Lost Episode 5.13: ‘Some Like It Hoth’

Posted on April 17, 2009

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Teaser

TVSummary: The classic background episode focusing on freighter member Miles.
Rating: 7/10


Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

Featuring the classic Lost flashback format, we are given background into Miles. Developing his ability to hear the dead as a kid, his relationship with his mother becomes strained. Visiting her on her deathbed, Miles asks about his father. His mother tells him that his father left them when Miles was a baby and had been dead for a long time. Miles faces his past on the Island as he is recruited by Horace to collect a package in a sector located in Hostile territory. Miles is shocked to find the package is a body. Returning to the DHARMA camp, Horace instructs Miles to take the body to Dr. Chang at the Orchid station. Despite protestations from Miles, Hurley tags along to the Orchid and becomes a sounding board for Miles in only the way he can. It’s a sincere episode that adds depth to a character that has become a fan fave.

Feature-Length Review after the jump.


Lost and Me
Background on my relationship with the show for this first review only.

I had been hesitating to write reviews for Heroes and Lost because I knew how involved they would be. I’m finally taking the plunge and this is a good episode to start with. Let me begin by saying how geeked I am about Lost in Season 5.

A familiar theme, I didn’t catch Season 1 in first run airing. Instead, I picked up the Season 1 DVD. The premise of the show sound okay and I had been a somewhat consistent viewer of Alias, so seeing what J.J. Abrams had up his sleeve next was inviting. For some reason, though, I didn’t tune in. I can’t even recall why. Perhaps I had other things going on at the time and just wasn’t around to see an episode. In any case, I’d been hearing good buzz throughout the first season so I finally plunked down money on the DVD set and went to town.

One of the things I like about watching a TV series on DVD is the instant gratification of continuing the story. For me, this leads to marathon viewing of entire series. I hesitate to put any of West Wing DVD sets on because I know I’ll get sucked into watching the whole series from beginning to end. That’ll soak up anywhere from 4-8 hours of an evening each day until I get through all seven seasons. It’s quite the same with others series I have on disc and was the same here. I was enthralled from the beginning. Everything was so grand and sweeping yet touched by these great portraits of the lives of the survivors. Spending this time with them in such a condensed format, I quickly came to take ownership of them. Once I’d finished the set, I was foaming at the mouth for Season 2 to start.

Season 2 was more of the same but for one key difference: the tailies. We were presented with a group of survivors from the tail section of the plane that had broken off in the air and landed on another part of the island. While I was intrigued by their methods of survival, they really became superfluous. Aside from Mr. Eko and Libby, I didn’t really care much for the rest of them. I will admit to being caught up in the touching story of Rose and Bernard reuniting, though. The writers and producers didn’t seem to care much for them either, as all of the tailies (save Bernard) were written out of the series by mid-third season. I’d begun to see a disturbing trend in the second season that would become blindingly apparent in the third.

The third season brought on a show that was, well, lost. It became very clear that the premise of the show had a strong beginning and a definite end but that it was stumbling around to keep things up in the middle. Needless to say, I tuned out on the series during the third season. I’d heard good things about season 4, particularly with the decision to flash forward to a reality that was happening in the future but didn’t finally spend time with it until the last two or three episodes of the season. I had no idea what was going on except that at some point a few of the survivors were going to get off of the island and return to their lives. The stunning fourth season finale sold me on the series once more and I invested myself in the fifth season.

What a great choice. The show feels significantly back on track. It’s been said in a number of places but the decision by the producers, the studio and ABC to set an end date for the show has focused and enhanced the creativity. I look forward again each week to an episode.


Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

** Note: Review contains spoilers if you have not seen the episode.**

Returning to the original episode format of featuring flashbacks into a character’s life prior to being on the island has been refreshing in the last couple of weeks. After a great story with Ben Linus last week, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this episode going into it. I wasn’t that familiar with Miles, having missed out on a significant portion of the arrival of the team on the freighter. Yes, bad me for still not having gone back to catch up. I will someday. I was excited to see Ken Leung on the show, having enjoyed him in a number of performances here and there, including his standout role as Don (“rhymes with flong”) in Edward Norton’s Keeping the Faith. So I was interested to see what he would bring to the show.

From what I gathered, Miles was sent to the island to track down Ben and capture him for Charles Widmore, father of Penny and adversary of Desmond. Miles was sarcastic and quick to anger, which gave Leung an opportunity to spout some great lines and retorts. This episode shed further light on his mission for me.

Miles has the ability to listen to dead people speak about the events in their life just prior to their death. A very odd and specific ability that manifests itself when Miles is a kid. We see him as the only child of a single mother and when he discovers the body of a man who had a heart attack, his mother gets the heebie-jeebies about her son. They don’t really show us what’s in-between, but we can gather from Miles’ visit to his cancer-ridden mother on his death bed when he’s a teen that their relationship has been strained since he was a kid. Miles visits her because he wants to know about his father. She tells him that his father left them and died when Miles was young.

This sends Miles off on an intriguing career choice with his ability. He makes money off of individuals by being a medium for the dead. We find Miles on such a job with the father of a boy who wants merely to know if his son knew how much he loved him. The catch is Miles has to have a body to be able to communicate with them and this man’s son has been cremated and his ashes spread in a football field. It’s a humorous little bit set in a straightforward moment. Like any good grifter, Miles tells the father what he wants to hear and gets his money with an extra charge for no body.

Miles’ body of work draws the attention of Charles Widmore and he is confronted by Naomi, leader of the freighter squad, with a job offer. Miles passes an “audition” with the body of a recently deceased man and Naomi presents him with the offer to go to the island. Little did Miles know at the time that he was returning home.

In the course of present time – well, present being the 1970s – Miles is asked by Horace to take an item to Radzinsky in a sector of the island that is considered Hostile territory. Miles was supposed to erase a tape of security footage that showed Sawyer and Kate taking Ben into the woods. Horace’s mission takes precedence and Miles is shocked to find that the item he was carrying was a body bag and that Radzinsky was putting a body in it for Miles to take back with him. Of course, Radzinsky won’t tell Miles specifically what happened to the man but Miles is able to hear him about his death and discovers it had something to do with the electromagnetic energy of the island that plays such a huge part in the events of the characters’ lives. When Miles returns to the DHARMA camp, Horace tells him to take the body to Dr. Chang at the Orchid station.

I don’t know if it was the start of it but they established this great push and tug relationship between Miles and Hurley during the episode when the Oceanic 6 finally return to the island on the discover it’s 30 years in the past. Miles and Hurley argue about time travel and events that have occurred in the past but are now their present. It was a fun exchange and I’m glad they allowed the opportunity for more of it here. Hurley tags along to the Orchid station to delivery sandwiches. Along the way, he discovers the body and Miles explains to him what happened. When Hurley asks how he could’ve known the specifics of how the man died, he deduces that Miles communicates with the dead. It’s a grin-inducing scene where Hurley explains that it’s okay to have the ability and talk about because he too can talk to the death. Of course, Hurley’s are full blown visions and interactions.

We find out that Dr. Chang is actually Miles’ father, which isn’t really too shocking when you look at it. In fact, before he’d announced it to Hurley I had a strong feeling that’s what was going to happen. I always find the dynamics of fathers and sons very touching and this was no exception. Hurley pushes Miles to get to know his father now that he has the chance to do so. His comparisons to the Skywalkers of the Star Wars Original Trilogy, despite my growing ire with Star Wars being mentioned anywhere, was sweet and spot on. To see Miles appreciate him after making the shake-your-head-because-it’s-true astute observation was a nice touch and I look forward to them playing these two off of one another more. The scene where Miles decides to talk to his father and watches through the window while his father is so lovely and kind to him as a baby cut right to the heart. It was good moment to shade some depth into this man who has a hard time interacting with other human beings. I’m enticed enough to want to see how Miles’ and Chang’s interaction plays out. Leung is an actor of respectable talent and anything to give him more to do is welcome and appreciated.

What would Lost be without a strong finish. Having Daniel Faraday finally meet up with the group again after years opens up great questions and possibilities leading up to the season finale. Counter that with Sawyer having to make a flash decision when his security flack Phil discovers the tape with the evidence of he and Kate on it. I’m still really delighting in the command Sawyer has taken in this situation. And I’ll admit to a good chuckle when he told Juliet to get some rope.

Overall, this was an effective and touching episode that does well what the show did in its beginnings, shed light on a character to really present us with a flesh and blood person. The Miles-Hurley dynamic is a nice small bit of comic relief on a show that can be so deadly serious. That Hurley was writing a script for The Empire Strikes Back was priceless. Even more so because his reasons weren’t monetary but creative and supportive. He just wanted to help Lucas get it right. It was perfectly Hurley. The episode also presents us with a new mini-mystery of just what the Initiative is hoping to study with the electromagnetism and gives us the beginnings of the ominous Hatch.

And for the record, I actually liked the Ewoks.


Where Does This Leave Us

  • Daniel Faraday is back. Perhaps with answers to how the group can get back to their own time.
  • Kate’s time with Aaron has all but deadened her conning abilities.
  • Despite Jack’s talk, Ben’s father is quickly become an apparent catalyst for a falling out between the survivors and Initiates.
  • Miles and Dr. Chang will get some chances to get to know one another but it looks to be a relatively small window of time.
  • Sawyer’s going to have to explain why Phil is missing.
  • Sayid’s still out amongst the trees.

More in two…

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Posted in: Lost, Television