(Not So Much of a) Joy Ride: Hurley Can't Fix His Daddy Issues on Lost

Hmmm. I can't really say that I was a fan of last night's episode of Lost ("Tricia Tanaka is Dead"), which is sad because I've really missed our gang of Losties and was hoping that last night's episode would be a way of bringing them into the story.

Not quite.

As usual, the ABC promo department was working overtime to generate tag lines like "the reunion you've been waiting for!" which turned out to be a bunch of non-speaking extras hugging Kate and Sawyer. Yeah, not really what I had in mind for the big reunion. Seeing as we've never seen most of these people before (EVER) and were treated to more completely annoying appearances/gratuitous lines of dialogue from Nikki and Paolo. (Grr.) Did you see that OTT shot in which Paolo grabbed the loop on Nikki's shorts and yanked her back? Talk about really developing these characters!

Sorry if I seem a bit, well, miffed about the episode. It's just after a number of false starts this season, Lost really needs to be kicking into gear about now and propelling the story forward rather than treading water. (And the last two episodes have definitely felt like our favorite characters are just doggy-paddling their way around the South Pacific.)

Instead, we were given what seemed more or less to be a filler episode, in which we learned that big guy Hurley has daddy issues just like everyone else on that rock. Was it just me or did the kid they cast to play young Hurley look absolutely nothing like Jorge Garcia? Painfully so? Odd. The Lost Flashback of the Week belongs squarely to Hurley, but it doesn't really reveal anything monumental. Hurley ends up buying the Mr. Cluck's where he used to work ... where during the filming of a TV-news puff piece, reporter Tricia Tanaka and her cameraman are killed by a meteor. Or an asteroid. (Oh and looks like Hurley's friend Johnny and crush Starla ran off together. Does this guy ever catch a break?) Meanwhile, Hurley's dad (guest star Cheech Marin) likes to fix cars with his young son and, while listening to the song "Shambala" (about good fortune and a spiritual journey), quickly teaches him a lesson about every man making their own luck ... before he hops on the back of a hog and takes off for Vegas ... for seventeen years.

When he does return, it's at the request of Hurley's worrisome mom (though she didn't call Papa Reyes when their son was in the nuthouse?) after he's won the lottery by playing those cursed numbers. Papa shows up, sees the potential windfall for his retirement -- including a pair of Bennigan's-trained butlers -- and tries to pay off a psychic into cleansing Hurley's curse, but our guy Hugo catches him in the act and decides to head to Australia in search of the source of the numbers. Le sigh. Oh and that car they were working on fixing up when Papa took off? Looks like Hurley's held onto the damned thing his whole life ....

On the island, Vincent turns up after what seems like months and drops a skeletal human arm at Hurley's feet. Said arm happens to have a key (and a lucky rabbit's foot keychain) on it, and Vincent leads Hurley through the jungle to an overturned old VW van (straight out of Little Miss Sunshine sans the canary yellow paint job) with a Dharma logo on it. Inside: some Dharma brand beer, blueprints showing plans for a dirt road (perhaps linking the stations with the commune?), and a skeleton of a guy named Roger, a Dharma Initiative workman.

Hurley gets Charlie to emerge from his funk, following the revelation that Desmond has been having flashes about his imminent demise (for the second time), by pushing him, Jin (now learning to speak some English), and Sawyer (a closet Little House fan) to try to get the van in working order. Charlie and Hurley go on a cliff dive in the thing but, just as it's about to crash into some very sharp, very dangerous rocks, Hurley's prayers are answered and the van's engine starts (along with the eight-track player, as Roger and Papa Reyes seem to share similar musical tastes). Charlie is revitalized by the experience and the two, joined by Jin and Sawyer, go on a little joyride around the valley. Aw.

Kate meanwhile heads into the jungle for "help" with the Jack situation but is quickly tracked by Sayid and Locke who want in on the plan. Gee, who do you think Kate could be looking for? They're shot at by a mysterious figure! (Who could it be?) And out of the shadows emerges ... Rousseau. Hardly a surprise reveal, guys! Kate says that they need Rousseau's help and tells her that she was a prisoner of the Others but she escaped with the help of a 16-year-old girl named Alex. Rousseau is shocked! Cue ominous music!

I'm hoping for more next week, which looks like a fairly action-packed episode. It's sad because I feel very conflicted about this week's installment. On the one hand, I did miss those character-driven moments of quietude from Season One, but after such a long hiatus and a drawn-out sequence involving Jack, Kate, and Sawyer's imprisonment and escape from the Others, I was hoping that things would finally get moving again at a brisk pace. Well, there's always next week, I suppose.

Next week on Lost ("Enter 77"): Locke, Sayid and Kate encounter Patchy McPatches from that surveillance camera in the Pearl (and who may just have a connection to Sayid's past); Locke still likes to push buttons; Sawyer tries to get his stolen possessions back by competing in a ping pong competition. As one does.

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Jace is an LA-based television development and acquisitions junior exec who watches way too much television for his own good and would love a TiVo for every room in the house. (He’s halfway there.) His blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionary.blogspot.com.