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Justice for Oggi, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart's Lone Good Man

Alice's sweet, sensitive best friend becomes collateral damage in a heartbreaking episode.
  • Ben Bennett in The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Photo: Prime Video)
    Ben Bennett in The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Photo: Prime Video)

    [Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart Episode 4, "River Lily."]

    The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart may not include an '80s-inspired power ballad or anthropomorphic dolls, but there's a clear link between the Prime Video mystery and Greta Gerwig's Barbie. Though they couldn't express it more differently, both are concerned with matters of patriarchy: They're driven by questions about who holds the power in relationships and society, and they present male insecurity as a threat to the smart, independent women they seek to uplift.

    In the weeks since Barbie's release, conservatives have unfairly branded the film "anti-man," but of the two, it's The Lost Flowers that's more deserving of the label. Sarah Lambert's seven-episode limited series, which is based on Holly Ringland's bestselling novel, operates from a distinctly pro-woman perspective. In this world, women are better off on their own, far away from the leering gaze of men.

    As the matriarch of a wildflower farm that doubles as a safe haven for abused women, June Hart (Sigourney Weaver) puts that belief into practice every day. She takes it upon herself to keep her flock safe from their former partners, whether that means taking their phones (to prevent Thornfield's location from being revealed) or goading a man (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) into beating her up to ensure he's sent back to prison. But while the women are protected at Thornfield, the show's surrealist touches and ominous score constantly remind viewers that danger lurks beyond the farm's gates. This effort is so successful that when Alice (Alycia Debnam-Carey) moves to the desert community of Agnes Bluff as an adult, every man she encounters scans as a menacing presence, as if it's only a matter of time before local vet Moss (Xavier Samuel) or flirty hiker Dylan (Sebastiàn Zurita) reveal their true colors.

    But if "beware of men" becomes The Lost Flowers' operating principle, Oggi Novak (played by Luc Barrett as a child, and Ben Bennett as an adult) proves to be the exception. Oggi is first introduced as a savior figure. Shortly after arriving at Thornfield, nine-year-old Alice (Alyla Browne) stumbles upon a nearby river, but when she remembers that her violent father Clem (Charlie Vickers) once pushed her into a lake, she panics and begins drowning. It's Oggi who wrestles Alice out of the water, tenderly patting her back to make her cough and guiding her through breathing exercises. He explains that he does the same for his asthmatic mother (Victoria Haralabidou), who was once "a flower" at Thornfield.

    Like Alice, who's unable to speak after the death of her parents in a fire, Oggi is an outcast at school, in large part due to his connection to the farm, but they bond over their status as outsiders. Oggi isn't put off by Alice's silence, and after he stands up to a bully on her behalf, she shares her deepest anxiety with him: She believes she's responsible for the fatal fire. As their friendship blossoms, Alice comes to trust Oggi even more, so much so that she utters her first words in his presence. He's appropriately awed, and when they giggle over her rediscovered wit — when he encourages her to "say something else," she pauses before replying, "Something else" — it's one of the most innocent and heartwarming moments in the entire season.

    As they get older, Alice and Oggi's childlike closeness morphs into a romantic relationship. Sitting on the river bank, they craft a travel bucket list, prompting Oggi to let Alice in on a secret of his own: He and his mother are living in Australia illegally, and if they leave the country, he won't be able to return. "How about we elope?" suggests Alice, to which Oggi responds with an enthusiastic "yes." They agree that it will be their "secret," something they nurture and shield from the outside world.

    And then comes a betrayal that wallops the viewer. When June found out about Alice and Oggi's plan, she called immigration services and had him deported to Bulgaria. In a further attempt to keep Alice at Thornfield, June posed as her granddaughter and broke up with Oggi via email; in the years that followed, June blocked Oggi's emails to Alice, who remains in the dark until she intercepts one of his letters and puts the pieces together. The revelation does irreparable damage to Alice's relationship with June, and she flees Thornfield, determined to put her grandmother's "controlling bullsh*t" behind her.

    June's treatment of Oggi shows just how misguided her efforts to protect her "flowers" really are. In preventing Alice from "throw[ing] her life away on Oggi," as she tells her partner Twig (Leah Purcell), June blew up the life of an innocent young man — and conceivably that of his mother Jana, whom June once had an obligation to look after. Even when she's confronted with the consequences of her actions, she lacks any remorse. "I thought something terrible had happened to her," says June, laughing off Twig's concern over Alice's discovery.

    Sweet, sensitive Oggi, who saved Alice's life, helped her rediscover her voice, and emerged as "the only man [she's] ever loved," deserves far better. But at least he's found love again in Bulgaria, as his letter reveals. Alice may be devastated by this development, but if there's a silver lining to Oggi's story, it's that he's now thousands of miles away from June and the devastation she's left in her wake.

    New episodes of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart drop Fridays on Prime Video. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Amazon Prime Video, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Alyla Browne, Ben Bennett, Luc Barrett, Sigourney Weaver