Getting Lost: Recon

It’s time for another installment of “Getting Lost,” where John S takes you through all the salient questions from last night’s episode of Lost:

Oh, so you finally got around to reviewing this week’s episode of Lost? Look, it’s NCAA Tournament time. That takes precedent. I mean, did you see yesterday’s games?

Given your record in yesterday’s action (6-10, four Sweet 16 teams out), why should we take anything you say about Lost seriously? Well, I’m not really saying you should, but I don’t know if there is any significant correlation between March Madness picks and Lost analysis.

They both involve predictions based on careful, deliberate analysis that end up completely negated by what appears to be random nonsense… Good point.

OK, can we please talk about something besides the NCAA Tournament for once? Ugh. Fine.

So what’s the deal with Sawyer being a cop? In some ways, this was the most obvious and heavy-handed “turn of events” that has accompanied the time-shift: The show sets up the con formula we know Sawyer loves so much, only to pull the rug out from under us with the revelation that this version of Sawyer—or James Ford, really, since he has no alias—is actually an undercover cop. As Detective James Ford later tells Charlotte (hey! It’s Charlotte!) on their date: “I got to the point where it was either be a criminal or a cop.”

Sawyer, of course, is not the first to draw this parallel, and it seems, on its surface, to be laughably obvious, but I thought it was handled pretty well in “Recon.” For one, it fits the general progression of Sawyer, who has been the most appealing character for the last two seasons, and the one with the most development in recent years. The transition to cop makes a lot of sense for the new Sawyer,* who we have seen go from a proudly self-interested loner to a reluctant hero to one of the most competent leaders the Island has seen. So we know that, at least for Sawyer, the line between Good and Bad is pretty thin.

*This episode raised the interesting question of Sawyer’s name—which was completely shed in the alternate timeline, as illustrated by Miles asking Det. Ford, “Who’s Sawyer?” To all fans of the show, of course, Sawyer is still “Sawyer,” but for the last few seasons, he’s actually been “James” or “LaFleur” just as, if not more, often. Considering the important implications the name “Sawyer” has, this development is pretty significant. And considering that the turning point dates back to around the time when Sawyer killed Locke’s dad, it almost feels as if this may be something that Darlton actually planned in advance. Who knew?

More important, though, was how the show handled the story, using the alternate storyline to develop a relationship that exists on the Island. The Miles-Sawyer relationship is one that has developed subtly and organically over the last few years—the show never dwelt on it, but it was clear that they bonded while working for the Dharma Initiative, with Miles calling Sawyer “boss” even after the bomb went off. So having Sawyer open up to Miles, and not Charlotte or Kate, was a nice touch.

Also, the episode went beyond using the “Sawyer as cop” conceit as just a commentary on Sawyer’s capacity to be good, which would have been tired at this point. By focusing instead on whether Sawyer can actually open up to people and, in turn, accept responsibility for them, the episode explored themes of letting the past go, which tie into the general Island story as a whole, and enhanced the episode overall.

But, honestly, aren’t these alternate storylines a waste of time by now? We have no idea what they are supposed to mean, after all, and the characters aren’t even the same ones we’re used to, differing in both history and personality. A lot of theories have been tossed around about what the alternate storylines are supposed to mean. What has frustrated me is that a lot of the changes in the alternate reality are, quite clearly, not the result of the bomb going off. Why is Locke’s dad, for example, suddenly a loving and supportive father, when he is presumably the same guy who abandoned Locke as a child and in 1976, one year before the hydrogen bomb was detonated, conned Sawyer’s parents. Sure, he may have reformed himself, but there have been more little things that seem more like changes for the sake of change than for any meaningful reason.

The truth is that we don’t really know what happened when Juliet set off that bomb—it clearly didn’t explode in a traditional sense, since everyone, including Juliet, who was 2 feet away from it, survived the explosion. We know it sent them to 2007 and somehow resulted in the Island sinking, but we have to fill in the gaps ourselves.

In this way, the alternate storylines function almost exactly like the flashbacks did—as contextless stories meant to illustrate a theme and deepen a character and not advance the plot. It’s a little weird, then, that so many people who loved the flashback episodes hate the show’s current direction—I, for one, like these more, since we have enough investment in the characters at this point for the stories to be more than bland morality tales.

But they are taking time away from the on-Island stuff! That’s my biggest problem with them. It’s nice to see an off-Island Sawyer solving crimes and fucking broads, but at this point I’m much more interested in the on-Island chess match between John Locke 2.0 and Jacob.

Not this again. Which side are you on this week? Well, as you can probably tell by now, I tend to be won over by whichever one’s charm and charisma was most prominently featured in this week’s episode, so I’m with Locke for now.

Something worth pointing out, though, is the paternal element that was highlighted in “Recon.” After “Lighthouse” I likened Jacob to a “good dad” who influences you but ultimately lets you make your own decisions. This week showed how father-like Locke 2.0 really is, despite his insistence on independence: It was hard not to view Locke as a dad breaking up a fight between his kids when he pulled Claire off Kate and sent Claire into a timeout. He also took responsibility for Claire’s behavior in the same way a father would take responsibility for a child’s behavior.

It’s no secret that fathers are a pretty big theme of Lost—pretty much every character has some kind of Daddy Issue. And for all of Jacob and the Man in Black’s differences, they seem to mirror each other in this crucial aspect—that is, that they relate to the others on the Island in a paternalistic manner. Note how Locke 2.0 told Kate, after Claire attacked her, that he was “sorry that happened to you”—Jacob said almost the exact same thing to the original Locke after his accident. The root of their conflict, then, seems much more subtle and nuanced than just Good vs. Evil. Which is why it’s so interesting.

Any other thoughts? How could Sawyer not figure out immediately that Zoe was lying? Was ANYONE in the audience fooled by that? You’d think people on the Island would be wary of strange loners who wander out of the woods by now.

Also, if Sawyer is a cop in the alternate timeline, why’d he help a handcuffed Kate evade detection in “LA X”? Did he want to get in her pants that badly?

Finally, it was nice to see Sawyer playing Locke 2.0 and Widmore off of each other so nicely, looking out for his friends, and not the epic struggle for the Island. At the same time, it was a little disappointing that the only person he felt obligated to share this plan with was Kate. It leads me to believe that the Kate-Sawyer story isn’t as dead as I’d hoped.

Predictions for next week? Next week marks the official midpoint of the season, and I feel like the last major hurdle that needs to be crossed before Locke’s camp and Jacob’s camp finally confront each other is the Jin-Sun reunion. Jin is still recuperating with Locke’s group, and Sun is on the beach with Ilana (also, I wonder if Ilana is aware of Widmore’s presence; it certainly seems like Widmore is working with Jacob, but he didn’t act like he was factoring Ilana into his plans at all). I would guess that next week sees one of them trying to leave his or her camp to find the other. Jin is still injured, and this week already showcased the Locke group, so I’ll guess that next week focuses on Sun and her attempts to get Jack/Hurley/Ben/Ilana to help her find Jin.  

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aaron on March 19, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    To answer the question about letting Kate go (I did not come up with this I read it elsewhere on a recap), Sawyer couldn’t arrest her, because then it would be found out that he was in the airport, and not Palm Springs. So he had to stay out of Kate’s way.

    I’m hoping for a Lost spinoff, Sawyer and Miles buddy cop show. Who wouldn’t watch that?

    A few things I’ve been thinking about:

    -Where the f is Desmond?
    -My memory is a little hazy, Widmore was against Ben previously but they were both on Team Jacob? How does that all work?

    Reply

    • Posted by John S on March 19, 2010 at 10:59 AM

      Who the hell knows what happened to Desmond? They gave us that tease in the first episode and haven’t so much as mentioned him since. And considering he was hardly in the last ten episodes of last season, we’ve barely seen him in almost a full season. Is the actor even getting paid for these episodes?

      As for the Widmore/Ben rivalry, it hasn’t been explicitly stated, but the implication seems to be that both of them THINK they are acting in Jacob’s interests, but neither one trusts the other. It’s hard to completely buy that, though, since Widmore did send that freighter to kill everyone, but he appears to be the one Jacob brought to the Island to kill Locke 2.0.

      I would watch practically any Sawyer/Miles spinoff, although I don’t really see your explanation for the Kate thing. Even if he couldn’t arrest her himself, why’d he have to help her escape?

      Reply

  2. […] Similarly, over on the boat, Michael wonders about Sawyer’s motives. After all, it’s clear why Michael wants to get off the Island (for Walt) and why Jin needs to help (for Sun), but why is Sawyer risking his life when he doesn’t have anyone? “The way I see it,” Michael says, “you’re either a hero, or you want to die.” That line certainly reminds me of Sideways Sawyer’s statement this season that, “I got to the point where it was either be a criminal or a cop.” […]

    Reply

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