As I watched the last two scintillating hours of Season 4 unfold, I found myself marveling for the umpteenth time at the brilliance and audacity of Lost. Writing this risky finale was clearly no mean feat. If rumors are correct, there will be no more flashforwards next season. Instead, the show will take place after the Oceanic 6 have returned to civilization with flashbacks to Island events. That's basically a mirror image of the first four seasons, which took place on the Island and flashed forward or back to events in the real world. Locke's corpse symbolizes the death of this old format perfectly.
In that regard, the S4 finale served as a kind of memorial retrospective, repeatedly evoking pivotal moments from seasons past. The Others' attack on Keamy's men resembled the ambush of our Losties in the S2 finale. Keamy confronting Locke in the Orchid paralleled Des doing the same in the Swan. Juliet drowning her despair in Dharma rum recalled Des getting drunk on Dharma wine. The rescue of the O6 by Penny reminded me of the Others taking Walt from the raft. Jack saying "see you in another life" expressly echoed Desmond's line before running off into the jungle.
Perhaps the clearest reference to something from a past episode was the one I predicted in my post Purple Sky. Ben turning the Frozen Donkey Wheel was obviously meant to parallel Desmond turning the Fail-Safe key. In both instances, the act of turning was followed by a blinding flash of light, an earthquake, a whining drone, and electromagnetic discharge. There's even a connection between moving the Island and the mystery of how Charlie, Des, Eko, and Locke survived the Swan implosion. The Fail-Safe hurtled them forward in spacetime much like the Frozen Donkey Wheel jumped the Island to safety.
After the S3 finale, I worried that the writers might be tempted to take a page from Battlestar Galactica, jumping the main story ahead in time to the real world without first depicting the rescue. Instead, they kept the narrative focused on the Island, using flashforwards as a transition to off-Island events. Now that we know how the O6 made it back to civilization, I'm comfortable with a chronological leap forward. At this point, in fact, such a jump makes total sense from a plot perspective. Ask yourself, why did Locke suddenly reappear in their lives a few months ago?
It's because turning the Frozen Donkey Wheel moved the Island forward a few years in spacetime. The rest of the world caught up with it only recently. Here are some other thoughts and reactions I had to There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 and 3:
*I really like how they started the episode at the airport, right where the flashforward from Through the Looking Glass ended.
*The moment they mentioned Jeremy Bentham's name, I knew this character had some connection to John Locke. Bentham, of course, was another famous Enlightenment philosopher who was influenced by Locke.
*Interesting how Sawyer has taken to calling Hurley "Hugo," but Jack still calls him "Hurley." It subtly foreshadows Sawyer and Jack's respective choices to stay and leave the Island.
*Keamy asks a good question: why would Widmore go to all the trouble and expense of capturing Ben alive?
*Sometimes the Others fight like ninjas, other times, not so much.
*Oh, Omar! You deserved a more badass death than that...
*Clearly my main man Ricardo Alpert has no qualms about killing himself...and clearly it was *not* his pleasure to come to Ben's aid.
*Taller Walt was a trip! It's rather brilliant the way locating part of the story in the future allows them to bring the same actor back despite his growth spurt. That's just one of many upsides to the writers' bold narrative gambit.
*You know something? I think Walt knows his dad is dead, and Hurley isn't lying when he says they need to protect Losties like Mike, who didn't make it back. That's because the Island is a place where the living and dad can interact, where "we don't have to think like that anymore."
*Hurley mentions the Dharma crackers from a box dug up out of the the ground are still good. I can't help wondering if this is a metaphor for a coffin, which can similarly be "dug up out of the ground." Question is, will Locke's body still be "good"?
*"You're not supposed to go home. Then what am I supposed to do?" The constant refrain of "supposed to" reminds me a bit of "you make your own luck."
*Anthuriums are the same flower surrounding the manifestation of Yemi whom Eko accused of impersonating his brother.
*"The bomb needs a charge from the battery to detonate. And the battery runs on a chemical reaction. I spray the battery, I keep it cold, no reaction." My first reaction was that they're giving a shoutout to MacGyver. Then it occurred to me the frozen battery might just be a metaphor for the Frozen Donkey Wheel. Did Ben kick-start some chemical reaction by turning the thing?
*What *does* Miles mean by Charlotte spending so much time to get back to the Island? In my recap of Confirmed Dead, I mentioned that the "look of elation on Charlotte's face would suggest she's been trying to find the Island for some time." I then speculated that "some of these Freighter folks were born on the Island." Now we learn that Charlotte herself believes she was born there. Does that mean her birth predates the pregnancy problem? Was she conceived on or off the Island? Flashbacks to Charlotte's childhood will be another excellent window into the Dharma Initiative...
*Did anyone else get the sense Locke and Ben were descending into the underworld as they rode down in the Orchid elevator?
*"Same things all the Dharma stations are for -- silly experiments." To my mind, this line supports the inference that Dharma was meddling with technology from some arbitrarily advanced ancient civilization they neither understood nor appreciated.
*Ben telling Locke to watch a video while he takes care of some business reminded me of Ben's patronizing tone with Jacob. I had an image of an exasperated parent parking a child in front of a DVD while "Daddy works"...
*I totally thought of the Fly remake when we first saw the Orchid teleportation chamber Halliwax calls the "Vault."
*The Dharma music always reminds me of some parody of a bad '70s porno soundtrack...
*If the Orchid is "6 OF 6," it was built after the Swan, which was "3 OF 6"...
*Halliwax implies that the "pocket of negatively charged exotic matter" next to the Vault is naturally occurring. But we know, as apparently did Dharma, that it's actually the remains of an ancient alien device.
*The prohibition against placing metallic objects in the Vault reminds me of the same rule regarding microwave ovens!
*The experiment depicted in the Orchid video involves shifting Bunny 15 ahead 100 milliseconds in "four dimensional space." I believe this most recent purple sky event similarly shifted the Island ahead in 4D space to a time contemporaneous with Jeremy Bentham's "reappearance" in the lives of the Oceanic 6 and Walt.**
* I'm personally skeptical of time loop speculations, but you have to wonder given the obvious symbolism of the automatically rewinding tape and Danielle's automated distress call.
*Kate and Sawyer are too similar to end up together -- they each need someone more Apollonian to balance their Dionysian tendencies. That's why I believe Kate will end up with Jack, and Sawyer with Juliet.
*"Hey, Kenny Rogers" LOL!
*The fact that Jack actually saw Sawyer whisper the secret of his baby to Kate makes it all the more baffling why she doesn't level with Jack in the flashforward...
*Who killed Locke and, more importantly, how? Why didn't the Island, the rules of the Game, etc., protect Locke like Ben?
*I personally think Ben killed Locke. Hurley's chess game with ghostly Mr. Eko is a metaphor for Ben's desperate gambit to return to the Island. Bringing Locke's body may be the only way back for someone who has moved the Island. Like Ben says, he always has a plan...
*I find it hard to believe Jin would stay behind with the bomb when the safety of his wife and unborn child is uncertain. Michael shouldn't have to remind him, though I suppose it underscores how Jin has become concerned for all of our Losties, instead of just Sun.
*More whispers before Christian reappears to tell Michael he "can go now"...
*Awwww, hearing baby Ji Yeon say "uma" reminds me of my little cousin Sophia. Ain't she cute?
*I love Sun's dark turn in the flashforwards! Though I'm sure she'd deny it, she's well on her way to becoming just like her father...
*"I believe I owe him dinner after our last game." What game did Charles Widmore mean? I doubt this is an oblique reference to the battle over the Island, but you never know. Are these titans allies or competitors in the race to get back?
"As you know, we're not the only ones who left the Island." This presumably refers to Locke, whose return to civilization means the Island has reappeared.
*"Sometimes, good command decisions get compromised by bad emotional responses. I'm sure you're going to do a much better job than I ever did." I believe this is an allusion to the difficulties Locke will encounter leading the Others, who Ben also promises will follow his "every word." As Locke said to Jack shortly after they opened the Swan Hatch, "I can't do it alone." Locke's instinct was correct -- the man of faith needs to be tempered by the man of science to fulfill their destiny. That's why bad things happen after Jack leaves the Island...
*Was it just me, or did Sawyer emerging from the ocean ironically reference some famous scene from Bond film or maybe Blue Lagoon where a woman does the same?
*So how exactly *does* Ben know how to move the Island? It's almost like he's seen it done before, but there's no evidence anyone has been behind the Vault since it was first built.
*Love the Star Trek shoutout in having to bring the body back to the Island. In Star Trek III, the Enterprise crew must bring Spock's dead body back to Vulcan to be reunited with his consciousness, which he stored temporarily in the mind of Dr. McCoy.
*"Sorry I made your life so miserable." In the Lost Bible, I suggested that Aaron was the messiah, and John Locke his John the Baptist. Recent events, however, have me questioning that biblical analogy in favor of another suggested by BlackLotus, who believes Locke is the Jesus figure on the show. The notion of resurrecting Locke is one clue along these lines. Another is Ben's aforementioned apology along with his claim that whoever moves the Island can never return. I'm reminded of the myth of the Wandering Jew, who taunted Jesus on the road to cucifixion and was cursed to wander the Earth until the Second Coming.
*The title of my post Jacob's Moving Castle was an allusion to the anime classic Howl's Moving Castle. But it didn't occur to me until the finale that the Island itself might be an even better analogy than the cabin. In the film, the eponymous moving castle allows travel to one of four different destinations depending on the spin of a wheel by the magical front door. Interestingly, Sawyer's nickname for Aaron is Turnip Head, which is also the nickname of a main character in Howl's Moving Castle.
*Might the bright white light that accompanied turns of the Swan key and the Frozen Donkey Wheel alike be blamed on a Bosenova? Props to a poster named yung23, who has been preaching the relevance of particle physics generally, and exotic matter called "condensates" specifically for some time.
*Kate's reversed phone message in her dream supposedly says: "The Island needs you -- you have to go back before it's too late." Odd then that Claire yells "don't you dare bring him back!" Is Claire having second thoughts about staying behind with Jacob? At a minimum, it would appear there are two sides, each of whom wants something very different for Aaron and Kate.
*The Searcher was also the name of Jacques Cousteau's boat. One hopes this will put an end to the "Penny is evil" speculations. Surely the ghost of Cousteau would never allow his boat to be bought by someone evil...right?
**Correction: The original sentence erroneously stated that Locke reappears around the same time that Ben lands in the Tunisian desert. In fact, the latter happens in 2005, while the former occurs in 2007.