Wednesday, March 17, 2010

“Hey, You Hear That? That’s What Life’s All About. Laughin’ and Lovin’ Each Other.”

After the sheer horror of Sundown and redemptive bliss of Dr. Linus, I wasn’t quite sure what mood to expect for Recon. Sawyer episodes tend to be a bit on the dark side, though there’s usually a nice dose of humor in there too. In terms of violence, the episode was both better and worse than I’d feared. Worse, because all of the remaining Ajira passengers died. Shame Hurley couldn’t have bought his tickets a little earlier... But that happened off-screen, and we didn’t know the victims, so it had less emotional impact than a single death from among established characters would have. And that didn’t happen - though Kate came awfully close to a nasty slash to the throat courtesy of Claire, only to be saved... by MiB, in one of several instances in this episode of him coming across as unnervingly sympathetic. More on him later. For the moment, Sawyer.

I had the following expectations about Recon: that it would be Sawyer-centric, that Team Ilana would be out of the picture and that Sawyer would be seemingly working for Smokey, while actually aiming to undercut him. All three of these assertions seem to have been true. I also suspected that he would not be a conman in Sideways World - though he certainly was putting those skills to use anyway! I got a little nervous when I saw yet another repetition of the all-too-familiar hotel room swindle, but I hoped that all would not be as it appeared. Given his role in Dharmaville, it seems quite fitting that he would be a cop, though it’s not a job I imagined for him, especially after he helped an obviously on-the-run Kate escape at the airport. I also love that he’s working with Miles, and their relationship, both personal and professional, is obviously a very close one. Also nice to hear that Pierre is alive and well and on good terms with his son.

I accidentally got two mild spoilers about this episode ahead of time. I learned that Sawyer would be canoodling with somebody and that Charlotte would be making a repeat appearance. I fervently hoped these two tidbits were not related, and I let out a cautious sigh of relief after the first Sideways scene. But no, one roll in the hay wasn’t enough for Sideways Sawyer, and I was forced to silently shout at the television, “Must you hook up with every female character on the show?!” In other words, keep your hands off. Save Charlotte for Daniel and keep an eye out for blondes lurking in coffee shops. The pairing didn’t work out, and I felt a little sorry for Sawyer when he tried to make amends, but I still wish it had imploded before clothes were shed. Also, considering she spends so much time off adventuring, she’s awfully pale. I’d think Miss Indiana Jones would have a bit more of a tan... On the plus side, we did get that Charlotte-looking-in-the-drawer moment, which reminded me forcefully of the Beast’s freak-out when Belle when poking around in the West Wing. Beauty and the Beast parallels? Always welcome.

Even better, especially since it was involved healing rather than breaking? Little House on the Prairie. One of my favorite moments in the thoroughly fantastic Tricia Tanaka Is Dead comes when Sawyer casually references “Little House” and then, with some embarrassment, explains that he used to watch the show when he was laid up as a kid. How absolutely adorable, I thought. How much more adorable for a grown-up Sawyer, without the excuse of illness and limited entertainment options, to be watching it of his own free will. And to let it inspire him to take steps in letting go of the grief that is anchoring him to his miserable past. I also love that he’s still reading Watership Down.

Sawyer’s - or I should say Jim’s - backstory is still pretty miserable. Despite the chummy photo on John’s desk, Anthony Cooper is apparently still a nefarious conman responsible for the deaths of his parents. Curiously, however, he appears to have made his move a year later in this timeline. Was that extra year enough to give little Jimmy just enough wisdom to keep him from unraveling completely when the deaths occurred? Obviously he was still in grave danger of falling into the become-what-you-hate trap, as he confessed to seeing only two choices before him. Cop or criminal? He saw both as leading him to the same destination. Revenge is still driving his life, albeit in a more productive direction. Still, even if he’s led a fairly upstanding life, there will again be dark repercussions if he simply follows his gut on this one.

A very blatant mirror scene, in which Mom correctly postulated that Sawyer was about to put his fist through the glass. Ouch. So there have been mirrors of some kind in every episode, and so far we’ve seen Jack and Sawyer break theirs. Interesting. No meet-up with Juliet yet, but Sawyer has again bumped into Kate, and he definitely recognizes her. Clearly we’ll be seeing more of this storyline. But of all the folks who showed up in Sideways worlds, the one that interested me most was definitely Liam. I let out a shout when I saw him. Might we see him and Charlie both again in Claire’s Sideways story? I hope so.

Back on the Island, we get confirmation that Jin is with Sawyer, but the Sun searcher quickly fades out of focus as MiB returns to send Sawyer on a mission and try to win Kate’s trust. He reveals to Sawyer what he does not to the group at large: that he is the one who killed all the stragglers at the Temple. Best line of the episode: “I’m the Smoke Thing.” He also says, “I forgive ya,” which is a flip comment but is interesting because Smokey seems to be a force that deals out judgment on the Island. I can’t say I agree with his sense of justice, at least in most instances; he’s a cold-blooded mass murderer. And yet, when he bestowed that beatific smile upon poor whimpering Zach and pledged his protection, I almost felt I liked him. It’s so nefarious of them to let Ultimate Baddie parade around in the body of John Locke.

What’s more, he saved Kate from Claire, which complicit, catatonic Sayid wasn’t about to do. He did so sternly, violently, with a condescending “This is completely inappropriate,“ and then went and apologized to Kate for planting the seeds of hatred in Claire’s mind. His dialogue with Kate was the most fascinating part of the episode, chock full of mythological significance. It’s so strange to think of MiB having parental issues just like everybody else on the Island, but then maybe it isn’t, since he has perhaps projected his own misery upon others. Smokey has a crazy mother.

Given all the time traveling that’s been occurring, could it possibly be someone we know, and time travel be involved? His mother is most likely a stranger, but I do believe that we’ve learned something very important. Unless he just stole John’s backstory in order to equate it to Aaron’s. On a related note, I suspect that what he said about creating an enemy for Claire may lend insight into his relationship with Jacob. She needed something to hate in order to keep her going; it wasn’t enough to simply have her very own, super-creepy version of Wilson the volleyball to talk to. She needed a challenge and a goal. Jacob refers to Smokey as an “old friend”. Could he be the Kate to Smokey’s Claire? Has someone else pitted MiB against his (real or figurative) brother? In the end, Claire fell into Kate’s waiting arms, bawling out her apology. Could we possibly see such a scene with Mr. Black and Mr. White? Though something tells me he was never as sweet and innocent as Claire.

Something seemed a little off about Zoe to me from the beginning, but I figured spending a couple of days surrounded by dead bodies might do that do a person. I liked her, initially anyway, if only because she is one of the few female characters on the show we’ve ever seen wearing glasses. Let’s hear it for the four-eyes! Though once she started all those questions I got a little suspicious. Nonetheless, though Charles was fresh in my mind at the top of the house, I somehow managed to completely forget about him at this point. I was thinking that maybe this was yet another previously unseen contingent of Others. When I saw the sub again it all came rushing back...

One of the most chilling moments for me toward the very end of season five was when MiB told Richard that they would have to do something about those Ajira passengers. Guess who went ahead and did what I strongly suspect MiB was itching to do himself? What makes Sawyer so sure that these two are enemies? What if, instead of squaring off against each other, they join forces? Scary thought.

On the whole, this episode fizzled for me just a bit, but then I really didn’t expect it to measure up to last week’s. It was the first time I was really annoyed by the role someone we know played in Sideways World. At least we know Sideways Charlotte is alive and well. It does sound as though Sawyer wants to get off the Island. But is he conning Kate too? His conversation with her seemed like we were moving back into SKate territory again, and I just don’t know if I buy that. Then again, I do think he would want to help her. Meanwhile, he’s promised not to leave until he finds Sun, and I bet he’s anxious to track down Hurley and Miles too.

Anyway, it was an interesting enough episode, but it just happened to be sandwiched between two of the most epic LOST episodes ever. I’m making that judgment about Ab Aeterno right off the bat because it’s the episode I’ve been longing to see ever since The Man Behind the Curtain. It’s the episode that seems like it really ought to be about three hours long, since Richard’s life stretches about three times longer than anybody else’s. How are they possibly going to fit it all in? Here’s hoping, at least, for a Flashes Before Your Eyes episode structure. I envision Richard sitting the good guys down for story hour and the rest of us getting to listen in.

Given that this is the only actual flashback we’ve been guaranteed to have this season, this might be our best chance to see Sterling Beaumon and Madeline Carroll again, but as much ground as they’ll have to cover, I don’t know if I’m banking on a glimpse of Little Ben and Annie. I’m guessing we won’t see Richard as a child, but maybe we will. I presume we will see Mark Pellegrino again, and maybe Titus Welliver, and that’s pretty exciting. And the provocative “This place is not what you think it is?” Please, Richard. Do tell. I’m guessing we may get more answers in that single hour than we have in the rest of the season thus far. But again, there’s only an hour, so I shouldn’t expect too much. Still, I’m extremely anxious to see this episode. The title is Latin, which seems epic in and of itself, and it apparently means “Counting From Eternal,” which is kinda clunky but certainly seems to fit with Richard’s agelessness. It’ll be interesting to see how Richard interacts with the beach folks now, and how Ben interacts with Team Richard. But I hope we don’t spend a lot of time hobnobbing on the beach. It’s answer time.

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