SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t yet know what happens when you don’t press the "Execute" button in the hatch, press the "Back" button on your browser.
Jack, Kate and Sawyer captured by the Others. The hatch blown up. Locke and Eko possibly blown to smithereens. Michael and Walt on a boat. Sayid, Sun and Jin on another boat. Claire and Charlie necking on the beach. And two guys in a polar observation station (polar bears? anyone?) surveilling electromagnetic fields on behalf of the woman from that crappy American version of Coupling. Let’s hope that HansoCareers website is entertaining, because it’s going to be a pretty damn long four months or so.
You would expect a Lost finale to leave a lot of loose ends, but you do have to give this one credit for bringing together, and sometimes even explaining, all the disparate, bizarre elements introduced this season. The hatch; the electromagnetism; the map; the pneumatic tubes; the references to "Him"; the Others’ scary Abu Ghraib prisoner hoods; the orientation videos (from which the mysterious "Pala Ferry" appeared in the final scenes); Desmond; even the creepy U.S. military guy who taught Sayid to torture in the Gulf War.
We found out not only why the plane crashed (electromagnetism, an oops on Desmond’s part when he was late pushing the button) but when (2004, according to the button-pushing logbook, upsetting the Internet theories that the show takes place several years in the future.) Most of all, the finale came full circle on Locke’s series-long journey of faith, ending, ironically, when he lost faith in the button, only to see the proof–the disastrous electromagnetic event–materialize horribly in chaos and crumpling metal. His sheepish "I was wrong" to Eko was priceless.
Seeing all these pieces come together–OK, not together, but kinda near each other–you see, impressively, how what was simply a spooky and entertaining show in season 1 broke out into something truly weird and sui generis in season 2.
Where season 3 is going is iffier. Hopeefully, we’ll finally get some answers about the Others. (Any bets on Fake Henry Gale as the first flashback of season 3?) There were tantalyzing glimpses of mysteries to come–the giant statue of the four-toed foot was a nice touch. The closing scene, with the bizarre magnetic pulse on the island being detected by those Arctic scientists (who were speaking what? Spanish? Portuguese? Esperanto?), was definitely an intriguing left turn. But it was a disappointing cliffhanger note to end the finale on the face of Desmond’s ex-girlfriend, a character we met all of an hour earlier and care precisely nothing about.
In fact, it was an odd choice all around to give Desmond the flashback for the entire two-hour finale–for the little information it gave us about the electromagnetic shenanigans–since he’s likewise a peripheral character we have little emotional investment in. And the idea of Coupling Woman out there financing some high-tech search for the island seems a little, I don’t know, Alias. I fear for the show if the producers plan to shift some of the action to events in the outside world. Part of the mystery and appeal of the show was its hermeticism: the feeling, as Desmond said in the finale, that "we are stuck in a bloody snow globe! There’s no outside world! No escape!"
But what do I know? Last season’s staring-down-the-hatch cliffhanger was disappointing too, and we know where that went, so I’ll trust them for now. Maybe bringing in the outside world, like exploring the hatch, is a necessary risk to keep the show from stagnating; just as a shark must keep swimming to live, so must Lost continue to risk jumping the shark. Maybe what’s really disappointing about the finale is just the prospect of a long, Lostless summer vacation.
Though I hear the Arctic is nice this time of year.