Monday, July 20, 2009

1:7 The Moth

The first Charlie-centric episode, this is one of my favorite episodes of Season 1 because I find Charlie such an enjoyable character. His blend of heart and humor is really refreshing. And as a big Oasis fan back in the day, I get a kick out of the Drive Shaft story. In a lot of ways, "The Moth" seems to follow "White Rabbit" better than "House of the Rising Sun" because the symbolism is so thick on the ground. In "The Moth" the writers set aside Lewis Carroll for a while and focus on Christian symbolism.

To make sure we're don't miss it, the episode starts off with a flashback of Charlie at church, in a confessional. He describes to the priest his moral dilemma: the temptations that fame is bringing into his life.

CHARLIE: You see, it's, it's my band, father, Drive Shaft. We've been playing the clubs in Manchester. And, uh, we've been getting some heat, a following, you know, and, uh, the girls. There's some real temptations that come with the territory, if you know what I mean.

PRIEST: Well, we all have our temptations, but giving in to them, that's your choice. As we live our lives it's really nothing but a series of choices, isn't it?

CHARLIE: Well, then, I've made my choice. I have to quit the band.

He has just decided to step back from it all when his brother Liam tells him their band has just been offered a record contract, and Charlie is unable to say no.

In the present, Charlie is a full blown heroin addict, having succumbed to the lifestyle his brother led him to. In the previous episode, Locke took away his drugs in order to help him quit, and he now promises that if Charlie asks him three times, he will give them back. The number 3 shows up several times in this episode, a very Biblical number - the number of the Trinity, representing completeness. The number 3 also represents the dimensions of time - past, present and future.

Charlie isn't happy with Locke's plan:

CHARLIE: Why? Why? Why are you doing this? To torture me? Just get rid of them and have done with it?

LOCKE: If I did that you wouldn't have a choice, Charlie. And having choices, making decisions based on more than instinct, is the only thing that separates you from him [indicating the boar].

The question of free will vs. fate is an overarching theme on LOST (especially in season 5, it is THE question.) Locke is forcing Charlie's hand here, but he is also giving him a choice. He knows that Charlie's drug stash will run out soon (they haven't discovered the Beechcraft full of heroin yet!) but he also knows that making a choice to quit when he could still continue to use is a much more powerful option.

Meanwhile Sayid, Kate and Boone are trying to locate the source of the mysterious French broadcast. Sayid explains that he will use triangulation - three antenna and three people - to find the tower.

Charlie throws a minor tantrum ("You don't know me. I'm a bloody rock god!" - incidentally, the term "rock god" is used three times in the episode) and the cave collapses on Jack, with Charlie narrowly escaping. As Charlie's going to find help, he comes across Locke in the jungle and asks for his drugs.

CHARLIE: I want my stash, Locke. I can't stand feeling like this.

LOCKE: Come here. Let me show you something. [They walk to a plant with a cocoon on it]. What do you suppose is in that cocoon, Charlie?

CHARLIE: I don't know, a butterfly, I guess?

LOCKE: No, it's much more beautiful than that. That's a moth cocoon. It's ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths -- they spin silk, they're stronger, they're faster.

CHARLIE: That's wonderful, but. . .

LOCKE: You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it, take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive. The struggle is nature's way of strengthening it.

Charlie is definitely going through the struggle, and it's perhaps that struggle that makes him volunteer to climb through the rubble into the cave to save Jack. When the tunnel collapses behind him, he tells Jack "I'm here to rescue you." (A Star Wars reference.) Jack's arm is trapped underneath a rock, and Charlie heaves it off of him on the count of three. They're wondering how much air they have left in the cave when Charlie spots a moth. The moth shows him another way out of the cave. Charlie emerges from the cave stronger, finally ready to give up the drugs for good:

CHARLIE: Give them to me.

LOCKE: This is the third time. Are you sure you really want them?

CHARLIE: I've made my choice.

[Locke hands the drugs to Charlie. Charlie looks at them and throws them in the fire. Locke smiles.]

LOCKE: I'm proud of you, Charlie. Always knew you could do it.

While the heroin burns, Charlie looks up and sees the moth for the third time, flying away. His escape from the cave, a symbolic resurrection, has turned him into a new creature, ready for a new start.


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