We knew things were going to get bad the minute Keamy died; we just didn't know how soon. The helicopter makes it back to the freighter just as he breathes his last, and that canister of liquid nitrogen is just about to run out. Upon their order Desmond leaves the radio, but for some reason, Jin stays behind, maybe because he doesn't want to leave Michael alone.
They plug the leak, and get Sun and Aaron on, and just as Jin starts running towards the exit, they pull out of the chopper. We then see the most heartbreaking moments on the show as Sun watches as Jin raises to the top of the freighter, and a split second later---- KABOOM!! Yunjin Kim gives the most wrenching performance of her career in this episode, from pure hysteria on the helicopter to a dull shock for much of the present, cold and calculating in the flashforward (I'll get to that in a minute)--- she's always been good, but this was Emmy caliber work.
(A side note, before Michael dies, Christian appears and tells him: "You can go now," leaving us to believe that his work was done. Many couldn't figure out what work he had actually done. Now it seems pretty clear that his job was to stay their long enough to make sure everybody on that helicopter got out alive. All were critical to the island, though we won't see why until the last season. As for him hearing the whispers before died, there was a special irony in that, considering his fate.)
Back on the island, Ben is giving Locke his marching orders, while telling him that it's his job alone to move the island. His job involves destroying part of the Orchid, but as was the case with a lot of the Dharma Initiative work, that was only a shell of what was really there. Ben's last few minutes on the island suddenly make the opening part of Ben's flashforward make more sense. He dons a parka, which rips as he climbs down the ladder into the icy reaches of the island. He falls, injuring his knee. Then he pushes as hard as he can on what seems to be a giant frozen wheel. The energy expended throws him out of a wormhole in Tunisia, where he expels cold air, vomits from the journey, and from then on it's all improvisation.
What does this do? Why, it moves the island. It's still not clear whether he moved in space or just in time, but the overall effect was very close to what we saw when the hatch imploded--- a low buzzing fills the air, and the sky turns purple. And seems to cover a pretty big chunk of real estate--- Daniel and the zodiac raft are somehow pulled in with it, the smaller island goes too and it even seems to reach out to the freighter. The big question is, why didn't it touch people in the helicopter, especially if they were so important to the island? I don't think were ever going to get an answer, even now, and maybe it's far less important to the bigger questions. The consequences are immediate--- the helicopter crashes into the ocean, and somehow they manage to survive a water landing--- Frank is a great pilot, after all. Then, in the darkness, another ship, much smaller comes out to find the life raft floating in the ocean., leading to one of the most powerful moments in television history. For it is Penelope Widmore's boat, and as soon as Desmond hears her voice, he leaps out of the raft to get on board. Charles Widmore said that he was beneath Penny, so it makes sense that she runs down a level, and he climbs one in order for them to meet on level ground. This may have been as close to a happy ending as we may get for this epic love story, and even though I love Henry Ian Cusick, there was a big part of me who hoped and prayed that this was the end of his story. I knew it couldn't be--- Ben has, after all, sworn that he would kill her, and you know this is not a promise he would let go, but I wanted, right up to the end that we get one happy ending on a show that has taken so much from everybody.
After this bit, Jack manages to convince everybody that they need to lie in order to protect their friends. It's still not clear why Jack thought this was necessary--- no one would ever believe them, and Charles Widmore, the only man who knew they were lying wouldn't act. But he does it, saying goodbye to Frank (not knowing that they have another meeting scheduled in the future, and a farewell to Des (ditto) and sails off the island in play out the story of the Oceanic 6.
The truth comes in the flashforwards: Sayid comes to rescue Hurley out of Santa Rosa, where he kills a man watching the asylum, and liberates him, telling him "Bentham is dead. This scares the bejesus out of Hurley, and makes him leave his chess game with Eko (not seen, unfortunately). This would seem to indicated that only Hurley could see them, but he still isn't crazy.
Kate has a dream in which she thinks that Aaron is in danger, only to see Claire standing over his bed, saying: "Don't you dare let him have him." We're still not sure who 'him' is but since Aaron was not brought back to the island, it does seem like it's going to be left mute. Still it's hard to believe Kate would willingly go anywhere
The most compelling flashforward involves Sun. She is in London where she has a meeting with Charles Widmore. She tells him flat out that she's been lying to the rest of the world, that they have mutual interests, and most mysteriously--- "we're not the only ones who left the island." That would seem to imply that she knew that Ben was off the island, but why would she want to make a deal with Widmore anyway. Either she considers him the other man responsible for the death of her husband, or Ben is, but neither approach would seem to facilitate making a deal with the devil. Then again, Sun has the least reason to lie.
And then poor Jack returns to the funeral home to see Bentham, and there he encounters the devil himself--- Ben. He tells Ben that things have been going wrong on the island, and that he had to come back. Ben then tell him that the island won't let him come alone --- they all have to go. What is important to understand is that's probably true, but Ben doesn't care about that. What he cares about is him coming back to the island, and if he has to maneuver everyone of the Oceanic 6 to get there--- he'll do it. And considering what he has already done to the man in the coffin--- John Locke, we know how ruthless he is willing to be. But even he doesn't understand the repercussions of what he's going to do.
As Season 4 ended, it seemed clear that the surviving passengers of Oceanic 815--- those still on the island and those back home--- are all part of a much larger game. At the time we thought that the players in this game were Ben and Charles Widmore --- the last scene of 'The Shape of Things to Come' certainly seemed to imply that, and later episodes in the series would follow that idea. What we didn't realize is that Ben and Widmore would appear to be pieces as well--- bishops and castles instead of pawns, perhaps The island has plans for all of them, and it seems that not even death can stand between them and what the island wants. At this time, it was hard to imagine what the series could do next, considering the flashbacks and flashforwards had been exhausted. As usual, I had been underestimating Cuse and Lindelof.
This episode puts the end on what has been one of the most explosive seasons of the show so far, but as we can tell, the island itself hadn't even begun to reveal all of it's secrets. We've gone pretty far from home, but next season the island itself will put itself front and center. As we close in on the end, it's getting close to being epic.