Seriously, if you're behind in watching Lost, this is like the ultimate spoiler alert. So stop reading. Step away from the browser...
Okay, are we all cool?
That was a pretty brilliant episode last night, and brilliant in a way that is unique to Lost, as a television show at least. What made that ending so shocking was not just the information revealed, but the incredibly clever way in which the information reversed two fundamental expectations about the basic rules of the genre. First, they confounded all our temporal expectations by revealing that it was a flashforward, not flashback, which was itself a subtle nod to all the controversy about the prominence of flashbacks in the show. (When the episode started, my wife said to me, "No, not another flashback...") And then of course choosing to answer the ultimate question that has driven the narrative from the beginning: will they get off the island?
This sets up a marvelous symmetry for the remaining three seasons. The first three were built around a basic structure where you had a present tense story on the island, with multiple events in the past slowly revealed to you, and part of the intrigue of the show came from slowly filling in the blank spots that connect those past events with the present storyline. Now, for the final three seasons, we're potentially going to have future events doled out to us as well -- or at least the one big future event that we saw last night -- and the intrigue will come from figuring out all the chains that connect past, present, and future.
I can't wait.