Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Pompatus of Lost: 2.12--Don't Drop The Baby

So last week, the visceral reaction many people felt was: "Guh. A Jack story. Booor-ing." Now this week, everyone's all: "Bleah! I hate Charlie! This episode sucks." People: calm yourselves. Have you forgotten? This is a character driven show, first and foremost. I know that everyone's hot to pore over the next facet of Dharma initiated weirdness, think deep thoughts about whatever book is left on the nightstand, trying to figure out why Pitchfork hasn't posted the deets on the upcoming Geronimo Jackson tour, but you've got to remember, the characters are the key. And with that admonishment, on with the show.

Lights up as we see a pair of rabbit slippers coming down the stairs one Christmas morning. Two brothers gather at the Christmas tree. One is sensitive. The other, loutish and dumb. They grab at presents, but they all seem to be for the older brother. The dumb brother gets Voltron. Pretty sweet. But the sensitive brother is sad that he didn't get anything. Just then, mom comes into the room abd reveals that sensitive bro got one big present--a piano! He won't shoot his eye out! No, he'll end up in an entirely different shooting gallery, won't he. Mom pumps the sensitive brother up: you're a genius, you're a great talent, your music is going to save us all.

But just then, our little moment of Angela's Ashes takes a dramatic Trainspotting turn. Suddenly, Voltron brother is all growed up, and he's glowering and mean, sarcastically mocking piano brother--"Yeah, save us." The camera veers, as we see a faceless father figure at a chopping block chopping meat, lustily braying that piano brother needs to learn a trade. The meat he's chopping turns into a plastic baby head. Sensitive brother starts to play the piano, and finds himself on a beach. Suddenly, he hears a baby crying from somewhere inside the piano. In a frenzy, he tries to open the piano to get the baby out, but he can't. Hearing whispers behind him, he looks around for help, but when he turns back the piano is capsized, it's floating out to sea, the baby is doomed, the dream is dead, his musical talent all for naught!

And that's the opening scene from Oasis: The Musical!

That opening sure threw us for a loop. We're so used to our regular flashbacks that at first, it was easy to believe that we were there. But, it seems that the island has taken its hallucinatory effects to new levels, putting our characters into vivid, waking dreams that have nothing to do with the past. This, then, was no trip to Flashbackistan. It was a journey deep inside Mindfucksembourg.

We return from commercial. Charlie, attempting to heal the rift with Claire that arose over his whole lying about heroin dealie, has come to her, bringing along a pile of freshly made nappies from his legendary Non Sequitur Collection of babywear. Claire accepts the gift, but continues to give Charlie the cold shoulder. Charlie complains that Locke is her new bff, and that he wishes that things could be like they were before. But to Claire, "before" means many things: giving birth as Boone died, getting kidnapped by Ethan Rom, somehow finding herself in a codependent relationship with a junkie who plays bad Merseybeat. It's not a pretty picture. She says she wants "space", which in breakuptalk means "a permanent space separating you from my vagina in perpetuity."

This prompts a return to Flashbackistan. Charlie, in full rockstar mode, drops by a maternity ward. He looks over the children, digging a deep furrow into his psyche wherein he will plant the seeds of his insatiable nesting complex. But before he can whip out his nipple and commence to feeding, a woman appears. We immediately know that this is brother Liam's squeeze, remarkably white-collar in mien for a woman whose romantically involved with a big rock star. I mean, I guess they aren't all like Drew Barrymore, gargantuan double-D Fabrizios unleashed on the unsuspected Hollywood foreign press. Charlie makes excuses for Liam, saying he missed his flight back because he chose to ride to the airport on the van "with the gear." Everyone who's ever listened to a Streets album is knowingly remarking to themselves: "I'll say he rode with the gear, all right."

Charlie goes to the fancy rockstar loft. It looks like their label has actually allowed them to keep some of their money, so right away we know that Driveshaft is signed to EMI Fantasyland. Charlie notices that Liam has left a fag on his beloved piano, and before you get all righteous and politically correct on me, please no that I am not saying that he has draped a gentleman with a non-traditional sexual preference over the piano, but a cigarette. Britslang: look it up. Charlie turns around and sees that Liam's been fixing, and he's passed out. He wakes Liam and reads him the riot act for missing out on an important Kodak moment. He brings the mad guilt by letting him know that the baby is named Megan, after their mum--and by mum, I mean mother, not a garden perennial. I guess that only Charlie is allowed to be fucked up from his childhood.

Back at the beach, Kate engages in some physical therapy with Sawyer, demonstrating other skills that accentuate her ineffable hotness. Hurley is hanging out, asking so not leading questions about his crush, Tonic. He asks Sawyer what it was like living with the "Tailies." Sawyer quickly susses Hurley's motives, and indulges in some junior highschoolery. A minute later, he espies Jack sashaying up the beach, Tequila in tow, and remarks that he's been giving her the twenty dollar tour. Twenty dollar tour for a fifteen dollar whore!

Elsewhere on the beach (OR SO WE THINK), Charlie's working on another one of his desert island acoustic sessions when he suddenly hears the cries of a baby coming from behind him. Charlies taut fallopian tubes snap into action, and in no time he's scanning the surface for baby in distress. That's when he sees Aaron's Locke-fashioned crib being tossed by the waves. Without pausing to admire Locke's considerable craftsmanship or ruminate upon what happened the last time people jumped into the ocean to rescue people, Charlie hits the water, stroking impressively to the foundering crib. A moment later he's back on the beach, and what he sees tells us that we have once again journeyed to Mindfucksembourg.

Megan and Claire sit on the beach in angelic regalia, emptily repeating "The baby's in Danger Charlie you have to save him." A dove appears, flapping and falling to the ground as if it's been shot, airplane exhaust smoking from its rear. Hurley then appears from the woods, dressed as Jesus Christ.

Freudian analysis reveals the following:

  • The mother and girl as angels speaks directly to both Charlie's deeply conflicted upbringing, where his mother nurtured his gift and provided unconditional love and his father totally hated on him and chopped animals heads off, and also Charlie's attempts to reconcile his unsettled feelings through the religious involvement he abandons when he had the chance to "please his mother" by making the music that would "save" his family.
  • The smoking, shot-down dove symbolizes that John Woo's filmic motifs, once trenchant and moving, have now been milked so often by the filmmaker that he really needs to find some new inspiration. I mean, for Christ's sake.
  • Hurley's appearance as Jesus symbolizes that the Losties had better think twice if they plan to build a temple and then invite all sorts of moneylenders to come and hang out there.
Charlie leaves Mindfucksembourg the way most people do, with day suddenly changing to night and everyone around you freaking out because you pulled a screaming baby out of its crib and run off down to the beach for no good reason at all. Charlie attempts to explain, but ends up having Claire slap the crap out of him, tenderizing his face for what's to come.

Later, Sawyer is trying to teach Hurley how to play Blackjack. Since the Losties are pathologically incapable of remembering what grave and mortal danger they are in every second, I imagine that Hurley and Sawyer dream of opening that island casino they've always wanted to open right next to the golf course hole. Ahh, to be young and in international waters! Hurley's the very model of a deck-fucking rube you'd hate to be at a blackjack table with, but before Sawyer can offer some stiff correction, Tonic comes walking by with her laundry basket. Sawyer slyly suggests that Hurley needs to "drop a load" of his own, and with the tropical island and its world of dysentery and other gastric horrors fresh in my mind, I stifle back a vomit launch. Sawyer, playing the Dr. Phil of a more interesting parallel universe, calls out to Tonic and then ducks out of sight, so that she notices Hurley.

Charlie and Locke, meanwhile, meet up after Locke's shift at the Hatchery for a pow-wow. Charlie wants to explain his actions from the night before, but Locke cuts him off by asking him if he's back on the horse. "What, like the imaginary horse Kate's been seeing?" Okay. Point to Charlie. Locke brings up the airplane and the Virgin Marys and their special redeeming qualities. Charlie loses his point by lying that he and Eko burned the plane and its contents. He leaves out the details of his pre-burning hidden stash of H. Shades of James Frey! The correct response would have been, "Oh, you mean the plane where Boone died, John?" At any rate, Locke tells him that given enough time and space, Claire can learn to trust Charlie again. But this isn't the answer Charlie wants to hear.

We head to Flashbackistan. Driveshaft is on a film set, dressed in matching Union Jack bathrobes. Waaaaaaannnnnt one, by the way! They have on diapers underneath and end up being filmed dancing in a crib holding diaper packages. The director says "make sure we can see the product", but it's not clear as to whether this is a commercial or a music video in the spirit of The Who Sell Out or something. At any rate, Liam is whacked out of his gourd and ends up making a shambles out of the whole thing, or--perhaps more fittingly--a babyshambles out of it. Ha. But Charlie won't abandon his brother.

Meanwhile, at the Laundrohatch, Hurley and Tonic have a stunted and awkward flirty conversation. Tonic wants to model a top. Hurley looks like he'd rather be back serving up processed chicken. The reveal is that, embarrassingly, Tonic remembers Hurley from the plane, where he stepped on his foot, massively. Hurley looks like it's the end of the world, but weirdly enough, Tonic seems pretty chill about it, even a little impressed. Maybe she's a submissive who likes the big boys and a little pain on the side--if so, this is a match made in hatch. By the way, Tonic's looking a lot better now, but she should still maybe take a shower.

Charlie, meanwhile, is seeking out Eko, who is out marking trees. "The ones I like," he says. That's very funny. Charlie tells Eko about the dreams, to which Eko responds by asking if he ever considered the possibility that the dreams mean something. At this point, Eko gives Charlie a long, complicated, metaphoric, Bible-based story like he gave Locke about the book and the missing piece of film, but for once we're saved by the miracle of editing.

Charlie runs off to see Claire. Now, the last time they spoke, he was standing in the surf with her newborn baby and acting all dazed and crazy, so it's surprising that Charlie's new approach to reasoning with Claire borrows tactics from the column marked "Sexually Desperate" and the one marked "Ranting Madman", but, I guess you gotta dance with the girl what brung ya. Kate is standing guard over Claire, and physically intercedes, grappling with the yelly Charlie and giving the viewer at home a good idea of how these two munchkins get busy in real life.

Anyway, Charlie says that the baby needs to be baptised and that Eko is a priest and that he can do it. Kate and Claire dismiss the idea. Interestingly, Locke overhears.

We return from commercial to find Tequila hard at work building her latest torture hostel. Jack comes up with a present from Tarp, Pisshole and Beyond. They chitchat about the rumble in the jungle from last week. Referring to Kate, Tequila asks Jack if he's "hitting that." Jack explains that he's waiting for the right moment: when she's confused and desperate and thirsting for a codependent relationship to plug all of the holes in her psyche. That's when Jack'll make his move.

Charlie tromps through the woods, looking for secret stash of heroiney goodness. Is he going just to look this time? No. He picks up a statue and breaks it, fittingly enough, into a million little pieces. He cradles the testicle sized baggie, and, hefting it, journeys back to Flashbackistan.

Back in the Driveshaft loft, Charlie sits at the piano as Liam comes in, upset. He's been thrown out by his wife/girlfriend for dropping little Megan on her head. He's totally in a glass case of emotion. Luckily, Charlie's got a crappy new song (download it here) that they can sing together that he starts playing on the piano, and Liam thinks it's effing hot shit and beautiful and he's totally going to leak it to all the music blogs with especially low standards and then log in to whatever passes for the Arlington Music Scene message boards over there in England to get empty feedback from scores of self-deluded musical craphounds, but first, he wants to light up his left arm with some smack, thus turning a tender scene between two brothers into one of those ominous and sad moments that so trouble the good people of Flashbackistan.

Charlie is woken from his reverie by Locke, standing behind him. He is none too pleased to discover the secret stash, and he tells Charlie that while he once let him choose to quit the drugs, that he's going to make the choice for him. Charlie protests that he was about to destroy the drugs himself and that the whole ordeal is a obvious La Isla Encanta test and that Claire has to trust him and that the baby's in danger. Locke says he's given up the right to be believed. Who died and made Locke attorney general?

Back at the Beach, Locke meets up with Claire, who wants to know if she can stay in the Hatch for a little while. Locke tells her that it's not a good idea, because of the alarm that goes off every 108 minutes. I guess it's too much to ask the clockwatchers, who watch the countdown in shifts and thus don't need to sleep, to anticipate the alarm and enter the numbers quickly so that it doesn't go off. See, innovative leadership is what these people need. Claire asks about Charlie and the whole baptism thing. Locke explains that as far as some religions are concerned, baptism is necessary to get into heaven and that the unbaptised end up in Limbo, which is, of course, the very place that many Lost watchers believe the castaways ALREADY ARE! Booga-booga!

Anyway, Locke once again goes pop-psychologist on everyone and offers that Charlie has the need to save the baby because he "can't safe himself." To which Tom Cruise would reply, "You're glib, John. You're so glib," and he wouldn't, for once, be talking out his dianetics ass. Locke turns to go, pausing to drink some water in a very deliberately staged and lingering shot that makes it very clear that Claire sees the reflection of all the Virgin Mary's tucked in Locke's rucksack.

Later that night, someone is walking through the the woods and starts a brush fire. Duh, it's Charlie, and his latest scheme truly puts the "mamie" in cockamamie. Sayid sits, building something, a seemingly odd late night task, but then again, we all know that if we don't keep Iraqis busy with activities such as constant elections of increasing pointlessness, they'll join insurgencies and start demanding electricity and drinking water and decide that maybe they could use their oil to help pay for some of their shit and terminate all the BS contracts that have been drawn up by economic hit men in the service of the neo-Leninist claptrap fantasies of the American Enterprise Institute. But soon, Charlies fire is raging, and Sayid has to abandon his busy work to help build a firebreak so the camp at Lostie Beach isn't put to the torch. As everyone departs to work on that, we see Charlie, stalking the baby.

Back in Flashbackistan, Charlie returns to Rockstar Loft to discover that his piano is gone. he confronts Liam, perhaps justifiably suspecting that he sold it for drugs. But it turns out that Liam had to face the fact that wifey and baby Megan were going to dump his ass, so he needed to sell the piano to buy a ticket to Australia to join a rehab clinic and get straight. Why does he got to go to Australia? Ask the Gods of Plot Devisement. Anyway, he abandons Charlie, who doesn't seem to understand that in a roundabout way, he and his piano actually did help save his family. Though, admittedly, that's pretty weak.

So, back at the beach, Charlie grabs the baby and makes for the water. The baby cries and he's instantly spotted by Claire, who yells out for help. Locke gives chase, and soon enough, Charlie is standing in the surf, confronted by basically everyone. I guess the main characters told the extras that they had to stay and complete the firebreak. Maybe they're tired of having to do all the heavy island lifting.

Charlie asks Eko to confirm that he said that Aaron needed to be baptised. Eko explains in so many words that the baptism typically doesn't involve arson, kidnapping, scaring the fuck out of the birthmother and generally acting like a lunatic. He's obviously confused the sacrament of baptism with the sacrament of marriage. Charlie yells at Locke, complaining that he isn't Aaron's father and he doesn't know what's best for him. But Locke answers back, "Neither are you, Charlie." Oooh, burn. Claire finally throws down the devastating blow, telling Charlie that his actions are hurting her. That seems to do the trick. He hands over the baby. In return, Locke hands Charlie his ass, in a beatdown that feels beyond excessive, under the circumstances.

The next morning, it's Jack to the rescue. He sits with Charlie and tells him that he needs to give him some stitches. I don't know. The cut on his face doesn't look that bad. Charlie makes a confession: "Stompy monster, Shannon died, evil stevedore homicides, Ethan Rom, hatch alarm, Walt, smack, Sawyer's arm, hallucinations on the shore, Locke's imposing martial law, the others and their island wars...I couldn't take it anymore. I started the fire, Jack, but let's face it: it was always burning since the world's been turning."

Jack tries to be sympathetic, but he needs to know that Charlie will never "pull a stunt like that again." He nearly burns down the camp and kidnaps a baby, and it's a "stunt"? I guess Charlie would face some really harsh detention if he did it again.

Meanwhile, Claire approaches Eko. She's read a brochure on baptism, and wants to know more about it. Eko tells her that while it doesn't get them into heaven, it's still a totally awesome thing to do. Claire worries that if Aaron is baptised and something happened to them, they couldn't meet up in the afterlife, but Eko offers them the two-for-one. We then have a mini-homage to The Godfather as we jump back and forth between the baptism and other scenes in which we see Locke changing the combination of a lock--and if that isn't smack-you-in-the-head meta than I don't know what is--and stow the heroin Marys inside the locker. Hmmm. Why aren't you destroying the heroin, Locke?

That night, the shunned Charlie sits alone. He gazes into the middle distance, wondering to himself: "Blimey. Once again, my efforts have indirectly achieved the end I had hoped to achieve, and yet once again, it has come at my expense. It seems that everytime I have a hand in something good I get hammered by the fatalist backsies of karma with Force Ten from Navarone ferocity. Why is that? Was "You All Everybody" really that bad? I know! Maybe putting my hood up will help me get some needed perspective on the matter.

No? No good?

Oh, well. To the dark place, then."

1 comment:

Ed said...

"we all know that if we don't keep Iraqis busy with activities such as constant elections of increasing pointlessness, they'll join insurgencies and start demanding electricity and drinking water and decide that maybe they could use their oil to help pay for some of their shit and terminate all the BS contracts that have been drawn up by economic hit men in the service of the neo-Leninist claptrap fantasies of the American Enterprise Institute."