Are you familiar with Monty Python's Gumby characters? Total raving gits, typically wearing kerchiefs on their heads, who bellow like idiots about everything. Michael Palin's take on the Gumby makes me laugh particularly hard, particularly seeing as how he's given to occasionally screaming, "OH! MY BRAIN HURTS!"
That's how I feel after tonight's episode of "Lost."
Last week's recap was my first time doing a TV recap, and so it was fairly plot-heavy. I took the term "recap" too literally. The reason I love "Lost" is because of the way each episode offers you about a dozen new things to obsess about, and this week plays such a particular role in explaining things and yet still offering up new head-games for the viewer that I feel like a standard "this happened then this happened" blow-by-blow is the least interesting thing I could write.
This is the year when the show stopped flashing backwards and forwards in memory because it's actually flashing backwards and forwards in time now. The dramatic structure has now become the actual timestream for the characters in the series, and it's such a brilliant move that I don't think the impact has really set in yet. "Lost" has always been defined by the flashbacks. And when they decided to yank the rug out from under everyone and start flashing forward instead of back, it was a game-changer, a move that seemed impossible to top for sheer nerve. What they've done this year, though, indicates to me that by the time this series is done, love it or hate it, you will have to call it one of the most ambitious narrative experiments in the history of the medium. "Lost" is the show that I watch TV hoping for, that I've always watched TV hoping for. When I discovered "The Prisoner," another favorite of mine, it was already a relic, something that had happened a long time ago, and that I was only able to appreciate in hindsight, as something that was already done. With "Lost," I've been watching religiously since that first episode, and I was so hooked by that original pilot that I've never once doubted that I'm onboard for the whole ride.
I just had no idea how crazy the ride was going to get.
I was worried at the end of last season when we saw Locke's dead body in the coffin, but I shouldn't have been. Terry O'Quinn is just as big a presence as he's ever been this year. I love how in the "present," it seems vitally important that Ben and Jack have Locke's body with them when they return to the island. It suggests that a dead body is a key component to getting to the island. After all, Oceanic 815's cargo hold was where Jack's father was being transported, and Eko's brother's body was onboard the drug plane that went down. Maybe the island requires that for some reason.
Or maybe it's a coincidence, and we're all following the wrong bread crumbs. I think it's early to connect those dots completely. But it does throw some interesting ideas into the mix.
Locke's encounters with Richard Alpert in the first two episodes of the season set up the absolutely fantastic sequence between the two of them that took place towards the end of the episode. Locke's reveal to Richard sets in motion all the events that we've already seen unfold, with Richard's repeated visits to see Locke while growing up and his frustration over Locke not being "ready." All of that seemed sort of left-field last year, but now that we see how Richard's interest in Locke was originally piqued, I think it's one of the coolest moves in the series. A lot makes sense because of what's happening to Locke.
Likewise, the use of Desmond pleases me. I was afraid he was going to take a back-seat now that he's had his happy-ever-after. Instead, he continues to be a fulcrum for the series. Whereas everyone else seems to be caught in a time-space Moebius strip where everything that happens has already happened and everything is unchangeable, Desmond is the one person whose present can be changed. Faraday's visit to him last week pays off this week when Desmond follows his new memory to Oxford and, eventually, to a face-to-face with his father-in-law. I like the scene between the two of them, and I like that it wasn't just "Charles Widmore, moustache-twirling-bad-guy" as it could easily have been. Instead, he's a father, desperate for news of his daughter, and he ends up helping Desmond without demanding quid pro quo. If that was all we learned about him this week, I'd feel like it was a decent Widmore episode, but instead... the B I G reveal... the notion that Widmore was on the island in the '50s as a young man, and that he actually used to serve under Richard Alpert's command... well, that sound you just heard was my mind being blooooooown. If Widmore financed Faraday's research, he did so because young Widmore remembered Faraday visiting the island, but the only reason Faraday ever travels to the island is because Widmore financed his research. Crrrrrrazy. And I have a feeling that's not the only causality loop we'll see this season.
The ending of last week's episode, when Ben went to meet with the enigmatic Ms. Hawking, spurred a lot of conversation among "Lost" fans, and a popular theory seems to be that she's Faraday's mother. I think there are reasons to think that's possible, but if it's true, then I think we're going to see a younger version of her on the show as we skip through time. In fact... I think we met her tonight. The photo that accompanies this recap has a caption that might be a joke, but I think it's equally likely that it's the truth. She had a few moments talking to Faraday where her mind was being blown, and Sawyer's snarled "You told her?" was one of my favorite moments of the night.
How great was the name of Desmond's baby? These writers know how to give you the emotional sucker punch and then keep moving, and this was a great one.
Is Charlotte on her way out? And if so, what is that going to do to Faraday? Has he done the same thing to her that he did to Theresa Spencer, and if so, can it be reversed?
Why isn't anyone else weirded out by the evidently extra-sensory abilities that Miles has? Or am I somehow reading that completely wrong? The scene with the freshly dug graves this week, the way he seemed so confident how long the pig had been dead last week... this cat's working on a different wavelength, and I'm curious to see where they're going with it.
Anyone think that Jughead ended up behind the concrete wall that Sayid found in the hatch? The one he called "Chernobyl-thick" at one point?
How... old... is... Richard... anyway?
And here's the last question I have for you, and it's the one that makes me think that tonight's episode might turn out to be one of the most important of the entire series. If Desmond and Penny aren't married, then I assume their baby, Charlie, has his mother's last name. So not only is he named after Des and Penny's savior, the guy who reconnected them at the expense of his own life, but he's also named after his grandfather, Charles Widmore.
Unless... since we are now skipping around in time and things are starting to get crazier and crazier...
... what if he's not named after his grandfather at all?
What if he IS his grandfather?
What if the baby Charlie and his mother end up separated from Desmond? What if he grows up hating his father for abandoning them? What if he hears his whole life about this island and what it did to their lives, and what if that leads him to step into the timestream, determined to fix things as an early inhabitant of the island, determined to fix time by controlling the island itself? What if the baby Charlie we just met is actually Charles Widmore himself?
It's a big idea, but at this point, I wouldn't put anything past the producers and writers of my favorite show on TV. Great episode, and a great reminder of how "Lost" just keeps on giving.