Charlie’s words define his past, and who he is as a person. He feels that he has spent his life looking out for other people, but he never received anything in return. That attitude hasn’t changed on the island. When Jack turns Charlie away, he takes it personally and ultimately traps Jack in a cave-in.
The cave-in itself has always been a point of frustration for me. I always thought that a show as good as Lost is above clichéd plotlines that force a character to do something and grow. The fact that there just happens to be a cave-in, and the person trapped just happens to be the hero, and the hole that is dug just happens to be wide enough to only let Charlie through is just way too convenient in my opinion. The journey that Charlie’s character goes on is important, and I think Dominic Monaghan pulls it off fantastically, but I’ve always thought that how it occurs was just a little bit hokey.
The symbolism of the moth also gets a bit overdone by the end of the episode. I think Terry O’Quinn gives one of his few bad performances when he tells Charlie about the moth in the cocoon (not as bad as Sayid the weatherman or Jack the caves spokesman, but still bad). His use of adjectives is too unrealistic for a person to say in ordinary speech. The lines look fine on paper, but are a nightmare when they’re put on film. Anyway, the moth was fine when Locke pointed out how it resembles Charlie, and having that bug as the thing that rescues Jack and Charlie was tolerable, but the shot of the moth fluttering around by the fire was too much. We get it, the moth represents Charlie!
The flashbacks are good, though. They definitely do a good job of not only introducing us to Charlie as he truly is, but developing his character quite a bit, as well. Liam’s manipulation of his brother is terrible, and worse still is what eventually happens to Charlie as a result of it. Fame goes to Liam’s head (a terrific performance by Neil Hopkins), as well as drugs, and he ultimately pushes Charlie to the same thing that has destroyed him. The last flashback is also very telling about the family. Liam is able to overcome his addiction and treat Drive Shaft as something that he did while he was young and irresponsible, but Charlie has been stuck in the same rut that he’s been in since that first fix. The island allows him his spot of redemption, as it has for everyone else.
The theme of choices is very prevalent in this episode, and it’s natural that Locke is the person that tells Charlie this. Struggle hardens a creature, so it can make smarter choices in the future. While Locke could easily help Charlie and just throw the heroin in the fire, he doesn’t, and forces Charlie to make that choice on his own. The only problem with Charlie’s story and the flashbacks is that they all basically wrap up in this episode. The little mysteries that have appeared in all the other flashbacks are nonexistent here, and when characters start getting double flashbacks, we’ll see how important those mysteries are.
The subplot of this episode, just as it was last time, is much more important to the ongoing island action. Sayid, Kate, and Boone are attempting to triangulate the Frenchwoman’s transmission, again. Boone dashes off to the caves, leaving Shannon in charge, and it’s nice to see that she completes her task perfectly for once. The real juice of this jaunt into the jungle, though, is in the furthering of the relationship between Sawyer and Kate. It’s clear that Kate is totally taken by Jack, yet there is a strange bond between her and Sawyer in all their scenes. Just as the previous episode featured Charlie losing his drugs, this episode spends a fair amount of time probing who Sawyer really is, once again telling the audience who the spotlight will be on next week. The scenes between the two are fun to watch, not only for the litany of nicknames Sawyer spouts off (Muhammad, Saint Jack, etc.), but for the fact that we see Sawyer visibly seize up every time Kate hits close to home. When she says that she pities him, he immediately pops the battery out of the computer, and gives it to her, sending the oh-so-clear message that it’s time to leave. He jerks it out of her hand at first, though, just to try and gain back some power in that situation. When they’re together in the jungle and Kate’s once again getting to the meat of Sawyer’s character, he shifts the conversation and tells Kate that Jack is trapped in the cave-in, knowing she’ll dash off and he won’t have to go further in his past. The Kate-Sawyer interaction in this episode is the best up to this point.
The end of this story also provides an intriguing mystery, when Sayid is knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant. It’s clearly not one of the survivors-by finding the source of the transmission, they can send out their own, so no one would sabotage that chance. Or would they?
The Moth, like House of the Rising Sun, is not a bad episode. There’s some really funny moments, most involving Hurley and Sawyer, and it contains the introduction of Scott and Steve, who not only have similar names (and initials: Scott Jackson and Steve Jenkins-both SJ), but also look incredibly like each other. There are problems with the story though, which really can’t be missed. However, they’re not glaring problems, and they don’t diminish the quality of the episode too much.