By Justine Elias
"Don't you know who I am? I'm one of the Oceanic Six?"
That and five bucks would buy Hurley a cup of coffee, or maybe a Slushie, before his off-island, post-rescue convenience store freakout: Arrested after a car chase (complete with TV helicopters and cliché smashed-up fruit cart), Hurley (Jorge Garcia) lands in jail, confronted by a detective who just happens to be the ex-partner of Oceanic 815 passenger Ana Lucia Cortez (Michelle Rodriguez). Hurley lies about having met her, then sees a watery vision of the drowned Charlie (Dominic Monaghan). End of flash forward: Hurley's back on the Island, awaiting rescue. Can those rescuers be trusted?
With Lost's fourth season running only eight episodes, any rescue looks unlikely. That the rescuer is played by twitchy, mannered actor Jeremy Davies (Rescue Dawn) makes him even more suspicious. The show's third season ended with a troubling flash-forward showing a still heroic, now drug-addicted doctor Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) yearning, two years on, to return to the island that he'd somehow escaped. Now we know that Hurley, too, rues something that happened there. Not merely that he rejected Jack's leadership and went into hiding with Locke. I found it chilling when Hurley, the most likeable character on this show, refused to answer a sinister lawyer's question as to whether "they" (the remaining crash victims) were still alive. (Lance Reddick of The Wire plays the lawyer: please let him return for more episodes.)
What I loved: seeing the captured Ben (Michael Emerson) get elbowed in the face by Danielle (aka The French woman) every time he opened his mouth. Even when Ben tells the truth—and he often does—he comes off like a liar. The best way to humanize a villain is to give him the most persuasive argument, as when he pleads with Danielle to take Alex (Danielle's daughter, his foster daughter) away from the site of the impending rescue. In the end, Ben got his wish; the bizarre family unit (evil foster father, mother, daughter and daughter's boyfriend) fled with Locke. Something tells me Ben's right on this one. Though he should remain leashed at all times.
Even better: Hurley's haunted house scene, which gets scarier and more disorienting every time I watch it. For me, Lost is at its best when it moves away from action and closer to psychological horror. (When was the last time you saw a really inspired car chase on TV? Earlier this season on C.S.I., right: The episode by French Connection director William Friedkin.) Back into the woods: who better than Hurley, the most emotionally vulnerable character we know, to find himself in such a scary situation. Watch again as Hurley flees in terror, then stops and looks back. The cabin appears to have changed position. Am I imagining it, or does the camera cross the axis of motion? More intriguing, though, is the possibility that Hurley, like Ben and Locke, is able to perceive Jacob—or whoever that is in the cabin. (The silhouette in the rocking chair resembles Jack's late father.) Interesting, isn't it, that both Hurley and Locke made their visits to the cabin shortly after the deaths of people close to them?
And interesting, too, that we got so few flashbacks: aside from reminders of Charlie's demise, one episode ago, Lost didn't dig deep into backstories. The flash forward, shared by Jack and Hurley, appears to be set before the season three ender, in which Jack is a fugly-bearded oxycontin addict. Prior to his psych ward visit to Hurley, he's beardless, but thinking of growing one, and he fixes himself a screwdriver, topping off a full glass of OJ with liquor, not the other way round.
I am like the Jezebel girls, letting the faithless, emotionally abusive boyfriend back into my life after he vanished for eight months. It's my fault. Lost and I went at it for a full week, but this time with none of his excuses and strange disappearances. Burned through the S2 and S3 DVDs. Had our pointless rehash conversation ("Through The Looking Glass": The Pop Up Video, subtitled for the subtlety impaired). Now we're going to try again. Lost will never change.
Yet I need my Lost to do something for me while he's around next eight weeks. Just one thing: kill this guy "Eli Stone."
House contributor Justine Elias blogs as Film Fatale at Movie City News. Her writing on film and television has appeared in The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix and other publications.