My overall experience with the Lost season 3 finale was strangely metamorphic. While I was watching, I was entranced. Saying or thinking "wha?!" got so repetitive that by the end I was numb to it. "Ben knows they're going to the tower!...oh, he's only taking Alex along with him." "Charlie's been captured!...oh, Desmond came in to save him." "Sayid's dead!...oh, it was faked." "Sawyer and Juliet are going to ambush the Others without weapons!...oh, Hurley just drove a VW van in." "Whoa, according to the flashback Jack and Kate met before the plan crash!...this flashback takes place in the future when they're off the island!!!" Okay, that last one doesn't fit the pattern.
Oddly enough, maybe the biggest surprise for me was that Naomi was not sent by Penelope Widmore. From the previous episode, Desmond's premonition of Claire getting into a helicopter had already tipped me to the "one or more of them will be rescued" reveal. Ditto for Charlie's bucket-kick, of course. And regardless of what else would happen, I think pretty much everybody had assumed Locke would survive (but recovering so much in so short a timespan was literally incredible). The "who does Naomi work for?" question is the next Big Question for me. That, and "when will another woman show up with an English accent?" because it excites me to an unwholesome degree.
Then again, Lost needs more mysteries like web browsers and email clients need more security holes. The next time Walt appears out of nowhere, someone needs to put a leash on him or hang a bell around his neck, before demanding some answers. Remember back to first season, when Locke said "Walt, do you want to know a secret?" (immediately prior to the shot cutting away) and when Locke appeared to take a special interest in spending time with Walt, teaching him certain skills like throwing knives into trees? Did you notice Ben saying the word "temple" in this episode? Have you noticed Richard closely interacting with Ben, both in Ben's flashback story and in the present? A fixed timeline for the remaining episodes is a good thing, because the important Secrets can be systematically exposed rather than kept hidden to protect the show's lifeblood.
People may complain, or even stop watching, because the events on screen aren't perfectly clear. Those people shouldn't be watching Lost because they don't appreciate it for what it is. You know how life is often mysterious, its answers are often ambiguous, and each step forward leads to new challenges? Lost is sorta like that, if you hadn't noticed. Patience and contentment with not having absolute knowledge are two essential skills. As I keep repeating, fictional shows can be escapist in some ways but in other ways all too relevant to be comfortable.
Enough of that thinking stuff. How about those beat-downs? Jack letting loose on Ben (I couldn't help comparing it to when Jack was advocating restraint in interrogating "Henry Gale" in season two), exploding tents, someone getting hit with a van, etc. The action quota almost shamed 24. Two people deserve to be singled out. As Sayid was sitting down, arms bound, he destroyed someone using his legs. Close to Bauer-worthy, if not there - I can't recall if Bauer has performed that move or something similar.
Then there's Mikhail, who has been remarkably visible in the later part of the season. The guy's so nuts, even Ben couldn't help muttering "don't shoot us" as he approached Mikhail's place. The eyepatch seemed to be a bit much at first, but I think he since proved that he's the eyepatch type. Convincing him to shoot his comrades is a pretty easy task, isn't it? I wouldn't want to share bunks with him. One would think the wound he sustained in this episode would stop him, but there he was at the end, using a grenade to flood the underwater station. If Ben is Lost's king of creepy, Mikhail was Lost's king of berserk. It's unfortunate he killed Greta, played by Lana Parrilla, who I wanted to see much more of. Lana was in season four of 24, by the way, as a CTU desk person who didn't last the entire time.
I'm aware not all episodes can be season finales and openers. But nevertheless, here's hoping the story arcs of season four progress with more rapidity and steadiness than those of season three. Also, here's hoping Jack won't have to act through a beard again for a long time.