'Lost': The Moth

Dominicmonaghan_lost_240 While the backstories seen to date on the show weren't exactly original, I still feel like the one presented in this episode felt the most derivative, the least unique, the least...well, Lost. The show deals in archetypes, to be sure, but quite often these archetypes are centered on particular personalities: the martyr, the acolyte, the romantic. Things of that nature. This particular edition inserted a character archetype: the fallen-from-grace rocker, and while I've no lack of love for one Charlie Pace, I can't say I loved how the show started his long, aching road back towards redemption.

The Moth

4) In Short

"If only there was a convenient external metaphor to emphasize my character arc!"

8) On the Island

Charlie's in the caves, sweating up a storm. Turns out he can't play too well without his precious heroin. Locke offers to take him for a walk, but Charlie declines. Later on, he finally tries to join up with Locke, only to get chased by a wild boar. Note to Charlie: much like when Gozer the Gozarian asks you if you're a god, you say "YES" when Season 1 Locke asks you to do something.

Turns out Locke used Charlie as unwitting bait to lure the boar into a trap. Charlie's all, "That's bloody great, now gimmeh my drugs!" Locke, taking the role of Jesus, tells Charlie, now in the role of St. Peter, that he can ask for his drugs back three times, stating that the choice is what will make the act meaningful. And that, Charlie, was numero uno.

Back on the beach, Kate and Jack once again have a cave/beach debate. (Even Jack admits he sounds like a broken record, and watching these eps so closely together, I concur.) Sawyer swoops in and claims Jack's tent as his own, even without the cunning use of flags.

Sayid has a plan to locate the source of the French woman's signal: LINE DANCING! OK, it's not line dancing, it's involves the triangulation of the signal, but seriously, if Sayid had turned into the Lord of the Dance, I would be on board with that decision. Sayid, Boone, and Kate are the point people on this mission. (I would have opted for Frogurt, Nikki, and Paolo, but whatevs.) In order to help Sayid's plan, Kate snags a power cell from a laptop hoarded by Sawyer. They don't so much make "cute" as make "meh," a hallmark of these early scenes between them.

Back in the caves, Charlie makes a mess of things trying to help carry Jack's bags back from camp. Jack notices that Charlie has the sweats after catching him sorting through the meds. Not good. Elsewhere, Jin's tending to the wounds incurred by the handcuffs, when he sees his wife's...bare...shoulders. So not good. Elsewhere, Charlie gets fed up by what he perceives to be constant slights from Jack, and while telling Jack off, shouts, "I'm a bloody rock god!" which, wouldn't you know, causes a cave-in that traps Jack inside. REALLY not good.

Charlie runs back to the beach to get help. One of the people he recruits is Boone, who hands over triangulation duties, reluctantly, to Shannon. Charlie then looks for Kate. Sawyer, hearing his call, offers to go find her, but more importantly, goes to find her TOPLESS! That should aid his efforts. Cut down on wind resistance and all.

In the caves, Michael uses his engineering skills to come up with a plan to get to Jack without reducing the integrity of the cave any more. Walt seems impressed, as are all Lost fans who forgot that Michael used to be insanely helpful on this show before, well, you know.

Charlie mopes out of the caves, and runs into Locke. He tells Locke about the cave-in, but Locke knows the real reason he's there. More broken than the first time, Charlie asks for his stash. Locke takes Charlie to a nearby tree, showing him a moth cocoon. What follows is a minute of hit-you-over-the-head metaphor that I won't recount. Didn't like this speech the first time, sure as heck don't the second.

Sawyer catches up to Kate and Sayid, but after a rude greeting from Freckles, doesn't share his info about Jack. Instead, he offers to join them and help. As Sawyer is busy attaching an antenna up a tree, he tells Kate to watch out for cooties and heads off to attach his own antenna. While alone, Sawyer finally tells Kate about Jack's plight, which sends her running to the caves. If you're keeping track, that means Sayid LLC has suffered 66% turnaround since opening for business.

After much work, Michael & Co. eventually bore a small hole through which they can hear Jack inside. But they can't make the hole any bigger lest Jack get crushed. Charlie volunteers, stating everyone else has someone who will miss them on the Island. Charlie succeeds in reaching Jack, but closes the hole behind them when he enters. Kate arrives just after this, finding a deflated group of rescuers when she arrives. Her entrance jumpstarts another rescue attempt, and long-time Lost viewers remember when Kate kicked so much butt on this show and wonder when all that stopped.

Inside the collapsed cave, Charlie dislodges the rock atop Jack's legs, but then encounters another problem: Jack's dislocated shoulder. Jack talks him through the procedure to fix it, which essentially comes down to, "Pull!" Jack confesses he knew about Charlie's addiction, and assures him he's far from useless. Aww. Just at that moment, Charlie sees a moth. Bleh. But thanks to the moth, Charlie finds a way out of the cave, emerging from the cocoon-like earth, and the two arrive behind the would-be rescuers.

Finally in position, Sayid launches his flare. On the beach, Shannon to manages to launch her flare. And Sawyer answers in turn. But while setting up his signal, Sayid gets knocked unconscious. But by whom? (Well, OK, we know. But let's pretend like we don't.)

That night in the caves: Walt asks Michael to live in the caves, to which he agrees since Bare Shoulders Sun also lives there. Kate makes Jack a makeshift sling. And Charlie asks for his drugs back, only to throw them into the fire upon getting them back from Locke. A moth flies into the air, and I throw up into my shoe.

15) Off the Island

Charlie's in confession, telling the priest about an encounter that I shall not recount here, but sufficed to say, if you have both Cinemax and insomnia, you may have already seen yourself. Charlie blames the band for his encounter, although I blame him for seducing a few Tolkien fans myself. The priest convinces Charlie to leave the band, but Liam, his brother, soon informs him that their band, Driveshaft, just landed a record deal.

Liam seeks fame and fortune; Charlie seeks a more moral path that doesn't involve threesomes. Um, Charlie, you're not making a convincing case, buddy. Liam agrees to end the band if things get too crazy, but we've already established a baseline of threesomes, leading me to wonder exactly what constitutes "too crazy" in this context. (Don't leave any suggestions below, please.) Nevertheless, this argument appeases Charlie, as the two brothers agree to look out for each other.

Driveshaft's onstage, and just in case it wasn't clear that these guys are based on Oasis, they give this band's lead singer Liam the same downward-turned microphone position of the real thing. Charlie's unhappy with Liam butting in on the chorus to "Don't Look Back in Anger," oops, I mean, "You All Everybody." Liam then leaves with a girl in one arm and a bag of drugs in the other. (One girl + one bag of coke = more in control than two girls, I guess.)

Later on during the tour, Liam's condition is worsened. Turns out he missed a sound check, is further into drugs, and on top of everything else, managed to pay a lot for that muffler! The brotherly bond is broken when Liam refuses to walk away from the band as promised, tells Charlie he'd be nothing without the band, and leaves Charlie alone with his thoughts...and a bag of heroin.

Years later, Charlie greets a suddenly button-downed and geeky Liam. He wants to get his brother out on tour again, with some new buzz about them in the States. Liam doesn't want to go back to that lifestyle, a lifestyle he soon realizes still has its grips on his younger brother. He offers to help clean Charlie up, but Charlie refuses, saying he's got a plane to catch.

16) The Mythology
  1. "I'm a bloody rock god!" Much in the way that the appearance of his guitar in "House of the Rising Sun" straddles the line between realism and magic, so too does this line. While a bit too hit-you-over-the-head (keeping in line with the majority of the episode), this moment nevertheless suggests a symbiotic relationship between the Island and the moods/actions of those upon it.
  2. When Locke suggests to Charlie that an active, willing choice to give up his drugs was more important than simply running out of them, the show introduces an important thematic element that ties into its mythology: mere action is not enough; action with proper intent is paramount. (I couldn't personally help but think of Ben, two seasons later, telling Jack that he wants Jack to WANT to save Ben. Merely going through the motions seemingly wouldn't cut it.)
23) The Moment

Sayid getting clubbed by an unknown entity scared the crap out of me upon first watching, and was no less fascinating this time around.

42) In Retrospect

Kate telling Sawyer's that he's got no one to miss, and that no one missed him...well, we know at least one person he misses now, don't we?

Watching Sayid act as the Locke to Kate's Jack as they walk alone in the wild was fascinating. Sayid later turned into a hard-nosed, grounded protagonist, but at this point in the game is clearly of the "this Island be crazy, yo" camp.

While probably obvious the first time around, the hurt behind Sawyer's eyes every time Kate sees him as a less than a human being is all the more clear now. Outstanding work by Josh Holloway.

Back when most of us saw the show going the way of "Lord of the Flies," I thought we'd seen Locke obtain his first disciple by episode's end, a trend that would continue throughout the show until Jack and Locke waged war against each other. Thankfully, nothing that simplistic happened, although Season 4 certainly took this idea and ran with it in a more subtle, more complex manner.

108) In Summary

Now, this episode wasn't a stinker by any measure, but after the run of early episodes, this is the first that really didn't hold its own when compared to the others.  The moth imagery/metaphor just beats you down by episode's end, making you long for the more subtle writing the show has produced up until this point. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the flashbacks felt by the numbers, producing a story whose end you could largely anticipate. Charlie later received some stellar episodes, culminating with "Greatest Hits;" but this just wasn't quite up to par.

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Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.