Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Lost Reviews: Part 17 - Season 4, Episodes 9-12

Welcome to the Lost rewatch project. I am currently rewatching all 121 episodes of the TV series which aired for six seasons from 2004 to 2010. This is very much a rewatch thread, with the show watched with knowledge of what is to come in later seasons. If you've never watched Lost before, you definitely do not want to read this blog series.
This blog post covers the first eight episodes of of Season 4. During the filming of Season 3, showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse struck an unprecedented agreement with ABC to both allow them to set an end date for the show and also to shoot fewer episodes per season. The original plan had been to conclude the series 42 episodes after the end of Season 3, with three seasons of 14 episodes. However, the 2007-08 Writer's Strike affected the writing process, resulting in two episodes being dropped. The final two seasons were slightly increased in length to compensate for this.

I am using the Lost plot summaries from Wikipedia, sometimes fleshed out. I'd previously written each one myself but to be honest the time it was taking to do this had become unsustainable. Wikipedia permits the re-use of such material if the original source is linked as follows: The Shape of Things to Come, Something Nice Back Home, Cabin Fever, There's No Place Like Home.

Without further ado, let us continue after the jump.

Ben makes the biggest misjudgement of his entire life.


409: The Shape of Things to Come

Written by Brian K. Vaughan and Drew Goddard, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 24 April 2008

Survivor Count: 44

Days on Island: 97 (27 December 2004)

Flashforwards Character: Ben

On the Island: At the beach camp, the corpse of Ray, the freighter's doctor, washes ashore. Faraday calls the freighter and asks what happened to Ray via morse code. Daniel lies about the response, saying that rescue helicopters will be sent soon; however, Bernard (who knows morse code) correctly interprets the freighter's message: "What are you talking about? The doctor is fine." Jack, who suffers from stomach pains throughout the day, forces Daniel to reveal that it was never their intention to rescue the survivors.

Meanwhile, Alex is captured by Keamy and the other mercenaries from the freighter. As they take her to the Barracks, they force her to deactivate the sonic fence. As she does so, she deliberately triggers an alert ("Code 14J") in the Barracks. Hearing the alarm, Ben encourages everyone to take shelter and tool up. Ben, Locke, and Hurley fortify Ben's house, while Sawyer goes to warn the other survivors. The mercenaries launch their attack, shooting dead four of the other 815 survivors and then firing a rocket at Claire's house, destroying it. Sawyer returns fire and is able to save Claire, taking her back to Ben's house. Keamy finds and frees Miles, giving him a walkie-talkie to take to Ben. Keamy threatens to kill Alex if Ben does not surrender. Ben attempts to negotiate, explaining that Alex is not his daughter and he stole her from a madwoman when she was a baby. Keamy is unimpressed and coldly executes Alex with a single shot to the head, leaving her body in the sun. Ben is shocked into speechlessness for several seconds before revealing a secret chamber in the house. He locks himself inside for several minutes before emerging covered in soot. He warns the others they are going to have to flee. When the chaos starts they have to run and not come back. The bafflement of the others is resolved moments later when the Smoke Monster arrives in full force and tears through Keamy's squad, who open fire on it to no effect whilst it kills several of them and wounds others. The survivors flee for the forest, with Ben lingering briefly to grieve over Alex's body. Afterward, Ben and Locke decide to try to find Jacob and request his help. Sawyer, Hurley, Claire and Aaron decide to return to the beach with Miles, but Locke holds them at gunpoint, demanding that Hurley goes with him to help them find Jacob's cabin. After a brief stand-off, Hurley agrees.

Flashforwards: Ben Linus wakes up to find himself on the fringes of the Sahara Desert, in Tunisia. He is wearing a winter jacket and has a large cut on his arm. He is challenged by two armed locals on horseback, but kills one of them and knocks the other unconscious. He steals one of the horses and travels overland to Tozeur. Checking into a hotel, he learns that the date is 24 October 2005. He hears the name "Sayid" and sees a news report about one of the famous Oceanic Six, whose wife has died recently. In the report Sayid asks to be left alone to bury his wife in peace.

Ben travels to Tikrit in Iraq and sees Sayid bearing his wife's coffin. Ben takes some pictures of Sayid and a man who is watching the procession. Sayid spots Ben and overpowers him, demanding to know what he is doing there. Sayid tells him that Nadia was killed by a man named Ishmael Bakir on the orders of Charles Widmore. Ben lures Bakir into a trap and Sayid executes Bakir. Ben goes to leave and Sayid demands to know what he is supposed to do now. Ben suggests that he lives his life, but Sayid tells him that his life was Nadia, and is now gone. Ben says there are more people to eliminate before they can tackle Widmore and Sayid asks "Who's next?" Ben tells him he'll be in touch.

Ben arrives in London and enters a high-class apartment block. He breaks into the penthouse, which belongs to Charles Widmore. Widmore wakes up, apparently unconcerned by Ben's presence. He asks if Ben is going to kill him and Ben tells him of course not, as that is not allowed for by "the rules". He asks Charles when he started sleeping with a bottle of scotch next to the bed and Widmore replies "Since the nightmares started." They trade verbal blows, with Ben vowing to kill Widmore's daughter Penny in retribution for Alex's death. Widmore is furious, telling him that it was Ben himself who got "that poor girl" killed. He also says that Ben will never find Penny. As Ben leaves, acknowledging that a new game is being played, Widmore tells him that the Island belongs to him and that he will take it back. Ben replies that he will never find it.

Major WTFery: The mysterious room that summons the Smoke Monster is cool and all, but seems out of keeping with Seasons 5 and 6 which establish the Monster is actually a person with his own volition. Ben even acknowledges this, suggsting that the summoning room did nothing and it was all part of the Man in Black's manipulations.

It's traditional for heroes to be more capable of dodging gunfire than extras, but the pinpoint, precision sniping of three 815 survivors by the mercs (after killing Danielle and Karl the same way) followed by them being unable to hit Sawyer (using famously bullet-resistant cover like wooden poles) is more than slightly unconvincing.

The hotel receptionist in Tunisia is wearing the hijab. However, Tunisia banned the hijab in 1981 and only partially rescinded the ban in 2011. It would have still been illegal in 2005.
Hindsight: The triggering of the alert initially appears to be a continuity error, as no such alarm sounded in Season 3 when Team Locke breached the fence with Mikhail or Juliet later shut it down. However, Ben's dialogue suggests that the alarm has to be triggered manually and is not an automatic result of the fence going off or being shut down.

Ben initially appears to be genuinely trying to dissuade Sayid from joining his war. As he walks off he is seen smiling, suggesting that he manipulated the entire situation for his advantage. A fan theory that Ben arranged Nadia's death seems to be impossible, however: Ben disappeared from the Island and reappeared ten months later from the outside world's POV, but only moments from his own. Nadia was already dead at this time, so it appears (for once) that Ben is telling the truth.

Three of the background survivors are seen being killed, when four joined Team Locke earlier in the season. The other survivor never shows up again, so they are counted as being killed off-screen in this episode.

The final scene of the episode is set in London. All previous London scenes had been filmed in Hawaii, with some scenery redressing, greenscreen backdrops and the use of right-hand drive cars. However, this episode and the Season 4 finale are genuinely filmed in London. This is because Alan Dale was on stage there in Spamalot! and it wasn't possible to fly him out to Hawaii and back again in time for the shoot, so the filming crew and actors Michael Emerson and Yunjin Kim were flown out instead. This is actually the first time that Lost ever filmed outside the United States: every other scene had been filmed in Hawaii, aside from the plane crash set which was located in Los Angeles.

Ben and Charles being unable to kill one another (even indirectly) is a rule put in place by Jacob, echoing the rules established between Jacob and the Man in the Black.

Review: The Shape of Things to Come is one of Lost's finest hours. It's in some respects its bleakest and most brutal, with everything going Die Hard as the mercs attack the Barracks only to be torn apart by the Smoke Monster. Alex's death is cold, shocking and startling. Michael Emeron's expression stands in for the audience at the offhand manner of her death and his coldly-concealed retaliation will make you - very briefly - completely side with Ben. This empathy extends right up to the end when Ben vows to get even with Widmore - yeah! - by killing his daughter, Penny, whom we all like. This is a terrific episode, probably Lost's most action-packed and most thrilling (*****).
Jack enjoying an idyllic home life, briefly.

410: Something Nice Back Home

Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, directed by Stephen Williams

Airdate: 1 May 2008

Survivor Count: 40 (four minor characters were killed during the mercenary raid on the Barracks in the prior episode)

Days on Island: 98-99 (28-29 December 2004)

Flashforwards Character: Jack

Flashforwards: Jack has returned to work as a doctor in Los Angeles. He is engaged to Kate and lives with her while helping to raise Aaron. Jack visits Hurley, who is still in the mental institution. Hurley has not been taking his medication and has been suffering from hallucinations of his deceased friend, Charlie. He believes that the Oceanic Six have died and gone to heaven. Hurley gives Jack a message from Charlie: "You're not supposed to raise him." Charlie has also told Hurley that Jack will be receiving a visitor. On two separate occasions, Jack sees his father walking around. Concerned, Jack asks his colleague to prescribe him the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam. After overhearing a phone call, Jack becomes suspicious of Kate. The next night, a heated argument ensues, in which she reveals that she is doing an errand for Sawyer, who Jack says is on the Island by choice. Kate says the matter has nothing at all to do with Jack and she can't reveal the secret to him, infuriating Jack. Aaron walks into the room as Jack blurts out that Kate and Aaron are not related. Jack leaves and Kate bursts into tears.


On the Island: After feeling ill for a day, Jack faints. Juliet diagnoses him with appendicitis and deems an appendectomy necessary. She sends Sun to get medical supplies from the Staff Station. Sun is accompanied by Jin, Faraday and Charlotte; the latter pair are increasingly distrusted by the survivors. Jin realizes that Charlotte is fluent in Korean and confronts her after their successful trip, threatening to hurt Daniel if she continues to lie about her agenda and does not get Sun off the island. Charlotte agrees. Jack convinces Juliet to allow him to remain awake during the surgery, with Kate holding a mirror, so that he can see and direct the surgery. As Juliet operates, Jack's consciousness proves to be a detriment and her nurse - Bernard - knocks him out with chloroform. The appendectomy is a success; afterwards, Juliet tells Kate that Jack really does love Kate and not Juliet.

In the jungle Sawyer gives Miles a "restraining order" to keep him away from Claire as they travel to the survivors' beach camp with Aaron. On their way, Miles discovers the partially buried bodies of Danielle Rousseau and Karl. They encounter Frank Lapidus, who saves their lives by instructing them to hide from Keamy and the other mercenaries, who, following their defeat by the Monster, are on their way back to the helicopter to return to the freighter. At night, Miles watches Claire as she leaves with her deceased father, Christian. Sawyer awakes the next morning to find Aaron alone at the foot of a tree and calls out for Claire with no response.

Major WTFery: Since Smokey is trapped on the Island, it must be the "real" undead Christian that Jack glimpses in this episode, although since he doesn't say anything it's hard to tell.

Hindsight: Kate is fulfilling her promise to Sawyer (given in the Season 4 finale) to find his daughter, Clementine, and make sure she is provided for.

The vitriolic way Jack says that Kate and Aaron are not even related suggests that he may be aware that he is. This is confirmed in the Season 4 finale, when Claire's mother tells Jack that he is Claire half-brother.

Review: This is a clever episode, showing what many fans were hoping for from the ending of the series: Jack and Kate playing homemaker together after their rescue. Of course, things aren't as simple as that and it isn't long before everything gets torn down. It makes for a tragic, heartfelt storyline that works quite well. The on-Island stuff is entertaining - Jack trying to talk the others through an appendectomy on him basically takes the mickey out of every medical drama ever - but Claire's abrupt departure feels very random at this stage. (****)

"I could explain what's going on. But I won't."

411: Cabin Fever

Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Kyle Pennington, directed by Paul Edwards

Airdate: 8 May 2008

Survivor Count: 40

Days on Island: 98-99 (28-29 December 2004)

Flashback Character: Locke

Flashback: In 1956, sixteen-year-old Emily Locke is preparing for a date with a man twice her age (who has gotten her pregnant, which she refuses to tell her mother about). Emily's mother tries to stop her from going out, but Emily escapes and is struck by a car. The trauma triggers the premature birth of John. Locke's life is monitored by Richard Alpert, who at John's birth and throughout his childhood looks the same age as he does in present day. Alpert twice tries to recruit Locke to the Others, the first when he is a child (under the pretense of going to a special school for gifted children) and the second when he is at school, when he is invited to take part in a science camp run by a company called Mittelos. The first time, Richard judges that Locke is not old enough and the second Locke rejects the proposal, angrily saying that he likes sports and hunting and isn't a geek. Much later, whilst recovering from his broken back, Locke is looked after briefly by a new orderly, Matthew Abaddon, who tells him about his spiritual transformation as a result of going on an Australian walkabout. Locke finds the idea initially ludicrous, but then intriguing.


On the Freighter: The mercenary team led by Keamy returns from its unsuccessful attack on the Barracks. Enraged that his mission was unsuccessful and several of his colleagues were killed, he accuses Captain Gault of giving him up to Ben, but Gault tells Keamy that Michael is the actual spy. Keamy tries to kill Michael by shooting him, but the gun jams (as it did when Michael tried to kill himself back in New York). Gault then tells Keamy that Michael is vital to repairing the engines, because he is the one that sabotaged them initially. Sayid, fearing Keamy's intentions, uses a Zodiac boat to return to the island, hoping to save as many people as possible. Desmond refuses to accompany him, saying that he could never return to the island after he left.

Several hours after Sayid leaves, Keamy stages a mutiny. A soldier receives a message from the island saying they found the body of the doctor, but the doctor protests that it's impossible since he's alive on the boat. Keamy orders Frank Lapidus at gunpoint to prepare the freighter's helicopter; Lapidus refuses, and Keamy kills the doctor and Gault in response. Lapidus acquiesces and Keamy leaves the freighter with a group of mercenaries, intending to "torch the Island". When the helicopter passes over the survivors' beach camp, Frank drops a bag containing a satellite phone onto the beach, allowing Jack and the other survivors to track the helicopter team.


On the Island: Locke, Hurley and Ben are attempting to find the cabin inhabited by Jacob, the de facto leader of the Others. They are initially unsuccessful, but an apparition of deceased DHARMA Initiative member Horace Goodspeed assists Locke by pointing him to the Initiative's mass grave. There, Locke extracts a set of blueprints from Horace's jacket, and uses it to locate the cabin. Locke enters the cabin alone and meets the figure of the deceased Christian Shepherd (who only identifies himself as "Christian"), who claims he is speaking on Jacob's behalf. Claire is also hanging out in the cabin, but tells Locke it's okay and she's "with him". Christian warns Locke that Keamy's mercenaries from the Kahana are already en route to the Island, and that the Island must be moved.


Major WTFery: Horace says he's been dead for twelve years, suggesting that the Purge took place in 1992. However, other episodes and the official Lost Encyclopedia published after the show finished all firmly date the Purge to 1988, sixteen years earlier. Ghost Horace was probably temporally confused by the whole ghost thing.

If Cooper was twice Emily's age (16) in 1956, that would have made him 32, born in 1924. This would make him 80 in 2004, when he was killed on the Island by Sawyer. Actor Kevin Tighe was actually born in 1944, making him 20 years younger than the character he was playing (and only eight years older than Terry O'Quinn). 

Gault tells Sayid to follow a bearing of 305 degrees to return to the Island. However, this was the bearing used to reach the freighter. To reverse the bearing back to the Island, Sayid should follow a bearing of 125 degrees. Season 1 established that the Island's magnetic field messes around compass bearings so some variance is possible, but not a full reversal of direction.

This episode confirms beyond any doubt that Richard Alpert does not age and also that the Others have been monitoring Locke his whole life, aware that he is special. Season 5 answers - rather more speedily than might be expected - why: Locke time-travelled to the Island in 1954 (two years before his birth) and gave a ton of information to Richard that resulted in Richard monitoring Locke's progress forward from that point.

Hindsight: This is the only episode of the fourth season and the last-ever episode of the show to exclusively feature pre-crash flashbacks of an Oceanic 815 survivor. In that sense, this may be regarded as the last episode of Lost to use the storytelling structure that was traditional for the first three seasons.

Nestor Carbonell was cast as a regular on a CBS show called Crane between Lost's third and fourth seasons. The Lost team hoped to work out a deal to use him intermittently, but CBS were unwilling to let him appear on a show on a rival network. Initially they feared they'd have to write the character out of the show off-screen. However, Crane was cancelled during the 2007-08 Writer's Strike, allowing him to return to Lost for the end of Season 4. The producers gave Alpert a larger role in Seasons 5 and 6 (culminating in his own flashback episode in Season 6) to persuade Carbonell to stay on the show.

When Richard visits Locke as a child he sees a picture on the wall that looks like the Smoke Monster attacking someone. The image bears a strong similarity to the Season 6 episode Beyond the Sea, particularly the scene where the Monster bursts out of the Heart of the Island whilst Jacob is lying on the ground. It is unclear if this was deliberate or not.

This is the last time that Claire appears in the present-day, on-Island storyline until Season 6's What Kate Does.

Review: An interesting episode, with one of the funniest scenes of the whole show (Ben and Hurley's silent eating of chocolate together)  and establishing more backstory for Locke that shows that the Others have known about him for a long time. On first viewing this felt like a very random plot development, but Season 5 justifies it quite well. Generally, the episode does a good job of raising the stakes and tension. (****)

Saved! Kind of.

412: There's No Place Like Home

Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, directed by Stephen Williams & Jack Bender

Airdate: 15-29 May 2008

Survivor Count: 40

Days on Island: 99-108 (29 December 2004-7 January 2005)

Flashforwards Characters: Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Sun and Kate

Flashforwards (January 2005): The Oceanic Six - Jack, Kate, Sayid, Sun, Hurley and Aaron - arrive in Honolulu, where Hurley and Sun are reunited with their parents; Jack with his mother; and Sayid with his girlfriend, Nadia. In the ensuing media circus, a press conference is held, where they lie about everything that has happened on the island, going as far as saying that they are the only living survivors of the plane crash. They do claim that three others - Charlie, Libby and Boone - also survived but all died shortly afterwards. Sometime later, Hurley's dad gives Hurley his newly rebuilt 1970s Camaro, at a surprise birthday party. Hurley, however, becomes panicked and runs away when he notices that the car's odometer displays the Numbers. In Seoul Sun visits her father and informs him that she used the money from her settlement with Oceanic Airlines to buy a controlling interest in his company because she blames him for her Jin's death. Several months after their rescue, Jack eulogizes his deceased father, Christian. After the ceremony, Carole Littleton, Claire's mother, reveals to Jack that Claire was his half-sister. Jack, shocked, realises that this makes Aaron his nephew and leaves him feeling guilty that he didn't do more to rescue Claire from the Island.


On the Island: Jack and Kate follow the tracking signal on the phone given to them by Lapidus. They encounter Sawyer, Aaron and Miles; Kate returns to the beach with Miles and Aaron whilst Sawyer joins Jack. Jack and Sawyer meet up with Lapidus at the helicopter, but decide to rescue Hurley before leaving for the freighter. Meanwhile, Sayid arrives at the beach on the freighter's Zodiac boat and informs the survivors that they must go to the freighter as soon as possible because the mercenaries' secondary objective is to kill everyone on the island. He and Kate go after Jack and Sawyer, but are captured by Richard Alpert and the rest of the Others. After unsuccessfully attempting to convince Charlotte to leave the island, Faraday starts ferrying people to the freighter. Sun, Jin, and Aaron arrive at the boat in the first batch, only to discover a bomb, consisting of a large amount of C4 explosives, on board.

Meanwhile, in their quest to move the island, Ben, Locke and Hurley arrive at the DHARMA Initiative's Orchid station, which is disguised as a greenhouse. The greenhouse is already guarded by the Kahana mercenaries. Ben sends Locke to the real part of the station whilst he surrenders himself to Keamy. They all depart together, allowing Locke to explore the station. Jack and Sawyer arrive and find Locke unable to find his way into the station proper. Jack and Locke once more argue about the nature of the Island, but realising that Jack is adamant about escaping, Locke implores him to lie about the Island once he and the other survivors leave. At the helicopter, Kate, Sayid, and the Others free Ben by ambushing and killing all the mercenaries, except Keamy, who feigns death. In return, the Others allow Kate, Sayid and the other survivors to leave the Island. Ben wishes them well before returning to the Orchid, where he gets in a hidden elevator with Locke.

Inside the underground part of the Orchid station, Ben puts every metal item he can find into a small compartment at the back of the room, while Locke watches the DHARMA orientation video for the station. On the tape, Pierre Chang begins to discuss time travel involving "negatively charged exotic matter" when the VCR malfunctions and the tape rewinds itself. Shortly afterwards, the mortally wounded Keamy arrives and tells Locke that if he dies, the C4 on the freighter will detonate, due to a remote trigger linked to a heart rate monitor he is wearing. Regardless, Ben kills Keamy with no remorse or sympathy for those on the boat, in order to avenge Alex. When Locke points out that everyone on the freighter will die, Ben just asks, "So?" Ben then seals the compartment he had loaded with metal items and activates it, blowing a hole in the back of it. Ben, now wearing a cold weather parka, tells Locke that whoever moves the Island has to leave it and never come back; Ben must do it so that Locke can stay and lead the Others. Locke then goes to the Others, who welcome him home. Ben climbs through the hole and down a rocky tunnel beyond it into a frozen chamber, cutting his arm in the process. He then turns a very large metal wheel. As he completes the rotation, an eerie sound and white-yellow light soon envelop the entire island. Ben disappears, only to reappear several months later in the Sahara Desert.

Yes, the Island has a teleporting propulsion system triggered by a giant metal wheel.

Jack, Kate, Sayid, Sawyer, Hurley, and Frank Lapidus leave the island on the helicopter, but discover a fuel leak on board. In order to lighten the helicopter, Sawyer jumps out after whispering something in Kate's ear and kissing her. The helicopter makes it to the Kahana in the nick of time; they refuel it, fix the leak, pick up Desmond, Sun and Aaron and leave seconds before the C4 detonates. The resulting explosion kills several of the survivors from Flight 815, including Michael, who is told that he "can go now" by a vision of Christian Shephard. Sawyer swims back to the island and laments the destruction of the boat on the horizon with Juliet and a bottle of whisky.

The helicopter circles the debris, but there is no sign of any survivors. They conclude that they are all dead, including Jin, to Sun's utter horror. As the chopper approaches, they see the Island vanish in a blast of light. With nowhere to land, the helicopter runs out of fuel and the survivors are forced to ditch into the ocean. They drift in a rescue raft for several hours. Hurley suggests that Locke succeeded in moving the Island, but Jack disagrees. At night, the survivors are rescued by a boat commanded by Penny Widmore and Desmond is finally reunited with his long lost love. Jack then convinces the other survivors that they must lie about their experiences on the Island, to protect those left behind. In keeping with the faked wreckage of Flight 815 found in the Java Trench, the Oceanic Six are dropped off near the island of Sumba, where they are found by local villagers.


Flashforwards (late 2007): Jack, Kate and Walt Lloyd all recount stories of being approached by "Jeremy Bentham", the dead man in the coffin. Kate has a dream in which Claire tells her not to bring Aaron back to the Island. In London, England, Sun confronts Charles Widmore, Penny's father, who sent the Kahana to the island, and tells him that they have common interests involving the island. After finding out that Bentham is dead, Sayid breaks into the mental hospital where Hurley is staying and convinces him to go "somewhere safe". Jack returns to the funeral parlor, where he is confronted by Ben, who says that the island will not allow Jack to return without everyone else who left joining him. This includes Jeremy Bentham's body, who is finally revealed to be John Locke.


Major WTFery: Oceanic Airlines offer no explanation for the fact that there are five survivors (not counting the unborn Aaron) but they had confirmed the bodies of all 324 passengers were on the fake plane at the bottom of the ocean.

Keamy's dead man's switch requires a continuous radio signal to be sent to the freighter. It's already questionable if the radio strapped to his arm can maintain contact with the freighter 80 nautical miles away without some kind of massive transmitter or power source. It seems extremely unlikely it would be able to maintain contact when hundreds (or even thousands) of feet underground in the Orchid Station.

Hindsight: This episode confirms that Desmond and Frank Lapidus also escaped the Island, as well as the Oceanic Six. It also confirms that Sawyer, Juliet, Bernard, Rose, Claire, Locke, Charlotte, the Others and the remaining 815 survivors are still - as of this episode - alive on the Island, only that the Island's whereabouts are now unknown. Michael and several 815 survivors on the freighter are dead and Jin is presumed dead. Faraday's status is unknown as he was between the freighter and the Island on the zodiac raft when it shifted.

Hurley tells Walt that his dad is still alive on the Island, which is a rare instance of Hurley knowingly lying and doing it well.

Sawyer loses his shirt whilst swimming back to the beach. The producers warned Josh Holloway that the first episode of Season 5 would pick up with him still shirtless, forcing him to stay in good shape throughout the summer break.

Ben explains his entire story arc in one sentence: "Sometimes good command decisions are compromised by bad emotional respones."

Based on previous episodes, it is unclear if the Island physically "moves" or if the "access point" between the rest of the world and the Island has shifted and the Island itself is permanently sealed in its own sub-reality or pocket dimension that only loosely interfaces with our own.

This is the last episode of Lost to air that continues the relentless narrative began in the very first episode of the series, as it features a time-jump to seven days after the rest of the episode and then the story of the Oceanic Six unfolds sparingly over the next three years. Season 5 does, however, pick up the narrative strand with several on-Island survivors for the first couple of episodes before it also time-jumps forward three years.

This episode brings in Michelle Forbes, a popular actor in SFF dramas. As well as her recurring role as Ensign Ro on Star Trek: The Next Generation, she appeared in the superb role of Admiral Helena Cain on Battlestar Galactica in three episodes and a TV movie shortly before this episode was filmed. A year later, she would become a recurring enemy on True Blood. In comparison, her role on Lost as an Oceanic Airlines representative is fairly small.

The United States Coast Guard provided the aircraft used by the Oceanic Six.

Margo Shephard, Jack's mother, appears for the first time since White Rabbit in Season 1, 75 episodes ago. This is the longest gap for any recurring character in the whole series.

As with The Shape of Things to Come, the confrontation between Sun and Widmore was actually filmed in London, in front of Tower Bridge (instead of using a greenscreen of the London skyline, such as was used in Flashes Before Your Eyes).

Fearing spoiler leaks, the production team filmed two alternative takes of the reveal of Locke's body in the coffin, one using Josh Holloway as Sawyer and the other Henry Ian Cusick as Desmond.

Review: This is a big (two and a half hours in its full form), epic finale and it covers a lot of ground. There's long-awaited reappearances (Walt), exploding freighters, crashing helicopters, epic gunfights, dark humour and, of course, yet more mysteries being opened up (the frozen donkey wheel) at the same time others are closed down (who escapes from the Island, and how). But there's a certain emotional power to seeing the 815 survivors - even if only a few - finally escaping from the Island and returning to their old lives. This is something I suspected a lot of people weren't expecting to happen until the very end of the series, so for it to happen at the three-quarters mark is rather surprising and sets up the fifth season excellently. (****½)

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