Written by Melinda Hsu Taylor, Greggory Nations
Directed by Jack Bender
When the freighter folk arrived on the island back in Season 4, they instantly appeared to be fascinating characters, but ever since they arrived on the island, all of the potential they seem to have has been wasted. Charlotte was an anthropologist on an island that was full of mystical ruins., none of which she explored. We learned that she was born on the island, but before we could learn that particular lead, the island started blooping and she died. Frank seemed even more fascinating, but we still haven't learned why he didn't fly Oceanic 815 or the Ajira flight, and he doesn't seem to have any idea about the mystical secrets. Daniel seemed to know far more about the island than anyone, and was the only one who seemed to explain what was happening, but now he seems to have vanished off the face of the earth, or at least the island. But Miles has probably been the biggest disappointment. Here we have a man who can talk to the dead on an island that seems to be filled with them.. One would think that he could have uncovered the mysteries of the island if he'd just talked to the people on the graveyard, and what has he been used for? Sarcasm, and being 'LaFleur's' go to guy. How grateful fans must have been that this episode finally came along.
We learn a fair about Miles' 'gift' in this episode, but more than that, we learn a lot about his past, and what might have been the reason he came to the island in the first place. This power has bothered him even as he's used it to exploit the dead in order to make his living. Apparently, he can only concentrate on the last thing a person was thinking of when they died, and only when he is near a physical body. It's unclear how this attracted the attention of Charles Widmore, who sent Naomi to audition him, but no doubt he learned about this through the fact that, indirectly, Miles was part of the Dharma Initiative. But he was motivated by money, not curiosity--- specifically 1.6 million dollars. (Now we understand why he asked Ben for double that specific amount when he confronted him in 'Eggtown') But from the start, it's been clear that despite his power (which came from the island) he has no more interest in learning it's uses than Jack did in the first couple of seasons of the show. This is especially clear when Miles is abducted by Bram (for the sake of continuity I will refer to him, Ilana, and the rest of the people as the Shadow Seekers) who tries to convince them to join their side because of the greater good. Miles doesn't care about this (and in his defense, I wouldn't particular trust people who snatch me off the street, and ask an absurd question).
Furthermore, like everybody else on the island, Miles has daddy issues. He has been told by his mother that his father abandoned them when he was just a baby, and he's clearly never forgiven him for it. This is bizarre considering he is now in the same place and time as him. We've actually met him before--- Dr. Pierre Chang, a.k.a. Marvin Candle, Edgar Halliwax, et al. (It still doesn't explain why his last name was Straume. Perhaps that is his mother's maiden name.)
This comes into play in the present when Miles enters Horace's 'circle of trust' and is sent out on a mission to meet Radzinsky (who just seems to get more weasel-like with each successive meeting) He appears to be working on some project, and doesn't seem deterred that a man has just been killed by it when a dental filling somehow dislodged and flew right into his brain. Miles' effort to keep it secret are hilariously baffled by the arrival of Hurley. Their byplay during 'Whatever Happened, Happened' was the comic high point, but it gets even funnier here. Hurley seems utterly delighted to know that there's someone else on the island who can speak to the dead, while Miles just seems convinced that it "doesn't work that way." Hurley counters, "My power's better than yours." (Actually, it is. But that's another episode.) When Hurley takes Dr. Chang on a trip, he tries just as comically to make Miles bond with dear old dad, only to find it's like pulling teeth with him. (Miles just seems appalled to have learned his dad preferred country music.)
And then there's the fact that Hurley seems to spend the whole episode rewriting 'The Empire Strikes Back'. Kudos that he knows that about now Star Wars has just come out. His remarks that he's trying to avoid having 'the Ewoks' come into existence is hysterical (he couldn't have tried to persuade him not to make the first three episodes?) but there is a bizarre method to his madness--- the Star Wars saga, as even the most casual fans know, is basically the story of a young man who wants to know who his father is, and how he can't seem to deal with the answer when he gets it. We've been seeing all of the characters daddy issues been playing out, but unlike everyone else, Miles actually has a chance to put them right. The expression on his face when he sees his father putting 'him' to the bed is very telling, as he realizes maybe his father wasn't the douche his mother told him he was.
Of course, learning all this comes at a cost. Because Miles is called away for his mission by Horace, he doesn't get a chance to erase the security footage of Sawyer and Kate taking Ben to the Others. Phil ends up discovering this, and the circle of lies that Lafleur has been spinning are starting to unravel. There's a good chance they would have unraveled anyway, because Roger, who seems genuinely shaken up that his son has now disappeared, is starting to get suspicious of Kate, who in her efforts to comfort Roger (after all, she knows what it's like to lose a child) alerts his suspicions. Jack seems to calm him down, but we've got a feeling that it's going to get worse. Even if this wasn't a problem, there's an even bigger one on the horizon. Hurley and Miles drive Chang to meet Radzinsky, just in time to see the front door of The Swan get installed, and we know that's going to end badly.
This is a good episode, but it doesn't seem quite up to the level of most of what we've gotten on season 5. We've learned a lot about the backstory of Miles, and it is interesting, and the comic business between him and Hurley is wonderful, but there seems to be a lot more marking time with this than with some of the other episodes. What's more it would've been nice if we'd learned about his gift to learn something --- anything--- about the larger story of the island. What makes it seem significant comes in the last minute or so, when the sub arrives, and onboard is the man who's been missing from the island --- Daniel. And he seems a lot more confident than he has in awhile. Somehow I have feeling that he wants to do more than rewrite Star Wars.