Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Lost" Fifteen Favorites: "Catch 22"

“We dated for six years, and the closest you ever came to a religious experience was Celtic winning the Cup.”


Episode ten on my Lost Fifteen Favorites list is our first Desmond episode of the bunch. I’d put “Catch 22” in the upper middle tier of Desmond episodes, along with “Happily Ever After.” “The Constant” and “Flashes Before Your Eyes” would be top tier, and “Jughead” would be the only Desmond episode that didn’t really do much for me. I like this episode because in both the present day and flashback scenes, it reveals quite a lot about the character of Desmond. And who can resist the first meeting of Penny and Desmond. It’s too cute!

Desmond faces quite the ethical dilemma in “Catch 22,” and the way he handles it really informs his character. Like “Not In Portland,” the last episode I blogged about for this series, “Catch 22” opens with a bit of a fakeout as well. Desmond, Jin, Hurley, and Charlie are hiking through the jungle, and Hurley and Charlie are arguing over which superhero is superior, Superman or The Flash. As the argument is reaching a fever pitch, Charlie steps on a trigger for one of Rousseau’s traps, and long (and gross) story short, dies from an arrow to the throat. The next shot is of Desmond sitting on a beach, and it’s quickly apparent that Desmond has been having another one of his flashes.

This, however, is a future he (sort of) wants to see happen. He’s got to recruit the guys he saw in his vision if there’s going to be any chance of it coming true, though. The first recruit is Hurley. Hurley immediately suspects that Desmond’s request has something to do with a future flash. Desmond tells Hurley “someone’s coming,” and it’s not going to happen unless Hurley shows him the cable he dug up down the beach a ways (we’d later find out it connects The Looking Glass to the Island). Hurley takes care of recruiting Jin by suggesting “camping.” Jin seems to think that’s a great idea. Desmond tries the same line on Charlie, but it didn’t work, which had me cracking up at how even though he can be pretty suave sometimes, Desmond can also be incredibly socially inept at other times. Charlie sees right through Desmond’s cover story and immediately knows this must have something to do with a future flash. Desmond tries to convince Charlie that this flash is about something other than him, but Charlie’s still skeptical.

The gang heads off trudging down the beach with everybody but Des happily whistling the theme to “Hogan’s Heroes.” Desmond is much more serious than his traveling companions. Soon enough, Hurley and Jin find the cable in a scene that exactly mimics an earlier flash Desmond had. Desmond decides this would be a good place to camp for the night. Later that night, everybody but Des (sensing a theme here) is gathered around the campfire, and Jin is holding a flashlight up to his face and telling a scary story in Korean. When the story is finished, Charlie goes to have a chat with Desmond, and Desmond shows Charlie his photo of Penny. As they’re chatting, everyone starts hearing a loud noise. It’s a helicopter crashing into the ocean.

Not all hope is lost, though, as the gang sees a red blinking light heading towards the Island. It looks like whoever was in the helicopter got out before the crash. Desmond wants to find where the parachuter landed immediately, but Charlie’s not having it. Since he’s the one who is supposed to die, he doesn’t want to be walking through a zone full of Rousseau’s death traps in the dark. Desmond relents and says they can start heading towards the parachute at first light. It doesn’t take long before they find a backpack belonging to the parachute. It’s got a copy of Catch 22 translated in Portuguese, but what’s more strange is that tucked inside of the book is a copy of the infamous Penny and Desmond photo. Desmond is convinced now (he was hoping before) that the mysterious parachuter is Penny.

As the gang continues to hike through the jungle, the conversation inevitably starts to turn towards Superman and The Flash. Desmond braces for the inevitable. Charlie steps on the trip wire, but just before the arrow flies, Desmond says “Duck!” and tackles Charlie. The arrow ends up in the neck of Charlie’s guitar instead of the neck of Charlie himself. I think this is the moment where Desmond truly sheds the “coward” label once and for all, if turning the failsafe key wasn’t enough already. He thought he had to choose between the possibility of seeing Penny and loyalty to Charlie, and he chose to save Charlie. The group finally finds the parachuter stuck up in a tree, and she’s not in good shape. They cut her down, and Desmond frantically takes her mask off to reveal someone who is definitely not Penny, yet is clearly mumbling “Desmond.” Is this switch because he chose to save Charlie instead of letting his vision play out? I guess we’ll never know.

Elsewhere on the Island, the Quadrangle of Doom is in full effect. Now that Kate’s back, Sawyer is going into full flirting mode. He wants Kate badly- even offering to make her a “mix tape.” He does end up giving her Bernard’s “Best of Phil Collins” tape as the best he can come up with, which I thought was pretty adorable. Kate’s not having any of it though, until a particularly cringe inducing scene where she licks oatmeal off her spoon and gives it to Jack, only to see Jack take the spoon and go have dinner with Juliet. Kate, for some reason that’s beyond my comprehension, is devastated by this. Still crying from the thought of Jack socializing with Juliet, she goes to Sawyer’s tent and asks for sex. Even though he sees she’s crying, he happily obliges.

Feeling pleased with himself, the next morning Sawyer challenges Jack to a game of ping pong. Things are cordial until Sawyer mentions to Jack that it feels strange being back at the beach and Jack mentioned that Kate said the same thing to him last night right before he went to have dinner with Juliet. Now all the gears are kicking into place in Sawyer’s brain, and he knows why Kate jumped him the night before. Poor Sawyer- Sawyer and Kate have amazing chemistry, but the way Kate treats him just makes me grumbly. That’s why I prefer Penny and Desmond. They have had their drama, but there’s love there from both sides.

From the flashbacks in this episode, we learn that Penny isn’t the only woman Desmond’s run away from. Before Penny was a woman named Ruth. A week before the wedding, Des passed out from drinking too much and was found by a monk. Desmond then felt he had a calling to life at the monastery, running away from Ruth to join up with the monks much like he would later run away from Penny to join the Royal Scots Regiment. The monk who seems to be in charge doesn’t have a lot of faith in Desmond. He had him take a vow of silence that lasted longer than that of most prospective initiates. Desmond was, however, made a novice.

Desmond’s monastery life starts to unravel when Ruth’s brother pays a visit and punches Des in the nose. Desmond goes to Ruth’s house to try to explain and make amends, but she just calls him a coward. She doesn’t believe that he had any sort of religious transformation- he was just getting cold feet. Upset by her words, Desmond spends that night drinking the wine that his Abbey makes and sells. The monk in charge is not at all happy about this. Beyond the basic problems with a monk drinking, that wine is very expensive. He tells Desmond he is no longer a monk. Essentially, Desmond got fired. The monk in charge has one more job for Desmond, though, before he leaves. Desmond is to help load wine crates into the car of one Penelope Widmore. The two hit it off instantly- Penny thinks the fact that Desmond is an “ex monk” is charming and hilarious. She invites him to come with her to Carlisle, and the rest is history.

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