Doc Jensen picks apart the fifth season ender and ponders what comes next

By Jeff Jensen
Updated May 15, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

STOP! SPOILER ALERT — Do not read any further until you’ve watched last week’s episode.

Exhilarating. Heartbreaking. And, yes, infuriating. Seriously: Couldn’t the producers of Lost have given us just two more moments — one that revealed definitively if time had changed, and another that finally reunited all of the time-tossed castaways on the Island!? ARGH! The ABC drama closed out its fifth year — and began its inter-minable nine-month nap before its final season next winter — with a two-hour opus that left Doc Jensen moved, mystified…and a tad frustrated. Whether you agree depends on how you felt about:

The Lost producers have always likened their saga to a cosmic clash between good and evil, akin to Stephen King’s The Stand, and the finale’s imagination-firing, theory-inspiring opening sequence proved it by introducing us to a pair of warring, enchanted beings: Jacob (Dexter‘s Mark Pellegrino), who radiated Christlike empathy, and ”Mr. Loophole” (Deadwood‘s Titus Welliver), who oozed sinister cynicism. But which one is truly good and which one is truly evil? The episode, which was called ”The Incident,” also revealed that Jacob was present at key moments in various castaways’ lives, like when John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) got thrown out the window by his bad dad. Was he herding them toward the Island? And did his conspicuous touching imbue them with some kind of magic?

The desperate doc’s mad gambit to detonate the hydrogen bomb known as Jughead was seemingly fulfilled by Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) — but has it changed history as Jack had hoped? TBD. Okay, let’s call it: Lost‘s time-travel story line hurt our heads, and if we better understood physics and the logic of causality, maybe we could critique it more intelligently. The finale implied that the Dharma pastaways are finally en route to the Island’s present (”They’re coming,” said Jacob) — but that’s next season. Bummer. And since Lost had been teasing it all year, we really wanted to see that reunion between Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun (Yunjin Kim), who’ve been separated by 30 years. Yet most eye-rolling of all was Jack’s (Matthew Fox) stated motivation for erasing history. A second chance with Kate (Evangeline Lilly)? Laughable — and not in a funny Groundhog Day kind of way. Nonetheless, Lost‘s trippy plunge into wormhole weirdness was worth it, since it grew the show’s mythology, nourished its redemption themes, and produced undeniable entertainment, like the romance between Juliet and Sawyer (Josh Holloway), the season’s most winning story line.

That whole thing with the two Lockes — the dead one in the steel box and the one who might be ”Mr. Loophole” in disguise — was just creeeepy good. So was the mythically loaded showdown under the Statue’s foot, when Ben (Michael Emerson) literally stuck it to Jacob for years of unrewarded service. We were left to wonder: Who was playing whom? Did Alterna-Locke’s plan work — or did he play into Jacob’s touchy-feely hands? Has Ben finally been humbled — or can Lost’s master puppeteer regain control of the Island?

In our view, here are the top three mysteries that Lost must answer in its last season.
1. What is the Monster?
2. Why can the Island do all the cool stuff it can do? (See: time travel, healing, etc.)
3. Among the many unresolved Dharma Initiative questions, how was Radzinsky planning to ”save the world” with the Island’s energy?
Of course, as much as we want Lost to address as many questions as possible, we’re bracing for the likelihood that the answers may not live up to the outrageous theories that some Internet weirdos have concocted. (Who are you people?) But where it can win is by moving us with stories that bring satisfying closure to each castaway’s redemption arc. The early word is that next season will ditch the quantum leaping and resemble the grounded, character-centric focus of season 1 — which means the show stands a pretty good chance of declaring ”Mission Accomplished.” It also means that — thank God — we can finally return all our Stephen Hawking books to the library.