In last week’s podcast, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse implied that tonight’s Lost, “Some Like It Hoth,” would offer a little levity before the impending darkness of this season’s final four hours. Heck the title alone—with its goofy Star Wars pun—should’ve been signal enough that this episode was going to have a different vibe. Also, tonight was the long-awaited Miles Episode, giving everyone’s favorite sass-talkin’ corpse-whisperer the showcase we’d been waiting for since the strike-shortened Season Four. And—as if that wasn’t enough cause for good cheer—Miles spent the bulk of “Some Like It Hoth” teamed up with Hugo Reyes, the show’s other consistent source of comic relief.
But while this was arguably the funniest Lost of the season—next to maybe “Jughead” or “LaFleur,” though most of the laughs in those episodes were more about surprised delight than jokes—“Some Like It Hoth” didn’t spare the tension, pathos or plot development either. Aside from one minor complaint, I thought this was another winner.
First off, how can you go wrong with an episode that has Hurley and Miles delivering a corpse—along with some sandwiches dressed with Hurley’s famous garlic mayo—to Pierre Chang at The Orchid, all while having a conversation about what it’s like to talk to dead people? Hurley alone was all kinds of awesome tonight, starting with his insistence that he and Miles carpool to The Orchid (“It’ll help with global warming, which hasn’t happened yet. Maybe we can prevent it!”), and continuing with his dismissing Miles’ skepticism about the fact that he can actually see the ghosts he chats with. (“You’re just jealous my power’s better than yours.”)
When Hurley and Miles arrive at The Orchid—still under construction—Chang is initially irritated that Miles has brought along someone he wasn’t supposed to, and threatens Hurley with a fate worse than kitchen duty. “How do you feel about polar bear feces?” he snarls. And when Hurley mutters to Miles that Chang is a douche, Chang drops the secret that all of Lost fandom guessed back in the opening scene of the Season Five premiere: “That douche is my dad.”
It’s what happens next that to me pushed “Some Like It Hoth” to a place I wasn’t expecting. Once Hurley realizes that Miles has been living on an island with his mother and his father and an infant version of himself—born during his time there!—he takes it upon himself to bring father and son closer together. (“Maybe he’ll let him hold Baby You,” he explains to Miles.) Miles is having none of it, since he bears a lifelong grudge against his dad for abandoning him and his mom, for some never-explained reason back in 1977 (ahem), but Hurley brings him around using an extended metaphor from The Empire Strikes Back, involving the ultimate fractured father/son relationship: Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. (“They worked it out eventually, but at what cost?” Hurley pleads.) So Miles peeks in on his father’s house, and sees Pierre bouncing Baby Miles on his knee and reading him a book—about polar bears!—and thus one-third of this fairly rigidly defined A/B/C-story episode gets its well-earned emotional button.
Which brings me to my minor complaint, having to do with what I’m going to call the B-story: Miles’ flashbacks. There was a lot to like in the Miles flashbacks, including director Jack Bender’s effective use of horror movie-like handheld shots during the scene where Young Miles finds a dead body in a cruddy L.A. apartment complex, and the wonderful incongruousness of Teen Punk Miles trying to eke information about his hazy past and weird powers from his mother before she dies. But maybe because I dig Miles so much, I wished for just a little bit more. Maybe one more scene of Miles in action, either from boyhood or adulthood.
That said, I really have no complaints with what did get revealed in the flashbacks, like the moment where he meets Naomi Dorritt for the first time and gets the offer to work for Charles Widmore (for $1.6 million... exactly half of what he asks Ben for in Season Four.) Naomi tests Miles by leading him to a corpse and asking what he can read in the dead man’s mind, and Miles passes the test by saying that the stiff was delivering photos of empty graves and a purchase order for an old airplane to Widmore. Later, after grabbing some grub, Miles is kidnapped by some surprisingly friendly commandoes, who urge him not to work for Widmore, and tell him that if he joins their cause, he’ll learn “what lies in the shadow of the statue,” as well as all he needs to know about his family and his “gift.” Miles’ response: “You owe me a fish taco.”
The B-story has its own nice button, relating to a bit of phony ghost-talking that Miles does for the guy who plays Hank on Breaking Bad. Miles tells the man that his dead son knew he loved him, but after he gets the Widmore gig he comes back and admits he was lying. He doesn’t come clean to help the dad; he does it for the son, who Miles feels deserved to hear his dad say he loved him when he was alive. Another well-earned moment.
As for the C-story, well that’s where most of this episode’s tension comes in. Kate returns from her Ben-saving mission and finds that her attempts to mollify Roger Linus only make the beer-swilling janitor more suspicious. Roger shares those suspicions with Jack at the schoolhouse—where a sign on the wall reads, “DHARMA Students Make Learning Fun!!!”—and then Jack shares Roger’s squirrelliness with LaFleur. And while James “in case you haven’t noticed, I’m head of security” LaFleur tries to figure out his next move, that creepy centurion Phil shows up, bearing a videotape from Miles’ backpack which shows Kate and LaFleur indulging in a little Ben-napping. So LaFleur clocks him.
That would be enough of a cliffhanger, but “Some Like It Hoth” has a final twist. Chang asks Miles to drive him to the dock to pick up some scientists from Ann Arbor. One of those scientists? Daniel Faraday.
To quote Juliet: “Well. Here we go.”
-While doing some research for my review of The Paper Chase DVD last week, I discovered that one of that show’s go-to directors (and writers) was one Mr. Jack Bender. He did more work in the later seasons, but he helmed one episode in Season One. Something for you Lost completists to consider.
-According to Sports Illustrated, Tommy Lasorda is the “New Boss In L.A.”
-I liked the look of incredulity that Miles throws his dad after the latter says, “I like country.” I also liked Miles response to Radzinsky after being told that a corpse with a hole in its skull had fallen into a ditch. (“The ditch had a gun?”)
-“Marvin Candle… was that like a stage name?”
-It’s all well and good that Hurley wants to help George Lucas out by writing The Empire Strikes Back for him, but that movie’s pretty much perfect as is. (He should be busy writing the prequels.) Still, I wonder if Hurley’s hankering to tinker with that which already exists—in the name of improvement—is a foreshadowing for what’s coming in a couple of weeks.
-Don’t forget that we’re off next week. I won’t be covering the special recap episode, though I’ll probably watch it, and note any revelations from it in the “Flashbackin’” section of my review of “The Variable.” So I’ll see you in two.
Clues, coincidences and crazy-ass theories:
-Do the DHARMA folks listen to K-Tel “Mellow Gold” collections in their vans, or do they have a low-wattage radio station broadcasting somewhere on the island? Either way, tonight’s songs were “It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond (father of The Strokes’ guitarist, by the way), and “Love Will Keep Us Together” by The Captain & Tennille. Any thoughts on their significance?
-The apartment key that Young Miles finds is hidden under a ceramic bunny. Of course.
-A lot of peripheral action tonight at “Grid 334,” where they’re building The Swan. (I wonder why DHARMA maps the island by grids? Is that meaningful, or just basic cartography?) Our guest corpse, Alvarez, has one of his fillings rip through his skull, presumably because of the “unique magnetic properties” in that part of the island. And later Miles and Hurley drop Pierre off at The Swan site and Hurley witnesses the stamping of The Numbers on The Hatch. Something else I wonder: Is there a reason why The Orchid and The Swan are under construction at the same time? Does one rely on the other?
-The chalkboard that Jack’s cleaning in the DHARMA classroom contains some basic facts about Egyptian history and hieroglyphics—nothing too revelatory, from what I could tell. But it looked to me—and I could be wrong—like one of the student-made posters in the room said, “DHARMA: Science Is Faith.” I’m probably wrong, but it’d be cool if I was right.
-Chang refers to The Hydra’s animal experiments as “ridiculous,” which sounds like something Ben would say. Is Chang implying that much of what Dharma appears to be up to is just busywork, strictly for show, while the real work gets done by Horace and Radzinsky’s “circle of trust?” Or is he just being pissy?
-Do you think Miles is ultimately going to be responsible for getting his mom and himself off the island?
-Remember back when Damon and Carlton were saying that ABC had nixed any more mention of the four-toed statue? Well it appears that they were either jiving us or they convinced ABC that the one little teaser shot they threw into the Season Two finale had real significance to Lost’s endgame. I’m guessing that by the end of this season, we won’t be hearing Lost critics pointing to the statue-foot as an example of the Lost writers “making it up as they go along” anymore.
I re-watched “Dead Is Dead” over the weekend and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. I also had a few further thoughts:
-Kate takes care of Aaron, who’s not really her kid. Ben takes care of Alex, who’s not really his kid. Locke wasn’t raised by his actual mother. Who else has a non-biological parent? Is Roger really Ben’s dad?
-I didn’t say much last week about Ethan joining Ben on the Rousseau raid, because I still have mixed feelings about Ethan becoming a significant character on the show at this late date. It feels a little “fifth Cylon” to me. I’d be shocked if Darlton had this backstory in mind for Ethan before this season began.
-I made a casual reference last week to Locke asking some questions that had been on all of our minds, but I neglected to note one of the big ones for me: Locke asking Ben about whether it was appropriate to lead the island’s people from behind a desk. I asked that very thing a couple of weeks ago. I’d still like an answer. I think that’s going to turn out to be a key point in the Widmore/Linus conflict.
-When Locke says to Ben (regarding being a follower rather than a leader), “Now you know what it was like to be me,” I wonder if he was referring to their relationship in particular, or to his entire life?
-Sun stood where Jin once stood, by The Temple wall.
-On the bookshelf in Alex’s bedroom: Roots, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Flowers For Algernon.
-I understand the complaints about the special effects—and the content—of The Infamous Final Scene of "Dead Is Dead," but you know what? It still works for me. I got a distinctive Wizard Of Oz vibe off the swirling smoke and the echoing voices, and as we all know, Oz is a major touchstone for this series. It’s over-the-top, but I respect director Stephen Williams and writers Brian K. Vaghan & Elizabeth Sarnoff for going there. Oh, and to anyone who complained about the score in “Dead Is Dead?” You’re nuts. Sometimes Lost gets a little wall-to-wall with the music—especially in comparison to the relatively silent first season—but the soundtrack to “Dead Is Dead” was just about perfect, alternately sentimental and pulse-pounding.