Episode Title: “Greatest Hits”
Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: …and so, we finally arrive at the Charlie-centric episode originally scheduled to air as the sixteenth episode of the season. Back then, it was titled “The Truth About Lying”, and probably was going to center on Charlie’s reveal to Sun about his involvement in her kidnapping. Instead, the Charlie flashbacks got pushed back to the second to last episode of season and the “reveal” about Sun was tacked onto the Paulo and Nikki-centric “Expose” (remember them? Wow, haven’t thought about them for the past two months!). But the question becomes, why the scheduling change?
The obvious answer is that by pushing the episode back towards the end of the season, it would keep the suspense up about whether or not Charlie lives or dies. Ever since we learned of Desmond’s “flashes”, the audience has had him on deathwatch in each episode. However, it’s not that simple. Unless there were some serious re-writes of storylines in order to push this one back, there was never any risk of Charlie dying in “The Truth About Dying”. If Charlie were to die in the sixteenth episode, how could he have been around for Desmond’s “Catch-22” episode the following week? Wouldn’t that episode have lost a lot of its moral dilemma and suspense if Charlie were already dead? I think so.
So it seems that although the centricity of the sixteenth episode got changed, the major plot surrounding Charlie remained the same. If Charlie is going to die, he was always going to die late in the season. Moving back his centric episode merely gives the writers an opportunity to toy with the audience even further, as we all know that characters seem to die in their flashback episodes. It probably also brought a higher degree of importance and poignancy to the Charlie flashback scenes, which is quite welcome in my book (I’ve always said Charlie’s flashbacks have been the weakest of any character on the show), but I wonder if the flashback itself had to change with the scheduling change to make it more “relevant” to the show – or if they kept it the same. While that runs the risk that the flashbacks might seem out of place, with as fantastic as the second half of this season has been, I have nothing but faith that the decision was made by the Lost writers, not some ABC network suit, and this episode will be nothing short of great.
Which brings us to “Greatest Hits”. Although it’s a pretty common phrase, I kept the tradition of Googling it before I started writing this post. Not surprisingly, the search revealed little to nothing relevant to Lost, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the number one search result was Journey’s Greatest Hits. Don’t stop believin’! It looks like we’re on our own for this one.
The “Greatest Hits” of an artist are usually put out when they are past their prime, looking to claim one last paycheck by profiting off a reissue of classic songs they produced years ago, rather than their new, less popular songs. It usually signifies the end of the creative career of an artist or band (there are exceptions of course – like U2), but provides fans one last chance to relive the best of their catalogue in one convenient place.
Being a Charlie-centric episode, it’s pretty obvious to see the parallels to Driveshaft – his once world-famous band that fell apart Oasis-style. In Charlie’s previous flashbacks, we’ve seen him try to reconcile with his brother to get the band back together, sell-out with cheesy diaper commercials, and even buckle down and get a sales job. Attempting to produce a Driveshaft Greatest Hits CD seems like it would fit in nicely with that timeline.
But from a deeper level, a lot of people fear that we’re not only talking about reminiscing about the good old days in terms of Driveshaft music… but also with characters on the show. The writers have been hinting that there are going to be some deaths coming up before the season ends, so this episode could serve as “one last hurrah” with the whole gang together. While I don’t think we’ll be subject to a sappy musical montage of scenes from over the years, be on the lookout for a lot of “moments” between characters that will remind us of the good times… such as this one from the preview between Charlie and Claire.
Enjoy them while you can, because I’m thinking some seriously bad times are right around the corner.
Episode Description: While Jack devises a plan to do away with “The Others” once and for all, Sayid uncovers a flaw in “The Others’” system that could lead to everyone’s rescue. But it requires Charlie to take on a dangerous task that may make Desmond’s premonition come true. Guest starring are Tania Raymonde as Alex, Blake Bashoff as Karl, Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Mira Furlan as Rousseau, Brian Goodman as Pryce, Marsha Thomason as Naomi, Neil Hopkins as Liam, Joshua Hancock as Roderick, John Henry Canavan as Simon Pace, Jeremy Shada as young Charlie, Zack Shada as young Liam, L. Scott Caldwell as Rose, Sam Anderson as Bernard, Andrea Gabriel as Nadia, Lana Parrilla as Greta and Tracy Middendorf as Bonnie.
Episode Breakdown: In keeping with the “Greatest Hits” motif of the episode, we’ll start with the guest stars – which read like a roster of every minor character on the show that has gone missing over the past few weeks. Not only do we have the return of Krazy Karl, but also Alex, CFL, Rose, Bernard, and… Nadia? At first I thought it must just be a coincidence – but nope, the actress is the same Nadia from Sayid (and Locke’s) past! For those who don’t remember, here’s a brief refresher of her story…
Nadia was Sayid’s childhood friend, who ended up being held prisoner in Iraq where Sayid was the “interrogator”. However, Sayid couldn’t bring himself to torture his old friend (plus, she was kinda hot), and instead helped her escape. He has been unable to find her ever since, though not for lack of trying. If you remember, the whole reason that Sayid went undercover with the CIA (ratting out his friends, leading them kill themselves) was in exchange for a reveal of the location of Nadia. We also saw Nadia in Locke’s flashback, buying a house in LA – but the weird thing is that Sayid told CFL that Nadia was dead when she asked about the picture of her that Sayid carried in Season One.
Now do you remember? All this brings up the following quite interesting question – does Nadia appear in Charlie’s flashback, or as a “vision” to Sayid on the Island?
On the one hand, the quick and easy answer is that she appears in Charlie’s flashback. We’ve already seen her show up in Locke’s (who could have foreseen that connection? Is Charlie any less strange?), and have seen other characters popup in numerous character flashbacks (Sawyer, Kate’s Mom, Jack’s Dad), so it could just be another case of the Lost writers reminding us that we’re all connected to each other, and it’s a small world after all (without the annoying song and animatronics).
On the other hand, there is the far more intriguing (and troubling) possibility that she is some type of vision that Sayid has on the Island – in the same vein as Jack seeing his dad or Eko seeing his brother (Smokey?). With all the talk about characters dying on the show in the next two weeks, this worries me – because having a sort of “reconciliation” with a ghost Nadia might just give Sayid the “release” of his emotional baggage that makes a character prime for dying. As valuable a character as Sayid is, the resolution of the Nadia storyline is really the only dangling mystery from his past. Killing him would put our characters at a distinct disadvantage against the Others (losing their most “battle-tested” and “strategic” Survivor, as well as the most technologically-savvy), making their odds for success even less – just the kind of underdog story that makes for great TV and movies.
So is Sayid a goner? It’s hard to say. While he’s one of my favorite characters on the show, that just means his death would be all that more powerful and moving to the audience. As much as it pains me, I would definitely include him as one of the most likely Survivors to bite the bullet before the season end (full death-watch list coming up next week…) Sayid fans out there, be praying for Nadia to appear in the background of Charlie’s flashback. If we see that, I think we can consider him safe, at least for now!
As for the other returning characters, it’s clear to see some obvious ways that each would fit into the storyline. The preview showed Sayid teaching Rose and Bernard how to fire a gun. Remember Jack and Ana-Lucia’s brief conversation from last season about needing to “start an army”? Well, after sitting on the shelf for over a year, it looks like it will finally be coming true. If our Survivors are banding together for one big battle, it makes sense for Rose and Bernard to make their first appearances of the season – as you would think we would actually see all the Survivors working towards a common goal for perhaps the first time in the series’ history. On the other hand, if we’re counting on Rose and Bernard to be shooting guns and taking out Others, I’m not sure how much of a chance our Survivors have.
Luckily, the preview also showed Sayid tackling someone that I can only assume was Krazy Karl, warning our Survivors that “they’re coming”. This could be a huge gain for our Survivors. If Karl and Alex show up to provide them with detailed information about the Others’ planned attack, it would allow our Survivors to better plan and go on the offensive, rather than sitting and waiting. If you think about it, Krazy Karl and Alex switching sides makes perfect sense. We’ve seen Alex’s clear distaste for Ben, the rules of the Others, and their treatment of her boy-toy Karl. Heck, she’s already helped Sawyer and Kate escape from Alcatraz. Likewise, we’ve seen Ben attempting to keep Alex and Karl apart, and we all know what happens when you try and keep young lovers apart (see: Romeo and Juliet, Corey and Topanga) – it just adds to their rebellious energy and hatred of their society. Here’s a crazy thought – what if that ridiculous scene with Sawyer and Karl from earlier this season where he taught him about girls will actually have a payoff! Maybe it taught Karl that he could trust our Survivors, prompting him to warn them about the upcoming attack!
Lastly, there’s the wild card – CFL. I’m on record saying that CFL will show up mid-battle, TNT in hand, and help deliver our Survivors from danger at the hands of the Others. Conveniently, with Alex on our Survivors’ side, this means she’s also helping her daughter – setting the stage for a tearful reunion! However, there’s still that hint of distrust about CFL and her motives. Her appear, then disappear nature doesn’t necessarily mean that she’ll be the great ally that I’m anticipating. In fact, maybe seeing Alex will cause her to lose all focus, and squander her opportunity to deliver a severe blow to the Others.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. With all this talk about big battles, deaths, and Boy Meets World, you’d think this was the Season Finale. One has to assume that the majority of the battles, deaths, and shocking twists take place next week, not this week – and that this week will merely set the stage, bringing us to the brink of the climactic finale.
So what will happen this week?
While Jack devises a plan to do away with “The Others” once and for all, Sayid uncovers a flaw in “The Others’” system that could lead to everyone’s rescue. But it requires Charlie to take on a dangerous task that may make Desmond’s premonition come true.
Jack’s plan seems pretty simple. As we’ve seen in the commercials, they’re going to wait for the Others to come to steal their pregnant women (just Sun?), then blow them up (with TNT from the Black Rock, one assumes). The problem is I still don’t trust Jack 100%. His line last week about knowing the Others plan, but not knowing how to deal with it didn’t sit right with me. If you find out that a group of other people are in danger, wouldn’t you tell them right away and come to a group decision about how to prevent and deal with the danger? Instead, Jack seemed to decide that he was the only one who could arrive at a logical decision, and left everyone in the dark on the matter until they called him out on it. In my eyes, this almost sounds like a lame cover-story for Jack’s true intentions. I don’t have any hard evidence, so I’m not ready to call Jack out as a mole among the Survivors – but it wouldn’t surprise me at this point.
Meanwhile, Sayid discovers a flaw in the Others’ system that could lead to everyone’s rescue. What is this “system” that they are talking about? Given that Sayid is the most technical Survivor, you’d have to think it has something to do with communications – either figuring out a way to make Naomi’s iPhone work through bypassing the electromagnetic “block” of the Island, or finding a way to use the Others’ existing communications channels with the mainland for their own purposes, to send an S.O.S. call.
The only problem is, I don’t see how either of these fit in with the current story, because you would think that either would require Sayid to go on some sort of mission – to the remains of the Flame, to another Dharma Station, to the Radio Tower transmitting CFL’s signal – somewhere other than the Beach. Yet we see that he is on the Beach training Rose and Bernard how to handle weapons in the clip in the preview. Very puzzling... but also another reason to put Sayid on death watch. Going on a mission means going away from the safety of the Beach, putting yourself in danger of stumbling into one of CFL’s traps or Smokey’s Fist. Factoring in that Nadia appears in this episode, you could almost piece together a storyline with Sayid traveling through the jungle on a mission to make communications with the outside world, only to discover a vision of Nadia – talking cryptically, looking for him to repent for his past sins… and then going crazy on him, just like Eko. Uh-oh.
Lastly, we arrive at the heart of the episode – the fate of Charlie Pace. It seems that whatever the key to Sayid’s discovery is, it requires Charlie’s help. I honestly cannot come up with any sort of task that would require Charlie’s help any more than any other Survivor, aside from guitar playing and drug taking, but I hope there is something, other than Sayid telling Charlie “you’re the only one who can do it” without any rationalization to back it up. Given the strength of the writing lately, I have fate – I just can’t figure it out myself at this point.
The weird thing about Charlie and his death sentence is that after seeing Charlie hesitant to do anything that may put his life in danger for a few episodes, we saw him embrace a crazy van ride with Hurley in “Tricia Tanaka is Dead”, which seemed to symbolize him facing (and overcoming) Desmond’s forecast of doom. However, in "Catch-22", he seemed to revert to his old ways, hesitant to partake in any sort of mission that seemed overly dangerous. Therefore, I find it hard to believe that even if Sayid tries to convince him, that Charlie would go on some dangerous mission, even if it meant saving everyone else. As a character, Charlie just doesn’t strike me as that altruistic… unless Sayid can somehow spin it as doing it for Claire.
So will Charlie end up going on this mission? Of course. It only seems logical that the main action of this episode will center around Charlie once again tempting fate, even when Desmond warns him that his actions will result in death. Expect yourself to be on the edge of your seat as the writers constantly tease Charlie’s demise around every corner. But will he die?
Well, ever since we learned about Desmond seeing Charlie’s death, I’ve said yes. After working so hard to keep the deaths of previous main characters a secret, I thought it would be brilliantly ironic to have the next main character death be told to you weeks before it would happen. It’s almost like reverse psychology – with the audience thinking “they can’t kill him, because they said they would kill him”, a show known for twists and turns delivers a perfectly straightforward storyline. The surprise is that there is no surprise. Charlie dies.
Two scenes from the preview further strengthen my opinion. The first is of Charlie kissing Claire – either kissing her goodbye as he leaves on his mission, or kissing her as a sign that their relationship has finally rekindled – finding romance is a sure-fire way to end up dead on most TV shows, since it leaves another character deeply affected by your loss. Look at the difference between the deaths of Boone, Shannon, or Libby (all loved by other characters) vs. Ana-Lucia or Eko (no strong relationships with other characters). You felt the emotional resonance of the deaths of the first group, because the characters mourned them, sought revenge, or were changed because of it. The second group? Not so much. Getting Charlie back with Claire ensures that she’ll become a much more interesting character once he dies than she is today.
The second sign? This strange picture of Charlie’s Driveshaft ring sitting on cloth (a crib?):
To me, this just feels like a kind of “memento” left behind. Either for Aaron to remember his adoptive father, for Claire to remember Charlie, or as a sort of funeral item, it just feels like something that signifies remembering Charlie once he is gone.
Now if I were writing this episode, I would have Charlie live… only to kill him in the season finale. I like the cruel twist of having Charlie survive his flashback episode where everyone is expecting him to die, only to have him die in the opening scene of battle the following week. What can I say, I have an evil side.
That’s all for this week. Looking back, this is a pretty weak episode preview – but I find myself going into this episode as clueless as I have been for any episode this season. After last week’s mind-blower, I really have no idea what to expect… which is pretty exciting.
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