Lost (ABC)—Lost managed quite an amazing feat by leaving me, after their two-hour season finale, with no speculation on what’s to come. I let this season wash over me, without geeking out as much as usual, allowing the answers to satisfy me rather than asking endless, rabid questions…
The writers have done a fantastic job in this season of giving us answers—and not always the kind of answers that raise more questions. Sure, there was a lot of mindbending nonsense, especially in the finale (the mysterious rewinding tape—nice trick, guys), but when they said they’d give us answers, they meant it, and the answers have been pretty satisfying so far.
I’m left with three major questions, only one of which has to do with anything that happened this season:
- What’s the deal with “Adam and Eve,” the 60-year-old skeletons found in the “rape caves,” who had the pouch of black and white stones? This question goes all the way back to the first season, but with the introduction of a confirmed time-travel element, maybe they’ll give us a twisted, Twilight Zone kind of answer.
- Libby and Hurley? Do I even need to phrase that as a real question? This season, we got one tiny appearance from Cynthia Watros, as a ghost-vision in Michael’s big flashback episode, and I’m sure she’ll be back. The writers are on record saying they will see that story to completion—but come on, she’s been dead for two seasons! Hurry up!
- Why does Jacob appear to manifest as Christian Shephard? I grudgingly admit I was way off when I theorized that the healing island brought him back to life—regular, flesh-and-blood humans can’t magically appear inside freighters to give semi-cryptic messages to barely-redeemed characters. So why choose Shephard? Is that an indication that the real island king is Jack, not Locke? I don’t really care so long as it means more screen time for Claire and more appearances from John Terry, but it’s definitely an odd choice from both the writers and “Jacob.”
I have to give the writers credit for keeping the story moving without losing artistic integrity. They did this all season, but it was more evident in the finale, as they shuffled a million subplots, flash-forwards, and clues/answers. The plodding pace had been a consistent complaint since the start, and I know I’ve said it before, but it really feels like the “constraint” of setting the end date has liberated the writers. They can quicken the pace without losing essential elements of the story, but they no longer burden episodes with unnecessary and/or aimless subplots and flashbacks, because they know exactly how much story needs to be told and how long they have to tell it.
They’ve also ramped up the action, which I guess is a consistent complaint, but it’s kind of a stupid one. Nobody wants to be bored, but do people who have watched Lost from the beginning really feel like epic jungle shootouts and freighter explosions are what the show’s about? Don’t get me wrong—I love an explosion as much as the next guy, and the shootout with Keamy and his men kicked ass, and the writers integrated this aspect into the show better than I could have expected. Just seems like an odd complaint.
Speaking of Keamy, why do I get the feeling we’re never going to get resolution on his character? He had a downright Shakespearean death (in the sense that he took forever to die, monologuing the whole time), but I’ve held the belief that he has some kind of personal issues with Ben and/or the island. If he did, he neglected to mention them before dying. Just think about it: you have to either be a sociopath or a man with a wicked vengeance streak to load a freighter full of explosives because you think it’ll save your own ass, or to slit doctors’ throats for no reason, etc., etc.
Glad to see most of the freighter folk will be back, though. I know Lost is known for taking “risks” by killing off major characters, but I sure hope Faraday will return next season (same thing with Jin; I would have liked to see more of Michael, but it seemed pretty clear that he’s a goner). He was instantly the most compelling of the boat people, and although they’ve made some interesting decisions with the others—Miles staying around for an unclear reason that may have to do with the island ghosts, Charlotte staying because maybe she was born on the island?!—it’d be sad to lose both him and the “Desmond will be my constant” storyline.
Oh, and I assume we won’t lose Desmond, either. He’s another great character whose story feels far from over, yet he had his wonderful, tearful reunion with Penelope Widmore, and Ben didn’t make any mention that Desmond had to go back. From the sounds of it and the people he gathered, it seemed like only the Oceanic Six had to go back. The only speculation I’ll make—and it’s more blind hope than speculation—is that they’ll end up needing Desmond, too.
As far as confirmed non-casualties, I’m glad Claire’s still alive and kicking, even if she’s taken to hanging in Jacob’s cabin with her fake dad. Now that Jack knows the truth, too, they’ll have an interesting reunion if/when the Six get back to the island. I had unintentionally read a spoiler that assumed Claire would die in the finale (for real-world contract-related reasons, I guess), but the past few episodes have set the stage for Claire to take center stage in a big way. This is great news in general, but in particular because Emilie de Ravin is awesome and has needed a bigger role on this show since day one. (I know she had big moments in the first two seasons, but most of them had to do with her getting kidnapped, which meant she wasn’t on screen; when she was around, everything seemed to be more about Charlie than her.) Even weirder, I’m not sure if this was just a coincidence or if it was intentional, but I watched the finale twice, and in Kate’s dream, Claire sounded like she was sporting an American accent. No clue why that might be—I assume this is an island-related psychic dream and not just a normal weird dream, where one might say it’s a weird subconscious thing because Aaron, the Australian lad, will be raised as an American.
On a pure character note, I love Jack’s transformation from a self-described “man of science” (or was it Locke who described him as that?) into a “man of faith.” We learned a few weeks ago that Locke was once a “man of science” himself (as a teenager); the shift in Jack feels natural, considering the weirdness and trauma the island has caused, but perhaps the finale’s biggest surprise was when he begins to argue that if they have faith, they’ll get off the island safely. (This, of course, leads to the irony that the faith in getting off the island is misplaced, since it royally fucks him up and he has to assemble the Six to return.)
One more tiny bit of speculation: I do think Ben is manipulating Jack and the rest of the Six into going back to the island. What I won’t speculate on is why; I have no idea, other than the obvious “he wants his leadership position back” explanation.
Lastly, I wouldn’t be doing my analytical duty if I ignored The Man in the Coffin. Frankly, I’m a little bitter about the solution to this season-long puzzle. Last year, Internet nerds came up with a reasonably airtight explanation for Michael as the corpse. I liked it—Kate’s clear dislike led me to believe, perhaps, that he’d done something even worse upon returning to the island, which would make Michael an even more fascinating character. This entire theory was based on an extreme, high-definition close-up of the incomplete, misspelled obituary. (The exact “name” was “Jo… …antham,” very different from “Jeremy Bentham.” The theory floated was that Michael swiped the name of an influential African architect bearing a name that would fit the missing letters; I can’t recall the actual name, and Google searches for my best guesses come up short.)
So, okay, it’s Locke. This leads to my only nitpick of an otherwise excellent finale. Maybe the mysterious circumstances of Locke’s death and the “bad things” that are Jack’s fault will make for interesting television next season, but here’s the problem: you have a guy they knew for 120-odd days as “John Locke,” a man who undoubtedly made a lasting impression on all of them as John Locke, yet he comes to them once, out of the blue, calling himself Jeremy Bentham, and suddenly they accept that as his name? Even the clever-but-still-annoying “don’t say his name, dude” between Hurley and Walt didn’t make up for the fact that, as people, they’d be running around calling him Locke. It’s just human nature. Maybe if he’d hung around them off-island for five years insisting everyone call him Jeremy Bentham—maybe.
So what does it mean that he left the island, spread some blame around, and dropped dead? We’ll have to wait until “early 2009.” See you then!
Robin Hood (BBC America)—Oh, I see what’s going on now. Because they spent all of last season having members of Robin’s band of not-so-merry-men get nabbed by the Sheriff, leading to daring sieges upon the castle, the writers realized the well has dried and are now allowing random, never-before-seen associates of Robin get nabbed, leading to daring sieges upon the castle.
The show’s sticking to a pretty basic format, and I don’t have much of a problem with it as long as they keep it interesting and as varied as they can within their constraints. The crazy, old-timey biological warfare from two weeks ago did a nice job. This week, Robin realized he has a traitor in his midst, and that basically redeemed the episode for a not-so-great A story (the one-time addition of Whose Line Is It Anyway? regular Josie Lawrence as Robin’s medicine-woman friend helped to redeem that A story, as well, but she didn’t do it alone).
We finally got some good scenes of Robin’s band without Robin being around and without them existing solely in the service of Robin. As he leaves them behind and they attempt to root out the spy themselves, leading a bunch of “J’accuse!” moments and increasing paranoia from Much, we got to learn more about each of them than we ever have before. Well done. The merry men tend to suffer from a “Poochie the Rockin’ Dog” syndrome, in that they exist solely to please Robin; when Robin’s not there, they ask, “Where’s Robin?” Then they stage a daring siege on the castle.
Speaking of poor character development, most episodes this season have allowed Gisborne to spread his wings a bit, no longer the easily duped romantic foil; this week, the writers forced him to backslide into his old habits. As it stands, we get the impression there are only three actual people living in Nottingham Castle—Marian, the Sheriff, and Gisborne. Maybe they could put some faces and names to the endless, Storm Trooper-like rabble of anonymous guards. Flesh out the castle populous and maybe give Marian some new allies. I guess it’s a moot point since the entire second series has already aired in the U.K., but I’m sure there’ll be a third.