island, but maybe they could...) You'd think she would have mentioned Ben to Charlotte, but maybe not. Or maybe Charlotte was born but Annie died in childbirth. Or... I don't know. Charlotte probably has nothing to do with Annie. But I'm so eager for answers on that front I'll take any potential leads that seem to pop up.

I don't know what Daniel and his raft people are going to do. I figure they're in the same boat as the people in the water, and I can't imagine they're just going to kill off everybody who was in the water when the Island disappeared. (More irony; if Daniel hadn't been so proactive about rescuing people from the Island, they would've been in much better shape. Especially Jin. Though it sounds like things go pretty sour on the Island itself...) I would love it if next season, Rose becomes the leader of the beach people, though it will probably be Sawyer, unless John shows up to make them all one big happy family.

I will say that I'm very happy with Sawyer this season. He didn't kill a single person (or even a tree frog or polar bear!). True, he threatened John and he came close to killing Ben, but aside from those isolated incidents, this season has been all about him embracing his better nature, with Hurley as his guide. He really put himself in harm's way throughout the season, and I thought jumping out of the helicopter was a spectacular gesture. (Of course, I was a little surprised to see him in there, partly because he wasn't one of the Oceanic Six and partly because he didn't seem to keen on leaving, but I guess he changed his mind.) For a long time, I've thought of Sawyer as the Han Solo of LOST, and I think he's gone from anti-hero to flat-out hero.

Speaking of heroes, I was so relieved about Desmond too, especially after first being shut up with the dynamite all that time and then almost drowning after the crash. (Jack saving him gave me a flashback to him saving Charlie season one, though Desmond's revival seemed to come a lot more quickly than that one. Thank goodness; how awful if he would've died within minutes of reuniting with Penny... Incidentally, I read an article in which the writer said he thought the whole episode was priming us to think it was Desmond in the casket, but I never really thought so; what reason would Jack have to feel so ambivalent toward him, and Kate so downright hostile?)

I love Jack, but I'm getting really sick of his hard-headedness. I'm glad he finally relented and took John's advice about lying to the world. But after all the things he's seen on the Island - and heck, after repairing Sarah's spine - how can he be so sure of himself all the time? He was wrong about being able to fix Sarah. He was wrong about Bernard being alive. He was wrong about the purpose of entering the numbers. He's been wrong about so many things, yet he always acts as though any view other than the one he has must be unequivocally wrong. Maybe his rather pathetic argument with Hurley after the Island disappeared was his desperate last grasp trying to prove the world worked according to his rules. Probably not though. I think a rather narrow view of things is just a part of who Jack is.

I'd say we're definitely going to be seeing Desmond and Penny again, but I have a feeling they and Frank are going to be relegated to pretty occasional status, which bums me out. Desmond's my favorite post-season one character, and Frank is tied for my favorite season four newbie. Penny never has been around much, but now she finally seems like one of the gang. (By the way, I loved Jack's "See you in another life, brother," though I was hoping for a little man-hug to accompany it; I get the sense, though, that aside from Penny, Desmond's not much of a hugger!) Penny still has a major role to play yet, and presumably Desmond will be fully wrapped up in that, but I don't want to think too much about the possibilities for their storyline, since we left them in such a happy place. I'd like to pretend they don't have to worry about any more unpleasantness after this. Their reunion was absolutely thrilling - though I still think The Constant trumps it. Here, finding each other seemed inevitable if they could manage to survive; in the other, it had been years since the last contact, and Desmond's very life depended on Penny answering. An absolutely perfect scene. I also like that not only did Desmond get the happiest moment of the episode, he also got several great lines, chief among them his "boom" speech.

I should have felt really shattered at seeing Locke in the coffin. He's been one of my favorites since the beginning, despite his rather erratic behavior (and it was nice to see him so concerned about the people on the freighter). I figured he was one of the major possibilities, but I just kept thinking there was no way he would leave that island willingly. So was he forced, or did he leave because things were so desperate he felt he had no choice but to get the Oceanic Six back? And how did he get back? Did he move the Island again? If that were the case, I would think he wouldn't be able to come back - but maybe it doesn't matter since he's dead, or maybe the not-coming-back thing wasn't Ben being punished so much as just the natural consequence of his Island-moving, and if he can find his way back, maybe he will be allowed to return after all. I guess part of the reason I'm not feeling properly mournful is that the only really compelling reason I can see for needing to bring Locke back is that his connection with the Island is so strong, he can not only come back from paralysis and near-death when he's there, he can be revived like Spock in The Search for Spock. It's probably just wishful thinking, but there's so much weird metaphysical stuff happening on that show I'm willing to think it possible. (By the way, I thought Ben's farewell and apology to him were fantastic. What a complicated relationship...)

Speaking of the dead, I loved the extra bit at the press conference - just a couple of minutes, but I found it extremely gratifying. Ever since Kate's episode, one of my biggest questions has been who else, according to their story, survived the crash but then died? I was thinking it was just two extra people but wasn't thinking about the fact that Aaron was born later. I was really hoping that Boone and Charlie would be the two, so I cheered a little when Jack identified them. He also said Libby was one of the ones who died. She wasn't as obvious a choice since their was no sacrificial element to her death, but I tihnk she was a good choice. Anyway, that makes me more hopeful that maybe Liam will pop up in one of these flash-forwards, especially since Damon said in LOST Magazine that we probably haven't seen the last of the DS ring. I also liked the fact that Eko got a little nod via Hurley.

I was glad to see Rose again, though it seems like almost every time she's opened her mouth this season, she's been saying something snarky. We've got Sawyer for that... I was surprised he didn't have to undergo any obstacles to "rescue" Hurley, but it worked out rather nicely. And of course, jumping into the ocean from a helicopter was a very dramatic way to save his friends. Good thing he reached the shore before Ben turned that wheel. Juliet sitting around drinking reminded me a lot of Live Together, Die Alone, as did the sky turning purple. And of course, Desmond's storyline came full circle with Penny. I really think he deserves an Emmy nod for this season, and I'd love to see him nominated, especially since he probably won't be a regular from now on. But I really think this is Michael Emerson's year for the Emmy. He was absolutely haunting in this episode, and really every episode in the second part of the season (except the Jack one that he wasn't involved in). I'm rooting for you, Michael! Speaking of Kate's home life, what was up with that dream? Was it really Claire? The Smoke Monster? Kate's subconscious trying to convince her not to return to the Island? Whatever it was, it was pretty freaky.

At the beginning of the episode, Kate said "I've spent the last three years trying to forget what happened the day we left," so that puts Locke's death in late 2007/early 2008. I was thinking they would probably end the series in 2010, but now I'm not so sure. If they're gonna go back there with John in tow, seems to me they're going to have to do it pretty quickly. I doubt they're going to want to be dragging around a body that's been dead for two years. But maybe once they return, we'll see a couple years into the future yet again? I'm guessing that in the end, whoever is left of the original castaways will probably wind up staying on the Island, especially considering how miserable the Oceanic Six are post-Island. Maybe not, though; it'll be interesting to see!

I'm curious about what they're going to do in the interim; sharp-eyed Nathan caught an ad during the broadcast for Octagon Recruiting, which is related to Dharma and touts a conference in July when all of these opportunities can be explored (curiously, the same date and city as 2008's Comic-Con ;) ) and the ABC website has a massive LOST landscape that has about a hundred clickable objects and some kind of complicated contest that, again, could potentially result in the prize of a free ride to Comic-Con. It's in San Diego; if I were Benjamin, I'd be so there!

I'm not, so I'll have to content myself with sitting around and picking apart the last season and hopefully writing a new string of poems and filks about it. I think I may be coming out of my dry spell. I know I have more to say about the finale. But this covers most of it. Surprisingly enough, this finale left me feeling pretty good about the way things are headed, at least in comparison to last year. It's a pretty nice place to leave everyone for the summer and fall. I will be returning...

Penny Girl (Danny Boy, Traditional)

The writers' strike put a bit of a damper on the fourth season of LOST, mainly in terms of developing the quartet of new characters who came from the freighter. Nonetheless, this season has had some of the most beautiful moments of the series thus far, and perhaps my favorite of them all is the life-saving phone call that occurs at the end of The Constant, a brilliant episode from start to finish. Here's my meager attempt to capture some of its glory. I think of it sort of as Desmond practicing what he's going to say to Penny when he tracks her down in 1996, to the tune of Danny Boy.

Penny Girl

Oh Penny girl, my mind, my mind is flailing.
Again, again I'm tumbling with the tide.
Adrift, alone and starless, I am sailing.
It's you, it's you can heal this great divide.

So bring me back. Pen, sing me to my senses.
With you my anchor, I will not let go,
And I'll atone for all my past offenses.
Oh Penny girl, oh Penny girl, I love you so.

Eight years from now, you'll hear the fateful chiming -
If you have faith. Oh, Penny, please believe!
And when you answer, I will praise the timing,
The perfect present on that Christmas Eve.

Then, through my tears, I'll cast away my sorrow.
Though it may seem that I am lost at sea,
You'll have my pledge to meet you in tomorrow,
My life preserved, Pen, by your constant love for me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


One of my favorite moments in this fourth season of LOST occurred at the end of Cabin Fever, when Hurley, waiting with Ben to find out Jacob's marching orders from John, opens up an Apollo candy bar and, after sharing a brief glance with Ben, breaks off the bigger piece and hands it over. No words are exchanged, but it's a moment brimming with humanity and compassion.

Throughout the show, Hurley's "love your enemies" attitude has helped dissolve many conflicts on the island and transform Sawyer from anti-hero to outright hero. I'd like to think this tiny gesture toward Ben, who has been the source of so much turmoil, might have similar good ripples - maybe taking him back, at an especially opportune moment, to the first time he was offered an Apollo bar, by the best (and, by some measures, only) friend he ever had. According to Wikipedia, Plato connected the name "Apollo" with simplicity, redemption and purification. Coincidence? I hope not.


It isn't much: a silent glance,
A second chance, a gentle touch.
A careless shrug. The greater half
From one whose laugh is like a hug,
Whose empathy bursts into bloom
Though Ben's presumed the enemy.
An act of grace so undeserved;
Surprise preserved upon Ben's face.
So off-the-cuff, this chocolate clutch.
It isn't much, but it's enough.