-- SPOILERS --
First, the praise:
-- bonus carry-over from last week:"black rock" reveal. Whizza.
-- Subtle Rousseau clue that they were focusing on the wrong boy.
-- Statue reveal on Charlie
-- Michael's secret sin
-- *GURK* "Do not. Hit me. Again."
-- the realization that if the show now just became Michael, Jin, and Sawyer on Vengeance Road looking for the kid, I'd watch every episode twice. I don't care how gay that makes me. Twice.
But all in all, that ...
... that ...
.. was not what I was hoping for.
On one hand, shortly after I wrote this, I got a quick e-mail from one of the show creators saying "Hilarious! You will see this addressed soon!" So the whole "you six people clique" was amusing.
Again, this is all from loving the show. But to borrow from our Jargon Preservation Project, there was an awful lot of "up and back".
Huge chunks of flashback, with little or no new information -- the only bit being the revelation of "devoted Dad" Michael's secret sin ... no new info in Charlie's, Locke's, Hurley's (except the comic being his, but was that worth five minutes?*), and you could say maybe Jin gave you at least a variant on his info.
We already knew that Locke and Jack had different views of the island. They've had this almost exact same speech before, in a slightly different context. Although I have to say, Jack might have been a little more open to the whole "This island is hinky" speech after seeing the Giant Snatching Black Cloud of Doom. He's approaching a Second-season Scully Blindspot here.
If you didn't see the science teacher thing coming, well ... you don't watch a lot of TV.
The greatest moment was, of course, "We have to take your boy". My wife was freaking, and it was magnificent -- although I guessed it from the French Chick comment earlier when she said the Others were "coming for the boy." I was thinking -- "Now hoo-haw, THAT'S a GODDAM CLIFFHANGER!" Then I remembered that they needed to blow up the hatch. How do you beat THAT?
You know they're going to open the hatch. There's no suspense. As a viewer, you know it's the season finale, you know they've been harping on trying to open the hatch for close to ten episodes, any suspense beats on whether they're going to open the hatch are wasted beats. So the payoff for the cliffhanger has to be, what'll we see IN the hatch?
A ladder? You mean, the hatch has some way of traversing within and without it? Oh sweet MOTHER OF GOD !! And it goes really far down? Not so far down as to be deeper than, say an ordinary parking garage's ventilation shaft , but DOWN? AAAAAGHHHH!
Feh. I didn't want to see everything. I didn't want to see the Control Room with the Brain-puter and the floating brains in jars full of diet ginger ale. I'm fully aware, those who-loved-it-and-think-we're-being-grumpy-pants, that you need to leave some mysteries for next season. You don't find Mulder's sister in Season One (on the other hand, you don't make mulder's sister an ascended spirit-girl, either. Fuckers.).
But I think that if all three hours of Exodus were compressed into one, I would've been lying on the floor in a puddle. I firmly believe the writers struggled valiantly against network-order bloat, but in the end were defeated.
This is a tricky moment for the show -- genre shows create rabid audiences, but once you lose them, they don't just go away -- they frikkin' turn.
I look forward to second season, but I hope they're working on the bible even as we speak.
*there is a theory that this was to show Hurley wasn't supposed to get on the plane -- he was the only one the numbers/island were trying to stop from coming. If so this flashback is fair game. But personally I wouldn't spend five mintues laying obtuse pipe in my cliffhanger finale.