"LOST" RETROSPECT: (1.23-1.25) "Exodus"
If one was to ask me what was my favorite season finale of "LOST", I would be prone to answer Season Three's (3.22-3.23) "Through the Looking Glass". But my second choice - and a very close one at that - would have definitely been the Season One finale, (1.23-1.25) "Exodus".
Although I do not consider it to be my favorite "LOST" finale, I can honestly say that I found it to be the most emotional . . . at least for me. Many would say that the series finale, (1.17-1.18) "The End". Mind you, "The End" had its share of emotional moments. But there were many aspects of it that I found very irritating. I found some flaws in the script for "Exodus". But I felt those flaws were overshadowed by some great writing by screenwriters/producers Damon Lindehof and Carlton Cuse.
I might as well begin with what I consider to be the episode's flaws. The Season One finale featured flashbacks that revealed the castaways' experiences during their last hours in Sydney, Australia, before boarding Oceanic Flight 815. Mind you, I did not have any trouble with most of the flashbacks. Some of them revealed the development in personalities or relationships for some of the characters. This was apparent in Michael Dawson and Walt Lloyd's two flashbacks, along with Shannon Rutherford's, Charlie Pace's and to a certain extent, James 'Sawyer' Ford's. Other flashbacks revealed the personal clouds that hung over Jin-Soo Kwon, Sayid Jarrah and John Locke. Jack's flashback served as an introduction to Ana-Lucia Cortez, who would have a major role in the second season. But there were some flashbacks which I found useless and a waste of my time:
*Kate Austen - Her flashback featured U.S. Marshal Edward Mars explaining his long search for the young fugitive. Basically, all he did was reveal to the Sydney Airport authorities about his cat-and-mouse games with Kate and her infantile bank robbery in New Mexico. Yawn!
*Sun-Hwa Kwon - Her flashback merely confirmed her original secret knowledge of English via her understanding of the racist American couple who seemed to harbor clichés about Asian marriages.
*Hugo "Hurley" Reyes - His flashbacks consisted of a series of minor incidents that nearly causes him to miss Oceanic Flight 815. Was it Lindehof and Cuse's intent for the audience to view Hurley's experiences with the ironic view that he would have been better off by missing the flight? I do not know. Then again, I do not care.
Not only did I find Kate's flashback a bore, I found some of her actions in this episode rather . . . peculiar. Okay, I had no problem with her decision to accompany Jack and Locke to the Black Rock. She wanted to help. Okay. But following Leslie Artz's death, she decided that she wanted to be one of the two to carry the dynamite in her backpack:
LOCKE: It's not smart to keep it all together. So, we split them up. If we need 3 sticks to blow the hinge then we should bring 6 -- 3 and 3 -- failsafe, in case one of us...
JACK: You and me, then.
KATE: No, I'm -- I'm taking one.
JACK: It's not going to happen, no.
KATE: This is why I came.
JACK: Then, you wasted a trip.
I realize that the castaways' leader, Jack Shephard was being controlling. But why on earth was it necessary for Kate to carry some of the dynamite? Why on earth would a woman with the survival instinct of a well-trained mercenary want to risk her life to carry a bunch of unstable sticks of dynamite? Cuse and Lindehof never made Kate's reasons clear. Poor Evangeline Lilly. She really had to put up with a lot of shit from those two.
At the beginning of the episode, Danielle Rousseau appeared at the Losties' camp with news that the Others were going to attack their camp. After accompanying Jack's expedition to the Black Rock, she returned to the Losties' camp with the intent to steal baby Aaron in order to exchange him for her long missing daughter, Alex. When Sayid and Charlie finally caught up with her and Aaron, she revealed that she 'did' hear whispering about the Others coming for the "boy". As it turned out, the Others were after Walt. And they snatched him from the raft that Michael, Sawyer and Jin used in their attempt to leave the island. But . . . why did they snatch Walt? More importantly, how did they know that he was special? I doubt that Others spy Ethan Spy had found out. He spent most of his time with the Losties keeping an eye on Claire Littleton, who was pregnant during his stay with them. If Cuse and Lindehof did reveal the details behind Ben Linus' decision to order Walt's kidnapping, they failed to do so in any of the series' 121 episodes.
Thankfully, "Exodus" was filled with so many memorable scenes and moments that I am willing to forgive Cuse and Lindehof some of the episode's missteps. As I had stated earlier, this episode was filled with some very emotional moments. My favorite included Sawyer's revelation to Jack about his meeting with the latter's now deceased father back in Australia. Superb acting by both Josh Holloway and Matthew Fox. Another great moment featured Walt's decision to hand over his dog Vincent to the greiving Shannon. Neither Malcolm David Kelley or Maggie Grace had ever received any recognition for their acting. Well, perhaps Kelley did once. Yet, both of them gave some of their best performances in this scene - especially Grace. But who gave the best performances in the episode? For me, the honors should have went to Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim as the castaways' estranged Korean couple. The couple finally reconciled over their matter regarding Sun's secret ability to speak English in a very emotional moment that featured tears, hugs and superb acting by the two. In fact, I am still wondering why the two Kims had never received any major acting nominations for their performances on the show. Both Fox and Terry O'Quinn gave excellent performances in an interesting scene in which Jack questioned John Locke about his penchant for revolving his life around the island's mysteries.
Many fans have claimed that strong characterization has always been the major strength on "LOST". Perhaps. But there have been many times during the series' six season run in which some of the characterization seemed to have declined. Think (2.04) "Everybody Hates Hugo", (3.09) "Stranger in a Strange Land", (4.04) "Eggtown" or (4.06) "The Other Woman". But when it came to action-oriented scenes and story arcs, "LOST" was truly in its element. And "Exodus" had its share of memorable action-oriented scenes and one truly chilling one.
My favorite action scenes included the expedition to the Black Rock, Leslie Artz's death, and Sayid and Charlie's search for Danielle and the kidnapped Aaron. However, one of the better scenes featured the Black Rock expedition's encounter with the Smoke Monster (aka the Man in Black) and the latter's attempt to drag Locke into some hole. When I think about it, some of the most effective action scenes during the series' first four seasons featured the Smoke Monster. But not even the Smoke Monster's attack upon Locke, Jack, Kate and Hurley was nothing in compare to what happened to the castaways on Michael's raft. In what I believe to be one of the most chilling scenes in the series' history, Walt ended up being kidnapped by the Others. Between the night setting, the violent attack upon the raft passengers and Walt's cries as he was being carried away by his kidnappers still leaves chills within me, even after six years.
My recent viewing of "Exodus" also left me pondering about some of the characters and events. While my family and I were watching those moments leading up to Walt's kidnapping, we found ourselves openly wondering what would have happened if Sawyer and Walt had not convinced Michael to fire that flare gun. Because once he did, the Others managed to find them within minutes. While reading some of the reviews and posts about this episode, I noticed that back in 2005, many assumed that Charlie would resume taking drugs after he found the Virgin Mary statuettes filled with heroin. Considering how Locke "helped" Charlie get over his drug addiction in (1.06) "House of the Rising Sun", I am not surprised that Charlie took one of those statuettes. In fact, I believe that Charlie did the right thing. Only he could really help himself get over his drug addiction. All Locke did was manipulate him into doing something that he had never volunteered to do in the first place. That is not real help.
Jack may be a controlling and doubting ass at times, but I found myself sympathizing with him during his conversation with Locke about the island. The fact that Locke believed that opening the hatch would lead to his "destiny" and his willingness to be dragged away by the Smoke Monster made me realize that the latter had been right in Season Six - Locke was a chump. He had spent most of his time on the island believing that he had to delve its mysteries in order to achieve some kind of destiny and the position of being special. And when Locke told Jack that the late Boone Carlyle had been a sacrifice that the island demanded, I am surprised that the good doctor managed to refrain from shooting him. If I had been in Jack's shoes, I would have shot him. I realize that it would have been the wrong thing to do, but I still would have shot him. I just do not see how Locke could justify Boone's death in that manner.
"Exodus" has its flaws that I found worthy of a head shake, including some questionable flashbacks and the story arc featuring Kate and the dynamite sticks. But most of the episode featured some excellent writing that included great emotional moments and action sequences, along with first-rate acting by most of the cast. Not surprisingly, it is not only one of my favorite season finales of "LOST", but also one of my favorite episodes period.