Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lost Rewind - "The Moth"

Episode Review: You know, when this episode started, I groaned a little on the inside. In my mind, I remembered Charlie-centric episodes as always being some of the worst of the first few seasons of Lost (a thinking I stand by all the way up to the beautiful “Greatest Hits”, actually) – but in re-watching it, this episode isn’t half bad. Rather than being a simple “rock star with a drug habit”, it actually had a nice “circle of life” twist to it, with Charlie starting as the “clean brother”, Liam starting as the “druggie”, and then the two swapping roles over the course of the flashback. Even better, the on-Island action showed Charlie growing, taking a stand and attempting to kick the habit, brining the storyline full circle.

Like so many other characters, this one flashback seemingly told Charlie’s full backstory. Unfortunately, unlike the other characters on Lost, this really was all that there was worth telling about Charlie’s pre-Island life. Combined with his slipping back into drugs (which may have been realistic, but didn’t do a lot plot-wise), Charlie seemed to enter a rut after this episode. But for this one week, he’s the center of a pretty solid story of redemption.

Deeper Meaning Explanation: Another straightforward deeper meaning this week, with Locke spelling it out for the viewer. He shows Charlie a moth struggling to escape its cocoon, and explains that if he helped the moth escape, it would die because it wouldn’t be strong enough to survive. Likewise, if Locke were to take Charlie’s drugs away from him forcefully, he wouldn’t be strong enough to kick the habit. Instead, Locke makes Charlie ask for the drugs three times, giving him the free will to choose. Charlie is a moth.

Furthermore, the moth appears multiple times in this episode, eventually serving as a “hero”, leading Charlie out of the caves, which saves Jack. Similarly, Charlie – who always seemed to be worthless and “in the way” during the first few episodes of Season One – finally has his chance to be a hero. Moth Power!

Original Thoughts:

Original Deeper Meaning Guess: Moths are usually drawn towards light, which ultimately burns them (a la a "bug zapper"). I believe that tonight’s episode centers around Charlie (aka the Band Guy, the Druggie Guy, or the Hobbit Guy - not Charlie from Party of Five! His name on the show is Jack J ) Metaphorically, Charlie is a moth drawn to the light, which I think is fame and / or drugs. However, much like our flying insect friends, it ultimately will burn him and bring him down. This episode should give us insight into Charlie’s former fame and fall from grace, perhaps caused by the drug addiction to whatever that stuff in the baggie is (I apologize for not being "hip" to the drug culture).

  • Pretty close, but it’s also pretty embarrassingly simplistic. It’s funny how much crazier the Deeper Meaning Guesses have gotten over the years. I also enjoy the reference to the confusion during the early days of Lost about characters’ names and the Party of Five reference. Before you mock me for knowing and loving it, I present to you the following – Party of Five featured both Jennifer Love Hewitt and Neve Campbell in their glory days. Enough said.

Original Episode Preview: Tonight’s episode has some sort of avalanche occur in the cave and Jack is buried in it. Will Jack die? Will this force everyone to move back to the beach? Is this the island warning them to stay away from that cave?

  • Interesting thought about the “warning” of the Island about the caves, but it looks like that never panned out. Instead, the Survivors naturally and logically moved away from them with the discovery of the Swan Hatch.

New Thoughts

Kate. Two weeks in a row where I’m puzzled by Kate. She claims to pity Sawyer since he has no one to go back to off the Island. Yet she has less than no one, and is also on the run from the law. Likewise, when the big “split” occurs between the Cavers and the Beachers, Kate stays on the Beach, holding out hope for wanting to be rescued. Is she just going overboard with trying to keep up her alibi, or did the writers originally intend for her to actually have someone waiting for her back in the rest of the world?

Fate. I loved Sayid’s matter of fact logic in this episode when talking about the plane crash. When Kate comments on how lucky they were to survive, he replies “No one is lucky enough to have survived that crash”. It’s true. But as we’ve learned, there really wasn’t anything “magical” to the fact that our Survivors survived… it was the result of an accident by Desmond not pushing the 108 button. In the end, the only real explanation is fate.

Locke. Speaking of Sayid, this episode also featured the beginning of one of the most drawn out and least satisfying mysteries thus far on the show, when Sayid is knocked out while trying to triangulate the distress signal. We learn much later (38 whopping episodes – during “The Greater Good”) that Locke was the one responsible, with him giving a fairly lame excuse that trying to find something that said “it killed them, it killed them all” didn’t seem like a good idea.

Rather, it’s pretty clear that Locke was on Team Island from the start, ever since his encounter with Smokey in the third episode, and the number one mission of Team Island is to keep our Survivors from getting off the Island. Although they didn’t have any smart phone at this point, finding the radio tower would mean they could turn off the signal, opening up the possibility for outside communication (little do they know about the Looking Glass, but we digress).

More importantly, this storyline represents one of my big fears for Lost – this was something that could have been revealed much sooner, but was dragged out (for reasons unknown) to the point where the audience had totally stopped thinking about or caring about it. When the storyline was finally wrapped up, it didn’t have much power behind it. I just hope that other dangling storylines (like the skeletons in the caves) aren’t explained in a similar awkward way. There needs to be a reason to re-visit them, to refresh the audience’s memory, and then a logical explanation for their resolution.

There would be nothing worse than the final season of Lost featuring a number of these “quick and dirty” storyline wrap ups. I’m not saying I think it’s going to happen – just that’s it’s a potential danger.

Okay - that's all for this one.

Message Board Discussion.


Anonymous said...

I think you missed a key bit of info regarding the name of this episode..."the moth." There's a hidden message there: "Them Hot!" Indeed they are!

matt said...

Definitely one of the better Charlie episodes. His character seemed like he could have more interesting stories. I mean, he was a somewhat successful musician. He had potential, which never really came through in most of his other flashbacks. But I do think his on-island adventures remained interesting.

Rebecca said...

I figured Kate didn't like being forced to stay in one place for long... isn't that what Jack was asking her earlier in the season as to why she wouldn't move into the caves?

I always figured she was hatching an escape plan anyway, like stealing a dead person's ID.

Jennifer said...

As a big Charlie fan (I started watching Lost primarily because Dom was in it), I remember really digging this episode the first time around. I really enjoyed it with the hindsight we have now, too. One other "moth" reference seemed to be Charlie's hood. When he's struggling through withdrawal, he's got the hood on, but when he's doing better, the hood is off. Probably intended to visually suggest his "cocoon."

The whole thing with Locke sneaking up on Sayid from behind and attacking him reminded me of Locke's season 3 finale attack from behind on Naomi. Both attacks came out of the blue, and both were intended to prevent potential contact with the outside world. The difference, of course, and fortunately for Sayid, was that Naomi ended up dead.

Enjoying the rewinds!

Sawyer's Optician said...

"The Moth = them hot" ha ha, How true!

Jennifer, I like your idea about Charlie's hoodie. Interesting little subtlety that I didn't consciously pick up on but makes it a richer story. I wonder if it was the actor or the director's idea.

Also, Is Naomi dead? She may be the same type of cyborg (not really, but I like that word) that Mikael appears to be. Many characters have appeared to be dead, only to be found to be alive later. Charlie: hanged, Sawyer: after his walk across the island with the tailies. Locke: shot by Ben, Mikhael: ears shot blood after going through the fence, shot in the Looking Glass, threw a grenade, is he really dead? Shannon: in Boone's hallunication. And we can't forget Nikki and Paolo. Ok, lets forget them.

Heather's Brain said...

I am loving the rewinds, thanks Brian!

I am a Charlie fan BIG TIME, like Jennifer said, Dom was the reason I began my Lost journey at all! So this has been my favorite epi all this time! (unitl greatest hits and the finale!)

Anyway, I really wanted to say that in reading your past and current thoughts I was struck by a couple things too!

1 - Kate - YA! She really seemed to obviously want to get off. WHAT THE HECK FOR? I always thought it was more a fear of the caves until rewatching this season I found it was more a point to get off island. SO WHY????

2 - LOCKE - it makes sense that he was TEAM ISLAND from epi 3. HOWEVER, I had no idea he was the one that hit Sayid! Am I an idiot??? I think it may that I am! How did I miss that? Anyway, so this would be another MEGA MYSTERY that will be resolved in a half assed way, UGH! I get frustrated with those moments.

So here is my thoughts on a another blog post...perhaps a listing of the unsolved mysteries of the island there may be still out there. I for one may have completely forgotten about many of them and at this moment can not even think of ONE!

So...that is all from em for now. Thanks again Brian!

Jennifer said...

Sawyer's optician: That's true, I guess we don't *really* know that Naomi is dead, and probably shouldn't be surprised if she survives into Season 4. She pretty much looked like a goner... but then again, so did all those other characters you list. Hmmmm.

RutkowskiLives said...

Team Island's objective is to keep them on the island? Oh, I don't think that's it at all, and I'm working on a write up of it similar to when you held the guest blogger conest.

Are you still interested in having guest bloggers for the hiatus? And if so, are you still checking the email address from the guest blogger try out?

James said...


Glad you're keeping up with the rewind. Since I've read all of your past entries, these are kind of like a "director's commentary," haha.

I agree with rebecca though; I don't see any inconsistency with Kate wanting to get off the island.

In "Born To Run," Sawyer points out the obvious - Kate wants to be one of the first people off the island, either as herself or through a stolen passport, so she can disappear before the media swarm descends upon them.

Plus, she has trouble staying in one place; why would she want to settle down in the caves, when the beach offers the best chance of escape?

Brian said...

RutkowskiLives - if you have any original content you want to post, just shoot me an Email at - I definitely welcome any guest posts during these dry summer months!

Jennifer said...

This isn't a comment on "the Moth," but still Lost-relevant.

Did you guys see the Emmy nominations that were announced today? I was really surprised there weren't more nominations for Lost. I know it hasn't been an Emmy favorite in the past, but I thought things would change this season. Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn are nominated for Best Supporting Actor, which is awesome and both well-deserved... but I didn't see Lost in any other categories. I don't know why Matthew Fox is overlooked - his performance is stellar! Particularly in the season 3 finale. And, hello, "Heroes" is up for Best Drama Series, but not "Lost?"

Just had to do a little grumbling on this topic.

Anonymous said...

matthew fox will always be charlie in my heart as well, brian.

wgh said...

Wow, that hit me like a lightning bolt. I COMPLETELY forgot that Matthew Fox was on Party of Five. Now it all makes sense. I remember hating that show because of all the completely-over-the-top-hammy acting... like everyone had gone to the same school of histrionic performing arts. With Jack, there's been times I've seen that same kind of performance... the melodrama, reacting to others' lines with a sweeping head turn and overly-pained expression... so vaguely familiar, yet I just couldn't place it. AND NOW I KNOW!!! He just slipped into Affected Charlie Salinger mode!!!!!

rutkowskilives said...

Thanks, Brian. You've been doing an incredible job maintaining steam during the hiatus, and with your engagement and all I thought having a guest post now and again could help. Plus, its fun for me.

I'll get it to you as soon as it is finished.

Nicholas said...

Yeah, like others have said, Kate has trouble stying put for long, and the sooner they get rescued then the better chance she has of nobody realizing that she was there (law enforcement would eventually realize where she was).

amber said...

Random thoughts:

1. Sawyer is yummy in this episode:)

2. Jack didn't get on my nerves as much in the earlier episodes. At that point, I would have been sad to see him die, unlike now, where I would welcome that!

3. It kind of creeps me out how fast Kate & Jack acted like they were in love. It's one thing to have an attraction to each other, but they act like they are long lost lovers.

Anonymous said...

Brian, there could a very good chance that what you fear will come to pass. Would that be analogous to the poor handling of the Star Wars prequels? It just goes to show that it can happen to the best of them. Let's all just try to enjoy the ride while we can!

Stef said...

Once again, I'm last to the party (sorry!) but still really enjoying the rewinds - it means I get to read everyone's great comments all at once, too!

Brian, I also have always dreaded Charlie episodes as momentum killers until Greatest Hits, but this one did remind me that he had a good story at the beginning. (I blame the Charlie-dread on Season 2 writing - too many characters, not enough storylines - not on Dom Monaghan.)

One of my favorite things about this episode that I just noticed on the rewind was that it seems to set the tone for a lot of the later Christian imagery that comes into play. Locke and Eko are all about competing-men-of-faith in Sn 2, and Charlie has a lot of Catholic influences as the show develops. Well, what struck me most in "The Moth" was Locke's challenge to Charlie - that he had to ask for his drugs back 3 times before Locke would do it. My decades-old Sunday School memories jumped at that, remembering the story of Jesus' challenge to Peter at the Last Supper: Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times. Tie that in to this episode's overall arc of redemption for Charlie, and it showed me yet again that the writers can really achieve cool things when they go for it.

Comments on the comments:

Jennifer: The Emmys are even more painful every year considering Lost WON in its first year out!

WGH: Your description of PO5 acting totally made me laugh, thinking of Joey Tribbiani's "smell the fart" technique! :-)

Amber: Sawyer is yummy in every episode! :-)

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