Re-Lost: Numbers

Hurley
Hurley in da house.
Special guest columnist! While I’m in exotic Branson, MO, my sister Jamie Wright will take you through today’s Re-Lost. Enjoy!
I was pretty excited when I realized that this was the episode Nate wanted me to review, because the numbers are one of my favorite Lost mysteries. In addition, it’s the first Hurley episode. The first time around, I remember feeling like a Hurley episode was long overdue at this point. I still feel that way. I’m not sure what took so long, whether the show creators didn’t expect Hurley to be as popular as he was or what. Either way, I’m glad Hurley finally got his own flashbacks, and I’m doubly glad they ended up being so awesome.
The episode revolves around a proposed venture to get a battery from Rousseau – a plan that Sayid vociferously disagrees with. However, when Hurley notices some mysterious numbers scrawled over and over on Rousseau’s notes and maps, he is suddenly very interested in the expedition. Hurley sets out on his own to find the French woman, and Charlie, Jack, and Sayid go after him. I love everyone’s puzzled response to Hurley’s sudden intensity. Sayid can’t even imagine that Hurley’s got his own motives; he accuses Jack of being the mastermind behind it all. Charlie repeatedly says he’s acting crazy.
The flashbacks trace Hurley’s – a.k.a. Hugo Reyes’ – history with these mysterious numbers. On a second (or third or fourth; I’ve lost count) viewing, I am struck again by the light and comical tone of these flashbacks. This is some hairy stuff Hugo experiences: a dead grandpa, a broken ankle, a false arrest, a house fire, and a priest struck by lightning. Yet I still spent the whole episode laughing. I attribute the grim humor to the masterful performances of Jorge Garcia and Lillian Hurst as Hurley’s mom. Also, I think the musical score in the flashbacks is sheer brilliance. It has this jaunty, quizzical quality that just makes me smile.
This episode is the first time we realize that Hurley is a multi-millionaire lottery winner, and it’s also the first time we find out he’s spent time in a mental institution. Both of these revelations are gems. It’s funny how they seem to come out of left field, but in retrospect they seem such a natural part of Hurley’s character. The quest for answers also brings out a more capable and fearless Hurley than we’ve ever seen before. He dodges booby traps and braves rickety bridges. He takes initiative and ignores the well-meaning leadership of Jack and Sayid. This behavior shocks his fellow castaways as well as viewers. It proves Hugo is good for more than some comic relief. Depth like this is what makes Lost so compulsively watchable (and rewatchable). In the end it’s not about the weird island, it’s about the multi-dimensional people who populate it.
It’s a very special show that manages to tailor the tone of a particular episode to the character depicted. Numbers is funny, but still manages to weave mysteries and inspire sympathy. To see Hurley’s grim response to everyone calling him crazy is perfect. It doesn’t matter how happy-go-lucky he may be, Hurley still needs to be taken seriously. And what does he do when Rousseau finally agrees that the numbers are cursed? He gives her a huge hug. Perfect. I think Rousseau probably needs more hugs.
Grade: A

Wreckage:

  • I like the others’ reactions to Hurley’s attempts to be sneaky/Hurley’s sudden intensity.  His secrets are some of the largest in the show, but no one suspects Hurley of duplicity, so his secrets are never really revealed to the Island at large. Is it because Hurley’s often the one to disseminate news? When Charlie doesn’t take him seriously, it’s like you can almost see him deciding it’s not worth trying to tell anyone else.
  • More Sayid-Shannon romance. Still not sure what I think of that one.
  • There’s a subplot of Locke and Claire making a crib. It’s a very compassionate way to pull Claire out of isolation. Also, the guys are rebuilding the raft.
  • The smoke billowing out of the house Hurley buys for his mom always makes me think of the smoke monster now.
  • That final shot of the numbers embossed on the side of the hatch: chilling!
  • This episode continues on the overarching Lost theme of fate and free will. As Sam Toomey’s widow says, “you make your own luck,” but watching this episode, I can’t help but feel Hurley is right about the numbers being cursed. What do you think at the end of the episode?
  • Nate will be back on Tuesday, with “Deus Ex Machina.”
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One thought on “Re-Lost: Numbers

  1. It’s kind of ironic that Hurley has such a strange and checkered past. His character is the typical “Lost” viewer’s stand-in advocate. He’s an everyman that we can relate to. When the audience has a question, ultimately, it’s Hurley who pipes up and asks it. When the audience is frustrated with something, we can count on Hurley to speak his peace. It’s because of this that it seems so amazing to me that the show (and actor) pull off making you believe in Hurley’s strange past. For the most normal guy on the show, he sure seems to have odd origins.

    Which I think may have been my first clue when I watched the show that these people were here for a reason.. that they were brought here, and it was all part of a design. You expect weird pasts from the rest of the characters.. but not good ‘ol Hurley. If he has a weird past too, we’re all screwed.

    And I think that’s why the writing is so good here too. We’ve waited for this. Even asked ourselves.. why wait so long to talk about Hurley. The show let’s us get complacent with his normalcy just enough that when we see how messed up his life has been, we are doing the same thing his character does through the whole episode, just sitting back and watching the things happen to him in sheer disbelief, but being forced to accept them.

    This really stands out in a later Hurley episode when he watches the reporter go into the chicken restaurant, knowing exactly that something bad is going to happen. He’s a normal guy who has just had tons of wacky things happen in his life. He just had to accept that his life was going to be a strange one… the strange twisted life of a typical lostie.

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