Lost "Exodus Part II"

Cool: At long last, in the two-hour season finale’s final seconds the Thing in the Woods with the Locked Hatch is opened with the help of some nitro-sweating dynamite. What’s inside? A very deep, very ominous ladder well leading, presumably, to the second season.

Cooler: A poignant flashback showing the various characters boarding ill-fated Oceanic Flight 815 in Sydney completely unsuspecting of the horrors that await them. Considering where they end up, there’s a real kick to see the characters interact here as awkward strangers. Knowing how 815 ends, there’s also something chilling about the everyday dullness of the flashback – all of us have been in those cramped seats, watching the other passengers board, stowing carry-ons in the overhead bins. And all of us surely at one point or another have wondered the big “what if?” and thought about what it would be like if the plane crashed.

Coolest: In what is without question the series’ scariest sequence to date, rafters Michael, Walt, Jin, and Sawyer encounter what initially seems to be a rescue boat (although pragmatic viewers never bought it for a second) emerging out of the darkness. And then comes “We want the boy.”

Huh?: The show works best when things are kept ambiguous, when it walks that fine line between the plausible and the supernatural. Throwing that balance totally out of whack was that weird black cloud thing that tried to drag Locke into the ground like Pitfall Harry. More cheesy than scary.

Best Line: “That was messed up.” – Hurley, after watching Arzt detonate in an explosion caused by the aforementioned nitro-sweating dynamite.

Falling: Charlie – His dogged quest to protect Claire and the baby despite his complete and utter incompetence is quickly becoming irritating, especially his decision to throw a clumsy punch at professional bad-ass Sayid. Judging by Charlie’s acquisition of a Virgin Mary statue full of heroin, it looks like viewers will get to watch Charlie fall off the wagon next season, a turn that will surely add all-new annoying layers to his annoying character.

Rising: Sawyer – The show’s most complex character, posturing like a too-cool-for-school loser (he doesn’t deny Michael’s suggestion that he joined the raft crew because he wants to die), but unable to stop more heroic impulses (he risks his neck to save the raft’s rudder). Extra credit for the steely, Anakin Skywalker-style rage he displays in the “We want the boy” scene.

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