Leave it to Lost to broadcast an episode titled "There's No Place Like Home" (the mantra Dorothy must repeat, while clicking the heels of her ruby slippers, to get back to Kansas) on May 15, the birthday of L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz series of books. Henry Gale, as you may remember, is Dorothy's uncle in the movie version of the Wizard of Oz, and the alias by which Ben Linus first introduces himself to the survivors of Flight 815. Anyway, as we go into the final two hours of the season (the week after next), the Losties seem closer to rescue than they've been since the crash. Spoilers follow.
- The flashfowards showing the return of the Oceanic 6 and what happens to them in its immediate aftermath are the center point of "There's No Place Like Home." Lots of other stuff happened, to be sure, but after four seasons' worth of episodes, seeing the O6 actually arriving back in the US was the money shot, in my book.
- On their way back to Hawaii after their "rescue," the Ocean 6 look dazed as Jack reminds them to get their story straight. Little do they know that their pilot's got his lucky rabbit foot's out because he thinks they're bad mojo — though from the looks on their faces, they might well agree. Whatever happened to separate the O6 from the rest of the survivors of Oceanic 815 has clearly been traumatic. On the tarmac after landing, everybody gets reunited with their loved ones except for Kate, which may help to explain how bonded she becomes with Aaron — there's nobody else in her life.
- Loved how Hurley brings Sayid — neither of them know Nadia is waiting for him outside — over to meet his family. Who, of course, have a big tropical-island-themed welcome home party planned for him. I don't what was best about the party: Hugo hearing island-style whispering and preparing to brain somebody with Jesus ... who is not a weapon ... or apologetically telling the O6 that his mom "really doesn't get" why a tropical-island theme is not such a good idea. We also get to see how the numbers still haunt him (the beginning of the "madness" which puts him back in the mental hospital?) when they show up on the gauges of the newly restored Camaro.
- Old habits die hard: Hugo's got a Mr. Cluck bag in hand as he walks up to the mansion before the party.
- At the press conference which follows their return, the O6 practice their story in public — though it seems pretty clear that at least one reporter smells something fishy about Kate's story. After all, Aaron is enormous for a five-week-old baby, let alone one allegedly born three-months prematurely. It also means that Kate would have been pregnant while in federal custody, something her records probably don't mention. But of course, Ms. Austin's "legal issue" is off the table. I wonder, though, if the "Kate is Aaron's mom" theme might eventually prove to be the weak link in their cover story — especially after Claire's mom shows up at Christian Shephard's memorial service to tell Jack that Claire is his sister. (You know, I didn't think that last night's ep was that soapy, but boy, that sentence makes it sound otherwise.)
- Sun gives up the dutiful daughter role with a vengeance, uses her settlement money to buy a controlling interest in her dad's company, Paik Industries, and takes the opportunity to tell him she blames him for Jin's death — or "death." I loved the look on Paik's face when he realizes his daughter's become that most awful of things: a powerful, non-submissive woman. Right on, Sun!
- Some people think Sun blaming her father for Jin's death proves Jin really is dead—but I don't think it does. Sun can't break her cover story to say I hate you because my husband's stuck on the island. The story is he died — and she has to stick with it, hence the memorial stone, etc. I'm holding out hope that Jin's alive — but his proximity to the explosives on the freighter has me worried.
- Speaking of the freighter, how "lucky" to be on the first Zodiac load off the island, only to discover your "safe haven" isn't so safe? And look who's onboard: Michael, the guy who sold you out.
- Meanwhile, back on the island. Ben, Locke, and Hurley have reached the Orchid station, but Keamy and crew have beat them to it. Ben tells Hurley that moving the island is a dangerous and unpredictable measure of last resort. He also tells Hurley that the crackers he's eating out of the kit Ben retrieves from its hiding place are 15 years old, and since he's on a roll, he admits that he hasn't always been entirely truthful in the past. Widmore knows about the station, and he wants what's inside.
- Richard (!!!) and a herd of Others capture Kate and Sayid—what do you want to bet they turn out to be the "good guys"?
The week after next, two hours. I've gotta say that strike-shortened Season 4 has been much more exciting than Season 3 — I hope the finale (I know this was hour one ... but it really felt like a standalone episode to me) lives up to expectations!