JANUARY 4, 2011
AIRED: JANUARY 21, 2009
I don’t recall this, but I guess “The Lie” aired on the same night as “Because You Left”, which is a good thing since it’s a vast improvement over that mess, so by airing right after it was probably a lot easier to get people to stick around, whereas a week of the bad taste of “Because” would have probably sunk the show’s ratings even more than they already were (indeed, S5’s ratings declined steadily; these were the highest rated episodes of the season).
Most of that can be attributed to two things: a clearer focus and a return to following a central character, in this case Hurley (I now realize that by giving him the first “centric” episodes of both S4 and S5, they may have known his ultimate fate this far in advance after all, as it primed him as a more important character than the first couple seasons had suggested). It’s not a traditional flashback episode or anything, but he is the guy we spend nearly all off-island scenes with, as he tries to get help for Sayid and escape the cops (or ghosts of cops – thanks for bringing back Ana Lucia, guys, we really missed her).
(That was sarcasm.)
It’s also a damned hilarious episode. Hurley’s reaction to Ben with his Hot Pocket is one of the funniest gags in the show’s history (and Michael Emerson’s reaction isn’t too far behind on that list), and I loved his choice of shirt to replace the one with “blood” all over it. And even though it approaches meta/winking/“you can’t mock us if we mock ourselves first” areas that I don’t care for, Hurley’s description of the main plot of the show thus far is pretty funny. And I love that his mom doesn’t say “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard” or something; by believing him, it sort of validated the nonsense for me. Even though it was indeed pretty silly, her having that reaction made me remember that I loved these characters, and even though the story was going into places I didn’t care for (i.e. time travel), I knew I’d stick around to see how they all fared.
Speaking of Hurley’s parents, I love that Cheech (I forget his character name) stood up to Jack in order to protect Hurley. Like all Lost dads, he’s been depicted as kind of shitty thus far, so it’s nice to see ANY of them do something parental for once, let alone a beloved actor who has been largely characterized as kind of a dumbass until this point. It also lets him join the club with the other dads who got to be part of the main story, like Christian and Cooper (and to some extent Mr. Paik).
It’s also a less “busy” episode – Locke doesn’t even appear until the very end, and the writers hilariously pull another massacre off by killing pretty much every background survivor that was left. I laugh at it, but in a way it’s kind of sad – Jack went from a guy who was trying to save 47 other people to a guy who only sort of saved about a half dozen or so. Sounds like a pisspoor captain. It’s worth it to see Frogurt get killed though; he only appeared in two episodes but man that guy was annoying.
My only complaint with the episode is the stuff with Ben, which opens up the story even MORE. See, if you look at the show as one long story, then we’re essentially in the third act (not even at the beginning of it if you go by episode count instead of by seasons) – do we really need to introduce more characters and business at this point? I guess the writers agreed, at least later – we never know what he was putting in his bag, or who “Gabriel” was. I don’t even recall if they ever explained why he was seemingly partnered with a female butcher in Los Angeles.
On the other hand, I am sort of tickled by the fact that Ben and Jack are now calling each other like old pals, due to my endless love of the uneasy truce. When Lost was originally airing, my 2nd favorite show was Prison Break, which was constantly having old enemies team up against common enemies, and I love movies like Assault on Precinct 13 or The Killer that depict this sort of stuff. But again, it just raises the question – why couldn’t Ben have just been friendly toward them in the first place? 90% of the bad things that happened in the first two and a half seasons were the result of the Others being antagonistic toward the Oceanic folk – if they weren’t trying to actually kill them, why not bring some pineapples to the beach camp and invite them over to New Otherton for roast boar? So I take it back, they didn’t plan shit.
Where are we?