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« Roush Dispatch

Way to End a Season (Lost, Not Idol)

070524matthewfox.jpg
Matthew Fox in Lost by Bob D'Amico/ABC
Now that's what it's like to sit on the edge of your seat for two hours. And no, I'm not talking about the endless end of American Idol, whose final episode Wednesday couldn't have been less concerned with crowning a winner, which came several minutes past the 10 pm point on the East Coast, as something of an afterthought. (Pity anyone who taped it and didn’t record it past the two-hour mark. They’d have missed the coronation.) Guess that’s what happens when there’s no suspense. From the moment Jordin Sparks sang this year’s schmaltzy Idol ballad Tuesday night with a catch in her throat, it was preordained that the 17-year-old with the grown-up pipes would win. (I did my part on the phone Tuesday night to make it happen.) Not bad, though, as variety shows go. And I’ll say this about the Idol finale: Tony Bennett sure knows how to stop a show, pure and simple. Forget idols. He’s a living legend.

If you wanted surprise and suspense on Wednesday, the final night of the regular TV season, you needed to look no further than the two-hour finale of Lost, a dizzying exercise in adventure, sustained tension and time-shifting rug-pulling. Spectacularly produced, amazingly directed and gloriously acted as always, this audacious episode restored Lost's reputation, after a shaky start to the season last fall, as the best and most inventive drama on network TV. Period. (I might make an exception for Friday Night Lights as my favorite all-around show this year, but that’s another story.)

Wow. Freaking wow. The emotional impact of this roller-coaster hour was astonishing, from the momentary fear that our snipers on the beach had been killed to the exultation over Hurley coming to the rescue in that unstoppable van (I shouted at the screen at that point, what a blast) to the sorrow over Charlie’s tragic drowning (“So much for fate”) to the stunned amazement that Jack and Kate (and who knows who else) had made it off the island and what we were watching for once wasn’t a flashback but a flash-forward. Thought it was anticlimactic? Get lost. What more could anyone ask from this show?

I admit that when a suicidal Jack climbed atop the bridge at the start of the episode, I was worried we were about to experience “It’s a Wonderful Lost,” and that somehow we were going to be led (despite all the producers’ statements to the contrary over the years) to believe that Castaway Island was a metaphysical limbo. Thankfully, that’s not the case.

There was an actual rescue. And we’ve witnessed, as Ben warned, “the beginning of the end.” But just where this takes the story next season, and how the episodes are structured between life on and off the island, and how Penny’s search for Desmond and the mysterious people behind Naomi’s parachuting mission figure into it all… those are some potent mysteries to digest and wonder about during the long hiatus to come. Not to mention who was in the coffin at the funeral home Jack visited. (There are probably as many theories as characters on the show.) How many days is it until February?

I suppose I should also grapple with the implications of Locke being resurrected by a vision of Walt (who’s much bigger now), but that mystical stuff (including the black smoke, etc) has always been my least favorite aspect of Lost. I’d rather dwell on Charlie’s sacrifice, which a normal series would have made the central event of an episode like this. And it was a memorable tragedy, the most significant and wrenching death on this show to date. No wonder little Aaron cried. The wailing of viewers watching at home must have roused him. The fact that Charlie used his final breath to scrawl a “Not Penny’s boat” warning to Desmond on his hand made his predestined drowning even more poignant. When a beloved character dies on a show, the payoff had better be worth the risk. In this case, it was. Well done, Dominic Monaghan. Evangeline Lilly isn’t the only one who’s going to miss you.

But as affecting as Charlie’s death was, what really rocked Lost's world in this finale was the leap forward in time to an entirely new framework and perspective that could and should set the whole series on its ear for the remaining three seasons. How many people got off the island? Was it a mistake for everyone? Or just for the reluctant “hero” Jack, whose life had clearly gone into an irreversible spiral. Looked like a lost soul to me. (And Matthew Fox? Stepped it up again. A leading man's leading man.)

“We have to go back,” Jack cried to Kate outside the airport, his new home away from home. Indeed we do. I want to go back right now. The wait will be excruciating, but oh my, what a stimulating way to end another impressive year.

Now on to summer TV, everybody. There’s not even a full day’s pause anymore. No rest for the bleary-eyed.
Posted by Matt Roush
May 24, 2007 7:15 AM
That was one heck of a way to end the season, and I can't wait until February, either! I loved Danielle's first words to her daughter, "Want to help tie him up?" Too funny! I have a sore throat this morning, and I don't know if it's from cheering Hurley on or crying my eyes out over Charlie. And I had no clue that it was a flash forward, even when Kate came on screen. I actually thought that maybe Jack and Kate knew each other and were pretending not to on the island for some nefarious reason...laugh...I guess all the conspiracies have gotten to me. :)
Posted by GwenRobby
May 24, 2007 7:40 AM
I chose to watch Lost and tape Idol, and dutifully set the VCR to tape several minutes past 9 (CDT).

The VCR cut off (I swear!) in the endless void between "...your next American Idol is..." and the name. I had to go online to see who the winner was.

And Lost? Just. Wow. I have to watch it again before I can comment. But Wow.
Posted by GarrickS
May 24, 2007 8:35 AM
Awesome Lost review, Matt! (What's American Idol?) I ran online this morning to read your dispatch, hoping that you'd written something about last night's mega-cool finale before I had to go off to work. And just my luck, you had. I'm glad you acknowledge Lost's greatness once again, but I'm one of the few, I suppose, who never lost faith to begin with.

And something else to think about: how tragic that Jack Shephard is now more lost in his life now that he's left the island....
Posted by Marcus Dixon
May 24, 2007 8:41 AM
Really great review Matt!! THANKS! I am so blown away by this episode. And it is just so frustrating to see so many fans being upset that the "snake in the mailbox" wasn't a big enough surprise. You're "Thought it was anticlimatic? Get lost." comment was dead-on. I figured it was probably a flashforward right away, but it didn't ruin the moment at all. When Lost is on (and boy was it ever last night) it is about more than trying to surprise the audience - it's about characters and emotional impact. And that is what made Kate coming out of that car so great.

Such a great post for such a great episode (and can I just give a shout out to Sayid - the best two moments for me were when he a)was rolling his eyes when he was tied up and they were talking about killing him and b)when he killed a guy WITH HIS FEET). I will miss Charlie sooo much, but like Boone, this is a death that will resonate and stay with the show. BRAVO!
Posted by lilyputty
May 24, 2007 8:56 AM
That was one of the best season finales I can ever remember. The show had better snare an Emmy nom for Best Drama Series after being ignored last year. And Matthew Fox had better at least be nominated and, IMO, win for Best Actor. He was just amazing.

I was really sad to see Charlie die but also a bit relieved. The whole "Will Charlie Die?" thing was getting a little tiresome. And what a way to go!

With the episodes this spring, Lost has reestablished itself as the best drama on TV or at least a tie with Friday Night Lights.
Posted by Buffy Freak
May 24, 2007 9:05 AM
Unlike numerous other shows this year, that was a season finale. Even better than last years.

I completely go along for the ride and take it all in without trying to figure things out. I now make myself spoiler free because it is so worth it. I also don't get into the Jacob, smoke monster stuff even though I actually enjoy the hidden island, healing properties, pushing a button to dispel magnetic energy, Dharma stuff, and Desmond's premonitions. Maybe the producers will figure out a way to explain that smoke monster/visions stuff but as long as it is a small part of the show, that's okay.

The writing on this show is an actor's dream come true. Every actor gets to play some really powerful stuff.

As usual, many answers came with more questions -- who is in the coffin that Kate had no desire to see and why did it push Jack to the edge.

The only thing that I worry a little about is that the losties are doing all of this stuff to get off the island and now it seems that that is a bad thing. I don't want Charlie's death and the various killings to have been for no good reason. Jack, Hurley, Charlie, Sayid, Jin, Bernard, Desmond and even Sawyer and Juliette all played major heroes in this episode, based upon what they had every reason to believe. But was it a wasted heroism going in the wrong direction?
Posted by kyrjar
May 24, 2007 9:08 AM
It was mind blowing to realize that the flash backs were really forwards. But the writters kind of cheated. Was I dreaming or did Jack tell the doctor who was accusing him of being high that he could go get his father and they could see who was the most drunk? Or something like that? And the new questions! I can't wait almost a whole year! Who did Kate end up with back in civilization? Who's funeral was it where nobody came? Why didn't tiny little Charlie swim through the blown out window? He could have fit through that window. How come the one eyed guy keeps coming back to life? How come everyone is looking older when they've only been on the island 3 or 4 months? If they can bring Locke back to life, can't they bring Charlie? Inquiring minds want to know.
Valerie S
Posted by Valerie S
May 24, 2007 9:11 AM
And it is just so frustrating to see so many fans being upset that the "snake in the mailbox" wasn't a big enough surprise.

If someone seriously didn't think the surprise was big enough, or by extension that the finale wasn't good enough, they need to find something else to watch. I was absolutely captivated by the episode. I'd already thought to ask for Season 2 on DVD for my upcoming birthday so I could watch the first two seasons again over the summer --- now I can hardly wait for the Season 3 set to come out so I can watch that again as well.

At this point, whatever story these guys want to tell me about the island, the castaways and the Others -- flash-back, flash-forward, flash-sideways -- I'm all in. Bravo for a wonderfully entertaining season finale!!!
Posted by NCTerp
May 24, 2007 9:17 AM
F***ing awesome! There's not much I can add to Matt's comments other than the people who gave up on the show earlier this season are missing the best show on TV. The flash forward idea was simply brilliant. Locke coming back to kill Naomi was great. Charlie's death was played out perfectly. And poor Desmond, left so close to seeing Penny. Hopefully he understood Charlie's message and can get back to the rest of the group in time.
Posted by dbronstein
May 24, 2007 9:31 AM
Great finale and great summary! I was hoping we'd see their lives after being rescued, but I never imagined they'd use a flash-forward. Terrific ending!

Was I dreaming or did Jack tell the doctor who was accusing him of being high that he could go get his father and they could see who was the most drunk?

Jack was being sarcastic. The look on the Chief's face confirmed that Jack was a "little off." It's also why he didn't want the pharmacist to call his dad. The excuse of "he's out of town."
Posted by fx772k1
May 24, 2007 10:08 AM
Amazing episode. I've enjoyed the ride of Lost for all 3 seasons. And last night's ep completely blew my mind. I too assumed, when Kate stepped out of the car, that they'd somehow known each other before the island. LOVE that I was wrong about that. This morning it also occurred to me Jack spoke of his father at the hospital and pharmacy. I have no idea what to make of that. But part of being a fan of Lost is that I can wonder all I want...chances are the writers will blow my mind in a completely different way. I'll hardly be able to contain myself until February!
Posted by Moses Malone
May 24, 2007 10:31 AM
Thank you for a excellent review Matt!

This just proves that we as fans need to calm down with the posts, e-mails, and blogs complaining about shows like Lost. They know what they are doing just sit back and enjoy the ride!
Posted by thesaint
May 24, 2007 10:32 AM
They really did it didn't they? The producers just showed the whole damn world that they've still "got it." They produced the most amazing two hours of television of the entire season on any network, despite all the nay-saying, the whining, the griping, the silly Internet blogging, the mysterious ratings decline which turned out just to be an increase in DVR time shifting. This episode, perhaps the finest in the whole series, will be remembered twenty years from now. That is how outstanding this devastating and emotionally wrenching episode was.
Posted by lostfan23
May 24, 2007 10:38 AM
I have been trying to think of what actor could possibly, possibly deserve the Emmy ahead of Matthew Fox for his work in this episode. Have come up completely blank. He was SUPERB in this -- he's always good, but in this episode he knocked it out of the park, particularly during the scene when he thought Sayid, Jin and Bernard had been killed.

Fabulous episode, and I cannot wait to see the future-version "Lost" in - oh, God, January. JANUARY!
Posted by MiniMarie
May 24, 2007 10:49 AM
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