One of the more humorous conversations in season one of Lost took place just after Jack had his first encounter with the smoke monster. It went something like this:
Hurley: Was it a dinosaur? Jack: It wasn’t a dinosaur. Hurley: You say you didn’t see it. Jack: I didn’t. Hurley: So how do you know it wasn’t a dinosaur? Jack: Because dinosaurs are extinct.
So it was even funnier last night when the paleontology wing of an L.A. museum, the workplace of Dr. Pierre Chang (Miles Straume’s dad), was dedicated to Hugo “Hurley” Reyes (Jorge Garcia), for his large financial contributions. He left the celebratory banquet, his man-of-the-hour moment, carrying a tyrannosaur-shaped plaque.
And much of last night’s episode, “Everybody Loves Hugo,” played out like that. We all know that Hurley is the comic book-enthusiast of the show, so a lot of his story lines hold comic book-type action. The Lost writers are doing that often this season, if they only hinted at it before. Take a look at what piece of art or culture, whether it’s a book or something else, each character identifies with most. For Sawyer, it’s Of Mice and Men. For Desmond, it’s Charles Dickens novels, specifically, Our Mutual Friend. Examine these works and then look at the characters’ story lines. You might find some similarities.
It isn’t really all that different in “real life” (that’s right, the world that exists outside of Lost that we’ve all forgotten about). We all live by our own myths. What we are most attracted to and interested in skews the way we view the world. We are all our own heroes, on our own personal journeys.
Hurley’s just happens to involve ultra-rich people who win the lottery, crazy lost islands, giant smoke monsters, time travel, talking to dead people, mental institutions, mysterious numbers, blowing up giant pirate ships, battles of good and evil and dinosaurs. Oh, and guys who can travel to different dimensions and visit you in a fried chicken restaurant.
Unfortunately, enjoying a comic book does require a tremendous suspension of disbelief, and I think that caused some problems with the plot last night. But let’s put that critique aside for now and discuss the major reveal of the episode: Holy crap, dead people are stuck on the island???!!!
Of all the questions finding answers this season, the writers have still managed to introduce infuriatingly confusing new mysteries. In a very important scene – one of five such scenes that made the episode – the ghost of Michael Dawson (Harold Perrineau) visited Hurley and told him that people who die on the island after doing bad things get stuck there. That they can’t “move on.”
After watching something like that, the viewer has to make a judgment call, much like with many of the scenes involving ambiguously good or evil “deities” this season: Is Michael what he appears to be? Is it really Michael? Is he telling the truth?
The writers want viewers to follow Sideways Desmond’s advice for something like this: “Follow your gut.” Of course, that might be easier for Hurley, the direct recipient of his advice, than it is for the rest of us. For several reasons.
Is it possible that Michael was just the Man In Black in disguise, trying to manipulate Hurley? If so, it worked tremendously well. But we still don’t know if MIB is capable of taking on other forms while inhabiting Locke’s corpse.
And trying to figure this out is, as I mentioned, infuriatingly confusing.
One thing that makes Michael’s explanation of his whereabouts seem odd is that he is the first dead person who’s spoken to Hurley on the island who could be seen as a “sinner.” And he gives the impression that all the dead people stuck there have also done bad things.
But Hurley has talked to other spirits on the island who, from what we can tell, are intrinsically good, such as Jacob and Isabella. And, when you consider the spirits Hurley’s chatted with in his off-island life, you get people like Charlie, Eko and Ana Lucia. We all know Charlie made a great sacrifice for the island, so it makes sense that his spirit would not be trapped there. But Ana Lucia was a murderer. Eko was a drug dealer and a murderer. And you can’t say their repentance before their deaths makes a difference, because Michael also repented. When he boarded the freighter under the alias Kevin Johnson, he sacrificed his life for his friends. Until that point, he had been suicidal because of his guilt (even though he was incapable of killing himself, a la Richard).
Plus, think of all the people who’ve died on the island and really did do bad things. Like the freighter goons. Hurley hasn’t seen them at all.
All these clues point to the Man In Black, the master manipulator. But they still don’t explain how he could inhabit one body and throw himself around like a hologram at the same time. There’s also a good chance those whispers are not dead people, as Michael confirmed, but those little forest nymphs, the children Flocke keeps running into and ignoring. But more on that later.
When Michael visited Hurley in the island graveyard, his message was frantic. He told him that he shouldn’t blow up the Ajira plane or a lot of people would die and it would be his fault. When Hurley wondered why Michael would tell him that, Michael explained, “Because people listen to you now, Hurley!”
He had a point. Hurley is only one of a long line of castaways whose personalities have changed since landing on the island. Nobody used to really listen to Hurley. He was a good-time, fun guy; his major contributions to the castaways’ lives included creating a golf course and finding a van from the 1970s filled with beer.
But as the series has progressed, Hurley has become a leader. Characters are more willing to believe in his ability to talk to dead people, when before he was just considered insane. And Jack made a major leap last night, too. He had already promised Sun that he would get both her and Jin off the island and he knew that blowing up the plane might prevent that (neither he nor Hurley knew about the existence of the submarine). But then Jack decided to blindly follow Hurley, saying how he used to be a fixer but he’s now decided to “let go.” The same words of advice Christian gave him on numerous occasions.
Other characters who are acting differently? Ben. He used to mainly manipulate people, but since his experience with island redemption, he’s started telling the truth, in a helpful way. And since Richard’s experience with island redemption, he’s shifted from being just a guide to being a man of action.
Last night’s Sideways story line wasn’t much different than any of the others so far. When Sideways Hurley found love, he also found closure. The island story line wasn’t vastly different, either (although those are getting darker and darker every week).
What was different was that many of the plot points just didn’t gel very well and probably made viewers feel like it was kind of an “eh” episode. The writers are trying to answer so many questions while still adding to existing mysteries that they sometimes neglect to write believable dialogue (as mentioned earlier, it’s also a side effect of the comic book-style storytelling in this episode).
For example, who had a hard time staying focused on that scene where Hurley “pretended” to talk to Jacob? And why is Richard so dead-set on blowing up the airplane? It wasn’t something Jacob told him to do. It was his own idea. And if Richard knew he was the only one the dynamite would not harm (with the exception of possibly Jack), why would he let anyone else handle it?
Ilana’s death was beyond shocking. Here was someone who trained her whole life for something, who was largely guided by faith, and then died in such a frivolous way. And yet, while her death might seem meaningless and tragic, as Ben pointed out, she did serve as a very powerful example for all the candidates. Despite Jacob’s ability to guide, he can’t completely protect everyone. Ilana’s purpose was to tell them Jacob selected them as candidates and then show them what not to do, that they must be careful or they might meet a similar demise.
And here’s another plot problem: Why would Hurley, someone with firsthand knowledge of how unstable the dynamite is (see Dr. Arzt), try to set it off himself and blow up the Black Rock? Anyone wonder how he could survive that explosion? No way could he run away fast enough. His survival had to have something to do with his candidate status.
In the Sideways reality, did it make any sense to you that Hurley would continue to see Libby after she told him that not only did she remember him from the island, but she also remembered him being in the hospital with her previously? In another life? The average person would be seriously weirded out by that.
A lot of those scenes between those two provided a nice wrap-up to the Libby story, but while we now know why Libby is in the mental hospital in the Sideways world, we still don’t know why she was there (with Hurley) in the original reality. Was she having “reality” problems then? Also, that part about how she could leave the hospital whenever she wanted was definitely baffling. If that was the case, then why did her doctor physically remove her from Hurley’s presence in the restaurant?
The ending seemed to make up for these issues, however, because it was just plain creepy. When the Man In Black found Desmond and then realized that the Scotsman mistook him for John Locke, he altered his voice to sound more like the real John Locke and gain Desmond’s trust. Terry O’Quinn’s John Locke voice is always a bit more nervous than his MIB one. He emphasizes his consonants more. It’s fascinating how he can make those subtle changes as an actor. And as for not-so-subtle changes, why is Desmond suddenly acting so calm and content? Did the electromagnetic energy generator truly fry his brain?
Or is he acting like that because he’s remembering experiences from the Sideways reality in his dreams, as alluded to last week? Why is he so much of a threat to the Man In Black that he’d have to get tossed down a well (and who didn’t see that one coming)? Is it possible that Charles Widmore knew that would happen and somehow Desmond’s electromagnetic activity within his body would blend with the electromagnetic pocket he was tossed into? Maybe MIB just did Widmore’s work for him? It certainly sounded like Desmond would end up sacrificing his life, one way or another.
What did you all make of Sideways Desmond (so far, on a seemingly peacemaking mission) ramming his car into a cripple? Notice how Sideways Locke landed on the ground in a very similar way to how he landed on the beach, when Flight 815 crashed on the island. It doesn’t seem likely that he’ll wake up able to walk this time. But maybe he’ll meet Sideways Jack again, once he’s in the hospital.
The real question is, did Sideways Desmond do this to him because it was the best way to get Locke to remember his island identity? Or did S-Des do it because his memories of the island come to him in flashes and they get blurred sometimes … and he mistakenly thought it was the real John Locke who threw him down that well. In other words, this was retribution.
I just hope Sayid doesn’t shoot him next week. The eerie, Willy Wonka-soundtracked preview seemed to forecast that. The island surely must have more use for Desmond than that.
Even more eerie: What’s going to happen between Jack and Flocke? When Hurley showed up with Jack, Sun and Lapidus trailing behind him, Flocke only said hello to Jack. Is Jack the “last recruit”? He’s the only one Flocke/Man In Black has not yet tried to persuade to help him off the island.
And even eerier: those little boys running around the island! Why is the Man In Black so unnerved by them? Why was he surprised when people like Sawyer and Desmond could see them? Are they both versions of Jacob, at different ages? Why are they dressed identically?