Thursday, September 3, 2009

2.12 Fire + Water

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.


Writing is my Passion said...

I agree with you, Nikki. This is also, my least-favourite episode of the season. The only scene I really did like was the scene in the hatch when Libby and Hurley were doing the laundry. I don't hate it, but it's my least favourite episode of the season.

Charlie was one of my favourite characters of season one. By this episode, my faith in him had shattered into tiny pieces. My faith in him was restored when he threw the statues into the ocean in "Three Minutes".

Marebabe said...

There are many different emotional experiences (sad, scary, suspenseful, infuriating, satisfying) for the viewer in any given episode of Lost, but I found “Fire + Water” to be DISTURBING, almost from beginning to end. First, though, I’d like to mention the things that I loved about this episode:

Remember when Kate was coaching Claire while she was in labor, and she said, “This baby is all of ours.” That’s why I especially like it when, in this episode, Locke strolls over to Claire and Aaron and said, “How’s our boy?” Sweet.

I like how the boy who plays Young Charlie looks a lot like Dominic Monaghan. It reminds me of some very cool videos that you can see over on YouTube. They are 15-second morphs from the faces of the child actors to the faces of the corresponding adult actors. Just type in “Charlie Pace – Morph” in the Search space. The others are Benjamin Linus, Aaron & Claire Littleton, and Mr. Eko.

I’ve noticed Emilie de Ravin’s beautiful blue eyes before, but they really show up nicely in this episode. The unusual thing about her eyes is the dark ring outlining the blue irises. Quite striking.

Now for the disturbing bits, and this is by no means a complete list. The biggest over-arching thing about this episode was the fact that the viewer was constantly kept off-balance by not knowing what the heck was going on, from the purpose and meaning of Charlie’s dreams, to not really knowing his intentions in keeping the drug-filled statues, and was he lying to Claire and Locke when he said he was going to destroy his stash?

Charlie wants to save the baby because he can’t save himself. Added to the general sense of powerlessness that oppresses every addict, Charlie is feeling confused and desperate. It’s that desperation that causes him to light the diversionary grass fire so he can grab the baby for one last attempt at baptizing him. Bad move, Charlie! Even before Claire slapped him and Locke beat the snot out of him, I felt that the level of animosity between Locke and Charlie was extreme. But that smackdown that knocked Charlie on his butt in the surf was brutal! And then everyone turned their backs on him and walked away.

Liam didn’t help at all. The scene on the set of the diaper commercial makes me squirm. Some people find it hilarious, but I’ve never liked seeing someone humiliated. Liam was at his lowest low point in this episode, missing his daughter’s birth, and then later dropping the baby, selling Charlie’s piano (what a jerk!) and justifying it because he needed the cash to make a new start in Australia. It’s admirable that he was making an effort to salvage his life and his relationship with Karen, but he walked all over his brother to do it. (To be continued...)

Marebabe said...

Speaking of squirm, I can hardly stand to watch the scene near the end when Jack stitches up the cut on Charlie’s face! No Novocaine, and the skin right under the eye is soooo tender and sensitive. Oweee! The special effects people made it look very real. (Where did Jack get the curved suture needle? They haven’t found the Dharma medical station yet.) Then there’s that final scene of Charlie slowly pulling his hood up again, the way he wore it before he quit heroin cold-turkey. Another disturbing image, not just because we know that Charlie is in a very dark place, but does it mean that he’s completely lost and hopeless now, without any friends, without Claire? Is he going to give up and become a junkie again?

One more thing, and I’ll stop. Regarding baptism, it’s hard to find two Christians who totally agree on the subject. And this is hardly the forum for theological debate, but I think most Christians can agree that Jesus was qualified to be the Savior because he was without sin. When Eko is talking to Claire, he says that when Jesus was baptized by John, he was cleansed of all his sins. I used to wonder why the writers gave Eko that line, until I remembered that Eko is a warlord PRETENDING to be a Catholic priest. He may feel in his heart that he is really a priest now, but the fact is that he never went to seminary, and so he’s missing a lot of basic doctrinal education. He probably had some instruction when he and Yemi were boys, but not enough, apparently, to remember that Jesus was without sin.

Jo Thornley said...

Nikki: "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."

That is really cool. I never noticed that. I hope Charlie does play a bigger part in season 6. Maybe Jacob could "inhabit" him the way Smokey might.

Speaking of Smokey inhabiting people, here's a half-theory I was thinking about.
So, this only works if Smokey does inhabit people (Christian, Yemi, Alex). Lets just assume he does for now. If you think back to all the people Smokey's been before Locke, there's one similarity: All their bodies are missing. Christian's coffin is empty when Jack finds it, Yemi's body isn't in the plane when Eko looks for him, and then a few minutes later Yemi/Smokey is chatting with Eko. Alex's body didn't really disappear, but we certainly haven't seen it since Ben said goodbye to her.
But Locke's body is lying on the beach while Not-Locke is with Ben and Jacob. Perhaps this has something to do with the "loophole"? Any thoughts?

variabull said...

Could John, Jack, and James all be Aaron's uncles? It's the brothers that help us.

SonshineMusic said...

I really, really, really wonder if Charlie will come back. We never see his body and he appears to Hurley at the mental hospital and is seen by at least one other person there. I would like that.

This is probably one of my least favorite Lost episodes ever and one of the most bizarre. (which is saying something after S5)

I will say, though, that the opening scene (which I'm assuming was based in a true event before the dream went screwy) always brings tears to my eyes.

Claire is so harsh saying that there was no "before" with Charlie. What about the way she begged him to run off into the jungle and save Aaron just a few days before!?

There are some crazy parallels between Liam and Jack - both get kicked out by their significant others because of drug abuse. Both mothers did it to protect their children. Both are willing to do whatever it takes, even at the cost of someone else, to try to get back with the girl.

"F is for FIRE that burns down the whole town!"

Susan said...

Nikki I was going to comment on Libby's foot, but you beat me to it!

LOL @ SonshineMusic and the Plankton quote!

OK now for John. Last episode he claims that each of them has no right to tell anyone else what to do (echoing his catch phrase, Don't tell me what I can't do!). However, in this episode he decides what Charlie can and can't do, evidenced by his comment, "There was a time when I LET YOU CHOOSE." (emphasis mine)

I think that John has such a sense of how he is special to the island and the island is special to him, that it blinds him to things happening to the others. I even think that he rejects Charlie's claim that the island is testing him because Locke doesn't want anyone else be special to the island, he wants it all for himself. He resents Charlie for suggesting that he (Charlie) is worthy of being tested by the island. I wonder what Locke would think if he knew Rose has been cured of a terminal illness. OK yeah, Locke was paralyzed and can now walk, but Rose was dying and is now healed. Doesn't that make her just as special as John?

For me too this is one of my least favorite episodes. Once again you have a bunch of Losties standing by while one beats up another. No one bothers to listen to Charlie explain his visions, not even those who have experienced visions of their own. Yes what he did with the baby was scary, but couldn't someone (maybe a psychologist??) sit down with him and figure out why he did it?

One of the things that bothered me most about Charlie's death is that Claire wasted so much time that she could have spent with him. We'll see it again next season when she tosses him out for not going along with her bird plan and for supposedly lying to her.

Marebabe said...

@SonshineMusic: Good point about Claire being harsh with Charlie, saying that there was no "before". It wasn't that long ago that she turned to him in her moment of great distress. Exactly how much slack do we give new mothers when they are stuck on the hormone roller coaster? (Heck, forget roller coaster. For some it's a trampoline!) And great call, noticing how alike Liam and Jack are. The last time we saw Liam (I think) was the day Charlie boarded Oceanic 815. Liam seemed to have his head on straight then, and was doing all right. So maybe there's hope for Jack.

The Question Mark said...

@ Susan: you're right. Everybody scolds Charlie because of what he did, but nobody, not even Libby the "psychologist", asks him WHY he did it. I guess we're led to assume that everyone believes he is acting this way because of the heroin, but not everyone on the Island knows about his drug addiction. Stranger things have happened on the Island, it's sad that they don't give Chah-lee a chance to explain himself.

I did not dislike this episode, but i did find it incredibly uncomfortable to watch: it's ahrd to sit there and watch a character you love do some horrible things, knowing that in turn he'll draw hate from all the others around him. You feel horrible for Charlie, but there's obviously nothing you can do. It does indeed make you 'squirm'.

@ Nikki: I totally agree with your comment about characters acting out of character, and I find this especially true with Locke. Up until now, Locke has been this enigmatic hunter/warrior, and he seems like the guy you wouldn't want to mess with. Sayid is intimidating because we've seen how he fights, but I think Locke is even scarier, because it is only IMPLIED that he can kick ass; we don't actually see it happen.

So when he decks Charlie with those punches, our suspicions are confirmed: Locke packs a mean punch. But ever since then, all the way through to The Incident, we've never seen John Locke get in a fist-fight with someone again (at leats, not to my recollection). So what we get is a character who is painted as a badass, but the only time we ever see him actually hit someone, it's someone who doesn't quite deserve it.
I mean, how cool would it have been to see Locke beat the snot out of Martin Keamy or Ben Linus? I just think it's like we've seen a Jedi with a lightsaber hanging at his belt, but we only ever see him use it on training droids. Do you guys agree?

Susan said...

Question Mark you put it much better than I did: I would have to agree that it's not so much that I dislike the episode, but that it makes me uncomfortable.

Marebabe said...

@Susan & The Question Mark: Yup! Total agreement here.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...all I could think of, watching Charlie beg the director of the "every-butties" commercial for another chance and then steal Aaron - twice - was that scene in which he called Danielle "pathetic." Pot, kettle, black, baby.

Anonymous said...

Consensus, then: an utterly worthless episode. Really, what does anybody get out of seeing Driveshaft wearing gigantic diapers? The actors, characters and viewers are all demeaned by it.

The character I'm most disappointed by in this episode if Hurley, actually. Of all the people who should have stuck by Charlie when he's sitting in the surf at the end, it's him. He's Charlie's best friend and he knows about his drug addiction. Instead he just walks away. Not cool, dude.

Jenn said...

Oh Charlie! We can't always expect this guy to keep it together! Cut him some slack and consider what he's been through!
He kicked heroin without proper medical treatment or facility.
He nearly died in a plane crash.
He watched other people die in that very same plane crash.
He watched a monster eat Matt Parkman.
His career is fading.
There is an unreal amount of tempting heroin on the island.
He's in love with a woman who doesn't love him back—ahem.
Isn't it to be expected that someone might crack a little under these circumstances? Yes, the writes and producers made Charlie look weak during this episode, but imagine the immense pressure. Also, Charlie showed weakness during the episode with the copier (by stealing from his girlfriend to buy drugs), and it didn't get nearly the backlash that this episode did.
Don't get me wrong. Charlie is my favourite Lostie, and I am not excusing the producers for making him look pathetic in the ep, I am merely suggesting that perhaps they are showing that the pressure of what's been going on is a lot for Charlie to handle, and that he doesn't handle pressure with all that much grace. Case in point: he turns to heroin to deal with pressure brought on by Liam's problems and his own rising star!

ashlie said...

Um, I don't want to nitpick, but I thought this episode wasn't scheduled on the rewatch until next week? Does that change what we're supposed to be watching for next week?

EvaHart said...

Although its not one of my favourites, I don't hate this episode, I just cringe a lot while watching it.

I agree that someone should have at least listened to Charlie's explanation of why he took Aaron and the way everyone, including Hurley walks away is sad.

@Marebabe: Thanks for the mention of the morph videos, they are really interesting!

@Jo Thornley: I like your theory about the smoke monster, I am convinced that smokey does inhabit people. Other times I think this has happened is when Michael saw Libby and when Ben saw his mother, Emily, although i'm not sure that their bodies were missing.

Susan said...

grubstreethack, I agree with your comment about Hurley. All of what you said about him, plus he has his own hidden stash. Hurley of all people should understand to some degree what Charlie is going through.

The Bench Coach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Bench Coach said...

Nikki, you brought up Desmond's visions of Charlie dying. I always assumed that Charlie was "supposed" to die that day he hung from the tree and Jack revived him. From that point on, the island has been trying to correct the mistake (in a Final Destination sort of way). In the end, Charlie understands that he must die and chooses to do so in a way that matters. That was my feeling anyway...

Great job on the ReWatch, by the way. Certainly my favorite one out there (along with Therese at Tubular). Keep it up!

Susan said...

I've always thought that Desmond's visions were "given" to him so he could save Charlie until Charlie performed the task he was supposed to do -- turn off the jamming signal in the Looking Glass.

Jazzygirl said...

ashlie, I didn't realize it but you're right. I just looked at the schedule. LOL I think maybe because we've been doing 4 a week (or one disc) we just got into the habit. I'm not unhappy that it's three a week for a while since my schedule for the fall gets hectic but I know it goes back to four eventually.
And speaking of which, in looking at the schedule, I guess I forgot how SHORT the seasons have become! We've been gipped upat 6 episodes!

ashlie said...

I know, I had a hard time stopping after three episodes this week, but I didn't want to get ahead of myself, and then this rewatch post was up! I'm just not sure what we'll be watching next week now, if it's going to be just the next 4, or the remaining two that were scheduled for next week...I don't want to fall behind!

Jazzygirl said...

Well I think I'll stick with one disc a week to be safe. I'd rather be one ahead than behind, especially with my Sept. schedule. I've always been a bit worried I'd fall behind during these upcoming two months. Luckily the new season of Fall shows haven't started yet but once they do, it will be tight to watch everything! LOL!

J.W. said...

Interestingly, Nikki points in Finding Lost that we should be tipped off that Charlie's dream isn't real because he's swimming, and we know he can't do that. Look out, Nikki, you're a victim of changed premises!

Anyway, I'm curious about the future of the schedule as well. I wonder if we'll only watch two episodes this week?

joanne said...

Agree, uncomfortable to watch, but clearly we needed Charlie to be on the outs with everyone so he would later team up with Sawyer in "The Long Con". Also, maybe he is still detoxing? Either way, everyone is off.

@Jenn - Matt Parkman - HA!!

humanebean said...

Not to be redundant, but I agree with Nikki and all who found this episode disturbing and unfulfilling. I've always enjoyed it when LOST challenges our preconceived notions and at times frustrates us with vague or inconclusive information on the mysteries that surround the Island. However, the experience of watching this particular episode moved me closest to the viewpoint of those who turned away from the show in Season 2, saying that it had *ahem* lost its way.

The only comparison I can draw is to another of my favorite series, The West Wing, after creative partners Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme left/were forced out before Season 5. Watching the first episodes of that new season was painful, shocking and dispiriting. Suddenly, characters I had loved and identified closely with for four seasons were acting incongruously, treating each other in ways that defied the internal logic of the show and served only to advance (terrible) plotlines at the expense of enjoyment and credulity.

I was so dreading the rewatch of "Fire + Water" that I literally couldn't bring myself to sit down and fire up the episode. Viewing it, I experienced my original emotions all over again, undiminished by time, and couldn't wait for it to end. Afterwards, I felt let down and depressed, as if I had just emerged from some terrible, inescapable nightmare of frustration and futility.

Thank GOD that's over with! I realize that my depth of feeling over this episode is reflective of my utter devotion to the show ... but still, only the prospect of Benry on the horizon cheered me up after this one!

SonshineMusic said...

@humanebean: only the prospect of Benry on the horizon cheered me up after this one!

LOL! Every episode this season I've been like, 5 more episodes, 3 more episodes, etc. Can't wait!

Of course for me, the coming of Long Con was just as cheering. But I'll talk about that when we get there :)

Teebore said...

Can't add much beyond agreement on the poor quality of this episode and to say that I've never really been as enamored of Charlie as most people, and I still don't like this episode.

So which episode is worse: this one, or "Stranger in a Strange Land." ;)

(Although, "Long Con" has felt wrong to me as well, but I suppose we'll get to that in due time).

Susan said...

I did like Charlie most of the time but unlike most people I can do without his return. To me bringing him back diminishes the sacrifice that he knowingly made in the Looking Glass.

This episode's flashback was OK but the on-island stuff was uncomfortable to watch. Stranger in a Strange Land did have some decent island stuff but the flashback was lame and unnecessary.

Late to the Party said...

Charlie has always been one of my favorite characters, maybe just because of the actor. I agree that this episode had its disturbing moments, but for me more than anything else I felt terribly sorry for Charlie. I think he loves Claire and the baby and wants very much for the three of them to be a "family" since he's kind of lost that connection with Liam. But he goes about it completely the wrong way, and alienates the very person he most wants to be close to.

It was so sad to watch everyone, especially Hurley, turn their backs on Charlie and walk away. Understandable of course, but still very sad. And if I remember correctly, this isn't the last time we'll see the Losties turn their backs on someone (but I can't recall the exact situtation right now).

On a lighter note, I never noticed how Libby's story made no sense until watching this episode again. Clearly, she was afraid Hurley was going to remember exactly where he knew her from, and she had to quickly come up with an explanation. Why he didn't notice that her story was full of holes, I don't know, unless it had something to do with the halter top! LOL

Robbie said...

Nikki I saw an interview recently with Damon who was obviously bored of all the Libby questions so he finally set it straight, and he said basically what I imagined he would say.

He said the reason they're not going to cover it in the story is its really not that interesting, and definitely not relevant. All that they were going to show before those plans got kyboshed was that her husbands death caused her to have a breakdown so she went to the hospital, got better and became a clinical psychologist (or she was already one, not sure).

My guess is she was embarrased to be in a mental institution, and remembered Hurley so she made sure he didn't remember her.

crafty bison said...

Come on, Nikki. No speculation at all that Locke (like Eko) has been possessed since the time he first met Smokey and this is fuelling his (and Eko's) desire to get close to Aaron?

dastopher said...

Did anyone notice how Locke was watching Charlie and Claire in a creepy fashion when Charlie was telling her to baptize Aaron? Is it possible that this is not Locke and is in fact Jacob's nemesis? I know it's a common theory that the nemesis can only assume the identity of dead people, but could this be an exception?

Now that I think of it...Locke has done this before.

Casey said...

That's what I'm thinking. I'm starting to wonder if Locke hasn't been dead since the original crash. The only "real Locke" we've seen is flashback Locke. I really got the feeling that Locke wasn't so much mad at Charlie as he was trying to PREVENT the baptism. Why? Because he's the Man In Black from the start, and somehow his plans revolve around Aaron not being baptized.

Nikki Stafford said...

dastopher and Casey: What if (and this is going out on a limb here), Locke ISN'T the exception to him inhabiting the bodies of dead people? What if Locke died when he fell out of the window, and when Jacob touched him he somehow put the soul of the Man in Black into him. His words to him, "I'm sorry this happened to you; everything's going to be OK" could have been directed at the MiB, not Locke, and the look on Locke's face would be the shock of the Man in Black, suddenly in another man's body and unable to walk.


SonshineMusic said...

Whoa! Nikki. Consider my mind blown by that thought. Holy cow. I feel like I need to go back to season 1 now. Shoot! Season 6 is still too far away!