During the last commercial break of tonight’s episode, I looked over at my wife, who sat there with a look on her face like she’d just swallowed 15-year old Dharma crackers. I asked her if she liked the episode, to which she replied, “It’s just…suffocating.” And with that description, she pinpointed what I’d been feeling as well throughout the episode. More than any episode of Lost I can recall, I sat there during the first hour of the three-part finale “There’s No Place Like Home” all but shouting at the television, telling the people onscreen to do ANYTHING other than what they were currently doing at that moment.
After all, the show approached Greek tragedy tonight in terms of its inability to go in any other direction except towards a tear-filled encounter just outside of LAX. We’ve known through Season 4 that we’d end up at this point in some fashion, but now that we’re here, the narrative grip has reached a chokehold, with the climatic moment uniting past and future only two weeks away. As such, one can look at the slo-mo’d climax of the episode as the show putting the major players into their position for the final, tragic act, arranging them like a masochistic director inside a theatre of pain.
The event in question? Showdown at the O.K. Orchid, of course, the locus of whatever enables the Oceanic 6 to escape and the Island to “move,” whatever on Earth that means. (I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean the Island likes to move it, move it. Other than that, I’ve a few ideas, but nothing concrete just yet.) The Orchid has long been teased on the show, dating back to Comi-Con 2007, with appearances on Ben’s Dharka, Keamey’s secondary protocol, and Faraday’s notebook. I have linked this video below many times, but since we’re about to finally enter the most terrifying botanical garden not containing Audrey II, I present it one more time.
“Not a botanical research unit.” No kidding, Edgar. By the way, your Dharka looks simply smashing on Ben. Hope you don’t mind him taking it on his 2005 Death and Destruction world tour.
The Orchid is a place so dangerous even Benjamin Linus uses it only as a last result. But he has used it before, it seems, given his intimate knowledge of its layout. Perhaps, say, at some point after the Purge, rendering the location of the Island unknown to someone who knew not only about the Island but the ability of it to move through time and/or space. This man, Charles Widmore, thus established a secondary protocol of vastly horrific means because he knows in his heart of hearts he’s got one chance at reclaiming the Island, before Ben uses the Orchid to once again hide what Widmore feels is rightfully his.
Our favorite scattershot Mr. Wizard, Daniel Faraday, likewise know what horrific acts lay in store, and thus turns the motorboat into his own personal shuttle service in order to get as many people off the Island. Color me confused and impressed that he didn’t even try to get Charlotte onboard the first trip back to the freighter: perhaps their mission necessitates her staying on the Island, or maybe a few of the red coats paid him off in graphing calculators off-screen. (It pays to stick with Jack if you’re a red coat as opposed to with Locke; in the former case, you get off the Island…in the latter case, you get mowed down in New Otherton in a slip-and-slide rendition of the Bataan Death March.)
But lo, not everything’s hunky dory on the freighter, either, because someone managed to slip enough C4 in the engine room to blow up a small country. I assume Keamey’s boys planted this before they left, with the detonator currently strapped to Sgt. Nutjob’s left arm. It might be one of those “you kill me, and your friends on the freighter die a peasant’s death” type of scenarios. There’s no other scenario in which this makes any sense to me, although I could be missing something here. In any case, I’m terrifically worried that Jin, Michael, and Desmond might go boom before long. OK, maybe not Michael. Is that wrong of me? Probably. Oh well. Just don’t hurt my Des, Lost.
But contrast that look on Sun’s face on the deck of the freighter, as the door closed behind her, with the steely-eyed gaze she casts upon her father in his office. (What’s up with the mysterious conversation about someone using five different banks? Is Ben taking $3.2 million out of Paik Heavy Industries by any chance?) Using the Oceanic settlement to hurt her father where it counts-his bank account-was a stroke of genius, and gave us this little nugget: “Two people are responsible for his death. You are one of them.” Two people? Who’s the other one? Place your bets below! But given how Sun reacts towards Jack in the future, along with her profound absence from any flash forward involving the Oceanic 6 before, during, and after the press conference, and you have at least one potential suspect.
Aaaah, yes, the press conference, one of those, “Whoa, they are downloading a LOT of information into my poor brain, thank God I can pause and rewind live TV, I love living in the 21st century” scenes. The staged crash discovered in “Confirmed Dead” is still considered the official crash site at the time of the press conference, which boggles the mind slightly in that the Sunda Trench area is not between Australia and Los Angeles. Yet no one seems concerned about this as the Oceanic rep tries to shove a circle peg into a square hole in determining just how a life raft found the Oceanic 6 108 days (get it? get it?) after the crash on an Island called Sumba. The Oceanic 6 know this is malarkey, but already have a pre-established story in place. So when, and by whom, was this story established? Looks like we’re going to have to wait two weeks to find out. I know, it’s punch-your-fist-against-something-hard awesome. Wheeeeee!
Then again, given where they currently are on the Island, it’s somewhat confusing how these six people end up getting off together at all. Sun and Aaron are aboard the S.S. Terrordome, Jack’s at the chopper with Lapidus and Sawyer, Hurley’s smelling the roses with Locke and Ben, and Kate and Sayid find themselves back in Season 2, captured by The Others who are back wearing brown, tattered clothing. Man, that was some serious déjà vu, wasn’t it? Seems like ages ago that everything the Lostaways did ended up with them getting smacked by The Others. I loved the “you’ve GOT to be kidding me” look that the duo had while being led to places unknown. (I assume they are all going to the place stated by Ben during his “mirrortalk” session with Richard from afar.)
But in the future, things seem semi-OK for a while. Five of the Oceanic 6 seem to have a fair amount of dealings with each other, going so far as to attend the worst-themed surprise party this side of last summer’s “Happy Sobriety, Lindsey Lohan” pubcrawl on the Sunset Strip. Their return to the mundane, happy yet distant, could be a by-product of the “shock” Sun insists they all feel upon their return to the real world. There’s the palpable sense that they not only have rehearsed lines, but expressions, emotions, reactions, down to the point of almost losing their very humanity in the process.
But these facades can, and do, get cracked. In Hurley’s case, it’s his Dad’s repaired car displaying the numbers in the odometer. Coincidence, or the Island sending a missive in a place Hurley couldn’t miss it? In Jack/Kate’s case, it’s the identity of Claire that sends them both reeling, a scene that explains the “you’re not even related” line from “Something Nice Back Home” once and for all. Sun’s unborn child serves as a constant reminder of what’s no longer there, and Sayid’s just a few months from having a shorter marriage than Liza Minelli. Happy days are so not here again.
So no one’s happy on the Island, and no one’s happy off the Island. If you had to compare this show, right now, to another popular piece of entertainment, you’d have to go with “The Empire Strikes Back,” where we’re simultaneously seeing out heroes walk into a trap on Cloud City as well as recovering on-board the medical ship while Lando flies off to rescue Han Solo. All that’s left to do is watch the battles, betrayals, and goodbyes in between. And that, my friends, is exactly what we’ll get two weeks from tonight.
And maybe then, we’ll finally get to breathe again.