Lost: Numbers   Rewatch 
May 17, 2023 6:17 PM - Season 1, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Hurley wins the lottery.

S1E18: Numbers (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 2nd March 2005 • writers David Fury & Brent Fletcher • director Daniel Attias • days 35-36 on the island • Hurley flashbacks

Batteries • territoire foncé • the numbers on Rousseau’s notes • g-string mujeres • the numbers on TV • the numbers on Hurley’s lottery ticket • grandpa Tito • I could really use some alone time right now • we’re Catholic, we don’t believe in curses • a box company in Tustin • mistook you for a drug dealer • I’m not crazy, this is real • I can make it, I’m spry • Leonard • you’ve got to get away from it or it won’t stop • bridge crossing • Sam Toomey • curse? there’s no curse • Colonel-bloody-Kurtz • Hurley meets Rousseau • you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for someone to agree with me • she says hey • Locke builds a crib • back home I’m worth $156M • THE NUMBERS ON THE HATCH

Robin Pearson, The TV Critic.org: Lost: Numbers
Lost’s huge potential comes roaring back toward you with this episode. The most surprising thing about this episode is how surprising it is. The pilot episodes gripped you because it led you to ask the exact question which Charlie asked “Guys, where are we?” Locke’s flashback was another shock, implying that the island had magical qualities. Claire and Walt have also been revealed to seemingly be on the island for some supernatural purpose. But the vagueness of why they were on the island didn’t grip you as much as this episode does. Hurley’s story reached out and grabs you by the lapels and shakes you while saying “everything is connected, every detail matters, you can’t miss a second of this show.” It’s a powerful message and exactly what a great television show must do.

The greatest shock in one sense is that Hurley should be so important to the story. But Lost has made a habit of deliberately trying to refute our expectations. Locke, Charlie, Kate and Sawyer all turned out to have surprising pasts and now Hurley’s is too, in a completely unexpected way. Hurley being a multi-millionaire, who used to be in a mental institution, who is now obsessed with a curse is an interesting and compelling story. It is told with a light touch, obviously looking for the humor in his story, but that only helps disguise the dark story lurking behind his success.
Emily St. James, Vox: The Lost Interviews: Numbers
Damon Lindelof: “We really struggled with what makes Hurley dark and tortured. What’s his secret? None of it felt right until we came up with the lottery winner idea. It was like, ‘Oh, he’s not tortured. He’s just sad, and he’s like, he feels this immense relief because he doesn’t really have the money anymore.’ Like, here on the Island he gets to go back to what he was before he won this stuff, because no one was going to define him by his millions of dollars. But he’s still cursed. These numbers have followed him to the Island. He can’t escape them.

I always remember thinking of like, the Hawaii episodes of The Brady Bunch, where that tiki doll makes Greg wipe out. Just like he can’t ditch this thing. It keeps turning up. The fact that Hurley was off living in this total episode of The Brady Bunch while all the other characters are in the show Lost, we always thought was immensely entertaining.”
Myles McNutt, AV Club: Lost (Classic): “...In Translation”/“Numbers”
Claire asks [Locke] he believes in luck, and Locke answers simply: “I believe in a lot of things.” That’s Lost. Lost is a show about belief, and about testing that belief in ourselves as viewers and in the characters as individuals. Hurley’s belief in the curse of those numbers is matched only by his belief in his own sanity, the two intertwined to the point where attempts to disentangle them are hopeless. Locke’s belief in the island’s power is an extension of his belief that no one could tell him what he couldn’t do. “Numbers” may be most memorable for introducing those six numerals into our lives, but it’s not really about them; we can argue about whether or not that balance shifts as the numbers work their way deeper into the series and its mythology, but at least in the beginning they were but one of many keys unlocking character alongside mythology.
N.J.A. Sloane, The Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences [previously on Metafilter]: A104101, The Lost Numbers
It is easy to fit formulas to the first six terms, in a million different ways, but none of them are of any interest.
Rewatch companion: THE STORM: A Lost Rewatch Podcast - S1, E18: "Numbers" with Jorge Garcia
Dave Gonzalez: “I think this episode ends like Special to me, where I’ve seen some amazing stuff, but I could assume coincidence or an actual curse. The narrative wants me to believe in curse, because I’m on Hurley’s side. Up to his monologue: he needs someone to believe him, the audience is there, Danielle believes in him, that’s enough for Hurley to hold on for a little bit longer. And to think that, you know, maybe it’s just a curse, but he doesn’t have to worry about it for some reason on the island. And then it shows up on the hatch as the cliffhanger where it's like: just when you thought it could have been coincidence, or in Hurley’s head, and about Hurley feeling better… no, there might actually be a curse. You might actually be on a jungle island of mystery. Which, you know, we are. But sometimes I think, especially with episodes like this, there’s a lot of danger with implied magic. But we're not quite full magic here that I can tell.”
Neil Miller: “I mean, that’s what’s interesting to me, is that it's easy to write off a lot of the bad things that happened to Hurley as coincidence until that final shot. That final shot to me was when like, I don’t know, we’ve seen plenty of different island magic things, but now it now feels like it’s ramping up significantly. And it’s ramping up in a way that like — they come out with it all in the same episode. We go from just Hurley winning the lottery with these numbers, to yarn-walls worth of conspiracy stuff in one episode. Just with the numbers. Which I think feels, again, just feels like super confident. You know, from the writers room’s perspective, that’s a really big shot to call. We have this set of numbers, this large set of numbers that have deep significance, at least to one character; and we’re also going to put them on the most mysterious thing in our show, which we haven’t even dealt with yet, which is the hatch. I think if they had ended it without showing the numbers on the hatch, it would be sort of a more ethereal thing. But it becomes very real when the numbers are in plain sight on the island.”

Joanna Robinson: “When you filmed this episode, Numbers, do you remember if they told you why Hurley was once institutionalized?”
Jorge Garcia: “They didn’t tell me.”
Joanna Robinson: “Is that hard to play knowing that there is this key element of your character, which is, like, a time in an institution, but not being able to know exactly what that was?”
Jorge Garcia: “No — well, I like venturing into the unknown as an actor a lot. I like the gray areas. And I like when you— well, when I have— at least in doing Lost, and this was definitely the deepest I ever went up to that point in my career in creating a persona. And so, you know, I definitely would fill a lot of blanks in with just my own personality and let the rest kind of fall into place. And as I got new information, if new information would show up that seemed contrary to the way I behaved in the past, I thought: that’s fine. Because I think it’s very human to be contradictory. Not everyone behaves the way you’d imagine they would in any given situation. So, you know, I didn’t worry too much about that. […] And then audiences have ways of filling in blanks as well. As people, you know, later episodes show up, they’ll be like, oh, that explains why this happened back then. Or why that person stared off the way they did at the end of a certain episode. Things like that. And that stuff, you know, that just comes later. So, knowing that he’s kind of defensive about it: I figured that part out from the script because he doesn’t want anyone to call him crazy. And that it put his family through a lot. And I was like, that’s fine. That’s enough to know. Because he’s not in there now. And we just know he has a history there.”

“You make your own luck, Mr. Reyes. Don't blame it on the damn numbers. You're looking for an excuse that doesn't exist.”

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posted by We had a deal, Kyle (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
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. Hopefully.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:18 PM on May 17

Hurley's flashbacks here are superficially funny but are a slow-burning horror story: the numbers as an unavoidable Ring-style curse that will always eventually drive you to either insanity or death.

The hatch reveal at the end: one of their very best spine-tingly cliff-hangers.

The Storm podcast visits, in both this and subsequent episodes, the question: just how big was the jar of beans? In Martha Toomey's telling it's "as big as a pony", but 4,815,162,342 beans is ... a lot more. One Lostpedia talk contributor suggests that Sam Toomey used the product of the numbers: 4*8*15*16*23*42 = 7418880, a more manageable volume. Still not realistically countable by the fella running the scam though, and really it's not important to the game that the number actually be correct; simply that it's hard to randomly guess.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:28 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

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