This season of “Lost” has been one of the best (if not the best) in the history of the series. The season finale? Not so much. While we’ve been hearing for weeks that the finale would prove to be a game changer – prompting many to even wonder how the show could go on – I just don’t see how anyone could come to that conclusion. Was tonight’s finale really better than the flash-forward of Season Three? Hardly, and though it may have changed the series more than we think, we still won’t know anything until Season Six starts up in 2010. After all, the show may have ended with a literal bang, but it felt more like a whimper with that fade to white.

Tonight’s episode also had way too much going on for me to even attempt my usual format, so instead, I’ve decided to break my recap down into more general ideas so that I can discuss each one in a little more depth. Hopefully it’s not too difficult to follow along and will make it easier for commenters to address certain topics without having to go into too much detail. I apologize in advance if it does the complete opposite.

1. Jacob – He certainly wasn’t at the top of my list of questions I was eager to see answered, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed by the lack of explanation we received for Jacob. Apart from the fact that we know he has some kind of magical power (including Richard Alpert-like immortality and the ability heal), Jacob remains shrouded in mystery. Oh yeah, and now that Locke’s convinced Ben to kill him, we may never find out who he really is, where he’s from, and how he was able to leave the island so frequently throughout the last 30 years. Which brings me to…

2. Jacob’s Flashbacks – Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have always had fun trying to connect each character to one another, so it was cool to see Jacob pop up throughout the Losties’ history. Even more important, however, was that he seemed to always do so during a crucial moment in their lives. Okay, so I’m not exactly sure what significance paying for a stolen New Kids on the Block lunchbox has for Kate, but the others all made perfect sense. The funeral of Sawyer’s parents; the death of Sayid’s true love; Sun and Jin’s wedding; and the list goes on and on. The most important of the bunch, however, is Locke’s crippling fall from the apartment building. Many people called in to question how someone could possibly survive such a fall around the time that original episode aired, and now we know the answer – Jacob revived him. Which brings me back to my first point: just who the hell is Jacob?

3. Rose, Bernard and Vincent – The writers have been promising all season that we’d eventually get to see what happened to the beloved secondary characters, and as it turns out, they’ve been time jumping with the rest of the survivors all this time. That was pretty much a given, but the fact that they were able to do so without anyone the wiser is pretty impressive. Apparently, they’ve not only decided to retire in a nice beach house since the “flaming arrows three years ago,” but they’ve also become hippies in the process. I could have done without the whole “All We Need Is Love” speech that Bernard delivered, but seeing as this is probably the last time we’ll ever see him or Rose again, it was an admirable send-off for a couple that could have easily been excised from the series after Season Three.

4. The Hydrogen Bomb – We all knew this was going to play a big role in tonight’s finale, and though it didn’t really change as much as some of us might have expected, it was still the most entertaining part of the episode. Everyone had a hand in the execution of getting the bomb from the tunnels to the Swan station – from Sayid’s removal of the plutonium core (thanks Faraday) to Juliet’s last gasp detonation of the bomb. Granted, Jack played the biggest role of all, but I shudder to think what he may have caused by doing so. In fact, Miles was the only person to even question the possibility that Jack could be the cause of the titular incident, and while I don’t think that’s true, he’s done much worse, directly affecting the (potential) deaths of Sayid (who was shot by Roger of all people) and Juliet. Of course, what if Jack’s plan really works and the explosion does negate the Oceanic 815 crash? If the Losties truly are connected and destined to come to the island, won’t it just happen some other way?

5. Jack vs. Sawyer – I’m not certain how many times these two guys have tussled (if anyone’s keeping count, I’d honestly like to know), but tonight’s brawl had to be one of the best. Between his fight with Sawyer and the blood from Sayid’s gunshot wound, Jack looked like he’d just walked out of a horror movie. The guy was drenched in blood, had just gotten his head smashed in by a rock and a tree branch, and yet he still was able to sharp shoot his way through the Dharma defenses at the Swan. Very impressive, Dr. Shephard, but that doesn’t make your death any less inevitable.

6. Juliet’s Death – Juliet, on the other hand, needs to survive, because if she doesn’t, the show will likely slip back into Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triangle mode, which as we all know, was one of the major reasons why the first half of Season Three sucked. It’s not likely that she will, however, after being getting caught in a chain and pulled into the hole by the electromagnet, but a guy can dream, can’t he? Juliet is easily one of the show’s best characters (you know, like Charlie and Faraday – oh shit), and it would be a shame to see her go, even if there only is one season left.

7. Locke’s Doppelganger – I saved the best for last, despite the fact that I still don’t exactly know how it happened or how it necessarily changes things. All I know is that when Locke was inside the four-toed statue speaking to Jacob, and then Ilyana opened that giant box on the outside to reveal Locke’s dead body to Richard and the rest of the Others, my jaw dropped to the ground like an old Looney Toons cartoon. There are now two John Lockes wandering around the island, and get this, they’re both legit. Jacob congratulated him on finding a loophole, but just what exactly is he talking about? If Locke never returned from the dead like we assumed, how did he get back to the island, and from what time period does he hail? The only possible explanation I can think of is that New Locke is actually the smoke monster in disguise, and that the smoke monster was also Jacob’s “friend” from the beginning when they saw the Black Rock approaching. It’s definitely a theory in progress, but it’s worth thinking about as you construct your own opinions about the episode.

Now begins the long wait to 2010. With the series coming to a close next year, it’ll be interesting to see just what kind of endgame the “Lost” writers have planned. The door is certainly open for a number of possibilities, so feel free to unload any theories (along with any thoughts, comments or complaints about the finale) below. Was tonight’s episode as big of a letdown for you as it was for me, or was it the perfect topper to a near-perfect season?