On ''Lost,'' Hurley has to choose what to do with the provisions in the Hatch; meanwhile, the raft survivors learn the identity of their captors

By Scott Brown
Updated October 13, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jorge Garcia: Art Streiber

Lost

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”Lost”: Hurley shares the wealth

Greetings, Los Losties. New guy here. Whitney filled in last week, now it’s all me. Next week, who knows? Maybe you’ll get Stephen King. No, you won’t get Stephen King. Imagine EW as the Titanic: King is up on the promenade deck, near the three functioning lifeboats (which he doesn’t need, because he’s got his own personal pontoon made of woven $1,000,000 bills). You and me? We’re down in steerage, son. So pull up a crate, and let’s play that perky Irish jig known as ”The Gut-Level, Impromptu Lost React.”

I’ll begin with a potentially controversial statement: I dig these Hurley episodes. Perhaps I’m influenced by my co-watcher, Liz, who adored huggy Hugo the first time she laid eyes on him. (Meet Liz, by the way: She’ll be our copilot. She’s cool — fried us up some excellent catfish filets tonight.) But durnit, I like Hugo Reyes, our chicken-stealing, number-hating Pagliaccio. And not because he’s ”the heart of the show.”

Admittedly, Hurley’s eps are not the best of the best. His origin story last season was an attempt to shift the show’s increasingly somber mode into some sort of Pynchonian slapstick, and it wasn’t 100 percent successful. And yes, this latest installment revived one of the least compelling Lost fallbacks, namely, the climactic I’m Okay You’re Okay music video.

But Hurley is a great character, and for reasons beyond the obvious. Making the jester the curse bearer is a stroke of genius, as far as I’m concerned — one more way this show reinvents the television ensemble and fends off ordinariness. And as for the goofier flourishes — the wacky mechanics of the supposed ”curse,” the digs about his persistent girth — Jorge Garcia earns them, baby. He takes a conceptually solid but potentially pat retroactive-continuity twist (i.e., that Hurley held off on collecting his lottery winnings because he wasn’t really sure he wanted his life changed) and sells it as a quiet slacker tragedy (with some help from DJ Qualls, as his ride-along pal).

This is also one of those social-contract episodes (Have and Have Not, Distribution of Resources, Sword of Damocles stuff). Hurley is in charge of the Dharma larder, and Jack has charged him with inventorying — and withholding — all the goodies Desmond’s been subsisting on between workouts in his Now Totally Disclosed Location. Naturally, some people aren’t happy with that, and by ”some people,” I mean Charlie, and by Charlie, I mean a character we’re all getting increasingly impatient with: Baby daddy or no baby daddy, he’s sounding more and more like a simple punk. Give me peanut butter! Tell me the truth! Pipe down, Li’l Liam Gallagher. Break out some of that Holy Virgin, why don’t you? We all know it’s coming.

But back to the social contract. As soon as the food dilemma came up, Liz declared, ”Oh, he should just give everyone a share and let them do what they want with it.” Sounds like a cozy little bit of communism, right? Wrong!

”Liz,” I said, ”you realize this makes you a conservative.” Liz does not consider herself a conservative, and I thought I saw her move her hand threateningly towards her fork. I quickly clarified: We’re talking the platonic ideal of a fiscal conservative, not the Tom DeLay reality. We’re talking someone who believes in returning a surplus to ”the people,” to spend as they wish. This gives everyone the opportunity to choose whether to be a pennywise ant or a profligate grasshopper. But this kills the collective’s long-term social security — what if times get tough? Agriculture fails? (Sun’s plants don’t look capable of supporting the whole community just yet.) Boar futures dwindle? The bamboo housing bubble bursts? What then? Whoops! Somebody ate all the Apollo bars, and we’re screwed!

Liz sulked a bit and said, ”I just think it’d be nice if everybody got a treat.”

”Well,” I replied, ”that sounds very liberal.”

To which Liz replied, ”Give me a cookie.”

My point exactly.

Anyway, dense stuff, eh? And it does slow things down a bit. (Just in time, too — with all the Dharma developments, we may actually be in danger of learning too much about the mechanics of this island, which we’re now being led to believe is a big psych experiment gone awry.) This doesn’t mean the barreling mythology train has come to a halt, though we have been cut back to a strict diet of crumbs: We learned that the Supposed Others are the Actual Tail People, breakaways from the back end of Oceanic 815. We learned that Rose’s husband, Bernard, is not only alive but ubiquitous character actor Sam Anderson. We had it confirmed that there are multiple Dharma stations on the island (though none so plush as the Swan).

And then there are the Easter eggs. The tail section had 23 survivors (jot that down, numberheads). Rose hums every song she hears — and some she doesn’t. Did she get inside Hurley’s head to hear Slim Smith’s 1973 reggae ditty ”My Conversation”? Do these psychic tendencies explain her conviction that her husband is alive? Speaking of psychic visions: That’s Walt’s face on the side of the milk carton in Hurley’s dream. Now, Hurley doesn’t know that Walt is missing; he has no idea what happened to the raft. Does his subconscious know something he doesn’t? And what’s Sun doing without her wedding ring on? (Of course, she’s got it back on in the next cut — kind of a glaring continuity error for a show that prides itself on the details.)

And then there’s the matter of Randy. Y’all remember Randy, right? Locke’s jackass coworker at the box company? Well, that’s Randy running Mr. Cluck. Yup. Same dude, same character name, same actor (Billy Ray Gallion). Liz went back through her homemade VHS — VHS! — tapes of season 1, and she confirms it: same dude, same name, different hair. Now we know Mr. Cluck was hit by a meteorite after Hurley collected his winnings. And we know Hurley came to acquire a box company with said winnings. Connection? Of course there is, dummkopf! It’s Lost!

What do you think? How do Hurley’s backstories stack up against the others? Did they make the right decision about the food? And did this episode give enough clues?

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