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Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 03/ 1/2007

'Lost' Analysis: Hurley's Magic Bus

By Jen Chaney

With Liz out this week, Jen Chaney has parked her VW bus in the Celebritology spot reserved for "Lost" analysis. Read on for a breakdown of last night's Hurley-O-Rama. As always, SPOILERS FOLLOW SO DON'T CONTINUE IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED YET.

After last week's episode -- a.k.a. the Bai Ling Debacle -- I was hoping that the "Lost" plot development train would get back on track. But once again we were treading Dharma Initiative water (or was that beer?) last night, with a mildly entertaining episode that delivered scarcely any meaty information about The Others or the island's umpteen unsolved mysteries.

Still, this Hurley-centric installment about the father he lost and the beat-up VW bus he found on the island delivered a few decent moments. Among them: Hurley's touching graveside speech to his lost Libby; a cameo appearance by Cheech Marin as Hurley's pops; the reappearance of beloved dog Vincent; and an episode title that sounds like an awesome name for some up-and-coming indie rock band: "Tricia Tanaka is Dead." Now, a few questions and observations about the latest "Lost."


How come no one seemed surprised to see Vincent? That sweet Lab has been MIA for quite some time, yet neither Hurley nor Charlie seemed particularly shocked to see him when he suddenly appeared on the beach. Okay, perhaps they were distracted by the skeletal arm in his mouth. But still, you'd think they would have registered some sense of surprise or even concern over who's been taking care of the poor creature. Then again, maybe I've just seen those tear-jerking Pedigree dog adoption commercials one too many times.

Is there really no curse on Hurley? Since Hurley's lottery numbers were first revealed in season one, most "Lost" viewers have been operating under the assumption that those digits -- 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 -- carry some kind of mystical, possibly evil power. But in last night's episode, after discovering a decrepit VW bus and taking a dangerous plunge down a tropical hillside, Hurley was able to start the car's engine, something that clearly proved to him that he is not cursed. So if he's not cursed, does that mean the lottery numbers aren't either? How to explain all of the bad luck that followed him, including the random meteor that struck Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack in last night's episode, leaving TV reporter Tricia Tanaka, well, dead? If the numbers are meaningless, why do they play such a seemingly important, recurring role on the show? And last but not least, is Alan Arkin's dead body hidden in the back of that bus?

Desmond or Hurley -- which episode do we believe? On a similar note, it struck me that the message of last night's episode stands in stark conflict to the themes in "Flashes Before Your Eyes," the Desmond show that aired two weeks ago. That hour of drama suggested that Desmond's destiny, and perhaps the fates of everyone on the island, are predetermined and cannot be altered. But Hurley's triumph over aging car parts -- not to mention the words of his father, who told a young Hugo, "In this world, son, you've gotta make your own luck" -- suggest just the opposite. Same goes for Charlie's alleged date with death, which he cheated by riding shotgun in Hurley's danger-mobile. So which worldview best applies to the workings of the island?

How bad must that beer have been? The Dharma Initiative brew discovered in the back of that bus has to be a level below Miller Lite on a good day. The fact that it's been keeping a corpse company for God knows how long means it must be skunkier than Pepe Le Pew. How could Sawyer possibly have consumed an entire six-pack of that swill?

Lastly, Three Observations

There is such a thing as too many Sawyer-isms. His reference to Hooked on Phonics was kind of funny. But when he called Hurley "Jumbotron," he maxed out on pop culture-related quips.

The relevance of Three Dog Night: The 1973 hit "Shambala" played a key role in last night's episode, appearing in Hurley's first flashback -- in which he can't get his dad's Camaro started -- and again at the end of the episode, during the bus joy ride. The use of the track may just be an evocative way to conjure Hurley's youth -- or it could mean something more. Shambala, as this ever-handy Wiki tells us, is a reference to a Sanskrit term that means place of peace. It is also "believed to be a society where all the inhabitants are enlightened." If The Others are the good guys they keep insisting they are, perhaps the tune hints that their society truly is enlightened. Or, since Dharma appears to have set-up camp on the island back in the 1970s, maybe they thought they were creating their own Shambala. Just food for thought.

The train gets back on track: Next week, the water treading seems poised to end. The episode, "Enter 77," will feature a Sayid flashback, information about a new Dharma station, that weird dude with the eye patch and, as last night's preview showed us, Locke matching wits with a 20-year-old computer in an intense game of video chess. Want to start spoiling the whole thing for yourself? Just click here. And, as always, feel free to discuss amongst yourselves by posting comments to this post. Until next week, see you in another life.

By Jen Chaney  | March 1, 2007; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  Lost  
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