Everybody Loves Hurley, But What About Dr. Pierre Chang?
This is a Lost-related post. So if you're not a fan or don't want your mind blown, don't read on...
Originally, I was going to gripe about last night's episode. But as I got writing, my mind ultimately wrapped around a few things, and I started to see a clear vision for where things are heading... at least in the sideways world.
Last night's episode, Everyone Loves Hurley, was a bit all over the place. As Doc Jensen from EW Online said in his recap, "Chaos Reigns." Which is all well and good, but several things in this episode confused me beyond the confusion that a typical Lost episode creates.
In the first scene, we see a montage of Hurley alternate-universe life. He's become a fried-chicken magnate, and quite the philanthropist, donating money to a science museum... where Dr. Chang works. Dr. Chang himself is giving the speech accompanying the montage, and he awards Hurley the man of the year award.
Now hold up.
Dr. Chang, if you remember, met Hurley. On the Island. In 1977. This is not an event he'd be likely to forget, especially since back then, Hurley claimed to be from the future, and you know, he and his buddies set off a nuclear bomb and necessitated the evacuation of Dharma from Lost island. Hurley is not exactly a face one would forget. Oh, and Hurley introduced Dr. Chang to his son from the future.
We know that after the blast, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Juliet, Hurley, Miles etc. all zapped to the island roughly 3 years from the time they left/turned the underground ice wheel. But for Dr. Chang, Richard Alpert, Eloise Hawking, etc, what happened to them after the blast? Ben, we know, left the island with his dad and became a school teacher. And Chang, we know, has become a director at the science museum.
I'll skip the question about how Chang et. all managed to avoid being vaporized by a nuke. Lets just assume the blast was far underground and absorbed by the magic pocket of energy. Fine. I'll accept that. But Dr. Chang was with Miles at the time of the blast. Did Miles just vanish before his eyes? And, since he survived, has he been watching young Miles grow up, wondering how in the hell his son, now a cop, managed to go back in time and visit him? Does he wonder, hey, this Hurley guy... isn't he exactly the person who I saw back in 1977? My brain explodes thinking about this stuff. How the hell can we have a scene between Dr. Chang and Hurley and not have any recognition from Dr. Chang that something seriously weird is going on here?
Richard Alpert, meanwhile, told us earlier that he "watched everyone die," so maybe that was his experience after the blast (if he saw a mushroom cloud, then he was pretty safe in assuming the 815ers had all perished.) But what's maddening is that he's neither addressed this and no one's asked him. The last time Jack saw Richard, they were in 1977. Now, Jack sees Richard a day later for him but many years later in the timeline, and Jack doesn't even ask, "So... after that bomb... you notice anything? Surprised to see us?"
What did Chang experience? One second he's pulled by his son away from the nuclear blast... and then... what? He's sitting alone, wondering why his son vanished? And then he heads to the mainland and reunites with his wife and son, presumably? And watches his son turn into the man that visited him from the future? Who turns into a cop, just like he was in the Dharma initiative? And partners with Sawyer, who Chang also knew back in Dharma?
Now, hold up.
Maybe Dr. Chang is aware that the future was changed. After all, Miles IS a cop, a profession his father certainly would have known his aptitude for. And being Miles's father, he undoubtedly knows Sawyer, and recognizes him as his son's former partner. I wonder if more than fate played a hand in that.
And remember, in the last episode, Faraday was playing a concert to BENEFIT THE MUSEUM WHERE CHANG WORKS. A benefit concert STAGED BY ELOISE. An Eloise that knows that in another timeline, she sent her own son back in time to be murdered. An Eloise married to a Widmore that was never tricked by Ben to leave his precious island, and who seems utterly at peace with the isle sitting on the bottom of the ocean.
Remember, Chang, Widmore, and Eloise didn't suddenly zap into their future lives. If Faraday's theory about the bomb creating this new timeline is correct, then Chang, Widmore and Eloise lived the aftermath of the incident, and at least Chang and Eloise are fully aware that the history that followed from that moment was altered. Island Widmore, who was never directly told in Season 5 finale what was going on, may not know, but Eloise and Chang, who both had interactions with their future children, certainly know that the timeline they find themselves in is different from the one in which their children first visited them from.
And they're apparently in some sort of cahoots, given the museum benefit concert.
There's no doubt that for Chang and Eloise, their lives are a whole lot better than they were in the other timeline. Chang, we assume, got gassed in the purge. Eloise never married Widmore, her lover on the island, and killed her own son. So for them, they'd have great interest in maintaining this new alt-timeline.
Is Eloise afraid Desmond will ruin it all?
From the very beginning of Lost, we've been given characters wrought with flaws, flaws that led them to make bad decisions that ruined their lives. Instead of blaming themselves, they blamed fate. Eko famously said, "I did not ask for the life that I was given. But it was given, nonetheless. And with it... I did my best." Then Smokey smashed him to death.
In Season Five, they were given a chance to change fate, to change "the life that I was given." We now know they've changed their fates... but how have they changed themselves? Maybe that's what Desmond's mission is really about... to bring the lessons learned on the island to the people in the Alternate timeline.
I think. Maybe.
A few gripes:
Gripe #1: I don't see what any of this timeline hijinx has to do with letting Smokey off the island.
Gripe #2: Ilana. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she's dead. She was a waste of screen time that took away from the characters we actually care about. But that's exactly why her death pisses me off too. Why the hell was she ever on the show? What was her point? Couldn't Richard just know about the candidates and tell the survivors? Or Jacob could speak to Hurley and let him know to pass on the message? Why insert a character so late in the game who doesn't have anything to do with the first 5 seasons, who takes up so much screen time and doesn't offer up anything that couldn't be offered in one line from any number of other characters? Why show her in the hospital with bandages if we'll never know how she got them?
That scares me. Because if the writers are creating characters and plot lines that go nowhere this late in the game, then what are they planning to do with the characters and plot lines we care so much about? Will they blow those up as well?
Maybe that's what they've done already, with that nuke in the season 5 finale.
Gripe #3: The books. In the first 5 seasons of lost, they were a nice easter egg, popping up now and again, seeming to offer clues as to where the story of Lost was headed. But now the damn books have more screen time than the characters do. Every damn episode a different book appears, always with some thematic resonance with Lost. Does this have a point? Are viewers really expected to read or look up every book for some clues to Lost? Will understanding the final episode rest on one's familiarity with Dostoevsky? That would really suck.
Anyways, can't wait for next week, which will unfortunately be the last episode before a week-long hiatus :-(