Why does it feel like I only watched 22 minutes of Lost tonight? Let's dig in and find out.
Episode: "Some Like it Hoth"
The Happenings: We settled in for some Miles-centric action tonight. Unlike in most single character episodes, the flashbacks here felt all over the map. First we see Miles discovering his ability to talk to ghosts. Then he confronts his mother about who his father is. Then he scams a father who is trying to contact his son. It's only after all these seemingly unrelated tidbits that Miles is contacted by Naomi (remember her?) and asked about joining Widmore's expedition to the Island. He's confronted by a gang of rival Island-fans, who mention "The Shadow of the Statue" before telling Miles to stay away from Widmore and company. Through the rest of the episode they wrap up the earlier plot threads, but not in any way that was satisfying or informative.
In 1977, things were slightly more up-tempo. Back in Dharmaville, fallout from Ben's disappearance is ratcheting up. His father is starting to wonder, drunkenly, about what happened, and Kate reaches out to him, which rather than assuage his pain only riles up his suspicions. Jack tries to run interference but Workman is having none of it. Meanwhile, Horace dispatches Miles to pick up a body from one of the work sites. It turns out that a laborer has died by having a filling from his tooth ripped through his brain and skull.
This is obviously something that needs to be kept from the sensitive Dharmites. With Hurley in tow, Miles delivers the body to Dr. Chang aka Dr. Marvin Candle, who we learn is actually Miles's father. That's right, Miles, who can talk to dead people, was born on the Island to the one other Asian character that we previously knew to be in Dharma. It's a stretch I realize, but if you've come this far with Lost you're going to have to accept some things. In any event, Hurley tries to convince Miles to try to be open to a relationship with Chang/Candle even though Chang/Candle has no idea that this grown man is his son.
The episode ends with two Aha! cliffhangers: first, Sawyer's security lackey Phil shows up to inform LaFleur that he knows that he kidnapped Ben and took him to the hostiles. Sawyer reacts the only way he can; by knocking Phil out. Then, Miles goes to the docks to pick up a "scientist from Ann Arbor," and out pops Dan Faraday looking not a day older than last we saw him. He's also wearing a snazzy black Dharma golf shirt.
The Craziness: Miles confirms via conversation with a dead person that Widmore did indeed plant the fake Oceanic 815 flight.
Naomi tells Miles that Widmore needs him to speak with victims of a man who has killed many inhabitants of the Island. This is presumably Ben.
The name of the episode comes from a little "Star Wars" thread that runs through the episode, wherein Hurley, knowing that "Episode IV" has just been released, figures he'll write "Empire Strikes Back," which he's seen 200 times, and mail it to George Lucas. Hurley later compares Miles/Chang's relationship to Luke/Vader.
The Verdict: The Kate episode from a couple of weeks back now has competition for weakest episode of the season. It wasn't even that the episode was bad per se, it's just that it didn't feel like much happened. There was some okay dialogue between Hurley and Miles, and several question marks -- such as Widmore's role in planting the plane -- were filled in, but otherwise we had a main storyline that felt very contrived. Miles has always been one of the least interesting characters of the newest batch, and in large part that's because his power seems so tangential to the Island. Even if his abilities do derive from his birth on the Island or relationship with Chang/Candle, they still transcend Lost's standard sci-fi vibe into more a supernatural realm. The same could be said of course of Ben's interaction with the smoke monster, but we love the smoke monster, and Miles hasn't quite earned that yet, at least from me.
The Wild Speculation: Not a lot from "Hoth" that needs out and out speculating. This was largely a bridge to some other storylines that was built around a side character. We did get to bump into more of this new group of Island devotees however, and there's definitely some things to dig at there. The question obviously, is who the hell are these characters.
In the present, they show up on the Island, using one of the only known ways to get there, with a shitload of weapons. It's pretty clear that they're not with Widmore, and from the interactions that we saw, it'd be a real stretch to think they were associated with Ben. What we now know (more or less) though, is that Ben and Widmore originally came from the same team -- the others, the hostiles, the natives. There was a fracturing of that group and Ben won by sending Widmore away. There are only two other known groups that have been involved with the Island, those are the Oceanic survivors and the Dharma initiative. Since we can be sure the "Shadow of the Statue" crew aren't with the survivors, it would seem that they are somehow related to the Dharma initiative. While they talk about the Statue, my guess is that the Statue is part and parcel with the Others, and the Dharmites and their descendants use that code because it is what they rally against.
The other question, and one that I can't even really begin to dig into, is what the hell Faraday has been up to. As far as we know (or at least as far as I can remember) he jumped to 1977 when Locke moved the Island. He disappeared there for several episodes though, and somehow managed to get himself off-Island. In the intervening three years he's hooked up with whoever is behind the Dharma Initiative, most likely at the University of Michigan, and somehow (and for some unknown reason) worked his way back. It's certainly a doozy of a setup, but I won't even try to guess where it's going.