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No One is Perfect: Shattered Glass on "Lost"

"If you live your life based on what's going to happen, before you know it your life is over." - Charles Ingalls

This week's episode of Lost ("Recon"), written by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Jim Galasso and directed by Jack Bender, placed its focus squarely on James "Sawyer" Ford as the one-time con man embarked on what might just be his most ambitious and dangerous double-cross ever as he attempts to play two very different men against each other. Will his gambit pay off? Will he be able to escape the island? Should anyone ever take Sawyer at his word? We'll have to wait to find out.

But before his latest stratagem kicks into place, Sawyer was sent on a mission of great importance, one that forced him to retrace his steps and return to a place he hoped he would never have to see again, a place that awakened feelings long thought dead, and he came face to face with someone who is either the savior or the villain in the final battle to come.

So what did I think of this week's episode? Heat up a microwave dinner, snag a single sunflower, don't open that drawer, and let's discuss "Recon."

I have to say that I really enjoyed this week's episodes and felt that the two sides of the episode--the mainstream reality and the Lost-X alternate reality--held up equally well. Some viewers have complained that the so-called sideways universe has lacked weight, given that we don't know yet how it connects to what we're seeing unfold on the island.

To me, that's never been the case. I feel that these two realities are inherently interlocked and connected in an intrinsic way; I don't buy into the current theory that what we're seeing in the Lost-X world is an epilogue to the series itself. That, to me, is a overly simplistic way of looking at the dual reality structure of this season. I don't for a second believe that this is an afterlife, a second chance, a reset timeline, purgatory, heaven, or any number of theories currently circulating around the Internet.

Instead, my feeling is that the sideways universe is a shard of a fractured universe, the result of some event--whether Jack and Co. detonating Jughead in 1977 or another--that caused the timeline to splinter. What we're seeing in the Lost-X timeline is a universe where we're seeing the results of a shift in causality, where certain character-defining actions were different, where things turned out differently for some of the castaways, and where they were spared the results--or are forced to come to terms with--of some of the issues they've been struggling with their entire lives.

Ironically, isn't that exactly what the Man in Black told Kate this week? Sitting on the beach with Kate, Jacob's still-unnamed nemesis told Kate that he had experienced "some growing pains, problems that [he] was still trying to work [his] way through." Problems that could have avoided should things have turned out differently.

Which, isn't that exactly what the Lost-X timeline is then? It's a look at the characters through a prism of shattered glass, where things turned out differently for them. Where Jack is able to put aside his father issues in order to be a better father for his own son, where Hurley sees himself as good luck for everyone around him, rather than a cloud hanging over his head, where Sawyer chooses to be a cop rather than a criminal, despite his need to enact a Biblical vengeance against Anthony Cooper.

But while these characters may be living under different circumstances and have had various aspects of their backstories changed, I still believe that each of them will be drawn back to the island, which in this world is underneath the ocean. As Eloise Hawking once told Desmond, the universe has a way of course-correcting and, as the season wears on, I think we'll begin to see this happen. The Lost-X passengers of Oceanic Flight 815--and other people who visited or lived on the island--are being drawn together tighter and tighter as their paths continue to cross.

In fact, it's my belief that before the season is over these characters, bound by invisible threads of fate, will raise the island from beneath the ocean.

Lost-X James Ford. This week's episode focused on Sawyer in the two timelines: our con man Sawyer on the island, who engineered an elegant double-cross designed to protect himself from the coming war, and Detective James Ford of the LAPD, an undercover cop we meet when he poses as a con man in order to entrap the confidence man husband of Ava (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). In a nice callback, he uses not only the Pigeon Shoot to lure Ava in to the con but then reveals his true identity by alerting the police that he needs backup by uttering a single word: "LaFleur." (LaFleur, of course, being Sawyer's alias during the Dharma years on Season Five.)

James' choice of profession is an interesting one. After feeding Charlotte Staples Lewis--his blind date, organized by his partner (!) Miles--a line about wanting to become a cop because of Steve McQueen in Bullit, she forces him to be honest with her, to stop lying. (Something that our Sawyer can't do; hell, the Man in Black even says that he's the best liar he ever met.) James then tells her that he came to a crossroads in his life and could have become a cop or a criminal. But in both cases, James is after justice. Not the justice of the law but the Biblical justice of vengeance; he's still looking for Anthony Cooper, the man who conned his parents and caused their deaths, but is doing so from within the police department. He looked into the abyss but he wasn't claimed by it; he never became the man he was searching for.

James' obsession took him to Australia, just as it did for Sawyer, but James can't--or won't--open up to anyone about his mission. Certainly not Charlotte, whom he kicks out of his bed at 3 am after she looks in the wrong drawer and finds his Sawyer folder, nor his partner Miles, who is suspicious enough that he runs James' credit cards and discovers that he lied about going to Palm Springs. But James finally does open up to Miles and tells him that he intends to find Anthony Cooper and kill him. (Which makes me wonder just how much Lost-X Locke knows about his father, given that they're on good terms.)

He also attempts to apologize to Charlotte but she slams the door in his face. (Can't blame her, really.) There's a nice callback with the sunflowers to Season Five before James heads back to his monastic existence, a life that includes microwave dinners, Little House on the Prairie reruns, and books like Watership Down and A Wrinkle in Time. (Aha on that last one!)

There's also a nice moment where James looks in the mirror and seems to hate the man he sees looking back at him (he's just been "broken up" with by partner Miles after he wouldn't open up) and he punches the mirror, shattering it. There's a slick parallel here to Jack smashing the lighthouse mirrors in "Lighthouse," as both men are forced to contend with what has been done to them and who they are today. The shattered glass, as mentioned earlier, can also be looked at as a metaphor for the splintering of the timeline... which makes me wonder if there aren't shards of other realities hanging about as well.

The final scene brings James and Kate together once more as Kate literally collides with the car in which James and Miles are sitting in. There's a pursuit and then James unmasks the fugitive and is extremely surprised--and maybe more than a little bit pleased--to see Kate Austen, the woman he helped escape police at the airport. Given that James is a cop, just why did he let Kate go at LAX? Because she was hot? Because somehow he recognized her? Because he sensed a simpatico soul within her? Curious...

Lost-X Miles and Charlotte. I'm glad to see the scientific team from Seasons Four and Five playing a role here. Loved that Miles would end up being James' partner in this world and a detective to boot. Could it be that his supernatural gifts come in handy in this line of work? Or is this Miles free from the burden of communicating with the dead? He seems to be a human lie detector in both worlds, however... but in this world Miles is walking the path of the angels rather than that of a lowlife, a man who fraudulently takes the money of the willing to "speak" with their lost ones.

After all, in this reality, Miles was raised by his father--who I'm assuming is still Pierre Chang--and chose a different path. His father now works at a museum with the beautiful archeologist Charlotte Staples Lewis (who, like Miles, was born on the island in the mainstream reality). Which made me wonder if Faraday wasn't also working there himself. Hmmm...

Loved Miles' admonition to James that he would "die alone," a haunting callback to the oft-used phrase "live together or die alone" that has been at the heart of the series since the beginning.

Charlotte claims to be rather like Indiana Jones, or at least jokingly agrees with James on their blind date when he suggests it, saying that she gets to travel to far-off and exotic places. In our reality, she was motivated by returning to the island so that she could see where she was born. But if the island doesn't exist in the Lost-X reality--or is at least underwater--than her motivations have changed. She's still connected to uncovering the past but in a very different way. Plus, was it just me or did it seem like she was snooping in James' drawer for a reason? She did uncover his past but in a way that made her one-time lover very, very angry.

Sawyer. Back on the island, Sawyer was sent on a reconnaissance mission by the Man in Black and traveled to the Hydra Island to meet up with some people who were not going to fall in line with the Man in Black's plans to leave the island. On the other island, Sawyer retraced his steps and came face to face with the bear cages, where Kate's pretty dress (the one given to her by Ben at the beginning of Season Three) still fluttered forlornly in the breeze. While Sawyer is still mourning Juliet, touching that dress seemed to bring back memories of Kate and reawaken romantic feelings towards Kate. More than anything, it seemed to bring him alive again, to push him towards another person. He won't die alone.

Sawyer found the Ajira plane which the Man in Black claims that they will use to leave the island but he also encountered a clearing filled with the bodies of redshirts that arrived on the plane. Just who killed them? Widmore's men? The Man in Black in his incarnation as the smoke monster? Curious, that.

He also meets Zoe, who claims to be the last survivor but who is in fact conning Sawyer himself. She works for Charles Widmore and she issues a signal--a whistle--to her team, who quickly surround him and take him prisoner. Despite the fact that Sawyer already has a deal in place with Jacob's Nemesis, he quickly makes another deal with Charles Widmore, agreeing to bring the Man in Black to him so that he can be killed. In exchange, he wants his group to be spared in any bloodshed and he wants safe passage off the island.

Revealing that Sawyer isn't on anyone's side, he tells the Man in Black of the plan, setting both sides against each other. He's not on Jacob or his Nemesis' side, after all, he's on Team Sawyer and always has been. Fortunately, he's not just looking out for himself and wants to get his friends home as well. With Widmore and the Nemesis battling each other, what better time to steal the sub and use it as their means of egress from the island. It's a plan that he shares with a surprised Kate. They're going to get off this island together.

Claire. Claire, meanwhile, is out of control and seems to be borderline psychotic at this point. Loved that she took Kate's hand at the encampment as the Man in Black shared his plans... and then attempted to stab Kate when his back was turned. I understand that Claire has been lied to and she has become a wild, feral thing after years of living in the jungle by herself but I don't understand why her anger is directed at Kate, considering she's the one who wandered off into the jungle in the night at left Aaron on his own. (Likewise, though, it's driving me mad that Kate hasn't told Claire that Aaron is with Claire's mother. It's sort of an important point to be making to her that he's with family.)

Loved that the Man in Black tossed Claire around like a rag doll and then slapped her before apologizing to Kate for her behavior. Claire herself seemed to come around and apologized herself to Kate, embracing her and sobbing, while thanking her for looking after Aaron. All a little too easy, if you ask me. Why is Claire suddenly lucid and emotionally grounded? And is she, really?

Kate. Kate, meanwhile, had to contend with a hell of a lot this week, from reluctantly joining Fake Locke's group, seeing Sawyer head off on a secret mission, and having not one but two heart-to-hearts with the Man in Black. (Loved that she didn't take his hand when he offered it to her but instead stood up on her own.) She's clearly not one of the Man in Black's recruit and is wary of everyone she encounters, save Sawyer. Hell, wouldn't you be after you saw the squirrel baby in Claire's crib? She also seems to not trust the Man in Black instinctively, despite his platitudes and kindness towards her. Like Sawyer, she's had to rely on her wits, and regardless of her emotional breakdown in this week's episode, she maintains her trademark flight-or-fight stance. She's no fool.

The Man in Black. Interesting that the Man in Black would be so persuasive. In fact, he seems to know just what to say to keep his followers calm and docile. He showed a rare paternal streak when he talked to Zach and Emma (and flight attendant Cindy) and he was extremely forthright with Kate as well, telling her that he had to tell Claire that the Others had taken Aaron because giving her an enemy gave her something to fight--and therefore live--for. (It also made her more easy to subvert to his will and mission, but that's beside the point.) Plus, he had the best retort to Kate calling him a dead man: "No one's perfect."

Echoing the beach scene in "The Incident," The Man in Black takes Kate to the beach to gaze out at the Hydra Island and he reveals some pieces of his backstory... or at least claims to. In his human life, he had a mother who was mad (hmmm, so did the real John Locke in fact!) or "disturbed" and he revealed that he had "some growing pains, problems that [he] was still trying to work [his] way through." (Just like the castaways!) And that his mother was crazy and now Aaron's mother (Claire) is crazy too. (So was Alex's mother Rousseau.) Is he telling the truth? Or is he attempting to make himself appear more human, more vulnerable, and more relatable in order to win Kate over to his side?

Loved that he told Kate that Claire's behavior was "completely inappropriate." After all, isn't Kate a candidate and therefore not allowed to be killed under the rules?

Sayid. Sayid is now one step away from complete catatonia. Whether he's in shock from murdering Dogen and Lennon or is slipping further into the darkness remains to be seen but he's nearly non-responsive and all but just stares blankly as Claire jumps Kate and attempts to stab her. Poor, poor Sayid. Is the next step full-on feral attitude as Claire as his infection progresses?

Widmore. I was glad to see that we were getting more of Charles Widmore, this week appearing in some stylish adventurewear in the sub. I thought it interesting that he said it's "sad, really" that Sawyer didn't know more about him besides for the fact that he sent the freighter to the island to kill them all. His position here seems to be slightly at odds with what we've expected from Widmore throughout the series as he claims to be against the Man in Black, which puts him on the side of the island and of Jacob. He wants to kill the Nemesis--or at least Sawyer interprets it that way--and agrees to Sawyer's demands in exchange for Sawyer bringing him the Nemesis. Sawyer's feelings would seem to be correct, given that the sub team is seeing setting up pylons that would keep the smoke monster out. But if they turn them on, how would the Man in Black get over there? Unless, of course, once the pylons are turned on, they're meant to keep him in, to keep him imprisoned on Hydra Island and off of the main island. Hmmm...

And then there was the matter of the locked room aboard the sub. Just what--or who--is locked away behind those two locks that Sawyer spies? While it could be something as simple as a weapon, the fact that the locks were on the outside of the door made me believe that someone was inside. Perhaps even Desmond returned to the island. After all, Eloise Hawking said that the island wasn't done with him yet, despite his disinclination to return. And Widmore would have no problem kidnapping his son-in-law and forcing him to return...

What did you think of this week's episode? Agree with the above theories? Think I'm totally off the mark? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Next week on Lost ("Ab Aeterno"), it's a Richard Alpert-centric episode as Richard faces a difficult choice.

Comments

frank1569 said…
Another excellent recap.

I've said all along the Islands are submerged on purpose. Never thought the Candidates might raise it - was thinking more that someone (Desmond?) turns the wheel again, causing the timelines to merge...

In 'Watership Down,' the 'evil monster' kills the bad bunnies and saves the good ones. Hence, I'm sticking with my theory that Smokey is the good guy and Jacob is the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Also - Jacob 'touched' Sawyer before The Incident, which means he's still a Candidate in the LA timeline, too... the only Candidate, actually - all the rest were touched after The Incident... which suggests if anyone is returning to the submerged Island, it's James Ford...
Jace Lacob said…
Frank,

We still don't know what sank the island or when in the Lost-X timeline. Pierre Chang's alleged presence in LA, gathered from Miles' dialogue, puts this into question. Just when did Pierre, Miles, and Charlotte leave the island? And if that's the case, who is to say that Jacob touched any of them in this timeline?
Anonymous said…
I would sooooo watch a show with Sawyer and Miles as cops, especially if Miles has his ability to talk to the dead. And then you throw in Kate as a material witness they have to work with for some reason and you have yourself a great new show.

Also, we better find out why the island in the X universe sunk and why Ben and his dad and Miles and Dr. Chang all left the island before it sunk.
rockauteur said…
Great episode this week.

I was a bit frustrated though by Widmore and Sawyer's conversation in the sub. Sawyer didn't really let Widmore speak, so we really don't know if Widmore wanted Sawyer to bring Fake Locke over there to help him or hurt him. We take it as Widmore being against Fake Locke, but by the smirk on his face, I'm not so sure. Widmore also helped the real Locke in his quest to come back to the island with Jack, Kate, et al - did he know Locke would die and thus become the Man in Black? Or was he manipulated by Jacob as well? Or did he have another agenda to return to the island? We still don't really know his mission statement, nor why/when he was exiled from the island in the first place. I'm still thinking he originally turned the donkey wheel at some point and hopefully we'll get a Widmore flashback episode soon.

This was indeed the first week that I loved the Lost-X timeline. Wonder when Sawyer is gonna enter the Keamy/Sayid/Jin storyline. Seems only natural since it involves criminal behaviors.

Loved the sub reveal along with the Pylons being erected. Cool shot. I don't think The Man In Black killed the red shirts on Hydra island (btw, I totally forgot there were other Ajira survivors). How did he get over there? If the smoke monster can travel over water, then why can't he leave? And Fake Locke hasn't had time to row over there himself yet.

I loved the return to Hydra Island - let's hope we see more of it soon! I'm thinking we won't see any of it next week with Richard's storyline and the Jacob contingent on the beach.
yogabbagus said…
It was fantastic to see Tina Fey joining the cast of Lost last night! Will she stick around or become a new red shirt on Widmore's crew?
Anonymous said…
Great recap. Minor quibble. Whether you're locking away a prisoner or weapon, the lock is always going to be on the outside of the door. Cuz you're keeping it/them locked up. Inside the room.
I love Terry O'Quinn and thought he was brilliant in this episode. I love it when he gets sarcastic and it was (strangely) gratifying to see him slap Claire and toss her across the beach like she was a naughty kitten.

I know she misses Aaron but that squirrel baby is just too creepy.
Beccity98 said…
Great recap! I would really like to know how the people who were originally on the island in 1977 got off. But they were evacuating before The Incident, right> There was a sub loaded up w/ women and children, right, unless that was the one Kate, Sawyer and Juliette turned around?

Frank1569, what "evil monster" is there in Watership Down that has the clairvoyance to only kill the bad bunnies and not the good ones? They were just lucky enough to escape the destroying of the field, and they were all underground when the dog killed the Efrafans (except those smart enough to run underground). There was no magical element to the book, just bunnies' POV of natural events.
frank1569 said…
Right. But we know Jacob 'touched' kid Sawyer BEFORE the year of The Incident - remember when he spilled his tale to Jack and said dad's murder/suicide happened a year ago?

I'm assuming, of course, that the LA timeline splintered as a result of The Incident. In which case, all which happened before the road forked would still be the same, yes? Which means only one 'touched' Candidate, Sawyer, is in BOTH timelines...

Also, to maybe answer another question: Cop Sawyer let Kate slide at the airport in order to protect his secret, avoid having to explain why he wasn't returning from Palm Springs, etc... Sawyer looking out for Sawyer...
Mr. Pinstripe said…
I've never seen a lock on the other side of a door.... unless there was someone/something inside the room trying to keep me from coming in. Hmmmm....

At any rate, yo, I'm confused. All I know is there's some powerful yin and ying, hero and antihero, black and white, good and evil, smart and dumb, cain and abel thing maintaining balance in this universe of multiverses, and now more than ever (with the parallel realities) it's seeming like we all have both sides in us, as we're not born/destined a particular way but evolve a certain disposition based on the circumstances of our environment and our free-will choices in response.

There are no absolutes. Killers are praised as heroes depending on context. Virtue as vice depending on the era. One man's cop? Another man's criminal. Reminds me of Hamlet: "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Can't say I fully understand what's going on, but I like trying.

That said... once, just once, I'd kill to see (in full frame without a Hitchcock cheat) the transformation into/outta the smoke monster by whoever/whatever the hell Locke is now.

And I cannot wait for Dr. Alpert revelations next week. Just as Locke/Smokey explained to Claire that she needed an enemy in order to fight/survive, so too do we sometimes need miracles in order to believe, or crucifixion in order to resurrect. Camus said "There is no sun without shadow and it is essential to know the night." Maybe Alpert's gift of agelessness (which likely sounded dope to him at first but has since become a curse, again echoing the time/space context of values) was intended to perpetuate the awe and mystery of "miracle" on the island?

I'm confused yo, but I like it.
Unknown said…
Random thoughts:

The "Lost" recaps here are by far the best I've found (and I'm not a flatterer).

I agree that the Lost-X alternate reality has a huge significance that is yet to be revealed. Darlton’s done way too good a job telling this story to let that one fall flat. (Take notes BSG…)

“In fact, it's my belief that before the season is over these characters, bound by invisible threads of fate, will raise the island from beneath the ocean.”
Wow – never thought of that. My reveal prediction? Widmore was the partially visible (through the window) head of the Dharma Initiative (Season 1-2?).

I hope we get more of Claire’s story – why she wandered off and how she got to where she is. There’s too much missing there to make any sense of it – including her failing Dogen’s good/evil test.

“After all, isn't Kate a candidate and therefore not allowed to be killed under the rules?”
Still confused about that one. Kate wasn’t on the cave wall, and her number (51) is not among the infamous 6 numbers (4-8-15-16-23-42). Yet she was on the lighthouse wheel and Jacob did touch her. So is she a candidate that the MIB isn’t aware of or what? Does Ilana refer to her in any way (even in the number of candidates)?

Just to clarify, the “Biblical justice of vengeance” is so Old Testament. Jesus said to “turn the other cheek”, and to “pray for your enemies and those that persecute you.”

So what does the crazy mother of a smoke monster look like?
Perry K said…
Another great episode.

But, I'm still kinda stuck on the numbers (4-8-15-16-23-42) and how they apply to the canidates. Because if I remember right those numbers started a long time ago, like after World War II, long before some of the canidates were born. Also, the numbers were significant to Darhma, because of the clock in the hatch and actually the numbers imprinted on the outside of the hatch, that were shown in season one and two. And the Darhma Initiative was opposed to the Others, which were their enemies. And remember that when the numbers were punched into the clock, and the clock rotated there were hieroglyphics, which would point more toward Jacob.

So I think there is still more to the numbers.
Jimmy Jim said…
I really enjoyed the episode. I was glad to read that you saw the meaning of the mirror that Sawyer smashed. Something I am wondering though: Are we sure that the Island Sawyer isn't an undercover cop? Sawyer seemed to be concerned with Miles getting away from the temple and being safe. Concern for his partner perhaps? Maybe we are not totally aware of Sawyer's past. Hmmm. Here's something else I was pondering: Remember how Miles said that Juliet communicated to him that the bomb changing the timeline "Worked." Are we now seeing the "real" timeline in the LA-verse course of events and we will find out that the Island timeline is the wrong one? We haven't seen Faraday yet in the LA-verse. Remember he was killed in 1977. Will that cause a paradox in the LA-vese timeline? (I know the theory of "what happened, happened." But Faraday was killed by his mom who seemed to know more than she let on.) Is Faraday going to show up and tell the LA-verse characters that they have to go and raise an island that is underwater to reset a timeline that, to them, hasn't happened? Just some thoughts.
Jstrauss said…
It was really a surprise for me to see Widmore coming back into the series in a big way. I was pretty sure his story arc had come and gone in season four and the tying-up bits in season five, but it looks like he's still got some significant part to play in the whole thing.

If this is the case, and he does prove to be a bit more than just more smoke-fodder, I'm tentatively waiting for a full Widmore flashback episode. As a previous leader of the Others it's not unlikely that he had some sort of direct contact with Jacob/MIB in the past (he at least appears to know a good deal more about them than Ben ever did) and although we've got a decent general idea of how he arrived on the island and what happened to him there, there's still plenty of juicy Widmore-meat to be picked from the bone.

And Sawyer is still just being Sawyer. While Jack and Kate have long since become awfully boring to me, he's still there, doing exactly the same thing as he was in the first episode, and it still holds my attention for the full forty minutes.
Darn I love that Redneck.

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