'Lost': Numbers

Jorgegarcia_lost_s4_240 I will say, the timing couldn't be better for this episode to come along. And why is that? It just so happens that my effort to double the membership of Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group stands at 62. Why is this so important? Well, the drive started with thirty-three members, leaving us just 4 short of my goal. And any good Lost fan knows just how important the number four is.

That being said, we're still short of our goal, so make sure you spread the word and help reach our goal. If you've already joined, great! If you haven't, you're as dead to me as Chozen is to Sato in The Karate Kid II after he refuses to help Daniel rescue the little girl during the monsoon. So much for the glory of love. In any case, on with the recap!

Numbers

4) In Short

"Just play Keno: much less chance of death, destruction, and madness."

8) On the Island

Jack and Hurley ask Sayid about Rousseau's location, since the second coming of the S.S. Craphole could use some of her batteries that could power an S.O.S. device. Sayid's adamant about not going back to the "Dark Territory," Rousseau's nickname for her neck o' the jungle. He could be scared, or could be thinking about getting to second base with Shannon. It's a bit unclear. He hands over all of Rousseau's paperwork to Hurley and Jack. Hurley stops cold when he sees a series of numbers: 4 8 15 16 23 42. Hey, who stole my locker combo? Damnit, Darlton, not cool!

That night, Sayid wakes up to Hurley staring at him, all Single White Crazy Male-like. He's subtly asking about the meaning of those numbers, and by "subtly" I mean "with all the stealth of a hippo doing the macarena in Tiffany's." Continuing with his Jason Bourne-esque moves, he gives Charlie the brush-off when the British rocker wants to go fishing with the big man.

The following morning, Sayid accuses Jack of stealing Rousseau's maps. The two of them, along with Charlie, quickly deduce his plan. Then again, Hurley all but left wearing a neon "I'm going after the crazy French chick" sign over his head. Hurley eventually comes across the infamous cable and follows it into the jungle. He eventually steps on a pressure-triggered booby trap, just as Sayid, Charlie, and Jack catch up to him. To their great surprise, Hurley manages to evade the booby trap. But he's still reticent to tell the group his true motive for being out there.

The four of them accidentally stumble upon the set for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, with a long, unsteady rope bridge providing passage across a deep chasm. Hurley boldly walks across, and once again surprises everyone by making it across quite easily. Charlie quickly follows, thinking it's safe, but apparently lack's Hurley's core strength (Hurley obviously does pilates) and the bridge collapses beneath him. This leaves Hurley and Charlie on one side, and Jack and Sayid on the other.

Jack accidentally trips a wire, which causes a massive explosion. Looks like Rousseau rigged her own place to go. Apparently the housing market on the Island is as bad as it is here. (Well, unless you're in one of those sonic-fence laden enclaves, naturally.) Meanwhile, Charlie angrily follows Hurley, wondering why he's acting like a "nutter," a word that sets Hurley on edge. Just as Hurley's about to reveal his motivation, gunfire sends them both running. Hurley eventually runs into an armed Danielle.

Hurley asks Danielle what the Numbers mean. She says she doesn't know, which upsets Hurley tremendously. He starts to lose it, and I mean lose it, and God Bless Jorge Garcia for this scene and adding much needed depth and pain to this character. Danielle tells Hurley that her crew heard the numbers over their airwaves, which prompted them to come to the Island in the first place. She later changed the message to the recording heard by the Lostaways. She agrees with Hurley that the numbers are cursed, which Hurley finds oddly satisfying. He hugs Danielle, and it's an oddly beautiful moment between two nutters.

Back at the Explosion Formerly Known as Rousseau's Abode, Charlie comes across Sayid and Jack, followed soon after by Hurley, bearing a battery. Sayid delivers it that night to Michael on the beach.

Charlie once again asks Hurley for his reason in going after Danielle. Hurley tells Charlie he thinks he's the reason the plane went down. Charlie calls his "daft," confessing his own drug-addicted past and seeks an equal confession from Hurley. Hurley tells the truth, but Charlie doesn't believe him. It's sorta like when I try to tell people that I'm super awesome, and they somehow don't believe me. I know. They are nutters.

As the episode closes, the camera pans in closely upon the hatch, revealing the Numbers inscribed into the side of it. Ruh row. That can't be good.

This week's B story: Locke recruits Claire for a secret building project. In the jungle, Claire tries to guess the nature of Locke's project, impressed by his DIY nature and grateful for Locke allowing her to do something other than simply sit and be an amnesiac mother-to-be. That night, Claire mentions it's her birthday. Turns out, Locke had an inkling, as the project in question turns out to be a cradle for her unborn child. All together now: awwwww.

15) Off the Island

Hurley's at his mother's house on a Saturday night, watching TV. Sounds like bliss to me, but his Mom thinks otherwise. Hurley can't believe his eyes as his realizes he's won the lottery. Hurley goes down for the count.

The next day, the press gathers in front of Hurley's house, as he introduces his family to the press. Hurley tells the press how these winnings can finally help pay back his family for all he's put them through recently. While talking, his grandfather clutches his chest and keels over. Guess that whole fainting thing runs in the family. Ooops, he's dead, nevermind.

Hurley's driving his Mom in a new Hummer, relaying all the recent bad luck his family's gone through recently. The two are tense, to say the least. Hurley mentions the "c" word...no, not that one. "Curse," a word than earns a slap from his Catholic mother. They two finally arrive at their destination: a newly purchased home for his mother. Hurley's mother promptly breaks her ankle, the house catches on fire, and Hurley's arrested after making a 911 call to salvage the house. Cue this song.

Hurley's money manager tells Hurley that his bad luck actually benefits him fiscally: the worse things go, the richer he gets. He even owns a box company now, essentially making him Locke's boss. The manager wants to know where Hurley came up with the numbers in the first place, which makes Hurley think it's the numbers, not the money, that's cursed.

The big guy is now in a nondescript building, looking for a man named "Lenny." The building? The Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute, where Hurley was apparently once a patient. He finds Lenny playing Connect Four by himself, muttering the Numbers under his breath over and over. Lenny doesn't respond to Hurley until he mentions that he used them to play the lottery. This freaks Lenny out, big time, much in the way that MIley Cyrus' career freaks me out. Lenny shouts, "You've opened the box!" He rants and raves until he's finally taken away by an orderly, but not before telling Hurley where he first heard them: Australia.

Hurley arrives at the house of Sam Toomey, the man mentioned by Lenny, in the middle of nowhere in Australia. She tells Hurley that Sam and Lenny worked in the South Pacific together at a listening post for the U.S. Navy. Sixteen years ago, in the midst of the same nightly static, they heard the numbers over the airwaves. Sam ended up using the numbers to win at a carnival game, which started a chain of events not unlike what's been happening to Hurley. Hurley wants to know how Sam broke the curse. The answer? Suicide. Well, there's that, then.

16) The Mythology

C'mon, it's the Numbers, people. One of the major mythological tentpoles of the show. If you're a Lost fan, you know the Numbers back and forth. You see them in everyday life. You engage in enough apophenia to drive loved ones away. (See: first paragraph of this recap.) They are both central to the show's essence and yet one of the most ephemeral, impenetrable aspects of the show.

The Numbers deserve their own entry; hell, their own chapter of a book, really. So I won't pretend to do the Numbers justice in this tiny bit of internet space right now. The actual explanation for the Numbers only exists inside an ARG not offically sanctioned by the producers of the show. There has yet to be an in-episode verification of what I'm about to state, but it's the best we die-hards have to go on right now.

According to The Lost Experience, the Numbers correspond to core values of something called The Valenzetti Equation, which predicts the end of the world. The Hanso Foundation's mission on the island was to change of of the Numbers, which explains why they were broadcast on the frequency accidentally accessed by Sam Toomey and Danielle Rousseau. The Island is ostensibly a place which, by its unique properties, was singularly equipped to say, put polar bears in tropical climates or conduct experiments adjacent to unusual electromagnetic sources. These conditions could allow for a change in the equation, and the continued survival of mankind.

Even if a future episode verifies this, it doesn't truly get us any closer to what the Numbers mean. It tells us what they are, and that's all well and good, but definition does not necessarily provide significance. To simply identify these six numbers as variables in an equation does not in any way, shape, or form give us any greater insight into what's happened not only to Hurley, but anyone on the show who has encountered any of these numbers in their travails both on and off the Island.

And here's where the mythology truly, finally kicks in: it's a pretty delicious thought that these once benign numbers somehow acquired or accumulated meaning at some point between Valenzetti's equation and the actions on the show. Jeff Jensen over at Entertainment Weekly (a guy who makes my theories seem like the ramblings of a third-grader on a Pixie Stix bender) has long advocated that the Numbers have been imbued with a type of social, psychic, or mystical property that rubs off somehow on those who encounter them.

This, I think, is what Darlton mean when they say that the show may never truly reveal the meaning behind the Numbers. The Lost Experience offers a perfectly fine and interesting take on their origins, but I'd rather keep the energy contained within them an acknowledged but unexplained mystery.

23) The Moment

"You've opened the box!" still creeps me out to the max. Even more than Hannah Montana.

42) In Retrospect

Let's talk about Leonard's box. Is it at all connected to Benjamin Linus' box? I ask since watching this episode heavily implied that there's a central source of energy, not exactly benign, that can be wielded by using these numbers as an access code. The wielder cannot always control this power, but cannot be harmed by it, either. This is why Hurley can go all Steve Irwin in the jungle: he knows it's never him that gets harmed by the curse, just those around him. (And if the idea of opening a box of potent evil that can harm others reminds you of a certain scene in Season 4, then you're getting my drift here.)

Let's talk about that bridge. Who wants to take wagers on who built it? Rousseau's group? The Others? Or maybe the same people that constructed a four-toed statue? Just saying this might be the fight clue at how long people have lived on this Island.

108) In Summary

This episode marks the final of a trilogy of Season 1 episodes that explored strange occurrences before anyone landed on the Island, joining "Raised by Another" and "Special." Not coincidentally, these are three of my favorite episodes of Season 1, since they all suggested that the events on the Island were intrinsically related to events off of it as well. Having four complete seasons under our belt, we know just how true that really is.

Moreover, this episode more than any paved the way for the introduction of the vast world only hinted at by the hatch. In many ways, this episode served to segue the show from everything it had been into what it would soon become, functioning not unlike the rope bridge used by Hurley and Charlie. The camera movement at the end of the episode zeroes us in on what will truly be important for the rest of the season, while hiding how truly far down the rabbit hole this show's about to go.

Leave your thoughts about this episode below!

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group.