“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1”
May 15th, 2008
It’s not often you see a three-hour, two part finale, but it was clear at this point that Lost needed it – there’s a lot of pieces to put into place for the show at this point, and the really intriguing thing is that we, as the audience, know what the end result is: we know which of these people leave the island, so “There No Place Like Home” is a lesson in how this season’s new set of questions has worked so well.
And no, we don’t get much of the way of answers this time around: as is the nature of any hour before the finale kicks in, there really isn’t much here that progressed the plot in any way. We never got to see inside the Orchid, we didn’t see anyone die or officially be rescued, and even the flashforwards were less informative than they were situational. That’s not to say that the hour wasn’t entertaining, but it was just a lot of the things that needed to be done and over with before the finale can kick into gear.
So, if we look at it as an episode, probably somewhat uneventful – as a first act to the finale as a whole, it’s a great piece of setup work.
First off, let’s discuss the flashforward – we open on Michelle Forbes (Great in a lot of things, but specifically as Admiral Cain on Battlestar Galactica) as an Oceanic representative who is in charge of handling the Oceanic Six (It’s not ideal branding, but it’s catchy), and we see our fateful six greet their families, have their press conference, etc. Afterwards, the various parties went off and did their own things: we saw Sayid reunited with Nadia, his lost love, Hurley spending more time with his father, Sun confronting her father, and of course Jack having a wake for his deceased father.
The result was a lot of uneven, but purposefully uneven, character beats that we know more of than the characters themselves. Sayid seems blissful with Nadia, but we know that she dies and that he eventually falls into service with Ben. Seeing the moment where Jack finds out that Claire is/was his sister, and that Aaron is his nephew, is something we’ve known for seasons, but it didn’t make his sudden terror any less intriguing. Sun’s power play to take revenge on her father was a nice point of character, and her assertion that two people were responsible for his death (coupled with the content of the episode) certainly asks a lot of questions. Plus, Hurley continuing to be haunted by the numbers is no surprise but certainly a welcome return to our favourite set of digits.
All of this was ultimately circumstantial – we don’t know what it means, and it’s all very “Wink wink, nudge nudge” if you will. None of it tells us anything new about our current situation, but rather the people within it: it continues a season-long trend of the series showing us parts of the future that make us ask questions of the present. It was a point of concern when the season started, but now I would hate to see it go: in this episode, it was the only point of real dramatic tension, and yet it was more than enough to have me on the edge of my seat.
The reason was simple: how, precisely, do these six people end up at the same place, or in the same situation, when they are so clearly divided at the start of the episode? I spent the entire hour watching as the pieces started moving: watching Aaron bounce around from Sawyer to Kate, from Kate to Sun, is a prime example of just much I desire to know how it all comes together. Even as it seems that Kate, Sayid, Jack and Hurley will find their way to the Orchid at the same time, where does that leave Sawyer, Ben and Locke? And, also, how does Sun get off the island from the boat when we know that Jin does not, and how does she reunite with her fellow castaways. And, are we to presume that the island that Michael speaks of escaping to in his explanation to Jin and Sun is the same island talked about in the flashforward, where that photograph was taken?
There’s no easy answer: we can presume that perhaps the C4 stacked up in the boat’s radio room could prove deadly for Jin, but where does that leave Desmond and Michael (Or should we even worry about them, considering that they wouldn’t be included in the Oceanic count anyways? And while the boat conveniently holding six passengers seems awfully convenient, Aaron doesn’t count as a person so why doesn’t a sixth person hop in? Or do they, and they just hop off the boat on the nearby island? And considering that Kate and Sayid have now come across Richard Alpert and the rest of the Others, where do they fit into this puzzle, and what is their role in either helping people off or keeping people on the island depending on their preference?
That’s a lot of questions for a single episode, but the fact that Lindelof and Cuse have another two hours to answer them gives me a lot of faith in this finale to deliver. There are a lot of things here that we don’t understand, whether it’s Ben’s mirror message (We presume to Alpert, coming to provide backup for Ben) or even something as simple as why Faraday had the Orchid scribbled in his journal that, as we know, is tied up in his own journey through time from a while back. But these questions have payoffs, some that we will see sooner than others: the hope is that Faraday’s story will emerge more next season, and that the action is upcoming for the final two hours.
But, the one thing about the episode is that it did feel like a game of musical chairs where the music (Still awesome by Michael Giacchino) never ends, and last week was also a setup episode for this week. It also really didn’t pick up on most of the revelations from Locke’s past we learned last week, and certainly didn’t feature Locke in any capacity. The slow-motion montage at episode’s end was very true: multiple people marching towards uncertain fates is a common theme for the show, but it seemed a bit too cute for its own good in a way. We get it, people are moving – they were doing that last week too, and they’ll probably do some more next week.
And yet, I think that it was a good place for them to move if you will – the tension of how things will play out, combined with a glimpse of how they do turn out, remains as good as ever. Why are they lying about what happened to them, what is their reasoning? Is it to protect the people still alive on the island, to protect themselves from Charles Widmore’s potential vengeance, to protect Ben and the Others and the island’s secrets, or is it just because the world would never believe them that an island has been fought over by two competing groups for decades and that a giant black smoke monster attacks people when they first arrive? That central question is enough to drive the show right now, but I do hope that the payoff in two week’s time lives up to the potential laid on the table here.
- I gasped a lot at this episode: at seeing Michelle Forbes (Who really is great on Battlestar), on spotting Alpert walk out of the woods in front of Kate and Sayid (He just excites me), and at even the thought of Ben being killed – oddly, he’s the character I care most about in terms of those who have an uncertain (If in Ben’s case, not wholly uncertain) fate. And we even know he lives, so I don’t know why I was worried – this show does things to me.
- Interesting to see Frank’s plan come into plainer view: have Jack and company show up to get off the island on his chopper, and to get him off the island period before the guys who plan to destroy the thing kill him. It’s a plan that appears altruistic, but is also very selfish: I wish we had more time to spend with his character, but unlike Charlotte/Miles/Faraday I don’t think he serves much of a purpose once the helicopter is out of the picture.
- The other character I’m concerned for is Juliet, the one character who you would presume would get off of the island first chance she gets considering that she has a sister to return to and a life that was only interrupted due to Ben basically imprisoning her. How she manages to not be amongst those who leave the island makes me worried that, unlike Ben who we know lives, Juliet’s time might be up. If so, I will be angry: I would very much miss Elizabeth Mitchell, and would hate to see the show see the sudden lack of pregnant women as reason for her character to be redundant.