Follow along! The episode guide for “Fire + Water” is in Finding Lost, pp. 242-248.
This is without a doubt my least-favourite episode of season 2. For me, everyone’s behavior was inconsistent, and it just stands out as an episode that makes Charlie pathetic, it signals the beginning of his crazytown destructive attitude that will follow, and just makes me upset all around. We’re supposed to believe that the only way for Charlie to recover is to take responsibility for his actions and stop blaming everyone else for what has happened to him. But it’s hard not to: when Liam wanted to become famous, he got his brother on board to make it happen. Along the way Charlie fell into a world of heroin abuse, as did his brother, but when he tried to get clean, and found himself writing again, his brother sold his piano – the very thing he needs to write again – and left Charlie there with no money, no future, and no way of getting himself back on top. Then when Charlie comes to him in Sydney and tells him he needs something from him, Liam refuses. Locke punching Charlie always makes me angry and confused, although there are a few things I can see in this episode now that I didn’t see before, only because I now know what’s going to happen to all of them. Also, when it comes down to it, I was simply a big fan of Charlie, and I was unhappy that by the end of season 2, I wasn't. I'm glad he'll be redeemed in season 3.
Fun things I noticed:
• What I really don’t like about this ep is that it’s the only time Locke doesn’t seem to believe in fate or the island. Charlie’s standing there trying to tell him he’s being tested, that he believes in the island as a bigger thing like Locke, and Locke just shrugs it off as pulling at straws. Maybe Charlie IS lying about his convictions, but Locke always gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. I know what you’re going to say, and I said the same in my book – that Locke put a lot of effort into Charlie and saw him as the One He Saved. And now Charlie’s acting like a dick and lying to everyone, and Locke’s upset because it’s like he failed with Charlie and he needs to do something about it. But he failed a lot, with a lot of people, and he never reacted like this.
• Locke refers to Aaron as “our” boy when talking to Claire.
• Why would Charlie have a pack of matches? You’d think those things would be rationed tighter than just about anything on the island.
• An old upright piano would make you a couple hundred bucks. Certainly not enough money to allow two people to fly to Australia from England. Even if Liam says the piano belonged to the guy from Drive Shaft, that doesn’t seem to be worth much these days.
• Judeo-Christianity really played a huge role in S2, and while it’s the basis for a lot of the principles on the show, they’ve ratcheted that particular aspect back in later seasons, focusing instead on time travel and more scientific things.
Things that have new meaning:
• When Charlie’s mother says he’ll “save us all” in the first dream, it made me once again think of the answer to the question, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” He who will save us all. Could Charlie’s corpse lie in the shadow of the statue? Someone emailed me a few weeks ago to make a comment that many others have already made on here, which is that we never actually saw Charlie’s corpse again after he died. Could he have been saved in some way? Is he not-dead the way Locke was not-dead?
• Charlie swimming out to save Aaron in the water foreshadows that fact that the entire group will be in peril until Charlie swims under the water to save them all.
• In the religious iconography dream, Mom and Claire keep repeating that Charlie has to save the baby, the baby’s in danger. What danger? Could this be the island telling him he needed to do something to get Aaron off the island, which he eventually does?
• It never made any sense to a lot of people that Desmond can see the future in S3, which is basically to just tell Charlie repeatedly that he’s going to die, and then after that he can’t see much of anything. But in this episode Charlie pisses off Locke, and puts Aaron in danger. The island seems to have set its sights on Charlie at that point – must destroy the little rock ‘n’ roll hobbit before he hurts Aaron or the Chosen Locke – and he was doomed.
• Libby says that Hurley stepped on her foot as he boarded the plane, and changes the subject when he says he knows her from somewhere. But if she was in the tail section, and he’s in the front, when would he have stepped on her foot boarding the plane if he boarded after everyone? Her story sucks (and I think the writers purposely made it a bad story to show she’s lying). I REALLY wish we’d get an explanation for why she was in the mental hospital.
• Locke’s interest in Aaron never made any sense to me, but now that we know he’s special to the island, and so is Aaron (Christian is Aaron’s grandfather; Claire is with Christian, Aaron made it off the island) maybe the connection is something that even Locke doesn’t understand, but just finds himself drawn to Aaron.