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January 27, 2009 |

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | January 27, 2009 |

“The Lie” — written Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and directed by Jack Bender — is ostensibly a Hurley-centric episode, but as discussed earlier, the series is now moving forward on two distinct timelines that involve almost all the major characters, so while Hurley drives a lot of the action in the present-day arc, he’s still only one part of the Oceanic Six, and the big reveals happen to other people. I guess this is just another way of saying that, for now, “Lost” is content to broaden its horizons and loosen its grip on the old way of doing things, and it’s definitely for the better.

Opening with a title card reading “Three Years Ago,” the episode begins with a man pulling a pair of Jekyll Island beers — save your Googling, it’s a prop brand — out of a fridge on board Penny’s boat, the Searcher, not long after she picked up the Oceanic Six. It turns out the man is Frank Lapidus, and he’s grabbing some brews as he heads back into the informal meeting the Six are having topside about how to proceed with the story they give the public about their time on the island. Hurley contends that people will find out they’re all lying, but Jack says the plan will work if everyone sticks together, and he’s getting antsy about time. Sayid says the decision will affect the rest of their lives, so maybe Jack could cool it for a second while everyone thinks it over. Kate and Sun agree with Jack’s plan, after which Jack turns to Frank and tells him he needs to vote, too. “Sorry you got dragged into this, but we need to know that you’re with us.” There’s a great and sad edge to the way Jack is taking charge of their plan to go forward, a kind of flip side to the moral leadership he so often attempted to assert on the island. Hurley’s the only one to speak up about the queasiness of the situation, or at least to register dissent. “I don’t think we should lie, dude,” he says to Jack, which makes Jack launch again into his explanation of how their cover story is necessary to protect the remaining castaways from Charles Widmore, who’d devoted considerable time and money into dispatching the Kahana to kill the castaways and reclaim the island as his own and is therefore probably not a guy to mess with. Hurley tries to reason with Penny, but she says it’s impossible to call her father off the hunt. Hurley then makes a pretty good point by reminding everyone that the island vanished, so it doesn’t seem likely Widmore will find it again. But Jack just comes back and reminds Hurley that the real story will be almost impossible for the rest of the world to believe, and that Hurley will be called crazy. “Not unless somebody backs me up,” he replies. Hurley turns to Sayid for support, reasoning that if everyone sticks to the real story — to the truth — then people will believe them. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life lying,” Hurley says. “Do you?” Sayid says he doesn’t, but that there’s no other way to go forward. Hurley, who functions on an admittedly less nuanced emotional level than the rest of the castaways, furrows his big brow and says, “I’m gonna remember this. Then someday, you’re gonna need my help, and I’m telling you right now: You’re not getting it.” Something tells me the very next scene will either (a) bear this out or (b) show Hurley helping Sayid despite his earlier betrayal.

Sure enough, cut to the present and Hurley barreling down the road, Sayid passed out in the passenger seat from a tranquilizer dart. Hurley shakes the man and yells his name, but the guy is completely passed out, the kind of passed out you usually only see after a bottle of whisky and a 3 a.m. trip to the Bell. Hurley, ever the considerate mental patient, attempts to buckle Sayid’s seatbelt while careening through traffic, but in the process he swerves and takes out a trash can. That’s all it takes for a cop car to show up in the rearview mirror, sending Hurley even further into the haze of panic. “What am I supposed to do?” he shouts at the comatose Sayid as he pulls over for the cop. He kills the engine and looks for a second like he’s trying to see if he can concentrate hard enough to just make everything disappear, but then the cop appears at his door and it’s … Ana Lucia!

Wait what now.

“What the hell were you thinking?” she asks him. “Why’d you pull over?” To his credit, Hurley actually tries to formulate a response instead of asking how a dead woman can do traffic stops, or even just screaming and running for the hills. Ana Lucia presses on: “What if I were real? What if a real cop stopped you? They already have pictures of you covered in blood with a gun in your hand.” Hurley tries to tell her it’s just ketchup from his dinner, but she ignores him and tells him he needs to get it together: He’s got to get new clothes and take Sayid to a safe place, for starters. Ana Lucia, despite having shuffled off this mortal coil, is giving Hurley some pretty sound advice vis-√†-vis avoiding the po-po. “Stay away from the cops. … Do not get arrested.” Since it’s only a few minutes into the episode, it’s safe to say this counts as Blatant Foreshadowing, which is kind of where “Lost” lives and eats. Hurley dazedly thanks her for her help, but before she walks away, Ana Lucia says, “Oh yeah, Libby says hi.” Man, still a dick, Ana Lucia. You gotta remind Hurley of his dead pseudo-girlfriend in his moment of utter peril? Like the guy needs the stress. Hurley looks in the rearview mirror and finds no cop car behind nor any trace of Ana Lucia, which he meets with a look of relief (the ghost is gone) and dismay (that was a pretty visceral hallucination, or whatever it was). Casting a look at Sayid, Hurley says, “Well, you heard her,” then guns the engine and drives away.

Back on Hell Island, the remaining castaways are attempting to make a fire, which is understandable, but they’re totally sucking at it, which kind of isn’t. Didn’t they get any better at this after living for so long with nothing but the leftovers from the fuselage and whatever they could forage? Has their brief time relying on the DHARMA food made them forget everything? Bernard and Rose are taking two different approaches to getting a fire going, and neither seems to be having much luck. While they’re bickering about the finer points of survivor skills, Neil — the jerky guy who was with Faraday on the raft when the first time blast hit — starts unloading some unnecessarily hefty amounts of douche all over them, telling them that they’re wasting their time since another blast could hit any minute. Rose shushes him up like she’s dealt with his whiny kind before. Sawyer walks up and finds a shirt on the ground; it belongs to Neil, but the guy says Sawyer can have it since “we’re all gonna be dead by sundown.” Nice attitude, Neil. You are asking for some cosmic comeuppance. Sawyer assigns Neil the nickname of “Frogurt” before moving on, which really, does Sawyer just sit around and think these names up and keep them in his pocket just hoping to make a new connection with another castaway so he can then give them a label? Sawyer heads down to the water, where Juliet is inspecting the Zodiac raft, still intact. “I guess whatever we had with us when we moved is along for the ride,” she says. It’s a good point, if obvious: It’s not like Faraday and the rest just fell in the ocean when the blast hit.

They look up to see Faraday emerging from the jungle, since he’d stayed behind to contact Desmond. “Welcome back, Dr. Wizard,” Sawyer says, to which Miles quickly adds, “I think it’s Mr. Wizard.” Sawyer, you just got served by Miles! Is this how you start your reign as new leader of the remaining castaways? Sawyer tells Miles to shut up (better), then wants to know where Faraday’s been for the past two hours. Faraday says he went back for his pack and got lost when the sky lit up again, which is pretty clearly a lie or omission or error or something, but Sawyer totally glosses over it and just wants to know if Faraday can plot when the next time wave will occur. He says he doesn’t know, but he also shoots down Juliet’s idea to take the raft out and try to hit a shipping lane since leaving means plotting a new bearing out of the island’s electromagnetotemporal insanity. And doing that means figuring out when they are right now. Miles stands and says he’s off to find food, telling Juliet “not to worry” about his methods. Is he going to just psychically locate a boar and try to mess with its thoughts? Is he going to just annoy an animal to death? Too late, he’s off. Juliet volunteers for water duty.

Back in the present, Hurley tosses water on Sayid’s face to try to wake him up. (This is what’s known in the ol’ TV biz as a transition.) They’re in a gas station parking lot, and Hurley is looking pretty rough. He grabs some cash from Sayid’s wallet and puts some shades on Sayid’s head, but just when you think the series is going to briefly devolve into Weekend at Bernie’s III: Ethnic Hijinks, Hurley leaves him in the car and walks into the service station. The set designers have gone perhaps a little overboard in their attempts to remind the viewer that the gas station is in L.A., since there are “SUNSET BLVD” and “HOLLYWOOD BLVD” stickers on the soda cooler and souvenir license plates for sale, which would place the gas station either next to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not on Highland or inside LAX itself. Either way, it’s a bit of stylistic overkill. Hurley wanders to the rack of T-shirts — really? — and grabs one that says “I love my shih-tzu.” The checkout girl sees the ketchup stain on Hurley’s robe and assumes it’s blood, but all she asks is if he had a rough night. Hurley’s trying to get through the transaction as quickly as possible, but the girl soon recognizes him, at which point the muted TV over her shoulder begins replaying the news story about Hurley’s apparent killing spree. Bad timing, universe. Hurley, who absolutely sucks at playing it cool, waits it out, but the girl eventually realizes Hurley is one of the Oceanic Six. Hurley does his best to calmly and believably deny this — which doesn’t work at all — before taking the shirt and beelining for the car. He changes in the parking lot and drives off right as Kate and Aaron are pulling in. (I realize the writers needed an easy way to transition between the characters, and it cuts down on the number of locations and scenes, but really? The same station?) Kate parks and pulls a map out of the glove box as Aaron looks up from his coloring book and says he wants to go home. She tells him to keep coloring and opens her cell phone, debating calling Jack, but then she gets a call from an unknown number. Kate’s weirded out when she realizes who’s calling, but happily surprised the caller is in L.A. and willing to meet up. When Aaron asks where they’re going, Kate says, “To see a friend.”

Back in Jack and Ben’s crappy hotel room, Ben unscrews the air vent and retrieves what looks like a box wrapped in cloth, which he stashes in his bag like Llewelyn Moss as Jack emerges from the bathroom. Jack picks up his jeans from the floor and checks the pockets for something, but not finding it, he opens the closet and looks in his jacket. “Are you looking for your pills, Jack?” Ben asks. “I flushed them down the toilet.” Man, it’s not enough Ben has recruited Jack to help round up the Six and take them back to the island; now he’s got to do it with the shakes. Jack doesn’t even pretend to put any honesty in his voice when he thanks Ben for flushing them. Ben tells Jack to go home and pack a bag with whatever he wants to keep from this life because he’s “never coming back.” So Jack’s return to the island is a one-way trip? Jack greets this with a pause before saying, “Good.” Ben tells Jack he’ll pick him up in six hours, and that in the meantime Ben has to take Locke’s body somewhere safe. “Safe?” Jack asks. “He’s dead, isn’t he?” Ben, who just totally lives for set-ups like these, only replies, “I’ll see you in six hours, Jack.” Hold the phone. Is Locke dead-dead, or just dead like Jack’s dad?

Over at Hurley’s folks’ house, his dad — who probably has a name, but since he’s played by Cheech Marin, is pretty much only conceivable as Cheech — makes himself what looks like a salami and caviar sandwich before settling in to watch “Expos√©.” (RIP, Nikki and Paulo.) He’s interrupted by a knock at the door, but when he heads to the lobby he realizes it’s coming from the back door. He opens it to find Hurley standing there with Sayid draped over his shoulder like a sack of comatose Iraqi potatoes. How Hurley made it through the yard and around the back carrying an unconscious man without arousing the neighbors’ suspicions is ignored as Hurley barrels in and carries Sayid to the couch. Cheech says that Sayid’s barely breathing, which prompts Hurley to give an erratic recap of how Sayid was shot by a tranq dart in a safe house where two men attacked him. Cheech finally realizes that Hurley probably shouldn’t be out of the mental institution, but Hurley contends that he and Sayid are in danger, yet when Cheech asks who’s after them, all Hurley can say is, “I’m not sure, exactly.” Just then, the intercom buzzes, and Cheech answers it to hear the LAPD asking to come in. Hurley actually seems surprised that the cops are there, but dude! Did you never see Terminator 2? You don’t stop by your house. Your pursuer will definitely try to acquire you there. Cheech promises to cover for Hurley, but only if Hurley comes clean about what’s going on. Hurley watches from the rec room — Sayid now resting comfortably on the pool table — as Cheech deals with the cops, after which they move Sayid back to the couch while Cheech tells Hurley they need to get a lawyer and go public. Hurley repeats that “they’re after us,” but he still can’t say more. “Sayid knows,” he says. “He can explain.” Cheech says they need to go to a hospital, but Hurley says they’ll get found and killed there just like The Godfather. Damn, Hurley picks some weird moments to be pop-culturally knowledgeable. Cheech holds firm that they need a doctor, and at the mention of the word, the little confused hamster gives the wheel in Hurley’s head a half-turn. “I think I know what to do,” he says.

Meanwhile, Kate and Aaron are getting on an elevator in a swanky hotel, and Kate lets Aaron push the button. (I was hoping the kid would go all Buddy the Elf and hit every one to make a Christmas tree, but no luck.) They arrive at a door and ring the bell, and Sun opens up to meet them. Sun was pretty much the only person it could be, too.

In another part of town, Ben heads to a butcher shop and pulls a ticket from the counter — 342 — and waits his turn. There’s only one other customer in the store, and as soon as she leaves, the butcher turns and says, “Hello, Ben.” Jill is mid-40s and shifty-looking, which makes her an ideal candidate to be one of Ben’s colleagues. She says they’re out of the porterhouse, but Ben says he doesn’t need meat, just for her to take care of something important in his van. “He’ll be safe with me,” Jill says. This chick is totally part of the plan. She tells Ben that Gabriel and Jeffrey have checked in and that “everything’s moving right on schedule,” and when Ben tells her that Jack’s on board, she makes a joke about Ben bribing him with pills. But Ben steps up and tells her to back off and cut Jack some slack. “He’s been through a lot,” Ben says. “We all have.” Jill bows her head and takes the retribution, too. Ben is still totally the boss, kids. As he’s leaving, Ben reminds Jill to keep Locke safe. “If you don’t, everything we’re about to do won’t matter at all.” Seriously, Ben completely and totally loves being able to drop cryptic and melodramatic bombs on people before walking away. And folks keep coming back! I bet if everyone just stopped listening to him, he’d shape up. Probably not though.

Back on the island, night has fallen, and Bernard is still trying his damnedest to get a fire going. Everyone else has stopped their own efforts just so they can stand around and watch Bernard. Vincent is still alive but now in the care of a nameless extra. Bernard, miracle of miracles, gets a spark and a small flame, but his attempts to blow it into something bigger only extinguish it. Rose gives him some grief, but when Neil starts bitching, she stands by her man and tells Neil to “take a time out.” The only thing greater than Rose asserting herself like the island’s hall monitor is the fact that no one is stopping her, probably because they all agree that Neil could use some corner time. As Frogurt walks away, Charlotte heads down to where Faraday is sitting watching the waves. She hands him a coconut and sits next to him, and these two are kind of adorable. Their babies would be all nerdy and sarcastic. When Charlotte looks fatigued, Faraday asks if she’s all right, to which she replies that she can’t shake her headache. The look he gives her says, “I completely expected this,” but he only says, “I’m sure it’ll pass.” Charlotte adds that she’s having memory trouble, too, and couldn’t remember her mother’s maiden name earlier. Faraday, who clearly knows what’s going on but isn’t saying it, chalks it up to stress. Charlotte sees through his crap and calls him on it, asking if he knows what’s happening to her. Before he can respond, Miles yells, “Dinner!” and emerges from the jungle carrying a boar carcass. When Bernard asks where the boar came from, Miles says he found it in the jungle, and that it’s only been dead for three hours, so it’s OK to eat. There are many things wrong with this story, but before people can start picking it apart or asking if Miles killed the boar with mind bullets, Frogurt starts kicking up dirt. He snaps at Miles when he asks for a knife, then says it doesn’t matter anyway because “Bernie the dentist can’t even start a fire.” Sawyer tells him to ease up, but Frogurt shows no signs of slowing, bucking at his nickname and calling Sawyer inbred. Juliet tries to calm him down, but it’s no use. He goes on yelling about their situation, but when the camera cuts back to him, the shot has pulled back from a close-up to show a bit more of his upper body, and there’s a kind of tension in the negative space that begs for something to invade the scene. Sure enough, right as Neil yells the word “fire” — and this is what would be known as irony, or comedy — he’s hit in the chest with a flaming arrow, making for the coolest death on “Lost” since, well, Sayid impaled that guy on a set of knives. The castaways look up to see a swarm of flaming arrows coming toward them from the jungle, and Sawyer has the presence of mind to yell “Run!” as everyone hauls ass down the beach. Suck on it, Frogurt. The guy goes down in a screaming blaze as arrows hit the sand, trees, even Miles’ suspicious boar. Escaping behind the treeline, the castaways scatter as the arrows keep coming. One guy turns around and takes one right in the gut, and Juliet stops at his side and begins shoveling sand onto the flame to try and smother it. Sawyer, annoyed at Juliet’s attempts to triage victims in the midst of an all-out attack, runs to her, grabs her arm, and drags her away. “There’s nothing you could have done,” he says. “We gotta go now.” And with that they run into the jungle.

Back in the present, Hurley notes with dismay that there are cops on a stakeout across the street. Cheech reminds him that he’s an escaped mental patient who’s left a trail of bodies across the Southland, so of course the cops are on alert. Cheech asks Hurley if he’s actually crazy, which is a bad button to push. “Do you think I am?” Hurley asks quietly. “Well, either that or you’re lying to me,” his dad responds. Hurley maintains he has a good reason for lying, but before he can get into it, Hurley’s mom arrives downstairs and calls up, “Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch?” She takes this sight and makes this announcement with way more boredom than anyone should. She says Sayid’s not breathing, and Hurley panics and runs down to the body, but discovers that Sayid is indeed still alive, though his breathing has slowed. Hurley tells his dad they have to go now, ignoring his mom’s plea for an explanation as he and his dad cart Sayid’s body out to the garage. A few moments later, Hurley’s dad drives off, waving politely at the cops.

Over at Sun’s hotel room, she and Kate are sharing an awkward cup of tea. Sun says she’s only in town for a couple of days and hands Kate a picture of baby Ji Yeon, who Kate says is beautiful but who really looks like every other baby ever in the history of time. Sun picks up on the worried vibe Kate is giving off — seriously, all the criminals on this show are terrible fakers — and Kate comes clean about how she’s being chased. “Somebody knows we’re lying,” she says, telling Sun about the visit from the lawyers and how Kate’s worried someone is going to take Aaron from her and expose the truth about the Oceanic Six. When Kate says she doesn’t know who the lawyers represent, Sun asserts that their client must not be interested in exposing the lie, since if they were, they’d just do it already. “They don’t care that we’re lying,” Sun says. “They just want Aaron.” Sun says Kate needs to “take care of” whoever’s after her, and Kate actually has the gall to act like she doesn’t know what Sun means. You’re a killer, Kate! It’s time to kill. Kate asks, “What kind of person do you think I am?” But Sun is not about to cave to Kate’s faux indignation. Flashing back to what it felt like to take off in the chopper while Jin watched from the deck of the Kahana, Sun says that Kate “makes hard decisions when she has to,” like when Kate put Sun on the chopper and promised to go find Jin, only to return without him. Just to make sure there’s no doubt that Sun holds Kate partly responsible for Jin’s death, she wraps up with, “You did what you had to do. And if you hadn’t, we probably all would’ve died, instead of just my husband.” Damn. Sun is not at all going to ignore the past. Sun says she doesn’t blame Kate — which yeah, right — and then changes gears like a psychopath, asking politely, “How’s Jack?”

Cut to Jack and Hurley’s dad walking through a dingy parking garage, Hurley’s dad explaining that even though Hurley sent him there, he still doesn’t completely trust Jack. Cheech takes Jack over to his jeep and opens the rear hatch to reveal Sayid covered in a blanket, still out. When Jack learns Sayid got hit with some kind of possibly drug-fueled dart, he tells Cheech they need to transport Sayid to Jack’s car so he can be taken to a hospital. Hurley’s dad says that Hurley warned about hospitals, but Jack shoots him down, at which point Cheech acquiesces to Jack’s wishes but tells Jack to stay away from Hurley when all this is over. “Whatever it is you talked him into, something tells me you don’t have his best interests at heart,” he says. This seems like a pretty big leap for Hurley’s dad, to go from knowing Hurley’s lying about something to fingering Jack as the string-puller for the whole cover-up, but whatever. Sufficiently chastised, Jack speeds over to the hospital with Sayid in the back, and he calls Ben when he arrives and tells him that Sayid “just showed up at his door.”

Back at Hurley’s house, his mom cracks a soda and sits with her son, asking who Sayid really is, saying she thought he was Hurley’s friend. Hurley says that’s true but that Sayid “also has this double life where he does crazy ninja moves and spy stuff.” Dude: You have to learn to talk like a nonretarded adult. Hurley’s mom doesn’t believe a good guy goes around killing people, and as she leans closer, she asks, “Why is this happening? How can anybody want to hurt you?” Hurley stalls for a moment, but he quickly breaks down and says, “We lied, ma. … All of us, the Oceanic Six, we lied about what happened after the crash.” This is a genuinely cathartic moment for Hurley, who’s never been able to hide the truth well from anyone, but his confession is marred by the writers’ and director’s decision to play the scene for comedy instead of pathos. When Hurley’s mom asks him what really happened, instead of giving her a condensed version or even just hitting the highlights, he begins to ramble senselessly like a lunatic about the smoke monster, the Others, the hatch, everything. He makes it sound completely implausible to me, and I have been watching the show. It’s almost as if the show is toying with the idea of complete self-destruction, of mocking the very twists and conventions to which it has so lovingly held just for the sake of, what, postmodern metahumor? Hurley pulls it back together when he tells his mom that they left behind the rest of the survivors, which is something. His mom tells him she believes him, though she doesn’t understand him. Hurley doesn’t take much comfort in that, telling her that a lot of people have died, and that he and the rest of the Six shouldn’t have lied. Although there’s some nobility to this, Hurley never quite establishes a persuasive link between the Six’s cover story and their present troubles. If they hadn’t lied, wouldn’t Widmore still be coming after them?

Back on Hell Island, Sawyer and Juliet are trudging through the jungle, just trying to keep a safe distance from the guys with flaming arrows. Sawyer shouts in pain and stops walking, looking down to find that he’s stepped on a small sharp branch and jammed it into the ball of his left foot. He pulls it out in a thoroughly rugged manner before telling Juliet they need to keep moving so they can meet up with everyone at the creek. “It’s a long creek, James. Which part?” she asks. He shoots back, “I don’t know, the wet part.” Before he can get more defensive, they hear some kind of rustling or whispering in the woods, and they take cover behind some bushes. Peering between the leaves, they see three men walk by single file, and the leader’s got a rifle. When it looks like the coast is clear, Sawyer asks if the strangers are some of Juliet’s people, to which she replies, “Do you want me to crawl out there and ask them?” Sawyer says, “You don’t have to be a wiseass.” Seriously, these two are destined to hook up. Soon. At that moment, the men appear behind them, one grabbing Juliet by the head and the other snatching Sawyer and holding a machete to his throat. The young man with the rifle appears and, speaking in a British accent, shouts at them, “What are you doing on our island?” Man, how many groups of people have been on this island?

Back in the present, Jack tosses Sayid onto an operating table, places an air mask on his face, and starts hooking electrodes to his chest. Jack checks the ECG monitor and, sweating like a madman, grabs some supplies from the closet. He injects something into Sayid’s arm but doesn’t see a change in his pulse, so he turns to any doctor’s tried and true remedy: the ol’ flashlight in the eyes bit. He pries open Sayid’s eyes and shines a light, and within seconds, Sayid awakens and bolts upright, his luscious man-locks free of their horrible slumber, Sayid’s hands around Jack’s throat. Jack gurgles an attempt at a name, and Sayid eventually realizes who he’s attacking, letting go and falling back to the table. Jack explains how Sayid got to the hospital, saying that Hurley is still at his folks’ house. Sayid, still reeling from the effects of the drugs coursing through his system, still knows this is a bad idea. “Does anyone else know he’s there?”

Cut to Hurley in his kitchen, microwaving a Hot Pocket … without the sleeve? Hurley, how do you expect to put that delicious mix of meat and cheese into your belly without a cardboard holder to protect your paws? Think, man! So of course when the microwave dings, Hurley scrambles to put the pocket on a paper towel, only to have the tar scared out of him when Ben materializes like an assassin. “Hello, Hugo,” Ben says politely, and in the episode’s best bit of comic relief, Hurley yells in pure fear and throws the Hot Pocket in Ben’s direction, where it hits the wall and smears pizza sauce on the nice finish. Hurley warns Ben to stay away, but Ben says, “I know you’re in trouble, and I can assure you, I’ve taken care of everything.” Ben makes everything sound creepy and wrong, even/especially when he’s trying to be quasi-helpful. Ben tells Hurley they can get out and avoid the cops. Hurley says that Sayid warned him about Ben, but Ben replies, “I’m taking you to Sayid. He’s with Jack. … Jack called me. How else would I know that they’re together?” What’s amazing about this exchange is that instead of having the viewer unconsciously side with Hurley, we know Ben to be speaking the truth and would actually like to see Hurley go with him, if only to reunite with the other guys to see what might happen. But Ben is so skeevy, and Michael Emerson so fantastic at these slippery line deliveries, that Hurley’s bound to not trust him. It’s a great little dynamic. Hurley calls shenanigans on Ben’s story, and though Ben admits he’s been “not an easy person to trust,” he tells Hurley that the others “came around when they realized that we all want the same thing. … To go back to the island.” Hurley looks legitimately worried about returning, but also almost hopeful that he might get to try and rescue those left behind. Ben hits Hurley with the kicker when he promises that if they leave, Hurley can stop worrying about “the stories and the deceptions.” Hurley almost goes for it, but he says, “Never, dude,” then bolts outside — he’s surprisingly quick — and starts shouting for the cops. “Hey, you got me! I’m the killer!” he shouts as the officers hop out of their sedan and draw their weapons. They shout him to his knees as he attempts to give a lame confession, even stumbling over the number of people he supposedly killed, but Hurley’s relieved to be arrested. “Just get me away from here,” he keeps saying, casting a look of victory over at Ben, who’s standing on Hurley’s porch and watching the whole scene with an air of actual surprise and curiosity. Ben turns and walks back into Hurley’s house as the cops read the big man his rights, but Hurley should have remembered his visit from the spirit of Ana Lucia, who clearly said, “Do not get arrested.” This is going to have bad consequences for Hurley. We already know Widmore can dick with TSA guards, so he can probably buy off a couple LAPD sergeants. Plus come on, Hurley, you know anyone can be got to in the joint. And you don’t look tough enough to just do your two days.

Back on the island, the angry uniformed British guys are tossing Sawyer and Juliet around. The gunman, whose uniform identifies him as Jones, shouts at Sawyer to start explaining himself before he has Juliet’s other hand cut off. “Other?” Sawyer asks. “The first one isn’t negotiable,” Jones says, “it’s just to illustrate how serious I am.” The frantic editing works to the scene’s advantage, heightening the tension enough that you really start to wonder if Juliet will lose a hand, and if so, will this be enough to stop Sawyer from hooking up with her. (No.) The other soldiers, whose name tags say Cunningham and Mattingly and who have not yet spoken, look pretty eager to commence with the torture; there’s a look in Mattingly’s eyes that says, “Let’s chop cats.” Sawyer tries to explain about the flashes, and things are looking pretty poor for everyone involved, when suddenly a large rock flies out of nowhere and takes out one of the soldiers, which is then followed by another that hits the second guy. Sawyer attacks Cunningham while Juliet grabs Jones’ rifle and aims at him. Mattingly gets up and prepares to attack when a knife flies out of the darkness and sticks him in the gut. And then, like a swaggering hero, John Locke limps out of the woods and pulls his weapon from the dead man’s side. “Nice to see you,” Locke says.

Back in the present, there’s some weird stuff going on. The action shifts to what looks like an underground lair as conceived by a boyhood Bruce Wayne; there are boards of lights, computer monitors, a chalkboard with obscure maths all over, and a Foucault pendulum swinging in the middle of the room. And, just when things couldn’t get genuinely weirder, an old woman in a hood and robe walks up to the chalkboard and starts scribbling a formula. The whole scene looks a lot like the computer room in Desmond’s old Swan station, actually. (There’s also what appears to be a small DHARMA logo on the front of the monitor casing.) The woman walks over to the old computer and pulls up a map of the world on which several Xs, like locations, have been marked. The screen flashes, “Event Window Determined.” She exits the room and ascends a spiral staircase into a church; Ben is there, lighting candles. The woman lowers her hood as she approaches the altar. Ben asks if she had any luck, and she says yes, though Ben is somewhat skeptical. She asks how Ben is doing, and he admits to having some “difficulties.” The woman says Ben should get going because he’s only got 70 hours, at which news Ben wigs out a little and says he needs more time. The woman stands firm, telling him 70 hours is all he’s got, and as she turns to the camera she’s (dramatically) revealed to be … Mrs. Hawking? Oh yeah, her. She’s the creepy and knowledgeable old lady who taught Desmond about destiny and fate when he first started time jumping, and who apparently knows a lot about the island. “I lost Reyes tonight,” Ben says, and it’s one of the few times he’s ever appeared truly worried. Ben asks the old woman what happens if he can’t get the Six back to the island, and she — apparently loving a set-up as much as he does — replies, “Then God help us all.” A bit over the top, but point taken.

And that’s that for the second episode of the fifth season. There was a lot of good progression on the present-day arc, and it’s interesting how condensed (in a way) this season’s timeline could turn out to be. The first season covered 44 days, if I remember, but the first two episodes of this season have covered, what, 24 hours? It picked up with Ben and Jack at the funeral parlor, and now it’s the next evening and Hurley’s been arrested. That’s a radically slowed pace, even as the series manages to achieve new levels of action and momentum, which is impressive. As for the big questions raised in the episode, most seemed to come toward the end. Who are the antagonistic British soldiers? Were they part of the group firing flaming arrows into the crowd of survivors? Could one or both of these groups be, or be related to, the Hostiles, who were on the island even before DHARMA? When the castaways experience time shifts and go sliding through space-time, is it possible for their presence to be seen or heard in the main island timeline, perhaps manifesting itself as the ghostly whispers we’ve been hearing in the jungle since the first season? And how many friends does Ben have helping him move his plans along? Why the need to so fiercely protective of Locke’s body? Is that guy even dead? And just what’s the old lady’s deal, anyway? And seriously, how many times is Hurley going to hallucinate? That’s gonna get old.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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