Friday, April 30, 2010

LOST Retrospective: Did Charlie get 'The Sickness' in Season 2?

With the upcoming series finale looming over our heads, I got to thinking about what's happened since the beginning of the show. There's a lot to cover here so over the last few months I watched all the episodes released so far on DVD (season 5 was on blu).

Okay, so picture the last episode of season 2, "Live Together, Die Alone." Got it? Good.

At the end of the episode, after the hatch is destroyed and The Others have put hoods over Jack, Kate, and Sawyer to whisk them away to Hydra island, we're given a brief scene back at the camp at night.

I've always had a problem with the following scene.

(the embedded HULU clip jumps right to the start of the scene)

Charlie has returned to the beach. He's sitting, not doing anything of importance. At first I assumed he was shell-shocked from the hatch implosion, but since he's capable of having a straightforward, "normal" conversation with Claire, I don't think that's the case. However he's acts ODD. Really, really odd.

He cracks a joke about almost being killed by a "flaming fireball" and then mentions almost being killed by "flying fog." I assume that the 'joke' is meant to convey recent events, and as such we're actually never privy to his recent "flying fox" encounter on screen. After that point he says "nothing happened" and playfully mocks Claire's interpretation of events when she mentions that the sky turned purple.

He shows no urgency to investigate the fates of Eko, Locke, or Desmond. None whatsoever. From time to time the show has brushed over obvious human responses to situations, such as where characters don't ask questions that any sane person would ask in some given the same circumstance, but this takes the cake. From my memory Charlie's behavior is equally as strange for the first 1 or 2 episodes he appears in of season 3.

In Season 3, normal mocking of John would be expected, especially after the events of "Fire + Water," but he was detached in those episodes, not really interested in why Locke couldn't speak, and didn't seem all the interested that Eko was missing or in danger. He appears to be "back to normal" a few episodes in, indicating to me that they dropped whatever plot arc involving either being infected or "turned" somehow by the smoke monster. Either way whatever they appear to have originally intended him to be part is no longer part of the show.

Without some meaning behind some of the telling signs we're presented with in his conversation with Claire, as well as his disregard towards his fellow survivors (plus Desmond) the entire "night on the beach" scene serves really no point other than to tell us that Charlie is alive. In that context the scene is entirely trivial and is a needless detour between the scene where The Others blindfold Jack, Kate, and Sawyer and the reveal of the polar station immediately after the scene ends. Frankly, the fate of Charlie alone isn't enough to spend 2-3 minutes on when the fate of far more popular characters were in the balance.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this and that what I'm seeing here is really a poorly realized scene thrown in at the end of season 2 and bizarre, strange acting from Dominic Monaghan in his first episodes of season 3. But I really don't think that's the case. Could this have been part of a sub-plot they dropped? Perhaps signs that Charlie actually got "The Sickness?"

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