Lost S1E21/22/23: Finale

You know, there’s a moment towards the end of this three-part finale to the first season of Lost that really got to me.

We check in with our cast in the moments before the departure of the plane that would crash on the island and start the events of this season’s run – Locke being carried out of his wheelchair and into his seat, Charlie trying to wedge his guitar into the baggage compartment, Michael locking an ambivalent Walt’s belt while his son plays video games. And I found myself getting kind of emotional. Whether it was the music, the performances, or the knowledge that life is about to change irrevocably for all these characters, something about it just clicked for me.

Which means that, like it or not, Lost has been doing something right.

And trust me, I think that a lot of this season has been actively bad. The second act was particularly boring and under-cooked, featuring focus episodes on characters that either failed to fill them out as well as I would have wanted, or simply delved into shit that didn’t fundamentally matter. But this finale – this finale got me. The show has been doing something that works, evidently – but exactly what was that?

I think the biggest thing Lost has pulled off in its first season is the development of some satisfying relationship arcs. My personal favourites are Boone and Locke’s, which I’ve talked about quite a lot already – but there were a couple that came together in this three-parter, namely, Michael and Walt, and Jin and Sun.

Jin and Sun and their patchy plot thus far has been seriously buoyed by the brilliant performances behind each character – and I think it’s that which makes this final twist in their story stick. They share a proto-reconciliation, with both of them admitting their mistakes before Jin takes to the raft to find help and rescue his wife, aided by an English translation guide from Sun to help him communicate with his new crewmates. Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim are both actors who command a certain presence on-screen, and there is something grounded in their final moments together, not knowing if they’ll ever see each other again, that really pulls together the Japanese threads of their arc into something surprisingly cohesive.

Michael and Walt, though, might be my favourite arc of the show so far – perhaps because its a diversion from the well-trodden ground of romantic bonding, or maybe just because Harold Perrineau and Malcolm David Kelly have found a unique and believable chemistry that sells the father-son affection gorgeously well. It’s a plot mired in tragedy, thanks to Michael’s forced separation from his resentful son for so much of his life, but seeing them together, working towards the same goal, sharing this deep love that doesn’t need to speak its name because it’s so evident to everyone watching – it’s powerful stuff, and it’s been earned, quietly, in the background of this season as a whole.

Of course, there is actual plot stuff happening this week – Jin, Sawyer, Michael and Walt set off on the raft, as Locke, Jack, Kate, and Hurley (for some reason) blow open the hatch to find out what’s inside. After so much time dilly-fucking-dallying with barely enough plot to fill a conversation with a cab driver, I feel spoiled with so much happening these last three episodes. We’re finally getting somewhere – into the island, off the island, shaking it all about a bit – and, even though the season ends on a couple of cliffhangers (the hatch open, the insides unseen, and Walt being snatched by some mysterious pirates in the middle of the ocean), I’m still happy that things have taken definitive steps towards a resolution of some sort.

So, now that the whole season is behind me – what have we learned? Well, that I was wrong about Jack, actually – I truly love our leading man (ugh, the scene he shares with Sawyer, where he discovers the latters interaction with his late father? The performance. The man-tears. I simply MUST breed), and I’m willing to admit my first impressions were wrong. I still think Locke is the finest character of the show so far – the fact that he continues to enjoy his time on the Island, even as things get increasingly hairy, is a natural and in-built conflict that’s just too juicy to deny, and every time Terry O’Quinn smiles, an angel gets its’ wings, so there’s that, too.

I think the show has underserved its female characters, though I’m hoping that with Jin and Sawyer off the island, Kate and Sun can get to the lesbian cottagecore love affair the solid characterisation that I think both of them deserve outside of their respective love interests. I still fucking hate Sawyer, though, in a twist that I only really came to terms with watching this final episode, I think Charlie is my least favourite character – Sawyer, at least, feels as though he has somewhere to go character-wise, whereas Charlie is bearing down on another heroin plot like a particularly stubborn shit, and I, for one, don’t care.

Most of all, though, what I’ve liked about this season is the arts-and-crafts elements. People coming together, against the odds, to solve the problems in front of them. It’s the most compelling part of the show, and it’s consistently been inventive and smart in a way that the rest of Lost can’t always maintain. I didn’t think that the Great British Pottery Throw-Down had such an influence on this show, but hey, you learn something new, right?

Well, that’s us for this season of Lost – I probably will get around to season two, if only because this finale was so damn strong and because everyone keeps telling me it’s so much better than the first. I’d like to thank you all for joining me on this journey into purgatory island, and into my enormous crush on Naveen Andrews (official Hottie McHotterson of the show, as far as I’m concerned, and no, I won’t take notes on this), and I sincerely hope you’ll join me for next season. As ever, stay safe, and if you hear the dreaded flashback music – run for your fucking life.

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book, Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!

(header image via Tome of Nerd)