Everybody loves Hugo.
But not everybody loves the last season of Lost.
Among the rumblings in the Us Weekly office and beyond: Too many factions among the castaways (think quick: name the last time Jin, and say, Hurley have shared the same screen). The new characters blow. Heck, the new characters exist. Each posthumous character always first appears from behind with the strains of ominous string music in the background. Most troubling of all? As the last installment approaches, new mysteries continue to pop up even as a few of the old ones get resolved. Kind of like that whack-a-mole arcade game.
Make no mistake: The April 13 episode was no game changer; but at least the players are slowly but surely making headway across the board.
Exhibit A: These flash sideways sequences are starting to make some sense -- and you don't need a degree in quantum physics to understand why. In Hurley's alternate universe, the well-meaning millionaire gets approached in a restaurant by a mysterious woman named Libby. She earnestly tells him that he is her soulmate. But before he can react (or even comment on the insane amount of lipstick she is wearing), she gets whisked away by the director of her mental hospital. Lost fans surely recall that in a memorable season two flashback, Libby and Hurley were both patients in that same mental hospital. It was a pretty cool twist, but left unresolved when Michael shot Libby a few hours later on the island. More on Michael in a sec. I'm on a roll. I think.
Enter Desmond. Fresh off his Penny realization, he has started his flashsideways mission: Approaching the passengers of Flight 815 and help stir up some memories. He convinces Hurley to visit Libby in the hospital and hear her out. Turns out that, yes, Libby has been experiencing these strange hallucinations in which she and Hurley have survived a plane crash and have fallen in love on an island. Where could she have ever gotten a crazy notion like that? Then the two have a picnic on a beach. Oh, the symmetry: Hurley and Libby, of course, were supposed to have a picnic date on the island. The two kiss, and before you can say "Connect Four" (a mental hospital inside joke), Hurley gets the flashes. Libby. The island. The kiss. The hatch. It's all coming back. 3-2-1 Contact! At this point, it's a safe bet that Juliet and Sawyer will have that cup of coffee by early May.
Meanwhile, back on the island, Team Richard is moving head with Operation Blow Up the Plane. (Why Richard is giving no thought to the submarine is yet another mystery). But Hurley wants no part of this. Why? Because Michael told him so. Oh dear. Here's where Lost producers get a tad creative. See, Michael didn't die on the island; he got blown up on the freighter at the end of season four. And just before he died (he helped freeze the dynamite so Sun, Sayid, et al could have enough time to escape the freighter before it exploded), Christian Shepherd appeared and basically told him that he was redeemed. I believe his exact words were 'you're done here, Michael.' So Michael might have killed Ana Lucia and Libby (with a good reason, mind you. Walt!), but he ultimately martyred himself so his friends could live. Story arc done.
Yet Michael tells Hurley that he is still trapped in between two worlds, along with other ghosts. This explains the whispering. The whispering that has been haunting the castaways since Day One. Come on. Really? Sure, it theoretically makes sense -- but why would Michael still be stuck? And who else is joining him -- does these ghosts go as far back as Richard's slave captor? Does everything have to go back to good versus evil? Besides, this they're-all-in-purgatory theory reeks of 2005.
Back to Team Richard. Ilana gets the dynamite from Black Rock to ignite the plane, but just like Dr. Arzt before her, she blows herself up accidentally. Haven't been this excited about a death since Sayid shot Mr. Miyagi (fine, Dogan) in the temple. Ben concluded that the island was "through with her," since she already fulfilled her duties. Again, a convenient explanation. But did Ilana really bring that much to the island table? With no backstory and a one-note character arc (look for Ricardus!), it was awfully difficult to form any sort of emotional attachment to the character with the bee-stung lips.
Hurley has a new plan: Join up with fake Locke. Finally! Class of '04 reunion! But not so fast. Richard heads to the Dharma barracks to find more dynamite, and Ben and the woefully underused Miles go with him. That leaves Jack, Sun, Lapedus with Hurley. Read: Three of the names on Jacob's list and the pilot who can fly them off the island. That can't just be a coincidence. Kate lights up when she saw Jack, but shoulder shrug. That love-triangle just seems so played out.
Finally, Desmond. Sayid captured him and tied him up and fake Locke freed him. Shades of the Man in Black getting Richard out of those chains. After Desmond explained to Locke why Widmore kidnapped him and nonchalantly revealed his secret powers (surviving electromagnetic disasters), the two go on a field trip. Destination: A well. It appears to be the same well that Locke wandered through last season (which transported him off the island), but that's unconfirmed. What is certain: fake Locke does not want Desmond to use his powers on the island. For if Desmond can survive electromagnetism, perhaps Widmore (and Jacob) has found the loophole to enable Locke to stay put on the island. Now, fake Locke can't kill Desmond. The appearance of that eerie young boy (young Jacob?) served as a reminder to all of us.
The next best thing: Just push Desmond down the well. Back underground. Like the hatch. How very season two! A fine way to end the episode, but there is a head-scratcher of a coda instead: In the flash-sideways, Desmond abruptly runs over Locke in his school. Was it some kind of revenge? Perhaps a way to prevent Locke from experiencing his own hallucinations -- thereby preventing the Man in Black takeover on the island? Or does he need Locke to feel like a victim so he can experience the hallucinations and somehow prevent the Man in Black takeover?
Let the theories begin. Please whisper them.
-- By Mara Reinstein for UsMagazine.com