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'Lost' season finale fades to white

May 14, 2009 | 10:59 am

Getprev  Genesis, Sigmund Freud, the Odyssey, Flannery O’Connor, Carl Jung, “Dr. Strangelove” — Wednesday night’s season finale of “Lost” was so chockablock with archetype, mythology and cultural references it was like watching Joseph Campbell on crack.

It opened with a man (in a cave, so throw in Plato) hunched over a spinning wheel (Ghandi? Penelope at her loom? Or just a reference to the Blood, Sweat and Tears song?), then cut to two men on a beach. Their garments vaguely period, their speech decidedly modern, they argue over a frigate in full sail on the horizon. One man (in black) says in disgust that he knows they are coming because the other man (in white) brought them.

 “They come, they fight, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt,” Black says bitterly. “It always ends the same."

"It only ends once,” says White serenely. “Anything that happens before that -- it’s just progress."

 “Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?”

“Yes.”

“One of these days, sooner or later, I’ll find a final loophole, my friend.”

“Well, when you do I’ll be right here.”

“Always nice talking to you, Jacob.”

Cut to a very impressive CG statue standing like the Colossus of Rhodes, only with what appears to be the head of a crocodile. While not, perhaps, “Waiting for Godot,” it was one of the more powerful opening scenes of a season finale and begs the professorial question: So, class, what have we learned?

Clearly Jacob (Mark Pellegrino who is pictured), previously a mysterious authority figure (Boo Radley meets Moses), has been around for a while. (We later learn that he has in fact visited each of the key characters at significant moments of their life.) But who is he really? God? And does that make Mr. Black some incarnation of Satan, the two perpetually battling over the basic nature of the human soul? Is the island then Eden, existing outside space and time to serve as a kind of spiritual laboratory?

Getprev-1 The rest of the episode never quite lived up to the opening, but certainly those and similar issues were addressed. When Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell, who is pictured) and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) decide to ditch the sub and row that boat ashore, the first people they meet are Bernard (Sam Anderson) and Rose (L. Scott Henderson), who quickly inform them that they are not at all interested in either the Dharma/anti-Dharma, the hydrogen bomb/no hydrogen bomb or even the old favorite Jack/Sawyer conflict. They are “retired” and disappointed to find that their old beach comrades are still looking for ways to shoot each other. Bernard and Rose, the island’s John and Yoko, just want to be together.

Most everyone else, however, remains happily locked in one conflict or another, most of which boil down to the old “just because you can, should you?” conundrum. Jack (Matthew Fox) believes that following Daniel Faraday’s plan to detonate the hydrogen bomb will erase everything that happened after he got on that fateful flight to Los Angeles. Sayid (Naveen Andrews) is all for it, Hurley (Jorge Garcia) is happy to drive, while Miles, as usual, gives voice to irritated reason but takes no action. Kate and Sawyer and Juliet, meanwhile, think the bomb is a Very Bad Idea, until they change their minds — Kate for love of Jack, Sawyer for love of Juliet and Juliet because she realizes Sawyer still really loves Kate and she will Do Anything to avoid heartbreak.

That the epic events of this show seem to hinge on stolen glances and other hallmarks of high school love is rather disappointing, except of course that’s precisely what drove much of Shakespeare.
Fortunately, Ben (the unflappable Michael Emerson) and Locke (the indefatigable Terry O’Quinn) are providing an antidote to every romance and bromance on television. Locke, with a newfound swagger and most alarming grin, is off to kill the Wizard (that would be Jacob), except he’s going to make Ben do it. And Ben, who has been told by his dead daughter he must do whatever John Locke says, may grow paler and more weasely-looking at the thought but does not falter.

Except, it turns out that Locke may not be Locke. Because look, there’s his body in a box carted around by a subset of the Others, and when "Locke” finally confronts Jacob, it is with dialogue most reminiscent of Mr. Black. But Ben, a bitter Cain to “Locke’s” Abel — why did Jacob never let him into his holy presence until now? — dutifully wields his knife. Meanwhile, over at the Swan, Jack has dumped the bomb into the power pit, except it doesn’t do much but turn the hole into a giant magnet that sucks up every bit of metal, including a chain that somehow gets wrapped around Juliet’s waist. Sawyer catches hold of her but to save the man she loves (and because we hear Elizabeth Mitchell’s already signed onto another show) Juliet lets go and falls, like Alice to the bottom of the rabbit hole, where, choosing grief and frustration over gratitude that she is miraculously still alive, she beats on the hydrogen bomb until it finally explodes. Or at least it seems to explode. In a negative reflection of “The Sopranos” finale, the screen goes white.

Certainly it was a thought-provoking finale to a fairly great season in which the writers did things like have a mother kill her own child (Faraday) while she is pregnant with him, which is the literary and psychological equivalent of a turn-around jump shot and nothing to sneeze at. But there were times in these overly stuffed two hours when you couldn’t help but laugh as images of a "Lost"-ian writers room rose in your mind — oookkkaaay, so that’s what the hatch was for, why there’s a bomb on the island, how Locke was resurrected. It’s good to know that the creators have a (fairly) clear vision of where they’re going, and if the Jacob of the spinning wheel doesn’t quite fit the Jacob of the messy shack and creaky chair (didn’t you visualize him as more of a Bruce Dern guy back then?), well, it only ends once and everything that happens before that is just progress.

-- Mary McNamara

Photos: ABC

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