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Lost

Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010

75
/100

Episode 13 - Some Like it Hoth

28 March 2012

Present: Sawyer asks Miles to delete the camera footage showing him taking Ben to the Others. But Horace arrives to send Miles off to where the Swann station is being constructed. There Radzinski gives him the dead body of a man who died when his tooth filling was sucked through his brain. Miles is told to take the body to Pierre Chang at the Orchid and Hurley insists on coming with the work crew’s lunch. Miles reveals that Chang is his father and Hurley encourages him to talk about his feelings. Miles uncovers Hurley’s plan to send George Lucas a script for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Miles sees Change tenderly reading to a baby him. Then he helps unload the submarine of arriving scientists, one of whom is Daniel Farraday. Meanwhile Phil discovers the incriminating security footage and Sawyer knocks him out. And Roger becomes suspicious after Kate tries to console him and says too much about Ben’s disappearance.

Flashback: Young Miles and his mother are looking for apartments in California. Miles hears a recently dead tenant crying for his wife. An older (punk) Miles comes to see his dead mother and asks about his ability and his father. She claims his father abandoned them and his dead body is no where that Miles can find. Contemporary Miles cons a grieving father and is recruited by Naomi. He reads a corpse for her as proof and agrees to go to the island for 1.6 million dollars. Later he is grabbed by men who throw him in their van and warn him not to work with Widmore. Their leader is Bram who tells Miles he is on the wrong side and only their side can fill the empty hold inside him, but Miles refuses to help. He does return to the father he conned and returns his money, telling him he should have told his son that he loved him before he died.

The Good: First off this episode is a lesson in how to structure a plot. All audiences need to suspend their disbelief are plausible excuses for what is going on. We are happy to believe in a magical island and people talking to the dead as long as the details are laid out in a believable enough manner. This episode lays out all these intricate details to tell the audience exactly what the producers want us to know. No more, no less.

Miles, the man who can hear the dead, is the only character who can provide the audience with the information about what is going on down at the Swann station without us being privy to confidential conversations between Dharma characters that we haven’t got to know yet. Sawyer was understandably out of the picture and so Miles is conveniently in position to “speak” to the corpse. It is Hurley who is needed though to see the numbers being indented on the hatch and be the audiences eyes for those details. More than that though Hurley is the only character who could have played the role he did here. Being the cook bringing lunch is the perfect excuse for him to bring out all Miles’ daddy issues. And it’s not that Hurley is just an amiable guy, it’s that he also lost his Dad and can also talk to dead people. Only Hurley could so plausibly open up the cold closed off Miles. Only Hurley would have the cheek to poke Pierre Chang for personal information the way he did.

The rest of the story too is filled with these logical, believable moments. Sawyer’s absence means Miles is pressed into action. Unfortunately that means he can’t take care of the security footage and so Phil steps in to see what really happened. That is what a well organised security team would do as well, so it’s sensible storyline development. Ditto Kate, who would naturally want to comfort a parent who had lost their child (511 shows us that would be the first thing on her mind) but foolishly says too much. The seeds for the downfall of LaFleur have been planted and they all make sense. Roger absolutely should be angry at such a flimsy looking story covering what has happened to his son. He should be suspicious of those entrusted to protect Ben and true to what we know of him he turns to alcohol for comfort.

So I give tremendous credit to the writers for finding such an intricate way to get from A to C where B doesn’t feel contrived at all. What were the odds that Miles would be able to look straight into his own parents living room and see the sight that could bring him to tears? Who cares is the answer once you have built a story as smartly as this is. If other television show’s paid this kind of attention to their stories (and comedies are absolutely not immune) then they would improve immensely.

As for Miles himself, his story is told well. It’s very pleasing to get a flashback for him. It’s the first time we have had a “first flashback” for a character since the end of season three (Ben in 320). The show has always excelled at the first presentation of a character’s back-story and as ever it throws light on a their behaviour in the present, helping the audience to become emotionally connected and attached to their story.

Seeing a young Miles clearly scared and confused by his developing powers was effective at helping us imagine why his teenage years would be filled with more than the average amount of angst and disconnection from the world. A punked out Miles returns to see his mother and realises that if she dies he will never understand who he is or why he can do what he can do. But she shuts him down and his disillusionment presents us with contemporary Miles. He only uses his gift for personal gain and if that fails he simply lies and takes people’s money anyway. He isn’t about to risk his life for anyone else, unless of course they can afford to pay him millions. Even when a group of strange men offer him the chance to find out about who he is and maybe find real happiness he spurns them. Even when he sees his own mother in 1977 he won’t reach out to his parents. He remains cold and dissatisfied until Hurley comes along.

As I mentioned before Hurley is ideal in this role. It is that magical synthesis between acting and writing when you believe in practically everything a character is doing. Hurley smells the dead body, which makes sense and of course is able to tease out from Miles the revelation that he can speak to the dead. He manages to crack jokes throughout which fit so well with his personality. Pointing out that the world doesn’t know about global warming yet and claiming “you’re just jealous my power’s better than yours.” Only Hurley could be in a position to believe Miles is telling the truth and blow it off as an everyday occurrence.

Miles has clearly been dying to share his emotions with someone and admits that Chang is his father. The scene that follows as they drive down to the Swann was superb (see Best Moment). Again only Hurley could be so unthreatening and jovial to not arouse Chang’s suspicion despite asking leading personal questions.

As they drive home Hurley is sweetness personified as he looks at Miles’ situation as an opportunity for Miles to bond with his Dad. He is saying all the nice things which Miles has probably thought of and dismissed from his angry, disillusioned perspective. And in typical fashion he rounds it off with a nice joke when he describes the clearly uninterested Chang as having been “totally down for that beer dude.”

Miles understandably snaps at these uninvited personal suggestions. And Hurley still sees through him and sees the pain behind his anger. So Miles tries to get back at Hurley by reading his notebook aloud only to discover it is a script for The Empire Strikes back. This is a stroke of genius from the writers. Not only is it a nice joke, a time travel fan boy dream idea. But it is the perfect non-confrontational way for Hurley to drive home his advice to Miles. Can you imagine Jack, Locke or even Sawyer trying to get through to Miles about his parental pains? No because Miles would push them away. But unthreatening, caring Hurley is able to relate with his own abandoned Dad story. Then finish with a Star Wars reference. It’s such a clever idea because in that non-preachy, un-judgmental way, Hurley is able to get through to him.

So Miles sees his father holding baby him. Tenderly caring for him in a way he clearly deep down would have loved to have had in his childhood. Conflicting the story his mother told him which presumably had fuelled much of his angry selfish life. He cries and then Chang gets a phone call and calls for Miles’ help. Miles’ voice breaks as we see the only bit of external emotion sneak through his defences. Then he is back to normal, swallowing the feelings once more. Great television. Great character development.

Of course this story fits the theme of Lost that those who come to the island will be given the chance, one way or another, to confront their demons and become better people.

The rest of the story flowed just as logically. We can see the building of the Swann station in hostile territory may be what dooms the whole Dharma Initiative. We see Daniel Farraday return which should provide more answers in the next episode - so a good hook for viewers. And of course our survivors are soon going to be in big trouble once Horace and company discover the big lie going on. We also get the reveal that far from being possessed, Ilana and Bram (512) were carrying out a plan from off the island. It all drives the story forward well.

But here are some more details I thought were good: the filling blowing the brains out of a man constructing the Swann is a gruesome but very nice touch. Many viewers will put two and two together about the electromagnetism of the Swann but it directly echoes Desmond’s words about his fillings hurting (203). I’m glad it turned out that Miles was conning Mr Gray because it looked far too simple a reading and made me think Gray was being foolish for not asking for more proof. We get the reveal on why Miles asked Ben for 3.2 million dollars (404). We also get it confirmed that Miles is Chang’s son (as seen in 501) and therefore that he was born on the island (hence the nosebleeds in 504).

Chang is not messing about when he wants to cover something up, retorting “What body?” as soon as it is mentioned again. The Dharma Initiative are no idiots in general, it was good to see them using camouflage fences and armed guards around their “illegal” construction.

I liked Jack chalking up Roger’s suspicions to his drinking and emotional state. I guess Jack would know what a crazy drunk person looks like wouldn’t he? I also liked that he tried to put Roger off the scent but actually came across quite threateningly. Like Kate, his good intentions may hasten their downfall.

The appearance of Bram and his question about the shadow of statue was also a nice reveal. Again the writers of Lost are clever in bringing out elements of the story to help the audience understand better, while keeping the characters in the dark.

The Bad: Nothing really. Having sung the praises of this episode what I could possibly have against it? Again there is nothing I think is “wrong” with this episode but let me clarify its score of 74.5. Obviously this episode has no obvious dramatic scenes, no fights, no murders, nothing blows up. So obviously it relied almost entirely on characters for its “worth.” Miles’ flashbacks paint a picture of who he is and they do lead directly to his emotional state as he meets his father on the island. But his flashbacks don’t tell us much more about who he is or why he is the way he is. We can guess why he is cold and sarcastic and out for money. It’s not as if that seems contradictory to who he is. But when comparing his story to other flashbacks I think you can see the reasons I ranked them higher than this. Seeing Locke so socially isolated that he bonded with a sex call worker made him seem fascinating (104). Seeing how Sawyer had become the man who ruined his life (108) was deeply tragic. Learning that Eko wasn’t a priest but a gangster completely changed our perspective on his behaviour (210). There isn’t a moment quite like those here for Miles. And far from a criticism it merely qualifies why I gave this the score that I did.

The Unknown: One of the key questions might be what Felix was really up to. He was dead having been on his way to deliver some information to Widmore about the faked plane crash (the same evidence Tom showed Michael in 409). Was Felix killed for a reason? Was that evidence being covered up by Widmore or uncovered by him? Were the Others lying and they faked the plane crash? Or perhaps this new group faked the plane crash. That mystery goes on.

We can see now perhaps why Miles chose to stay on the island instead of going to live in the United States in 1977. Once he had seen his parents in the Barracks he probably decided this was where he was meant to be. But his back-story does ask why he was happy to remain on the island back when everyone was trying to get back on the freighter (323). We know he only bribed Ben to get more money, so if that was all he cared about why was he happy to stay? He knew how difficult it would be to go home then so it seems odd.

What does happen to the Chang family? Will Pierre kick them off the island? Or does he send them away to protect them? It’s interesting that he refers to the experiments on the Hydra as “ridiculous.” That doesn’t sound like the happy Dharma Initiative all working in harmony. Is there more to that?

Who are the “Shadow of the Statue” guys? Presumably this is the conflict Widmore was referring to (507)? How did they know all about Miles?

Best Moment: Miles driving Pierre and Hurley to the Swann. Hurley asks what Pierre does and manages to dig further and ask what his child’s name is. When he learns what it is he says “Small world huh. That’s your name too right Miles?” It’s such a clever scene because Hurley sounds inoccuous but we know what he is up to. He asks Pierre if he likes jazz like Miles Davis and whether he and this Miles are close. Again it all sounds like the sort of inane, inappropriate workplace banter that a newbie might indulge in. So Hurley suggests that “We should all get together for a beer sometime, how awesome would that be?” to suitably withering looks from the Chang family. It’s such a nice moment for all concerned. Hurley trying to be a good guy, pushing Miles’ character development forward and being funny at the same time.

The Bottom Line: It’s worth saying that Miles plays his role well throughout. He is a man who only lets himself be vulnerable for one second in the whole episode and until then he is the plays his bottled up feelings well. The episode brings his daddy issues to light in an entertaining and logical way. It drives the plot forward and the details throughout seemed spot on.

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