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June 2, 2008 |

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | June 2, 2008 |

Many, many things have happened.

“Lost” ended its fourth season in a flurry of action, pathos, and story resolution the likes of which haven’t been since its first year on the air. In many ways it’s impossible to top that first season in terms of sheer potential, but Season Four has been an all-killer-no-filler ride that blew the show’s old rules out of the water and made everything fresh again, and it’s made the story broader and more complicated than even that first year could’ve hinted. The closing acts of the finale, “There’s No Place Like Home,” did a perfect job at bringing this season’s arc to a close while setting up where the series will go in its two final seasons. Written by co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof and executive producer/showrunner Carlton Cuse, and directed by Jack Bender (everything from “Walkabout” to “The Shape of Things to Come”), the episode was every great thing it needed to be.

The episode opens at the farthest point in the future we’ve seen so far, which is also from the first episode a flashforward was used. (The episode is full of beautifully balanced moments like that one.) This season’s flashforwards have been moving steadily back to the point where the Oceanic Six get rescued, which will occupy the main thread of the episode this time around, while the flashforward suddenly fires back to the edge of the unknown and begins sailing forward. Tying more directly into the “Previously on” recap than ever before, the episode begins in that moment when Jack is standing near the airport, howling “We have to go back!” as Kate drives away. She hits the brakes and throws her car into reverse. It’s impossible to describe the thrill of this moment, of seeing this story come back on itself and take on part of its final shape. Kate hops out of her car and tears into Jack, chewing him out for calling her while stoned and then showing up with an obituary for Jeremy Bentham — this is the guy who was in the coffin in last season’s finale, and whose funeral would have been deserted if not for Jack’s drunken appearance. Kate says that Bentham paid her a visit but that she dismissed him as crazy, though apparently Jack believed what Betham “of all people” had to say. Jack said it was the only way he could keep Kate and Aaron safe. At the mention of the boy, Kate slaps Jack and says, “Don’t you say his name. I still have to explain to him why you are not there to read to him.” This is something “Lost” excels at: Taking something as clichĂ©d as “You do not get to say his name” and appropriating it as if it’s brand new. These are deeply motivated characters caught up in a serious, unironic melodrama, and it totally works. Kate says she’s spent the last three years trying to forget her time on the island and has no intention of going back. Her stating the timeline is, as always, a subtle but important reminder of the key role time plays in the show. The Six make it to Indonesia on day 108, in January 2005, after having crashed in September 2004, placing Kate and Jack’s heartbreaking sewerairport talk in the fall of 2007. Kate gets back in her car and drives away.

Back in the jungle, Jack and Sawyer are trying to track down Hurley, Locke, and Ben. Jack’s still-fresh surgery incision looks to be suppurating and ruining what’s been a pretty resilient T-shirt. They find the overgrown area marking the entrance to the Orchid, at which point Sawyer asks, “What’s the plan, Sundance?” That would make Sawyer Butch, but I say that’s backwards: Jack’s the one with the hair up his ass to be a leader, and Sawyer is the blonde who gets the women. Anyway, they’re trying to figure out what to do when they hear a noise and turn to see Hurley peeing on the other side of some trees. Sawyer asks if Hurley’s OK; Hurley is excited to see that Sawyer came back for him; these two guys really should get an apartment together and have adventures. Hurley asks how Sawyer found him and looks down to see Jack. They bury the hatchet in the minimalistic way men do, with head nods and heartfelt utterings of “Good to see you.” They head into the main area of the Orchid and find Locke wandering among the flowers. He and Jack trade a loaded greeting. You know they’re going to fight again.

Out on the freighter, Desmond, Jin, and Michael are attempting to disarm the considerable amount of C4 that’s wired to a battery and radio transmitter. Desmond says that he’s got six months explosive ordnance training but doesn’t know if he’ll be able to stop the bomb. He points out that if the battery, receiver, or really any of the wires to the C4 are severed, it’ll detonate. Desmond is definitely not one to sugarcoat the situation.

Back out at the Orchid, Jack asks Locke what he’s up to, and Locke says casually that there’s a Dharma station below them and he’s looking for a way in. He says it like he’s going to the store to buy groceries. When Jack asks what his real intentions are, Locke asks that Sawyer and Hurley give the two other men a moment to talk in private. But Jack isn’t buying, so he turns to leave with Hurley and Sawyer. Locke insists that Jack stay because he needs to hear what Locke will do, but Jack counters with a variant of the line that’s been holding him together all year: “What I need to do is to walk back to the chopper, get on it, and get the rest of our people on this island.” At this, Hurley volunteers the information that Keamy and the other “Rambo guys” are on their way to the chopper with Ben, who gave himself up an hour before.

Speak of the devil: Out in the jungle, Ben is in plastic cuffs, being led through the woods by Keamy and the commandos. “So tell me something, Ben,” Keamy says in that angry way of his where his lips move but his teeth stay clenched. “What is it that makes you so important?” Keamy should really know better than to play head games with Benjamin Linus, who killed his crush’s boyfriend and can summon the smoke monster at will, but whatever. Ben stays quiet as they keep walking. Keamy wants to know why Ben is so valuable alive to Charles Widmore, and Ben asks if Widmore’s deal included killing Alex. Ben gives Keamy a stare that doesn’t bode well for the soldier’s future, but before Keamy can respond, they squad arrives at the chopper to see Frank fiddling his cuffs and trying to free himself with needle-nose pliers. Keamy charges up to Frank and wants to know how he got the toolbox, even going so far as to yell “HEY!” right in Frank’s face, as if this will help. Just then, Keamy hears a noise in the brush. He turns and raises his weapon as Kate comes sweatily bounding out of the tall grass. She stops when she sees the guns and says that she’s one of the survivors of Oceanic 815. “Why are you running?” Keamy asks. Kate replies, “I’m being chased.” She says that Ben’s people are on her trail. Keamy orders a couple of his nonspeaking soldiers into a flanking formation while he grabs Kate by the wrist, drags her over to Ben and commands her to get on her knees, no doubt causing Keamy to have all kinds of fraternity flashbacks right there in the middle of a potential battle. As the soldiers check for the Others, they hear the mysterious whispers, which creep them out. One soldier is felled by a guy jumping down from a tree, while another is taken out by a bolo; apparently the Others learned guerilla warfare from Return of the Jedi. One of the soldiers starts firing as he goes down, and soon enough a firefight erupts between the Others and Kemay’s crew. One of the soldiers gets hit in the neck with some kind of stun device, at which point Kate tells Ben to stay close as they get up and make a run for the treeline. Keamy gets set to fire on them, but a grenade gets tossed near the chopper. Keamy kicks the grenade away, and it lands next to one of the other commandos, who dies with a pretty surprised look on his face. Ben and Kate haul ass through the woods as Keamy runs after them, but even though he closes the distance when Ben stumbles for a moment, Keamy’s soon tackled by Sayid. They roll down a hill and get into an awesome brawl, tussling over Keamy’s pistol before Sayid grabs a knife from Keamy’s belt and jabs it briefly into his back. Keamy goes for the gun, but Sayid beats him with a handy log, though it’s still not enough to stop Keamy, who’s definitely juicing. Keamy gets the drop on Sayid, but before he can finish him, he’s shot in the back by Richard Alpert. As the rest of the Others, or at least their attack squad, comes out of hiding, Kate and Ben run back into the clearing. Ben curtly thanks Richard for coming to the rescue before turning to Kate, who’s picked up Keamy’s bloodied knife, and asking her to cut him free. Richard says the arrangement was that the Others would let Sayid and Kate off the island if they aided in Ben’s rescue, which Ben agrees is fair enough. “The helicopter is yours,” Ben says. “You and Sayid have a safe journey back.” Kate asks, “So we can really go? Off the island? That’s it?” Ben’s a smart guy, but he knows their time on the island is up for the moment. “Yep,” he says. “That’s it.”

Second flashforward: Hurley is sitting in the common room at Santa Rosa Mental Institute, unwrapping a Fruit Roll-Up, when an older black woman walks up and asks, “Are you Hurley?” When he says yes, she asks if he’s dangerous. Hurley asks if he knows the woman, and she says, “No, but you know my grandson.” He looks past her to see Walt standing there, looking a little nervous and definitely taller. Having the character come back in the show’s “future” is the only way Malcolm David Kelley could be brought back to play Walt, aside from having the ghost version of himself appear to Locke. The kid’s four years older now, and his voice has deepened considerably, but I’m glad they figured out a way to keep using the character. Hurley promises Walt’s grandmother that he’s safe, so she allows Walt over to talk to Hurley. “You’re gettin’ big, dude,” Hurley says. Walt says he’s a little hurt that none of the Oceanic Six have come to visit him, and Hurley apologizes. “But you know who did come see me?” Walt asks. “Jeremy Bentham.” As he lets this sink in, he says, “I don’t understand why you’re all lying.” Hurley leans in and says they’re lying because “it’s the only way to protect everyone who didn’t come back.” Walt seems to get it. “Like my dad?” he says. Hurley only takes a beat before replying, “Like your dad, yeah.” After that, neither one knows what to say.

Back in the jungle, Hurley is once again digging into the crackers from Ben’s secret mirror box. Sawyer uses the binoculars to watch Jack and Locke argue, asking Hurley what they’re talking about. “I don’t know, leader stuff,” Hurley says. It’s another in the long line of smart little jokes that completely tip the show’s hand, in this case Hurley’s knowledge that he’s a player but not a decision-maker in the comic book saga that’s playing out on Hell Island. Hurley offers Sawyer a cracker and thanks him for coming back, which Sawyer just shrugs off as no big deal. This really is a different guy than the one who hoarded the medicine and porn from the fuselage and helped orchestrate a con to abduct Sun, take Locke’s guns, and pay Charlie off with heroin. Hurley asks if Claire and Aaron are OK, but Sawyer looks away without responding. Meanwhile, Jack and Locke continue to square off; they’re even standing on opposite sides of an actual wall, if anyone needs the physical metaphor to drive the scene home. Locke says he’d like Jack to reconsider his escape and stay on the island, which Jack laughs off. Locke says Jack is supposed to stay, but that just sends Jack right over the edge, and they get into a debate about the nature of destiny. Locke comes around the wall and says, “You know you’re here for a reason. And if you leave this place, that knowledge is gonna eat you alive from the inside out … until you decide to come back.” Jack shakes his head as he bids Locke goodbye and turns to go, but Locke stops him: “You’re gonna have to lie!” Jack turns back as Locke tells him that Jack will have to lie about everything that’s happened, even the crash, if he makes it back home, because it’s the only way to protect the island. Jack says it’s just an island and as such doesn’t need “protection,” but Locke just smiles and says, “It’s not an island. It’s a place where miracles happen. And if you can’t believe that, just wait till you see what I’m about to do.” The look on Locke’s face is one of pure belief and hope. He isn’t siding with the island out of fear or worry, but because he genuinely feels it’s a place of goodness and power. After all, it made him walk. Jack tells Locke that there’s no such thing as miracles, and Locke just says, “Well, we’ll just see which one of us is right.”

At this point, Ben shows up behind Jack, who raises his gun out of habit as Ben breezes by. Then there’s another great little joke that springs completely from the characters and serves to lighten the mood after Jack and Locke’s blowout. In one quick exchange, Ben asks Locke, “Couldn’t find the anthuriums, could you?” Locke fussily replies, “I don’t know what they look like,” and they head off to find them. Perfect joke. Ben walks Locke over to the right shelf and raises it to reveal the entrance to the actual Orchid station. Jack asks what’s up, but Ben tells him there’s way to much to explain, let alone sum up, so Jack should just get his people and head back to the chopper and escape to the freighter as soon as he can. Locke makes one final plea for Jack to lie to the world — “If you do it half as well as you lie to yourself, they’ll believe you” — before following Ben through the door and into the elevator cart. A metal door slides down, Locke begins his descent, and the two men don’t see each other for a very long time.

Out on the freighter, Michael is wheeling a can of liquid nitrogen — which is apparently a pretty standard supply — across the deck when he’s stopped by Sun, who wants to know how it’s going down below. Michael says that if the nitrogen works like he thinks it will, things should work out. He says he’ll send Jin topside, since there’s no reason for him to be down there when he could be with Sun. Sun, suddenly sympathizing with Michael’s plight, bursts out, “I’m pregnant!” Michael is weirdly fazed for a moment, but he smiles and congratulates her. They haven’t put the past behind them yet, but they’re getting there. Down below, Michael tells Desmond and Jin that they can use the nitrogen to freeze the battery powering the bomb, since the cold will prevent the necessary chemical reaction from taking place in the battery to detonate the plastic explosives. Michael would’ve been handy to have around if he hadn’t been crazy. Michael’s plan has a catch, though: There’s only one canister of liquid nitrogen, and while it will buy them time and act as a preventive measure in case the bomb is triggered, it’s not a permanent fix. Desmond and Jin grab some paper and begin making a diagram of where the various wires run while Michael opens the canister’s valve and starts hosing down the battery.

Back on the beach, Daniel arrives in the Zodiac raft while Juliet and nameless other survivors run up to help him. He tells Juliet that everyone’s now safe aboard the freighter, which now has working engines and will get as close to the island as possible without hitting the reef. He runs off to get some water while the next group of survivors prepares to board the raft, and Juliet, looking happier than ever, thanks him for his help. “Absolutely,” he says, but when he turns away, his face returns to that look of constipated panic he’s worn all season. Up by the food hut, Miles sits and douchily munches on Dharma peanuts. Rose comes up and asks him who gave him permission to eat the nuts, and it’s clear she’s not joking. Miles halfheartedly asks if it’s OK to have some peanuts, and Rose says, “I’m gonna keep my eye on you, shorty.” Thank you, Rose. First time someone’s just come right out and smacked that kid down. Daniel comes up, grabs Miles and Charlotte, and tells them they need to be on the raft in a few minutes when Daniel sets out for the Kahana. Miles says he’ll be staying behind, and when Daniel tries to convince him of the urgency of the situation, Miles just holds firm and says he’ll stick around. Miles is a douchebag, but he’s also a psychic, so he’s probably got a good idea. As Daniel leaves to get ready, Miles says to Charlotte he’s surprised she wants to go. “It’s just weird, you know, after all that time you spent trying to get back here,” he says. “What do you mean, ‘get back here?’” she asks. Miles just grins and walks away. “What do I mean?” he says.

Out at the Orchid, Ben and Locke take a never-ending elevator ride down to the center of the Earth, or at least 100 feet. They exit and make their way down a hall to another standard-looking Dharma station: The phones, computers, and doors all look straight out of the 1970s. Ben begins fiddling with equipment while Locke looks around and asks, “Is this the magic box?” Ben shakes his head quickly like he’s dealing with a very slow child and says no, it’s not. Locke keeps asking questions about the nature of the station, and Ben gets fed up and grabs a video from a drawer and leads Locke over to a TV, telling him to watch the movie while Ben gets some “business” done. Ben hits a switch and opens a pair of sliding doors in the wall, revealing a small white chamber big enough for two or three men to stand in. Locke cues up the video, which is an orientation tape for the Orchid, the sixth Dharma station on the island. Here’s the video:

The video is shot in the Orchid room and hosted by Dr. Halliwax — whose parka Ben wore/will wear — and reveals that the Orchid isn’t really a botanical research station but in fact was established to study the island’s unique time-shifting properties. Halliwax says that the island produces a kind of Casimir effect, or wormhole, allowing Dharma scientists to conduct experiments “in both space and time.” Halliwax walks over to the white chamber, which he calls the vault, saying that it was constructed next to a “pocket” of “negatively charged exotic matter,” which actually seems to make sense to Locke. Halliwax, who’s been holding a rabbit with the number 15 painted on its back the whole time, sets the animal down inside the vault and shuts the door. He says that for the first experiment, they will attempt to shift the rabbit 100 milliseconds forward in time. “For the briefest of moments, the animal will seem to disappear, but in reality …” — and this is where the tape jams and starts to run backward, which Locke can’t fix. Still, it’s an important piece of the story in terms of the island’s mythology and where the series will go. Plus, let’s all remember that from an outsider’s perspective, time travelers disappear without ever going anywhere. (Cf. Doc Brown sending Einstein one minute forward in the DeLorean. The dog “skipped over” that minute and reappeared in what for him was an instantaneous process but during which time Marty and the doc had to wait for his return.)

Anyway, all that aside, while Locke watched the video, Ben began to collect metallic objects from the lab and place them in the vault, which is something the Halliwax tape said was a no-no. Locke asks Ben, “Was he talking about what I think he was talking about?” Ben, never one to miss an opportunity, replies, “If you mean time-traveling bunnies, then yes.” Locke reminds Ben about the whole no-metal-in-the-time-machine rule, but Ben keeps walking. Just then, the elevator door slides shut as the cart begins to rise to meet whoever called it to the top. Locke asks if Ben expects company, Ben asks for his ass-kicking stick back.

Out in the jungle, Hurley, Sawyer, and Jack return to the helicopter to find Kate and Sayid, as well as Frank, still cuffed to the chopper. There’s a joyful little reunion as everyone gets there alive. Sawyer and Kate make eyes at each other like they’re at an 8th-grade dance and might, you know, wanna talk later, or something, maybe by the portables. They trade flirty banter even as Kate goes over to check on Jack’s wound, and the look in Sawyer’s eyes when she lightly touches Jack’s hips lets you know he’s completely sunk. Sawyer grabs a hacksaw from the toolbox and works on freeing Frank, while Sayid tells Jack that the freighter is now safe. Frank pops his cuffs, and everyone boards the chopper as Frank spins it up and preps for takeoff. Jack reassures Hurley that they’ll come back and look for Claire once everyone else is taken to the boat. Frank lifts off with almost all of the Oceanic Six on the helicopter: Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Kate. Only Sun and Aaron are missing, and only Sawyer is superfluous, so while the chopper rises, the feeling isn’t one of elation or rescue but curiosity as to when fate will tighten its grip and change the lineup of people on the helicopter to the one we know it will have to be.

Back at the Orchid, the elevator opens up to reveal Keamy, who’s made of metal and can only be killed by melting in a hot fire. He draws a knife from his boot like only a psycho would and steps off the cart, calling Ben’s name. Keamy’s moving slow and trailing blood, but that doesn’t mean much with this guy. He starts taunting Ben, doing that generic callout thing from the end of every action movie you’ve ever seen, telling Ben it’s going to take a head shot to stop him since his body armor is (obviously) pretty bulletproof. Keamy then yanks off his jacket and explains what we’ve suspected all along: The thing on his bulging forearm is a heart rate monitor tied to the C4 on board the Kahana, and when Keamy dies, the boat goes with him. Keamy even goes for broke and reminds Ben of what he did to Alex, but before Ben can leap out from the place he’s been hiding this whole time, Keamy wheels around to find Locke standing before him, arms raised in calm surrender. Locke says he doesn’t have a beef with Keamy, and the people on the boat don’t, either, so everyone should just cool off and talk it out. Keamy says he’s not one for talk, which is apparently all Ben needed to hear, since right then he jumps out from behind a door, drops Keamy with his collapsible ass-kicking stick, grabs the knife and begins ramming it repeatedly into Keamy’s neck like he’s aerating his lawn, all the while screaming, “You killed my daughter!” Locke pulls Ben off as Keamy starts to choke on his own blood and the heart rate monitor begins to beep. “You just killed everyone on that boat,” Locke says, on the edge of panic. Ben, his face spattered with blood, shoots back a quick answer: “So?” Again, I would probably side with Ben in any kind of intra-island conflict.

Down at the beach, Daniel tries to tell Charlotte something important about getting on the boat, but she interrupts and says she’s staying, “for now, anyway.” Daniel says that’s a pretty bad idea, since if she doesn’t come with him, “for now” could be “forever.” She tells him she’s still looking for where she was born, and while he agrees that it doesn’t make sense to him, they don’t part angrily. In fact, she leans and gives his thin beard a kiss you know he’s gonna replay endlessly, then tells him goodbye and walks away. Daniel walks down to the raft and gets similar news from Juliet, who tells him she swore not to leave until she got everyone safely off the island. “Relax,” she says, “I’ll still be here when you get back.” Daniel, with what is not a great poker face, makes a noncommittal noise before heading to the raft, loading up, and setting to sea.

Aboard the Kahana, Desmond and Jin are still trying to defuse the bomb while Michael keeps a steady blast of nitrogen on the battery. Michael says they’re down to a quarter tank and that it’s time to start evacuating the boat in case the bomb can’t be deactivated. This is a great little twist because it puts the characters in reasonable danger, requires them to leave what they thought was a safe zone and return to a definitely unstable one, and upsets the outcome of the rescue. Meanwhile, in the skies above the island, the chopper is making its way out to the freighter when Frank notices that — of course — the bird is leaking fuel. A quick external check (done with some surprisingly average green screen) confirms that a bullet has pierced the gas tank, and Frank orders everyone to start pitching stuff overboard in an attempt to lighten the load. When Jack asks if they’ve done enough, Frank says, “I’d feel a hell of a lot better if we were a few hundred pounds lighter,” and the reaction shot on Hurley is just as sad as you fear it will be. Frank says he might soon be forced to turn around and ditch the chopper on the beach, even though there’s no fuel there. Sawyer checks the water and turns to Kate. He pulls her in close and whispers in her ear; after repeated viewings at volume levels my neighbors likely didn’t appreciate, I’m pretty sure he said, “I have a daughter. … I want you to find her. … I’m sorry.” Kate pulls back and asks, “Why are you telling me this?” But Sawyer leans back in and kisses her this doomed, almost epic kiss of a man on his way to die. “Just do it, freckles,” he says. (Jack has been uneasily watching this whole thing. Poor guy.) Sawyer turns and leaps out into the sea, surfacing a few seconds later before turning and beginning the long swim back to the island. Kate watches him go, shedding that one tear that the gods of TV drama decreed she must.

Second flashforward, and the first one in almost an hour: A man sitting in a parked car reading the paper is interrupted by a knock on his window. He rolls it down, and we can hear Sayid ask what time it is. The man starts to say that it’s 8:15 (of course) but is stopped when Sayid puts three in his chest, his luscious man-locks flowing all the while. Sayid walks away, clearing the frame for the sign of Santa Rosa Mental Institute. Sayid makes his way up the stairs and finds Hurley’s room, where Hurley is playing chess against an empty chair. Sayid walks in and tells Hurley he needs to come with him to “somewhere safe.” Hurley asks why he should go anywhere with Sayid, and Sayid responds it’s because “circumstances have changed.” He tells Hurley that Bentham died two days ago, which catches Hurley by surprise. Sayid says, “They say it was suicide.” Hurley wants to know why Sayid keeps calling him Bentham instead of his real name, but Sayid cuts him off before Hurley can say it. (Damn you, Lindelof!) Sayid says they’re being watched and need to book, but Hurley only accepts the offer after being assured that they’re not going back to the island. On their way out the door, Hurley turns back, makes a move on the chess board, and says, “Checkmate, Mr. Eko.”

On the chopper, Frank still isn’t able to find the freighter. Jack tells Kate they’ll go back for Sawyer once they’re refueled — this guy’s planning a lot of extra rescue missions — at which point Hurley shouts and points to the freighter, slightly behind them. Quick scene.

Back at the Orchid, Locke is attempting to bandage Keamy’s wounds while Ben just sits there and watches him die. I guess the monitor wouldn’t be fooled if Locke put it on his own arm, but he never even tries. Keamy uses his last bit of strength to say to Ben, “Wherever you go, Widmore will find you.” “Not if I find him first,” Ben says. That’s apparently good enough for Keamy, who groans one last time and expires. The light on his arm’s monitor switches from green to red, while out on the boat, the radio receiver also switches to the red position. Desmond, Michael, and Jin exchange an uneasy look when they realize the bomb is now only being kept from detonation by the liquid nitrogen on the battery. Michael tells the other two to start the evacuation, saying that they’ve got maybe five minutes until things get explodey. Desmond bolts, but Jin stays behind to keep working on the wires.

Desmond makes it topside and begins gathering lifejackets just as the chopper comes in for a landing. He tries to wave them off, shouting that there’s a bomb on board, and though Jack and the others hear him, Frank still has no choice but to land the chopper because of its condition. Once they’re down, Frank starts patching bullet holes with duct tape while Desmond tells Sayid that everyone needs to get away from the boat. Jack and Sayid start to pump gas into the helicopter as Sun starts to head below deck. Kate sees her and stops her, saying that it’s too dangerous, but Sun wants to go anyway. Kate tells her to get Aaron on the chopper while Kate retrieves Jin. Down below, Michael runs out of nitrogen and tells Jin to get out. When Jin refuses, Michael puts his foot down: “You are a father now. Get to your wife and get her home.” Above deck, the survivors are in a mad scramble while Frank spins up the helicopter. (I kind of love how no one else asked for a ride on the chopper, but just assumed it was for the people who got there in it.) Jack sees Kate heading for the hatch and runs to get her, ignoring her protests that Jin is inside, saying he won’t leave without her. Frank pulls up and away just as Jin reaches the deck, shouting and waving his arms. From the chopper, Sun shouts that they have to go back down, but Frank keeps flying. Below deck, Michael runs out of gas and hears the whispers float through the air around him. He looks up to see Christian Shephard standing on the other side of the bomb. “You can go now, Michael,” he says. “Who are you?” Michael asks, but those are his last words. The freighter blows up, sending a fireball into the sky, while Sun screams Jin’s name from above. The shockwave rocks the chopper as the boat goes underwater, and Sun never stops screaming. The helicopter is a chaos of yelling, but Sun finally sits still when Jack says, “He’s gone.” In a moment of utter defeat and loss, Jack tells Frank to fly them back to the island.

Third flashforward: Sun is strolling through London when she gets a call from home. It’s her mother and her daughter, and little Ji Yeon is now old enough to say “Mama.” As Sun tells her mother she’s only got a little more business to take care of before she flies home, Charles Widmore emerges with an entourage of generic suits from a nearby restaurant. Sun ends the call and walks over to Widmore, who’s already spotted her but is attempting to casually walk away. Sun stops him and introduces herself in a business context as the managing director of Paik Industries, and Widmore’s content to make small talk about Sun’s father for a few moments before Sun calls shenanigans on the whole charade. “Are you really going to pretend that you don’t know who I am?” she asks. Sun tells Widmore she knows he knows that the Oceanic Six are lying about where they’ve been and what happened to them on the island, adding that she and Widmore have “common interests.” She hands him her card and tells him to call when he’s ready to talk. “As you know,” she says, “we’re not the only ones who left the island.” And with that, she turns and walks away, ignoring Widmore’s question of why she would want to help him in the first place. But Widmore’s question is a good one: Sun is on the warpath for some reason, and she’s never been this aggressive. Does she want to use Widmore to get to Ben, or to find Desmond and Penny?

Down in the Orchid, Locke has a few questions of his own for Ben, mainly why Ben would go ahead and kill Keamy even if he knew it would destroy the Kahana. Ben says he wasn’t thinking straight and that “sometimes, good command decisions get compromised by bad emotional responses.” This guy could run for office. Ben continues to chuck every metal object in the room into the vault before closing the doors and hitting a few switches. Ben and Locke duck behind a desk as the vault is activated (or whatever), causing a sizable explosion that doesn’t actually damage the exterior door. “I better change,” Ben says, leaving Locke to watch the remaining sparks kick around inside the vault.

Up on the beach, Juliet is sitting in the sand with a half-drunk bottle of rum between her feet. (It took her no time to hit the booze.) As she stares out to sea, her gloom turns to surprise as Sawyer — having removed his shirt to make the swim that much easier and sexier — paddles to shore and emerges on the sand, swaggering toward her with all the bravado her can muster. “Nice day for a swim,” he says as he plops down in front of her. He nods at the bottle and asks what Juliet is celebrating, but Juliet responds that she’s not doing anything of the kind. She tilts her head to the horizon, and Sawyer turns to see the rising pillar of smoke that marks the final resting place of the Kahana. “That our boat?” he asks her; on the edge of tears, she replies, “It was.”

OK, back down to the Orchid. This episode jumps locations more frequently than maybe another installment this season. Ben opens up a locker and pulls out a parka branded with Halliwax’s name and the Orchid logo, and it’s another amazing, tingling little moment where the story turns a little tighter and the pieces begin to line up. Ben says he needs the jacket because it’s cold where he’s going, and when Locke wants to know where his own coat is — this guy loves being told what to do — Ben says Locke doesn’t need one because he’s staying behind. They argue about it as they walk down the hall, with Locke saying that Jacob revealed the whole move-the-island plan to Locke, meaning he should get to play. “He told you what to do, but he didn’t tell you how,” Ben says, “because he wants me to suffer the consequences.” Ben’s almost at another door, but he stops and turns to Locke, saying that “whoever moves the island can never come back.” Ben tells Locke to head topside and find Alpert and the rest of the Others a couple miles east of the Orchid, and his voice is the softest it’s ever been. Actually, that’s not quite accurate: It’s the most genuine. Ben says the Others are “ready, willing, and able to share what they know” with Locke, and that they’ll follow his every word. And then, Ben holds out his hand and tells Locke goodbye. “I’m sorry I made your life so miserable,” Ben says, and he can’t even look Locke in the eye when he says it. Ben’s always been a skilled liar, relying on his acting skills and charisma to see him through; when he finally opens up, he can’t even make eye contact. Locke shakes his hand, and Ben turns to leave, grabbing a crowbar leaning against the wall. Locke asks what he should tell the Others, but Ben just says, “You’ll find your way, John. You always do.”

And indeed he does, or at least he starts out on the right path. The action shifts to Locke walking easily through the jungle when he comes across the Others, gathered around a pair of modest campfires in a small gully next to a stream. Locke studies them with a look of trepidation. Alpert spots him and says, “Hello, John. Welcome home.” At that, Locke’s expression softens and he begins to smile as he mentally assumes the leadership role he’s been chasing since the island gave him back his legs.

Down in the Orchid, Ben clears some debris from the vault to reveal a hole blown in the back wall. The hole opens up into a tunnel, which Ben follows to its end, where a wooden ladder leads down a shaft whose bottom opening has been covered over with a sheet of ice. Crowbar still in hand, Ben kicks out the ice and continues his downward climb, but the second ladder gives way a few rungs down and Ben falls to the ground, gashing his right arm on a nail on the way down. As soon as that happens, you know Ben’s time his up: He had the parka and his ass-kicking stick, both of which he had when he appeared/appears in the Tunisian desert. All he needed was the arm wound, and now that that’s taken care of, he can leap. Ben pulls out some matches and lights a lamp hanging on a stone pillar carved with some weird runes similar to the ones on the tunnel Ben took to go summon the smoke monster back when Keamy first attacked. Once the lamp is lit, Ben turns to see a giant spoked wheel mounted horizontally into the rough stone wall, covered in snow and ice. Placing his hands on two of the spokes, Ben looks to the ceiling — where everyone looks when they’re about to curse someone — and says, “I hope you’re happy now, Jacob.” He tries to turn the wheel clockwise, but it’s frozen stiff. He grabs the crowbar and chips away some of the ice on top of the wheel, then uses it as a lever in one of the spokes’ slot to get the wheel to turn slightly. He ditches the bar, grabs the wheel, and continues to turn it, sending up a low grinding noise and a weird keening whistle.

The eerie noise is heard all over the island: Locke and the Others perk up their ears, while Juliet and Sawyer turn from the beach to look at the jungle behind them. Out at sea, Daniel and a remaining group of survivors are still in the Zodiac raft, presumably wondering just what the hell to do now that the boat’s been obliterated, when they hear the noise as well. Finally, the people in the chopper hear it, too. Desmond asks what the noise is while Aaron just cries. Meanwhile, Ben keeps turning the wheel, struggling against the icy ground. As it turns, a yellow light begins to emit from the crack in the wall in which the wheel is set, and it grows brighter and begins to emit smoke or vapor as Ben keeps pushing. In tears from pain and the sacrifice he’s making to save his beloved island, Ben finally reaches the end of the turn, and he’s encased in a white light that soon booms out over the entire island, even covering Daniel and the raft. Up in the chopper, Jack and the rest watch what appears to be a supernova expand in the center of the island as the light blinds everyone and a dull crack is heard. When the light fades, Jack just has time to see the ocean rippling back on itself before the sea goes calm.

The island is gone.

Jack leans forward with a weary, whatthefuckisitnow look on his face as the chopper keeps flying toward land that’s no longer there. Frank, understandably, starts to panic a little, but Jack contends that there’s a second, smaller island nearby where the chopper can land. “I got news for you, doc,” Frank shouts. “There’s nothing but water in every direction!” Just then, the fuel gauge hits E and begins sounding a small alarm. Frank takes off his headset and tells everyone else to brace for impact and break out the life vests. Sayid gets the life raft from Desmond, tossing it out the window and pulling the inflation cord in one smooth motion as the helicopter’s blades come to a stop and it slams into the sea, flipping end over end.

Jack regains consciousness underwater as the others can be heard shouting above him. He swims up to see Kate handing Aaron — who really must have a destiny, since he’s completely unharmed — to Hurley in the life raft before crawling in herself. Jack heads or the raft as Frank calls out for help with Desmond, who isn’t breathing. Everyone piles into the raft, rocking on its soft floor, and Jack begins to perform CPR on Desmond. The character’s future is a little more secure than dying at sea, since there’s no way the writers would have given him an episode as dramatic as “The Constant” without letting the poor bastard see Penny one last time, but still, this is a tense scene in an episode packed with them. After Jack pumps Desmond’s chest a few times, he spits up water and begins breathing again. And there they are: The Oceanic Six, plus Desmond and Frank, who are the two men in the cover story who survived the crash but never made it home. They just sit there, staring at each other or the sea around them, until Jack wearily says, “It’s OK. We’re alive.”

Fourth flashforward: Kate’s asleep in her big empty bed, since her ex-fiancĂ© is a bearded pill fiend and her one true love got sucked into a wormhole. She hears a creak and wakes, clicking on the light. Her phone rings, and she answers it to hear a man’s voice speaking in crazy backward “Twin Peaks” talk. She hears more noises down the hall and bounds out of bed to her closet, digging until she finds a box with a gun. Putting a round in the chamber, she leaps down the hall to Aaron’s room. Finding the door ajar, she kicks it open to see a figure crouched in the shadows by Aaron’s bed. “Don’t you touch my son!” she yells, raising the gun. But the figure turns into the light: It’s Claire, looking considerably sadder than she was hanging out with her ghost dad in Jacob’s Magical Mystery Cabin. Kate starts to ask what’s happening, but Claire interrupts, saying, “Don’t bring him back, Kate. Don’t you dare bring him back.” Just then, Kate bolts upright in bed: It was a dream. She runs down to Aaron’s room once more, finding nothing but the boy, asleep. She rests her hand on his and begins to weep, saying, “I’m sorry. … I’m sorry.”

Back in the raft, the sun has gone down and the Oceanic Six Plus Two are drifting. “I can’t believe he did it,” Hurley says to Kate. “Locke. He moved the island.” Jack pipes up, “No he didn’t,” earning a completely deserved look of scorn from Hurley. Come on, Jack. I get that you and Locke have fundamental differences in philosophy and adventure survival, but at least concede that the island did indeed vanish before your very eyes. Hurley says, “One minute it was there, and the next minute it was gone. So unless we, like, overlooked it, dude, that’s exactly what he did.” In response, Jack just sits there and pouts. Before he and Hurley can get into it, Frank spots a light coming from a nearby boat. Everyone stands and shouts for help, and the boat fixes its light on the raft and begins to turn their direction. Jack’s face goes taut with the knowledge of what he has to do. “We’re gonna have to lie,” he says. “Everything. All of it. Every moment since we crashed on the island.” Frank asks why they can’t all be happy for their rescue and be truthful, but Jack counters that the Kahana was sent to kill the survivors of Oceanic 815. The fake wreckage means someone wants the world to think there were no survivors, Jack says, so to tell people about the real wreck would endanger those who were left behind. Kate says there’s no way they can pull it off, but Jack says, “Just let me do the talking.” Everyone on the raft looks pretty uncomfortable with the conspiracy they’re about to embark upon, especially Hurley.

The boat, called the Searcher, draws close to the raft. An excited crewmember watches the raft’s approach and yammers away in a foreign language to unseen men nearby, but the he calls for “Ms. Widmore,” which catches Desmond’s ear. He looks up to see Penny appear on one of the upper decks, ordering for the raft to be brought around to the stern. He calls her name, and they see each other for the first time in years. He springs from the raft and begins scaling some netting on the boat as she races down to meet him, and their reunion is the perfect, heartbreaking moment that’s been long in coming. Penny says she found Desmond from the phone call he made, which was picked up by her tracking station. “I love you, Penny,” he says, “and I’ll never leave you again.” Desmond and Penny walk to the deck where the raft’s passengers are being unloaded, and he introduces her to the final survivors. When Jack comes aboard, he says, “It’s nice to meet you, Penn, but we need to talk.” He looks committed already to the plan he’s still formulating. Way to kill the mood, Jack.

One week later, the Searcher is still at sea as Sayid reminds Hurley that the place they’re using is called Membata. Hurley looks down to see a despondent Sun one deck below, then turns to Sayid and asks, “Why are we doing this, dude? Sailing 3,000 miles to another island?” Sayid says that “it’s the only way to keep them safe.” At the stern, Jack and Frank are loading the life raft with driftwood for paddles; it’s the fake wreckage of the fictional boat that was brought to the survivors by a made-up typhoon. Frank says they can hit land in eight or nine hours if they’re lucky. Desmond and Jack talk briefly, each trying to make sure the other wants to go through with his plan. Desmond says he’ll be happy as long as he’s with Penny, and Jack warns him to stay below the radar. “I’ll see you in another life, brother,” Jack says, shaking the hand of the man he first met running in a stadium years before. “I guess you will,” Desmond says. “All right,” Jack says, turning to the rest of the Oceanic Six. “Let’s go home.” Before long, they’re paddling the raft up to the shore of an Indonesian island, presumably Sumba, where they made/make contact with villagers and begin to make the long trek home. There’s a weird sense of foreseen finality about the sequence, watching Jack and the others reach a shore we’ve never seen but knew would be there. It’s reminiscent once more of the final moments of the first-season finale, watching the passengers of Oceanic 815 board the plane. It was a new way of looking at something we already understood as part of the story, and this scene packs the same sense of epic destiny.

Fifth flashforward: Jack is driving through L.A. in his jeep, listening to some Pixies and fully back in his Beard Gettin’ It Done phase. He pulls up and stops across the street from the Hoffs/Drawlar funeral parlor, where he attended the funeral of Jeremy Bentham not long before. Jack, still obviously high, stumbles toward the door and breaks the handle with a nearby chunk of stone. (There’s a nice parallel between Jack and Ben having to physically break their ways into these places that will change their lives.) He enters a back room and sees Bentham’s casket. There’s a clipboard sitting on top bearing a release form, but nobody’s signed it. Jack removes it and opens the coffin, staring sadly down at the man inside. “Hello, Jack,” comes a soft voice from over Jack’s shoulder. He whips around to see Ben standing by the door, and though Ben apologizes for startling Jack, he should really know better than to sneak into already-vandalized funeral parlor and start whispering near open caskets. “Did (Bentham) tell you that I was off the island?” Ben asks, and Jack says yes, he did. Jack admits that he and Kate both spoke to Bentham about a month ago. “He told me that after I left the island, some very bad things happened,” Jack says. Jack also says that Bentham blamed him for what happened and that Jack had to come back to the island in order to set things right. Ben says he knows about Jack’s habit of flying and hoping for a crash, calling it “very dark.” Coming from Ben, that’s pretty damning. Ben says that the island won’t let Jack come back alone; everyone who left must return. Jack says he’s lost track of Sayid, that Hurley is crazy, that Sun still blames him for Jin’s death, and that he and Kate aren’t speaking. “This is the way it has to be, Jack,” Ben says. “It’s the only way.” Jack asks how they’re all supposed to reunite and return to the island, and Ben says he has “a few ideas.” Jack sheds a few jears as he gives in, nods his acceptance, and turns to leave with Ben. But Ben stops him before he can get three steps, saying, “I said all of you. We’re gonna have to bring him, too.” They turn to look back at the coffin as the camera moves up and over the lid to finally reveal the identity of Jeremy Bentham and answer the question that’s been hounding the show for a year now:

It’s John Locke.

Cut to black.

… And with that, the season came to a perfect close. These 14 hours wouldn’t make any sense to someone who hasn’t watched the series’ firth three years, but for those who have, it’s been a tight, wickedly entertaining season. Watching the flashforwards move back along the timeline as the island time moved forward was beautiful and dizzying, and while this season revolved around inventive flashforwards, it seems likely that next year might revert to flashbacks even as their nature changes dramatically from what it once was. At the farthest point in the future, or what could be called the present, Locke is dead, but that leaves more than two years of “past” during which he led the Others and was very much a living force on the island. Hell, the whole line between flashbacks/flashforwards starts to blur anyway when you realize it all depends on what you call the present. What’s more, the season ended with perhaps the most specific major cliffhanger to date. Instead of opening up a hatch and making room for a whole new world, the writers have presented a very specific question that will drive future stories: How did John Locke die? And branching out from all that are the other questions: Why did he leave the island to retrieve the Six? What’s the significance of using as his alias the name of another British philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, aside from the fact that Locke and Bentham came down on opposite sides of the fence in regard to natural rights?

There are hundred of things to think about before the series returns next year — January never seemed so far — but here are some of the basics kicking around my brain: I believe the island possibly relocated geographically as well as temporally. The island’s disappearance was because it shifted forward in time, as explained by Halliwax in the orientation video. Ben moved the island on day 100 after the crash, in late December 2004, and walks into the Tunisian hotel on October 24, 2005, so it’s reasonable to assume that the island also “jumped” 10 months or so into the future. But when Ben visits/-ed Widmore at the end of “The Shape of Things to Come,” each man swears to destroy what the other holds dear: Ben says he’ll kill Penny as vengeance for Alex’s death, while Widmore vows to reclaim the island. But Ben replies, “You’ll never find it.” Since Widmore had already found the island and sent the Kahana there, it seems reasonable to assume that he won’t just check the same location and find it all over again once it “reappears” after jumping to the future. So he’s got to begin the search again, which means the island moved to another spot on the planet as well as another time. Also, because the relocation took the main island and the smaller one, there’s a good chance that Daniel and the raft went, too, if only because it’d be a shame to kill off Jeremy Davies. Additionally, though the ship exploded, we didn’t see Jin’s body get blown away, and though he probably bought it, until the show ends, there will always be a part of that hopes he somehow will be reunited with Sun. I mean, it’s “Lost”; even if you see the corpse, that doesn’t mean they won’t come back. But until next year, all I can do is wait, and watch, and wonder what will happen next.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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