Did we like it?
Until about six weeks ago, this penultimate series of Lost was like watching a phalanx of bespectacled surveyors identifying corpses on a muddy battlefield, piecing together personal effects in an effort to hazily sketch in the details of their individual stories as the main body of characters were flung into the 70s to explain how the Darma Initiative crumbled and why Desmond had to press that damn button.
But recently, it’s gathered pace again with Jack becoming a barbaric, selfish oaf, Sawyer discovering a conscience, which he appears to have thieved from Locke 30 years in the future. And, as ever, the writers have concluded the series with some frantic action, a couple of answers (that inevitably sprouted innumerable tributaries of more questions) and a stunning and remarkably consistent twist.
What was good about it?
• The first episode in the double bill began with an intense young man sewing some threads together before making his way to the beach to catch and cook some fish. He was then joined by another man, and they both looked out to the horizon as a 19th century galleon bobbed into view – much like, if not the very same, ship that Jack and co discovered in the middle of the island.
• The second man then turned to the first man and they discussed how the first man had called them to the island, and that it would eventually end in corruption and destruction, just like always. But the first man had faith that ultimately one day it wouldn’t end in such brutality, to which the second man said he would love to kill the first man but hadn’t yet found the “loophole” that would let him; and then the first man was revealed to be Jacob – the almost mythical owner of the island, before panning out to show that they were adjacent to the unspoilt statue of what seemed to be a crocodilian humanoid of which there only remains one foot in the present day.
• This scene brilliantly laid the seeds for the rest of the episodes, as the central characters were seen encountering Jacob at crucial moments in their life, with Jack, Sawyer and Locke – the three core roles – all meeting him after perceived rejection by their fathers, which was one of the most appealing and intriguing themes of the first two series before it got somewhat lost amid bombs, polar bears and assassinations on golf courses.
• And Jacob the way Jacob acted suggested he was almost acting as a surrogate father, offering the assurance, love and security that their fathers could not. And the way Ilana and her men, survivors from the second plane crash and revealed to be servants of Jacob, spoke about “candidates” implied that one of the three could replace Jacob.
• And the reason he needs ‘replacing’ was at the centre of the marvellous twist as Locke and Ben ventured into the derelict foot of the statue, which is where the ageless Richard Alpert said that Jacob lived, after Locke coerced Ben into agreeing to slay Jacob. The scene then cut to outside where Ilana showed what she and her men had been carrying through the jungle – Locke’s corpse.
• Straight away things started to add up. Jacob addressed ‘Locke’ like an old adversary and mentioned the loophole from the opening scene, which cast ‘Locke’ as the second man on the beach. And the only thing on the island that has the ability to take the shape of others is the smoke monster. This also had the delicious irony that Ben, the master manipulator, had been duped himself; something he failed to realise even as he stabbed Jacob to death and ‘Locke’ tossed the dying man into the fire.
• This climax of Lost perhaps will result in one of the three ‘candidates’ fulfilling their ‘destiny’ as Jacob’s replacement as either Dostoyevskian representations of faith –Locke – instinct and sensuality – Sawyer – or intellect and science – Jack, and perhaps Ben as the manifestation of evil. So, in essence, the odyssey of Lost may just be an extended job interview.
• The excellent casting of the young Kate and Sawyer when they were visited by Jacob. The young Kate not only resembled her, but exuded her inner defiance as well as perfectly mimicking her mannerisms, such as holding in her breath when tense as she was apprehended by the shopkeeper for theft. While the young Sawyer had those same conflicted blue eyes that on the one hand wants to take on the world in a fight, but are possessed by a distant resignation of the damaging consequences.
What was bad about it?
• While the present day Lost was fascinating, the 1970s pretty much replicated the conclusion to series four, with plenty of gunfire and heroism in the face of danger. It wasn’t bad, but you were urging Jack to hurry up and drop the bomb down the shaft so we could return to the ‘Locke’ side of things.
• There was a moment about half way through the second episode when Miles – who has won us over with his cynical humour after being an irritant last series – posed the question that Jack setting off the nuclear warhead might cause the accident that results in the button needing to be pressed after all.
• In was this realisation that killed much of the tension as their previous efforts to change the future – Sayid shooting Ben for example – had actually not altered the course of events one jot. This didn’t stop Juliette from detonating the unexploded warhead after she was dragged to the bottom of the mineshaft by the electromagnetic contractions in the belief that she was destroying the future, and thus saving her own life.