"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."
All has been fairly intense for the crash survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 and LOST, Season One, Episode 7, The Moth equally has its fair share of moments. The island based cave-in sequence feels more Gilligan's Island (1964-1967) than LOST, but it serves a purpose with regard to character exploration.
Fortunately LOST, in nearly each and every entry, is not without its moments of beauty too. The Moth is a great example of this and when LOST dives into the characters in this fashion the scenes can be striking or completely and utterly moving.
The Moth back story focuses on Charlie and his brother Liam (with echoes of Oasis' Liam Gallagher) and their rise to acclaim as rock band Driveshaft along with the ever classic single You All Everybody. Magnificently idiotic lyrics, but hilariously memorable writing!
Efforts to triangulate, locate and find the Frenchwoman continue.
Highlights: John Locke offers a beautiful analogy of the moth awakening from its cocoon stronger for fighting its way out of its leathery sack and likens the struggle to that of an addict-addled Charlie Pace who must succeed of his own volition and free will to break free of a heroin addiction. Locke explains to Charlie the moth cannot survive without struggling and growing stronger on its own in nature. Charlie, too, must grow stronger and make his own choices or he will not survive his addiction of his own free will. That exchange is truly the highlight here and is the thematic crux of the story highlighted by the title The Moth. Charlie is in effect the moth and is the episode's focus.
The broader Darwinian analogy is the survivors now on the island on the whole. Who will struggle, adapt, live or die?
The final moments in particular parallel the emerging moth with an emerging Charlie from his own withdrawal. Charlie needs to regain control of himself to be useful to himself if he intends to be useful to anyone else.
The Terry O'Quinn and Dominic Monaghan piece is exquisitely performed.
Additionally, like the analogy that leads Charlie to the right path so does another island moth that leads to Jack and Charlie's salvation from the collapsed cave. The moth represents freedom and liberation here as much as it means liberation and freedom from our own personal demons.
The Moth is a terrifically freeing and positive experience in television and possibly one of the most uplifting of the season. This is symbolized in the final minutes of a moth flying away right before Charlie and Locke. The metaphor may be taken just a step too far here, but all in all the narrative symbolism is rather beautiful.
Again, The Moth offers little in the way of science fiction and plenty in the form of character depth and growth. And let's face it, if you don't care about the characters the rest of what's to come will hardly matter at all. Fortunately the writers of LOST were adroit and weaving their tale with character aplenty.
Also notable is Sawyer still reading Watership Down (1972). This writer can thoroughly appreciate Sawyer's reading pace to be a bit like my own writing pace---more like a snail than a moth. Hell stick me on a beach on an uncharted island with Watership Down and a drink and I'd likely take my time there too and enjoy the heck out of it.
The serialization of LOST compounded with these wonderfully written anthology-styled back stories continues to make for a flawless season of television in which you can literally lose yourself in the lives of these entirely varied, disparate individuals.
Writer: Jennifer Johnson (Alcatraz)/ Paul Dini.
Director: Jack Bender.
Update: A variation on this exact parable is employed in The Expanse, Season Two, Episode 11, Here There Be Dragons.