Originally aired May 1, 2005
A confession: I didn’t really like this episode when it first aired. I mean I liked it as much as I liked any episode of Lost, which is to say a great deal. But at the time it aired, the episode felt less like part of the overall story, and more like a statement to the audience about what Lost wasn’t. From the time the show began, people speculated that the events on the island — the plane crash, the smoke monster, the whispers and dead folks walking around — were all taking place in one person’s dream or imagination. All the different characters running around, with their back stories and individual histories? Different personalities of the same person.
Which, if you’ve seen the B-movie-craptacular, Identity, might sound a little familiar. Oh, did I just spoil that for you? Sorry. But not really. I just saved you 90 minutes of your time. You can thank me later.
But, yeah, a lot of people speculated that the entire show was an exploration of the multiple personalities of some character to be named later. (Which is related to, but not quite exactly like, one of my other favorite nutty theories: that the characters were undergoing virtual reality therapies, and that when they “die” on the island, they’re not really dead, see; it’s just an indication that they have dealt with whatever their original issue is. And in real life, that character is merely unhooked from the machine, and free to go about his or her new healthy life.) And while I mock these theories, I mock with love. I understand: Lost is so chockfull of twists and gotchas, that it’s natural that people want to try to guess at what is going to happen next, so they can feel as though they haven’t been outwitted by a freakin’ television show. None of us, obviously, are immune from the speculation bug. I’ve been bitten by it too many times to count, and I almost am ALWAYS dead wrong.
And so, I guess, at the time this episode originally aired I was irritated that the creators felt the need to use an entire episode to explicitly dismiss a theory. It seemed like a waste of storytelling time. But upon another viewing of this episode, in the light of the remarkable twist that the O6 have left the island, this episode might actually be hugely more important than I had given credit for — it may have given us an enormous hint about just where this show was headed, and about lessons learned the hard way …
So, we know that Hurley spent a little quality time at Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute, but we don’t know why. And Hurley? Despite his very kindly doctor’s urging, isn’t ready to spill, even having been there for 2 months.
What we do know is that:
1. Hurley’s mom sent him to Santa Rosa,
2. Hurley isn’t upset with her anymore because he knows she had her reasons,
3. that reason had to do with an “accident,”
4. Hurley’s on a diet,
5. Hurley, while supposedly adhering to his diet, isn’t doing his other work, notably making a list of things he likes about himself because
6. his friend Dave didn’t do it, as he thinks it’s stupid.
Oh, and 7. this friend of his, Dave, doesn’t want Hurley to change.
But really, Hurley should maybe be skeptical of this Dr. Brooks character, as he probably wants to take Hurley’s mutant powers away.
Dave, it turns out, is actually Harry Goldenblatt (but who will always remain “Shrug” to me), and no one wants to play basketball with him. Dave is snarky, and kinda funny, and very encouraging of Hurley indulging in some tacos already. And though Hurley knows that Dr. Brooks says that Dave is a bad influence, TACOS.
Lost note: Taco night! In “I Do”, Monica/Kate calls her husband from the grocery store, reporting that it’s “taco night.” And, in fact, when she leaves him, she tells him that she doesn’t do taco night. I know that this is a stretch, but “taco night” = institutions? Being trapped? FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
Later in the rec room, as Dave watches, Hurley and Lenny play a little Connect Four, Lenny all the while muttering the Numbers. Dave encourages Hurley to steal Lenny’s graham crackers, and then when the nurse delivers Hurley’s meds, Dave encourages Hurley to not take them, and I dunno. Maybe Dr. Brooks is right about Dave being a bad influence? Dr. Brooks stops by Hurley’s table, and after Hurley takes his meds, Dr. B. takes a photo of Hurley and Dave together. ¡Queso!
And as the good doctor leaves, Hurley reveals to Dave that he didn’t swallow his pills. Oh, Hurley.
Lost note: Lenny! And Connect Four! This is the game that Lenny is playing by himself when Hurley returns to Santa Rosa to learn about the origin of the numbers, in “Numbers”. Which, of course, is no surprise, with the “Four,” and the idea of connections. Or the fact that Lenny tends to fixate.
In his therapy session with Dave, Hurley enumerates the things he likes about himself, leaving out anything to do about his physical appearance, because, see, Hurley’s so fat (HOW FAT IS HE?), he’s so fat that at a party he stepped onto a deck (designed for 8 people, but 23 people were on it that fateful night, natch), it collapsed and 2 people died. And he feels really bad about it. Still.
Dr. Brooks explains that after the accident, Hurley went into a catatonic state, completely shutting down, but for eating. Because Hurley punishes himself by eating. Hurley gets all defensive, and mentions Dave, so Dr. Brooks pulls out the photo he took of the two of them together, and WHAT DO YOU KNOW? There is no Dave. Just Hurley wrapping his arm around empty space. HUH.
That night, Dave arrives in Hurley’s room and wakes him up. Hurley argues that Dave’s just a figment of his imagination, and Dave takes offense, citing Photoshop, etc. The two sneak down to the rec room, and Dave announces that Hurley has the keys to the window. Lo and behold, he does! Dave opens the windows, hops out and urges Hurley to join him, and go get cheeseburgers. But Hurley realizes that Dr. Brooks is right, Dave doesn’t want him to change, he doesn’t want Hurley to get any better. And so he chooses to stay at Santa Rosa, and shuts Dave out. Bye, Dave! See ya later, figment of Hurley’s imagination!
Lost note: And cheeseburgers! If tacos = imprisonment and institutionalism, then cheeseburgers = unattainable freedom? In “Maternity Leave,” when Jack and Locke offer Benry cereal in the hatch, his response? “No cheeseburgers, huh?” Here, more explicitly, in “Dave,” as Dave tries to lure Hurley out of the asylum: “Oh, oh, oh… can you taste that? That is freedom, baby. You know what tastes even better than freedom? Cheeseburgers.” And then, Juliet offers Jack a cheeseburger in “The Cost of Living,” with the jokes about how hard it was for her to prepare it for him.
Back in the hatch, Jack declares Locke’s injury to be a hairline fracture, and orders Locke to stay off his feet for a few weeks. Locke bristles at the suggestion that he use a wheelchair they found in the wreckage (and that I thought burnt in the fuselage fire in the first season?), so Kate finds him some crutches instead. Locke tries to defend Fenry — after all, he coulda left (wait! kinda like Hurley! hey!), and he didn’t! But Jack’s like, quit being a sucker, Sucker.
Sayid, in the meantime, has some very pointed questions for Fenry, whom he has strung up in the armory. Fenry’s story is that he found the Real Henry Gale dead already — neck broken prolly when the balloon crashed.
Ah, but see, when you create your alibi, you really need to make sure you’ve got all the details right. Seems Sayid checked Henry’s wallet, and found a note he wrote to his wife on a dollar bill that clearly suggests that he survived the crash. HMMM. Sayid would now like some information on the Others, please.
But Fenry becomes panicky, and assures them that if he says anything, HE will become upset. Sayid is like, “He?” and Ana guesses that Fenry’s talking about the Other’s leader, Mr. Friendly. This? Irritates Fenry who notes that Mr. Friendly is MOST CERTAINLY NOT the leader. Anyway, Fenry’s really not interested in talking, thanks.
So Sayid comes up with alternate forms of motivation — namely the threat to shoot Fenry’s face off. And Sayid isn’t kidding: he fires his gun, but Ana Lucia manages to shove Sayid, and the bullet misses Fenry. All the shooting in the armory gets Jack and Locke’s attention, understandably, and Jack pulls Sayid out of the armory, as Locke lies helpless in the bunk, wondering what’s going on.
Locke, irritated that he missed all the fun, heads over to the armory, as soon as Jack leaves the hatch, and asks Ana for five minutes to talk to Fenry. She reluctantly agrees. Inside the hatch, Locke has his own questions for Fenry, like did he get caught in Danielle’s net on purpose? (Yeah! Did he?) Locke notes that Fenry and his people have been on the island for God knows how long … at which point Fenry interrupts Locke with this little nugget: “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.”
He then wonders why he would put himself through all the funhappytimes he’s enjoyed with Locke and his people on purpose. Locke supposes that Fenry and his people might have been looking for the hatch? But Fenry replies that not only is the hatch a joke, but the whole thing with the computer and the numbers and the hieroglyphics? Fake. Fenry never pushed the button, and nothing happened. Joke’s on Locke! Locke challenges that Fenry is lying, but Fenry assures him that he’s done lying. (But he’s lying about that, too.)
Lost note: Well, this is interesting. Fenry, we now know, is lying to Locke about whether or or not he pushed the button. Just messing with Locke’s head, because, hey, why not? But it appears that Fenry must have let the numbers run down pretty low before finally pushing execute. But why? Out of curiosity? Did Fenry, who was in fact not that high-up in the DHARMA hierarchy, really not know what was going on with the hatch? But that doesn’t make much sense, does it, because how could someone who knew what was up with the FDW (Frozen Donkey Wheel, yo) not know what the Swan was all about? And maybe the entire point here is that he is just planting that seed of doubt in Locke’s mind. Fenry knows exactly what happens when you don’t push the button, and so he’s pushing Locke’s button. To see what happens.
Everyone out on the beach is blissfully unaware of all the dramaz taking place inside the hatch, worrying about other things, like their workouts and diets. Or maybe that’s just Hurley. In any event, he and Libby are out for a jog on the beach, which Hurley isn’t particularly enjoying. He finally confesses to Libby that it’s not his metabolism that’s keeping him fat, it’s that he’s sick. He then takes Libby into the jungle where he reveals he’s been stashing DHARMA food. A lot of DHARMA food. And he wishes he could just get rid of it. So do it! suggests Libby. If you want to change, CHANGE! and then the two of them set about destroying all the food. Whee! And it’s all happy time and dance party until Jin and Sun run by, with the news that something has been found!
Can you guess what it is?
If you said a DHARMA drop of food, then you have a keen grasp of dramatic irony. As the survivors excitedly pass the food around, Charlie notes that Locke mentioned a lockdown in the hatch — maybe it was so that no one would see who dropped the food! Thanks for the exposition, Hobbit! And as the survivors greedily grab at the food, Hurley looks on in dismay. That is until he’s distracted by a face in the crowd — why, it’s his old asylum buddy, Dave! HEY! DAVE! What are you doing here? And as Hurley starts yelling to him, Dave turns and walks into the jungle, leaving behind a slipper.
Hurley takes the slipper to the beach, where he gets all pensive. That’s where Libby finds him, and offers that she’s proud of Hurley for not freaking out. MORE IRONY!
Eventually, Hurley heads back into the jungle to look for Dave, and sure enough, there he is! Hurley explains to Dave that he’s not real, that he’s not there on the island. And in response, Dave chucks a coconut at him. As Dave is about to throw another, he instead turns and runs with it. Hurley takes chase only to find himself in the middle of Eko’s building site. Hurley asks Eko and Charlie if they’ve seen a bald guy run by in the bathrobe carrying a coconut, but Charlie just offers a flip answer as though crazier things aren’t wandering around the island ALL THE TIME.
But it’s enough to make Hurley do the unthinkable: ask Sawyer for anti-psychotic medication. When Sawyer teases him, Hurley snaps, two months’ worth of being called fat bubbles to the surface, and Hurley gives Sawyer the beatdown he has been richly deserving for some time now.
After Jin pulls Hurley off of Sawyer, Hurley decides to head for the hills. He packs his backpack full of DHARMA peanut butter (Claire will be so disappointed!), and explains to Libby that he’s going to go be a crazy hermit in a cave somewhere. She tries to talk Hurley out of this, but he’s rocking some intense self-pity, and not hearing it.
Lost note: OMG! Is Hurley Jacob? With the hermiting? And the crazy old manning? Probably not. But note! A Jacob-y reference!
Once in the jungle, the peanut butter falls out of his backpack, making a colossal gross mess that Hurley then eats off the ground. And that’s when he sees Dave again. Hi, Dave! Dave takes a seat next to Hurley, and asks for his slipper back. Hurley, understandably, doesn’t quite get what Dave is doing on the island, what with being imaginary and all.
Dave goes on to explain that the situation is kinda complicated: OK, so back at Santa Rosa? Dave was real. And when Hurley locked him out of the rec room, he didn’t have the breakthrough he thought he did — instead, he sunk back into his coma-like thing. And this? The island? The plane crash? The lottery? It’s all a dream. Hurley is imagining it all. Including Dave. So yeah, Hurley’s kinda right — Dave’s not here, but neither is Hurley. It takes a little convincing with Hurley, but Dave points out just how improbable it is that Hurley won the lottery, and that some cute blonde might be romantically interested in him. (SAD.)
Lost note: (And this is a update, btw.) When Jack visits Hurley at Santa Rosa in “Something Nice Back Home,” Hurley has really fallen off the deep end, and he tells Jack that they are all dead: that they never left the island. Jack describes his life, and Hurley notes that it sounds perfect, that Jack seems happy. Jack, angered, notes that just because he’s happy doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. A nice inversion of what Dave tells Hurley here, no?
But the good news is that Dave is here to help Hurley wake up! And all Hurley has to do, is hurl himself off a cliff. And to prove his point, Dave takes a flying leap. See you in another life, Hurley!
Lost note: Yes. See you in another life. Already.
So. Hurley’s standing there on the cliff, looking down where Dave just threw himself, and contemplating this whole bidness, when Libby arrives. She realizes fairly quickly that Hurley is in the middle of a freak out, and Hurley explains that she’s not real. None of this is real, and he’s going to throw himself off a cliff. KTHNXBAI.
But Libby has a clever, and asks Hurley what the man’s name was, you know, the one with the broken leg that Mr. Eko brought to her for help. Hurley, of course, doesn’t know it, and she points out that that’s because it happened to her. Not only that, but she buried that man, and a bunch of other people, so Hurley can just CUT IT OUT already with this egomanical pity party, because it’s really patronizing.
Hurley realizes that she has a point. And then she kisses him, and AWW! (But the stupid foreshadowing devil is sitting on my shoulder right now making me weepy already. BE GONE FORESHADOWING DEVIL!) Libby assures him that he can change. And she should know because … BIG REVEAL! … she was in Santa Rosa with Hurley. And not as a doctor, but as a patient and everything! See: here she is looking all out-of-it and brown and crazy! Or what I look like on any given Saturday morning.
So THAT’S where Hurley knew her from! OOOOOOO!
Alright! So! First of all, at the time this episode, there was a lot of talk about various “clues” that Dave was actually real, be it based on the discrepancies between the Polaroid and the conditions in which the picture was taken, or the rumored red in the surf after Dave takes his leap off the cliff. While there is always the possibility that at some point in the next two seasons we may learn that Dave was real, I am willing to bet that we won’t. In part, because I think it would be cheap to, two or three seasons later, play gotcha with this story, and be like, “Yeah, that guy that we told you was a figment of Hurley’s imagination? Totally real, dude. DEAL WITH THAT!”
But there’s something else: Hurley’s father, Cheech? Whom we met in season three’s episode, “Tricia Tanaka is Dead,”? His name is David. And we learned in that same episode that when David left Hurley and Hurley’s family, the last thing he did was give Hurley a candy bar. And apparently, this is the moment when Hurley’s eating disorder was born.
To compensate for the pain that was left when his father abandoned him, and perhaps as a form of punishment for maybe feeling some misplaced responsibility for David leaving, Hurley eats. And eats and eats. And it eventually becomes a self-fulfilling cycle: Hurley eats to comfort and punish himself, causing him to be overweight and self-conscious, so he eats to comfort and punish himself, and so on. And then! A terrible accident occurs for which Hurley blames himself and his weight, so he eats to comfort and punish himself, and creates an imaginary friend who just happens to share the name of the man who gave him that first candy bar so many years earlier, who now encourages him to eat more. MOAR!
And in the same way that Dave is a manifestation of Hurley’s unresolved daddy issues, and Dave has no business wandering around the island, Jack has a similar experience with Christian (Who?). Hurley chases Dave across the island, and then nearly throws himself off a cliff in something of a leap of faith. In “White Rabbit”, Jack spies someone on the island that can’t possibly be there, Christian, and chases him across the island, nearly falling off a cliff in the process. And then both men are told by the people who saved them, Libby and Locke respectively, that their experience on the island is real. Jack doesn’t exactly believe Locke the way that Hurley believes Libby, but that’ll change. (I guess I should point out that Dave appearing to Hurley on the Island is yet another example of the direction that this season has taken with the characters: Hurley is going back to who he was before he came to the island. But I’m sure you already knew that.)
But how does one reconcile the contradiction that Dave is imaginary while Christian is real? Or for that matter, Charlie, when he returns to visit Hurley after the island? Can he be real when Dave is merely a figment of Hurley’s imagination?
The Occam’s Razor answer is that Charlie is in Hurley’s head too, the manifestation of his guilt over leaving people behind on the island. But maybe not. The way I look at it has everything to do with consciousness: There is an accident, and Hurley is involved. Did he cause it? Probably not, but he blames himself anyway. As a result, his consciousness is altered, he ends up in a hospital to get help, and he begins seeing a friend no one else can see who encourages Hurley to escape from the hospital and go get a hamburger.
Similarly, there is a plane accident and Hurley is involved. Did he cause it? Probably not, but he blames himself anyway. As a result, his consciousness is altered, he ends up on an island with healing properties, and (later) he begins seeing a friend no one else can see who encourages Hurley to escape from the hospital and go back to the island.
In both instances, Hurley’s consciousness is altered. And what’s really interesting is that Hurley and Jack both respectively have their own “this can’t be happening” moments after they leave the island. I’ve argued before that the reason that Hurley and Jack see dead people when they return from the island is that their consciousnesses have been altered by the island’s zany side effects. The dead, and the O6’s minds (or at least Hurley and Jack’s. Maybe Kate’s.) now exist outside of linear time. Because of their experience on the island, they can see more. They experience reality differently. By virtue of haven been on the island, their minds were changed, and as a result, it appears they will change their minds about leaving the island.
And this is the point of this entire episode! Dig it: The island = Santa Rosa Mental Institute! No really! Well, OK, not literally … What happens with the flashback in this episode? Hurley is at this hospital, but he refuses to get better, instead fixating on cheeseburgers and escaping. It’s only when he decides that he needs help, that he needs to stay does he get better. It wasn’t his time to leave the hospital, Hurley had work to do. But it has to be Hurley’s choice to stay. Hurley has the keys in his hands, and can hop right out the window, but he, of his own free will, decides to STAY. And the O6? They made the wrong choice, when they decided to leave the island. It wasn’t their time to go. They weren’t supposed to flee out the rec room window, so to speak. There’s still work for them to do, and like Michael, they have to go back. They need the island’s transformative, healing properties to truly be free. Whatever that means.
Of course, for me, the question is if Santa Rosa is a metaphor for the island, and Hurley’s mother deliberately sent him to Santa Rosa to be healed, did someone deliberately send the Losties to the island? Or was it merely a coincidence?
As to the other gems in this episode, Libby and Fenry’s God “can’t see this island?” I don’t know. The whole Libby thing is perplexing, especially in light of her appearance later in the season, when she graciously gives Desmond her husband, David’s, boat. I should point out that there are some who wonder if Dave = Libby’s David, that Hurley is somehow seeing the manifestation of Libby’s husband in his made-up friend. It’s possible, of course, but Dave seems awfully concerned with Hurley’s diet, David is a fairly common name, and Lost often uses repeated names: Eddie, Charles, John, Frank, Rachel, Ann, Elisabeth, Tom, etc., and so forth. But who knows, you know! As for why she’s in the institution, if she was ever really a psychiatrist, if she was keeping tabs on Hurley or something … at this rate, with the writers’ stubborn refusal to bring Libby back except as an exceptionally quiet ghost, who knows if we’ll ever receive those answers. Sorry I don’t have anything more enlightening than that to add. But I can only work with what’s given to me, you know?
But Fenry’s comment? Now, that takes on a whole new level of meaning now that we know the island isn’t exactly stationary in neither time nor space. The island doesn’t obey the rules of physics — it appears to exist on a completely different plane of reality. And, like David, or Charlie or Christian, only those who are special, only those in the right frame of mind can “see” it.
Now, one would presume that God might fall into that “special” category, because, he is, you know, God and stuff. But here’s a thought: what if Fenry’s comment is also a reflection on his own feelings about the things that he has done while on the island? What if this is actually a statement about Fenry how feels that he was never punished by God for the purge or for killing his own father — that God couldn’t see his sins, and therefore there was no divine retribution?
Or maybe the island is Purgatory. Who can really say?
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU? We are a month, ONE MONTH! away from the season five premiere! I am way behind on the recaps, I KNOW. And I am doing my best to get them finished up before the new season starts, but we’ll see. Still, 5 episodes in 30 days? Is it possible? Maybe! It might just end up being a series of Mr. T. blogs: “Bernard makes a sign, but then gives up.” “Ana AND Libby? Didn’t see that coming!” “Eko sees dead people.” “Michael’s a traitor.” “Look out! Hatch s’plode!” I’m going to try to offer more than that, if only because “?” is one of my favoritest episodes ever. But if I don’t make it, WHO CARES! NEW LOST IN ONE MONTH! Here are the spoiler clips and promos for your viewing pleasure. Again. Not all of them, granted, but the best of them.
Also, found over on sl-LOST.com was this little gem: Season 5 promotional postcards. I love them and want one of each. HEAR THAT, SANTA? MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Finally, a confession: my sister and I share the same insane love for this show, and have worked out a sweet deal. We each go out and buy Lost on DVD the day it come out, watch the DVDs, and then wrap them up and give them to each other on Christmas. Sure, the element of surprise is out the window, but at least we both know that we’re going to like what we get. ANYWAY. Long story short, the DVDs are awesome. If you are lucky enough to receive them this holiday season, be sure to check out the bonus features, notably the flash forwards put in chronological order, and the conspiracy film about the O6. Which filled my heart with glee. Seriously. Glee.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, shoot, just Happy Holidays, all of them, and HAPPY NEW YEAR, Losties! It’s been a great 2008, and I can’t wait to usher 2009 and a whole new season of Lost with all of you!
Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.