Last year, the two-hour season finale of "Lost" ("Through the Looking Glass") was named Entertainment Weekly's Best Episode of Television for the year. This season's wrap-up, the three-part "There's No Place Like Home" will probably follow suit.
So what did we learn?
And yes, here there be spoilers, so if you haven't checked it out on your DVR queue yet, I highly recommend doing so before returning here for the usual trenchant Pop Culture America insight. Everyone alerted? Then we'll proceed.
-- The man in the coffin is John Locke. When Jack was the only attendee at the funeral in last season's initial flash forward, he said that the deceased was "neither friend nor family." Seems a bit harsh. Locke was certainly a rival on the island, but to dismiss him as not a friend is a rather bitter pronouncement. Clearly the two interact between the time of the rescue of the Oceanic Six and Locke's death.
By the by. The "Lost" clue on this was the name Jeremy Bentham. Bentham was an English philosopher of the 18th and 19th centuries, following in the footsteps of the historical John Locke.
-- You can move the island. And apparently, you can do it by turning a big wheel. No "Proud Mary" jokes, please. But where exactly did it go? Did it move in space and time?
To move it, Ben blew a hole in the Orchid station's time-travel thingie ("Whatever you do, don't put inorganic matter in the chamber"), climbed down a ladder to a freezing cold room, then turned the aforementioned wheel. Presumably, he then ends up in the desert where we saw him earlier this year. His journey from the Orchid (a garden) to the cold to the desert echoes the fall of man in the Bible and the shape of the Dantean Hell in The Inferno. What does that mean? No clue, but it's neat. Kinda the definition of the "Lost" aesthetic.
-- Dead people keep cropping up. Jack's Dad appeared to Michael just before the freighter blew up and Claire paid an ominous visit to Aaron's bedroom, scaring Kate. Also, Hurley took on Mr. Ecko in a game of chess, though we never see him. Those first two were also seen in Jacob's cabin in the previous episode. Is it significant that they are both related to Jack?
-- "Lost" is capable of giving a character a happy ending. This might be the episode's biggest surprise. Desmond was reunited with his beloved Penny and, near as I could tell, they weren't immediately vaporized or driven asunder by a horrible secret or anything. Until next year ...
Things we still don't know.
-- How does Locke, so adamant about staying on the island, return to Los Angeles?
-- Claire was warned repeatedly about grave consequences should her baby be "raised by another." Well, now that's exactly what's happening with her death and baby Aaron growing up in Kate's care. We know that in fiction, all prophecies come true, so what will be the grave consequences?
-- Where (and when) are Sawyer, Juliet and the rest? Adding a time travel dimension to the show is perfectly reasonable, since "Lost" has time travelled with flashbacks and flash forwards all through it's run. If the island did move across time (just like the bunnies!), when did it pop up? Has it done this before? Ben said moving the island was a measure of last resort and extremely dangerous. Has anything awful happened to those left behind?
All questions to be pondered over the summer and then to be maddeningly compounded in Season Five. Which is as it should be. The questions are always more fun than the answers.