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Stuck on the Wrong Song: Castaways Adapt to Community Living on "Lost"

I've long since given up trying to figure out who Kate will pick between Jack and Sawyer when given the chance and yet I couldn't help but have my heart melted by this week's episode of Lost ("LaFleur"), which featured a pairing between two characters that has been subtly building throughout Season Five.

Those of you who believed that this week's episode would feature some sort of tearful reunion between Sawyer and Kate, returned to the island after three years apart, clearly don't watch the series carefully enough: there was no way that Team Darlton was going to fulfill that tension without making the audience work for it. (We'll have to wait two weeks for that.)

This week's episode of Lost ("LaFleur") filled in the blanks about just what happened to the castaways who were left behind on the island while the Oceanic Six returned to their lives (or some of them anyway: I'm still curious to know where/when Rose and Bernard are) and sees them integrate themselves into the nascent Dharma Initiative, overseen by Horace Goodspeed (Kidnapped's Doug Hutchison), whom we last saw as a time-trapped wood-chopping ghost in one of Locke's vision quests. (More on that in a bit.)

So put on your Dharma jumpsuit, crank up the eight-track on your VW van, and let's discuss this week's episode of Lost.

Sawyer. No discussion of this episode could begin without discussing just how front and center Sawyer's character has become and just how different a beast he is from when we first encountered Sawyer back in Season One. Back then, he was a self-centered con man with little concern for anyone else around him but over the past five or so seasons, his character has slowly developed from gruff outsider to, well, the leader of the pack. The ease with which he takes charge of our time-tossed castaways (without the threat of violence) is astonishing to watch as is the way he calmly constructs a cover story for the group (one involving the Black Rock and some reef) and confronts Richard Alpert about murdering two of his men and tells him about Locke, Jughead, and burying the bomb. Yes, he's a very different man than the one we met all those years before and seeing him in his guise as LaFleur, the head of security for the Dharma Initiative, it's clear that he's realizing his potential. (It's also, rather sadly, a path to his full potential that will likely be cut short now that Jack and the other castaways have returned.)

Sawyer has always been quick on his feet; his background as a con man has always helped him and here he constructs a convenient cover for the group that utilizes his knowledge of the island, what happened to Rousseau's research team, and pulls a new identity (LaFleur, from the French for "flower," as a Creole nom du guerre) seemingly out of thin air. I don't think for a second Sawyer ever thought that his new life as James "Jim" LaFleur would last more than a few days, much less three years but he settles into his new responsibilities as head of security with a commitment that we've not seen from him... to the point that his employees--like Jerry (Patrick Fischler) and Phil (Kevin Rankin)--fear and respect him.

Juliet. I loved that Sawyer and Juliet fell into a rather uncomplicated relationship. They seemed genuinely happy together and Sawyer had finally gotten over Kate and moved past his dreams of a future that they could never share. (Hell, he claims that he's all but forgotten what she looks like.) The little details about their domestic arrangement--the flower he picks for her (how very apt given his pseudonym), the way Juliet covers her head with the pillow when the phone rings--point to years of shared intimacy. I for one love these two together and it's fantastic to see Elizabeth Mitchell's Juliet the focal point of a romantic relationship rather than just a tangent. The look of sad resolve in her eyes when she tells Sawyer in 1974 that she wants to leave on the sub is totally at odds with the blissful smile she offers Sawyer in his arms. Juliet also manages to get past her fears about childbirth on the island, by successfully delivering a baby boy. Plus, in addition to her whip-smart intelligence, she can fix cars (love the little wrench on her Dharma jumpsuit), so Juliet is just kick-ass in my book.

The Statue. We're given the first look at the infamous Statue in this week's episode when the castaways look up from the location of the Orchid well. Of course, Team Darlton goes to great lengths to both show us the statue when it actually existed (which means they traveled to the far past) AND manage not to show us the front. Which makes me believe that said statue is of someone we know very well. The statue appears to be holding two ankhs (more on that in a bit) in its hands and the ankh itself is an ancient Egyptian symbol for eternal life. So there's a statue that seems to represent eternity... a man who seems to live forever (Richard Alpert) and a man who has returned from the dead (Locke). Coincidence? Could Locke or Richard be the basis for the statue?

Charlotte. A grieving Faraday comes face to face with a five-year-old Charlotte Staples Lewis and wants to stop himself from telling her not to come back to the island, which seemingly leads her to her death. Does Faraday not tell her this time around? Does he alter the future and allow Charlotte to live after all? Or will he be forced to tell her once more? The look on his face as he sees Charlotte in younger and more innocent days? Absolutely heart-wrenching.

(Random aside: how awesome is it that Jin can now speak English?)

Horace Goodspeed. I'm glad that we're seeing more of Dharma leader Horace Goodspeed, who seems to be becoming a fairly pivotal player in the history of the island. He was with Ben's parents when Ben was born on the side of the road in Oregon and offered Ben's father Roger a job with the Dharma Initiative, bringing both of them to the island. He built the cabin that Jacob now inhabits. And he was killed by Ben as part of The Purge and was the only one who received any sort of respect from Ben (who gently closes Horace's eyes in death). Plus, it's Horace who appears to Locke in a vision in which he's seemingly trapped in a time loop chopping wood to build what will later be Jacob's cabin... and is suffering from a nosebleed. Does Horace somehow become "unstuck" from time at some point before his death? Or is Locke's vision of Horace just an echo of an actual event that occurred? Curious. Horace's name is also evocative of the ancient Egyptian god Horus, a sky god who was the son of Isis and Osiris, a falcon-headed deity who was often depicted holding an ankh... the very same symbol held by the four-toed statue and worn by Amy's husband Paul.

In 1974, Horace Goodspeed is the leader of the Dharma Initiative and very suspicious of Sawyer and his companions. He immediately wants them put on the sub the following morning and sent to Tahiti but relents, giving Sawyer a two-week period to find his missing friends, after seeing how Sawyer handled Richard Alpert. Horace seems like a good man, though he's plagued with a secret alcoholism that Sawyer goes to great lengths to keep from the other Dharma members. Although, when Horace is drunkenly blowing up trees with dynamite, it's hard to keep that under wraps for long.

The Truce. Just what is the nature of the truce that exists in 1974 between the hostiles and the Dharma Initiative? Horace and Richard Alpert seem to know one another so it's entirely possible that these two leaders worked out some sort of treaty between their followers, one that seems to be strictly enforced, after frequent violent clashes. The sonic fence, we learn, doesn't keep out the Others (who are seemingly immune to its attack, according to Richard) but would therefore seem to have been built in order to keep out the smoke monster. Which explains just how the hostiles are able to rip through the encampment during Ben's childhood even with the fence activated. So what ends the truce altogether? Clearly not this skirmish involving Amy and Paul, which is defused when Sawyer gives Richard Paul's corpse to take back as proof of wrongdoing on their part. So when do things escalate and how? Very interesting.

Amy. Just what was Amy doing out on a picnic with her husband Paul beyond the sonic fence? Sawyer and the castaways come upon Amy when she's being seized by two hostiles, who throw a bag over her head. Paul, meanwhile, is already dead. While the scene seems almost deliberately set for a romantic interlude, the cynic in me is looking at this scene very differently. Just why were these two past the sonic fence? And why did the hostiles attack the pair? While Paul is seemingly killed right away, the hostiles don't kill Amy but throw a sack over her head as though they are planning to kidnap her. So why is Amy so important to the Others that they'd want to take her alive? Is this the start of their forced conscription by kidnapping "good people"? And just what happened to Horace's first wife? When we saw Horace in "The Man Behind the Curtain," he's married not to Amy but to a woman named Olivia... So what happened to her?

The Ankh. Paul, meanwhile, is the Dharma Initiative's head of security, a position that is later filled by Sawyer in his guise as LaFleur. He seems to be a valuable member of the Dharma Initiative and a companion of Horace Goodspeed. So why does Paul secretly wear an ankh necklace, the very same symbol that the statue holds in its hands? Is he connected to the island and its indigenous population? Is he a worshipper of the same religion that the hostiles practice? (Besides for the presence of ankhs, the Temple featured Egyptian hieroglyphs, making it likely that the Others practice some form of Egyptian worship dealing with death and reincarnation.) The ankh necklace also plays a role in the row between Amy and Horace three years later, after he discovers that Amy has held onto Paul's necklace. So is Amy a believer as well? Hmmm... Just what did they fight about vis-a-vis the ankh that had Horace so drunk he was blowing up trees instead of watching his son be born?

The Baby. Speaking of which, there's the baby to consider. Amy gives birth to a baby in 1977, a baby that is successfully delivered by Juliet. Which means that the island curse against pregnancy is not in effect in the late 1970s. We're told that Amy gives birth to a son but are very specifically NOT told the child's name. Which leads me to believe, once again, that the son is someone we know. Born in 1977, Amy's son would be roughly thirty years old in the present day. So just who do we know that could match that description... and who may not realize he was on the island before? Very curious. And is it a coincidence that Jacob moves into the cabin that Horace was building for his first wife Olivia? Hmm...

Best line of the evening: "Your buddy out there with the eyeliner, let me talk to him." - Sawyer (Just awesome, really.)

What did you think of this week's episode? Who do you think is the baby? And which character is the basis for the four-toed statue? Did you love seeing Sawyer and Juliet madly in love with one another? Discuss.

In two weeks on Lost ("Namaste"), Sawyer is forced to further perpetuate his lie in order to protect the lives of his former companions when they turn up on the island; Sayid is identified as a spy by the Dharma Initiative; Sawyer is reunited with Kate but is torn between her and Juliet.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I loved seeing Sawyer in action and taking charge of his little band of survivors. They did such an excellent job creating a comfortable, happy life between Sawyer and Juliet. You really believe that they've been a couple for the past three years. And I really appreciated the other little details like Jin speaking English fluently! And Daniel seeing a young and happy Charlotte. The look on his face was absolutely heartbreaking.
Anonymous said…
Maybe the Others killed Olivia and that led Horace to sign up for the truce? Since we see a 5 year old Charlotte in 1974, this means that by 1977 Ben must already be living on the island since he's clearly older than Charlotte. Can't Sawyer and Juliet tell Horace to get Ben off the island so The Purge doesn't happen or is this part of the wibbly wobbly time travel rules of events that can't be changed?
Anonymous said…
Charlotte looked more like three than five to me (I have a four-year-old daughter), but there's still something odd about her timeline. If she was 3 in 1974, that would make her 33 or 34 in late 2004, when the freighter folk arrived. Possible, but that seems a bit old.

There are lots of gaps in the story at the moment (what happened to Kate, Sayid, and Hurley in the 36 hours before boarding Ajira flight 316; what happened in the three years between 1974 and 1977; where exactly is young Ben in all of this; and on and on). And I have a feeling that some of these gaps will remain unfilled. Nevertheless, this was a great episode; I feel like we're back on track after a disappointing last two weeks.
Anonymous said…
Jeff C. - I can't believe you were disappointed by the last two episodes! I think this entire season has been incredible and rivals seasons one and two in terms of story, character development, and suspense.
The CineManiac said…
I have to agree with Heatherette, Jeff C. I'm shocked you didn't like the past two weeks as I think these past three weeks have been the strongest episodes of Lost to come along in quite some time.

Jace, I love your comments as they always give me so much insight that I hadn't thought of myself. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
>>>Which makes me believe that said statue is of someone we know very well.>>>

Wow. I had not thought of that. That would be entirely too freaky. *shudder*
Anonymous said…
@oh amanda I didn't even think of that either! Thanks Jace for making me think EVEN more about this show. Didn't dawn on me that was why they didn't show the front of the statue but your right and it is probably someone we know. Could be Richard or Locke or Jacob, I guess. Or someone else. I am hoping it is Locke.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for mentioning the bit about Jin speaking English. I am glad that he is finally about to speak fluently and it makes sense since he was living with the DI for 3 years and had been starting to speak in English before that. Hoping Jin becomes a even more important char this season!
Anonymous said…
Can't Sawyer and Juliet tell Horace to get Ben off the island so The Purge doesn't happen or is this part of the wibbly wobbly time travel rules of events that can't be changed?

@Mrs. James Ford (love the name, BTW!) How much do Saywer and Juliet really know about Ben's past? Do they know that he was responsible for the Purge or that he's even on the island? I guess they've been there for 3 yrs and Ben should be around there somewhere. I'm guessing they can't get involved?

@Jace Good catch on the ankh and the statue and the theory that it's of someone we know! Would love it if it was Locke. And I agree that Amy and Paul were in the jungle to do something other than have a picnic. Very suspicious.
Anonymous said…
I shouldn't exaggerate my unhappiness with 316 and TLADOJB--they advanced the story in important ways, and they were both better than about 95 percent of what's on television. But to me they disappointed in little ways. I didn't like either the writing for Mrs. Hawking or the performance by Fionnula Flanagan (contrasted with her first appearance in Flashes Before Your Eyes, where I thought both the writing and the performance were brilliant). I didn't really appreciate having Penny's fate left hanging. And I didn't like all the unanswered questions about how Kate, Sayid, and Hurley came to be on the plane. As for Locke's episode, I thought things were great until the encounter with Walt. Given the history between Locke and Walt, that should have been a big moment, but for me it fell flat. And Locke's encounter with Jack raised some timeline inconsistency problems that might possibly be explained away but that on the surface just seem sloppy.

This week, though, was absolutely top-notch in my eyes.
Anonymous said…
@Jeff C. I can understand that and I agree about Fionnula Flanagan. There was something off about her performance and the writing in that scene that weirded me out too, esp. as Young Ellie seemed so cool in "Jughead". Mrs. Hawking definitely was more interesting earlier than she is now.
Anonymous said…
I loved the episode until the unfortunate scenes of Sawyer and Juliet. I had hoped the writers would not go there, but they did. I am not against Sawyer having another romance but not with Juliet. That sleep inducing tone she has when calming Sawyer down drives me mad. The relationship is all kinds of weird for me. Too sis/bros for my tastes. Too calm. In the end, I suspect it will be Sawyer/Kate(I like) and it's just sad that Kate haters will use that as another opportunity to blame her for something that is not her fault. How about for once, Juliet leaves her adulterous inclinations and finds a man that likes her and only her from the beginning?! I'm sorry but a flower and a cuddle is not good enough to erase the myriad of amazing scenes I have enjoyed with sawyer/Kate over 4 seasons. I am not sold. Just let it end quickly.
Anonymous said…
Forgive me if this has been said already or is obvious, but someone above mentioned young Ben being in the camp already and it struck a chord with me. Back in season 2 when the others seemed to know so much about the castaways, could it be that it's because Ben knew some of them from his childhood? Weren't the four "good people" kidnapped at the end of season 2 Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley? All people that young Ben might have come into contact with as a young Dharma boy? And when Ben met Sawyer, didn't he call him James before anybody else knew his true name? Because as a boy Ben knew Sawyer as James LeFluer?
technotory said…
I imagine that Amy is a Hostile plant. She compromises the leader of the DI and has his child. She defects back to her people, bringing baby/young Ethan with her, some time prior to the purge, where he grows up an Other.

Presumably, the Baby Death Curse is a result of or response to The Purge or The Incident, which have not yet happened (in the '74-'77 timeline).

Of the statue models posited, Richard seems the likeliest at this point, as he could realistically (Lost-wise) have been prominent enough of a figure far enough in the past to have had a statue erected of him.

I had extrapolated that Jin would teach Charlotte Korean during their time together in the DI, but young Charlotte already appears to speak Korean when Jin and Co. first see her as a child.

I don't believe they specifically said Horace and Olivia were married in Ben's flashback. They could have another connection. Olivia doesn't seem significant to me.

Richard says that the sonic fence doesn't keep the Hostiles out; he doesn't say they can go though it. The fence pylons seem older than the other DI structures. Richard may just know the fence codes because he's been around since it was constructed.
Unknown said…
Maybe it's just me, but I thought the statue looked like Jar Jar Binks. Which would just ruin the show for me...
Anonymous said…
I'm totally off topic here, but when will you post the interviews Jace?

I think you already made interviews with Damon, Carlton, Matthew, Evangeline and Micheal and we are all very excited to watch them.

I hope you can post the interviews soon.
I love the episode. Seeing Sawyer and Juliet happily together was a big surprise to me (in very good way obviously).

Jace, any news on the on-camera interviews you did last week with Matthew, Evangeline, Darlton and Michael Emerson?

We're dying to see them at least tell us when we'll be able to see them, please.
Anonymous said…
Kate and Juliet just don't fit. It's Skate all the way:).
Anonymous said…
I love Sawyer and Juliet. They are adorable in this episode. I hope writers won't mess it up.

Obviously Kate is not in love with Sawyer. We didn't see any kind of grief or pinning from her during those 3 years.
Why make Sawyer pine for Kate when he has something real with Juliet?
Anonymous said…
I found it curious last week that when Locke approached Hurley, he was working on a drawing of a sphinx. Why a sphinx? Then this week there are more Egyptian symbols. Makes me wonder: What's the connection?
Anonymous said…
I think there's a good chance Jack will once again steal Sawyer's thunder as leader, but he wasn't able to do so with John.

I'm actually curious to see if it starts a friction. John could come back as leader of the Others. Sawyer leads the Dharma Initiative and most of the survivors (like Rose) and the new survivors would once again follow Jack. It could be an interesting triangle of power.
Anonymous said…
Damn, I forgot to add that I LOVE Juliet and Sawyer. I, too, thought they fell into such an easy, healthy relationship.
Anonymous said…
In Ben's flashback when we find out that he wasn't born on the island, didn't he come to the island as a pre-teen, not a child? If that were the case, he isn't even on the island in the timeline Sawyer, Juliet, Jack, Jin, etc are in. Also, I liked Sawyer and Juliet. It seemed like a real relationship, not just cage sex and long glances.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, who wants cage sex and morning kisses and water fights and long glances when I can have plants and food and wear paisley?! LOL. Give me cage sex and long glances and everything that comes with that any day of the week. Sawyer belongs with Kate and he will dispose of second choice Juliet sooner or later or hopefully she will bow out gracefully as she always does having vast experience being "The other woman". Or, they will kill Sawyer, just like her husband off Island or Goodwin. I hope not. Kill Juliet instead.
Anonymous said…
Does anyone wonder why John Locke's mother's name was Emily and Ben's mother's name was Emily?

Emily Locke is a teenager in the 50's when she has John and he is put up for adoption, she has strawberry blond hair.

Emily Linus (could be a married last name since she married Roger Linus) is at least mid to late 20's which works since Ben was born in 70's. Emily also has same coloring of hair.

Could these guys be brothers and is why they are both "called" to lead the Island?
Jace Lacob said…
Anonymous,

One problem: Emily Linus died in childbirth when she had Ben... and Locke's mother Emily is alive in the present day.

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