Oh Charlie Pace. You know I dig you, right? I mean, in general, you're an alright guy, and your presence on the show is keenly felt. But dear Dharma did Lost deliver a stinker of an episode in this, an hour about you, your piano, and losing your religion. (In more ways than one, really.) This episode makes "The Hunting Party" seem like "Orientation." Translation: break out the adult beverages, people. You're gonna need 'em. Assuming you're an adult, after all. If you're not, break out the Sunny D.
4) In Short
"I want a new drug/One that won't get me hit."
8) On the Island
Merry Christmas, little Charlie! He bounds into the living room, looking for presents. But while Liam has plenty under the tree, Charlie finds nothing. Turns out Mom got him one big present: a new piano. This piano comes with a price, however: a heaping dose of guilt from Mom about how his musical talent will save the family.
Things go from guilty to straight up odd as elder Liam shows up, in a diaper, telling his baby brother to save them. Soon, the Charlie we know and semi-like appears at the piano. Aha, dream sequence! Next, Charlie's father appears, butchering meat and dolls, and before we know it, Charlie's on the beach, doing his best impression of Holly Hunter in The Piano. He hears Aaron crying inside the belly of the piano, but is distracted by movement in the jungle. Just before he wakes up in a cold sweat, he sees the piano carrying Aaron into the ocean.
Upon waking up, he checks on Aaron, who is not in his crib. He frantically asks Sun if he and Claire are OK; she leads him to their general direction. He's pleased to them alright, until he spies with his ex-heroin addicted eyes one John Locke in the place he feels is rightfully his: by their side.
Later on, Charlie brings Claire some hand-made nappies. He tries to make amends, to no avail. Claire's still mad about Charlie's lies about the statue. She wants space; he wants things to go back to the way they were. Guess who wins?
Hurley, in his effort to let everyone on the Island know about his crush, asks Sawyer about Libby. Kate and Sawyer give him a good-natured ribbing about it, then turn their attention to Ana Lucia and Jack, who have apparently spent a good deal of time together recently. Sawyer insinuates the two of them have been getting busy. Yea, getting busy forming an army, dude.
Dream time, as Charlie sees Aaron's crib floating into the ocean. Charlie swims out to get him, which is ironic, given that in Season 1 he told everyone he couldn't swim. Upon returning to shore, he sees his mother and Claire, arranged as if in the painting "The Baptism of Christ," seen in Charlie's home in flashback/dream earlier in the episode. They speak in canon (no, not THAT type of canon, THIS kind) over and over that Charlie must save the baby. Then, a burst of light produces a white dove casting a black shadow. And there, lookie, it's the Son of God, himself, Hugo! Hugo's mom would be so proud.
Hurley's voice breaks him from his dream, during which Charlie sleepwalked down to the shore in the middle of the night with Aaron in his arms. Our British rocker has no idea how he got there. He and Hurley hear Claire's frantic cries from nearby as she screams for Aaron. Charlie apologizes for what's happened, and gets a slap to the face for his troubles. Don't worry, Charlie, this won't hurt as much as what's coming up. Or as much as it hurts to watch this episode again for yours truly.
The following morning, Hurley and Sawyer are playing blackjack. Sawyer spies Libby nearby, and suggests he make his move on Libby. In true Sawyer fashion, he embarrasses Hurley by calling out to her, but honestly, it's all in good fun because I think the Sawyer/Hurley dynamic is one of the best on the show. Especially by the end of Season 4, there's an intense level of camaraderie there. But I digress.
Charlie waits for Locke to come out from his shift inside the Swan. He wants Locke to put in a good word for him with Claire. Locke wants to know if he's using again. Charlie angrily notes he's burned the plane to ashes, but doesn't answer the question directly. Locke notes this, and although Charlie insists all the drugs are gone, John suggests he give Claire some space.
Libby and Hurley are doing laundry in the Swan. She notes that the washer/dryer is newer than everything else, which gosh darn it, is an odd thing to say, no? She wants to know if a shirt she found on the beach would look good on her, but Hurley's suddenly sure he's seen her somewhere before. She quickly changes the subject, turning him around so she can try on this all-important shirt. While putting on the new shirt, Libby tells Hurley that he stepped on her foot while boarding Flight 815. By the time Hurley turns around and catches a glimpse of her, he's forgotten all about his earlier line of questioning.
Near the beach, Charlie runs into Eko. Eko's marking trees for a mysterious purpose. While talking about his recent troubles, Eko's intrigued by Charlie's recent dreams. The description of them leads Eko to suggest that perhaps Charlie needs to save Turnip Head after all. This leads Charlie to rush to Claire's tent, where Kate is standing pat as bodyguard. Charlie insists that Aaron needs to be baptized. The camera pans around Locke's bald head, much as it did during Season 1's "Tabula Rasa."
Ana Lucia inquires about Jack's encounter with Mr. Friendly in the jungle as the two forge her rain tarp. Ana Lucia coyly asks if Jack fancies Kate. OK, she in fact asks if he's "hittin' that." Smooth talker, Ana Lucia. Ah, yes, all this supposed sexual tension that went freakin' nowhere. Such a good use of episode time.
In the jungle, Charlie goes to his secret stash of heroin. He pulls out one statue, breaks it, and eyes the contents longingly. Locke walks in on the scene, confirming his suspicion earlier in the episode/season. He takes the stash with him, unwilling to let Charlie make the decision to use this time. He begs Locke to not tell Claire about this, but Locke insists that Charlie's lost the right to be believed.
Later that day, Locke asks Claire how "our boy" is. Ick, I need a shower. She wants to stay in the hatch for a while; Locke reminds her that an alarm will wake him up every 108 minutes. But he does offer to move near her tent for a while, which makes her happy. She segues into a discussion about baptism, wondering if Charlie's assertion was correct. Locke calls it "spiritual danger," and insists that Charlie is merely displacing his fears about himself onto the baby. Apparently Locke's been watching a lot of Dr. Phil down in the hatch.
That night, Charlie sets a fire in the woods, enabling him to take Aaron to the water in the ensuing distraction. Get it? Fire? Plus Water? Ugh. Punch me in the neck. While Sayid leads the charge to save the camp, Anakin Pace snags the child and brings him to the water's edge. Locke and Claire corner him, and soon, all watch Charlie melt down. Charlie insists that he won't hurt the baby; Claire insists that he's hurting her. Charlie eventually hands the baby over to Locke, who hands it over to Claire, who watching Locke beat the holy hell out of Charlie, giving Charlie a baptism of fists. And thus starteth the "Bad Charlie" arc. Someone wake me up when it's over.
The following morning, Charlie is treated by The Moralizer himself, Jack. The good doctor treats his Locke-inflicted wounds, while telling Charlie to promise he'll never do something like the fire again. He insists he didn't use. For the second time this episode, a character notes that Charlie didn't answer a direct question. Charlie promises it won't happen again, and gets a stitched face for his answer.
Claire approaches Eko in his tree-lined sanctuary. She wants to know if baptism is necessary for Aaron. He explains that when John baptized Jesus, a dove appeared in the sky. (Ooooh. I get it. All those years of CCD for nothing, I suppose. Thanks, Lost!) As Eko baptizes the mother/son combo, Locke puts the Virgin Mary stash in the Swan armory.
On the beach that night, Charlie pulls the hood over his head. At last, he will reveal himself to the Jedi. At last he will have...revenge.
15) Off the Island
Charlie is in the maternity ward of a hospital, where Liam's wife Karen has given birth to their first daughter, Megan. Turns out Liam didn't make the trip to the hospital, too much in his drug world to see the birth of his child.
Back at their flat, Charlie cleans up after his big brother, both literally and figuratively, while Liam groggily wakes up from his heroin-induced stupor. Liam learns about his daughter, and we learn that Megan was the name of their mother.
We're on set with Driveshaft, and they're dressed up as babies inside a giant crib. "You All Everybody" has turned into "You All Every Butties." Looks like Liam's habit has cost the band some cred and a heap of cash, thus this infantalized video shoot. Liam can't even make it through one take of the commercial, causing the director to call it quits and fire the band.
Charlie's back at the piano in his flat, interrupted by Liam. Turns out Karen kicked him out, deeming him dangerous around the baby. Dropping a child will do that to a mother, Liam. He's freaked out: no money, no future, no hope. But Charlie has hope: he's writing again. He sings a song that sounds to my ears like bad James Blunt, but Liam seems into the track. He's ready to work on the song all night: but only if Charlie has any heroin.
Upon arriving home at some point later, Charlie's shocked to find his piano missing. Liam, good brother that he is, has sold it not for drugs, but a ticket to Australia for him and his family. A job and rehab awaits him there. (So now we know how he ended up there.) Charlie says that's all well and good for Liam, but what about for him? What about his family? Huh? Huh? Ugh.
16) The Mythology
I'm not chalking up Charlie's visions to Island weirdness so much as "bad creative decision." The overt religion in this episode strikes the wrong tone to these ears, not because I'm anti-religion so much as the show has never gone so overtly in this direction before. And even with Eko remaining on the show for a while, never really returned to anything this direct again. It's a singularly direct reference, and I'm not sure one that works.
After all, Kate's horse doesn't come from the Bible. But Charlie's dove does. And yes, one can argue that his Christian upbringing influenced Charlie's visions, and the Island simply tapped into that guilt in order to provide a method by which to protect Aaron from the danger to come. But to specify this into the Christian rite of baptism takes everything into a specific direction that defies broad interpretation. The Island is straight up telling Charlie to baptize that baby.
But why the heck would the Island do that? If you want to argue that the Jacob-like forces of the Island want to shield Aaron from the Cabin Christians to come via Charlie in this episode, that's fine, but you have to explain to me why the Jacob-led forces wants baptism specifically, when nothing about the Island so far has even a whiff of Judeo-Christian doctrine governing it. The Island deals with a person's belief system, but doesn't seem too concerned with one's personal choice of God versus personal choice of morality.
I'd be interested to get your take on this, readers. I've tried to lay out what I think is the counter-argument to those who see Charlie's visions as Island-specific; I'm just not convinced they are enough to warrant their inclusion in this episode.
23) The Moment
Is it wrong of me to say "when the end credits started rolling"? Probably. Oh well.
42) In Retrospect
At the time I watched this, I felt the whole Locke insertion into the Claire/Charlie storyline was baloney. Not necessarily because it felt like forced conflict inserted into a relatively calm situation so much as John Locke should care about NOTHING except that button. Nothing. Even if he's not on shift, he should be slowly enveloped in the power of that countdown, making his eventual discover in the Pearl that much more devastating. Instead, you barely get a sense he even remembers all the work that went into opening the Swan up, and the sense of purpose established after initially entering the code is Desmond's absence.
I will say this, however: I can't help but feel these scenes give added weight to when he sees her in Jacob's cabin in Season 4. One gets the idea that Locke intuitively sought to protect one of the Island's biggest assets (Aaron) during this phase of Season 2, making his decision to not tell anyone about Claire make more sense and also add to the tragedy of his silence.
108) In Summary
You get that I didn't like this episode, right? I mean, do you really need more exposition? At the beginning of rewatching Season 2, I thought I'd unfairly judged its quality in the interim. After all, the first few episodes crackle with mystery and mythology, leading me to think I needed to change my tune about this season. And then I remembered why I rank this season last amongst the four: no other individual season has this many episodic stinkers.
My issue with this season is NOT that the answers come slowly, if at all: it's that we get forced drama and unenlightening flashbacks. Charlie Pace needed exactly two flashbacks: his first in Season 1 and last in Season 3. Everything you need to know about that character is in those two. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the tension with Claire feels more derived from a sense of the writers needing to give something Charlie to do rather than an organic decline of character.
But don't worry kids: only two more episodes before Henry Gale shows up. Strap in for that.
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