"How do you break the ice with a smoke monster?"
I'd like to write an insightful, amusing, not-so-long-as-last-time article on yesterday's episode of Lost, but I fear I may not. You see, I'm suffering from Post-Rousseau Stress Disorder, hereby known as PRSD. Here I was, happily coasting through an exciting television year of Lost, enjoying the ending of a great television series, when suddenly, ten minutes into "Everybody Loves Hugo"… BAM… Ilana explodes. And now I will have flashbacks of Rousseau for the rest of the season.
It may be my PRSD that makes me see it this way, but once again, the writers of Lost have taken a fully functioning, independent woman character and blown her up. Perhaps it is because the writers don't know what else to do with her, but I'll let Ben Linus explain further: "The Island was done with her. Makes me wonder what will happen when it's done with us." Me too. Makes me wonder too.
I'll get to the recap soon, bear one more moment of this whining. I've never gotten over Rousseau's death (obviously) because of the manner in which it was done (how many "h"s in haphazard?) and because of its seemingly little impact in the larger arc of Lost's generously-sized narrative. Now in season six, we lose the only female authority figure unless you count the frighteningly hammy Eloise Widmore/Hawkins. Ilana, who has trained her whole life for this mission, throws water bottles on top of unstable dyn-o-mite and does herself in. With Ilana's demise, the rest of the women characters, who all season long have been wandering around either crazy (Claire) or clueless (Kate and Sun), will have to depend on the kindness of the men.
Ilana's apparent role on the island was to enable the redemption of Ben Linus, by more compassionate means than gunpoint. Without Ilana to be both Ben's salvation and his watchful guardian, Ben's story is sure to get more interesting. He's never been much of a follower after all.
But wait a minute, there may be hope for Ilana. Her death might not be in vain, as Richard insists it must not be. If you'll remember back to "The Incident, Part 1," Ilana is heavily bandaged with burns. Perhaps due to explosives? Later on in that same episode, she is miraculously healed. Sigh. Maybe I kid myself. I've been holding out for Rousseau's return a long time too.
The last word I have on the subject of Ilana's departure: "All the Single Ladies!" As a woman, unless you have a steady beau on Lost, you're doomed. Seems a lot like high school.
Enough of my ranting, this story is about Hugo, not Ilana after all, and you're here for an entertaining recap, right? The death of Ilana (oops) sets the tone for the whole episode: to expect the unexpected explosion. Subverting the title "Everybody Loves Hugo," last night's story endeavors to flesh out some of Hugo's previously one-sided, likable but slimly drawn, characteristics. Puns aside, everybody usually loves Hugo, everyone except his mother who is pretty damn tough on the poor dude. "Everybody Loves Hugo" introduced some of the - let's face it - unlikable aspects of his persona. The Hugo we saw last night was manipulative and a little light on the truth-telling.
The episode begins in the Sideways World with Dr. Chang giving Hugo an award for his philanthropy - a Man of the Year award that makes Hugo's mom, his date, roll her eyes loudly in her head. If there is any substance to the theory that the "candidates" on the island represent the seven deadly sins of Dante's Purgatorio, Hugo's gluttony in the Sideways World would support it. His "lifelong love affair with chicken" and his building Mr. Clucks in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids seem hardly admirable accomplishments. It was hard to watch all that chomping down on the Mr. Cluck.
On the island, we have the not-so-surprising appearance of Harold Perrineau as Michael amidst the whispering of trapped souls (again with the Dante.) What is Hugo doing listening to Michael's admonishments? Repeating the ironic theme of the title, Michael doesn't seem particularly fond of Hugo despite his stated intentions, and what would anyone would be doing taking advice from the historically hapless Michael. I would much rather consult with "Wallllltttttt."
Divide and conquer!
Hugo took on a different facade during the island story last night. In a stare down with Richard (which he is doomed to fail because who can withstand those eyelashes), Hugo says "I don't have to prove anything to you Richard. You either come with me or you can keep trying to blow stuff up" with an air of menace that is uncharacteristic to this beloved role. And it's Hugo who just blew something up. Richard can see he was lying. As a consequence, the small group is fractured. Miles and Ben go off with Richard. Hugo takes Jack, Sun, and Lapidus to Smokey which is exactly what Smokey hoped for: "What Smokey Wants, Smokey Gets." Anyone familiar with Damned Yankees will see where I'm going with that allusion.
Libby, Hugo's great love on the island until she was cruelly shot down on the eve of their first date by … Michael, seeks out Hugo at the Spanish Johnny's restaurant while on leave from the mental hospital where she is voluntarily admitted. The welcome appearance of Libby (Cynthia Watros) enables Hugo to bridge the two worlds much like Charlie did for Desmond, albeit in a kinder, gentler manner. In the Sideways World, Hugo is able to take Libby out on that long-promised date, and with their first kiss, the two worlds appear to merge, if only momentarily. With that connection, we now have at least five island characters who are aware of an alternate reality and that there must be some kind of amalgamation between the two worlds if anyone is going to live happily ever after: Desmond, Charlie, Hugo, Libby, and Daniel.
Speaking of "Happily Ever After" brings me to Desmond and the flight manifest that George Minkowski apparently was able to procure. Desmond, shadowing first Hugo and then John Locke in the Sideways World, seems to be shedding light on some murky situations, encouraging Hugo to take Libby's "we're soulmates" protestations seriously. Desmond is also making some light situations rather murky: running over John Locke in the school parking lot. That might be useful for the Island plot line but must have caused some real PTSD in the onlooking high school students. I look forward to seeing what Desmond has in store for us in the next, final, five episodes.
On the Island World, Desmond walks calmly to his own supposed death. It was a mood carried over from last week's "Happily Ever After," when Desmond cooperated with Sayid with the same beatific grin on his face that he greeted Papa Widmore with after being electro-magnetized or "having his brain fried" as Zoe the scientist describes it. His trip down the well... rabbit hole.... wormhole came as no surprise because I think it's quite clear by now that SchLocke is up to no good.
My time is up. A few thoughts before I go:
Nora's theory of the week and I love it: Viewers are being asked to make a choice, much like the characters are or will be, upon how to define this story. Will it be a story of great mythological import, full of good and evil archetypes? Or will it be a story based upon reason, upon science, with equations of quantum physics and fields of electro-magnetism? You decide.
Perhaps Ilana had a premonition of her messy end at the beginning of "The Incident" hence the tears and her turning away briefly.
There is a cyclical nature to some of the characters' injuries that denote a non-parallel nature to the two dimensions - Island World and Sideways World: Ilana's injuries, Mikhail's eye, John Locke in his wheelchair. I do hope this will be explained further!
What was in Ilana's bag that Hurley pocketed?
What did Hugo mean by "I'm protecting it" upon blowing up the Black Rock? Did he mean the plane or did he mean the island?
Despite what SchLocke says, I do think Charles Widmore is interested in answers. He obviously knew what was coming for Desmond and was preparing him for a trip down electro-magnetic lane.
See you next week for "The Last Recruit." In the meantime, keep an eye on the camp for me.