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Lostwatch: Big Mister Sunshine

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SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched Lost yet, avert your eyes before you get struck by a meteor. Or an asteroid. I don’t know the difference.

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ABC/MARIO PEREZ

Last night, Lost got back to the core of what the show is all about. Not the characters, or the mystery, or the numbers, or the relationships, or any of that. I’m talking about its love of outmoded technology. The makers of this show have an abiding geek’s affection for LED displays and dot-matrix printers, vinyl and 1970s appliances, and when Hurley and Charlie hurtled down the hill in that microbus to jump-start it, Little Miss Sunshine style, and the eight-track chunked in with The Road to Shambala, the show itself found a gear it hadn’t for a while.

“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead” was about everything you’d want a Lost episode to be: funny, moving, exhilarating. OK, it didn’t advance the metastory a lot, though it did the necessary lifting of getting Kate and James, sorry, Sawyer, back to camp and setting Kate back off on the hunt for Jack. But it’s not all about the metastory. What keeps Lost from being, as Tom Carson would say, a TV sudoku puzzle is its emotional core, and this time its big, squishy emotional core was Hurley.

Most TV shows would be delighted to have such a great comic relief figure and leave it at that. A great thing about Lost is that it’s willing to take each of its characters seriously (to a fault, in the case of expecting us to identify with star-crossed lovers Alex and Karl). I love that they’re letting Hurley be a figure of genuine sorrow as well as humor–letting him be Hugo as well as Hurley. I totally bought the graveside scene with Libby, and it was a nice touch that his absconded dad (Cheech Marin) actually turned out to be a decent guy, rather than reprising the Locke story.

And Hurley’s quest in this story–getting the van running to bring some hope to the camp–made a nice parallel to the meta-quest of “Tanaka”: bringing a little light and hope into what had been a fairly grim run of episodes. Yes, driving a van on an island was silly and pointless, and yet it also means everything. Sometimes you just have to make the emotional connection. Hopefully we’ll get on the road to find Jack soon. But it was nice to spend an hour on the road to Shambala.

Too many highlights to list, but here are a few:

* How perfect, the title role of the local-celebrity fluff reporter. How perfect, that sweet, overawed Hugo could only refer to her by her full name: “Sorry, Tricia Tanaka.”

* Hurley hiring a pair of butlers from a Bennigan’s. Mrs. Reyes turning the solid-gold Jesus away before explaining, “I have needs.”

* So good to see Sawyer interacting with anyone besides Kate again, be it Jin (“Well, look at that. Somebody’s hooked on phonics!”) or Hurley (“What’s your problem Jumbotron?” “Shut up, Red… neck… man.”).

* I didn’t seem like there was a lot of pertinent Dharmiana to analyze this episode, but did I miss anything? The topographic map? And does Roger’s designation–”work man”–hint further at caste tensions among the Others? (If in fact Roger was part of the same group that we know as the Others now.)

* OK, so it was a bit of a lame ending note for Kate to tell Rousseau that she thinks she’s found Rousseau’s daughter, since it would only have been a surprise if (a) we didn’t know that ourselves a dozen or so episodes ago and (b) if we didn’t know, from the second Kate went into the jungle “to get help” exactly whose help she wanted. On the other hand, Rousseau’s back! Woo-hoo! Finally some firepower on our side!

Feel free to bring on your dissents, theories or thoughts about the mechanics of VW Microbuses.

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