Wednesday, April 14, 2010

“In a World of Conflict and Strife, There is But One Fact We All Can Agree Upon: Everybody Loves Hugo.”

Everybody Loves Hugo. Well, how could we not? And there was so much to love about this episode celebrating LOST‘s incredibly huggable fellow, starting with that epic slideshow narrated by Dr. Chang and featuring Jorge Garcia’s exuberant Chihuahua Nunu. Lillian Hurst was back full-force as Hurley’s doting but disapproving mom, and as usual she was a comedic tour de force. Though she was only in one scene, she made quite an impression. Poor Hurley; Carmen is gonna be nagging him to get a girlfriend no matter how successful he is. It’s a mom thing.

I made a few deductions from the early portion of the episode that may or may not be true. There was no mention of David Reyes in the episode, which suggests to me that he is not a part of their life, especially since Carmen is so cranky; she seemed to mellow out a bit after he came home. She did mention Tito, however, and I got the impression from the context that Hurley’s grandpa is still very much alive, and possibly partly responsible for this fix-up. So win some, lose some, I guess. He also apparently lacks his nickname.

Additionally, there was no mention of how Hurley acquired his money. I almost forgot that he mentioned winning the lottery back in LA X. But he’d never been in a mental hospital before, so he didn’t play the numbers that he heard from Leonard. He also wasn’t partly responsible for a deck accident that killed two people. Except for his father’s absence - which isn’t even a sure thing - his life has been much happier, and his money, far from cursing him, has simply allowed him to share happiness with others, which is what he always wanted.

It was good to see Libby again, even if it was in the Sideways world, which means we haven’t really learned anything about her Island incarnation. Hurley and Libby was a relationship that was never really allowed to develop; this episode made me appreciate the sweetness of their friendship more than ever before. It felt like they were just picking up where they left off, to the tune of some of the loveliest variations on Hurley’s theme music Michael Giacchino has ever given us. This time, Libby was the one whose sanity was in question, but in both cases, Hugo found it hard to believe that someone like her could actually like someone like him, and a kiss had to bring him to his senses. Lovely.

Before this episode, I had the sense that Hugo probably was attuned, which was the same sense I got from Desmond on the plane. But despite his general serenity and helpfulness, he was completely unaware of the Island world. All Libby had to do was see him on TV; the memories didn’t come back to Hugo until they kissed. Also, I watched the episode three times, and I didn’t see a mirror moment. Did I just miss it?

Hugo at the Chicken Shack was the surliest I can ever remember seeing him - and boy, can he go through the chicken! It was weird to see him barking at Desmond - and at the cheery cashier played by none other than Neil from Freaks and Geeks. Very brief appearance, but I got a kick out of it. Can’t you just imagine Hurley hanging out with Neil, Sam and Bill, talking Star Wars and Steve Martin? His age isn’t quite right, but on a show with so many temporal anomalies, I can overlook that...

I’ve always found the Santa Rosa doctor slightly creepy, but when your main sympathies are with the patient I guess that makes sense. There’s really no reason to think badly of him, especially since in this episode he did allow Hugo to see Libby. Because Hugo bought him off, but still... it isn’t as though he knew she wasn’t crazy and that’s why he was keeping her away from him. I don’t think. Though it was odd to see that massive island picture in his office...

Sideways Desmond continues to be incredibly smooth, gliding around town in his slick jacket and Bono-cool shades. I loved his conversation with Hurley, his jocular camaraderie, his subtle way of guiding the conversation in the direction he wanted. He had, of course, been waiting for him, though one wonders if he’s spent the past several days hanging around Mr. Cluck’s hoping the boss might show up. Or did he follow him there? Either way, Desmond seems to have a very odd knowledge of where people will be and when. Or he’s just really good at spying on people. I would think it would have been even harder to find John.

In any event, this incarnation of Desmond is charismatic and purpose-driven, rather like the Desmond who advised Jack back in Island world. He’s also a little unsettling. I got a smile out of him pushing his glasses up with a “job well done” expression as he observed Hurley’s consciousness breakthrough, but it also seemed a tad voyeuristic. No wonder Dr. Benjamin “Perv Police” Linus tapped on his window with that stern Professor McGonagall expression. He thought he was up to no good. But he had no idea just what sort of no-good he was up to. At least Ben was right there on hand to run to John’s rescue, even if they’re not quite on first-name terms yet. Speaking of names, did Desmond know his son's name before that moment, or did it just come to him, like "Aaron" did to Claire? Or did he just say the first name that popped into his mind - the name of the man responsible, in this world as in Island world, for setting him on the path that led to Penny?

One wonders how Desmond can continue with his mission now that he’s wanted for attempted vehicular homicide. Methinks his job just got a lot harder. Also: Hugo got off really easy. All he had to do was kiss the girl of his dreams. John had to go through yet another near-lethal accident. What made Desmond so sure he would even survive it? But survive it he did, it seems, and in his eyes is the glint of revelation. Might there be a mind-body connection that will allow Sideways John to begin to regain use of his legs?

It’s appropriate that Desmond did something horrible (albeit probably enlightening) to John in the same episode in which “John” did something horrible (albeit possibly enlightening) to Desmond. I’m certain that Sideways Desmond’s intention was to make John aware of his other self; I’m equally certain that Smokey merely meant to get Desmond out of the way. (I noticed that Desmond, unlike everybody else that we’ve seen, actually took the hand Smokey offered him. Did that give him license to physically harm him?) I don’t believe that falling in the well is going to kill Desmond, and I think he may just find an answer or two down there, even though those who dug it didn’t.

Desmond is such a happy little zombie on the Island, so different from grouchy zombie Sayid. He’s so eerily unflappable, always with a smile on his face, always with a calm, wise response to Smokey’s questions. He seemed very surprised when Desmond serenely said, “Of course. You’re John Locke.” Does he really think that? I don’t suppose anyone told him otherwise, and John and Desmond were friends. Desmond was being entirely cooperative, so was it really necessary for Smokey to dispose of him?

Well, yes, I suppose he was still a liability. But when he asked why he wasn’t afraid of being out alone in the jungle with him, did Desmond realize at that point that he wasn’t dealing with John Locke? Crumpled at the bottom of the well, is he just thinking Locke went nuts? That’s certainly happened before. Both Sayid and Desmond noted the pointlessness of a particular course of action. Sayid said he didn’t see the point in killing Widmore’s goons; Desmond queried, “What’s the point in being afraid?” Of course, the point in being afraid is that it puts you on your guard so that you are just as aware as everybody watching at home that “John Locke” is about to throw you down a well. But there’s a curious sort of detachment evident in both Sayid and Desmond now, it’s just manifested in different ways.

Hurley stepped up into a leadership position again this week. He’d been kinda laying low since Ab Aeterno. I thought that after their profound shared experience, Richard and Hurley would be very much on the same page. I certainly didn’t think they’d form separate factions. But Richard has a one-track mind: blow stuff up. Isabella didn’t give him specific instructions, but just as Taller Ghost Walt’s ambiguous advice inspired John to knife Naomi, Isabella’s “You have to stop the Man in Black” made Richard want to take drastic action. Jacob assured Ilana that Ricardus would know what to do, but he’s just making it up as he goes along. “Jacob isn’t telling us what to do because Jacob never tells us what to do,” Richard says pointedly, calling Hurley’s bluff. Jacob, now would be a good time for you to show up.

I really thought he and Hurley might have a chat tonight, though I could tell that Hurley was making it up when he played the Jacob card. His name has been invoked on many occasions by everyone from Richard and Ben, but genuine intervention is pretty rare. I also found it interesting that Hurley revealed he had never spoken to Ghost Libby. Initially that was what I figured, given AnaLucia’s “Libby says hi,” but since Hurley mentioned her to Jacob in the cab I wasn’t sure. We did get a conversation with a ghost, however, and that was Michael.

This visitation seemed slightly different from the others. For instance, there were the Whispers. Have Whispers ever accompanied another appearance of a ghost to Hurley? Not that I recall. Is it possible that Michael is in some way bound to Smokey? Also: After all this time, it appears that we’re being told that the Island is Purgatory after all... While I don’t think Michael intended to harm Hurley and the others and I definitely believe his remorse was genuine, it seems awfully convenient that after Michael’s nudge, Smokey wound up with everybody he needed walking right into camp. Well, everybody save Jin, and he’s not exactly a sure thing. Of course, just because they’re all together now doesn’t mean that the three remaining Candidates will go with him. I think Sun could possibly be swayed, but I can’t see him snagging Jack or Hurley. As for Frank, I think he will be flying that airplane in the finale. I don’t know who will be on board, but I feel fairly confident it won’t be Smokey. And it probably won’t be Richard, either. I share his sentiments that Jack shouldn’t have promised Sun she could leave on the plane, but then Jack does have a habit of making promises he’s ill-equipped to keep.

Jack, who has demonstrated such faith throughout the season and who once again let Hurley take the lead tonight, even though he could tell that he wasn’t speaking on Jacob’s behalf. Jack trusts Hurley, and indeed, if there’s one person on the show I would be most likely to trust, it would be Hurley. Jack trusts him more than Hurley trusts himself, but it turns out our burly buddy can be very authoritative when the occasion calls for it - say, when he’s cutting Richard down to size or setting negotiation terms with Smokey. It will be very interesting to see how both Hurley and Jack handle this confrontation with their smooth-talking nemesis. Also, Jack and Claire are about to reunite at last, and Jack can finally tell her about their familial connection. How might that shake things up?

The biggest shock of the episode when Ilana getting blown to smithereens. I suppose I should have seen it coming. She was being entirely too cavalier with those sticks of dynamite, and I recall saying something to that effect, worrying that somebody was going to get hurt. But I honestly thought that Ilana was too important to pull an Arzt. I thought we might even get a full-fledged flashback for her. I did not expect her to go up in flames with a sudden ferocity that made me do a triple-take to be sure of what I just witnessed. The Black Rock was less shocking; Hurley definitely had an up-to-something air about him when he changed course, and when he was absent as Richard was giving his instructions, I had a pretty good idea that he was off detonating massive quantities of dynamite. But Ilana?

It all happened so quickly, while Ben’s chilling reflection unfolded slowly, allowing us to turn each unsettling word over in our minds. “Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? Ilana, there she was, hand-picked by Jacob, trained to come and protect you Candidates. No sooner does she tell you who you are than she blows up. The Island was done with her. Makes me wonder what’s gonna happen when it’s done with us.” Ben’s faith seems to have been shaken. By the end of the episode, he’s back together with Richard, along with Miles, embarking on a plan of attack that could conceivably lead away from redemption. But I’m counting on LOST not giving me that kind of whiplash.

Mysterious Jungle Boy reappeared tonight, looking more impish than before and much older. While he certainly looks like the same child, his appearance is markedly different, particularly his darker hair, and there was a strange Peter Pan-ish gleam in his eye tonight. Last time he seemed there to scold, this time to gloat, a habit of Jacob’s that Smokey despises. This child seems more and more likely to be Jacob himself, though it’s unclear why some can see him and some can’t and how his ghost fits into all of this. Hurley took his remains with him when they left the camp, but has Jacob already risen from the ashes, to be fully revealed next week in fulfillment of Doc Jensen’s Easter prediction?

The preview for next week’s episode was disorienting and terrifying. That scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory remains one of the scariest I’ve ever seen. I haven’t studied the preview too closely to try to figure out what might be coming; I don’t mind flying mostly blind. I do have a title: The Last Recruit. My thought was that this might refer to Jin, who is the only one missing from Smokey’s camp, and certainly he could be Desmond’s last recruit as well. But I’ve been informed that it will instead focus on Jack, which I find rather curious. Since Jack is already in Smokey’s camp, the implication I get from this is that Jack is the final holdout, the one person he has to wear down. Don’t know if I buy that, though; I really cannot imagine Hurley caving.

Sideways World makes more sense; this could be his chance to operate on John and perform his miracle surgery, and as the Man of Science and the Man of Faith meet, their roles now apparently reversed, he too will have a revelatory moment. At least, that’s one possibility. We may also find out who David’s mother is. And can we get a repeat performance from Daniel? Pretty please? Anyway, the next two episodes have companion titles if ever I heard them, and the one after that is downright alarming.

The second-to-last episode is the only one whose title I haven’t seen; I think I read somewhere that the name alone is mind-blowing, which is intriguing indeed. I have no idea what that title might be, but I hope the contents include Walt, Aaron, Rose, Bernard, Vincent, Jacob and, at long last, Smokey with his proper name. Just a few suggestions. And I hope it doesn’t get too oppressively depressing for me. All of the actors seem to be promising heartache. Troubling... Here’s hoping for more Picnics on the Beach and fewer Exploding Good Guys.

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