Review: Lost Season Five (5) Season Finale: “The Incident”

After having watched the entire series of LOST multiple times, I think that Season Five (5) was the only LOST season finale (“The Incident”) where I felt a little disappointed. There were very few real “oh wow” moments throughout the episode. I enjoyed it and feel it was well-written, but I left feeling a little let-down by what should (and could) have been a very revelatory finale. This review is not a recap or a summary; there are plenty of articles and sites that will do that. Instead, I intend offer my insight into the moments in “The Incident” where I feel the episode could have been stronger.

“The Incident” opened up perfectly, giving the audience a glimpse of a “young” Jacob, the Island mastermind we’ve never glimpsed except one blurry moment back in Season 3 in the episode “The Man Behind the Curtain.” We see him weaving a tapestry by hand in an ancient chamber we eventually find out to be under the four-toed statue. Throughout the episode’s flashbacks, we also see him meeting with various characters at crucial moments of their lives (the most startling of which, I believe, is when he somehow resuscitates Locke after he falls from the window to break his back). In the end, Ben Linus stabs him in his chamber, and Locke pushes him into a fire pit to finish the job.

My problem with Jacob is this: he was introduced and killed in a single episode. For someone to have been as powerful and influential as the LOST writers made him seem, it is almost insulting that he appears so “throw away.” Knowing how LOST works in general, I fully expect more episodes to have him in it through flashback (and even present-day narration, to be honest) throughout Season Six (6). However, given what we are in “The Incident,” I feel a little cheated by his already having a death scene. And the death scene itself is a major point of contention. LOST viewers are used to having mysteries that take entire seasons to sort out. Locke said in the previous episode, “Follow the Leader,” that his plan was to kill Jacob. The audience gets a single episode to watch Locke lead the Others to the statue where Jacob is killed. There is only a single episode’s worth of buildup, no shimmies, no shakes, and no twists. Jacob is killed (albeit by Ben Linus’ hand) just as Locke said he would be. There are no major revelations in what happened, and I feel that alone knocks this episode in quality because it was predictable. Locke did what Locke said he was going to do. The only twist the audience is given regarding Jacob’s death is a reference to the beginning of “The Incident,” where the man in the black shirt says he wants to kill him and will find a loophole to do it. As Jacob dies, he mentions that the loophole was found, and Locke agrees. But again, this is not a sweeping mystery we have wondered about all season; it was set up in the very same episode. (As a quick side note, I think there is some importance to the man who eventually pseudo-killed Jacob wearing a black shirt while Jacob himself wears a white one, confusing the idea of good and evil on the Island itself. But that’s all I will say on that, as it’s rather off-topic.)Given how LOST has functioned for five seasons, there is good cause to believe that more will be done with Jacob than was hinted at in “The Incident.” Perhaps his introduction and death in the same episode is merely a red herring for the audience to chase while something more intriguing happens while we’re distracted. Why do I believe this after going to such lengths as a skeptic of his initial episode? Because the fish he caught, cooked, and ate was, indeed, a red herring. And if that’s not a blatant clue, I do not know what is. Of course, the nature of a red herring is to distract, and there are many things in that scene which could be intended as distractions from the truth of the narrative (see my shirt color pseudo-theory, for instance); Season Six (6) will hopefully sort out which threads are worth following.

And then there is the nuclear bomb that Jack is trying to set off to actually prevent the Incident at the Swan Station from ever happening, thus resetting history so that Oceanic 815 never crashed on the Island. For a catastrophe that’s been only vaguely hinted at since Season Two (2), the incident itself was rather lackluster. Sure, the gunfight scene was fun. There was machinery and cars and bullets flying everywhere because of the exceptional magnetism at the Swan, but there was nothing really mind-blowing. It was just that: exceptional magnetism. We could infer that it would have been something that simple from when Jack’s key gravitated toward the anomaly back in Season Two (2). It was a well-done scene, but again, there was nothing new here. One of the things that I love about LOST is that even when I think I know what is going on, I do not. If I am waiting over three complete seasons to see the actual event that was mentioned, I expect more than some flipped cars and crushing scaffolding. But that’s where the nuke comes in, isn’t it?

Juliet’s setting off the nuke was brilliant. Yes, she was one of my favorite new characters (if Season Three [3] can be considered new anymore), and I hate to see Elizabeth Mitchell no longer appear on LOST, but when the writers make the audience think the bomb is a dud only to have Juliet fall to her “death” after confessing her love for Sawyer only to have her wake up and detonate the nuke by hand with a rock, I have to admit to getting a little emotional. Unfortunately, however, it is not the kind of emotional that I like to get when watching LOST. I like ending seasons with a “huh?” feeling and not an “awww.” And no matter how emotionally charged the cliffhanger was, it was still (am I sounding like a broken record yet?) predictable. The audience has known since “The Variable” (just two episodes prior to “The Incident”) that the survivors’ last, best hope of leaving theIsland (or never showing up in the first place) is to detonate a hydrogen bomb when the Swan Station does its thing. And we get that. We see the Swan go crazy, but it’s a controlled kind of crazy because it is expected. In a season built around bending my mind’s expectations and upsetting the status quo, I honestly expected more out of the incident than increased magnetism; the same can be said for detonating the nuke. I expected at least a scene or two after the detonation showing an off-kilter result that would have to be worked around during the following season. Instead, the audience is given a white screen instead of black that has the LOST logo on it, complete with the trademark boom-pop sound effect. This is not saying that the cliffhanger ending was not effective; it was. I am simply arguing that the other four cliffhanger season finales left me wanting a little more than something I already expected.

And then there’s the cargo locker with Locke’s dead body inside. I won’t go into a lot of detail on this aspect, but I would like to say that this should have been a major revelation but fell somewhat short. I turned to my girlfriend and her mother as we watched Ilana and her people show Frank what was inside and said “it’s Locke’s body, I bet.” And when the crate got to the statue, and they rolled John Locke’s body out onto the sand, I called it beforehand saying “I bet the Locke inside the statue’s chamber is a ghost who has to get Ben to kill Jacob because he can’t.” And lo and behold, that’s what happens (or is at least set up to happen given the loophole dialogue). The entirety of Season Five (5) has been leading up to Locke not really being dead (see the episode “Dead is Dead”), so when the writers finally reveal that he was not truly alive again, it was expected.

This predictability is, as one can probably tell, my major complaint with this finale. For all this, however, I do not feel like LOST’s creative team dropped the ball in “The Incident” or the whole of Season Five (5), since I can safely assume most of my qualms will be addressed in the opening episodes of Season Six (6), but I was expecting more out of a LOST season finale. I mean, yeah, the cliffhanger was evil, but it was expected; the best LOST cliffhangers are the ones we can’t expect, and a lot of this finale could be predicted. For that matter, a lot of this entire season seemed little more than a set-up for the next and final season. And that is not to say this is a bad thing. With next season being the end of the series, there had to be a point at which the creators played catch-up in order to tie up the loose ends. My main gripe is that this catch-up was not done as an aside through subplots but with the main narrative. And through what I consider to be probably the weakest season finale of LOST’s history (though one of the most mind-numbingly complex actual seasons), I expect nothing but the best out of the final, sixth season. With an entire season to go and a clear idea of where the series is headed, I have little doubt that the final season will answer many of the questions long-time LOST viewers crave, while maintaining the air of suspense that was only slightly tarnished through “The Incident.”

I also put it on AssociatedContent.com: