I think universally everyone liked this episode. Finally the story moves forward! I don’t think, though, that it feels so good because it was so slow earlier. The creators will surely come out and say that they intentionally set up the season to build up slowly and then be released toward the end, but really I think they were just killing time. It’s my belief that with serial dramas like this, the creators have in mind the major story points of the whole series, but then have to hold back as the grind of producing more and more episodes weighs them down. The X-Files is a paramount example of this, Twin Peaks, too. I recall an interview with the writers on 24 in the first season. They had the whole season planned out, and then by episode 10 they’d already told most of the story they wanted to, and had to start stalling (give Jack’s wide amnesia!)
Anyway, on to the finale. I was bothered last week, though I understood if, by Charlie’s dismissal of Hurley when he wanted to help out on the underwater mission, and likewise with Sawyer treating him like a kid last night, so it was great to see him burst in with the van and get credit for saving the day.
Because they didn’t show us Jin, Bernard, and Sayid’s bodies, I didn’t buy that they were dead. In season one when Charlie was almost hanged, I completely thought they were willing to kill off major characters at random. It’s a great way to bring the serious to a story (see: Serenity), but in this case it was an obvious bluff.
Charlie’s death wasn’t set up right. Watching it, we just kept asking, “why didn’t he just run out the door and slam it shut?” and “can’t he swim out that porthole?” It seems like the set builders didn’t know what was supposed to happen in the scene. Even if they whole station had flooded, they swam in, right? Why wouldn’t they have been able to swim out? They could have made the flooding start before Charlie typed the code in, so that he’d have to stay and shut off the hardware and wouldn’t have time to swim out. They even had the musical code set up for Charlie to be able to unlock it but not Desmond, but there wasn’t a time crunch while that was happening. Charlie’s my favorite character on the show, and I love the idea of his heroic death, but not its implementation. The way it was done, it looked like he just gave up so that he could be a hero.
At the start of the episode we wondered if Jack’s stuff might really be a flash-forward, but then I talked myself out of the idea because it sounded like he was listening to Nirvana in his car, but that confused me because that would place his divorce in the early 90’s, which didn’t seem right. I love that we know they’re going to get off the island, and that we know Ben’s right about it being a bad thing. We don’t know what happens, but it goes back to Alfred Hitchcock’s stuff about suspense. Knowing some of what’s going to happen lets us be very nervous for the characters. Also, it gets big points for making clever use of the flashback structure to be something more than filler.
When season two ended, I had a theory that season three was going to be about showing us what The Others are really up to, and that we’d eventually start to understand that they really are the good guys, and we’ve just had the wrong idea about them. At this point, though, there’s nothing that could convince me what Ben’s done was worth it. They can show me why Ben thinks gassing all those people and throwing people into cages and torturing people and trying to brainwash the kid and so on were justified, but there’s no way to convince me of that. They don’t need to, he’s still an interesting villain, but it would have been cool for them to paint The Others in a way that we can see where they were coming from.