So, where were we? At the end of “Special,” Claire staggers out of the jungle, and that’s right where “Homecoming” picks up. Conveniently, she can’t remember anything that has happened to her since the crash. Perhaps she was attacked by a plot device. That sort of sums up the main issue I have with “Homecoming.” It keeps edging up against some forward momentum, but it never really provides that lurch forward that the show could really use right now. It’s just too busy screwing around.
After the promise of Claire’s return, “Homecoming” seems terrified of the fact that the show might need to move forward now. Claire’s amnesia feels like stalling, and that’s just one of the contrivances. Look, I like Ethan as much as the next Lostie, because he was so menacing in “All The Best Cowboys.” He promises Charlie that he will kill someone each day until Claire is returned to him. Alright, we say, that’s pretty threatening. He actually DOES kill someone, and that puts him firmly in bad guy mode in our minds. So the posse sets out to find him, and they have an absurdly easy time capturing him. Surely Ethan would expect an ambush? Surely he would have a suspicion that they might not just give Claire up? It pulls a lot of oomph from Ethan’s threats. And it seems weird that no one comes again for Claire later on. So in the end, we’re left actually backwards of where we are, since Claire’s amnesia seems to set back about 15 episodes worth of character development. Or it would, if it seemed to affect anything at all.
And then Charlie shoots Ethan. As a plot twist, it’s surprising. But a lot of the surprise comes from the fact that it just doesn’t seem like Charlie. It’s only slightly less weird than Hurley killing someone. And once again, the episode is saddled with a flashback that doesn’t do the main character any favors. I find it poignant that Charlie seeks to overcome his own shortcomings and flaws to be respectable, and some of that redemption comes through in Charlie’s relationship with Lucy. But that relationship with Lucy seems kind of doomed from the start. He sets out to steal some stuff with which to buy more smack. She seems to introduce him to her father almost instantly. And if that weren’t enough, her father gets him a job without batting an eye. She even buys Charlie a nice briefcase, and they’ve been on maybe two dates. She looks desperate and needy, he looks sleazy and stupid. And is there a more painfully awkward scene than Charlie’s first attempt to sell a copier? I’m not sure if it’s meant to be funny or what, but it just ends up being uncomfortable. And the whole ordeal is never mentioned again in the rest of the series. It’s classic Lost filler, and not very good filler at that.
The most frustrating thing about “Homecoming” is that it has the components to be a good episode. I like the outside threat of Ethan. And Claire’s return should make for some really interesting developments. But very little works here. The main thread leans heavily on silly contrivances like Claire’s amnesia. The flashback mishandles just about everything. This might be the low point of Lost so far, and one of the overall low points in the show.
- Lucy’s father is the catheter salesman from Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind. Puts me in mind of the Sure-Flo song.
- According to Lostpedia, “Homecoming” is Damon Lindelof’s least favorite episode.
- Charlie refers to Ethan as the “bad guy.” One of the biggest themes of the show is what makes someone bad and good. Maybe part of my issue here is that the show seems to accept Charlie’s analysis unquestioningly. None of the ambiguity that made the show so interesting later on.
- Lucy’s father bought a paper company in Slough. Wernham-Hogg in The Office?
- Another annoyance: what about the hatch? I didn’t remember that plot moving so slowly.
- Up next: “Outlaws.” See you Friday.