pop culture | no politics
Author's Note: Having grown tired of what's currently available on TV I've decided to rewatch some of my all time favorite shows. I'm limiting myself to one episode per week in order to experience the storytelling as it was originally intended, which hopefully will preserve the thrill of having to wait a week to see what happens next. This article covers the LOST episode “The Moth", which originally aired on November 3rd, 2004.
Previously on LOST: Jack insists that the caves are a far better place to live than the beach, leading a group of the castaways inland. Sayid is determined to find the location of the French woman’s distress call. Former rock star Charlie is in the early stages of heroin withdrawal.
Charlie Pace has been an A-list survivor from the opening moments of LOST’s pilot episode. He accompanies Jack and Kate on the group’s first excursion into the jungle, and even though his motives are revealed to be nefarious we still respect his bravery for making the trip. But while nobody will deny the importance of the character, Charlie simply hasn’t actually done much on the island to this point outside of offering up some comic relief moments. He’s often in the frame but has assumed the role of passenger, preferring to let people like Jack and Kate tell him what to do. “The Moth” offers a nice payoff to six episodes of set up for the character, and delivers one of the best flashback stories yet.
We’ll start in the past as Charlie climbs into a confessional, using his time in the religious cocoon to admit to his many sexual conquests. Upon emerging we’re introduced to his bother Liam, who thinks so highly of organized religion that he feels the need to rest his feet on the pew while waiting for his brother. Charlie’s instant need to chastise his brother for such sacrilegious behavior gives us our first clue as to what makes Driveshaft’s bassist tick: this is a deeply-religious young man that looks to his faith for guidance.
Liam brings what he considers to be good news: their band has been offered a recording contract after working for pennies playing the local clubs. Now the Charlie we’ve met on the island has bragged about being a rock star every chance he gets, but his younger self expresses apprehension on finally getting his “big break”. At this point in his life Charlie puts faith ahead of fame, the guilt he feels over the womanizing he’s already done driving him to make his brother promise the moment it gets out of hand they quit. Liam agrees, knowing that he can’t realize his own dreams of stardom without his little brother as Charlie’s songwriting is the true heart of the band.
We soon realize just what a parasite Liam is, even if Charlie is unable to see it. First he upstages his brother while performing their only hit “You All Everybody” by singing lyrics that Charlie is supposed to sing, and the look of heartbreak on the younger Pace brother’s face is tough to watch. Liam’s act of betrayal might not seem that deep, but Charlie correctly identifies it for what it is: the first step down the road to the band’s destruction.
When we next see the brothers Liam is in even worse shape, a groupie on each arm as he shovels heroin up his nose. Charlie reminds him of their prior agreement, that the moment the band stops being about the music they will quit, at which point Liam humiliates him. He tells Charlie that nobody knows who he is, and that the lead singer is the real star of the show. This latest betrayal proves to be too much for Charlie, and he takes his first snort of the destructive drug that will still have its hooks in him when we meet him on the island.
Our last exchange between the brothers finds the two have flipped roles, Liam is now clean and firmly focused on his family while his kid brother is the junkie, still clinging to the dream of becoming a rock god. The scene is painful to watch as we not only see Charlie’s desperation, his need to rediscover what made him special, but also the awful realization by Liam that he was the one who poisoned his kid brother with sinful behavior and drug abuse. He rebukes Charlie’s offer of getting the band back together, and in return Charlie refuses his offer of getting help. This is all taking place at Liam’s home in Sidney, and as the scene comes to a close we know that this will the last meeting between the two brothers.
On the island Charlie is in rough shape, having gone a few days without his drug of choice. Locke has the last of his stash, telling Charlie that the third time he asks for the heroin he’ll give it to him. Locke wants Charlie to make the conscious choice to quit, both men know that a nasty withdrawal is inevitable and that deciding to move on from drugs will be better than quitting by force.
Charlie is understandably irritable, and after getting into an argument with Jack he accidentally causes one of the caves to collapse. Charlie manages to escape but Jack is trapped, prompting Hurley, Michael, Boone, and the Kwons to being a rescue attempt. They’re eventually able to clear enough rubble to open a small entrance and Charlie, desperate to find a way to contribute, offers to burrow in to help Jack.
He makes it to his destination and after popping Jack’s separated shoulder back in the cave collapses again, this time trapping both men. Jack finally figures out what exactly has been ailing Charlie the last few days, but with no way out and their oxygen dwindling there doesn’t appear to be a need for the camp’s doctor to nurse this junkie back to health. It’s at this point that Charlie notices a moth, meaning that somewhere in the cave there is a way out. The pair identify a hole in the ceiling and claw their way out like a moth emerging from the cocoon. The episodes closes with Charlie asking Locke for his drugs back for a third time, but instead of further poisoning his body he tosses it into the campfire. Locke, who has assumed the role of spiritual advisor to Charlie on the island, is pleased.
While all this is going on there’s an interesting subplot involving Sayid’s desire t to locate the source of the French woman’s broadcast. A rather complicated plan is launched that involves Kate and Boone joining Sayid to use antennas to triangulate the mysterious signal, they have a very limited power supply so all three antenna must be turned on at the exact same moment. Sayid finds some bottle rockets in the plane’s wreckage so they have a way of long distance communication. A couple of substitutions have to be made as Boone turns his task over to Shannon, who is difficult to trust at this point, and when Kate finds out about Jack its Sawyer that takes up her post. Everything seeming goes off without a hitch, but as Sayid finally gets a signal an off-screen assailant knocks him out with a blow to the head.
Next week on LOST: “Confidence Man”, focused on the enigmatic Sawyer.