So, between the name of Hurley’s blind date (Rosalita) and the name of the restaurant where the big man waited for her (Spanish Johnny’s), someone on the Lost writing staff is clearly a fan of side B of The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle.
If last week’s equation went Desmond + Charlie + Faraday (+funny hat) = best episode of the season, then Hurley + More Desmond + Springsteen references + a long-awaited return = what, exactly?
Put on your coolest sunglasses, and see if you can “feel it” with me. After the jump.
Before we discuss “Everybody Loves Hugo,” a brief digression and a word of warning to Lost fans.
There are millions of us. Lost fans, while cultish in nature, form a larger group than most pop culture cults. Lost draws far more viewers than most sci-fi-ish shows ever dream of. But do not let the safety in numbers fool you: we are fucking nerds. Last week, David Simon Cowell and I were at a local watering hole, enjoying a few cocktails with a bosomy Canadian with whom we’re both acquainted. We were seated at the bar, and our conversation went something like this:
Dilemma: So then what is the purpose of the Sideways Universe? I think it’s an artificial construct, designed to…
David Simon Cowell: No, it’s a wish-fulfillment alternate universe that exists to show the characters’ true nature.
Dilemma: Well, then did the Smoke Monster create the artificial universe?
Bosomy Canadian: I don’t think so, but it is possible that the alternate reality represents the world if the Smoke Monster escaped from the island.
David Simon Cowell: And I think Island Desmond is now aware of Alternate Desmond’s existence, and vice versa.
Bosomy Canadian: Right. And his experience in the hatch allows him to leap through time…
Dilemma: That would mean Widmore’s electromagnetism test only proved that…
Bartender: Are you guys talking about Lost?
The three of us: (dead silence, heads hung in shame)
Don’t let this happen to you. Hash out the details of your inane Lost theories in private, or at least in a back corner booth, away from curious ears. There’s no humiliation quite like the humiliation of being caught having a serious conversation about “The Smoke Monster.”
Anyway, on to a serious conversation about The Smoke Monster…
Lost is really all over the fucking place right now, eh? I don’t want to overlook the degree of difficulty of what the show’s creative team is attempting this season. They have to wrap up five seasons worth of large and small mysteries while they’re still churning out entertaining episodes. They have to satisfy about a hundred different varieties of Lost fans as much as possible. And they have to do it all under a glaring microscope, in a world where everything is judged instantaneously. This shit’s not easy. If television were an Olympic figure skating competition, Lost would start out with a much higher score because of all the difficult elements and components (triple lutzes and what not) incorporated in its free program. Or something.
Basically, Lost could do a very slipshod job executing what they’re trying to accomplish, and still receive a much higher score than a show like CSI or V or 24 could ever get, even if those shows were executed to perfection. (Plus, you know the Chinese judge would give 24 a terrible score.) I think I’ve murdered this metaphor to death, so let’s just say that I think we should all cut Lost as much slack as possible, given the genre-defying, literature-referencing, complex nature of the show.
That being said, things are a mess right now. I wrote a few weeks back about Lost’s problem with unreliable narrators, but now there’s a bigger problem: almost every character is unreliable. When a show is this hard to figure out, with alternative universes and time travel and electromagnetic incidents and constants and “God help us alls” being thrown out every ten minutes, the characters should be grounding us. We should understand on a basic level what Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sawyer want, and why we do or don’t want them to get what they want. How’s that working out?
Jack: He’s been adrift for seasons. I honestly have no idea what he wants, other than to figure out what it all means. Until he told Hurley that he was being driven by guilt from Juliet’s death, I had no fucking idea he was even giving that a second thought.
Kate: Wants to get off the island, I guess? And back to Aaron, maybe? Now that she’s found Claire, and Claire has a skullbaby, I don’t know what Kate wants.
Hurley: This week, he wants people to listen to him. Beyond that, not sure.
Sayid: Some kind of zombie.
Island Desmond: Oddly serene. We don’t know what he knows or what he wants.
Sideways Desmond: Oddly serene and creepy. We don’t know why he’s running paralyzed guys over (Revenge for the well toss? So Locke can “feel it”?).
Widmore: Maybe he wants to stop the Smoke Monster.
Smoke Monster: He wants to get off the island. This, I get.
Sun and Jin: Want to be reunited. Yeah, yeah, yeah, “where is my husband?!” I actually wish I didn’t know what these guys want.
Creepy Little Peter Pan Boy in the Jungle: He wants the Lost Boys back together, obviously.
Faraday: He wants to combine classical music with Drive Shaft.
So, yeah. We don’t know what anybody’s motivation is. And people are constantly dividing into factions and sub-factions. And every time the show starts to build momentum, like with last week’s stellar Desmond outing, they squander it almost immediately. We’re exactly two-thirds of the way through Season Six now, so I think it’s fair to say we can see the outline and shape of the arc of the season, and there’s none of the urgency or intense character drama that we had at this point in Season Five.
It’s exhausting, and not in a fun way, trying to figure out whether Hurley or Richard is right, and who’s being led astray by whom, and which dead people are inhabited by the Smoke Monster, which are ghosts, and which are figments of people’s imaginations.
Two other chief complaints with this episode:
1) For years, we’ve wondered what Libby’s backstory was. Why was she in Hurley’s insane asylum? Why did she pop up in Desmond’s life? Finally able to bring Cynthia Watros back, Lost answered….none of these questions. Libby just showed up in the Sideways World so Hurley could “feel it.” Ugh.
2) Well, we found out what the whispers in the jungle are, after all these years. The whispers are Michael. And the others whose souls (or whatever) are stuck on the island because of how they killed people when they were alive. So the whispers are murderers? And the island is Purgatory? Cork Purgatory? Corkatory? Maybe we really are better off not getting any answers at all.
There were some highlights to this episode, too, now that the complaining’s out of the way (It’s like how when Evan Lysacek…oh fuck it, nevermind):
- Ilana pulled an Arzt, which I thought for sure would portend Arzt’s doom in the sideways universe, but was still awesome in its own right. Good riddance.
- Desmond driving around town and peering over his sunglasses was right out of an ’80s CBS procedural. Like a cross between Cupid and The Equalizer.
- Hurley was his usual disarming self. I thought his charm had started to wear thin in recent seasons, but he was very likable tonight.
- The staredown between Locke and Jack at the end was cool, although it’s not exactly fraught with meaning, since Locke isn’t really Locke.
- Nonsensical or no, seeing Locke go flying in the air after Desmond rammed him was entertaining.
Hmm. Maybe not such a good sign for this episode that my favorite parts were shit blowing up and cars slamming into guys in wheelchairs. Also, Internet: I am going to tell you this one time, and one time only — I will not tolerate any Desmond/Baby Jessica jokes out of you. Not a-one. I mean it.