“Everybody Loves Hugo” brought some memorable moments, from touching to downright shocking. We got a good dose of pyrotechnics, and a surprisingly blunt explanation to the perennial mystery of “the whispers.” Once again we saw some of our characters part ways, but we also saw our candidates come together sooner than we’d anticipated. And perhaps in keeping with the inherent intensity of this final season, this Hurley-centric episode was fortunately not overloaded with comic relief. Yet, on the heels of an epic Richard Alpert tale and a brain-busting Desmond episode, this week’s entry felt more like the sharp intake of breath before a grand declaration, a mechanically necessary repositioning of game pieces for the few chapters remaining ahead.
On the island, Unlocke unpacks a little bit more of his game plan… or at least fleshes out his cover story. The candidates’ return to the island was possible only together, and so then must they be reunited to leave. I’ve been wondering if Widmore’s return was to exploit the island, rather than to do the right thing… but now that Unlocke says Widmore is only after power, I’m more inclined to think he might actually be trying to save the world, after all. It seemed telling when Unlocke agreed with Desmond that the island had it in for everyone. And UnLocke, of course, had it in for Desmond. The way Terry O’Quinn’s face twitched moments before pushing Desmond down the magnetic well sent shivers down Jen’s spine. But despite Desmond’s fall, I’m confident we’re not quite done with our favorite Scottsman.
I enjoyed Hurley’s double bluff, first pretending to back Richard’s plan (only to blow the Black Rock to bits), then pretending to get direction from Jacob. It was great to see Richard called him on the ruse (“Jacob never tells us what to do”), and to see Hurley still play it cool. And in terms of repeating themes and scenarios, we again see sides chosen, and a group dividing in the forest. Miles and Ben follow Alpert, while Jack, Sun, and Frank follow Hurley. It’s a nice coincidence that Hurley’s fellow candidates chose to go with him, and that doesn’t bode well for what may be our last splinter group.
Jen is definitely warming up to Jack, though I’m not sure how to read his turn in this episode. He also knew Hurley was bluffing, but still went along with him because he’s concluded it’s time to trust other people. There are some things he can’t fix. That’s a good lesson for control-freak Jack, I suppose, but the epiphany sounds very similar to the one he had in Season 5. During his DHARMA days, he decided not to act, but rather wait for his moment. That didn’t turn out so well, so… now he’s going to take even less initiative? That’s not going to work, since Jacob told Hurley that Jack indeed has something he needs to do.
Michael’s return was odd. It provided some catharsis in his apology to Hurley, but the big “reveal” seemed really underplayed. Tonight, Hurley suddenly concludes that “the whispers” are essentially the voices of the dead “who can’t move on,” and Michael says he’s right. Is that it? The island is purgatory, after all? Over the past five seasons, there seemed to be some significance to when and where the whispers were heard (by people who don’t otherwise have communion with the dead), and a fair amount of theorizing was based on meticulous transcripts of what they were saying. My favorite theories involved DHARMA experiments or some other group of “observers,” or maybe a side-effect of time travel (or even the flash-sideways). I’m hoping there’s more to them, but probably not.
Even odder was the abrupt departure of Ilana. Kudos to the writers for avoiding another Arzt joke, but her death certainly frustrates people like me, who had just begun to accept that this “new character” was key to the bigger picture through her off-island connection to Jacob. The writers even let Ben comment on this curious development. But, he concludes, the island was merely done with her, and it will likely soon be done with everyone. We’re definitely sensing a theme, here.
And what to make of Miles? He finally has another conversation with Hurley about talking to dead people, but his own expertise is not even mentioned. And while Hurley seems to conclude that “dead people are more reliable” than the living, I’m wondering why Hurley isn’t more skeptical. His first reaction to Michael seemed the natural one. But something changed Hurley’s mind, and led him to blow up the Black Rock. What was in the bag he found in the camp? And while trying to blow up the plane was a plan that was apparently going to get everyone killed, walking right into Locke’s camp was also a heck of a gamble.
Their arrival was, in fact, foretold by Unlocke when he told Sawyer, “There’s a difference between doing nothing and waiting.” He knew the other candidates would come to him. And I was glad to see both groups reunited tonight, though. I’d assumed we’d have to wait for the finale. Can Sun and Jin’s reunification be put off much longer?
For those clamoring for a resolution to the Libby storyline, the flash-sideways in “Everybody Loves Hugo” brings direct relief. It doesn’t explain how she came to be in the institution with Hurley in the original timeline, but who cares? It was worth it to see Hurley struck by lightning in the Mexican restaurant, and to see him finally see “the truth” on their long-delayed picnic on the beach. In some respects, the flash-sideways felt like one giant checkmark on the long list of “LOST” mysteries. But Jorge Garcia and especially Cynthia Watros sold it. The date was nice, but I was actually a bit misty-eyed during the rec room scene when Libby again heard that Hurley had no memory of her. It’s hard to imagine what depth her character might have brought to the show had Libby survived beyond Season Two.
The final scene, though, was a hell of a twist. The tension was built masterfully, with Ben rightfully suspicious of a man staking out a school parking lot, and Desmond’s fixation on Locke as he wheeled his way past. Then, bam! Locke is flat on his back, in shock. I was half expecting the scene to close with a close up of his toes.
It is curious, though, that Desmond was content to subtly suggest that Hurley go with his instincts in his curiosity about Libby, but then decides to take a much more direct role in Locke’s introduction to “the truth.” Whereas Hurley’s connection with Libby echoes the “love” invoked for Charlie and Claire (and Desmond and Penny, and Daniel and Charlotte), poor Locke had to get the “near death experience” treatment instead. Presumably, “love” would be less effective for Locke, given his good relationship with Helen in the flash-sideways, but… how would Desmond know? And how is he, so far, picking out our island survivors from among the hundreds of presumably innocent or uninvolved people aboard Oceanic 815?
Notes and Notions:
- The opening slideshow, narrated by Dr. Pierre Chang, was fun. It seemed to include a few real-world photos of Jorge Garcia. He got his dog, Nunu, onto “LOST” via the shot of him in front of the Hawaiian Humane Society (its logo clearly visible). And I’d bet those were real baby pictures, too.
- I liked how even “lucky” Hurley was intimidated by talking to women, a trait that goes back to Starla at the record store in Season Two. I don’t know what happened to his blind date, Rosalita, but it was also nice to hear that Grandpa Tito is apparently still around in the flash-sideways.
- Jen loved how subtly Henry Ian Cusick played the faint moment of confusion after Desmond immediately came up with the name “Charlie” for his son when confronted by Ben.
- It’s a small thing, but I love how one of the extras (a long-haired Asian woman) looked perplexed in the scene where Hurley meets Desmond in the Mr. Cluck’s restaurant. Hurley yells, “What?” And we see her clearly reacting as if Hurley might be yelling at her, rather than Desmond. A lot of times, background extras in scenes are a little too oblivious to the action we’re watching. It was a nice touch.
- The creepy boy, who Desmond saw, is back to haunting Unlocke. His smile was disconcerting, taunting, in the same vein of his earlier admonition, “You know the rules. You can’t kill him.” The more we see of him, the more he seems like a young Jacob. Gloating Jacob.
- After Locke’s “Blow Up Everything That Can Get Us Off The Island Tour,” tonight we had the “Blow Up Everything (and Everyone) That Can Blow Up Everything That Can Get Us Off The Island Tour.”
- What is Unlocke the Wood Whisperer carving? Claire already has a crib for her scary squirrel baby. Part of me would like to see him recreate Mr. Eko’s carved “Jesus Stick.”
- Looks like Richard’s back to declaring, “We’re dead, we’re all dead!”
- Books: The Russian book Hurley found among Ilana’s belongings was “Notes from the Underground” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Wikipedia says it is considered by many to be the world’s first existentialist novel.
- Locations: The awards ceremony was filmed at the Koolau Golf Club/First Presbyterian Church in Kaneohe. The “fajita fieldtrip” to Spanish Johnny’s was filmed at Bandito’s Cantina at Pearlridge. The Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute was again the YWCA on Richards Street downtown, and Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack was again the Popeye’s Chicken on Dillingham Boulevard. The beach where Hurley and Libby had their date was the west end of Ala Moana Park. And the parking lot where Desmond met Ben and hit Locke was August Elementary School in Waipahu. And, of course, the slideshow included shots of the Hawaiian Humane Society, the Honolulu Zoo, and the box company exterior at Gentry Pacific Design Center.
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