written by: damon lindelof and carlton cuse. the puppetmasters.

directed by: jack bender, director of all premieres and finales. it has been announced that he will also direct the series finale, and not jj abrams.

cinematography by: john bartley, who, i think with this episode has successfully returned the show to its 'cinema look,' after having dipped noticeably into 'tv look' during the middle part of the season. here's hoping we get the best work from everyone for the final season. (i'm looking at you, people who carve styrofoam walls to look like rocks!) the reveal shot of the statue was a mindblowing, and beautiful effects shot.

nutshell: as a season finale, i felt this was narratively about on par with the season 2 finale. despite unloading huge chunks of mythology, the road toward the final moment was riddled with strange character decisions - not to mention a conceit that will potentially undo everything we've invested in for 5 years. it introduced jacob, who is enigmatic, but puzzling. it contained classic lost finale tropes: taking an explosive to the hatch, while season 5 was beloved by hard core fans who relished delving into the dharma initiative, it also alienated fans of the character-driven, linear drama. to be honest, i have my concerns too. i had to rewatch the entire show to renew my love for it. my only hope is that damon and carlton know what theyve done, understand the risks involved, and will be able to talk us through what looks to be the riskiest narrative choice yet.

  1. season 5
  2. the first scene
  3. jacob and his nemesis/white and black
  4. the loophole
  5. the tragedy of john locke
  6. jacob's touches
  7. jacob's non-touches
  8. the changing of minds
  9. preboomer
  10. fingers crossed

1. season 5

let's tackle this from the beginning of the season.

it began with an alarm clock reading 8:15 and a skipping record; a metaphor for the story to come. we saw pierre chang nursing baby miles, then while recording the arrow station orientation film, he was interrupted by an accident at the orchid station - where faraday was present. think about it; after a whole season we learn that season 5 began mere hours before its finale, the day of the incident. one of the problems with extremely fractured narrative is that it makes it easy to overlook how much time is passing (or not passing) between events. remember at the end of season 3 when jack stood on the bridge ready to commit suicide? it took us two years of storytelling to get there, but for jack, eleven days later he was dropping jughead into the swan station shaft.

the season also began with jack looking down into locke's coffin, and deciding that he and ben must attempt to bring everyone back. this plotline was the weakest aspect of the season, because the motivations behind it were so muddled. we were asked again and again to simply trust that a) bad things happened because they left, and b) everyone needs to go back. on first viewing, i found this plotline frustrating, and in some ways, filler, because the island story was far more engaging - we got dharma, radzinsky, rousseau, the statue.. everything on-island was adding depth to the story, whereas off-island events felt like placeholders, existing merely to get characters from point a to b. both on and off-island stories are plot driven, but the on-island story activated the characters in more interesting ways.

one problem with the off-island storyline was that by jumping three years, it took our beloved characters to new situations that didn't always gel with the chronology - such as how not all the puzzle pieces of jack's deterioration quite fit into place. it was clear that the flashforward story had not been planned as tightly as the first three seasons - or there simply wasn't enough time in these shorter seasons to course correct, retcon, and massage the story.

another problem with s4 and the early half of s5 is that the the 'improvisational' phase of 'lost' is over, and i think we saw some growing pains associated with that. while there's no question that damon and carlton know how to write great endings, the larger story, for the first 2.5 years was something they could play with very freely, like a del close improv game. the difficulty though comes toward the end of the game when the writing is no longer as much about throwing out new ideas, but taking the loose strands and pulling them back into satisfying yet surprising conclusions.

season 5 holds up much better when viewed back-to-back, in retrospect. knowing what's at stake for mrs. hawking helps motivate her crazy speech about the lamp post station. we also now know that when mrs. hawking tells jack he 'has to go back,' she's doing so because she met him on the island in 1977, when she was 40.

a conscious decision was made to make jack almost completely passive in season 5. after his attempted suicide, he does nothing but follow orders: he does what ben tells him to do. he does what mrs. hawking tells him to do, he's a dharma janitor, and doesn't protest. in the commentary for 'because you left' damon and carlton talk about this choice specifically, saying that jack is resting this season because next year he's going to have to do extremely difficult things. tantalizing!

another aspect that sets s5 apart is the radical way it broke the show's established narrative rules - and not just by doing time travel. the rules were broken when the 'island story' finally broke its non-stop 108-day streak of action which had continued since the pilot episode. the linearity of the island story was crucial to the structure of 'lost:' it allowed narrative freedom in the flashes without confusing the audience, and also kept a consistent stream of tension (i did the rewatch with a friend, new to lost. during the middle of season 4 he exclaimed 'omygod.. they have been though.. so.. much!!!!'). that relentless feeling comes from the linear storyline. now that we've jumped three years for all the characters, the show has to be very clear about defining the new 'present,' and has a lot of momentum to rebuild if it's going to match the previous intensity.

thus the central question of season 5: determinism vs. free will. can time be fought against? can a person hold power over time? has this debate/question ever been dramatized so intriguingly? has time travel ever been used to tackle huge philosophical questions in this way? has a television show ever held so tightly to its own very strict rules about time travel? i don't think so.

2. the first scene

the opening scene of 'the incident' riffs on many classic season openers - it introduces jacob in the same way that we first met juliet, desmond, and dr. chang: through the preparation of a meal, or other domestic activity to establish this mystery person's everyday life. we saw desmond working out, making a protein shake; juliet burned her hand making book club muffins ; chang warms a bottle for baby miles. even the opening of season 4 featured jack making a screwdriver for 'breakfast.' the only thing missing from jacob's intro is the element of recorded music, which played so heavily in previous openings. but given jacob's time period, music isn't very practical. rather than the disc of a record or cd, 'the incident' opens with a shot of jacob's spinning wheel, making the thread to be woven into his tapestry. the spinning wheel conjures images of the frozen donkey wheel, as well as chang's 'skipping record.'

jacob is wearing white, and the inscription at the top of the tapestry is a quote from homer's 'odyssey' reading, 'may the gods grant thee all that thy heart desires.' at the end of the episode, we see the completed tapestry, along with two more quotes that read 'may the gods grant thee happiness' in the middle, and at the bottom, '(only) the dead have seen the end of war.' this image from lostpedia shows a reconstruction of the bottom of the tapestry from multiple shots, and also shows how the piece retrieved from the cabin fits into it. the 'three ships' approaching the statue is interesting.. do they represent the black rock, dharma, and flight 815?

the classic 'lost' opening also features an interruption: dynamite blowing open the hatch; flight 815 breaking apart overhead; a deadly incident at the orchid station; hurley careening down the highway.. no real interruptions here, only the pristine ship floating offshore, likely the black rock (which, according to the auctioneer selling the first mate's ledger, places the date somewhere around march, 1845), and the arrival of a mysterious second man, older than jacob, dressed in black.

my my my. damon and carlton have been waiting a long time to give us this scene, and it is packed to the gills with clues about the larger picture they've been painting since the first mention of jacob (by tom, in s3e6). really, this scene, the jacob flashbacks, and the final locke/jacob confrontation are the most important plot elements of the finale.

here's their dialogue:
jacob: I take it you're here 'cause of the ship.
nemesis: I am. How did they find the island?
jacob: You'll have to ask 'em when they get here.
nemesis: I don't have to ask. You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren't you?
jacob: You are wrong.
nemesis: Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.
jacob: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.
nemesis: Do you have any idea how badly I wanna kill you?
jacob: Yes.
nemesis: One of these days, sooner or later... I'm going to find a loophole, my friend.
jacob: Well, when you do, I'll be right here.
nemesis: Always nice talking to you, Jacob.
jacob: Nice talking to you, too.
nemesis walks away, and the camera pans up to reveal the full statue of taweret, egyptian goddess of fertility and protector of pregnant women. in season 6 we must see a) the full statue from the from, b) how it is broken, and c) where the rest of it is. (btw, get my awesome tawaret t-shirt here!)

  • who is the nemesis?
  • what does he mean by jacob 'bringing them' to the island? did he jump around in time and touch the people that are now on the ship?
  • what is the basis of their conflict?
  • why does he want to kill jacob?
  • why must he find a loophole?
  • how long have these guys been around? where/when are they originally from?
  • how many times has the cycle described by the nemesis played out?
3. jacob and his nemesis/white and black

a thematic, as well as prophetic image from the show's pilot episode.
here's what i think: jacob and.. what will his name be? many people have taken to calling him 'esau' based on the biblical story. while the similarities are uncanny, i think what damon and carlton are doing is merely riffing on the bible story, not recreating it exactly. michael emerson said it best at comic-con: 'that would be too obvious.' i'm guessing his name will be something inane like.. joe? another j name? perhaps jack and john are destined to become the new jacob and joseph? (interestingly, the only character named joseph in all of 'lost' is the husband of the australian couple wanting to adopt aaron from still-pregnant claire.)

my understanding of the bible story (please correct me, or elaborate on it in the comments if i'm wrong - i'm not well versed in the bible - this is based entirely on reading the wikipedia pages) is that jacob and esau were twins, and it was prophesied that 'the older will serve the younger,' that the two sons would grow to rule opposing tribes, and that power would shift back and forth between these two tribes, never being shared. esau was born first, jacob second, gripping esau by the heel. there was an incident in which jacob, prodded by his mother, assumed esau's identity in order to trick their elderly, blind father into bestowing land and power upon him. esau, enraged, vowed to kill jacob once their father had died. their mother sent jacob away, where he lived a biblically long lifespan, had 4 wives and 11 kids (enough drama to fill 32 seasons of 'lost'), inspired an andrew lloyd weber musical, and eventually reconciled with esau after waves of expensive gifts and much groveling.

jacob pretends to be esau, stealing his rights to property and power.

what i find interesting about the biblical parallel is the bit about jacob assuming esau's identity - because it appears what we've been watching on 'lost' are the effects of the nemesis systematically assuming identities in order to murder and rule.

after years of speculation about jacob - whether he is one of the main characters, or someone we've already met, or someone from the future, or someone from the deep past.. we finally know that:
  • 'jacob' is an entirely new character that we have not met until now.
  • the person or entity that other characters have referred to as 'jacob' was not actually jacob, but his nemesis.
  • post-316 locke was in fact jacob's nemesis posing as locke.
jacob seems content to just live in the foot and not bother anyone. is this because he knows how things are going to progress? jacob seems to believe in an amalgam of determinism and free will: he believes in choice, but chooses to be passive. perhaps he feels it is possible to change the outcome of things, but does so only by reminding people of their free will. he's not afraid of his nemesis, perhaps even knows that his nemesis will eventually kill him. has jacob really really spent 162 years doing nothing other than quilt and fry fish (with the occasional trip off-island to touch people)?

at some point, jacob's nemesis was imprisoned in the cabin, while all of jacob's followers believed that it was jacob trapped there. when ilana arrives on the island in 2007, she goes directly to the cabin expecting to find jacob. seeing the broken line of ash scares her, and after surveying the place, she says 'someone else has been using it.' was jacob supposed to have been imprisoned instead? if jacob was supposed to be in the cabin, why would the broken ash scare her?

there is a swatch of jacob's tapestry (the piece depicting the statue) stuck to the wall with a knife, which she interprets to indicate jacob's new whereabouts. part of the job of season 6 will be filling in just what is going on with the cabin, the ash, and the tapestry. who broke the ash, and when? if jacob was in a cab with hurley the day before ajira took off, how could he be imprisoned in the cabin, much less hangin' out at the statue? what has been happening on the island during the three years between the freighter explosion and the ajira landing?

when did jacob's supposed imprisonment take place? and when did it become his nemesis in the cabin instead of jacob? in 1954 richard implies that his boss ordered him to kill the u.s. soldiers, but doesn't explicitly say who his boss is. since horace built the cabin as a getaway, it would not be 'available' for jacob's use until after the purge - so are references to jacob before 1982 speaking of the true man and not the impostor?

big question: did richard know that it was never jacob in the cabin, or was he fooled too? what did ben ever actually know about jacob? was there a conspiracy between richard and otherguy to use the name of jacob to rule the others?

during the time of his imprisonment, jacob's nemesis was not completely without power. he had a few things going for him:
  • the use of jacob's name and power to manipulate the others/hostiles/indigenous people: everything done in jacob's name was actually under orders from his nemesis.
  • possibly an outside accomplice, richard, who upheld the illusion of jacob being in the cabin.
  • the ability to take the living form of corpses whose bodies reside on the island.
  • the use of the smoke monster, which seems to require a 'download' of someone who knew the dead person before a ghost can be manifested.
  • some knowledge of future events, as evidenced by his ordering the building of the runway.
this is not the ghost of alex. this is jacob's nemesis taking the form of alex.

the best example of nemesis' power is the way that he used the ghost of alex to manipulate ben into following locke's orders, and thus killing jacob for him. the smoke monster is merely a tool that can read a person's mind and pinpoint their key source of guilt - if the source of that guilt also happens to be a dead body on the island, then the nemesis can take that person's form, and use the guilt associated with the ghost to manipulate the target into doing almost anything (see chart below).

4. the loophole

so what is this loophole? why must it be so incredibly difficult to kill jacob, why must it be done by proxy, and why does it take his nemesis 145 years to do it?

eko was killed by smokey because when confronted by jacob's nemesis in the form of his brother yemi, he expressed no guilt for his actions, making himself impossible to manipulate, and therefore useless.

jacob's nemesis has only the tool of the smoke monster to use towards his goal - and after being imprisoned, gaining access to jacob must have been all the more difficult, especially since everyone on the island was under the impression that he is jacob.

so, how does someone use the smoke monster to get to and eventually kill jacob? here's a chart i threw together:

(click to enlarge)
when locke first encountered the smoke monster, it downloaded his memories and discovered his emotional weaknesses (plan a). but because locke's strongest influence wasn't dead, or on the island (his father), jacob's nemesis ordered that he be brought to the island and killed. killing by proxy is a major theme of the show - so ben, under orders from 'jacob,' orders locke to kill cooper. locke, unable to do it, has sawyer do the killing for him. the scene in season 3 where cooper is tied to the ruins and ben demands that ben kill him can be eerily juxtaposed to the final scene in s5 where this dynamic is exactly reversed.

i believe that jacob's nemesis wanted cooper dead in order to use him as a ghost to manipulate john - but shifted to plan b when it became clear that locke would become leader of the others, and opted to inhabit john himself. as i said before, it's possible that in season 6 we'll see jacob's nemesis in the form of locke's father - especially if, somehow, locke is not fully and completely dead.

sawyer shoots frank duckett, realizes he's been played.

killing by proxy goes as far back as season 1, when sawyer is conned into traveling to sydney to kill frank duckett, believing him to be the 'real sawyer.' it's a brilliant bit of writing that even when he does eventually kill the real sawyer, it's still a murder-by-proxy.

5. the tragedy of john locke

upon full series rewatch, my least favorite episode of the season, 'the life and death of jeremy bentham' is now not quite so bad. the timeline discrepancies that initially had me so out of sorts mattered much less this time around because it's now clear that locke died. he died. the dramatic problem with 'bentham' was that we saw him resurrected before we even saw him killed, so there was no dramatic weight to his murder.. until now. in addition, the episode was riddled with continuity problems - the things locke told people just didn't match up, or adequately propel them to into the flashforwards (why was everyone so afraid to say locke's real name, and instead use his bentham moniker other than to obscure the audience?).

but in retrospect, it's clear that the priority of this episode was not to show us how the 06 were propelled on their paths back to the island, but rather to show locke's journey toward suicide. the focus of each scene was to break him down further and further until finally driven to hang himself. watch it again - the episode is completely different now that we know he died trying to being everyone back. and now that we know the purpose of his death was merely to be a shell for jacob's nemesis, his story disturbingly sad. locke was nothing but used by everything he ever trusted and believed in. his beloved island sent him on a journey to be inhabited as a vessel containing a dark spirit bent on murder.

locke's relationship with his father is a microcosm of his larger struggle with the island. in both places he found identity and meaning, and both places took what it needed from him, then threw him by the wayside. locke's story is one of a man who existed as a doormat - who placed his faith entirely in one direction, and paid for those choices with his life - twice (if jacob's touch revived him from death)! it's disturbing to think about, and leaves me feeling like locke's story is deeply, unsatisfyingly concluded. is he truly dead?

my gut tells me we can't truly done with locke. if he is really dead, then the show must spend considerable time mourning his loss, and if he's not truly dead, then a major theme of the final season will be locke's redemption, and escape from the endless cycle of being used. if locke can somehow be resurrected, then the final season must give him the courage to do symbolically what he didn't have the strength to do in season 3: kill his father. if locke is somehow able to get his body back, and jacob's nemesis is forced into the body of anthony cooper - we might witness the most satisfying revenge murder in the history of the show.

side note: many people are demanding that basic mysteries be 'answered,' like 'what do the numbers mean?' but i find it really interesting that most people have forgotten one of the first mysteries presented by the show: why was locke able to walk after the plane crashed? yes, the island has healing powers, but going from paralysis to running around is more than just 'healing.' i think we'll get the answer this year.

5. ghosts.

holy crap! has every ghost we've seen actually been jacob's nemesis in disguise? no.

some ghosts are 'true' ghosts - like those of ana lucia and charlie, seen by hurley. jacob was very pointed in letting hurley know that this ability was special, and did not make him insane (ah, but should we trust jacob??). the distinction between 'true' ghosts and 'false' ghosts (nemesis in disguise) may finally explain the two outfits worn by the ghost of christian shepard - when he appears in a suit, with white sneakers, he is the 'true' ghost of jack's father (as he does in season 1, as well as in the season 4 flashforwards). when he appears wearing the brown shirt buttoned up to the top, he is jacob's nemesis utilizing the on-island body of christian shepard.

i'm betting that jacob's push to get hurley back on the island involves his special ability to distinguish between true ghosts, and nemesis avatars. as widmore says, a war is coming to the island, and jacob is collecting his troops. hopefully we'll see a very tangible interplay between hurley and miles' similar but different ghost-talking abilities.

let's play 'ghosts, true or jacob's nemesis?':
  • eko's brother - nemesis avatar.
  • alex - nemesis avatar.
  • claire - gray area. she appeared to kate in a vivid 'dream.' she was sitting in the cabin with jacob's nemesis. and we know she'll be back this year. for that reason alone, i'm guessing she's still alive.
  • kate's horse - frankly, i'm stumped.
  • ben's mother - there's a very subtle moment, pointed out in the commentary of 'the man behind the curtain,' in which scraggly richard shows slightly more interest in young ben after learning that ben saw a ghost of someone not on the island. i'm as stumped as richard. if her body wasn't there, she couldn't be a nemesis avatar.
6. jacob's touches

so, what was really happening in all of jacob's appearances?

we don't know enough about who or what jacob is to feel anything about him yet. we don't know his motives, and he is literally killed in the same episode he's introduced in - so we don't know whether his death is a good thing or not. one of the big jobs of season 6 will be to make us understand the greater implications of jacob's death (is he really dead? it doesn't seem like he can just be -dead- after not aging and jumping around in time so adroitly). hopefully the s5 finale will be something we can look back on as a brilliant setup for the endgame, but at the moment all we can do is look at it inquisitively.

it seems to me like jacob inserted himself into moments in key people's lives, in which he gives them the slightest possible nudge to shift their course. it's quite likely that this is his method of 'bringing' people to the island, as his nemesis inferred he had done with the people on the black rock - could there be an entire alternate series of 'lost' based on the people who happened to be on that ship?

i think the real question of season 6 will not be 'did they undo the crash?' but rather, 'did jacob change the course of events by interfering in their lives?' let's look at what happens if jacob is removed from the timeline:

kate would be caught shoplifting and would learn a hard lesson about theft, early. but with jacob's help, little katie gets off scott free. this small intervention could easily be the moment that kate begins to feel herself as invulnerable and able to coast on her charm. he says 'you're not going to steal any more, are you?' now take a look at this video, released at comicon this past summer:

this is perhaps the biggest clue that it's jacob's touch, and not jughead that changes the timeline. the plan was for jughead's detonation to make the swan station obsolete - and there would be no button for desmond to fail to push, allowing flight 815 to sail safely to LAX. but if we're to take this video as canon, it means that events before the crash have changed, which must mean that somehow jacob has the power to meddle with time. while the comicon videos are never considered canon, they are a kind of 'soft canon.' they may not fit exactly with the continuity, but the spirit of the comiccon videos is always in line with the coming season. - very deliberate choices were made in the production of this video to make us aware that much much more than just the crash may be affected in this alternate path.

sawyer runs out of ink while writing his iconic revenge letter. if jacob hadn't given him a pen, little jim probably would have kept his promise to his uncle not to finish the letter, not just because he made the promise, but also because he wouldn't have had a working pen in his hand at the time. (interestingly, claire's adoption of aaron is thwarted by two pens that conveniently run out of ink). given sawyer's comfort with a life of responsibility in dharmavillle, it's thrilling to think who he might have become without that pen in his hand. he wouldn't even be on the plane.

jack, in 2001, immediately after his 'count to 5' surgery (the one recounted in the pilot episode, and retold in s3e7), gets his apollo candy bar stuck in the machine. then, after a confrontation with his dad, jack starts after him as dad walks away. before the conversation can continue, jack is interrupted by jacob, candy bar in hand. he says, 'one of these yours?' what would have happened if jacob hadn't intervened? perhaps jack and christian would have had a major blowout, but they also might have said some things that desperately needed to be said, things that, down the road, would have prevented christian from going on his suicidal bender. jack may have even discovered his half-sister claire via introduction by christian. it's interesting that this defining moment for jack is one in which he was weak, petulant, and overshadowed by his dad. i think it's so defining because had he chosen to recognize the way his father helped him, the entire nature of their relationship would have changed. in the pilot episode, when jack tells this story, he alters the truth to make himself look braver than he actually was. jack's season 6 journey will be all about making peace with his father, which should be very interesting given that jacob's nemesis has been running around in his body.

at sun and jin's wedding, jacob calmly reminds them not to take each other's love for granted. he touches them both and leaves. this is probably his most inobtrusive touch. to remind a couple at their wedding to like, love each other, isn't such a big deal. does jacob really change anything here? jin's speech about not being separated from sun foreshadows (backshadows?) the separation to come - but it's hard to see how jacob affects things unless jin and sun's future arguments are settled by yelling at each other in korean, 'remember that white guy at our wedding?? we need to kiss and make up for him!!'

as locke falls out the window and lands with a thud, jacob sits on a bench, calmly reading 'everything that rises must converge.' he's ready and expecting locke's fall (just as he must have been expecting all our other heroes.) jacob touches locke, who seems to be revived by the touch, and says 'i'm sorry this happened to you.' did jacob revive locke? was locke meant to die at that moment? was locke's entire life post-accident never meant to be? if this is the case, then is jacob knowingly reviving the vessel which will one day return to the island, be inhabited by his nemesis, and kill him? given the information we have, it doesn't seem like a very smart move.. what is jacob's plan? many many questions...

as sayid and nadia cross the street in 2005, jacob asks sayid, 'could you help me?' suddenly, nadia is killed by a speeding car. if jacob hadn't been there, either both sayid and nadia would have lived, the speeding car narrowly passing behind them - or they both would have died. it seems clear from this scene that nadia's death was an accident and not the assassination ben led sayid to believe. did jacob save sayid so that he could complete his destiny to shoot ben as a boy? again, jacob seems to be taking actions that ensure his own murder happens successfully. why does jacob choose this moment and not the chicken-strangling incident from sayid's childhood?

hurley is the only person to have a true conversation with jacob, and is subsequently the only character outside of ben who would likely recognize jacob if he should appear again. jacob tells hurley which flight to get on, if he wants to go back to the island. he also tells hurley that he's 'definitely not crazy' and that he should think of his ability to talk to ghosts as a gift instead of a curse. he reminds hurley that he doesn't have to go back. it's his choice. he leaves a guitar case in the cab, which hurley takes with him, and is the only object from ajira 316 to travel back 30 years with jack, hurley, sayid, and kate. without jacob, hurley wouldn't have returned to the island, but we still don't know why it was important he go back. jacob's purpose in approaching hurley must have something to do with his special ability, but it remains to be seen (along with the payoff that goes along with the guitar case, doubtlessly involving (ghost?) charlie). jacob's appearance on this date is also interesting because it's only four days later that he's stabbed by ben in the foot statue. how is he traveling so quickly? maybe the real question is when is the jacob we're seeing in these scenes? is this 1845 jacob jumping into specific points in the future? does he just know exactly how to wield the power of the island?

why does this episode take us to these specific moments? for jack, locke, kate, sawyer, sun and jin, the flashbacks are crucial character-building moments in the lives of our heroes - they are the touchstones that propel their entire backstories. we should find out this year whether jacob changed the course of things.

if the show adheres to its rules that 'what happened, happened' then jacob didn't actually change anything. he didn't 'insert' himself into these moments, he was always there, but we're being shown the moments because in all of them the characters are given choices. what if the final season of 'lost' shows us a story that isn't about destiny anymore, but is instead about free will? what if it shows us what happens to these same people when they make different choices? my brain is starting to explode..

7. jacob's non-touches

jacob also appears in a flashback with ilana in a russian hospital, her face covered in bandages. she promises to help him. he doesn't touch her. this scene solidifies that ilana and bram are in fact working for jacob. remember those guys chasing sayid and hurley with flower-tipped tranq darts? - jacob's people. whether or not they're 'good' remains to be seen - a recurring theme on 'lost' is that everyone believes they are the good guy. i'm sure we'll find out this year what happened to ilana's face, and how it ties to jacob's nemesis. who exactly are jacob's people? do ben and widmore even know they exist? are ben and widmore aware of the bigger fight going on around them?

juliet's flashback was very interesting. i kept waiting for jacob to jump in and say 'juliet, thirty years from now, stay away from giant, loose chains! kthxbai.' a few elements are at play in this scene. on one level, it exists only to establish why juliet would be disillusioned with her relationship with sawyer, and change her mind about detonating jughead. on another level, it's deliberately set during her childhood to make jacob's absence resonate - it's the only flashback the doesn't feature jacob, which is what makes me think juliet is probably truly dead (aside from being cast as the lead in abc's awful reboot of 'v.' mitchell deserves much better material). the scene establishes that she hasn't been 'chosen' by jacob. which brings me to the weakest aspect of this finale:

8. the changing of minds.

one of the tricky narratives to maneuver this season was that handling of the love quadrangle between juliet, jack, kate, and sawyer. attraction exists between all four of them, and all directions of it needed to be addressed in some way by season's end. i think perhaps the writers didn't anticipate how strongly the juliet/sawyer pairing would play, and that the audience would be rooting deeply for its success. with kate's arrival, i hoped that the tension between her and sawyer would be dealt with quickly, and then kate and juliet could get down to business being best friends. my second to least favorite scene in the finale is after sawyer and juliet discuss their future, kate enters the sub, and the energy is completely, and artificially changed.

kate gets on the sub and convinces juliet to go commando and head back to the island to stop jack from setting off the bomb. sawyer hears jack out, then beats him to a pulp. meanwhile, juliet has changed her mind again and decides that, yes, the bomb needs to go off. wha?? the only saving grace is that josh holloway's performance is as infuriated and perplexed as the audience is. what follows is the worst scene in the finale, a terrible terrible monologue that even elizabeth mitchell can't save, and sadly, it's her last big moment. all we get to back it up is that oddly placed childhood flashback, a feeble and undeserving way to motivate juliet's final actions. there's plenty of better dramatic meat to explore in juliet's life.. she's used to being second fiddle - she was the 'other woman' during her affair with goodwin, her ex husband was a bastard - it would have made more sense to flash back to something during that period. it doesn't quite add up that she would suddenly be willing to essentially commit suicide so that she and sawyer will 'never meet.' i hope, though, that if the crash is erased, and/or jacob's touches alter things, that juliet and sawyer somehow find each other in the real world anyway. my favorite juliet moments were her hesitation about joining rose and bernard in retirement, and her final goodbye before falling. the music in that scene was just stellar too.. take a look at the scene with only the music:

i was at a finale viewing party, and after juliet fell, the room was silent for the entire commercial break. we know that she appears in season 6, but i think juliet as a character, has died. it's interesting how we just 'know' something like that, when in the s4 finale there was absolutely no doubt that jin would still be alive in season 5.

9. preboomer, or, did jughead go boom?

that last scene was killer. the inverse white screen with the black LOST appearing in a slow 'boom' was an amazing tease. upon realizing that we would not get any glimpse whatsoever about the results of that white flash, the room at the viewing party exploded in cries of 'noooo!' was it a timeflash? was it the bomb going off? was it both?

one thing i love about this ending is that this kind of tease has not been repeated since the season 1 finale, for which damon and carlton took a lot of shit. after an entire summer of being harassed with 'why the hell didn't you show us what's in the hatch?? you guys don't have a fucking clue, do you!??' they vowed on podcast after podcast never to leave us high and dry in a season finale like that again. we would, from then on, get a peek into the proverbial hatch. indeed, all the subsequent finales gave us one crucial, final, secret scene, pointing the way into the coming season. let's look at previous finales:

season 1: seriously irritating cliffhanger ending, peering into the hatch.
season 2: ended with penny's phone call, finally revealing that, yes, the outside world exists!
season 3: ended with jack yelling at kate, 'we have to go back!' revealing that the show is not about getting off the island.
season 4: ended with ben's push of the frozen donkey wheel, the island disappearing, and the flashforward revelation that locke is dead, and in the coffin.

i love that this finale left us hanging in the same way that the season 1 finale did - it shows confidence in their overall direction (complete willingness to be harassed all summer), and also gives me faith that the series finale will not go out on this type of cliffhanger note. i believe that the final preboomer will be a resolution rather than a cliffhanger sort, and will probably be accompanied by a soaring michael giacchino composition. season 5 was their last chance to give us this kind of uber-frustrating cliffhanger, and they took it.

but on to the questions: was it the flash of the bomb, a timeflash, or both? i think both. the 'skipping record' timeflashes during the first half of the season were all very specifically placed - from one perspective it seems like our heroes had to race around to complete certain tasks before the next flash took place (get the others to bury jughead, give the compass to richard, etc..) but from the island's perspective, it was actually waiting for those tasks to be complete, so that it could transport the necessary people to their next destination. from this point of view, the island was waiting three years for the incident to take place, and in order for the incident to happen, jack, kate, hurley, sayid and jin needed to be in 1977 - this is why it plucked them off of the ajira 316 flight, and this is why they needed to 'go back': so that the incident could happen. once juliet successfully detonated the bomb, everyone previously flashing through time has very likely flashed back to 2007, where they should be. rose and bernard (retired or not) will make the final jump as well.

jacob's last words were 'they're coming,' which could only refer to those he touched - and they only way they could 'come' would be via another timeflash. will season 6 open with jack, kate, sawyer, hurley, sayid and miles lying in the open crater of the imploded hatch in 2007? will juliet also be transported, but instantly buried in the solid earth deep beneath the crater? that would suck.

it's also probable that jughead always exploded at the swan site, just as ben had always been shot by sayid. in the same way that sayid 'created' ben, jughead transformed the hatch from a scientific station into a crucial meltdown prevention center. jughead's explosion at the heart of the island's energy source upset its core dynamics, made pregnancy an incurable std, and caused history at the hatch to unfold as we know it. nothing that occurred in the finale was outside of known facts - pierre chang's hand was injured, as we have seen in some but not all orientation videos. radzinsky escaped the firefight, and could still conceivably lock himself up into his own creation and dedicate the rest of his life to pushing that button before putting the shotgun in his mouth and becoming the ceiling-stain we saw in the s2 finale.

10. fingers crossed

the challenge with introducing an alternate timeline is that it has to be done without betraying 5 years of investment in the story so far - if at any time it can just be 'reset,' why should we continue to care about it? we've been promised that we absolutely will not get a 'dream' ending to 'lost' because it would be a betrayal - i can't wait to see how they're going to write their way around an alternate timeline without betraying us.

damon and carlton have been talking a lot about a 'new narrative device' that will be employed this year - and my hope is that this 'device' is going to give us both an alternate timeline and respect the story so far. i think the 'flashes' will take us back and forth between the known, and alternate timelines (yes, it will be the 'sliding doors' season). on-island we'll see jack and kate try to rescue claire, who's been living in the jungle for three years, then: whoosh! flash to claire dropping off aaron at grandpa christian's house where newlyweds jack and ana lucia are stopping by..

they have a big job ahead of them if this final season is going to work. part of what took me so long to write this is that i just didn't know where to begin - and you can see from my rambling, it's been incredibly difficult just to organize a response to this finale. i cannot fathom the task ahead for them. in my mind, if season 6 is to be successful, if 'lost' is to live up to its potential, it must win back the trust of the fans who abandoned the show after season 2. the show has to satisfyingly conclude each character's arc while addressing (not necessarily answering) every single dangling mystery. there was a period where i felt this was truly the greatest show in the history of television. i started this blog because i felt that way. i want to feel that way about it again. the analysis would pour out of me onto my personal blog, and after season 3, i decided to move it here just to keep my friends from having to read 'lost' stuff all the time.

this finale was nothing but setup for what we're going to see tuesday night. i'll be honest with you, i'm nervous. i'm nervous that my patience won't be rewarded. i'm nervous they've forgotten what pushed the show beyond entertaining into brilliance. i'm nervous they won't stick the landing. it's never been 'safe,' it's always taken huge risks, drastically redefining itself with each season, and each time the shifts have been thrilling, but this has me worried. i know they know i'm worried. but for the first time, writing this blog became a chore. i don't want it to be a chore, i want it to be an effortless joy. they've raised the bar so high at this point i can't see how it can be jumped (with a shark!). in 16 weeks, this journey will be over - the first negotiated ending in the history of network drama. please, 'lost,' please! prove me stupid. make me cry. drop my jaw. explode my head. fulfill your destiny!

sun: what about me?
writers: what about you?

(thanks to rob k for edits and suggestions)


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