This time of year is always bittersweet. As our favorite shows come to an end, we look ahead to the summer and see nothing but a vacant wasteland – the color of television tuned to a dead channel. At the same token, we see bright sunny days meaning we can actually get our collective asses off the couch and actually enjoy some fresh air for a change.
And the loss of Lost means I don’t have to feel the pressure of my fierce editors (that would be you, you demanding Constant Readers) bellowing at me to produce this week’s installment of my weekly observations the moment the clock hits 11:00 p.m. EST Thursday eve.
That said, we know that when the last moment ticks off the two hour season finale scheduled to air on Thursday May 29th that unlike most other shows, we have a long wait ahead of us. May 29th marks the last Lost until 2009 and when Season 5 debuts the first of its 17 Episodes, we know we are only 33 away from the end. Things are flying fast and furious.
Bringing us to last night’s installment – There’s No Place Like Home. On with the show.
1. Unlike Dorothy Gale and her persistent plea that “There’s No Place Like Home” – the Oceanic 6 seems less than thrilled to be on there way back to the mainland even from the outset. As we get final visual confirmation of the complete Oceanic 6 members – Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Aaron and Jin – all six transported via Coast Guard cargo plane to an airfield in Hawaii – it’s evident that something momentous has transformed them. There is no joy in making it back home, although Jack seems the most comfortable with living the lie at this early stage – given how officiously he coaches them on board the plane and how easily he spins his tales during the press conference that follows.
2. As we’ve learned in prior episodes, Hurley is the first to crack. Arriving at his vacant mansion, he’s first spooked by a creepy coconut. The mysterious echoes begin to rise on the soundtrack – prompting Hurley to hide behind Jesus (or at least grab hold of a blinged-out savior statue. Of course, it’s all misdirection as Hurley stumbles upon a surprise birthday party. Now, that neatly explains the coconut but what is unclear is whether those whispers were the same that haunt our island dwellers or if they were just the hushed murmurings of a hundred party-goers. Thoughts???
3. Either way, we know the island is working its mojo on Hurley when he’s gifted that car that he and his Dad worked on waaaaaaay back before Cheech split for parts unknown. As his Dad sweetly informs him, “I started working on it as a memorial to you”. Hurley is genuinely touched and subsequently spooked when he spies the odometer frozen on the cursed numbers that have brought him so much pain. Hurley is the first to crack but we know that Jack will later follow. The island doesn’t seem too happy to have lost some of its key constituents.
4. This episode did a nice job of filling in some of the blanks to questions posed in prior flash-forwards. In Sayid’s flash-forward, we learned that our tormented torturer had finally found peace with his reunion and marriage to his long-sought Nadia. Of course, Sayid’s joy is short lived as we also learned that she was murdered – a casualty of Ben and Widemore’s secret war. Here we see Sayid’s surprise encounter and it’s nice to see his weary soul enjoy a little happiness before the darkness falls.
5. Then there was our rising Sun, who made a bold gambit by spinning off her massive Oceanic settlement to take a controlling interest in her Dad’s business. While on the surface, this seems to be a move driven by vengeance (she tells him straight out that she despises him for how he destroyed her husband), the action seems to harbor a secret agenda. After all, she said that Mr. Paik is one of “two men” whom she holds responsible for Jin’s death. Now, I’m still of the mind that Jin is not really dead – that his supposed ‘death’ is part of the big cover story. After all, she says straight out in the press conference that he died upon impact, which we know is not true. I maintain that the Oceanic 6 were offered a deal – only six could leave knowing full well that they could never return to the island or ever be reacquainted with their loved ones. I think Jin and Sun made a hard decision driven by the fact that Sun carries their unborn child. Jin would stay. Sun would leave. And they would never see each other again. And, for that reason, Jin is effectively dead. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben’s allegiance with Sayid in his war against Widemore hasn’t spun Sun and her fortune (and takeover of Paik’s company) into its design. After all, there’s no time table set for when these flash forwards were taking place and if Sun has the proceeds of this settlement than it has to be some time further from their reappearance – meaning Ben could have gotten to Sun just as he has Sayid. Thus, making Widemore the second of the two men responsible for Jin’s death.
6. Of all the survivor’s stories, Kate’s is the real whopper. I was sure that they were going to list Claire as one of the 8 that survived the initial crash (and have her story be that she died during childbirth). Instead, the names of the remaining 2 who survived but are not core Oceanic 6 are still a mystery. And Kate’s tale is that she was pregnant and gave birth to the baby on the island. That’s a huge lie and one that Kate almost cracks upon when the reporter starts questioning the timing of her pregnancy with the crash with Aaron’s current age. Now, we know Claire has gone missing (or is dead as I suspect) but why make Aaron Kate’s child? The how and why is pregnant with possibility and I look forward to finding out just who has constructed this conspiracy and cover story. Of course, people have gone to great lengths to hide this island (sinking a 2nd plane) so anything is possible.
7. This leads to Aaron (and by nature – Jack). During his Dad’s funeral, Jack finally gets the news that Claire is his sister. That fact was hinted at a couple of years back (when Ana Lucia met Christian Shepherd in Oz) and all but confirmed two weeks ago when Claire followed her phantom Dad into the jungle – leaving her son behind. This has to add more guilt to whatever big decisions Jack had to make in saving these six (and more to the point – including himself as one of them) and along with his Dad, adds to the specters that haunt Jack in the real world.
8. What I really liked about this episode was it did a really nice job of setting the table for the 2 hour season finale – or in drawing the disparate threads together. There was a wordless montage at the end of the hour – set to Michael Giacchino’s mournful score – that brought everything together nicely and detailed the landscape. We know who is where and why!!! I’ll hit each thread.
9. With Faraday ferrying Jin, Sun and a bunch of ‘red shirts’ to the freighter we got a big clue to the device attached to Keamy’s bicep. The discovery of a massive load of explosives makes me believe that the trigger frequency may be tied to Keamy’s pulse or heart beat. During that earlier sequence, we saw the doctor present when Keamy was being fitted with the device. He then made a point of displaying it to the ship’s captain. It seems that this is Keamy’s insurance policy to guard against the captain from abandoning him and his men on the island or from taking a shot at Keamy. So now we have Jin, Sun and Aaron (along with Michael and Desmond) stuck aboard a death trap.
10. And yet – they can’t go back to the island. The second Faraday heard of “the Orchid” he panicked. Referencing his trusty notebook, he flipped to a page covered in mathematical formulas (with references to ‘space like factors’) and featuring a prominent doodle of the Orchid – a design that echoes the emblems adorning the other stations on the island. We’ve speculated most of this season that something on the island controls ‘time travel/teleportation’ and it appears based on what we know of Faraday’s obsessions, that The Orchid is the key to that. That said, Faraday doesn’t want any part of it – warning Charlotte that they have to get off the island, immediately.
11. A warning echoed by Ben as he describes ‘moving the island’ as a last resort – a desperation move. “How does one move an island?” “Very carefully” is Ben’s answer. Ben also states that the process can be dangerous and unpredictable. So what does everyone think they mean by ‘move the island’? Personally – I don’t think they move it physically. I think it stays put where it is. Rather, I think they move it temporally – they shift it in time – perhaps fold time back a bit so that they take advantage of Keamy’s mercenaries. That said, that doesn’t quite explain why Ben later warns Widemore that he’ll never find the island. So – who knows – maybe the island does move – but the question is where and how? Are we talking multiple dimensions?!?!? I love that a mainstream show gets away with this craziness and still continues to draw healthy numbers. Trying to puzzle these mysteries is what keeps me watching with eyes wide open. I drink it up. I’ll say it now. If they move the island (actually move it somewhere) then the argument is officially over. Best. Show. EVER!!!
12. Adding to the feeling that a battle royale is brewing, we have Richard Alpert and his well-armed militia emerging from the trees where they get the drop on Kate and Sayid. I have a feeling The Others are going to take the fight to Keamy’s army.
13. Great line by Sawyer to Jack which harkens back to a previous episode title – “You don’t get to die alone.”
14. Now, as the episode ends, Ben provides Locke with very detailed instructions of how to access the Orchid. Offering himself as a diversion, he waltzes towards Keamy’s goons, promising “I always have a plan.” The question is – is getting pistol-whipped and knocked out all part of that plan.
We’ll find out in two weeks – on the May 29th two hour conclusion to There’s No Place Like Home.