April 20, 2010

LOST S6E12: Everybody Loves Hugo

Filed under: Lost,TV — DB @ 3:49 pm

This episode’s title, in addition to invoking Ray Romano, recalls the Season Two episode Everybody Hates Hugo. This time around, off-island Hurley is not cursed by his lottery numbers, but is happy and celebrated as a generous philanthropist who has used his fortune as owner of the world-famous Mr. Cluck’s Chicken to support all manner of charitable causes. The episode begins with Dr. Chang speaking at a benefit dinner honoring Hurley as Man of the Year for his donation of a new Paleontology wing to Chang’s (and Charlotte’s) museum. But as he leaves the ceremony with his mother, she complains that he needs a woman in his life and tells him that she’s set up a blind lunch date for him with the daughter of a neighbor.

She delivers the message with her typical hilarious, tough love chutzpah. In case this is the last time we see her, let’s acknowledge how great she’s been every time she’s showed up. I toast you, Lillian Hurst! I wish Cheech Marin had made it on as Hurley’s dad, but we can’t have everything.

Hurley sits alone at a restaurant awaiting his lunch date’s arrival when a woman approaches and says, “Hugo?” He looks up and sees Libby. A little floored by how pretty she is, he invites her to sit down, thinking she’s his date. She says she’s not his date; she saw him and had to come talk to him. She takes his hands and asks if he believes people can be connected, like soul mates. He says he supposes so, and she looks at him with sad, searching eyes. “You don’t remember me, do you?” she asks.

Suddenly a man – who astute viewers may have recognized as one of Hurley’s doctors during his stay in the mental hospital back in Season Two’s Dave – comes up and asks Libby if she’s bothering Hurley. He leads her away, apologizing to Hurley and saying that she isn’t well. But before he goes, Libby tells Hurley that she meant everything she said. Hurley follows them out and sees the doctor loading Libby and others into a minivan labeled Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute.

The next day, Hurley goes into a Mr. Cluck’s and orders a whole bucket, which he proceeds to sit down and eat by himself, looking miserable all the while. He looks up when he senses someone watching him, and standing by the counter is Desmond.  He walks over and tells Hurley that he recognizes him – that they were on same flight the week before. He sits down while waiting for his order and comments on the amount of chicken Hurley is packing away. Hurley says he eats when he depressed. Assuming it must be about a woman, Desmond asks about it. Hurley tells him about Libby and how she thinks she knows him but is literally crazy. Desmond leans in. “Did you believe her when she said she knew you?” he asks. When Hurley says he kinda did, Desmond suggests he go with his gut…at least long enough to find out where she thinks she knows him from. He gets up when his number – 42 – is called. “It was nice bumpin’ into you,” he says as he leaves.

So this must be what Desmond wants to show his fellow Flight 815 passengers…or at least the ones whose names he probably recognizes from the manifest he asked for. Is he simply trying to bring the 815ers together in order to trigger these flashes to the island world? How does he know what will set off those flashes, and if they’ll even occur at all? His “memories” came back to him when Charlie made a gesture similar to one he’d made before. But to hear Faraday’s story in the previous episode, all it took for him to know something was up was seeing Charlotte across a room. And for Charlie, it happened in a state of unconsciousness. So it can’t just be sight recognition; we’ve seen too many encounters in SidewaysLand that haven’t yielded any flashes to “bizzaro alternate universe,” as Hurley calls it. Hurley and Locke have interacted, as have Locke and Rose, Locke and Ben, Locke and Jack, Jack and Sayid, Sayid and Jin, Claire and Kate, and Kate and Sawyer (whose Sideways storyline we still need to pick up on; last we saw them, Kate had just been caught by Officer Ford after slamming into his car and trying to flee on foot.)

Hurley goes to see Dr. Brooks at the mental institution and asks if he can see Libby. Brooks doesn’t think it’s a good idea, explaining that Libby has issues with reality. So Hurley whips out his checkbook and offers a $100k donation. That buys him entry into the rec room and a visit with Libby. When she sits down with him and he asks where she thinks she knows him from, she tells him how crazy it will sound. She says she saw him on TV and suddenly felt she’d been hit on the head; memories came washing over her, but they were memories of a different life – one in which they were in a plane crash, then on an island, and where they knew and liked each other. Then when she came to the institution, she felt like she’d been there before and had seen him there as well. He says he’s never been in a mental hospital. She says that she approached him in restaurant because she thought that if he remembered too, she would know she wasn’t crazy. Looney tunes or not, he likes her and asks if she’s allowed out on day passes. She says she’s there voluntarily and can leave at any time, so he asks her out on a date.

They get together for a picnic at the beach, which she describes as being like a date they never had. When she kisses him, he suddenly gets hit with flashes just like Desmond did in the MRI machine. Moments of him and Libby from the island appear to him, and he pulls away from her, looking a little freaked out. When she asks what’s wrong, he tells her that he’s remembering stuff. Then we see Desmond sitting in his car, watching them. He must know somehow that his work there is done, and he drives off.

This whole thing with Libby was a creative way to come back around to her unresolved storyline…even if it doesn’t really resolve it. I doubt that when Libby was revealed to be a fellow patient with Hurley at Santa Rosa (also in Dave) that this sideways premise was Damon and Carlton’s plan, but since the  mystery turned out to be one of the most consistently asked questions among the fans, they might have felt obligated to deal with it. But it still doesn’t explain Libby’s backstory. Nothing we learn in this episode addresses why she was in the mental institution to begin with…and that was what the fans kept asking about, especially since when she was revealed as a patient there, she seemed to be watching Hurley from across the rec room. So this was pretty much a cheat – but it’s a cool cheat, so I’ll let it slide.

After moving on from spying the beach scene, we find Desmond in a school parking lot, where he watches Locke roll himself toward his van. A knock at the window distracts him, and Desmond finds Ben standing there, suspicious of this man who has been parked at a school for a while, watching. Showing no sign of recognizing Ben, Desmond says he’s new in the neighborhood and looking for a school for his son. After a brief chat, during which Desmond never looks away from Locke for too long, Ben moves on. And as Locke enters the middle of the parking lot, Desmond drives toward him and then slams on the gas and smashes into Locke, who goes flying out of his wheelchair, over the car and onto the ground. Desmond keeps driving as Ben and others rush to Locke, who lies on the ground bloody and battered.

My initial reaction to this was probably the obvious one: that Desmond was trying to kill Locke. I figured the idea was that if he killed Locke in SidewaysLand it would somehow affect Man in Locke’s state on the island. But then I wondered if the point of running down Locke wasn’t to kill him, but to bring him in contact with Dr. Jack Shephard. If that was the true motive, again, it seems to be relying on an awful lot of chance. Chance that Locke won’t just die from being struck; chance that Jack will be the doctor to work on Locke; chance that the two of them coming together will result in one or both of them accessing “memories” of the island. And hell, isn’t there a better way to get Locke and Jack together without resorting to a hit and run? If Locke and Jack do end up crossing paths in the hospital, might they also run into Sun and Jin, who could wind up there for Sun’s gunshot wound?

Hurley is visiting Libby’s grave when he hears the jungle whispers and suddenly sees Michael standing there, dressed as he was when he died in the freighter explosion. He says he’s there to make sure Hurley doesn’t get everyone killed, claiming that a lot of people will die if they blow up the Ajira plane and that it will be Hurley’s fault because people are starting to listen to him (thanks to his increasingly relevant gift for bringing out the dead). Michael makes Hurley realize that maybe he can exert some influence.

Ilana soon returns to the camp after a visit to the Black Rock, and she carries in her bag four sticks of dynamite, enough to destroy the cockpit of the plane. Hurley suggests this isn’t the best course of action, but Ilana insists that she has been training all her life to protect them and he has to trust her. Jacob said Richard would know what to do, she reasons, and Richard said to blow up the plane. Richard makes clear that his determination hasn’t wavered. But Hurley says Jacob never told him that, and suggests Richard might be wrong. He argues that the plane is their only way off the island, and also worries about how unstable the dynamite is…a fact that Ilana is clearly not respecting as she swings the bag around casually, loading a water bottle inside – on top of the dynamite – and removing the bag from her shoulder and placing it roughly on the ground…where it blows up.

Paging Dr. Arzt…

Ilana’s death was as shocking as it was inevitable, as she showed no care with that bag of explosives. Given that she handled it with no regard for the danger it posed, I was almost waiting for it to blow. I guess I didn’t know if it would because killing her off now seems premature. It feel like there’s still unfinished story there, seeing as we haven’t gotten her full backstory detailing her relationship with Jacob and how she wound up in the hospital where he gave her this assignment. With six hours of show left, will we find out any of these details? Maybe they’re still to come…

Hurley finds the sack filled with Jacob’s ashes among Ilana’s things. I’m not sure if he knows what it is, and we don’t see whether or not he takes it with him, but my guess is that he does. I feel like it might be important later. Richard says they have to get more dynamite or Ilana will have died for nothing. “Maybe she died to show us to stay the hell away from dynamite,” Jack says. Richard says he’ll take his chances. (And from his failed suicide attempt we can glean that if anyone can handle the dynamite safely, it’s Richard. And probably Jack too.) Jack has concerns about the plan, but Hurley now says Richard is right and asks Jack to trust him. So Jack agrees and they set off for the Black Rock. As they walk, Ben ponders Ilana’s fate.

B: Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it?
J: What’s that?
B: Ilana. There she was, handpicked by Jacob, trained to come and protect you candidates, and no sooner does she tell you who are then she blows up. The Island was done with her. Makes me wonder what’s gonna happen when it’s done with us.

Maybe that’s it. Ilana’s death seems premature to me, just as Dogen’s did, but perhaps their only real purpose was to serve as vessels for the delivery of information.  On a side note, I felt like Ben’s tone of voice had the old ring of manipulation, but he was probably just expressing a legit concern. Still, has Ben played his last Machiavellian card yet?

When they arrive at the Black Rock, Richard tells the others to wait while he goes in alone, but then he notices Hurley isn’t there. They discover his whereabouts roughly three seconds later, when he comes running out of the ship’s hull yelling at them all to get back…and then the ship blows. Richard ain’t happy, but Hurley said he was protecting them. When Miles asks why he did it, Hurley says that Michael – “one of the people who come back and yell at me after they die” – told him to. Miles, the one person who can understand what Hurley is talking about, asks if that happens a lot. “It happens enough,” Hurley says. Miles asks if he just does whatever the dead tell him to do. “Dead people are more reliable than alive people,” Hurley responds…in what may be the most depressing line in the history of the show.

Richard asks Ben if there are still grenades at the Dharma barracks. Ben says yes, and so Richard wants to go there. When Jack suggests they talk about it, Richard says there isn’t time. He asks if Jack has a better idea, and Hurley says he knows what to do: they have to go talk to Locke. “Are you trying to get us killed?” Ben asks. Hurley says he’s taking his direction from Jacob, and points to indicate that Jacob is there. Richard tells Hurley to ask Jacob what the island is. He says that Jacob told him once what the island is, and wants Hurley to ask him now. Hurley tells Richard he doesn’t have to prove anything to him; he can either come with him to see Locke or keep trying to blow stuff up.

“He’s lying,” Richard says. “Jacob isn’t telling us what to do, because Jacob never tells us what to do. I’m gonna make this simple. If that thing leaves the island, that’s it. It…it’s over.

“What’s over?” Miles asks.

“Everything,” Richard answers. “I’m destroying that plane. And I can use all the help I can get. Who’s coming with me?”

Ben gets up to go with him. Miles does too, saying to Hurley, “I’ve seen that thing in action, man. It doesn’t wanna talk. Sorry.”

Richard looks to the others, but Frank shakes his head no (he’s the pilot, of course he doesn’t want to blow up his baby) and Sun stays put. Jack, having sat passively the whole time as Hurley pointed to Jacob and challenged Richard’s direction,  says if Jacob told them to go talk to Locke, that’s what they should do. He sticks with Hurley. “Don’t get in our way,” Richard warns as he, Ben and Miles leave.

The “what the island is” bit is interesting, since Damon and Carlton have said that’s one question they are unlikely to answer before the series ends. Their position has been that there would really be no satisfactory answer to that question, and to even try offering one would be akin to Star Wars Episode I’s ill-advised deconstruction of The Force through the introduction of midichlorians (I think I’ve made this point before. Forgive the double-dipping). On the other hand, Jacob’s illustration to Richard using the wine bottle and the cork sort of did answer what the island is, without getting down to the details, so who knows. Maybe we will get a more direct answer. I also like how Richard knows Jacob isn’t really there because Jacob doesn’t tell people what to do. That was the whole reason Jacob offered Richard a job to begin with (although at this stage in the game Jacob has been giving explicit directions to Hurley: go to The Temple, give Dogen the guitar case, bring Jack to the lighthouse, etc.).

The groups keep sub-dividing, so we now have four island crews to follow: Widmore, Jin, Zoe and their gang; Locke and his gang; Richard, Ben and Miles; and Team Jacob. As the latter group continues on their way, Hurley and Jack talk.

H: So what do you think we should say to Locke when we get there? I mean…how do you break the ice with the Smoke Monster?
J:  Don’t worry about it. Something tells me he’s gonna do most of the talking.
H: Or he could just kill us all.
J:  Yeah. He could.
H:  I didn’t see Jacob back there. I just said it ‘cause I wanted everyone to listen to me.
J:   I know.
H: Then why’d you come with me?
J:  Ever since Juliet died – ever since I got her killed – all I’ve wanted was to fix it. But I can’t. I can’t ever fix it. You have no idea how hard it is for me to sit back and listen to other people tell me what I should do. But I think maybe that’s the point. Maybe…maybe I’m supposed to let go.
H: Unless you letting go gets us killed. Going to see Locke was my idea, not Jacob’s.
J:  Hurley, you asked me to trust you. This is me trusting you.

Maybe Jack can fix it. Maybe Jack will succeed in keeping all the promises he’s made – the promise to get Sun back together with Jin and get both of them off the island, the promise that detonating Jughead would work – and the cost will be either his life or his staying behind. Maybe Jack will remain on the island and hang out with his dad…who’s bound to show up again soon, what with only six hours left.

Team Jacob hears the jungle whispers, but this time Hurley thinks he knows what causes them. He tells Jack, Sun and Frank to wait and then goes around the corner and calls out for Michael, who steps out from the trees.

H: You’re stuck on the island, aren’t you?
M: ‘Cause of what I did.
H: And there are others out here, like you, aren’t there? That’s what the whispers are?
M: Yeah. We’re the ones who can’t move on.

Michael points out where Locke’s camp is, and when Hurley Joel Osment asks if there’s anything he can do to help, Michael tells him not to get himself killed. “And Hurley? If you ever do see Libby again, tell her I’m very sorry.”

So it looks like we just crossed off another big Lost mystery: the whispers. Did anyone else find it to be kinda anti-climactic? I don’t mind that the concept of the dead being unable to move on has been done before (Poltergeist, Ghost and The Return of the King leap to mind); it’s more that the revelation felt rushed and tacked on. I wish it had been explained with a little more weight to it. So anybody who dies on the island (or in its vicinity, as was the case with Michael) and who did some pretty heavy-duty sinning while there is doomed to remain in spiritual limbo? And collectively these lost souls cause the living to hear ominous whispers? Is there any rhyme or reason to when the whispers occur? When Ben kidnapped baby Alex from Rousseau, he gave her a warning: “If you want your child to live, every time you hear whispers you run the other way.” But if Hurley and Michael’s explanation for the whispering is all there is to it, what was Ben’s statement supposed to mean? If you think back over the series to all the times the whispers were heard, the sound didn’t necessarily portend anything “happening.” Sometimes it preceded a strange occurrence, but sometimes it was the strange occurrence and nothing else happened. I guess at this point in the game beggars can’t be choosers; if they solve a mystery, I’ll take it. I just hope they’ve put a little more thought and care into the answers than they seem to have put into this one (and if there’s more yet to learn about the whispers, then I’ll stand corrected. I hear that episode #15 is going to be a big “Island” episode, so maybe we haven’t heard the last on the subject).

Also, while I’m griping, I wish Michael’s return had been a little more substantive. I’m glad we saw him, but I was hoping he’d have a bit more to do, and that he might pop up in SidewaysLand. I still think that his story arc was badly mishandled when they brought him back in Season Four, and so I hoped this episode would finally see them make amends for that botch job. Even if Hurley had told him he had seen Walt when he left the island and that Walt was doing alright, allowing Michael to take that in, that would have been something. After all, he killed Libby and Ana Lucia in order to save Walt. (Ahem…WALT!) He’d probably be moved to know that he really did manage to save his son. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Maybe there’ll be more with him in the remaining episodes. (Yeah, I know I keep saying that even though we’re running out of time.)

Sawyer and Kate approach Man in Locke as he carves a long wooden stick. Sawyer is increasingly impatient with the lack of activity. (When Man in Locke asks if he can do something for them, an exasperated Sawyer shoots back, “How about anything?”) Man in Locke says that waiting is not the same thing as doing nothing. When Kate asks what he’s waiting for, he points out that she and her Ajira flight companions were only able to come back to the island because they did it together. He says the same goes for leaving, and so they need Jack, Sun and Hurley. Kate says she doesn’t see that happening.

Just then, Sayid returns and asks to speak to Man in Locke privately. He takes him into jungle not far away and says that he returned from Hydra Island with Widmore’s package. Locke lays eyes on Desmond, tied to a tree but seemingly not bothered by that fact. He’s just chillin.’ Locke unties him and asks why Widmore brought him to the island. Desmond says he was kidnapped, so Widmore would have to answer that question. He says that Widmore put him into a wooden shack and blasted him with electromagnetism (which he says he recognized from experience). He answers Man in Locke’s questions with an eerie calm. He seems almost as devoid of emotion as Sayid has been since killing Dogen and Lennon. When Man in Locke asks if Desmond knows who he is, Desmond says, “Of course. You’re John Locke.” But he says it in a strange way, almost mockingly straightforward, as if he’s playing along but knows that Man in Locke knows he’s playing along. Locke sends Sayid back to the camp and asks Desmond to take a walk with him; he wants to show him something.

L: Remind me Desmond, how long were you down in that hatch pushing that button?
D: Three years.
L: And here you are, back for more. If I didn’t know better I’d think this island had it in for you.
D: Do you know better?
L: Excuse me?
D: There’s nothing special about me, brotha. This island has it in for all of us.
L: Yes it does.

And then Man in Locke sees a boy standing in the jungle, watching them. He’s dressed like the boy Locke saw when he was on his way to Jacob’s cave with Sawyer. But that boy was blonde, and this one has dark hair. (It is the same boy, however. I wasn’t sure, so I looked it up. Same actor.) Desmond sees him too and asks Man in Locke who it is. Locke says to ignore him. Desmond asks if he knows the boy and Locke repeats himself, angrily.

That first boy spoke to Locke on his trek with Sawyer and said, “You can’t kill him.” Some of you took that to mean Locke couldn’t kill Sawyer, whereas I thought otherwise (because I didn’t think Locke was even planning to kill Sawyer…at least, not on that journey). But here is Locke taking another person for an island show-and-tell, and this time his intentions are…well I’ll get to it, but if you saw the episode you know what Man in Locke does. So is this lost boy trying to stop Locke from killing his fellow travelers, or is he trying to send some other message? Who was the blonde boy talking about that Man in Locke can’t kill? Note that neither Sawyer nor Desmond were on Ajira 316. Maybe Man in Locke really only needs the ones who were on it in order to leave the island. Why did he recruit Sawyer, then? Perhaps he thought Sawyer would be leverage for getting Kate…and with both Kate and Claire he could get Jack.

Man in Locke and Desmond arrive at a clearing with a well in the middle of it. This is not the same well as the one at The Orchid with the island-moving wheel at the bottom, but apparently it shares a connection with that one.

How much easier it would have been for those people if they could have had Gatorade instead of having to dig wells to get energy. Anyway, when he gets back to camp, Sayid asks what happened to Desmond.

-In an interview with TV Guide after this episode, Jorge Garcia said something that raised my eyebrows: “[The Man in Black] did give them his word that he wasn’t going to do anything. It’s been established that he has to keep his word. So if he gives his word, then he’s bound to it.” Umm…really?  I don’t ever recall seeing or hearing that established. Does anyone else?

-Also in TV Guide, there was a viewer mail question that caught my interest. The question was, “Do you think Lost’s sideways timeline occurs concurrent with island events or after?” To answer the question, TV Guide cited this quote from Yunjin Kim: “Obviously Jin was infertile on the island, but in the flash-sideways he’s perfectly healthy. I don’t know if that’s because we spent time on the island, even though it’s a different lifeline, and the island cured his infertility, therefore in the flash-sideways he’s completely healthy. That’s what I assumed when I read the script.” (Far be it from me to correct one of the stars of the show, but for the purposes of this discussion it should be clarified that Jin was infertile before going to the island. Somehow the island fixed that little problem.)

For my part, I’ve assumed a little of both, especially more recently. I’ve been operating off the idea that the two timelines are running basically concurrently, with the understanding that the sideways stuff is taking place days after Flight 815 whereas at this point in the island timeline it’s been three years since Flight 815. Hence people who died on the island – like Charlie and Faraday – are alive in SidewaysLand. But also, the fact that people in SidewaysLand are making the connection to the island timeline means that in a weird, bending-the-space-time-continuum sort of way, the sideways timeline is happening after the island events. Kind of. Maybe the best way to say it would be that the timelines are concurrent, but the sideways line is informed by the island line. That’s my take, anyway.

-Oh, and supposedly we will find out why/how Jin was initially infertile in the original timeline vs. fertile in the sideways timeline.

-I often bring up Ghostbusters, Star Wars and Back to the Future (hmm, you don’t say) as touchpoints for Lost, but there’s another one that has come up this season which I keep neglecting to mention, though some of you have talked to me about it: Willy Wonka. The only way that Jacob bringing people to the island to find the one candidate worthy of replacing him as its protector could be more Wonka-esque is if the jungle was made of candy and the waterfalls were chocolate. Still, I found it surprising – and pretty awesome –  that the “Next Week on Lost” clip at the end of this episode directly referenced the classic Gene Wilder film by using the creepy song that Wonka sing-speaks to the children and their parents when they’re boating down the chocolate river and enter that crazy psychedelic tunnel with freaky images projected all over the walls.  I wonder if Jacob’s chosen candidate will get a lifetime’s supply of chocolate.

-Speaking of the preview for next week’s – tonight’s – episode, I’m not giving anything away to say that we know Desmond survives the fall into the well, because we see him sitting down there. (And if surviving that fall isn’t further evidence that the Island has a higher purpose for him, what is?) But it also shows us Sayid walking up to that well with a gun and firing it down at Desmond. So…we’ll get another chance to see just how special he is. Or isn’t.

-One last thing about the episode we’re about to see: now that the camps have come together, I really hope Hurley, Sun and especially Jack acknowledge that Claire is there, as they haven’t seen her since she disappeared in Season Four. I’ll be annoyed if they don’t bring some attention to that reunion. Jack doesn’t have to address their connection in his episode necessarily, but I don’t want the fact that she’s back to be treated casually by them.

-At this point, I’m pretty sure there has been a sideways-centric episode for every main character (Damon and Carlton said earlier that Lapidus, Claire and Miles would not have centric episodes of their own). If that’s the case, then tonight either starts repeating people, or doesn’t focus on just one of them but rather on Desmond’s efforts to bring them all together.

-I know that we should celebrate Hurley’s philanthropy and what the expansion of the Mr. Cluck’s Chicken franchise has allowed him to do for charity, but seeing a Mr. Cluck’s in view of an Egyptian pyramid or the Eiffel Tower is just kinda obnoxious.

-As I mentioned, Dr. Chang made a brief appearance at he beginning of this episode. If you’ve been missing him, he’s featured prominently in this week’s once-again wacky Muppet recap from the Lost Untangled series. (It appears that the puppet Dr. Chang was indeed constructed by The Jim Henson Company, though based on the way they word this, I’m not sure if Henson has anything to do with actually making the episodes. Thanks again, Lorelei.)

Hurley: What’s she like?
Mrs. Reyes: Willing to meet you.

Tonight’s Episode: The Last Recruit (and the last episode for two weeks. After tonight, no new Lost until May 4. Bastards…)

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