Gentlemen, tonight's episode was titled "Everybody Loves Hugo." Leaving us to ask ourselves: Who does Hugo love? And why is she living in a mental hospital? Let's dive right in and address some of this week's more interesting elements:
- I enjoyed the Citizen Kane-style newsreel as the episode opened, filling us in on Hurley's mainland exploits (including the "Mr. Cluck's House for Children"). What symbolism might we read into Hurley's donation of a paleontology wing? Note that we at one point see Hurley standing over Libby's buried fossil (OK, skeleton). By the way, wasn't Pierre Chang—who introduces Hurley at this gala event—a physicist, not a paleontologist? Has the alternate universe switched Dr. Chang's career path?
- When Michael magically reappears to offer Hurley advice, he says that he's stuck on the island "because of what I did," along with many other ghosts who "can't move on." Trapped in a holding pen for past bad deeds—hmm, sure sounds a lot like purgatory, doesn't it? Yet the writers dismissed that notion years ago. (And I'm holding them to it. No backsies.) So what else can Michael mean by this?
- Formula Watch! The show always teases us by suggesting we're on the verge of getting some answers—then interrupting the action a split-second before those answers are revealed. Tonight included without a doubt the most pyrotechnic explanationus interruptus in Lost's history. "That thing is evil," says Ilana of Smokey, "and God help us if it ever leaves the island because" … and BOOM goes the dynamite! If you have remaining questions about what will happen if Smokey leaves the island, please address them to the pink mist that used to be Ilana.
- So Ilana went through all that trouble and effort (and we sat through all that back story in the Russian hospital) just so she could explode into tiny bits before she accomplished much of anything? Reminds me of Scatman Crothers' plot arc in The Shining. He flies across the country, takes a special snow vehicle up the mountain, and then moments after he finally arrives on the scene at the spooky hotel—but before he can do anything useful (other than leave the snow vehicle behind for Shelley Duvall and the little boy to escape on)—he gets hacked to death with a large axe. In both cases, it seems like a whole lot to go through just so the audience can watch a character meet a bloody end.
- More Formula Watch! So far this season, we've seen purposeful, momentary flashes of the book covers for Watership Down, Fear and Trembling, and The Chosen. This week, the Lost writers made it tougher on us: The book cover was in Russian. But I didn't let that stop me! I puzzled out the Cyrillic letters and can tell you with great confidence that the book Hurley picked up and stared at for a few seconds was Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The book is an existentialist classic that dwells on the meaning of free will (just like Fear and Trembling). It's partly about a man who feels unworthy of a woman's love (as Hurley does with Libby in the mainland storyline). And there may even be a sly pun in there—considering the fact that 1) Hurley donated a paleontology wing, and paleontologists are all about making notes on things that are underground, and 2) Desmond, having been pushed down a well, is now literally underground.
- It seemed the most important revelation of the episode was the fact that Hurley, upon kissing Libby, flashed between the two alternate universes. This same phenomenon afflicted Desmond last week when he got in a car crash with Charlie. Both Hurley and Desmond now appear to be aware of the dueling timelines. We're not sure yet how Hurley will make use of his newfound knowledge. But we know what Desmond has decided his mission is: He wants to kill John Locke. Is this because he thinks it will hurt Smokey in the island universe? Or because he hates bald people in wheelchairs? (Hey, Shafer, how irritated will you be at Lost's writers when Locke emerges fully intact from a direct grill-smash at 35 mph? Less or more verisimilitudinous than surviving a gunshot blast to the torso?)
- The preview of next week's episode was backed by the "Wondrous Boat Ride" song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A few Lost fans have noted that Jacob's search for an heir to rule the island seems to parallel Willy Wonka's search for an heir to run the Wonka chocolate factory. The song's foreboding lyrics—which mention "the fires of Hell a-glowing" and "the grisly reaper mowing"—suggest a reckoning is on the way.