Monday, July 9, 2007

Top Ten Episodes #7: 1.18 "Numbers"

: "You shouldn't have done that! You've opened the box!" Rating: 9.5 (#14)

Brief Summary: Michael starts to build a new raft in the wake of the first's destruction. Hurley suggests they get a battery from Danielle to power a transceiver, but when they go to ask him if he would get one from her, he refuses on grounds that she's insane.

Hurley spots the Numbers he used to win the lottery - 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 - on one of Danielle's notes that Sayid had taken. He decides to set off after her to both get a battery for the raft and to confront her about them. When the others figure out where he had gone, they set out after him.

Through flashbacks, we see how Hurley won the lottery playing the Numbers, but ran into great misfortune as well. His grandfather dies, his new house burns down, he's arrested for being a drug dealer. Plus, he triples his wealth through misfortune - a tropical storm hitting Florida sending orange futures skyrocketing, his insured sneaker company in Canada burning down, killing eight people.

We learn he first heard the numbers from Leonard Simms, a fellow inmate in his insane asylum who repeats them over and over. He asks Lenny where he first heard the Numbers and tells him he used them to play the lottery. Lenny looks up and tells him he "shouldn't have done that" and he's "opened the box!" Lenny then tells him that he and Sam Toomey heard them while stationed in the South Pacific and that Sam now resides in Australia.

Hurley heads to Australia to find Sam Toomey's widow, who's living in a desolate cabin in the middle of nowhere. She tells Hurley how, like him, Sam won a bean counting contest using the Numbers and was beset with great misfortune afterwards. She says Sam committed suicide because he was convinced he was cursed. Hurley is distraught, but Mrs. Toomey comforts him saying we all make our own luck, despite her husband not believing it.

Hurley finds Danielle who tells him how her team heard the Numbers transmission when they first came to the island. When she found the radio tower, she changed the transmission to her distress call. Hurley tells her his story and she agrees with him that he's cursed. She also gives him a battery for the raft.

Locke also builds the cradle for Claire this episode.

Why it's a classic: To many fans, I think, this was the episode that hooked them for good. I mean, yeah, it was neat that there was an island with a Monster, polar bears, some mysterious "Others" who kidnap pregnant chicks, and crazy French women running around. And it was intriguing that there were all these odd connections between this seemingly random group of people.

But the closing shot of this episode - the Numbers on the Hatch - sealed the deal for many people, including myself. Not only did they establish the foundation of Lost's expansive and addictive mythology, but if people weren't obsessed with the Hatch before, well they just HAD to know what was inside now.

And there was really no buildup at all to this episode - it just came out of nowhere. Hurley was the last of the main characters to get a flashback in the first season. In fact, Jack, Kate, Charlie, Jin/Sun, and Sawyer had all already had their second by the time we were treated to Hurley's story. And, really, what had been Hurley's big contribution been to the group at that point?

He built a golf course.

I know, I know. Hurley was the one who found Ethan out by checking everyone in the manifest. Fine. But really, up until "Numbers" aired, Hurley was merely the stereotypical, wise-cracking fat guy whose sole purpose on the show was comic relief. He was the buddy, the pal. The guy everyone liked because he usually got all the good lines, but had no depth to his character at all.

Boy, how that all changed.

Hurley went from being comic relief to a tragic figure with deep psychological scars and, at the time, appeared to be central to the mystery of the island. After all, it couldn't just be coincidence that the Numbers were on the Hatch, was it? He couldn't have crash landed on the island by accident, could he?

Well, actually, now we know that it probably was a coincidence. We know how he ended up hearing the Numbers and it seems it really was an accident that he ended up on this island (although that coincidence was so shocking, it did cause his hallucination of Dave to reemerge).

But at the time, we didn't know any of this. All we had were the stories of everyone who had come in contact with the Numbers and the fact they were on the Hatch, a revelation that couldn't help but give you chills after hearing Hurley's conversation with Lenny:

Lenny4 8 15 16 23 42...
HurleyHi, Lenny. Remember me? Hugo. Hurley. Well I was... was just, you know, in the neighborhood, and um... Look, Lenny, I've got to know, what do the numbers mean?
Lenny4 8 15 16 23 42...
HurleyC'mon, Lenny, give me something. Anything. Where'd you get the numbers. Is that why you're here, Lenny? Is it because of the numbers. Did they do something to you? Because I think they did something to me. I think they turned me into a... a jinx, bad news to everyone around me. And when I tell people I think I'm the cause they... they... they look at me like I'm nuts. They don't believe me. But I know, ever since I won the lottery with those numbers.
LennyYou used those numbers to play the lo... lottery?
HurleyUh, yeah.
LennyWell, you shouldn't have done that. You've opened the box!
HurleyI what?
LennyAh, you shouldn't have used those numbers.
HurleyWhy not?
LennyIt doesn't stop! You've got to get away from those numbers! You've got to get far, far away!
OrderlyAlright, hey, hold on. Lenny, Lenny. Calm down. Lenny.
LennyDo you hear. No, don't you understand? You've got to get away from it or it won't stop!
OrderlyTry and calm down.
HurleyWait a second, I need some answers.
OrderlySir, you need to step away.
HurleyThose numbers, where'd you get them?
LennySam Toomey. He heard them.
HurleyWho's Sam Toomey?
LennyHe heard them in Kalgoorlie.
HurleyWhat's Kalgoorlie?
LennyIt's a town where he used to work.
HurleyIt's a town where?
LennyIn Australia! Oh God!

That scene still gives me chills.

"You've opened the box!"

"It doesn't stop!"

The Hatch is later referred to "Pandora's Box" by Locke, but you first got the analogy here. You couldn't help but think the Hatch contained all sorts of horrible things (and hope) waiting to be unleashed after hearing that exchange. And it did, really. The horrible thing was the Discharge, which has already wreaked havoc on the Others and the island (and poor Eko), but the hope was Desmond, who may end up being the salvation of all the remaining survivors.

Lost has some of the best character development of any show I've ever seen. But Hurley's is, by far, leaps and bounds over everyone else. The fact that the jovial character we all had come to know and love ended up one of the most tortured and angst-filled of the entire show was an absolute treat.

So you got the final backstory of the major castmembers, some significant plot development, and a absolute bomb of an ending. Could it get any better? YES! How?

You get the delightful subplot of Locke building a cradle for Claire.

This was mystical Locke in his prime. Cool. Confident. Nothing he couldn't accomplish. The Shaman. Did you realize it was a cradle before he turned it over? I didn't. But I grinned like a Cheshire Cat when he did. It may seem like a small thing, but it just shows how every single moment of this episode featured quality. And that's something truly worthy of a Top 10.

Summary: "Numbers" could have fallen anywhere in my 6-10 group. I had it at #10, moved it to #6, then settled it at #7 (my Top 5 are pretty set in stone at this point).

What say you? One of your favorites? Should it be Top 5? Do you like Hurley and his backstories? Were you as blown away by the ending of this episode as I was? Have at it! :)

Previous Reviews:
#10: White Rabbit
#9: The Man From Tallahassee
#8: Exodus


Missie said...

I was also thinking that the other mention of a box- Ben's Magic Box- could be related to what Lenny was talking about. And we've already talked about how this is definietly one of my top 10. It also made me yell "Holy Crap!" at the end the same way "Raised by Another did".

Jay said...

Huh. I hadn't thought about that Miss. An interesting thought to be sure.

We know the Numbers are the core factors of the Valenzetti Equation, which is what seems to give them their power. I wonder what would happen if one tried to use the "Magic Box" to alter the Numbers? Or maybe DHARMA already did and that's what led to "the incident."

Missie said...

This all makes me very excited for a potential "Lost" reunion in VA Beach this winter! Ed brought up another, though somewhat unrelated point: The Wii Smash Brothers should be out. Quite the hazardous visit, no? (We are up to 3 remotes and nunchucks for our wii...)

Jay said...

Well, yes, that could be deadly. Have you been keeping up with the updates on the Smash Brothers site? Amazing.

Take a look at some of the new items and character abilities:

Hannah said...

Yeah that Ep was great.

There was something so bizzar and errie about that ifrst season. Almost scary. But that has seemed to fizzled a little.

I remember seeing that episode and just being totally freaked out.

I wish they would go into that a little more, how lenny knew the numbers.

I LOVE that you post this stuff. It's so much fun to read :)