So. Mr. Charlie isn’t doing too hot with his heroin addiction these days. I sympathize: I’m trying to quit smoking literally as we speak, and it isn’t easy. In one way, it’s terribly easy: just don’t buy more. If you don’t have anything to smoke (or, in Charlie’s case, rub on your gums/shoot up/snort), you have nothing to continue feeding your addiction with. Once the substance is gone, it’s just a matter of getting through the detox stage. For most chemicals, that’s just a matter of a few days (nicotine has a half-life of just two hours; it’s out of your body completely in three days). After that, the physical addiction is flushed from your system. Then it’s purely mental.

But your brain is tricksy. Your brain is a lowdown rat bastard. Due to the power of rationalization, your brain can make you think just about anything, especially when it’s trying to trick you into supplying it with more delicious chemicals. Every time you’ve acted against your better nature, that’s you rationalizing and letting the addiction win. I know. Two days ago, I smoked my “last” cigarette. I was going on the patch. But the patch made my sick (honestly, it did), so now I’m trying to wean myself down by smoking fewer cigarettes per day. Then I’ll go on a lower-dose patch. Then I’ll quit completely. That’s what I want and intend to do.

We’ll see.

For Charlie, Locke takes his drugs away and tells him if he really wants them back, all he has to do is ask three times. Here’s some more reinforcement of Locke as a mystical figure who guides you to enlightenment. For Charlie, though, as we see in flashbacks, he never wanted to wind up a druggy; he just wanted to play the music, and his no-account brother kept sucking him back in, first using him to get fame and glory, then sticking him right back in his place when he tries to get out.

Meanwhile, Locke tells Charlie that silk moths are the strongest of all, because they have to struggle so hard to break from their cocoons. For all of us who’ve ever been locked into an addictive behavior–whether that’s smoking, World of Warcraft, or lifting weights–let’s hope he’s right.

On the other end of things, Jack tries to talk Kate into coming to their home in the caves, but she wants to help Sayid with the transceiver. Which is out of batteries. The only one who has batteries is Sawyer. Back at the caves, Jack gets trapped by a landslide; former construction worker Michael tries to dig him out while the others, unaware of Jack’s predicament, try to figure out where the mysterious radio signal’s coming from. As Charlie digs Jack out, motivated by feelings of helplessness and failure with his band, the others work to track down the signal–until Sayid is clubbed down by a mysterious person.

Jack escapes. Charlie’s vindicated. Kate, who rushed in to help once she heard, is brought back to Jack. Charlie goes to Locke and asks for his heroin for a third time. A disappointed Locke hands it over–but Charlie throws it into the fire.

I should probably give “The Moth” another watch now that I’m going through a similar event, if far less serious and life-threatening, than Charlie. At the time, I felt like this episode was effective, but a little.. lacking. A little pat. The writers of Lost are doing an excellent job of giving us the broad strokes of their ensemble cast, but sometimes it feels a little too broad. I liked Charlie’s story, but I felt like I’d seen it before. Rock star. Drugs. Downward spiral. Redemption. I did buy him burning the last of his drugs, though. He realized they were never what he wanted, and even in the deepest throes of addiction, you can make a gesture toward quitting, understanding you don’t really have to, that you can just go buy more tomorrow. Charlie, though, he doesn’t have that option unless he starts farming poppies and constructing a steam-powered drug factory. Maybe I need to go get stranded on an island.

Meanwhile, there’s little to no advancement of the secrets of the island. Sayid tells Kate there’s now way they could have survived if the plane’s tail came off like it did, which may or may not be deep foreshadowing. I can’t say.

I also have no fucking clue who KO’d Sayid. In the “Lost repeatedly defies our expectations department,” Shannon is clearly supposed to fail at helping the others triangulate the French woman’s signal, yet does her part in the end. Good for her. Her character is still terrible.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hurley needs a Hurley-centric episode post-haste. That means “now.”

On the macrocosmic end of the spectrum, I’m enjoying Lost‘s use of flashbacks. I feel like they’re going to get a lot of mileage out of these, potentially developing the hell out of their characters. Considering how big their cast is, that’s good. That’s a good thing. Also: the writing is ambitious. Locke’s moth monologues are potentially embarrassing and pretentious, but they work well with the plot of “The Moth,” spelling shit out for us without being too obnoxious. (I credit the actor for that one. But not enough to click over to the other tab for his actual name.)

Still, this episode left me a little wanting. I like Charlie a lot, and I feel like if I watched “The Moth” after rewatching the entire series, I might appreciate it more. But this one did very little besides humanize Charlie. It feels like the heart-wrenching momentum of the first few episodes is flagging.

Is that enough to make me question whether I should keep watching? No. Not at all. It’s just a moment of early skepticism about Lost‘s enduring greatness. I still look forward to being proven wrong.

And to quitting these goddamn cigarettes.

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