The first episode of the two-part season finale is all about the gathering gloom — an unsettling whirlwind of fore- and aft-shadowing, with characters getting shoved like mad around the game board, across the jungle and on to the freighter and into the future. But despite all the plot developments, the dominant mood isn't action, it's doom, with a creepy sense of answers slotting into place — at least for the characters. (Jack, remember Claire? She's your lush, undead sister, the one you left on the island.)
And for every wisecrack, there's a definite implication that something bad, bad, bad is about to happen, some event that left our favorite people looking deeply screwed-up in that big, empty airplane and reluctantly prepared to tell the world a whole lot of lies.
The Future: Shell Shock and Family Reunions
Shell-shocked, looking unbelievably sad (and annoyed by Jack, who is striving for a leaderly tone and achieving only a punchy, damaged one), the O6 are flown to the mainland. Their families greet them, except for Sayid (who Hurley sweetly introduces to his folks) and Kate, who stares around sadly and kisses Aaron on the head.
They give a press conference during which Jack does hit that leaderly tone, if by leader you mean Nixon. Nosy reporters pepper them with questions they've researched on Lostpedia: What happened to Jin, wouldn't the U.S. marshal know if Kate were pregnant, etc. Behind the hangar, Sayid is reunited with his lost love, Nadia, a moment poisoned by our knowledge that she'll be dead within weeks.
Then we get a bunch of family follow-up: In Korea, Sun visits angry bigwig dad, blames him for Jin's death, and tells him she's bought a controlling interest in his company! Intriguing. Ballsy, too.
Then, in a great spooky sequence, Hurley is back in his megamansion, but no one's there. Just a coconut. And whispering. He grabs a statue of Jesus, throws open the door and … SURPRISE! A tropical-themed birthday party. Sweet but clueless. Everyone's there: Sayid and his lady love; Kate and her fake baby; Hurley's dad, who has fixed his car, another lovely moment that's wrecked when Hurley notices something horrible: The odometer has the Numbers.
Finally, in a church filled with his O6 buddies, Jack gives an overdue funeral speech in which he talks about missing his dad, a touching moment poisoned by our knowledge that HIS EVIL SPOOKY DEAD DAD IS OUT THERE MESSING WITH ALL OUR HEADS. A blonde Australian woman approaches and tearfully fills him in on the whole My-Daughter-Claire-Is-Your-Sister thing. Jack puts his hand to his forehead, twitches like Nixon on electroshock, and shoots Kate a guilty glance about the whole We've-Accidentally-Kidnapped-This-Woman's-Grandson thing.
The Present: Incipient Genocide and Fifteen-Year-Old Crackers
Huddled on the beach, Team Jack activates the SAT phone and eavesdrops on the copter folks bickering about a station called "The Orchid." Against Juliet's objections and accompanied by Kate, Jack heads off into the forest bleeding from his appendix wound and savior complex, intent on finding the copter. The two run into Sawyer, Spooky, and Aaron, and Sawyer freaks them out with the news that Claire is gone. Then this group splits like an amoeba, with Sawyer making the unlikely heroic choice to help Jack out, while Kate goes to the beach with Spooky and baby Aaron.
Back on the beach, Twitchy is twitching compassionately because of the whole imminent-genocide thing. So when Sayid hotly boats into their midst, Twitchy arranges to ferry people to the freighter in shifts. He rounds up a bunch of red shirts, plus Sun and Jin. On the raft, Jin smiles at his wife, who is cuddling Aaron, and says, "I told you I'd get you off the island," a gorgeous tableau utterly wrecked by our knowledge that he's about to die and take those extras with him.
On the freighter, Jin and Sun are surprised to see Michael, who gets all shouty and defensive. And while the boat's engines are fixed, the ship's navigation has gone haywire … and it's discovered that there's a massive pile of C-4 explosives below decks! I = confused.
Meanwhile, Ben is taking Hurley and Locke over to the Orchid, to "move the island," a "measure of last resort." Alrighty. He unearths a buried box containing fifteen-year-old saltines (which Hurley eats), a mirror, and some binoculars and Morse-codes out a message to … someone, but let's be logical and assume it's the Others. When Team Ben (c'mon, Locke's never really been in charge) get to the Orchid, the Jerks are already there, so Ben deputizes Locke to enter the station and says he'll handle the bully boys.
Somewhere in there, Kate and Sayid — man, there's a lot of movement in this episode! — are off in the forest searching for Jack when they're surrounded by Others, including Richard "Eyeliner" Alpert. At the end, we get a big elegiac, unsettling montage, with Sun's hair floating in the air, various players tromping in various directions looking variously worried and stalwart, and Ben getting clocked in the head by the Hottest Jerk. It might as well be subtitled "Something Bad's About to Happen!"
What We Now Know
• Sun, you little wheeler dealer. She's like a pregnant Joan Collins. Also, we're suspecting her of being up to something sneaky on the ship — all that floating hair and cryptic facial expression and elegiac music made us suspicious. But maybe that makes no sense. Man, this show makes us paranoid.
• Oceanic Airlines has some PR people with terrible EQ.
• The Orchid is a greenhouse. Which strikes the wonderful Jeff Jensen as ominous for some striking reasons: Please go read his recap! He's a crazy genius.
The Wha? Factor
• What's up with Sun, anyway? Who's the second person she mentioned as being responsible for Jin's death?
• When did Sawyer get so damned selfless?
• Where are they "moving the island"? Through time? And while they're at it, can they move us two weeks forward so we can see the finale already? —Emily Nussbaum