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Listening to Charlie: The Beginning of the End on "Lost"

After last season's whip-smart finale, in which we flash-forward to find a heavily bearded and now edgy Jack addicted to prescription painkillers and nearly committing suicide, I had to wonder: where do we go from here?

In the fourth season opener of Lost ("The Beginning of the End"), we begin to fill in the blanks a little bit just as we learn the identity of one of the few survivors to make it off the island and back to the mainland, a group dubbed the "Oceanic Six." Just as much as this episode quite literally marks the beginning of the end (the series' end date now firmly in sight), it is also the end of the beginning, the point in the series in which--for good or ill--answers need to be given and where the serpentine time-space logic of the series begins to overlap with itself. Where once there were flashbacks, there are now flash-forwards. Where once I believed the end of the series would bring salvation from the island, it's clear that that's distinctly not the case.

It's only fitting that this week's episode takes place before Jack's haunting cry to Kate that they "have to go back." So instead of finding out Kate's reaction (damn!), we see Jack before he gets to that point on the bridge we witnessed in "Through the Looking Glass," before he grows out his Unabomber-style beard and goes all wiggy on us. He's still self-medicating--right now it's alcohol mixed in with his morning orange juice--but he looks fit and healthy (at least physically) and is clocking in regularly at the hospital. The opening scene shows him getting ready for work as a high-speed police chase plays out on television.

Things are not looking so good for Hurley. After fleeing a convenience store at high speed, he's chased by the police and crashes his car. After pleading for leniency (he is, after all, one of the Oceanic Six), he ends up in police custody where he's questioned by the former partner of one Ana-Lucia. So why does Hurley lie about not knowing Ana-Lucia? It's not clear but he's obviously keeping one hell of a secret about the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815... and it lands him back in the mental hospital, where he's hounded by two very different visitors.

I was curious as to what Hurley was running from (and what he glimpsed at the store) but when he had his hallucination at the police station about Underwater Charlie, I was beginning to grasp the sole possibility. It's not the first time Hurley's had an "imaginary friend"--back on the island, he kept talking to Dave--but I am very curious about Charlie's ghost. It's clear that he's dead, so is Ghost Charlie just a figment of Hurley's imagination... or something more? Given that this is Lost, I am almost leaning towards the latter, especially as Charlie seemed to offer up a specific message to Hugo.

As for his other visitor, I was chilled to my very core by the malevolent Matthew Abbadon (Lance Reddick), who appears at the hospital and seems to want to help Hurley, move him to a better facility, make sure he's comfortable. He claims to be an Oceanic Airlines representative, but is lying through his teeth. (No business cards and all that.) He wants information from Hurley, information about the island, and he's not going to stop until he gets what he wants. I definitely think he'll be paying Jack and Kate a visit sooner rather than later...

Reddick's Abbadon already terrifies me, his simmering anger quietly visible beneath the surface of his calm exterior. There's more to this man than meets the eye and I expect him to become a major villain for Season Four, tormenting the Oceanic Six with a dogged determination. As for his namesake (this being Lost, of course), Abbadon translates roughly as "destruction." In Revelations, Abaddon is the Angel of the Abyss (also known in Greek as Apollyon), the destroyer, a locust king who rises with the sounding of the fifth trumpet. Locusts are of course harbingers of the plague. The Biblical name also refers to a "place of destruction" or a "realm of the dead." Curious then that he'd turn up as the first visitor to Hurley, just before Charlie's ghost...

So who is Abbadon? Is he from Hanso? Dharma? Or something far more nefarious? What does he want with the Oceanic Six and their secrets? And how is this connected with the arrival of the helicopter from the freighter?

Back on the island, Hurley encounters Jacob's cabin and, to his horror, discovers that he cannot escape the house, no matter which way he turns. When a light comes on inside the house, Hurley peers inside and sees a man in the rocking chair--a man who looks suspiciously not like Jacob, but rather like Christian Shephard. (OMG!) But before he can investigate further, a face appears in the window (Locke?) and Hurley takes off running. It's very interesting to me that Hurley found the cabin... or more likely the cabin found him. And that Hurley tried to conceal his discovery from Locke. Still, it begs the question: how is Hurley connected to the cabin and/or Jacob? Was that really Christian inside? And what does Locke believe Hurley witnessed?

Meanwhile, I had thought that the castaways would divide down some easy to decipher lines: those who opt to go with Jack are the six who get saved and the ones who choose to follow Locke are the ones who don't. Um, no such luck as the two groups don't seem to have that sort of logic. (For one, Hurley is in Locke's camp and he does get rescued, as do Jack and Kate.) Which leads me to believe that the two groups will reunite sometime in the future.

Naomi is far tougher than she initially appeared to be, surviving the knife wound Locke inflicted on her (in "Through the Looking Glass") long enough to sneak into the jungle and make the drop on Kate... with the knife that had been sticking out of her own back. (Ouch.) Still, her words on the satellite phone--before she died--didn't quite ring true, especially the bit about her sister. Hmmm. I have a feeling that this isn't the last we'll see of Naomi, especially as it's still unclear why she was carrying a picture of Penny and Desmond, if the freighter isn't Penny's boat.

And, oh, how great was it to see Bernard and Rose? I especially loved Rose's line about how there's no way she's going anywhere with Locke. Fitting, funny, and very prophetic.

What did you think of the season opener? Did it live up to your expectations? And with only seven more episodes of Lost this season, are you already dreading the end of the season?

Next week on Lost ("Confirmed Dead"), four strangers arrive on the island, but the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are left to ponder Charlie's final message and whether these newcomers are there to help them or to kill them.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); 1 vs. 100 (NBC); Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Grey's Anatomy (ABC);
Bones (FOX)

9 pm: Moonlight (CBS); Friday Night Lights (NBC); Desperate Housewives (ABC);
House (FOX)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS);
Las Vegas (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-11 pm: BBC America.

If you happen to be staying in after a long work week, why not do it in true Anglophile style with back-to-back episodes of Coupling and The Catherine Tate Show?


Kevin Sole said…
Absolutely, without a doubt, already dreading the end of this season. Granted, even if it were the "full" 16 episodes, I would _already_ be dreading the end after THAT opener.

Holy crap!

Took me a bit to put the pieces together -- primarily that this flash-forward was taking place before the flash-forward shown to us in Season 3. Going to become difficult, one would suspect, to keep track of these flash-forwards. Moreso then the flashbacks.

I felt no chills upon seeing Abbadon (though I did quickly make the connection to Appollyon), and as it stands, the character .. doesn't actually interest me in the slightest. Perhaps this is merely because of Charlie's appearance. I was talking to my Mom before the show started saying how, Charlie's death didn't mean he wouldn't be in this season, that he could still appear in flashbacks...

I damn near fell out of my chair when he appeared in the flashforward.

The island somehow.. seems to exist outside of standard time. We've seen Desmond, of course, having premonitions and being able to visit his own past and relive it, but, unable to change it; so perhaps Charlie is doing something much the same.

Why is it prophetic that Rose says that she won't go anywhere with Locke? I find it weird, considering she believes (and perhaps rightly so) that her cancer was cured by being on the island (did she make the connection? what were her words.. that being ON the island cured her.. or that the ISLAND cured her.. hm.) yet she seems willing to leave? Lesser of the two evils?

Rambling. Tired.

Mind.. blown.
Bill said…
Hurley almost has to die between his flash forward and Jack's, doesn't he? Given how his conversation with Jack went, wouldn't Jack go to Hurley instead of Kate when he eventually decides that they need to go back? I'm not saying Hurley was in the coffin (I'm not entirely sure that coffin was Hurley-sized, to be honest), but he certainly couldn't have been alive and in LA.
Jace Lacob said…

Hmmm. Not sure that Hurley has to die in order to make that flash-forward scene in "Through the Looking Glass" work (and that coffin was definitely not, er, Hurley-sized). After all, I think that all six of them will have to return to the island (but that's just a hunch), so Jack needs each of them on his side. Obviously, Kate is being a major hold-out so he needs to convince her. But the real question is: what gets Jack to change his mind?
Anonymous said…
I loved the episode. I'm so happy to have my favourite show back!

I think Bill might be on to something… why did Jack go to Kate instead of Hurly about going back to the island? I’m thinking that maybe Hurly already made it back to the island, and now Jack wants to follow with Kate...
As much as I'd like to think that Jack would go to Hurley, the truth is that Jack never went to Hurley for help on the island so why would he start now? He and Kate always worked together so, even if things are difficult between them, I believe he would still go to her with something important.

Fricking awesome episode!!
Anonymous said…
At one commercial break last night, this is what came out of my mouth, "But what about...but how...but..I don't...but...ARGH!"

I love this show.
Anonymous said…
At one commercial break last night, this is what came out of my mouth, "But what about...but how...but..I don't...but...ARGH!"

I love this show.
Loved the whole episode. As to Ana Lucia's partner and Hurley lying about it. He asked if Hurley met her on the plane or before take off.
He specifically didn't ask about meeting her from the time they crashed to the time they were rescued, which makes me think no time has passed off the island between the crash and their rescue.
The CineManiac said…
that last comment was from me!
Jace Lacob said…
Travis, I don't think it's a case of no time going by (re: Ana-Lucia's partner), but the fact that the world at large believes that only six people survived the crash. In my opinion, anyway...

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