Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Review: Lost 1.18: Numbers

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Hurley wins the lottery using the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42.
Lost - Season One, Episode Eighteen - Numbers
Written 30/5/13

In total contrast to the character's later position as one of the most important Losties, Hurley had a very different role in the series' beginnings, standing from the off as a somewhat omnipresent and yet never annoying comic relief. Numbers is something of a nod to the series' biggest running theme - the series of six numbers, 4 8 15 16 23 42, that pop up literally everywhere. We also get some more hints towards the finale, which is now a mere five weeks away.
     In the past, we see Hurley's big secret - he is a multi-millionaire after using The Numbers to win the lottery. After the fact, he becomes an icon of bad luck, as his uncle dies, his sister breaks up with her boyfriend, his new house burns down and various other calamities. He goes to the mental hospital he attended where he heard The Numbers, from an insane patient who points him towards Australia. There, the wife of the man who first heard The Numbers on a mysterious radio transmission dismisses the idea and tells him to go home - leading him, of course, to 815.
     On the Island, Hurley sees a page in Rousseau's notes showing the numbers, and in an attempt to find out if she has anything to offer on the subject, he heads down the beach under the excuse of going to get a battery for the signal on Michael's second raft. As he finds and follows the cable on the beach, he is met up by Jack, Charlie and Sayid, who have come after him. As they search, Hurley is separated from the others and Rousseau catches him. Frustrated, Hurley breaks down and when he explains his problem, she agrees with him that The Numbers are cursed, as her science team were following the radio transmission when they crashed on the Island. They go home and everyone is happy. Locke helps Claire by talking to her while building a cradle.
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Hurley asks Rousseau what The Numbers mean.
     Aside from ghosts in previous episodes, this is the first point where one can argue that Lost touches the surpernatural. The absurdity of just how unlucky Hurley is isn't played for laughs for very long, and that's good because as a result we find that beneath Hurley's cheery demeanour lies something that's bleak and dark and depressing and that just screams Lost to me. Take a character we think we know and flip our perception of them right on their heads. Jorge Garcia manages the switch between comic and serious perfectly, and I think that's one of the main reasons his character gains such importance later on.
     I think the best thing about this episode is the movement. Later seasons would show so many different places across the Island and I'm getting a tad tired of just the beach or the mesa or the hatch and any deviation from the norm in that department makes an episode feel like an event. The Numbers, as well as making every fan paranoid for the next five seasons looking out for all of the instances (which are listed here), breathed new complexity into Hurley's character. It may have been late in the game, but it was most certainly worth the wait.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Locke, you poor bastard. You poor, poor bastard. Oh, and Boone gets fatally wounded. Let's hope for a Deus Ex Machina.

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