BY THE NUMBERS Is Hurley really controlling the island?
That was amazing. I'm so stumped as to how to begin that I think I'll just play Hurley and go with ''Dude.'' He's still invincible, so I figure this technique can't hurt. By the way, I'm filling in again for regular Lost critic Jeff Jensen, who — and this will sound made up, but it's not — was on a flight from Australia to Los Angeles this morning. No, really. He was, and not that the EW.com folks are superstitious or anything, but they decided to go with a backup. (Late update: My editor just told me Jeff's flight landed without incident.)
Personally, my biggest fear about the season finale of Lost was that it wouldn't reveal enough — that we still wouldn't know who the Others were, what Hurley's numbers meant, what the hell (and it might actually be hell) is in the Hatch, and so on. The thing is, we kind of still don't know any of those things for sure. So why am I sitting here reeling from how amazing these last two hours of my life were? Let's face it — that finale was awesome, and most if not all of the island's various mysteries got just the right amount of treatment to satisfy us tonight and keep us interested until next season. Let's breeze through some of those questions:
Why introduce a random science-teacher character three weeks before the end of the season? Why, to kill him off, of course. A lot of readers saw this coming, and a lot of viewers must have figured it out right about when Arzt started getting really obnoxious about science instead of just kind of self-righteous and socially awkward. Okay, or if not at that point, then certainly after that story he told about the inventor of nitroglycerin, who ''blew his friggin' face off'' and then said, ''I guess this does work.'' After the tropical version of Bill Nye detonated, they cut to Hurley, who I was positive was going to deadpan, ''I guess this does work.'' I'll give you one guess at what he said instead. It only took 12 minutes for the expected finale death of a character to happen, but Arzt was at best a minor character , so even though watching him blow up was pretty fun, we were all pretty worried that someone else would buy the farm over the next two hours. As it stands, Michael, Jin, and Sawyer (who appeared to have been shot) are still unaccounted for, but I don't think any of them is dead.
What is Rousseau's problem? What isn't her problem? After showing some of the crew the way to the Black Rock, which we discovered was a slave ship, Madame Nutjob ditched them and hauled ass to the beach to steal Claire's baby, Turnip Head. (Okay, she named him Aaron, who was Moses' brother, which might help to explain this episode's title, ''Exodus II.'') It turns out Claire, and not a ''mean bush'' (what Locke said while he seemed to be flirting with Rousseau . . . hmm, a hookup between two people named Locke and Rousseau could be really funny), made those nasty scratches on Rousseau's arm, which means that Rousseau was involved in Claire and Charlie's abduction and therefore would seem to be working in close association with the Others. And yet at the end, Rousseau claimed to have misunderstood the Others — she thought she could trade Aaron to get her own child back, because ''the Others said they were coming for the boy.'' Speaking of ''the boy'' . . .
What's up with Walt's superpowers? Good question. Walt didn't do anything superpower-y, except maybe when he seemed to have willed the thing that was making the radar go ''blip'' to come closer. But evidently his powers are obvious to some others, specifically a boatload of what we are to assume are the Others, who made sure they got custody of ''the boy'' while doing the best they could to kill off the other three boatmen. Walt's abduction was juxtaposed with a flashback in which Michael begged his mother to take care of Walt when they arrived in L.A. Having Walt come home with him was ''never part of the plan,'' he complained, which reminded me of Locke's irate ''This was supposed to work!'' after he failed to open the Hatch the first time. Is this show obsessed with fate or something? Gee.
Will Charlie ever find the (holy) mother lode of heroin? Yep. Will he bring some back to the caves? Oh yeah. Will he participate in a rather suggestive scene involving mother Claire, her baby boy, a Virgin Mary full of H, and the washing of his wounds? Sure, why not?
Is the beast really the island's security system? It's not clear what was out to get the dynamite crew in the jungle. At first, before the thing grabbed hold of Locke, the creepy sounds seemed similar to the animal-like ones we heard early in the season. But whatever dragged Locke by the feet sounded mechanical, almost like a rickety roller coaster car on its way up. Then, after they dynamited the beast, Kate and Jack noticed some playful animated smog dart by, and that was just really weird. You know, weird in the excellent Lost way. So, cool. (The smoke actually reminded me of the ''nothing'' that pervaded and threatened to destroy Fantasia, the magical land of imagination in The NeverEnding Story. The central struggle in that series was nothing vs. hope, and when Jack asked Locke what he thought was in the Hatch, Locke answered, ''Hope.'' It's a long shot, not to mention really nerdy of me, but I thought I'd throw it out there.)
What's in the Hatch? We're not really sure, but that's okay — it's probably better that way going into season 2. I was positive they weren't going to open it after Locke told Jack, ''It all ends when we open the Hatch.'' (He must have meant this episode, not the entire series.) What a great final shot, traveling further and further down that hole until the final boom of the season. Man, that thing was deep. On so many levels. I particularly liked how Hurley dropped his flashlight right before noticing his (un)lucky numbers carved into the Hatch — it paralleled Locke and Boone's initial discovery of the thing, when Locke accidentally (or are there no accidents?) dropped his flashlight, prompting Boone to rustle around for it in the dark and notice the concrete.
What do Hurley's numbers mean? Again, who knows? (Um, apparently, the Hatch.) The numbers made the episode — especially during Hurley's mad dash to flight 815 — wildly entertaining, partly because each time we viewers noticed a number, we felt really smart. Like Hurley's hotel room number being 2342. Noticed that one? Brilliant! And then each of the numbers — 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 — showed up on the big guy's dashboard. Noticed that too? Great. $1600 in exchange for a scooter? Cute. Gate 23? All right already. An entire girls sports team with numbered uniforms, all in order? The number stuff got blatantly comical by this point, but this was still one of my favorite scenes. It was significant in that we learned that everything and everyone Hurley encountered that day tried in some way to keep him off the flight, yet he managed to get on the plane anyway. It makes me think that since Hurley himself is invincible, maybe there weren't supposed to be any survivors of Flight 815. Maybe it was supposed to be a normal plane crash in the ocean somewhere, and Hurley's presence on the plane is what initiated this weird limbo the characters have been living in all season. This heavily Hurley (ha) theory does give him most of the power on the island, but maybe that's how it's been all along. Shhh. Don't tell Locke and Jack!
I'm kind of a sap, so I dug the cheesy reunions at the end, when big daddy Charlie and shower-happy Sayid returned to the caves to their respective love interests. It contrasted nicely with the plane scene that followed, in which many of the major characters crossed paths without noticing each other. The only blip in the radar was a very noticeable connection between ''the boy'' and Hurley, who flashed Walt an almost knowing thumbs-up before settling down in his two chairs to read the comic book that Walt has been reading all season! I now feel like a moron for not immediately suspecting it was Hurley's, since the book is in Spanish and has been a major foreshadowing device all along.
I was happy for the final jungle scene, in which Jack and Locke smirked at each other over the open Hatch after being shown exchanging friendly grins on the plane. The best hint at next season's conflicts (aside from Walt's abduction) might have been Jack's line to Kate that if they all survived the night, they were ''gonna have a Locke problem.'' Science and Faith have managed to keep a good distance from each other this season, but it looks like Jack and Locke are set to butt heads next fall. I for one can't wait. What will we do all summer (besides watch the DVDs)? Without this show, we'll feel so . . .
What do you think? Didn't the torch-bearers look like they were headed to tribal council? If Hurley is invincible, why didn't he offer to carry the dynamite himself? Did you like the inside-jokey dialogue between Arzt and Hurley? Will Charlie spiral out of control next season? And who are the Others and what do they want with Walt?