Things are definitely cooking now. There are only a handful of episodes left now before "Lost" calls it quits, and the fact that this week's "Everybody Loves Hugo" (a twist on the second season's "Everybody Hates Hugo") was a strong episode that aired after an even stronger one makes me optimistic that things will be amped-up and on their game through the end. Then again, it says a lot about a show when I get excited over two consecutive non-crappy episodes, so I don't want to get my hopes too high. Then again, this season's actually been good overall except for the Jin/Sun ep a couple weeks back, so maybe I shouldn't let that weak spot spoil everything. A lot of good stuff happened this week, so let's get to it.
The Los Angeles Timeline
Hurley is at an awards dinner getting a paleontology wing of a history museum named after him, and a slideshow plays to remind everyone of his financial success with Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack and his seemingly endless altruism. The narrator and man presenting the award is Dr. Chang because why not, everyone has to be somewhere so he might as well be here. However, even with his successes and awards, Hurley steal has to deal with a rotten, manipulative mother who exists solely to grate on the viewer's nerves. Not even the nod to "Seinfeld" about Hurley's upcoming award from the Human Fund could distract me from his mother's cheap ploys. She wants to find him a girlfriend because the script wants her to, and she's hell-bent to do it, so she tells Hurley that he's got a blind date coming up.
At the restaurant days later, Hurley eats alone, stood up but stubbornly refusing to believe it when a woman walks up and calls his name: It's Libby. She tells him she's not his blind date, but he invites her to sit and gets out an awkward compliment or two. She takes his hands and asks if he believes in soul mates, and not getting the response she hoped for, breaks a little when she says, "You don't remember me, do you?" So she's already aware of the "real"/crash timeline, which means her burgeoning relationship with Hurley will eventually cause him to remember it, too. At the start of the episode, I guessed this would happen with a kiss, and I was not wrong. But I'm not necessarily complaining about the execution, either. It was simple, sweet, and got the job done by eventually waking Hurley up to the other world.
Anyway, Libby tries to talk to Hurley but is led away by Dr. Brooks, Hurley's doctor in the original timeline, and Hurley follows them outside to see them all load up in a van labeled Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute. Despondent that his new crush is wacko, Hurley heads to a Mr. Cluck's and orders a bucket, which come on, even in his state, the CEO doesn't go to the restaurant and pig out after a bad date. (Randomly, Samm Levine plays the cashier, which is a big [to me] guest star to get for a quickie role. Either they bring him around again, or Levine really needed the work. Maybe offers dried up when he saw his role in Inglourious Basterds cut to just one line.) He dives head first into the bucket like a sad bastard when Desmond walks up, still sporting a small wound on his head from the car accident with Charlie. Desmond strikes up a conversation about remembering Hurley from Oceanic 815, and Hurley eventually opens up that he's depressed because the girl he likes is "crazy" and claims to remember him from another world. Desmond, mission-oriented and determined to get everyone else to learn what he knows about their flimsy reality, encourages Hurley to go after the girl and find out why she thinks they know each other. After that, he picks up his to-go order (No. 42, of course), and heads out.
Hurley goes to see Libby, buying his way past the doctor's reservations by dropping a $100,000 donation for a new rec room. He asks to hear her story, and she tells him how she saw him on TV and suddenly had a wave of flashbacks of "another life" that included things like a plane crash and a deserted island. Hurley still doesn't remember or recognize anything, but he likes being with her, and after some low-level flirtation and finding out that Libby's there voluntarily, he asks her out. She says yes, more out of what she remembers them experiencing than any particular spark happening now.
Later, Hurley and Libby head to the beach for a picnic, which gives her understandably weird feelings because of the whole almost-dying-in-a-plane-crash thing, but she gets over it. She's more struck by the déjà vu, saying it's like they're on "a date we never had." Hurley expresses more doubt that anyone like her would want him, which is when she kisses him and some of his memories of the island and the crash timeline come flooding back. He's spooked by the experience, but able to comfort Libby with the knowledge that she's not crazy. This is his mirror image's job: In the original timeline, everyone told Hurley he was crazy, so here, he gets to relieve someone else of that worry. The camera shifts to reveal that Desmond has been watching them from his car, and seeing them together, he appears satisfied that his plan is working, and drives away.
Desmond's next Oceanic passenger to visit is John Locke, so he parks near Locke's school to watch him, a practice that gets him a visit from a suspicious Ben, who walks up and wants to know why Desmond is hanging outside a school in a luxury sedan. Desmond buys him off with a story about looking for a school for his son, but it barely works. As Ben walks off, Desmond watches Locke wheel by, which is when he starts the car, guns the engine, and runs Locke down before speeding off. Locke flies up and hits the car before rolling off, and Ben and a crowd of others rush to his aid. I get that Desmond wants to help the Oceanic people remember the original timeline, and that this is often done via extreme emotional experiences, but was this necessary? Or is Desmond, knowing the role Locke plays in aiding the Man in Black in the other world, trying to actually kill Locke here in hopes of harming or affecting the other timeline?
The Island Timeline
Hurley's at Libby's grave, which he only visits in times of extreme duress/when the plot calls for it. Ilana tells him they're going to head to the Black Rock to get dynamite to blow up the Ajira plane, and Hurley tells her briefly about his almost-relationship with Libby that was ended by her murder. After she walks away, Hurley hears a swarm of ghostly whispers and looks up to see none other than
Mercutio Michael standing there. Michael says he's there to stop Hurley "from getting everyone killed," though when Jack walks up to get Hurley, Michael disappears.
Back down on the beach, Ilana is already back with the dynamite (one of the biggest edits for time compression ever, and a huge change compared with the first-season trek to get to the Black Rock for the same stuff), but Hurley's now questioning her plan and trying to slow things down in the hopes that he'll be able to change things and protect everyone. Ilana reminds him about Jacob's will and Richard's leadership and blah blah when BAM, she drops the dynamite and is blown into a million little pieces of Arzt that come raining down on everyone. As my friend Kiala put it, "That island does not like sassy Latinas." I can't believe I actually let the show lull me into another lengthy conversation to distract me from the possibility that someone would get their ass detonated, only to go ahead and do it when I didn't expect it.
Hurley goes through what I'm guessing is Ilana's stuff, finding a Russian copy of Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground as well as a pouch containing ... something. Maybe the ashes from the fire Ilana gathered at the statue? Whatever it is, it seems to strengthen Hurley's resolve in guiding the group's actions. While Jack and Richard bicker over the potential dangers of getting even more old and unstable dynamite, Hurley walks up and is suddenly gung-ho for the trip. He persuades Jack that it's the thing to do, so the group -- at this point Hurley, Jack, Richard, Ben, Frank, and Sun -- sets off for the Black Rock.
As they trek through the jungle, Ben ruminates on the way Ilana seemed to die after she'd served her purpose of protecting Jacob (which she kinda tanked) and telling the candidates about their potential fates. "The island was done with her," he says. Ben is bad at pep talks. When they all arrive at the wrecked ship, Richard notices Hurley isn't around, which means Hurley has gotten 7,000% better at being sneaky in the past day. They hear him shouting and turn to see him running frantically toward them and away from the ship, which promptly blows up. Richard is not at all happy about this, or with Hurley's simple defense of his actions with the statement, "I'm protecting us." Hurley tells Miles that he's working on orders from Michael, who's "one of the people who come back and yell at me after they die," adding that "dead people are more reliable than alive people."
Richard wants to head to the Barracks to get old grenades and explosives so they can stay on mission, but Hurley says they should go talk to Locke instead. (He refers to him as Locke because it's easier for them to use the dead man's name than to ascribe characteristics to the weird monster pretending to be him.) Hurley claims to be on orders from Jacob and points to an empty spot next to Richard as if Jacob's right there, but it's clearly a bluff because we usually get to see Jacob when the camera shows us Hurley's point of view, and we don't see him this time. Richard calls the bluff and tells Hurley to ask Jacob what the island is, but Hurley saunters over and quietly says he has nothing to prove to Richard and will be doing what he wants regardless. I am really liking the assertive Hurley. Richard tells everyone else that Hurley's lying because "Jacob never talks to us," and Miles and Ben opt to go with him to the Barracks. That leaves Hurley, Jack, Sun, and Frank together to go find the Man in Black.
On their way there, Hurley admits to Jack that he was faking the whole Jacob thing, but Jack knew and went along with it because he's been trying to let other people lead ever since his actions wound up killing Juliet. The whispers come back, but Hurley is calm as he walks away into the jungle to encounter Michael once again. Hurley's figured out and gets confirmation that Michael's spirit is among the whispers because he's one of those who can't move on and leave the island after death because of what they did. So what did Michael do that keeps him there? Was it the deaths he caused when the freighter blew up? Anyway, there's not much Hurley can do for him, but Michael does ask a favor: If Hurley sees Libby again, he wants Hurley to apologize for what Michael did.
So that's what happens with that crew. Meanwhile, backtracking a bit to catch up with the Man in Black, he's chilling at his camp and carving on a big stick when Sayid strolls in. MIB blows off his boring conversation with Sawyer and Kate to head with Sayid into the jungle, where he finds Desmond tied to a tree but oddly complacent about his state of affairs. Desmond placidly says he has nowhere to run, so MIB cuts him free and proceeds to ask him questions about why he's there and what Widmore's up to. Desmond says he doesn't know Widmore's plan, but that the old man did blast him with a ton of electromagnetism; when pressed, Desmond says he knew it was electromagnetism from the "experience" that followed. There's something about the way Desmond identifies MIB as John Locke that feels off for both parties, so it's no surprise that MIB takes him for a private walk into the jungle.
While they're out there, they both see the young boy that likes to show up and freak MIB's shit right out, but MIB pissily says to ignore him, so they press on. By night, they arrive at a giant well in a clearing, and its location makes it a different one than the well that led Locke down to the frozen wheel chamber a billion years ago, though similar in design and (apparently) purpose. MIB tells Desmond that the wells were built by hand a long time ago by people confused by how parts of the island made their compass needles spin around, causing them to dig for answers. He gives Desmond the hard sell about Widmore being power hungry, but gets irked when he realizes Desmond isn't more afraid of being alone in the jungle with no one knowing how to find him. "What is the point in being afraid?" Desmond asks. In reply, MIB shoves him into the well, sending him tumbling into the dark. The Man in Black does not mess around.
He heads back to camp to tell Sayid their problem is taken care of, and he's not there a minute when Hurley walks in and nervously but calmly organizes a cease-fire with the Man in Black and gets permission for his group to come in without being harmed. MIB passes over his knife to Hurley and gives his word, so Hurley signals his gang and everybody slips out from between the trees. There are a few awkward glances passed around, mainly from Kate, but the big one is when the Man in Black greets Jack with a friendly hello. It took me a moment to remember -- a lot's happened on this show -- but this is the first time Jack's seen the Enemy as Locke since carting Locke's corpse onto the Ajira flight, hence his disorientation. No telling where they'll go from there.
And that's that. Again, tons of stuff happening in this one, including the death by disintegration of a semi-major supporting character of the past year. I also like the way the episode casually revealed the truth behind the whispers. In addition to being a realistic portrayal at the way real-life secrets are almost always anticlimactic when discovered, it's a good reminder that many of the show's major mysteries will likely be solved in similarly average ways. Also, I have no idea what fate awaits Desmond at the bottom of that well, but death seems highly unlikely given the way he's been elevated to key status with last week's episode, plus the fact that a character like that would get a big good-bye. I wonder what's down there, though: another frozen time wheel? Something similar? Did the Man in Black have anything to gain from tossing him down there other than the knowledge that he's screwing with Widmore's plan? In the L.A. timeline, how many of the Oceanic survivors will find each other and start "remembering" the other world before something major occurs as a result? Will the players in one timeline eventually be able to affect those in the other, or is it more of a passive/observational thing? And really: What's with Ilana's Russian literature? She was in a Russian hospital when Jacob visited her. Will we ever find that out, or will it be lost to the folds of time?
Also, forgive me if you've seen this elsewhere or if it's made the rounds on Pajiba Love, but even if it's not new to you, it's still enjoyable: