"Hearts & Minds"

OCTOBER 3, 2010


Back in the early 00s, MTV had this show called Undressed, that was supposedly really risqué for basic cable. I never watched it, but one night after the bar we had retreated to one friends’ townhouse dorm and someone put it on while we continued drinking*. And it was a marathon, which meant I watched a few story threads unfold in their entirety (it was sort of an anthology show, with weaving stories that would last 3-5 episodes). One of them was about two teens whose parents had recently gotten married, making them step-siblings, but they were still attracted to each other (they had dated prior to the parents hooking up). So when the parents planned to go out of town, they decided they’d finally screw around, and for like 4 episodes they teased and flirted, all building toward the night when they’d have the place to themselves... at which point they decided not to go through with it.

I bring it up because Lost had no such qualms, and had their step-siblings totally do it in "Hearts & Minds", even with the added ickiness of them having been brother and sister since they were children. Also, this was primetime major network TV, not cable at 2 am watched only by drunks.

(I also just learned that Damon Lindelof was actually one of the writers on that show, though not the step-cest storyline. Weird.)

So I think it’s safe to say that this is where Lost proved that it wasn’t too concerned with being conventional or presenting its protagonists in the most flattering light. I mean, they had guys like Sawyer being kind of a dick, but then his flashbacks revealed he was a good guy at heart. Or you'd have Jack selling out his dad, but again, it was to potentially save lives. But this? You just don’t have a lot of network shows featuring siblings, blood or not, going at it. Or episodes where other “hero” characters drug one of those people and put them through mental torture just to get them to stop wanting to nail their sister for a 2nd time, as Locke does.

Needless to say, good episode. You get a huge character revelation, some minor advances to the Hatch storyline, and a lot of great comedic interplay between Hurley and Jin, as the former tries to learn how to fish, much to the amusement of the latter. And the scene where Hurley steps on a sea urchin is another classic bit (another thing you don’t see in too many network shows – one man asking another to pee on him). And then Kate discovered Sun can speak English, which is a nice little “about goddamn time” moment, since Michael being the only one is a bit useless since he can’t even go near her without Jin getting all worked up. It also introduces her garden, which makes several appearances throughout the show – it would eventually be the only sort of “this is what they’d have to do to survive” thing they kept going. Everything else would just be chalked up to “they got it from the Hatch/Othertown”.

I’m not too big of a fan of “it was all a dream/hallucination/whatever” storylines, but this one works, because it’s rooted in character and also tipped off right from the start (if Locke had this “healing” mixture, why hadn’t he used it before on other people’s injuries?). Boone’s struggle to get the knife is pretty painful to watch, and the smoke monster chase scenes are the best we’ve gotten yet. We also see them hide in a banyan tree, a moment that would inspire one of the more ridiculous and annoying parts of the mostly terrible Lost: Via Domus game (see below). Thanks, episode.

This was the first episode written by Carlton Cuse, who would go on to be just as important as Damon Lindelof in the show’s execution. This was due to JJ Abrams more or less leaving the show to work on Mission Impossible III, never to fully return (he’d be credited as a producer for the entire show’s run, but it was more of a ceremonial credit than anything). The other guy, Jeffrey Lieber, would continue to have diddly-shit to do with anything on the show in any way shape or form, yet still makes more in a year than I will in ten for being one of the writers on the ABC-commissioned pilot (which was heavily rewritten by Abrams and Lindelof). Not a bad gig, huh? Hey, I’m a lousy writer too – maybe I can get a gig writing something that gets rejected/rewritten into something really popular! I can live as a king!

Where are we?

*I hope “Rose” from HMAD has followed me over here.


  1. Admitting the problem is the first step sweetie. Eleven to go--one of which will be making amends to all of the people you've offended with your reviews. Sounds like you're going to be pretty busy. Better lay in a big supply of Twinkies.

  2. Don't trust her. She's just trying to steal your job.