“Everybody Loves Hugo”
April 13th, 2010
“There’s a difference between doing nothing and waiting.”
Ah yes, that eternal question: a week after finally getting something close to answers about the Sideways universe and what it means for the series, “Everybody Loves Hugo” appears at first to be the start of another waiting period. The Man in Black is right when he says the above, of course: there is a difference between the show sitting around wasting time and the show waiting for the right moment to introduce something that will truly change the direction of the series.
I’d argue that “Happily Ever After” gave us the momentum required to (hopefully) negotiate the difference between these two approaches. While early episodes lacked the context necessary for us to view the flash sideways as something that was building to something larger as opposed to just the show twiddling its thumbs to toy with our minds, the new details about how the Flash Sideways work means that there is now a function to the “waiting,” making it seem more purposeful and goal-oriented.
It’s one of the things which makes “Everybody Loves Hugo” a particularly intriguing episode; after creating the expectation that it would be a quiet episode of waiting and wishy-washy motivations, various characters get tired of waiting and take things into their own hands, creating some rather explosive moments that punctuate a philosophically intriguing hour.
And that certainly doesn’t qualify as “doing nothing,” even if we’re still waiting for the big answers.
If we accept last week’s theory from Eloise that the Flash Sideways represents these characters getting the very thing they wanted most, Hugo Reyes wanted good luck: he wanted all of the terrible luck that resulted from his choice to use the numbers to win the lottery, and in the Sideways universe he’s immensely rich, and seems to have done it all on his own as opposed to needing the lottery to do it. He’s a noted philanthropist, throwing his money around to help other people and getting Dinosaur Trophies out of it, and Pierre Chang is giving speeches in his honour. He’s living the life he always wished that winning the lottery would have given him, but his life is otherwise hollow: note that his father isn’t sitting at the table with him at the awards banquet, and (more obviously, and more relevant to this story) note that he doesn’t have a girl on his arm despite being so exceedingly wealthy. In the Sideways universe, everyone loves Hugo but no one loves Hurley, if I had to sort of offer up a brief parable to capture the situation that resulted from his one wish being granted.
But Desmond Hume doesn’t want Hurley to accept his fate, primarily because he knows there is something else for him to experience. While the Sideways universe ensures that Hurley’s blind date never shows up, and tries its best to keep Libby away by having her doctor prove so protective, Desmond is there to push Hurley towards discovering whatever their connection is supposed to be, resulting in Hurley getting close enough to Libby that they finally get to have their picnic on the beach they were supposed to have the day she died at Michael’s hand, and for them to share a kiss that wakes up Hurley in the way that Libby was woken up before. There are some really interesting things to note from this story, like how Libby (like Faraday) was able to have her “awakening” without the need for an intense emotional or physical stimuli, suggesting that those who are dead on the island are in some way more open to the process (I’ll get to the apparent exception a bit later). However, it’s also just really great to have Cynthia Watros back, and to see Jorge Garcia get to play that innocent Hurley again. While I really like how Hurley has developed (more in a bit), SidewaysHurley is a really likeable character, and his motivation and his openness to Libby made for a sweet and romantic story which through its relationship with the other universe had a beginning (Libby’s death), a middle (Libby stalking Hurley), and an end (their kiss) which sort of straddled the two timelines. It was complex but grounded by the emotional component, and the various narrative openings and closures worked really effectively.
It also worked well on a character level due to both how long Libby has been absent and more importantly how different (yet similar) Hurley was acting on the island. Despite the characters being very different, both were taking control of situations that seemed to be out of their hands, stepping into a role of power in order to gain both self-confidence and to some degree to gain answers. The Man in Black has a discussion with Desmond about power and answers in regards to Charles Widmore later in the episode, but I think it’s interesting how Hurley sort of fits into that dynamic. He wants the power so that people will trust him, and in some ways that is what Jacob and other characters (including Michael this week) being in his ear has resulted in – it’s made him willing to step up and be a leader, just as Jack (who Jacob didn’t speak to) has sort of forced himself to take a backseat in order to keep from messing things up. Jack has shifted to a “waiting” approach, while Hurley is tired of waiting and has chosen to take action instead, faking a visit from Jacob and taking the remaining candidates (and Frank) to visit with the Man in Black while Miles, Ben and Richard head back to New Otherton to plot the explosion of the plane. And, in the Sidewaysverse, Hurley takes action and follows through on his attraction to Libby, finally bringing his own “flash” of sorts into play, and starting on a whole new journey.
You’ll notice there was a name conspicuously from that list of characters who splintered off at episode’s end: yes, after being added as a series regular and still without a flashback episode of her very own, Ilana pulled a Dr. Arzt and was blown up by some of the Black Rock’s dynamite. I actually think the way the death played out was a big mistake, as Ilana seemed a little bit too stupid to be throwing around the dynamite like there was no chance of anything happening. Ilana said that she had been training to protect the Candidates for her whole life, so I’m convinced we’ll be seeing more of her story, but it was a bit shocking to see a series regular (albeit it a newly arrived one) explode in front of our eyes. However, is it any more weird than having former series regulars who died appearing in front of our eyes, like Michael showing up in the jungle? The idea that there is in fact an island purgatory plays with one of the common theories about the island, and it answers that the whispers in the jungle are those who aren’t able to move on. “To what?” we inevitably ask, and the show doesn’t offer an answer: is it that some can’t move onto their Sideways experience, or is it simply a few dozen episodes of Ghost Whisperer waiting to happen? The show doesn’t offer an answer, but Hurley raises an interesting point: “dead people are more reliable than alive people,” he said, and I think we’re meant to wonder whether this is true, and whether Michael’s regret in death is more honest than he would have ever been in life, and what role a dead Ilana will play in the action to come.
Ilana’s death was one of three major shifts in momentum in the episode, moments which seemed far more action-packed than the rather pondering nature of the episode seemed to indicate. The second was Desmond, having willingly gone with Sayid back to the Man in Black’s camp, being thrown down a well that was built over another pocket of electromagnetic energy. I am going to presume that Desmond is not dead, as there seemed to be plenty of water down there and it didn’t seem quite as deep as one might imagine, plus I am in denial of that possible outcome. However, it raises a couple of interesting ideas about Desmond right now: considering that he screams, Desmond couldn’t have seen this coming, so his zen state has nothing to do with what’s happening on the island and more to do with what he experienced in the Sidewaysverse (which is what people were discussing last week). It also raises an intriguing question about the third momentum shift, as we witness Desmond stopping by Locke and Ben’s high school in the Sidewaysverse in order to run down the former with his car. We presume that moment is his attempt to get him to flash back to the island, but that it happens so soon after Locke (in another form) dumps him into a well seems like a reason for why Desmond chose to run him down as opposed to talking to him as he did with Hurley.
What’s strange is that, while Faraday and Libby seemed to be very easy in terms of being overcome by the flood of memories, Locke hasn’t had that moment despite the fact that he was, actually, reunited with the love of his life. Perhaps each person requires a different stimulus, and perhaps with Locke it’s some sort of accident that places him at a disadvantage (remember that we still don’t know how he ended up in the chair, which like Hurley’s wealth likely came from a very different source considering the picture of his father in his cubicle) – we don’t get confirmation this week, as we only see Locke staring blankly as Ben leans over him screaming for someone to call 911, but it will be very interesting to see what happens when Locke finds out the truth, and more interestingly whether Desmond’s method was in any way influenced by what we saw on the island. “Happily Ever After” has us pushing the boundaries of what connections are possible between the two realities: we saw Juliet’s SidewaysPersona bleed into her death on the island, but Desmond sort of transcends those simple connections, but to what degree we still don’t entirely understand.
“Everybody Loves Hugo” is proof that the shift in “Happily Ever After” really does sort of completely change the way the show works from here on out. From now on, the Flash Sideways will focus on characters connecting with their past, and Desmond will be there to guide them (or hit them with his car) to keep that motivation a constant presence. Even on the island, where things are moving somewhat less purposefully (as we still don’t entirely know Widmore or the Man in Black’s motivations, Hurley bringing the rest of the candidates to the Man in Black’s camp or Desmond’s arrival still play out in intriguing ways as the Man in Black is terrified by Desmond’s lack of fear (and his ability to see his own ghostly friend) and as we remember that Jack is getting his first glimpse of John Locke, back from the dead. Things might be moving in a way that seems a bit contrived, but it’s so driven by character and complicated by the insanity of it all that it still plays out well, and “Everybody Loves Hugo” throws in some explosions and some intriguing cross-universe ideas to cap things off.
- Honest question: is this the same well that Locke went down early last season when he prepared to leave the island? I don’t think it is, since Locke’s comment about there being more wells and the general location seemed to indicate otherwise, but we know what was down that well, and so I’m curious to see what ends up being down below.
- Nice to see Samm Levine pop up as a clerk at Mr. Cluck’s – I don’t know why, precisely, Samm Levine showed up in that role, but I shan’t complain.
- What other characters do we think have joined Michael in purgatory? Does Ana Lucia get included for killing Shannon, for example? We’re not clear what the requirement is for the ghosts, and we also don’t know why it seems like Miles (who doesn’t quite have as much of a personal relationship with his celestial contacts, shocked that Hurley just does what they tell him to) doesn’t talk to them the same way. The whispers have been part of the show for a long time, and so why is Hurley only now about to hear them? All questions that may get answers or may not, but just some things to ponder.
- I totally forgot about Sun’s inability to speak English, so when she pulled out the notepad to communicate with Frank I was really confused – I guess “The Package” really didn’t resonate with me after all.
- I enjoy this distant and snarky Ben: his theory regarding why Ilana died (the island was done with her) doesn’t entirely make sense, as she hasn’t really done anything that impressive which would explain why she didn’t die a while ago, but it plays into his jaded view of the island’s power, and his own willingness to follow Richard because he, unlike the others, is not a candidate, and has sort of decided to play spoiler.