As we walked over to Cyrus's house to watch Lost after a big boisterous group showing of The Office, I said to the GF [paraphrased], 'Here's what's gonna happen. Lost is gonna absolutely suck, it'll be all setup, I'll be totally unsatisfied with the cliffhanger, and I'll complain loudly about it even though I know what's gonna happen, because all I wanna do is talk about The Office and how extraordinary that episode was. I'm dying inside with how awesome that episode was.'
I was wrong. Lost was as good as it's been all year (the bar is lower for Lost, as for a mentally challenged child - any achievement seems great). In fact it was out'n'out riveting, compressing several episodes' worth of plot into 42 charged-up minutes. As usual you had your stupid bits; for once they were outweighed by concision and momentum.
All of which would be a bigger deal if The Office hadn't been a mould-breaker in its own right: an entire season's worth of plotlines closed out or dismissed entirely, a revelation every couple of minutes, a big Season Five story arc setup for all the major characters. The last few weeks have ranked up there with the best of the show's run - with the British Office in fact - and this episode paid it all off, careening between satisfying climaxes (that pre-credits tag! Damn!) and shocking anticlimaxes (Michael and the HR lady, and sweet Jesus Jim and Pam...). I was worried, at first, that Season Four would be disjointed, too random, too sentimental. In the end it was none of those things; indeed the finale was as strong a dramatic showcase (especially for Steve Carrell, maybe the best actor on TV right now) as anything Greg Daniels and company have written. The tight-lipped desperation of Season One was there, in slightly different form; the romantic sweep of Season Three was there, subverted. For my money Toby's farewell was better, all around, than 'Casino Night' (the Season Two finale, which of course ended with The Kiss).
It was - and it's been a long time since this could be said of a Thursday - just a great night of television all around. And I'm already looking forward to the next Lost, two weeks from now. What was the last time that could be said? Two years ago?