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Lost, Season 2, Episode 4: Everybody Hates Hugo

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode Title:Everybody Hates Hugo

Overall Episode Rating: C+

It took more than half of Season 1 to get to a Hurley-centric episode. Until that underrated episode, “Numbers,” we wondered if the hefty nice guy was ever going to be a major player or if he was destined for a background role. As his role grew, Hurley episodes still had a tendency to be a bit superfluous, especially early on. But “Everybody Hates Hugo” has touches of darkness around the fluffy marshmallow center.

“Numbers” established Hugo as an on Island player. “Hugo” takes a break from much of the Island mythmaking to investigate a very important question. Now that the castaways have a bunker full of food and comforts (a shower, laundry facilities, etc.), how will they handle it? Hurley is thrust into the role of food-protector by Jack. It’s a role we know he has played, ever since he doled out the airline meals in the series pilot. It’s not a role he relishes. Almost from the first second people want favors and access, and he’s forced to deny them–even Charlie and his request for peanut butter. I have some qualms with this role for Hurley… isn’t it a little bit stereotypical? And shouldn’t it have been obvious to Jack that someone a little tougher and more self-confident than Hurley should be guarding the Dharma Initiative-issue Saltines? But no, the fat guy likes food. We get it.

That Hurley’s solution to this is ultimately the right one saves the premise. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

There’s a fair bit of weirdness in “Everybody Hates Hugo,” beginning with the first scene. In it, Hurley is making moony eyes at the food in the pantry when he turns around and sees Jin sanding there with a man in a chicken suit. In perfect English, Jin says “Everything is going to change” and “Have a cluckity-cluck-cluck day, Hugo.” WHAT DOES IT MEAN? It’s our first, mild trip into Hurley’s season-long crazy spell. Also: How cool is it to see Daniel Dae Kim speak perfect English? That won’t happen again until Hawaii 5-0.

As mentioned before, the main castaway crew is mostly in park during this episode. Jack and Kate have a moment outside the shower, Claire finds the bottle from the blown-up raft (which Sun decides to bury and tell no one about), Locke plays with guns. In one important scene, Sayid and Jack investigate the hatch’s nether regions, which are covered in concrete. Sayid says the last time he heard of everything being covered in concrete like so, it was at Chernobyl. Ominous!

The yin to Hurley’s main-arc yang is actually Rose, who appears for the first time since late in Season 1. He shows her the laundry facilities and in return she talks him through his food crisis. Or, rather, talks him OUT of his original plan, which is to blow it all up.

To understand why he doesn’t want things to change, and doesn’t want to be the “bad guy,” we need this episode’s flashback, which is slight but fun. It picks up immediately after Hurley learns he won the lottery and faints in his mother’s living room. She hilariously admonishes him for sitting around and eating chicken all day and night (this turns out to be true). Hurley doesn’t tell anyone about his win, though, and instead goes to work the next day at Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack (hence the costumed fellow in the cold open).

The would NEVER have flown on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” though verbal spousal abuse was apparently fine.

But Hurley has a bad day and has a boss who is only slightly more savory than John Locke’s prickish supervisor. Hurley and his best friend Johnny (played by odd-looking character-actor extraordinaire D.J. Qualls, who is unfortunately much better known for Road Trip than for Hustle & Flow) quit their jobs. All of a sudden Hurley feels lucky. He asks out the cute record store clerk, he and Johnny flamingo their ex-boss’s yard, etc. But then Johnny stops at a convenience store and there’s a news team there. The clerk ID’s Hurley as the guy who bought the winning lottery ticket, Johnny immediately looks jealous and hurt (a bit of a stretch there) and Hurley’s lottery doom begins in earnest.

It all leads up to his decision in the hatch to, instead of blowing up the food, give it all away. Now. With 40 people it’ll never last long anyway, he tells Jack. His decision is final, and Jack agrees. We are therefore treated to the final scene, which shows Hurley playing Island Santa Claus, doling out Dharma Cheese and Dharma Cereal and Dharma Soup to the castaways who enjoy it all around a fire. And, yes, he slips Charlie the Dharma Peanut Butter and we are treated to essentially the high point of the Charlie/Claire relationship. Way to go, Hugo.

Across the Island, Jin, Sawyer and Michael are still held captive by what we now know is another group of castaways. Eventually they agree they’re not Island natives and agree to let them out. As they walk, Michael learns from a chesty blonde named Libby that there “were” 22 of their group. They take them to a new Dharma station (this one The Arrow). There they meet an older fellow who asks them if there was a woman named Rose at their camp. Turns out Rose was right; Bernard is alive after all.

*Bonk*

Episode: “Everybody Hates Hugo”

Director: Alan Taylor

What the title means: Aside from the obvious connotation with a hit CBS sitcom from the era, the title is meant to get inside Hurley’s head, where he (probably in err) thinks that everyone will hate him for his role as food-protector. This episode will be counter-pointed later in the series, both in terms of the title and in Hurley’s willingness to make hard decisions.

Best Scene: This episode isn’t bad as much as it is fluffy. With a 24-episode order, the producers can afford to investigate what the castaways decide to do with the Swan stations food stash. And in truth, it’s a welcome rest after the mythological mammoth that was the previous episode, “Orientation.” So I’ll hand “best scene” to the final montage, where everyone is smiling while they eat their Dharma Pears.

On a more serious Lost-level this decision foreshadows Hurley’s final Island role, which I’ll leave alone for now.

Close second: Hurley’s dream.

Worst Scene: While I don’t have a problem with the content of the scene, the final revelation, where Hurley explains his problems to Rose and we see the end of his easy, pre-lottery life, is oddly edited for Lost. The scene quick-cuts between the Island present and the flashback, which as far as I can remember is pretty unique. It’s unsettling for veterans like me. Now get off my lawn.

Runner up: Sun and Claire unilaterally deciding to bury the bottle. I mean, c’mon.

Best Line:  Sawyer to Ana Lucia, while they’re still trapped in the bear pit: “You want me, hot lips? You’re going to have to come down here!” /throws rock.

Best Throwaway Moment: When Hurley and Johnny are joyriding, enjoying their night out, Hurley looks at Johnny and says “Dude, just promise no matter what happens, things aren’t going to change.” Johnny: “Are you getting that bypass surgery?” Hilarious.

Revelations: Bernard, Rose’s husband, is actually alive; the other group of castaways “had” 22 people; Hurley gives away all the food in the hatch; Kate likes hot showers (and Jack likes cold ones).

Next Episode: “… And Found”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

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Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV

Lost, Season 2, Episode 3: Orientation

September 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode Title:Orientation

Overall Episode Rating: A-

“Orientation” is a delight to the Lostophiles among us, because it symbolizes, better than any other single episode, the beginning of Lost’s geeky subculture. With this episode we make our first acquaintance with the Dharma Initiative, Dr. Pierre Chang (aka Dr. Marvin Candle) and Helen Norwood (played by the spectacular Katey Sagal). We’re also treated to the single most memorable Jack-Locke debate.

As one of the aforementioned Lostophiles, I could go on for hours about “Orientation,” but this post has literally already paralyzed me for a month, and if this project is to ever continue, I have to get past it. Most of my posts from here on out may take a bit of an abbreviated tone (or at least “listy,” in the magazine parlance) so please forgive me. I’ll let video do the talking for me where applicable. I’m happy to have conversations about deeper points in the comments or on Facebook.

Without further adieu, seven things I loved about this episode:

1. Katy Fu**ing Sagal. To know Katey’s character, Helen Norwood, is to know the full depth of tragedy faced by one John Locke, which we explore more deeply in this flashback. We knew he was a sad soul, screwed of a life and his kidney by a con man of a father, but this episode puts him right up there with Hamlet on the list of tragic figures in fiction. You see, Locke found love. And he found it in the warm, caring embrace of Mrs. Peg Bundy. Okay, that’s not fair. With this role (and most certainly her current role on Sons of Anarchy) Sagal has most definitely broken out from the shadow of her buxom, unfulfilled housewife. But my God, just how good of an actress is she? Anyway, they meet at a sad-sack therapy session, and soon they’re sleeping together and by all accounts a couple. But John has one hang-up: He won’t stay the night. Instead he drives to his father’s estate and sits outside the gate. Why? We don’t know, and neither does Helen. Neither does John, really. His father–again played with smarmy awesomeness by Kevin Tighe–comes out and tells him point-blank that he’s “not wanted.” (“Why?” Locke asks. “There is no why,” his ass of a father says. Ah, the anti-Lost argument in a nutshell.) But Locke keeps coming back. In the flashback’s final scene, he seemingly picks Helen over his father, but not before she has to throw his car keys over the estate wall in order to ensure he’ll keep the key to HER apartment. It’s just another in series worth of flawless Locke back story.

Question: Is Katey Sagal/Terry O’Quinn the best character actress/actor hookup in TV history? I’m voting yes.

2. We learn more about the computer. Early in the episode we finally get the result of the Jack/Locke/Desmond standoff in the hatch. Desmond accidentally shoots the computer, which he thinks has to have a code (Hurley’s numbers) entered into it every 108 minutes or the world will end. When he sees it can’t be fixed he runs, and Sayid is called to save the day. Do they fix the computer? Do they continue to push the button? We shall see.

3. Desmond’s mini-story. We’ll learn a lot more about Des down the road, but here we get the short version. He was in a sailing race around the world, and he crashed on the Island. He was rescued by a fellow named Kelvin, who is now dead, who trained him to push the button and convinced him he couldn’t go outside. When he finds out the outside is not, in fact, poisonous, he runs. But Jack, who recognizes him as the man he talked to in the LA Colosseum years ago, follows, and they have a pretty killer conversation in the woods.

4. The Hatch’s mysteries come into focus. Before he flees, Desmond downloads what he knows about the Hatch. The button, the supposed reason for the button. Jack challenges him on whether he had ever suspected that it was all a big hoax, and Desmond’s answer (delivered in his wonderful Scottish accent) is classic:

“Every — single — day. And for all our sakes, I hope it’s not real. But the film says this is an electromagnetic station. And I don’t know about you, brother, but every time I walk past that concrete wall out there, my fillings hurt.”

Later, after Desmond is gone and Jack is harassing Locke, who is in a tizzy to fix the computer, Locke says this: “”Is the reason you’re so upset because he recognized you? Because that would be impossible.”

5. The Swan Orientation film. This is where shiz gets weird, and Lost enters territory inaccessible to many fans. Desmond alerts them to a bit of film, hidden inside a book (Turn of the Screw, a novella by Henry James), which explains at least in part the station’s purpose. Here it is in its entirety.

The highlights: He explains what the Dharma Initiative is (basically scientific socialism), mentions of the DeGroots and Alvar Hanso, and a reference to an “Incident” which diverted the station from its original purpose to the current electro-magnetic gatekeeper that it is today.

The best part: Locke’s response. “We’re going to need to watch that again.” Indeed.

6. Meanwhile, across the Island… Locke, Jin and Michael are thrown in a pit by the people who attacked them. They sit there for a while, and then they throw in a woman… the same woman, close observers will realize, who Jack spoke to at the airport bar in Sydney in the Season 1 finale. Hmm… She explains that she survived from the tail section and was also captured. She’s amazed to find out 40 others survived from the front of the plane. Just when Sawyer is about to jump their captors, she attacks, and is pulled out. She’s working with the other folks, and we can only presume that they are also survivors. The cast is about to get a whoooooole lot bigger.

7. Jack vs. Locke II: After his conversation with Desmond, while Locke, Sayid and Hurley are trying to decide whether to push the button in the hatch, Jack returns. Hurely (knowing the numbers are bad, as we discussed in previous posts) is about to let Locke enter the wrong final number, but Jack corrects him. Locke tells Jack he needs to be a part of this, but Jack balks. The exchange is classic:

And if you want it in Auto-Tune, here you go:

Then Locke says: “I can’t do this alone, Jack. I don’t want to.” (Smack of Lord of the Rings, right?) And guess who pushes the button? Jack.

*Bonk*

“Oh, I want to love you more than Ed O’Neill, but see… his show is still winning Emmys.”

Episode: “Orientation”

Director: Jack Bender

What the title means: For the castaways it means an orientation to the mysteries of the hatch, both figuratively and literally, in the form of the Swan Orientation film watched by Jack and Locke. For Lost viewers, it’s an orientation into just how much of a mind-eff the rest of the series is going to be.

Best Scene: As much as I like revisiting the first Dharma Initiative video, there’s no comparison to the final showdown between Jack and Locke. “Believing” vs. “non-believing” is the whole thrust of the show, and these two deliver their lines so well.

Worst Scene: I guess the stuff in the pit with Sawyer and Ana Lucia, just because Michelle Rodriguez is involved. I’m also a little befuddles as to how even Sayid, the By-Cracky Iraqi, can fix a computer with a bullet hole in it in less than 40 minutes.

Best Line: 

Drama category: “We’re going to need to watch that again.” Locke after the orientation video speaks for 3/4 of the Lost audience, most of who probably did not have DVR in 2005.

Comedy category: “The next time Shaft opens the cage, I’m going to surprise him with a little Howdy Doody.” Sawyer to Ana Lucia, planning to pull a gun on their African captor. Ah, Mr. Southerner… you have such a way with words.

Best Throwaway Moment: In Desmond’s frantic escape from the hatch, we’re treated to a lingering look at a photo of him and a comely blonde woman, which he neglects to take with him. I wonder if we’ll see that photo again? A Penny for your thoughts, Mr. Hume…

Revelations: Locke had a love, named Helen; a group called the Dharma Initiative ran the hatch, and a video outlines the need to push a button every 108 minutes; there’s (at least) one other survivor of the plane, and she and other have Michael, Sawyer and Jin captive; this is going to be one complicated damn show.

Next Episode: “Everybody Hates Hugo”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV