TV Recap

Electromagnetic Field Day

On ''Lost,'' Desmond helps Locke take control of the Hatch and inadvertently unleash the Island's power; plus, Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are taken prisoner by the Others

CRASH DUMMY Desmond confessed to Locke that he may have caused the plane to break up
Image credit: Lost: Mario Perez
CRASH DUMMY Desmond confessed to Locke that he may have caused the plane to break up

The ''Lost'' season finale: Locke tests the Hatch

Well, they've really done it now.

I've figured out what the Lost writers have been up to all this season. It's very simple, really. They've been trying to make us hate Charlie. And they have succeeded. Admirably. Let's say two people you've been close to — father figures, brother figures, whatever — appear to have been incinerated in an electromagnetic plot meltdown. What do you do? A. Break down. B. Go into shock. C. Quip cheerfully and canoodle with that girl you've been crushing on. I'm willing to give Charlie the benefit of the doubt and postulate that C was tempered with B in this case. But c'mon, Brandybuck: I know the apparent annihilation of the Big Men means you can now claim full manhood and all, in the Oedipal sense, but what happened to your brain in that purple haze? Did it cook?

I know mine did. Holy Other of God, what a finale. I was up, I was down, I was frustrated, I was thrilled, and finally I was...well, a bit numb. Let's retrace our steps and try to make sense of this. (Ha!)

We begin with deus ex sailboat. It turns out the watercraft from last episode belongs to Desmond, the Hatch refugee we met way back at the beginning of the season. Now we get his flashback: The prison time, the dishonorable discharge from the British military, the copy of Dickens' Our Mutual Friend he totes around for rather obscure reasons. (Desmond has read everything by Dickens, but he's saving the author's final opus to make sure it's the last thing he ever reads.) And, of course, the woman.

Penny Widmore's her name, daughter of Charles. In the show's ancillary mythology, Charles Widmore is a bazillionaire with ties to the Hanso Foundation and, thus, the Dharma Initiative. He didn't approve of his daughter's relationship with Desmond, so he did everything he could to pry them apart, up to and including confiscating Des' prison letters to Penny. Knowing he can't beat Daddy's dollars head-on (and perhaps lacking a bit of backbone), Desmond decides to ''get my honor back'' in a roundabout fashion: He's going to enter a Widmore-sponsored race around the world, win, and collect his bright shiny Penny. (Fortunately, Libby, who met Desmond at a coffee shop, happened to have a spare sailboat lying around.)

As (bad) luck would have it, the race lands him smack in the middle of another Widmore spin-off, the Island. (I'm guessing it wasn't luck at all — Desmond's presence on the Island, like everyone else's, seems to be no accident, and his connection with Widmore suggests some meddling from a higher power.) He washes up on the beach, is rescued by a Dharma hatch dweller named Inman — the same Inman who, as an American intelligence officer in the early '90s, talked Sayid into torturing his former friend. Inman did his old job too well, turns out — he was disowned by his old employers, probably for something Abu Ghraib-ish. He's not too wild about his new bosses, either. In fact, he's planning an escape with Desmond's boat. Desmond finds out, fights him for it — and accidentally kills him. (Doesn't seem like accidentally killing Inman — played by the massive and inimitable Clancy Brown — would be an easy thing to do, but our Des pulls it off.)

In the process, he learns that the button, the Hatch, the cataclysm of noncompliance — it's all real. If the button doesn't get pressed, the ''geologically unique'' magnetism of the island goes haywire, overloads, starts yanking anything metal into its collapsing nucleus. The Island, it seems, is perched on some sort of black hole, and the forces contained within it need constant venting. Why must it be done manually? This remains a mystery. But Desmond watches it happen. And later, when he reads the logs Locke and Eko brought back from the Pearl observation station, he realizes the consequences: In the moments before Desmond brought it under control with some belated button pushing, the Island's magnetism (drumroll, please) brought down Flight 815. Our friend Desmond crashed the plane. Some days later, pistol in hand, ready to end it all, he heard Locke banging on the hatch door — and turned on the light. Instant epiphany...or something. It's unclear what this meant for Desmond. But he tells Locke, ''You saved my life.''

He says he'll return the favor. But does he? That's our cliff-hanger, folks: We don't know the fates of Locke, Desmond, and Eko. All were in the Hatch when the counter went to zero, the sky turned violet, and heads started throbbing. All we know is Charlie stumbled out of the jungle, largely unhurt, if deeply annoying. And the Hatch door came smashing down into the sand on the beach, after flying a mile through the air. That suggests something rather explosive (or attractive/repulsive, in the magnetic sense) happened right in the epicenter of downtown Hatch. Desmond, emboldened by his true love's devotion, turned a fail-safe key, the one Inman didn't have the guts to turn, the one that would ''blow the dam,'' ''make all this go away.'' And...fade to white.

How'd it come to this? Locke, angered at the perceived fraud of the button, decides to stop Eko from pushing the damned thing. Desmond, despite having witnessed a calamitous countdown firsthand, at first elects to assist in the hatchjacking, convinced that Locke's Pearl scoop is true and the whole setup is a cruel psych experiment running on autopilot. Only after they've triggered the blast door and sealed Eko out does Desmond reconsider: Maybe the people in the Pearl were the subjects of the experiment. Maybe the people in the Swan were really doing something important.

And it's around about this time that Jack ''I Wouldn't Lead You All Out Here If I Didn't Have a Plan'' Shephard and his hapless party of five stumble upon one of the episode's most gratifyingly creepy images: a pile of discarded, unread notebooks, chock full of observations, barfed from the Pearl's pneumatic tube. It's a chilly moment as it dawns on you: The Pearl is the ringer; the Swan is for real. But there's little time to ruminate. The Others swarm over Jack et al, whose surprise attack has proved useless, as Sayid was duped by the Others' Potemkin village. Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and Hurley are taken to a long wharf, where Bearded Toughguy is revealed to be clean-shaven Tom, where Ms. Clue/Klugh is revealed to be ''B'' (or ''D''? I couldn't tell), and where Henry Gale is...well, he's the ranking officer, if not the big bad. He appears to keep his deal with Michael, giving him a boat and his freedom. He alludes to getting ''more than we bargained for'' with Walt and seems none too bothered about giving him up. He sends Hurley back to the Lostaways camp with a message: Don't come looking for us. And he says that Jack, Kate, and Sawyer will be ''coming to live with us.'' How...hospitable! Seems the Others did want Kate after all. And her boy toys. Ah, just wait until they get a load of how annoying that love triangle is — hope they're in the habit of keeping the receipt.

So that's where we leave it, ladies and gentlemen. Ah, but then there's the coda: Somewhere off the island (Antarctica, maybe?), two foreign guys (was that Russian?) are playing chess in a monitoring station. An alarm goes off. A computer announces, ''Electromagnetic anomaly detected.'' One man picks up the phone. On the other end of the line is Penny Widmore. She's been looking for her man. And somehow, it seems she knew where he'd be: atop a giant magnet. Inside intel from her dad's shady operation? Signs point to yes. Or maybe she sent old Des there in the first place. Who knows? Who knows if there's any Des left to love? Who knows who built that rock formation? Or the giant Colossus of Toes found by Sayid on his fruitless circumnavigation of the island? (My favorite moment of the episode, by the way.) Who knows why the Island and its surrounding waters are ''a snow globe'' for anyone who doesn't plot a very specific course? (Having seen the outside world, theoreticians, we may now eliminate the ''apocalypse/last place on earth'' possibility.) Could the producers have actually been gutsy/foolhardy enough to kill off Locke and Eko, their two most beloved characters? Almost certainly not. But who knows anything? Not me. Maybe not the producers, either. But we've got all summer to argue about it. Start talking below!

(By the way, if you've enjoyed EW.com's coverage of Lost this season, then bookmark our TV Watch home page, and check back throughout the summer as we cover Big Brother, Entourage, Project Runway, and the hottest new shows.)

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Originally posted May 25, 2006
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