Content note: This post contains spoilers for season six, episode 12 of Lost, ‘Everybody Loves Hugo.’ If you would like to not be spoiled, you can check out today’s post, my review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. To those who have asked where my Glee writeup is (which is a lot of you! I’m surprised! And touched that so many people eagerly look forward to my Glee writeups!), the answer is: I watch everything on Hulu the day after it airs, and today was a very long and stressful day, so I haven’t had a chance to watch Glee yet. But I will! And when I do, I will be writing about it, since scuttlebutt seems to suggest that it had Problems.
There were a lot of things going on in this episode and I almost don’t know where to begin unpacking. Things are really starting to move along now plotwise, with Desmond waking up1 characters in the sideways timeline. One thing which really disturbed me about this episode, though, was the method he chose to awaken Locke. Seeing a man run down a wheelchair user with a car in the last few seconds of the episode was, quite frankly, really jarring, startling, and upsetting. I note that Desmond didn’t need physical danger to awaken Hurley, so why was it necessary to brutalise Locke? Is he trying to reproduce traumatic/intense moments to jar memories? Which would explain why being with Libby on the beach awakens Hugo and why being hit by a car (and, I suspect, being able to walk again, as we will see in the next episode) wakens Locke?
The thing is that wheelchair users actually do get hit by cars. Sometimes deliberately. And to see that reenacted here as some sort of Moment in the show was rather, well, it was upsetting. So, yeah, that.
This show also had some other interesting disability stuff going on. Lost seems to be hitting the crazy ladies theme quite hard and it came up again here, with an interesting flip. Libby and Hugo are back in Santa Rosa, except that Libby isn’t really mentally ill. Yes, even though she had the ‘crazy hair’ in that first scene which was supposed to alert us all to Impending Crazy Lady Scene. As it turns out, Libby is simply in touch with both timelines. Why and how this is, I do not know, and I would really like to, but it’s kind of interesting to see the show taking a new tack with mental illness, and one that I almost like, because Libby’s mental health is about perspective.
We know, as viewers, that she is not mentally ill because we are aware of both timelines and of the manipulation which is going on. But the people in the sideways timeline do not know this, so she has ‘problems with reality,’ as the HIPAA-violating doctor informed Hugo. It kind of raises some interesting questions about who defines mental illness, who decides who is ‘in touch with reality,’ and what reality even is in the first place.
[ETA: I realised when I was reading the Feministe Lost roundtable this morning that I completely neglected to explore the problematic aspect of Libby's depiction, even though it was in my notes; for some reason it didn't make it from notepad to screen. Anyway, yeah, the fact that she comes to the 'now I'm not crazy, so I can be in love' realisation is infuriating. I really liked that the show explored some of the boundaries of mental illness, but that it ended on a note which seemed to suggest that of course Hugo and Libby couldn't be together if she was crazy so it's a good thing she's not was not really happiness making.]
In this case, the ‘sane’ people are the ones who have no memory of the other timeline; it is the erasure of their memories which sanitizes them for life in the sideways timeline, and I think that’s really…interesting.
This episode also struck me with a parallel structure; we had Michael blowing up the raft, and now Michael blowing up The Black Rock by proxy. The story is starting to loop not just in the sideways timeline, but also on the Island. Some events seem doomed to happen over and over again, on this place which I note that the man in black made a point of referring to as ‘godforsaken,’ while another character prays for god’s help. Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but I am wondering: If the Island is an experiment between Jacob and the man in black, is it a sort of god-free zone? If god exists in the Lostverse (and I suspect that this is true), is god taking a hands-off approach to the Island while the boys fight it out?
Furthermore, for someone who makes a point of stating that he does not like secrets, anyone else notice that the man in black spends a lot of time in private conferences with people, doling out dribs and drabs of information? Because I did, and I found that, also, very interesting.
Finally, I cannot talk about this episode without talking about what happens to Ilana.
Because, holy shit, what the FUCK was that.
Lost seems hell-bent this season to shut ladies up, blow them up, or just not show them on screen. This season is All About the Dudes and their Dudeliness and it was NOT lost2 on me that it was a woman whom the producers used as a disposable character to make a point about the dynamite. Granted, they are running out of redshirts, but let’s think back, shall we, on the two most graphic and memorable deaths this season.
We’ve got Juliet, dying over and over and over again just in case anyone missed it. And we’ve got Ilana, blowing up.
And, you know, yeah. Lost kills characters, it is what they do, and I think we can expect more deaths as the show wraps up. But I find the handling of the women on this show increasingly troubling. I am curious to see if the show manages to redeem itself, or if it continues down this path. This is a show which started out with a lot of strong and really interesting women.
What happened to all of them?