Lost: Homecoming   Rewatch 
May 3, 2023 7:19 PM - Season 1, Episode 15 - Subscribe

Ethan returns. Charlie has issues.

S1E15: Homecoming (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 9th February 2005 • writer Damon Lindelof • director Kevin Hooks • days 27-29 on the island • Charlie flashbacks

Claire’s back • Claire’s amnesia • Ethan’s the bad guy • carpe diem, my friend • I will not be shared like a common curry • Ethan wants her back • running into the jungle unarmed is not going to get the job done • Churchill’s cigarette case • we’re beyond sharpening knives here • a man has to provide • you took a job selling copiers? • Boone is the worst sentry • dude, that was Scott • I just wanted to take care of you • Charlie is so so sweaty • scared idiots with sharp sticks • why doctor, you’ve been holding out on us • Charlie’s sales pitch • five guns are better than four • Jack/Ethan fight, round 2 • uh-uh-uh-uh, jungle boy • Charlie’s six shots • he deserved to die • you’ll never take care of anyone • Claire remembers peanut butter

Therese Odell, Houston Chronicle: Charlie ruins the best laid plans on Lost
[spoilers for future episodes & events throughout]
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. How is it that in any given situation, you manage to mess up the plan? It’s like instinct with you. Folks tell you exactly what the plan is, and what your role is in it, and yet you always manage to do the opposite, screwing everything up.
Billie Doux, Doux Reviews: Lost: Homecoming
For me, the best part of this episode was the formation of the Island Swat Team. All the scenes with Jack, Locke, and Sayid circling the wagons, setting perimeters, and taking down Ethan were so much fun to watch. I liked that they were pulling together in a common defense instead of turning on each other.
Heimlich Maneuvers: Lost Re-view: Homecoming
What this posse doesn’t bank on is Charlie. From a character standpoint, it’s a superb and authentic piece of writing. We already know from Charlie’s last episode exactly what his Achilles’ Heel is. He has to feel like he has a purpose, a use. So when he’s shut down by Jack, he reacts in the way he must. He follows them all into the jungle, picks up the gun that gets dropped in the brutal fist fight between Jack and Ethan, and shoots Ethan. Six times. As I said, completely authentic from a character standpoint. Infuriating from a narrative standpoint. The posse was trying to take Ethan alive. The audience wanted them to take Ethan alive. We want answers, dammit! Charlie's execution is a too-neat device to forestall providing any.
Robin Pearson, The TV Critic.org: Lost Episode 15 – Homecoming
It’s the first huge error I believe Lost has made. The writers clearly didn’t want Ethan to reveal the secrets of the island so early in the show. Which makes this story even more irritating, because we see it for the plot device which it really is. Speaking of which, Claire losing her memory is another plot device. We don’t want her to give away anything so we will wipe her memory too. There is some really poor thinking going on behind this episode. Lost has succeeded by not being like other television shows but this episode feels all too familiar.
Rewatch companion: THE STORM: A Lost Rewatch Podcast - S1, E15: "Homecoming" with David Sims
Joanna Robinson: “I don’t want to defend Charlie because this is not even the worst Charlie episode. But like — no, it is. It is.”
Neil Miller: “It’s a pretty dark Charlie episode.”
Joanna Robinson: “It’s not the worst Charlie flashback, I will say. But it is, I think, the worst Charlie episode because the on-island stuff is not even redeeming it.”
Dave Gonzalez: “Charlie needs to care for somebody. And he ends up committing a murder on the island. Does that track? Does this flashback paired with this island story make any sense to anybody?”
Joanna Robinson: “It’s like, are you capable of caring for someone? Here's the deal: Charlie ages so poorly as a character type. This episode ends with Claire trusting him. What? I don’t understand the lesson of this episode.”
Neil Miller: “Hey, thanks for shooting that guy for me.”
Dave Gonzalez: “Yeah. And he does everything wrong or, like, in a creepy way. Because, again, he gets away with reading the diary. And everyone’s just like, yeah, thank you for all of this.”
Joanna Robinson: “You know, I get it. What happens on the island stays on the island. I mean, I guess I get the point. Lucy’s dad has this really heavy handed speech at the dinner table about why he gave up his music career because when you’re a man, you need to take care of your family and of your women. And that’s what a man does. Puts away childish things and becomes a man. And so that’s Charlie blaming himself for not taking enough care of Claire in the first place. And then feeling like he’s stepping up and being a man, shooting Ethan in order to take care of her at the end of it all. Ugh, I hate it.”

David Sims: “I think everyone’s going into the first season of Lost being like: oh yeah, we're going to build so much around this guy. And then here’s my take, which may be an extremely boring take. But you have his first episode, The Moth. Which I think is very cheesy and, you know, isn’t amazing or anything. But it does tell a story, and kind of resolves Charlie’s arc. He gets over the heroin. And unlike most Lost characters, that’s it. They are now done with Charlie. His arc is fully resolved. And now they’re like, so what's Charlie's deal on the island? I guess … he likes Claire, and makes jokes, and then maybe occasionally we’ll sort of think about heroin? Like it’s just, they don't — everyone else, this should’ve been like, yeah, great, we’re going to build on this, and we’ll have a big arc sketched out for the character, both in flashback and on-island. And in Charlie, they resolve both the flashback and the island arcs in the fifth episode of the show. And now they’re like, what are we going to do?”
Joanna Robinson: “And they're like, oh no, it's Dominic Monaghan. He's from Lord of the Rings. We can't not use him. But we fucked up.”

“Why would you keep me in the dark, Charlie? I'm already in the dark.”

posted by We had a deal, Kyle (5 comments total)
Currently streaming in the US on Hulu (subscription) and Freevee (free with ads); in the UK on Disney+; and available for purchase just about everywhere. Next episode will post at the weekend.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:19 PM on May 3, 2023

I am much with Sims and the Storm gang here: the Charlie flashback here is just another dip in the addiction well and tells us nothing new or additional about Charlie.

I also don't think it does enough to justify his killing of Ethan; yeah, mechanistically I think Joanna's "I guess I get the point" explanation is what they were trying to do, but emotionally I don't think it pays off; I don't think there's a through line from "Charlie needs to be a protector" to "Charlie commits murder".

My memory always tells me that the first season of Lost is end-to-end a great ride; but oof, this run of 4 episodes is a bit of a mid-season sag. Not terrible -- and enough of significance happens in each of them that the momentum of the season isn't fully lost -- but ... not great in terms of the storytelling in each individual one.

The significance in this on is probably the opening of Pandora's briefcase, I think? The guns are out in the open and it's going to be hard to put them away again.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:29 PM on May 4, 2023

Oh, and the winking reference to "a paper company in Slough" always lands with a bit of a thud for me; it's an in-joke intruding into the story.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:36 PM on May 4, 2023 [1 favorite]

The other thing that's striking on rewatch is how frequently the flashbacks are to cons: Charlie was running a romance con here, and that was Sawyer's flashback also. Kate was conning both the bank manager and the bank robbers. Shannon was running a series of cons on Boone. Are there more?

Conversely, Locke's flashback is played straight -- unless you count "you lied by omission" -- but pretty much everything he's done on-island has been fairly slippery; it feels like Locke is always calculating how to turn situations and alliances to his ends.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:43 PM on May 9, 2023

Couldn't fit this into the post as the Q&A that contains it is from end-of-S5 and very spoilery, but: Lindelof considers this the worst episode of Lost:
I wrote that episode, and it's my least favorite episode of the show ever.

The episode fans bring up most often is "Stranger in a Strange Land," which is the episode with Bai Ling and Jack and his tattoos. And basically, I feel like it's unfair to bag on that episode. Am I a huge fan of it? No. But at the same time, there were so many different circumstances that led to that episode that needed to be written and so many ideas that didn't work. The fact that it all coalesced ... There was a bad casting decision made. There was a bad premise decision made. There was a bad flashback story. Just everything that could go wrong did, but I don't think it was because the script was terrible.

"Homecoming," I think, was flawed on almost every single level that an episode of Lost could be.
ISTR the Storm folks noting that he's doing the good-showrunner thing of picking an episode for which he can blame himself, rather than casting blame on others.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:07 AM on May 18, 2023

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