Season finale: Lost (season four)

Lost finale

Well, you should all have seen this now. It was on US TV last week, Sky One last night, so that’s all the bases covered. Nevertheless, follow me over the jump, to preserve the sensibilities of those who Sky+-ed it.

Season four has been something of a renaissance for Lost. Everyone loved season one. Not everyone was keen on season two, although it picked up towards the end. Season three was pretty turgid, but had a triumphant finale.

But once they knew exactly when the show was going to end, the show’s writers were able to stop treading water, stop writing entire episodes about Jack’s tattoos and get down to business. Season four, despite the writers’ strike, has been pretty fantastic.

Now, I imagine, given that the ratings in the US were the lowest ever for a Lost season finale, that it’s started to lose plenty of viewers all the same. The show had pretty much extinguished any chance of metaphysical explanations for the castaways’ fates (eg they’re in purgatory, Limbo, etc) and given us purely sci-fi ones. They’re good sci-fi ones, but intricate and complicated ones that must have repelled a few viewers who only wanted a bit more soapy romance between Jack, Kate and Sawyer or a simple explanation for everything that involves something they can relate to everyday life.

The reasons for Lost‘s new found lease of life aren’t just behind the scenes. The new blood of the “freighties” (or whatever name the Internet has christened them with) and the revelation that Charles Widmore is the true nemesis of the show has given the show a lease of life. The replacement of the flashbacks with flashforwards – bar one or two important exceptions – has also rejuvenated it. Now, instead of constant questions, we’ve been getting constant answers, albeit answers phrased in the form of more questions. We knew that some of them would get off the island, we knew what they would end up doing once they get off the island, we just didn’t know how – until now.

Of course, being Lost, there are still plenty of the big questions still to be answered, such as exactly who the Others are, what the island is, where it is and more. Yet we’ve now had enough answers that doubts about whether the producers knew what they were doing and whether they were just making it up as they were going along have been finally abated. I don’t think anyone who’s made it this far is now thinking of jumping ship.

The finale itself wasn’t quite as satisfying as we might have hoped, though. Jin had to die – it was just a question of when – so that wasn’t a huge shock. Michael’s death was unexpected, assuming he is dead and not with Jacob/Jack’s dad, but he’s been in it so little this season that no one probably cares he’s dead. In fact, most people are probably hacked off that he got absolutely nothing to do for his brief return – a common problem with many characters, such as Miles or Nikki and Paulo, is that they get time spent on them for their intros then the writers forget to do something interesting with them.

The revelation that Locke was in the coffin at the end of last season’s finale wasn’t too surprising, particularly if you know your English philosophers. More surprising was his lack of surprise at seeing that bloke with the bottle of sand and the knife hadn’t aged a day in 50 years. Plus we all knew that they’d have to go back to the island once they were off it.

All the same, there were some great moments. Ben’s relocation of the island was a genuinely impressive moment. The Sayid fight with the nasty marine was finally something worthy of being called a fight. Penny and Desmond’s reunion was moving, even if we know that Ben’s going to try to kill Penny at some point. And we have the minor mystery of everyone’s favourite red-haired fighting archeologist Charlotte to solve now, too.

We’re in the home stretch now, if you can call three seasons a home stretch. Watching Lost has stopped seeming like a duty, like eating your greens, designed for some pay off in the far off distance. It’s been almost consistently the best thing on US TV each week during its fourth season. It’s still frustrating, it’s still a big tease and it’s now so massively over-complicated that the chance of ever understanding what’s going on fully has long since disappeared. But it’s great TV.

  • I don’t think Jin is dead. He’s got some experience in jumping off ocean-craft that’s about to explode, and he was near enough to the end of the freighter to do so.
    And Daniel Faraday was out there with the Zodiac (and a bunch of redshirts), so he could scoop Jin up. (I don’t think that little boat was within the sphere of influence for the island.) That way, Jeremy Davies can have somebody to act with that’s a regular.
    It’s funny how the writers and actors have me so invested in these characters. I remember back in the first season all of the speculation as to who would die first, and I was more than willing to give Jin up. Now I’m arguing in his defense!
    It looks like the show’s timeline and Walt’s growth spurt have finally aligned, so we should see more of the boy now.
    I’ve been hoping that in the coming seasons we’ll be learning more about the whisperers/ghosts, and with Miles still on the island, that may happen. Plus his psychic gift can keep Claire in play as a regular character, rather than just as an occasional guest spot like Charlie, Christian, or Libby this season.
    I got tired of the flashbacks and so I’m glad they started using the flash-forwards. But there is one flashback I want to see – we need to know the secret of Richard Alpert. Thank God for the cancellation of ‘Cane’ – we just may get it now!
    Finally, my guess as to why Locke committed suicide – I think he had to move the island one more time and unlike Ben or Widmore (whom I think did it previously), he couldn’t handle the banishment.
    As usual, sorry for being so long-winded…..

  • Jonathan Reed

    Yeah, overall a very good finale. Left plenty dangling til next Feb(!!!!) and tied up some story threads that had been playing through this season.
    2 things I wasn’t keen on though. The way they got Sawyer off the helicopter – “oh no a stray bullet hole is spilling fuel and we’ve only got enough to get to the freighter if someone jumps…” a bit too forced I thought…
    And secondly, Michael’s exit – I’m sorry, but what was his purpose again? I’ve read the interview with Harold P and I agree really. Yes, he wasn’t the nicest character but what did he do when he returned? a bit of a waste I think and now Walt doesn’t have a dad? great, so all the character building between two in the first season about him coming to terms with being his father and then the second season where he went to any length so they could be together came to THIS?? A bit shabby really…
    But overall great, and a couple of creepy moments like with Claire watching over Aaron and Hurley playing chess with Mr Ecko.
    Plus the actual moving of the island was brilliant using the rule of less is more in terms of what we saw… Just a simple ripple of the sea where the island was when the light dimmed was all we needed. Very nicely done…
    Roll on Season 5…