Here's something that popped into my head after last week’s episode, and something which I don't think has been properly picked over by Lost mythologists: Why are there two islands? We know that Hydra Island moved along with Main Island, so we can assume that our two Aeoliae are yoked together. But from a thematic perspective, is there a reason why the Lost creators concocted a magic island where weird things happened… and then gave it a little brother? Does it have something to do with the long forgotten theory-threads related to the “bad twin?” Or are all these reflections and duplications just a reminder that Lost is a show about dualities?
Which brings me to Sawyer. Although Sawyer is a con man (a man with two faces) and though for long stretches of Lost he’s been set up as a rival to Jack (if only for Kate’s affections... and tribal leadership, I guess), I actually feel like Sawyer is something of a wildcard when it comes to Lost-ian duality. He’s a rogue who’s nowhere near as wicked as he pretends to be—and in that way, I guess he’s as conflicted as any other character on this show—but I’ve never felt that Sawyer belonged on any particular side in the “faith vs. science” debates of Jack and Locke or the “mine vs. no, mine” squabbles of Ben and Widmore. Sawyer is his own man. Just l-i-v-i-n.
One of the many reasons I loved tonight's episode “LaFleur” was because it was Sawyer-iffic. But I also knew I was in for a treat in the first five minutes, during which I gasped twice, and laughed with delight once.
Gasp #1: After the sky flashes, stranding Locke down by the Frozen Donkey Wheel and leaving Sawyer holding a piece of buried rope, the group looks up past the treeline and sees the back of a giant statue. Holy crap, dude.
Gasp #2: After the sky flashes again, lurching the I5 free of the time-skipping once and for all, Sawyer insists that the group needs to wait around for Locke to come back. When he’s asked how long they should wait, he says, “As long as it takes,” and then the screen dissolves to a title card: "Three Years Later." (Granted, this wasn’t as big a shock as the statue. But the idea that the I5 would be stranded in the ‘70s for three full years sure threw me for a loop.)
Laughing with delight: At a Dharma station, that guy from Friday Night Lights and that guy from Mad Men are in a tizzy over what they’re seeing on their monitors: Horace Goodspeed down by the sonic fence, drunk off his Dharma ass, flinging dynamite around. They’re all worried about what’ll happen when that hard-case LaFleur finds out. But LaFleur needs to be informed, so they run down to his bungalow and wake him up. And whaddaya know? “Jim LaFleur” is our own James “Sawyer” Ford. He’s obviously put his three years to good use.
I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I was geeking out during tonight’s episode. For everyone who’s been waiting for the big Dharma flashback, well here we got it in a way much preferable to the rapidly spit-out backstory we've gotten from Mrs. Hawking and Charlotte and Charles Widmore in recent weeks. In “LaFleur” we eased into Dharma in classic Lost fashion: by living with it a while, and being told a story. Two stories, really.
In the first story, set immediately after the island stabilizes, the I5 are trekking down to the beach when they hear gunshots. They stumble upon two Hostiles standing over a dead Dharman, Paul, and preparing to do something untoward to Paul’s wife Amy (a.k.a. that gal from 24, Reiko Aylesworth). Sawyer and Juliet raise their rifles and take the Hostiles down, which is a problem, because as Amy explains, the Hostiles and the DI have “a truce.” And sure enough, later that night, a torch-bearing Richard Alpert strides unharmed past the sonic fence (“It may keep other things out,” he explains, but not his people) and demands answers. And Sawyer, having just been told by Horace that the I5 are going to be shipped out to Tahiti by submarine in the morning, decides to seize the initiative (no pun intended) and defuse the situation by confessing to Richard that he did the Hostile-killing, and by letting him know (through hints, reminders and mind-bombs) that the I5 are, in their own way, not to be trifled with.
In the second story (told simultaneously with the first), it’s three years later and the I5 are all firmly ensconced in the Dharma Initiative. We don’t see Daniel, and we don’t quite know what Miles’ job is, but Jin is using his position as a patrolling security guard to map out a series of grids where Locke and the rest might return, Juliet’s working as a Dharma Van mechanic, and Sawyer’s a DI bigwig. Amy apparently took up with Horace and got pregnant (which makes Horace feel guilty about Poor Dead Paul, prompting his drunken binge), and when she goes into labor, Juliet has to overcome her fear of killing pregnant women and help get the kid out. Which she does successfully, making her (and me, quite frankly) very happy, and deepening her love for the man she shares a home with, Jim LaFleur.
If you take a look at what happened in these two stories tonight (and leave aside the epilogue, which I’ll get to in a moment, and also ignore poor Daniel, who I’m going to return to), what you have are two narrative threads that actually end happily. And given that things are most likely about to get very ugly on this show, it was nice to spend an hour with Lost that showed the characters using their wits, making good choices, and thriving because of it. It was also nice to spend time in some familiar places: the old Other village, with its rec room and submarine dock, and its Dharma merlot and references to “The Arrow” and “the polar bears.” It looks like we’re going to be here for a while, too—at least for half the storylines—and I for one will be glad to keep hanging out in Dharma times for as long as we need to. (I’m betting we’re building up to another Orchid trip at season’s end, which will bring the characters back into the same timeline. But Cuse and Lindelof move at their own speed these days, apparently.)
Y’know, Evangeline Lilly has gone on record as saying that she doesn’t really “get” or even like the more wild fantasy stuff of Lost, which may explain why she doesn’t always know how to play it. (Myself, I don’t sweat the particulars of how all this time-travel and such is working; I just chalk it up to “science” or “magic” and wait to see what happens next.) But Josh Holloway seems to have a good handle on how Sawyer would react to flashes in the sky and time-travelin’. He plays the angles and bulls ahead. I loved him dropping the name of The Black Rock to snow Horace, and him growling “It’s a good thing I ain’t askin’ your permission” at the Dharma boss. I loved him treating Richard Alpert like a confederate of a kind, basically saying to Richard what he couldn’t say to any of the unhip Dharmans. And I loved him putting on his glasses and reading a book, relaxing in a Sawyer-ly fashion.
In a way, the I5 have just spent the last three years making their own corrupt deals and telling their own lies, just like the O6, but even though “LaFleur” covered as much ground as the off-island stuff has (in about one-sixth the time), it was an unhurried episode, and was nowhere as mopey as the O6 material has been. This episode earned its moment of Horace putting a bug in Sawyer’s ear with his line, “Is three years really long enough to get over someone?” And it earned Daniel’s pathos as he whispers, “The record is spinning again… it’s jut not on the song we want to be on,” before wincing at the sight of the toddler Charlotte.
And of course it earns the big reunion, which ends the episode (and will likely begin the next one). Jin drives Jack, Hurley and Kate to meet with Sawyer, with explanations from all surely soon to come. Because of the three years of Dharma-izing, all these characters are on the same footing now, in terms of how long they’ve been separated. And in Lost-time, they’ve spent eight episodes apart. Even in the hurry-up mode of Lost’s endgame, this moment felt long in coming.
When I watch an episode like this one, I feel all the more bummed about the time the writers wasted (by necessity, or course) in the first three seasons. Between “316” and “LaFleur,” I almost feel like we’ve started the show all over again, but with more gaps filled in than we had the first time around. I think I may have gasped at that “Three Years Later” card because I immediately thought about all the story that could’ve been told during that long jump ahead. But ultimately I’m grateful that right now I’m ending Lost each week wanting more, rather than feeling like the characters' precious time has been squandered
-Now we have a good reason for Jin to speak fluent English. (Though as Sawyer notes, he’s “a hell of a nice guy but not the greatest conversationalist.”)
-I thought this was a good outing for Juliet too, between her getting Sawyer’s back, and her defusing a fight with Miles by choosing Sawyer’s side, and her lying about her knowledge of the sonic fence in order to maintain their cover story. I hope Sawyer stays with Juliet, frankly. They deserve each other, in the best way.
-Great bickering match between Sawyer and Miles. Miles griped that all of the 816ers' plans seem to boil down to “The Orchid or the beach,” while Sawyer explains, in his simplying-everything way, that when they get to the beach, “If our stuff’s there, great; if not, we’ll build new stuff.”
-I’ve taken to leaving my Lost blog document open all week, so I can jot down notes from reading your comments, or other Lost blogs, or from my own foggy head. But I may actually close the document up this week, because next week we’ll have no Lost, which sucks. See you in two weeks for “Namaste.”
Clues, coincidences and crazy-ass theories:
-Random Egyptiana: Didn’t that statue look a little like a figure from a hieroglyphic? Also, Poor Dead Paul was wearing an ankh necklace, and “Horace” sounds a lot like “Horus,” as in the ancient Egyptian God who had his own weird, Lost-like daddy issues, and struggles with his fate. Between the heavy Christian themes of the last two weeks and this injection of Egyptian myth—not to mention the multiple nods throughout the run of the show to Homer’s Odyssey—it looks like the Lost crew are attempting nothing less than some kind of grand unification of every story of destiny, conflict and sacrifice ever told. Not too shabby.
-So even in Dharma times, women deliver on the mainland. Because the island won’t let them give birth, or just for medical reasons?
-Who is Amy’s son? Someone we know?
-There are multiple layers to the concept of “saving” on this show, as Juliet points out tonight. Locke “saved” Sawyer and company by leaving the island. But now Locke has to get back, with the O6, in order to “save” the island. But here’s the unresolved question: Does saving the island equate to saving the world?
-Remember that packet of info that Ben gave Locke about Widmore, which convinced Locke to join Ben’s cause? I wonder what was in it, and why Locke didn’t confront Widmore with any of the info in it?
-And while I’m griping about big dramatic moments that haven’t come to much (yet), I’d like to renew my objection to all the references to how “things got really bad on the island” when Jack and company left. It was certainly no picnic for the I7, but it wasn’t like they experienced three years of misery. It was more like three days of trippiness. The only way I think the writers can reconcile this is to say that the O6 were lied to, by Locke and by Ben. Of course we didn’t see that. But just because it’s offscreen doesn’t mean it wasn’t so.
-Jeff Jensen proposed an interesting theory today—what I’m calling the Swamp Thing “Anatomy Lesson” theory—that the corpse of Locke was reanimated by the island by way of possession. Put simply: the island has manufactured a version of Locke’s soul based on what it knows about him and what it’s “seen” in him, and it has implanted its Locke into Locke’s dead body. And moreover, Doc Jensen suggests that the island may have done this with some of our other 815ers, and not just the obvious ones like Claire. Perhaps there’s a reason that someone like Rose will die if she leaves the island. Maybe it ain’t the cancer.
-Ever notice that we tend to call Jack Shepherd by his first name and John Locke by his last name, just as we call Ben Linus by his first name and Charles Widmore by his last name? Significant?
I rewatched “The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham” over the weekend and found it much improved the second time through, now that I know what it's up to. I wasn't so impatient through the early Locke/O6 encounters. Also, I failed last week to note how beautifully Jack Bender directed the episode, and how well Emerson and O'Quinn played their big scene against each other. Two other notes from last week:
-Widmore says he's “deeply invested in the future of the island” ... is that "investment" in the financial sense?-I like how Locke behaves differently depending on who he’s around. He never seems quite as incompetent and crazy as he does when he's talking with Jack.