Friday, May 30, 2008

Your Buddy, Your Pally, Your Season Finale: "Lost"

What Happened, Basically (in no particular order, because what's the point, really?):
1) The original castmembers: The Oceanic 6, more through chance than design, made their way off-island, and concocted a cover-story to keep the rest of the islanders safe from any further Widmore-related attacks.

2) The newer favorites: Charlotte and Miles decided to stay on the island for reasons known only to them; Daniel Faraday (I like using his full name) tried like hell to leave (also for reasons known only to him), only to be sucked away with the island mid-boat-trip; Frank Lapidus (same here) flew the Oceanic 6 to "safety"; Desmond was reunited with Penny (much sooner than I expected, actually) when she found the group out at sea.

3) The Island/The Islanders: In "moving the island" (which, appeared to be a literal event - or at least a "re-cloaking" of the location), Ben was cast out, while Locke took on the role of new Others leader with a weird little smile; Sawyer's stuck with Juliet, and...shit, I can't even keep track, how many more castmembers are there?!

4) Who died? Well, by appearances (read: I'll believe it when I see bodies), mean sonufabitch mercenary Keamy (first during an extended knock-down fight with Sayid, then definitively during a much shorter encounter with Ben), Jin (blowed up real good with the freighter), and Michael (but c'mon - he got visited by ghost-Jack's-Dad, so...probably not so much).

5) Flash-Forward Stuff: Turns out burn-out addict Jack, responsible-mom Kate, assassin-Sayid, and nutso-Hurley were all visited by an undercover Locke, before his "suicide" (he's the body in the coffin from last year's finale); Sun, now a hardcore corporate type, is forging some kind of alliance with Charles Widmore; and Ben visited Jack with a proposition for getting back to the island, provided everyone - including Body of Locke - comes along.
6) Misc: Walt visited Hurley, and, uh...well, that's puberty for you. And a lot of other shit I can't remember happened, too. Come on, that was a pretty good recap there, considering I'm not getting paid by Television Without Pity, right?

How Good Was It?:
Very good, in the sense that the middle of a good book is good. Not at all satisfying on its own, but for what it sets up, hoooo-boy. This year's finale was all about prepping the structure and dropping hints for the next two years.

Which is to say: Now is not the time to jump on board with this show. If you've never watched it, borrow or Netflix the previous seasons. If you gave up during season 3 like everyone else, sit down with a friend who watches and prepare to ask a lot of questions that get flustered responses of "...Look, don't worry about that right now."

But god bless ABC for trying to get new viewers involved anyway, by occasionally airing one of their pop-up-info reruns, where a text box at the base of the screen tells you thinks it thinks you're apparently too stupid to piece together for yourself. Tidbits like, "Sawyer gives a lot of people nicknames," and "These are C4 explosives" during the scene where you can clearly read "C4" on the EXPLOSIVES the characters are all talking about.


My favorite character bits were the rare displays of deadpan humor. While Hurley and Sawyer (and Sayid, for a drier joking style) are usually the go-to comic relief characters, lately it's been Ben and Miles walking away with the prize:

When somewhat-psychic Miles tells Charlotte he knows she was on the island before, she cagily asks, "What do you mean?" to which he replies, mock-dumbly, "Yyeeaahh...what do I mean?" and walks away. And pretty much any time Ben has to explain anything to Locke, the two become the mystical-messiah equivalents of Laurel and freaking Hardy.

Did the Strike Hurt the Season?:
Yes and no. On the one hand, the tightened season forced them to streamline the story a little bit, which means there was virtually no filler on any episode. On the other hand, that meant the audience had a lot of paying attention to do, since there wasn't much slowing down to explain (which is going to make for a few frustrating episodes next year, I'm sure, as they actually spell out some things for the slower viewers).

Based on producer interviews, the short straws apparently got pulled by the new characters (the "freighties" - and let me just say now how sick I am of every little fucking thing getting a nickname on this show, especially when it gets referenced later BY A CHARACTER). Fleshing-out flashbacks for Miles, Charlotte, Frank and Daniel were planned but unfortunately postponed until next year. This does not bother me, because it ensures that four well-concocted new characters will get to stick around for at least one more season.

What I Hope Happens Next Year:
Man, that's a loaded question, since "what I hope for" versus "what the producers will give me" might likely be two very different things. But for the hell of it, here's what I think will happen:

1) The structure of the show will shift to the Oceanic 6, etc.'s attempts to return to the island as the main plot, with the island action taking the flashback role;

2) The time-tossed romance of Desmond Hume and Penny Widmore will remain a focal point - particularly as revenge-minded Ben (and by extension, Sayid) targets Charles Widmore's daughter, setting Desmond directly at odds with the rest of the cast;

3) More goddamn shit I can't reasonably explain.

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