As great as it is to have this whole "We Have to Go Back" endeavor to provide you all with content to digest in the eternal time between Seasons 4 and 5 of Lost, I must admit, I did as much for myself as for you. I'm kinda selfish that way. Now, like many of you, I own the first three seasons of the show on DVD. But I don't really use them very often. If anything, I ingest the extras, listen to a few audio commentaries, and put them back on the shelf.
So this project has help me dust off a few seasons that have been lying dormant for a while, and look at episodes with decently fresh eyes. I remember the general gist of an episode once it starts, but there are plenty of things which surprise me as well, and it's in those surprises that the entire endeavor is rendered incredibly useful. While I think this episode works better than I thought it might (Charlie's flashbacks are fairly and consistently terrible), it also serves to show that while the narrative structure of Lost can be frustrating at times, it's also insanely effective. More on this later. For now, onto the recap!
4) In Short
"Charlie! The Charlie-nator! Makin' copies! The Chuckster! You all makin' copies!"
8) On the Island
Charlie wakes up to noises in the caves. He sees Locke and Boone carrying Claire, and everyone quickly gathering around them. Jack clears everyone out, and examines her. When she comes to, we learn she brought someone back with her: her friend Amy Amnesia. She doesn't remember a thing since Sydney.
Jack and Charlie try to jog Claire's memory, to no avail. Nearby, Jin and Sun discuss Claire's situation. Jin seems particularly concerned about the state of the baby. Sun assures him that the baby's fine. It's all loaded dialogue, weighed with something from their past that may or may not pop up in later seasons. Boone tells Locke he's worried Ethan might come back.
In order to help stir her memory, Charlie gives Claire her journal. Claire tries to piece together her relationship with Charlie, and is roughly as hesitant about his clear crush on her as she was before she lost her memory. The following morning Jack, Sayid, Locke, and Charlie discuss her fate. Sayid's skeptical of her having actually escaped from Ethan, as well as her having actual amnesia. Looks like Sayid won't head up the "Welcome Home Claire" committee.
Charlie goes back to the caves to see Claire, and runs into Jin along the way. Charlie remarks that it must be nice for Jin to simply float along on the Island without incident, which is a Whedon-esque cue for Jin to take a rock to the noggin thanks to Ethan's Sling of Doom. Ethan's got bloody scratches on his face and evil in his eye. He orders Charlie to bring Claire back to him, or he will kill one of the Lostaways, every day, leaving Charlie for last.
Charlie tells Locke and Jack what happened, and the two plan strategy to capture Ethan before anyone else dies. It's almost as if listening to two men discuss strategy pertaining to a certain board game that pops up in Season 4. Jack wants to confine everyone to the caves to ensure maximum security; Locke posits such a scenario would make it easier for Ethan's people (should they exist) to take them all in one fell swoop.
Elsewhere: both Claire and Jin feel isolated from everyone else: one because she can't remember, the other because he can't communicate. They each have sympathetic ears, although both sets of ears are also hiding truths they feel are too horrible for the other to hear. It's kind of like when my wife sees how I'm excited about my new shirt that she lets me walk out looking like a doofus rather than spoil my mood, only with 100% less shirts and 100% psychotic natives.
Kate finds Jack in the caves, and suggests that unlocking their weapons stash might be a good call. Jack tells Calamity Kate no, thinking friendly fire is almost guaranteed if employed. On the beach, Locke tests his tripwire mechanism, impressing Sayid. The plan: four of these tripwires stationed around the perimeter, fires every twenty meters, and sentries on rotating shifts. Boone volunteers for a shift, to which Sayid reacts as if he's just volunteered to give the Iraqi a full-body oil massage. Locke bucks up Boone's self-esteem by stating that everyone's counting on Boone.
That night, Charlie goes on and on about how this is his fault, that he didn't take care of her, almost as if someone in his past once told him that he couldn't take care of anyone, a phrase that haunts him to this day. For realz.
Nightfall. Fires everywhere. The flames flicker in everyone's eyes. It looks bloody awesome. Boone Carlyle, God's Friggin' Gift to Humanity, managed to fall asleep, only to wake up to the sound of one of Locke's traps going off. He runs into the jungle, only to fall flat on his face again. Not Boone's finest morning. A female scream interrupts the scene, as a red shirt named Scott is found dead on the beach. The perimeter failed, because Ethan arrived not by land, but by sea. Everyone's rightfully freaked.
Claire's sick of everyone treating her like she's got SARS, and stumbles upon Shannon and her big fat yap, who managed to fill her in on why everyone's staring. Naturally, Claire turns around and verbally berates Charlie for keeping here in the DAHK about her BAYBEE.
Next up: a really cool scene that plays almost like a "What If?" given what follows: an electric scene between Jack and Locke where they each treat each other with a level of respect and almost admiration as Jack shares the secret of the gun stash with John. Worth it just for Locke's smile at the end.
Charlie's beyond mad in the caves: use us as bloody bait, are you bloody joking you bloody sods? (He seemed to say.) Claire speaks up, saying she's willing to volunteer if it means she can help save the lives of others. Charlie wants to be on gun patrol, but Locke points out he's never fired a weapon before. Charlie's having a worse afternoon than Boone's morning at this point.
But the Three Musketeers still need a Fourth Horseman, or um, something. So they choose The Polar Bear Hunter, Sawyer, as their final member. Kate's annoyed at being left out, so Sawyer plays the "my gun is bigger than Jack's gun" angle and hands Kate the 9MM lifted from the marshal. Kate then gives Jack a "you're so not hitting this anytime soon" look. Nothing like a love triangle to spice up an entrapment plot line. Charlie watches from a distance as Claire enters the jungle with the five armed Lostaways.
It's raining, natch, when Claire reaches the rendezvous point. The Lostaways are perched nearby. Seemingly from the ground itself, Ethan rises over the nearby hill, giving chase. Jack actually managed to beat Ethan up this time around, in stark contrast to their last encounter. It looks like they've managed to capture him, when suddenly Ethan's chest gets filled with lead: Charlie's managed to snag the gun Jack dropped during the fight and shot Ethan dead.
The next day, Jack wants to know why Charlie did it. With Ethan dead, their only lead to more information about the Island died with him. Charlie's skeptical that Ethan would have told him anything useful, and honestly, he's got a damn good point in hindsight.
Later on, Claire says she remembers "peanut butter," but doesn't know why. Charlie briefly tells her the anecdote of the invisible peanut butter from "Confidence Man." The two tentatively connect once again before Claire goes to sleep.
15) Off the Island
It's London, so it must be a high Charlie. He and his friend Tommy (who can see, hear, and feel just fine) scope out the local pub scene, looking to meet rich girls who can fund their drug habits. They find their mark, Lucy: Charlie makes his move while Tommy plays "You All Everybody" in the background on the jukebox. I know should I ever be single again, I'm gonna chat up girls in cyber-cafes while my buddy loads up this blog nearby.
Back at Lucy's place, she makes tea while he makes a mental inventory of stuff to steal. A cigarette case catches Charlie's eye: turns out it once belonged to Winston Churchill. Lucy wants Charlie to meet her dad. This scene is about as exciting as it sounds.
Dinner with Dad! Turns out Rich Papa once rocked out himself, but gave it up due to familiar responsibilities. He asks Charlie if there's a new album on the way. Awkward...awkward. Charlie stumbles through an increasingly uncomfortable monologue which ends with him admitting that Driveshaft is as dead as you all everybody in a cemetery.
At the pub, Tommy's shocked to learn that Charlie's taken a job with Lucy's dad, selling copiers. Tommy calls her a "moose," I suppose because she doesn't vomit after every meal and I'm getting mad just thinking about it so I'll skip the rest of the scene except to note that Tommy's only interested in making sure Charlie steals something of value to keep their heroin habit going.
It's Charlie's first day at his new job: he's opted for the suit/flop sweat combination, quite in fashion in London in the early part of this decade. Lucy's clearly never seen the signs of heroin withdrawal before, because if she had, she wouldn't have left him alone in a room with all of Daddy's valuables. Charlie swipes the cigarette case while Lucy grabs his briefcase, and away he goes to work.
Next up: what happens when "The Office" meets "Celebrity Rehab," as Charlie completely bombs during his presentation, culminating in some digestive pyrotechnics (hat tip to Cat from 10 Things I Hate About You). It's a truly squirm-inducing scene, and I didn't like it any more this time than the first.
Charlie goes to Lucy's house to apologize, but she's crying: turns out the EMTs discovered the cigarette case in Charlie's jacket. She wants to know why he even bothered to take the job: he says he wanted her to know he could take care of her. She tells him he'll never take care of anyone. Hey, looks like I was right earlier!
16) The Mythology
Well, we now the answer to the "Why does Ethan want Claire?" storyline. If anything, it looks like the writers knew they would also eventually make Sun pregnant, given her loaded looks and dialogue with Jin upon Claire's return. This mobisode might also give insight as to why Ethan went behind Ben's back in kidnapping Claire.
Sadly, we still don't know exactly why Ben is so obsessed with children, nor why none can be born on the Island if conceived there. But I'm willing to wait, so long as they actually pay it off in the end.
23) The Moment
Gotta go with Ethan rises, Leviathan-like, over the muddy hill top. That's "Monster Movie of the Week" stuff right there.
42) In Retrospect
- As mentioned before: watching Jin/Sun react to Claire's return now is to watch all their pain of their inability to conceive a child. It's a marvelously constructed scene in which what is said has almost nothing to do with what is meant.
- Hey, Ben? Next time you send people off to investigate if there are survivors of a plane crash, do NOT include your best surgeon as one of those sent. Especially when you've just learned you need surgery. To quote Gob Bluth, "Come on!"
108) In Summary
So here's why Lost is brilliant: knowing what you know now, this episode is inferior to what you experienced upon first seeing it. I don't mean that simply because you know the elements contained within it, but because the structure of the show lends itself to greater drama, tension, and thrills because of all the things you DON'T know when watching it for the first time. Ever watched one of those recap specials on ABC, where they break down the story chronologically? Absolutely boring. It's just not the same show at all.
Yes, now we know that Ethan's not alone, and we know why he took her, and where he took her, and how she got back, but that knowledge now takes us away from our once empathetic relationship with the Lostaways: back then, we were as scared and confused as they were as to what exactly was on the Island with them. Now? We have a pretty good idea, what with all the hatches, mini-cities, societies, smoke monsters, and frozen donkey wheels. And it inadvertently hurts this episode, through the fault of no one.
Which is all a way of saying this: all of you who want nothing more than concrete answers to your burning questions? Be careful, for you might just get what you wish for, and leave in your wake a show just a little more magical than the one you loved for so long.
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Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.