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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"No, I'm done lying": Lost blog-a-thon, Season 2, episode 18

"Dave"

Synopsis: Hurley starts seeing a "friend" named Dave from his time in the mental institution on the island. Dave tells him this entire experience is a figment of his imagination. Meanwhile, Locke finds himself pushed to the sidelines as Jack, Sayid and Ana Lucia deal with the false Henry Gale.

So a friend of mine from college recently sent along a bunch of in-development scripts from major studios. And one of them was a pretty loathsome horror film about some cooking staff trapped in a mental institution during a power outage. And part of the loathsomeness stemmed from the fact the horrific suffering seemed pointless. But the thing that got me was that the inhabitants of the asylum were monolithical, one-dimensional crazies, capable of absurd evil with no rhyme or reason to their affliction. It acted as if Arkham Asylum were meant as a realistic depiction of mental illness and it was kind of sickening.

So, kudos to this episode for avoiding that. Whatever else you can say about Hurley, Lost's writers and Jorge Garcia have never treated him as less than a whole human being. We see him as a nice guy (in some ways, he's the nicest character in the main cast, a fact which the character of Rose acknowledged in-show) and his mistakes usually end up hurting only himself. Compare that to Charlie, whose sympathetic issues have pushed him into incredibly dark territory in recent episodes this season.

But, you know, I called the main twist really early in. I've seen too many horror/fantasy films that rely on unreliable memory or dreams to know that if no one else directly interacts with a character except for one person, he's a ghost/imaginary friend/alternate personality.

That's not to short Evan Handler's work as Dave. He exudes malevolence, but of a very earthly kind, that of that one asshole friend who sort of gives you an adrenaline rush through his asshole-ness.

So too the character of Hurley and our genuine concern for him keep us interested. And his sort-of-breakdown causes one of the best moments of the episode, when he administers a very public beatdown to a surprised Sawyer.

And for a few moments, the double-bluff that the writers play that this might, for once, actually be all in Hurley's head hold power. But despite the clues (not all of them pointed out by Dave, to be fair, which increases the likelihood of them being true), a St. Elsewhere kind of ending after we've become invested in all these characters would make people worldwide want to destroy their TVs. Even with the extra twist ending at the end.

Frankly, the Hatch plot is much more interesting. I like how Locke is struggling against what seems like fate trying to pull him back to his pre-crash life. The other survivors don't know how dismissive they're being, but the episode really gets his POV across, as he lies on the bed and waits for people to tell him what that gunshot was for.

Grade: B-

Other Comments
  • So, that's Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) as Doctor Burke. I really hope he doesn't twig to the fact Walt's a mutant.
  • And yes, the poster on his office wall looks a lot like the Island. So, points to you, deranged figment of Hurley's imagination!
  • I like that Hurley and Libby's relationship, for all it's gentleness, has a slightly disturbing side. Is she in love with him or in love with fixing him (just like Jack with his ex-wife)?
  • Also, John Locke is really having a bad day. Down to one good leg, then your sense of purpose gets taken away? Harsh.
  • Also, Dave leads Hurley through the wilderness, through a garden, to a cliff and promises Hurley a new world if he just jumps. See, it is this symbolism that stacks the deck too heavily against Dave for us to believe him.
Quotes
- "God doesn't know how long we've been here, John. He can't see this island any better than the rest of the world can." - "Henry"
- After Libby suggests the survivors will share food of their own accord: "Great plan, Moonbeam, and after that we can sing 'Kumbaya' and do trust falls." - Sawyer
- "Don't you have an adventure to get to? I think Timmy fell down the well over that way." - Great ep for Sawyer quotes.

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