The second part of “Exodus” opens with one of the most brilliant moments in the entire show. As Jack and the rest of what Lostpedia dubs the “A-team” goes into the Black Rock to get some very iffy dynamite, Arzt and Hurley sit outside waiting for them. While they wait, Arzt proceeds to list off a ton of complaints he has about their situation on the Island. He complains about the “in-crowd” amongst the survivors, refers to the other survivors, and asks Hurley why he hasn’t shed many pounds. It’s like several of the biggest gripes that naysayers have about the show. Doubtless many of these criticisms were present back in 2005 when this aired. How do the writers answer these questions? The blow Arzt up when he tries to handle the dynamite.
Not only is it a fun slap in the face to whiners, but it’s just a very surprising, funny way to die. One of the lesser-noted qualities of Lost is the almost sadistic glee it takes in creating borderline-funny ways for minor characters to die. Amongst all of those, Arzt stands as one of the most memorable in the entire series. In fact, “Exodus Part 2” is filled with images that to me feel like the stuff of Lost legend. Arzt blowing up. The first glimpse of the Smoke Monster. The crushing destruction of the raft. The survivors boarding Oceanic 815. And of course, the iconic final shot of Jack and Locke gazing down the newly-opened hatch. As I watched the final episode of season 1, I took pleasure in all of these scenes, and in some others that I had forgotten about. I cringed when Sayid cauterizes Charlie’s head wound. I found myself oddly moved by Rousseah’s heartbreak at the failure of her plan to trade Aaron for Alex.
I don’t think that Part 2 is quite as strong as Part 1. For one thing, it feels just a little bit padded. I would have liked some of the pacing to move a little quicker. The first part also was unhurried, but it felt complete and perfectly-done. This one feels just a little long. But its hard to complain about results like this. It’s an effective finale, not just as a transition to the next season, but as a closer to this one. It’s focuses on the whole ensemble, even those who’ve already left the show. The flashbacks give a real sense of closure to what can only be called a season that focused on the characters.
In general, Season 1 was far stronger than I remembered. I’m more a fan of the genre-bending frantic pace of seasons 4 and 5, what I still consider to be the high-point of the series. But having recently seen Season 6, I feel like this is the first of two bookends. Not all of the plotting lines up at all times, but there’s this sense where the forward momentum is a little muted in favor of character moments. The mythology is there in the beginning, but it’s in the margins, filling the background of the Island and the survivors. “Exodus” feels like the perfect closer to the season, and it makes me excited to continue.
- Say it with me now: WAAA-HA-HA-HAAAAAALT!
- Ever notice how the Island tempts people to follow their weaknesses? Sayid is always put in situations where he must torture and kill. Hurley is put in situations where he has to deal with food and with his fear of the supernatural. And in “Exodus,” Charlie is once again confronted with the demon of addiction that he’s moved past in this season.
- Between being hanged and having gunpowder burned in his forehead, Charlie doesn’t exactly seem like he should wander into the jungle very much.
- Appearing for the first time in this episode: M.C. Gainey as Tom Friendly. Perhaps my favorite Other.
- I mentioned the final shot in the review, but it bears repeating what a maddening and excellent ending it is for the season. I love it.
- Alright, I’m going to take 2 weeks off before jumping into Season 2. Don’t worry, we’ll be back on July 19th with “Men of Science, Men of Faith.”