NEW YORK — (This article is packed full of spoilers for the "Lost" season finale.)
Jack wanted an explosion and he got his explosion, on the explosive season-ender of "Lost."
It was a mind-bending finale that, in the best tradition of the series, cleared things up, then confused them again, with exhilarating richness.
Promises were kept to the audience on the two-hour episode, aired Wednesday. For example, the never-before-seen uber-boss of the island, Jacob, scored a prominent and visible role. He did, that is, until he was stabbed to death by Ben (Michael Emerson) as angry payback after decades of neglect and sacrifice.
Then, with Jacob's dying breath, he warned, "They're coming."
Ben, with whom Jacob had never been willing to meet, was granted access only thanks to his archrival, Locke (Terry O'Quinn).
"You found your loophole," Jacob said to Locke.
"Indeed I did."
"Have you met before?" Ben asked Locke, who replied, "In a manner of speaking."
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That was all murky enough.
But wait! Outside on the beach, a corpse that looked just like Locke had been revealed to stunned witnesses (and viewers). How could this be — Locke coexisting alive and dead — even on the reliably mind-blowing "Lost"?
Fans can stew over these mysteries until "Lost" returns early next year. They can also ponder how much of the island and its population was erased by the nuclear bomb detonated at the episode's fade-out.
One almost-certain fatality: Juliet, who had plunged to the bottom of a shaft where, moments before, Jack had dropped his handy nuclear warhead. It failed to trigger on cue. But Juliet, gravely injured, pounded the balky bomb with a stone to set it off and fulfill Jack's mission. So long, Juliet (and Elizabeth Mitchell, who played her). Maybe.
For Jack (Matthew Fox), setting off the nuke had been an obsession of late (although "late" is the wrong word, since he with a number of his comrades was time-shifted back to 1977). Jack meant to rewrite history by destroying a huge pocket of electromagnetic energy that would be blamed for pulling Oceanic Airlines flight 815 from the sky on the series' premiere.
Presto! That would mean no fateful crash or any of the events that ensued. Or so Jack was wagering. (Wouldn't it also mean "Lost" was never created?)
The episode began with Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) on the beach, verbally jousting with another, unidentified man.
"Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?" the man said. "Sooner or later, I'm gonna find a loophole."
"When you do," said Jacob, "I'll be right here."
On the finale, the ageless Jacob was bouncing all over the place. He was seen popping up in bygone, connect-the-dots encounters with several of the show's favorite characters.
Here he was with the childhood version of Kate (Evangeline Lilly), a little girl caught stealing from a variety store. Here he was, consoling Sawyer (Josh Holloway) as a boy at the funeral of his parents. Jacob was an uninvited guest at the wedding of Sun and Jin (Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim), speaking perfect Korean to bless their union.
And, typical of the series' sly sense of humor, he was seated on a bench reading "Everything That Rises Must Converge" when, behind him, Locke crashed to the ground. As "Lost" fans already knew, Locke had been pushed out an eighth-floor window by his father but, in this reprise, Locke, on the ground paralyzed with a broken back, was greeted by Jacob.
"Don't worry," Jacob told him. "Everything's gonna be all right."
Oh, really? That's a good one, any "Lost" fan would scoff, while concluding that Wednesday's episode was a great one.
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