The season that started with a bang and ended with a bang, and just made a dull whining noise in between, is over. “Lost” wrapped up a humdrum run with a redeeming, action-packed two-hour finale. The producers’ long-promised “game changer” kicked in, and they effectively cranked the “What the hell is going on?” dial to 11.
Walt, or some version of him, made an appearance. Locke and Sawyer both took lives in cold blood. Ben got a portion of his comeuppance, and Charlie died a hero’s death. Then the twist: the biggest spoiler in the history of the show was part of the show. Jack and Kate make it off the island. Eventually.
“Lost” relies on viewer curiosity to keep the masses coming back for more, and after Wednesday night’s finale, it’s safe to say they will. But with a long wait before its 2008 return, how will fans spend the downtime? Relating, debating and speculating are the best bets, so expect crowds at the watercooler and packed online forums, as every aspect of the season three closer gets picked apart.
Other than the crash of flight 815 and the flashback annihilation of the Dharma-ites, this was the deadliest episode ever. Seven background-Others immediately fell to the dynamite camp-trap, and it wasn’t long before the bad guys were thinning out their own numbers. Charlie’s tormentors, Bonnie and Greta, were both shot by Mikhail, on Ben’s orders. And what about Mikhail? Most likely dead, but even with a spear in his chest and his hand on an exploding grenade, his Terminator-like powers of resurrection leave his fate open for debate.
With a rare chance to play the hero, Hurley drove his “Shambala” van right over Pryce, creating enough of a distraction for Sayid to take out yet another Other. (Leave it to a bound and gagged Sayid to kill a man using only his ankles!) Tom, the very first Other to ever grace our screens, surrendered to little effect, as a vengeful Sawyer just capped him anyway.
Locke, on the verge of a Colonel Kurtz complex, pitched his blade into Naomi’s back to stop her from contacting her ship. And though he threatened to do the same to Jack, even he has his limits. For now.
But the most talked-about death will surely be Charlie’s. Sacrificing himself in the underwater hatch, Charlie fulfilled his destiny and then some. After disabling Ben’s jamming signal, and with water flooding in around him, he still found a way to jot down the message “Not Penny’s boat,” in one last effort to help those he was leaving behind. RIP, Charlie. In life he annoyed, but in death he was kind of amazing.
The great debates
Civil discussions have already given way to raging arguments in fan forums over a few of the new stumpers. First on the list: Is Christian Shephard dead or alive? A curiosity since season one, when Jack found his father’s empty coffin, the senior Shephard’s status is back in question.
Once the big “Wow!” of the night became evident, that Jack’s story flashed forward instead of back, several references to his old man became suspect. Filling prescriptions supposedly written by his father could just be the forgeries of a desperate addict. But when the Chief of Surgery questioned him about his drunkenness, Jack responded angrily, “You get my father down here … and if I’m drunker than he is then you can fire me.” A snarky reference to his dad’s final fate from boozing or proof that he lives?
The next issue also takes place at some point in the future. It’s Jack’s lone attendance at the viewing of an unnamed person at the Hoffs Drawlar funeral home. (Anagram alert! Hoffs Drawlar = Flash Forward.) He claimed to be neither family nor friend of the deceased, but was clearly shaken by the death and surprised that Kate didn’t show up. While it seems like a straightforward guessing game for fans, it’s already gone beyond that.
The scenes have been freeze-framed, enlarged and analyzed for any traces of clues. The coffin looks smaller than average. Maybe Ben? The obit says it’s a man. Definitely not Juliet then. It appears the name begins with a “J.” John Locke? James “Sawyer” Ford? The investigation continues.
More Entertainment stories
Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts
In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...
- Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
- See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
- Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
- 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom
- Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts
In the end, there’s only one real hot-button issue though. The ongoing love quadrangle. The Jaters want to see Jack and Kate together. For the Skaters, it’s all about Sawyer and Kate. The Jackets favor Jack and Juliet. The finale satisfied and enraged them all to some degree.
Sawyer protected Kate by going back to camp without her. Juliet and Jack shared a kiss. And Jack finally told Kate he loved her. See, there’s just enough affection going around to keep any one faction from giving up hope, but not enough to settle the drama once and for all.
Where to from here
Now that Jack’s made contact with Naomi’s ship, it’s just a matter of time before the rescue efforts begin. That is, unless Ben’s right, and the offshore crew are ruthless killers. Then again, the Others can be pretty ruthless, too, so it’s probably a fair risk for the Losties. But who was Naomi working for, if not Penny? Likely suspects include whatever’s left of the Dharma Initiative and Mr. Widmore, Penny’s Desmond-obsessed dad.
The uncharted territory of the upcoming season is anyone’s guess. The game-changer did exactly that, and there’s no telling what the rules of this new game will be. Will next season take place in Jack’s dismal, bad-beard future, with island scenes presented as flashbacks to show how they got there? Or will the main action stay put while flashbacks are simply traded in for glimpses of the future? Maybe this teaser of things to come was just a one off, and everything just goes back to the status quo. Perish the thought.
Well, the good news is there’s still plenty of time, nine months to be exact, to go round and round with all the theories.
Ree Hines is a writer in Tampa, Fla.
© 2013 msnbc.com. Reprints