Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lost Season 3 Finale ("Through The Looking Glass")

Lost Season 3 Finale
May 23, 2007 (ABC, 9pm)

**** (out of ****)

"It's going too slowly." ...

"They're not revealing enough"....

"Who cares anymore?" ...

If you are one of the many Lost fans, myself included, who have been heard uttering those statements over the past few months I hope you didn't give in to temptation and jump ship. Because if you did, you missed the writers answer those criticisms above with a middle finger last night and deliver single best episode in the series' history and the best two hours I've seen on television this year.

Even someone who's never seen the show before would have probably enjoyed it tremendously. If you haven't seen it no worries because one of the big positives that have come out of the DVD era is the amount of TV shows that have a chance to be discovered or rediscovered all over again. With it's continuing storylines and serialized format I can't think of any other better suited for that than Lost. In fact, it may play better on DVD. This summer would be the perfect time to catch up so you're ready for Season 4, which I can actually say for a change I can't wait for.

Yes it's true, Lost has had a rough Season 3, at least until the past month or so. For whatever reason the show has been compared endlessly to Heroes when they have absolutely nothing in common besides the fact they're both serialized dramas with a large cast. I like both shows a lot, but I like Lost much more. I'm sure anyone who's a fan of both shows would agree that the Heroes finale, while solid, got its ass handed to them by Lost. It was a rough night of televison for me last night. My DVR was not cooperating and I actually had to flip between American Idol and Lost. My finger still hurts.

So as Season 3 of Lost comes to a close let's see where we stand:

Desmond's premonition comes true as Charlie is dead, heroically sacrificing himself and drowning. However, this is not before making contact with Penny and finding out she didn't send that ship Jack thinks is going to rescue them. Hmmm.

The "flashback" this episode is of a bearded Jack who's depressed and has a drug dependency. He's attending a wake, but we're not sure whose. Nobody else attended. He also tries to kill himself by jumping off a bridge and gets into a verbal sparring match with a co-worker. He's not having a good day.

Locke is still alive after being shot and left for dead by Ben in the Dharma grave. He also has a vison of Walt (who looks a lot older by the way). His mission is to stop Jack from making contact with that ship.

Juliet has completely turned on "The Others" and crossed over to the good side. Or so it appears.

Hurley comes to the rescue in the VW van and saves Jin, Sayid, and Bernard from "The Others."

Kate might be pregnant.

Ben might not be such a bad guy after all. That ship that's coming to "rescue them" could really be up to no good. Jack doesn't care and beats the hell out of him. The ship's on its way. Uh oh.

In the most shocking moment in Lost history Jack's "flashback" is revealed to be a "flash-forward" as he meets up with Kate and it's revealed that they eventually escape the island. He screams that he wants to be in another plane crash so he can go back.

Just when you think you have all the answers, they change the questions. They took a huge risk by employing this "flash forward" device and revealing Jack and Kate do escape the island, even if we don't know the how or why. Of course now the same viewers who were groaning about them not revealing enough are saying they gave too much away. Please. Who really thought Jack and Kate would die and never make it off?

I also liked the touch that Jack falls apart and can't adjust to real life off the island. It reminded me of Cast Away or The Shawshank Redemption. You get get used to something, no matter how awful, and it's tough to let go just because it's all you know. It's familiar. But we still don't know whose wake that was. Sawyer's? Ben's? Locke's? Those are obviously the top three candidates, but it could be anyone. We do know Jack didn't consider this person "a friend" and Kate said she had no interest in going so there are some clues there.

I like what they're doing with this glimpse into the future but it has to be done carefully so this doesn't turn into another version of ABC's cancelled series The Nine, which beat that "flash-forward" gimmick into the ground and ruined what could have been a promising show. We can't know too much or it takes away from what's happening on the island. I'm sure writers Cuse and Lindelof know this though.

As for Charlie's death, Dominic Monaghan really came through these past few episodes but he was hardly given anything to do for two straight years. Charlie was just never important and a waste of space. It's a shame the character had to die for him to get a decent storyline, but this isn't a loss at all since his death was well handled and made sense. It's just a shame the writers never knew what to do with him until now. That was the biggest problem this and last season: Too many periphery characters we don't care about eating up screen time. They eliminated this toward the end of the season and refocused on the central storyline and key players. This has been especially true in the past few weeks with the renewed emphasis on Jack, Sawyer and Locke. Hence the the resurgence of the show.

If there's an M.VP. of this season it's Michael Emerson as Ben. He's carried Lost on his back and really deserves an Emmy nomination if he isn't killed off first. He's always done great work as a character actor but this show has really been his moment to shine. I hope he stays around for a while because his diabolical character adds so much to the show. Elizabeth Mitchell is also excellent as Juliet. Without those two performances the entire season could have been a complete disaster.

ABC is probably the worst network on televison, but I'm impressed they did something unprecedented and actually picked an end date for the show (2009-2010 season). Whether they follow through with it remains to be seen, but at least it lets us know there's some kind of plan in place and a finish line. That they actually listened to the fans and the creators' concerns is a welcome surprise. The last thing we need is another X-Files, that lurches on ten years past its creative peak dying a slow, painful death. Give them credit for staying committed to the show despite all the criticisms and not bailing on or sabotaging it. Fox should take notes.

While Lost definitely hit a slump earlier this season, it was greatly overblown and exaggerated by the media and viewers, who were getting ready to put the final nail in it's coffin. Sure, they could have moved things along quicker, but what about that episode of Heroes a couple of weeks back when Hiro traveled to the do nothing? That was a complete waste and the writers were just killing time until the finale. I didn't hear anyone call them out on that, but when Lost slowly unspools its narrative it's a criminal offense. After last night Lost is healthier than ever and has reclaimed its spot as the best drama on television. Finally, it's okay to be a fan again.

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