Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Lost" Fifteen Favorites: "Greatest Hits"

“I’m alive!”

As promised, I’m actually using these final weeks before the fall season starts up for the long-awaited finish to my “Lost” Fifteen Favorites series.  And silly me didn't bring my list of fifteen episodes home with me when I went up to PA to visit the family this weekend.  And I totally couldn't remember the order of the final few episodes.  So here's a bonus. “Greatest Hits” is a bonus choice on my list for two main reasons. The first is that it is very emotional, and it has a lot of heart. The second is that it made Charlie, a character many people had come to despise after ill-advised episodes like “Fire + Water,” likeable again. Likeable just in time for his death, but that’s another story. “Greatest Hits” is right in the middle of the final arc of Season 3. It kicks us right into the finale, “Through the Looking Glass.” This episode took place back in a simpler time, when the Others were still the main threat. And boy were they ever a scary threat, particularly at this point in the series, because Ben was clearly going a bit crazy from seeing the prospect of his power dwindling.

We open with very, very brief in media res of Karl running down the beach, hopping in the outrigger, and paddling like his life depends on it. We then shift perspective to the Losties, who are all marching towards an open field, anticipating a big speech of some sort by Jack. During the walk, Desmond suddenly has a distant look that Charlie immediately interprets as Des having another flash about Charlie’s death. Desmond denies this at first, but later he confirms that Charlie was actually correct. This time, he sees Charlie in a hatch. There’s a yellow light blinking, Charlie flips a switch, and then he drowns. There’s a catch this time, though. Desmond has also seen a flash of Claire and Aaron leaving the island safely. Somehow, Charlie’s death is to be directly related to the rescue of his loved ones. Quite the dilemma the writers have set up for us.

Their hike through the jungle finally completed, Jack does indeed have a big speech prepared for the Losties. That speech comes in conjunction with a big confession from Juliet. Juliet admits to the Losties that Ben did give her instructions to identify all the pregnant women so the Others could take them. It seems clear that she’s now on Team Lostie, though, because she’s telling them all about Ben’s nefarious plans. Jack tells the group that this time, they aren’t going to hide from the Others. Not that they really had many hiding places left, anyway. They’re going to be ready, and they’re going to fight back. Jack brings out Rousseau for a little demonstration of just how they’re going to fight back. Rousseau blows up a couple of trees (so that’s what the crazy French chick wanted with the dynamite!), and Jack announces that they are going to rig the tents Juliet marks with dynamite, so when the Others enter the tents to take the pregnant women, they’ll get quite a nasty surprise.

Sayid wants to use Naomi’s satellite phone to call Naomi’s freighter and hopefully organize a rescue. After minimal hesitancy (mostly because he was distracted by implementing the blow-up-the-Others plan), Jack agrees that this is most definitely a good idea. Sayid thinks that if Rousseau’s sixteen-year-old distress signal can be shut off, they should be able to make the call. Juliet informs the group that there is one slight problem with their plan. Ben has been jamming all outgoing communications signals using an underwater hatch called The Looking Glass. In addition to the radio tower signal being turned off, this new hatch is going to have to be disabled, too. At least Sayid thinks he knows where it is. It is what must be connected to the cable he found on the beach in the Season 1 episode “Solitary.”

There’s a sweet scene where Charlie bonds with fellow Mancunian Naomi. Naomi informs Charlie that Driveshaft has become a huge success since Charlie’s purported “death” in the Oceanic 815 crash. She tells him that a “Greatest Hits” record is out, and it’s been selling like crazy. I’m not sure how a one-hit-wonder can produce a greatest hits album, but I’ll go with it because it provided a nice framing device for a very beautiful episode. Soon after his conversation with Naomi, Charlie hears Jack and Sayid talking about the upcoming mission to the Looking Glass. Remembering Desmond’s latest death premonition and the prospect of rescue for Claire and Aaron that came with it, Charlie volunteers to swim down to the hatch and turn of the jammer.

Realizing that he’s not long for this world, Charlie starts writing something for Claire. It’s a list of his five favorite memories- his own, personal “greatest hits.” There’s the first time he heard Driveshaft on the radio. He had been just about to give up on the band at that point, and actually hearing his song on the radio changed his mind. There’s a time when he went swimming with his dad and Liam at a public pool and his dad caught him when he jumped in the water. We also saw the infamous “second tour of Finland” when Liam gave him the “DS” ring. It turns out that DS didn’t originally stand for “Driveshaft.” It was the initials of one of Charlie and Liam’s ancestors, and the ring was not actually created for that particular tour like Charlie led us to believe early in Season 1. We also see Charlie busking in London again, and this time after rain cuts his performance short, he saves none other than Nadia from a mugger. She calls him a hero, which was sweet, considering Charlie’s never been much in the self esteem department. The final memory is when Charlie first met Claire, of course.

The timetable for everything gets bumped up when Karl arrives with bad news. Right after Karl bursts on the scene, we flash back 6 hours. Ben has just returned to the Others’ camp from trying to murder Locke, and he’s clearly gone off the deep end. He wants a team to infiltrate the Lostie camp that night, and since Juliet won’t have had warning to mark the tents, he wants the team to take all the women. Alex hears this, and she’s horrified. She takes off into the jungle and finds Karl. Karl’s mission is to take the outrigger and warn the Losties. He’s kind of reluctant to do the job until Alex reminds him that Saywer and Kate saved his life.

Anyway, the revised plan calls for a lot of things to happen at once. Which, of course, makes for good, dramatic television. Most of the Losties are going to head for the radio tower. There isn’t enough time to create fuses to light all the dynamite, so a small team is going to stay behind and shoot the piles of dynamite when the Others get close. Finally, Charlie and Desmond are going to head out to the Looking Glass. Sayid, Jin, and Bernard are going to be the shooters, which is an interesting combination. There’s an especially endearing Bernard and Rose scene. At first, Rose tries to convince Bernard not to stay behind, but when she realizes that his shooting skills could actually do some good, she hustles him off to find him some more camouflaging clothes.

Knowing that he’s most likely not coming back from this particular mission, Charlie tries to say his goodbyes without upsetting anyone too much. First he tells Claire not to worry about him when he’s gone. They share a goodbye kiss, which was really very sweet. We never got to see much domestic happiness between Charlie and Claire, which is kind of a shame. They were pretty adorable once Charlie was able to get past some of his baggage. There’s also an adorable moment of Charlie playing with Aaron. Unbeknownst to Claire, Charlie leaves the DS ring with the baby. When the group leaves for the radio tower, the ring is accidentally left in Aaron’s cradle, and we never see it again for the rest of the series. I find that kind of sad, especially after how we saw in a flashback in this episode that the ring was very important to Charlie’s family.

Charlie and Des find the cable, and then the follow it in the outrigger out into the ocean. Eventually, they find the place where the cable drops down to The Looking Glass. Charlie gives Des the paper on which he wrote his “Greatest Hits,” and Des is really moved by the gesture. He offers to take Charlie’s place and swim down to The Looking Glass. Just as Des is about to dive in, Charlie whacks him upside the head with a paddle and dives in himself. Charlie manages to make the difficult swim into The Looking Glass’ moon pool. As he surfaces and takes his first breaths, he jubilantly shouts “I’m alive!” over and over. His celebration doesn’t last long, though. He’s soon greeted by two very surly looking Other women.

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