Friday, March 26, 2010

The Descent (by Jeff Long)

The thriller genre and I have a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, as a writer who likes to think he has some integrity, I’m always pissed off at the poorly-written, sensationalist crap that floods the market. On the other hand, thrillers are fun, dammit. Well, they’re fun if they’re good. I read books to be entertained, same as everyone else. When it comes to thrillers, I approach with caution, because there are so many bad ones. A good thriller for me is competently written, exciting without seeming contrived, contains interesting characters rather than archetypes, and preferably holds an element of the fantastical. Dan Brown writes bad thrillers. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child write good thrillers. Clive Cussler writes bad thrillers. Michael Chrichton wrote okay thrillers.

Well, I’m happy to say that Jeff Long, based on The Descent, writes good thrillers. Mostly. I love it when the story is framed in an epic lens (remind me to talk about my love of disaster movies someday), and this crazy book is nothing if not epic. Long, an experienced climber and outdoorsman, takes us below the ground rather than above it. Oh, does he. We learn that there is a seemingly limitless network of tunnels, caves, and spaces beneath the planet’s surface, an entire “subplanet” that rivals the sunlit world in scope. If we could chart it and make it our own, it would solve overpopulation, fulfill all our raw resource needs, and redefine politics....not to mention what it would add to archaeology, geology, zoology, etc. Problem’s already occupied. Taken up by creatures called hadals, an aggressive and hostile branch of the genus homo, prone to slaughtering humans, or enslaving them. War breaks out, the hadals are pushed back in the unknown depths, and an eeeeevil corporation sends an expedition deep beneath the Pacific Ocean floor in an attempt to basically grab themselves their own underground nation.

Cool stuff, if completely implausible. Long alternates between the global response to the subplanet and the individual human stories at work. The (ill-fated) expedition includes our heroes: Ali von Schade, a linguist nun, and Ike Crockett, an introverted ex-climber who spent some time as a slave to the hadals. Tension threatens to boil over between the freewheeling scientists and the morally bankrupt mercenaries hired to protect them. Meanwhile, on the surface, a group of aging scholars set out to determine if, since hell exists, there is also an entity who has ruled the underground society, staying alive for eons thanks to shared other words, a Satan. The narrative takes the classic ideas of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and runs it through a meat grinder, producing a perversely enjoyable mix of cryptozoology, splatterpunk, and survival horror. I dug it. I love crazy, Lovecraftian hijinks and The Descent has them in abundance.

Long writes well, which is both a blessing and a curse. His prose can be dryly poetic at times, which is miles above the assembly-line banality of, say, The Da Vinci Code. His characters are nicely flawed. His imagination runs gleefully amok. The problem is, he sometimes loses focus. Many of the supporting characters don’t get any background or depth, so their contributions to the plot are arbitrary. He suffers from a kind of writer’s hubris, assuming that because he knows what he’s talking about, so do we. As a result, plot strands and character motivations get tangled. The story structure makes weird and abrupt jumps in time. Some of what goes down is woefully predictable; anyone familiar with stories like this can guess who’s going to turn out to be the villain in disguise. One fairly major character vanishes for half the book, only to turn up at the end....just so he/she can set up the inevitable sequel. I ultimately feel like this book could have been a bit longer. He’s created an entire world to play in; why rush through it? Why not linger properly in its weird culture and awesome spaces? He spends too much time hurrying the plot along, not enough time dwelling on the twists and turns it takes.

Still, The Descent is a pretty cool book. It is deeply disturbing and greatly entertaining. Luckily for us, Long does not make the hadals into cartoon monsters, but shows us glimpses of their civilization -- and, crucially, their suffering -- while saving his greatest evil deeds for the good old human race and its need to exploit, dissect, and exterminate what it doesn’t understand. Right from the beginning, he blurs the comforting line between Us and Them, uncorking a few superbly creepy sequences that make it plain how fluid that distinction can be. (How the shared consciousness concept plays out may give you nightmares.) Ahhh, the dark night of the soul. I could dissect the symbology of seeking Satan for answers and reverting to the womb of the earth, but The Descent isn’t quite that profound. Instead, it is cool, freaky, gripping, and most of what a top-notch thriller should be. And since it shares a name with one of the greatest modern horror films ever made, I’d say we’ve got ourselves a winning combo! Caves plus cannibals plus the word “Descent” equals awesome sauce.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost, Season 6, Episode 9

6.9: Ab Aeterno

--Once upon a time, there was a man named Ricardo. Ricardo was, shall we say, shat upon by fate. Boy, did fate seem to have it in for poor Ricardo. But then fate threw up a tidal wave strong enough to shatter rock, and Ricardo found himself in hell. But hell was a very strange place, and the devil turned out to be the one Ricardo should trust. Hell, he learned, was like a fragile barrier between good and evil, a dam holding the flood of pure negative energy at bay. Without hell, there would be no world of men. And Ricardo held this knowledge in his heart for a very, very long time. And the world changed. And the devil died. And Ricardo, who now wore a new name and spoke with a new voice, had to decide if he was going to change...or die.

--That pretty much sums up this freakin’ cool episode, in which the past of the Other named Richard Alpert finally came to light. And it was awesome. I knew it would be; this show usually delivers when it comes to the mythology episodes. This ep shed plenty of new light on the history and purpose of the Island, but also delved into the heart and soul of Richard. I guess I can stop calling him Alpert now that we really know the man. Wow, remember when Alpert was this suave, oily dude in a suit trying to convince Juliet to go to the Island? Did anyone look at that dude and think, “Yeah, he’s totally an immortal, lovestruck Spaniard who came to the Island in chains and had his faith shattered and rebuilt”? Probably not. But Lost knows when a character is too good to let go.

--Almost the entire ep was one long flashback, a trick which Lost has pulled before, but never without good reason. We began rather unexpectedly with an Ilana flashback that basically served as exposition (enjoy it, ’cause she ain’t ever gettin’ her own ep), then there was some set-up in which Richard ranted about hell and Hurley mysteriously chatted with an invisible someone in Spanish. And THEN....the plunge into backstory. Ricardo appeared on a horse, all “Guyliner of Zorro,” trying to save his lovely and dying wife, Isabella. Did he? Of course not. And to make matters worse, he accidentally killed the cruel doctor who would not give him the medicine. Condemned to death, spurned even by a kindly priest, our hero could only flail at the godless void into which he had been cast. Then came the Brits, looking for slave labor, and Ricardo wound up in the hold of the Black Rock, heading toward a head-on collision with destiny....literally. WHAM! Taweret rose from the waves like a force of nature, but shattered before the storm’s fury. Some will complain that a wooden ship could not break a stone statue. That may be true, but I see it as a metaphor, the sign of a major paradigm shift on the Island. More on that later.

--The episode’s one flaw was that Ricardo spent a leeeeetle too much time in that damn hold. After the crash, Whitfield (whom I thought was gonna turn out to be Widmore’s ancestor until he bought it) tried to exterminate the surviving slaves, until a certain chittering, rattling black cloud showed up and did the brunt of the exterminating. But the Nemesis scanned the terrified Ricardo and saw a malleable soul ripe for the using. It toyed with him. It let him fester in the hold. It appeared to him as Isabella, telling him he was in hell, then (seemingly) dying again while he looked on in despair. And then, of course, the smiling, smooth-talking Man in Black. I love how actor Titus Welliver is subtly echoing the performance of Terry O’Quinn as Locke. I just feel like the hold sequence lagged a bit, especially since we knew Ricardo doesn’t die. Did we really need the thing with the nail and the wild boar? Just saying.

--(Note: Lost geeks know that the unseen Magnus Hanso is the ancestor of Alvar Hanso, the zillionaire who funded the Dharma Initiative. Which has no relevance to this ep, really, but still.)

--Anyway, the Nemesis told Alpert that he had to kill the devil, and pushed a knife into his hand. “If he speaks, it’s already too late.” Ahhhh, the grand irony! What could Ricardo do? He set out to the beach and found the Statue in ruins, broken by the winds of change. Then he got his ass handed to him by a very un-benevolent Jacob, who was PISSED at this attempt on his life. Hee, I couldn’t help but love Asshole Jacob! I wanna see more of him! However, once Ricardo had basically apologized for being a mope and a tool, Jacob softened and offered the marooned man that nifty cork-and-bottle anthology. I get the sense that we’re not going to get much more of an explanation for the Island’s ultimate purpose, but Jacob made it convincing. And the Statue’s destruction was cool no matter what. See, Ricardo was the first success, the first one whom Jacob was able to truly mold and use. That success led to future successes, and the Others were born...which changed the Island dynamic completely. So you see, the sundering of Taweret represents that shift, that turning point. Break the old ways, bring in a new story. Kinda like, oh, a certain airplane crashing?

--There we have it...the saga of Ricardo, who became Richard Alpert, who kept going because he believed that Jacob had the answers. In the present day, faith ruined again, he prepared to return to the lies of the Nemesis, but dear Isabella had other plans. Using Hurley as her mouthpiece (have I ever mentioned how utterly wonderful and amazing Hurley is?) she rekindled his faith with a love that he could not see or hear, but could most assuredly feel. Was she real? Do the ghosts of loved ones truly follow us, or was the Island itself creating images with its mystic energy? Whatever the case, Richard remains on the side of good. And UnLocke, watching from afar, ain’t happy. Let’s all point and laugh! episode! I think this is the first truly “period” ep Lost has ever done, and I like it. I hear there may be one more of these before the show ends. Cool. In the meantime, we can look at Richard with new eyes and shiver at the final image of the Nemesis symbolically smashing Jacob’s bottle of wine. We can also wish to the Island gods that it was next week already. Because next week features something just as hotly anticipated as the Richard episode: THE SUN/JIN EPISODE. OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lost, Season 6, Episode 8

6.8: Recon

--I am angry with you, show. I forgive you for giving us another episode that was just...passable. I forgive you for bouncing back and forth between two disparate groups of characters to the point where it’s like there’s a whole nother timeline going on. (Timeline EMO?) But I do NOT forgive you for constructing Sawyer’s very last episode with a big, fat, Juliet-shaped void in the middle of it. WHERE THE HELL WAS MY FAVORITE LOST LADY, SHOW? Okay, so maybe you were trying to avoid the expected route, but still. Fail. Charlotte is NO substitute. I want Juliet NOW, and I swear to Taweret, if you make her Jack’s ex-wife in Timeline LAX, I shall kill you. Okay, rant over.

--Sigh, yeah. Fitting that this ep should revisit the Hydra Station, arguably the least popular Lost locale ever. Okay, so the ep wasn’t bad, but it felt kind dumb. So, Sawyer is still a con man who can use his con man powers for good. We learned that much more effectively last season with “LaFleur,” a genuinely awesome Sawyersode. This one was rather redundant, to me at least. The “Recon” of the title refers to reconnaissance, something that UnLocke asked Sawyer to do for him. (Second meaning: “Re-con.”) At the smoke-filled meatsack’s command, Sawyer returned to Hydra Island to feed the polar bears. Uh, I mean, to investigate some mysterious people. After a nostalgic stroll past the bear cages (uh, yeah, sure, I totally bought it that the sexy blouse he once peeled off Kate’s supple torso during their caged lustfuck was STILL THERE. Riiiiiiight.), Sawyer learned that the remaining Ajira folks had been butchered. One more group of redshirts, checked off the list.

--Speaking of which, UnLocke spent the episode playing daddy to redshirts while Kate spent the episode being miserable, with good reason. You know what sucks? When you do a huge favor for a friend, and then said friend suddenly snaps and tries to cut your throat, and a second friend just sits there and passively watches, and then a third friend who died but is still walking around acts all avuncular with you and is really creepy and face-slappy. Kate was confused and wretched, and UnLocke pounced on her weakness with glee and played the poor gal like a flute. I found UnLocke to be the most intriguing thing this week; was it just me, or was he playing Kate and Claire against each other? His treatment of Claire seems geared to make her resent Kate more, and his speech about unbalanced mothers (did we just get actual Nemesis backstory?!) freaked Kate out, as evidenced by her thinly-veiled terror when Claire did a one-eighty into sobby, huggable territory. What if Kate is fooled into thinking that she made a mistake? What if she tries to reclaim Aaron as her own? Probably won’t happen, but still. A dark and intriguing concept.

--So, Sawyer found some Ajira corpses and then ran into, of all people, Tina Fey, who claimed to be a survivor named Zoe but was lying because she was, of course, Tina Fey. Sawyer noted this and deduced that Tina Fey was lying about other stuff. Truth! Yet another brand-new batch of gunmen arrived and marched Sawyer to Widmore’s new encampment, complete with portable sonic barrier, nice! Sawyer spilled the beans to Widmore on UnLocke and offered him UnLocke’s balls on a platter in return for safe passage. Then, con man that he is, he ran back to UnLocke and spilled the beans on Widmore. See, it’s all a plan to sit back while the baddies fight, then nab the sub and make for a non-psychotic part of the world. Nice, Sawyer, nice. Except that I don’t buy it; more on that in a minute. I really am pleased that Tina Fey was able to take some time out from her busy schedule and appear on Lost. Gosh, I hope she gets some good zingers!

--Now onto the pointless flash-sideways. So, in Timeline LAX, Sawyer is a cop, which is admittedly pretty cool; the ep even began with a sneaky scene that rehashed the old briefcase-full-of-money con, but with a far different ending. Only Detective Ford is still keeping secrets, lying to his partner, MILES, then blowing it with his blind date, CHARLOTTE, when she opened the wrong drawer. (Also appearing in this flash-sideways: LIAM! Wait, who’s he again?) Though he found a different outlet for his anger and obsession, he is still driven by that simmering fury that keeps him from pure happiness. Ironic and symbolic, yes, but does it matter? Is this important? When Sawyer confessed the truth to Miles, I just shrugged. I was more concerned with whether or not Sideways Miles can also sense dead people. And when Kate came barging back into Sawyer’s life.....well, thanks, show, for refusing to let something end. I felt like the Kate/Sawyer link was nicely and RIGHTFULLY severed, but now they’re getting cozy again in both timelines. Gee, Sawyer, good thing you forgot all about that other chick, what’s-her-face. Who didn’t even get to appear in Timeline LAX. Dammit, dammit, dammit! I want a Juliet fix NOW or I will go just as crazy as Claire. AAARGH.

--Okay, so, maybe they’re setting Sawyer up for something. (I’m sticking with my theory that he will ultimately be Jacob’s replacement.) See, I have a suspicion that UnLocke knows Sawyer will stab him in the back, and is gonna turn it to his advantage. He knows the kind of man Sawyer is; would he really send Sawyer to Widmore and expect anything else? He’s up to something (I bet he killed the Ajira folks) and Sawyer may have actually been outconned. We’ll find out. Hopefully. If not, then this episode really was kinda filler-y. Sorry, but I was not too impressed. And that, unlike half the dialogue in this ep, is no lie.

--I’m hoping Desmond is behind that locked door in the sub. Who’s with me?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lost, Season 6, Episode 7

6.7: Dr. Linus

--Damn, you know....I was actually touched. This episode actually moved me, emotionally. I was expecting “God hates Ben Linus” and got “God forgives Ben Linus.” And yeah, I know I keep making God references, but you can substitute the word “God” for “Allah” or “Jacob” or whomever you want. I don’t necessarily believe in God, but I do believe that some mysterious higher power is pulling the strings in the Lost universe. And that power forgives Benjamin Linus, because, despite all his lies and schemes and manipulations and murders, he has the ability to hurt, and to love. He’s not without that, and this episode showed him pull himself from the abyss in both timelines. To paraphrase an expression that has huge relevance on this show, the doctor healeth himself.

--Ahhh, the schemes and politics of high school! I thought it was pretty funny, actually, to see Ben as a persnickety history teacher who gets shafted by authority and gripes about it behind authority’s back. I’ve known teachers like that. Denied respect and funding, Ben was convinced he was destined for nothing better than detention duty and derision, but then a lovely blackmail scheme was dumped in his lap by none other than Alex Rousseau, playing the role of a dogged history brain whose mom works two jobs to pay the rent (Ooohh, can’t wait to see Sideways Danielle!) and who needs Yale like a dying man needs water. Ben was faced with a devilish dilemma: he can blackmail his slimy principal and take his job....but the slimy principal, a Yale alum himself, is the one who makes or breaks Alex’s future. Will Ben throw Alex to the wolves in order to better his own ends....JUST LIKE HE DID ON THE ISLAND? The suspense! Tune in to later in this recap!

--The tortured journey of Timeline ANKH Ben began with an OH SHIT moment, as Miles ghost-whispered his way to the truth about Jacob’s death. Ilana did not take it well. And Ilana is a very, very, very scary woman. Even scarier than Sun in full-on passive-aggressive mode. Enraged, Ilana shackled Ben and forced him to dig his own grave, which in other circumstances would be a perfectly appropriate fate for the little weasel. I love how, at the start, Ben was his usual conniving self. He lied. He made excuses. He tried to bribe Miles, tried to cozy up to Frank, and initially fell for the fat Island-shaped carrot that UnLocke dangled before his beaky nose. We were watching a man who could not change, could not break the shell he’d built, and I for one was expecting a tragic death. I was figuring that either A) Ilana would kill Ben after he tried one final, devastating time to weasel his way out, or B) Ben would kill Ilana and give in to his worst impulses. I was ready. We were ready. As Sideways Ben had to choose between failure and moral oblivion, Normalways Ben had to bare his soul or lose it. THE SUSPENSE!

--Know who else is a doctor? Jack. And the physician is ready to heal, it seems. His office? The Black Rock, that mysterious, boat-shaped chunk of major Lost arcana, an improbably jungle-parked slave ship where we’ve already seen the tragic/hilarious death of Leslie Arzt (awesome in Timeline LAX) and the tragic/necessary death of Anthony Cooper. Richard Alpert was determined to add another body to the list: his own. Much like Michael in Season Four, Alpert cannot cause his own death. But, his faith shattered, he hoped Jack would. Only Jack has gotten a dose of Lighthouse Symbology and understands that he can’t die either. Not now. He called Alpert’s bluff, and sure enough, the dynamite did not go kaboom. Faith restored, Mr. Alpert? We shall see. But Jack’s a man who at least knows that he has a role to play, perhaps as a healer, definitely as a leader. And guess who else knows his role?

--Ben, the Redeemed. In Timeline LAX, he did the right thing and chose Alex over blackmail, accepting that he may not have much in life, but it is precious and should not be damaged. He is compassionate. He cared for his cancer-ridden father when another might have tossed him away, remembering his past wrongs. He could have killed Ilana, but instead, he told her the truth. Finally, finally, Ben Linus told the truth. And it hurt. God, how it hurt. You could see it in his eyes. So could Ilana, who did not forgive, but did find the same compassion in her own soul. Folks, Ben’s for real now. No more secrets, I think. He is healed, healed by Ilana’s mercy, Sun’s smile, and the willingness of those around him to let him be. And I am touched.

--I still had to roll my eyes at the final moments. Honestly, I thought Lost had rid itself of the Syrupy Slow-Motion End Montage. But it returned, complete with piano score and Hurley hugs for all. Oy. But I should have known that the final shocker was coming. You see, in the water off the Island is a submarine. In that submarine is Charles Widmore. And Widmore is someone we should probably be very worried about. So, yeah, touched by Ben and all, but......OH SHIT.

--Final note: I will not waste space writing out my hysterical laughter when Miles gave his shout-out to a certain universally-hated pair of wannabe diamond thieves. I saw it coming, but it was no less wonderful. Neither was Miles snarking “Uh-oh!” at Ben when the shit hit the fan. I. LOVE. MILES. And I actually want him to get away with the diamonds, because how awesome would that be? Seriously.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost, Season 6, Episode 6

6.6: Sundown

--I was all set to boycott this episode if they killed off Sun. Seriously. All the hints were there: the ep’s title, the way in which all the characters explosively came together, Darth Sayid and his Knife of Deadly Doom....I was waiting for it, and seriously considering just not doing a recap in protest. But nope, Sun’s okay! Can’t say the same for a bunch of Others, but, eh.

--God, Sayid! I wanna cry for the man. Every Sayid-centric episode for the past, like, four seasons has sent him farther and farther down the path to oblivion. Losing Nadia, working as an assassin, gunning down Young Ben....I thought that last one was as low as Sayid could go, but nope. There is a lower circle of hell, and it comes in the form of a malfunctioning pool and a charismatic Nemesis full of big promises. If God hates John Locke, as I previously suggested, then God must be bloody TERRIFIED of Sayid Jarrah. Somehow, I don’t think he’ll be doing his five daily prayers to Mecca any more.

--Dogen, we barely knew thee. Did I see his death coming? Yeah, I did. The damn baseball sealed the deal. Dogen was all said to end Sayid with his bare hands, and came really close in an AWESOME fight scene that rattled the whole Temple. (Guess if you hire a Japanese superstar, you’re damn well gonna get some martial arts out of him!) But Dogen saw that baseball, and couldn’t bring himself to do the deed. Instead, he got really sneaky. When Claire popped up to demand parley, Dogen sent Sayid to kill UnLocke, knowing that mere knives to not work on a meat puppet filled with evil black smoke. But UnLocke did not kill Sayid. Nope, he looked into the tortured, damaged, fucked-up heart of the man and saw the perfect weapon, even better than Sawyer. Sayid was willing, almost desperate, to be used. And after one last ultimatum to the Others (many of whom took the bait), the Nemesis unleashed his full CG wrath on the Temple and all within. Take THAT, whiny fans who compare the Temple to the Hydra Station!

--Wow....the Fearsome Foursome sure showed up abruptly, didn’t they? I mean, last we saw, they were on the damn beach. I was so sure Miles was gonna die; hell, he split up with Kate! Silly Miles, don’t you know that she’s the only damn character who they won’t kill? I was expected a slasher movie death for the ghost whisperer; instead, we got SunBenIlanaFrank barging in so they could....immediately leave again. Wait, what? That doesn’t make sense! Why couldn’t Miles have escaped the Temple and run into them in the jungle? I don’t get it.

--What I do get -- and LOVE -- was Kate’s sunny, utterly misguided visit with Claire. Oh, how I laughed. I laughed and giggled and pointed my finger at Kate and her toothy, clueless grin as she explained her baby-thievery to a very, very, very unamused Claire. Jesus, how could she not notice the invisible cobras and acid-dipped chainsaws flying from Claire’s eyes? That was about the scariest expression I’ve seen on a human face since UnLocke’s “I wanna go home” demon mask from season premiere. But Claire doesn’t seem content to kill Kate just yet. No, she’s gonna toy with her, like a cat toys with a particularly DERP DE DERP mouse. I am so totally on Claire’s side.

--And then Sayid. Back to Sayid. The flash-sideways gave us a quiet, thoughtful Sayid who pushed his love, Nadia, away from him and into the arms of his brother because he could not get over his monstrous past. And when big bro borrowed money from the wrong people, Sayid went back into the darkness to defend his family....or, more aptly, was pulled back by the bad guys, who turned out to be our favorite Freighter thugs, Keamy and Omar! AWESOME. And even more awesome that Sayid just KILLED them, with almost pitiful ease. Sorry, wannabe evildoers, but you’re dealing with Darth Sayid now. Darth Sayid will fuck you sideways, pun intended. And in the token Holy Shit moment, Sayid discovered Jin, bound and highly unhappy, in Keamy and co’s meat locker. I assume we’ll learn how Jin got from being in trouble at LAX to being in trouble here, but in the meantime....more language barrier jokes. Wheee.

--So Darth Sayid went back to the Temple and proceeded to ruin everyone’s day. All jokes aside, Dogen’s final scene was pretty tragic, mainly because we all knew what was coming. He told the tale of the baseball, how he got his son killed because of his own foolishness (foreshadowed in the last ep’s flash-sideways!) and then saved said son -- and gave him up -- for Jacob and the Island. His story told, Dogen died, drowned by Sayid’s own hand. I’m wondering: would a guy with martial arts skills, who easily bested Sayid earlier, go down that quickly? Did Dogen, on some level, give in to despair? Maybe. But his story is done, and I fear Sayid’s final plunge is just beginning. Now the Temple is purged, and UnLocke has himself a new army of Other recruits, not to mention Darth Sayid, PsychoClaire, a very confused Kate, and apparently Jin, though we didn’t see him. Yep, he’s building an army. So far, he’s winning this war. The good guys had better start scrambling.

--Final note: “Catch a Falling Star” has joined the list of Songs That Are Supposed to Be Lullabies But Are Actually Horrifying.

Final final note: Thank you, episode, for not killing Sun. Don’t kill Jin either.

Final final final note (I promise): Is Sawyer still stuck in that cave? I mean, the ladder to the cave broke, didn’t it? I picture UnLocke turning to smoke and flying off while Sawyer whines, “Son of a BITCH!” and starts desperately looking for some of Jacob’s old Sudokus.