As the Lost storyline inches ever closer to its narrative ending, it continues to reveal more of its chronological beginning. Due to the nonlinear storytelling format, The Beginning of the show’s timeline has transferred from one scene to another over the five seasons: Jack’s childhood in White Rabbit (which may have been preceded by scenes of young James and Eko); Ben’s birth in The Man Behind the Curtain; Locke’s birth in Cabin Fever; then Widmore’s flaming arrow attack of 1954 in The Lie. The opening scene of LaFleur, which coincides with the ending of This Place is Death, briefly takes the audience deeper into the Island’s past than ever before. Now, if you placed all Lost on-screen events in chronological order, there would be a new beginning. The first moments in our show’s history, millennia in the past, were the following: Locke fell down deep below the Island’s surface, while Sawyer tried to hold on; and Charlotte’s body gave a few last breaths, while Daniel tried to hold on. Although some even older event might take its place over the remaining episodes, the Lost universe now begins with Death.
Episode 5.08 LaFleur marks the halfway point of Lost’s penultimate season. Several elements of this initial eight-episode arc stand out above the rest. All of these episodes, of course, focused heavily on time travel, and examined the subject from every different angle. This momentary detour into an ancient time period offers one of the most notable uses of this storytelling device. Moreover, though, I cannot recall any other sequence of episodes so preoccupied with themes of birth, and death, and re-birth. LaFleur is no exception to this growing trend. The main Island conflict revolves around the deaths of Paul and two Hostiles, an event that leads to the miraculous birth of the child of Amy and Horace. Daniel struggles to cope with the death of Charlotte, as her younger self re-appears before his eyes. James serves as the central character of the episode, as he brings about the death of his Sawyer persona, and the birth of Jim LaFleur. Each of the Season Five episodes presents a slightly different angle on the cycle of birth and death. From the beginning of the episode, burial serves as a common link between each of the storylines of LaFleur. Locke finds himself buried alive in the Island’s underworld, under a mound of dirt deeper than any man-made grave. When he turns the Wheel for his journey to begin the journey to his afterlife, the stone well soon appears on top of those mounds. This collection of rocks becomes an Island-made tombstone to memorialize Locke’s departure from the people above him.
MICHAEL: Silent movies, huh? You're not that old, man.
LOCKE: I'm old enough.
In the time before the construction of the well, the rope in the dirt also marked this fateful spot. When Sawyer held onto the rope, the object simply appeared in the ancient past. (I love the disorienting way in which the rope was filmed: first it is framed horizontally, and then the camera rotates to correct our perspective.) The rope serves as another near-paradox in the story, as a mystical object that links people from our time with people from the origins of civilization. When the earliest inhabitants of the Island stumbled upon this mysterious marker, they must have viewed it as magic, a sign from the gods. Just as Locke once uncovered a piece of buried metal and believed that it was his destiny to find what was inside, some historic man of faith must have stumbled upon this rope and reached the same conclusion. Then, he kept digging until he found this cave, along with its Wheel linked to a limitless energy source. These apparently Egyptian visitors left enough clues for the Dharma Initiative to excavate the same cave in the twentieth century. The Egyptians carved their hieroglyphics into the cave walls, symbols for "resurrection" and "time travel". The Dharma Initiative built their Orchid station on the same site, and left behind their own collection of words and pictures, videotapes with terms like “exotic matter” and “Casimir effect”. After so many centuries, the language and technology of humankind have become seemingly more sophisticated. However, the origins and the power of the Wheel remain just as much a mystery to Dr. Chang as it was to the Egyptians.
People tend to think of ancient Egypt as a death-obsessed culture, because a great deal of modern knowledge about it comes from studying their burial customs. The Egyptian pharaohs developed some of the most intricate death rituals in human history to prepare themselves for the afterlife: embalming, mummification, preservation of organs in jars, and internment inside massive stone pyramids. While many other traces of their culture faded away, these monuments to death withstood the test of time. This episode offers a glimpse of the famous Four-Toed Statue, which appears to be another great work of the ancient Egyptians. The rear-view of the Statue has been scrutinized more closely than any Lost screen capture since Radzinsky’s blast-door map. The Statue appears to have an animal head, on top of a human body in Egyptian dress, and it holds an ankh in each hand. There are many Statue theories floating around the Lost fan-base, but the Egyptian god Anubis seems to be the best fit. Any pyramid would be filled with images of Anubis to ward off grave robbers. This god is depicted with the head of a jackal, painted black, to signify his associations with death. He is a watch-dog of sorts, charged with the task of protecting the dead and escorting them safely to the afterlife. Essentially, Anubis is Egypt’s counterpart to Cerberus of Greek mythology, a figure that needs no introduction. Whoever encounters the Island’s protector describes it according to his own language. The Oceanic survivors called it the Monster; Rousseau's team called it système de sécurité; to Radzinsky, it was Cerberus. If the ancient Egyptians encountered this dog-like creature made of black smoke, they would probably name it Anubis. The Statue faces outward to the ocean, and it sends conflicting signals to anyone who might approach. Was the Statue intended as a warning, much like Charlotte’s famous phrase, “this place is Death”? Or, did the Statue serve as an invitation to paradise, a guardian figure carrying the symbols for eternal life?
Nearly every culture across the globe buries its dead in some form or another. The ceremony is driven by practical concerns, as well as the fundamental human desire to respond to the loss of life. Death rituals are one of the key elements that distinguish human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom. Charlotte’s death in the ancient jungle offers a cruel reminder of the reasons why human beings first decided to bury their dead. She rests completely alone in the past, without anyone to show respect to her remains. Her corpse is left to decompose out in the open. Her body might be ripped to shreds by birds or other scavenging animals. (The Egyptians associated the jackal with death for this same reason.) Charlotte’s body might only be spared such a gruesome fate, if some ancient stranger took pity on her. If the original inhabitants of the Island found the rope, then they also might have encountered Charlotte’s remains. The anthropologist died thousands of years before she was born, and became an artifact from the future for ancient people to study. Her skin, hair, and clothing would be unlike anything they had ever seen. Moreover, she left behind no trace of how arrived on the Island. She would barely even appear to human to their eyes, but as some magical entity. Perhaps the Island’s past civilization even came to worship her as another supernatural being.
SAYID: You would remember! You would remember how deep. You would remember every shovelful, every moment. You would remember what it felt like to place her body inside. You would remember if you buried the woman you loved.
The primary purpose of any burial ceremony, however, is to help the living rather than the dead. Because Charlotte remains trapped in the past, the Island deprives Daniel of the opportunity to bury the woman he loves. Lost has shown more than its share of funeral scenes in past seasons, to help characters bring closure after losing their friends. In general, though, the bereaved suffer tremendous consequences whenever they cannot bury their loved ones. Jack continues to be tortured by the image of his unburied father, Hurley’s visions of Charlie’s floating corpse drove him to the insane asylum, and Ben embarked on a quest for revenge after he was forced to leave Alex’s body lying on the ground. It can be painful to bury a person you love, but Daniel’s fate appears to be even harsher, without any opportunity to find some peace. In his lasting mental image of Charlotte, she is not resting safely in the earth where she belongs. Instead, she is lying alone and unprotected, with her lifeless eyes reflecting the trees above her.
The final time jump into 1974 compounds Daniel’s lack of closure. Faraday spent his entire life intellectualizing the realities of space-time. As Season Five began, he was the voice of reason, calmly explaining to the grieving Sawyer that the past is unchangeable. After losing Charlotte, Daniel’s emotions are now at war with his intellect. Charlotte has revealed his future to him, by telling him that he will warn her to leave the Island. By the universe’s self-consistency principle, this event must occur, regardless of what Daniel wants. The two lovers are trapped in a loop of self-fulfilling prophecies. In the Minkowski view of space-time, every event in a sense is causally connected to every other event. Daniel promises himself that he will never tell Charlotte, because doing so will cause it to happen. Daniel understands that when he warns young Charlotte of her death, he will become complicit in the four-dimensional universe that will ultimately kill her. He must keep his emotions in check every time he sees her, because any day might be the day in which he started the chain of events that led to her death. Faraday’s new mindset involves a torturous combination of grief and guilt, along with hatred of his life’s work, and the growing realization that his will is no longer free. Even suicide is no longer an option for him, at least until after he speaks to her.
The episode’s burial motif continues as the crew encounters a new character, Amy of the Dharma Initiative. When our time travelers walk by, the two unnamed Hostiles have already murdered her husband Paul for unknown reasons. After Juliet and Sawyer kill the two attackers, conflict continues to revolve around the fate of those three bodies. Amy demands that they bury the two men to hide their crime from the Hostiles, and that they carry Paul’s body with them to give it a proper funeral. When Richard arrives at the camp later that night, he insists upon being told the location of his two men, and then takes Paul’s body away with him. On the surface, Alpert is out for justice, but his motivations seem to run deeper. The Hostiles seem to practice their own special religion, complete with its own ceremonies after death. When Colleen Pickett died at the Hydra station, the Others specifically did not bury her body on the Island. Instead, they placed her on a burning funeral pyre and floated it out to sea. Richard’s followers seem to understand, or at least believe, something about what happens to someone on the Island after death. Perhaps the souls of any person interred on the Island do not achieve rest. Whatever Richard planned to do with those three bodies, his brand of justice definitely required treating Paul’s body differently from those of his own people. (The Hostiles do not exactly treat Dharma remains with reverence.) At the very least, he guaranteed that Amy would never find peace, without a proper ceremony for her husband.
FARADAY: Just bury it. Bury it, and everything will be fine. [...] You wanna take care of this bomb? You bury it!
While the Dharma and Hostiles resolve their dispute over these bodies, James bids farewell to his former self. The most intriguing aspect of his transformation from Sawyer into LaFleur is that the change was unnecessary. Horace would be just as likely to believe his cover story if he used the name Sawyer rather than the name LaFleur. This second major identity change in his life, just like the first one, was a voluntary act of dissociation. The young James Ford loved his parents and then lived a life full of pain after they died. At the age of 19, he became Sawyer, a new man who could do the things that little James could not. Sawyer would be strong and free, not bound by any code of morality or personal attachments. He could distance himself from James’ pain and lead a life of pleasure. After almost a full 19 years later, the Sawyer persona also began to outlive its usefulness. He completed his revenge against Cooper. Sawyer himself grew to love other people, and then he lost them as well. In response to these changes, Sawyer used that same defense mechanism that James once did: he created another identity. By becoming LaFleur, he detached himself from Sawyer's life, and allowed himself to create a new future. This new man, Jim LaFleur, is a leader, first as boat captain and then as head of Dharma security. LaFleur even embraces the same rules of society that Sawyer had once ridiculed, and imposes Dharma's order over the Hostile wilderness. As always, though, his past continues to re-emerge, no matter how deep under the surface he tries to bury it.
LaFleur became an upstanding member of society, with strong ties to the Dharma community. He developed substantial, long-term relationships in work (with Miles and his other employees), with friends (Horace and Amy), and in romance (with Juliet). James now has spent three years with this new group of Dharma people, and he probably has shared more experiences with them than he ever did with any of the Oceanic castaways. Jin, of course, is the lone exception, the main link to old friends. In an interesting contrast, Jin wanted to make sure that his wife never returned to die on the Island, while Sawyer wanted to bring Kate back regardless of the risk. Three years later, James and Jin maintain their secret efforts to find their missing friends, by searching the Island one inch at a time. In one scene, he reassures Jin that they will never forget what happened, and continue waiting “as long as it takes.” In another scene, he confides in Horace that his memory of those few months is almost completely gone. “Is three years long enough to get over some one? Absolutely.” James leads a double life, torn between his Sawyer’s past and LaFleur’s future.
LOCKE: It looks like you're digging a hole. Every man's entitled to his secrets, Paulo, but can I give ya a piece of advice? [...] You should put the shovel away and save yourself some trouble. [...] Things don't stay buried on this Island.
While James made a conscious choice to move up in the Island’s social hierarchy, Juliet instead decides to move down a few levels. When she first arrived on the Island, Juliet was treated as a celebrity in the Others’ village, perhaps even a savior. They assigned her the nearly impossible task of correcting the Island’s severe pregnancy dilemma. She watched helplessly as the Island killed one pregnant woman after another. Currently, Juliet rejects any of the responsibility attached to the position of protector. At the beginning of the episode, Juliet seemed to be the most natural choice to lead the new group left behind. Instead, she deferred from that position, and followed as second in command behind James. She eventually decided to stay on the Island, not out of any sense of duty, but only due to her attachment to James. Juliet chose to blend in to the lower levels of the Dharma community rather than take on any leadership position. She even made an agreement with James to keep her training a secret. Juliet spent her first three years on the Island, because Richard and Ben treated her as special. When she lived there for another three years, she escaped the burden of being special. Eventually, James convinced her to come out of retirement. Most likely, she was the only person who could have saved the lives of Amy and her son.
James refers to himself in this episode as “a professional liar,” and he displays his skill by convincing Horace with an elaborate cover story. When the time comes for him to persuade Richard Alpert, telling the truth serves the same purpose. With James, it can be difficult to tell where the lies end and the truth begins. After three years, which half of his double life is genuine? Was he lying to Jin about his intentions, just to spare his friend’s feelings? Or, was he lying to Horace, just to spare his other friend’s feelings? When James walks into Juliet’s house with a flower and says that he loves her, everything appears authentic. When James stares longingly at Kate in the episode’s final scene, his emotions appear equally authentic. His ultimate response to this situation will reveal whether the tiger ever did change his stripes. If James stays true to Juliet, then he has evolved into a new man. If he leaves her for Kate, then he reverts back to his old state as Sawyer. The old con-man Sawyer could convince any woman that he loved her, just before leaving her life in ruins. Leaving Juliet would be the equivalent to leaving Cassidy, or any of the other women he abandoned over the years. Not only does Sawyer have a lot of experience in dumping women, but Juliet herself has some experience in being dumped for someone else. Her ex-husband Edmund Burke traded her in for the younger model, and now James is in the position to do the same. If history repeats itself, as it does so often on this show, then Juliet’s future with him looks fairly pessimistic.
The ending of LaFleur puts a number of pieces in place for the second half of Season Five. Since the beginning, Lost has focused on characters whose minds were trapped in the past. Now that Jack, Kate, and Hurley have joined James, Juliet, Miles, Daniel, and Jin in 1977, the idea of living in the past has become completely literal. James and Juliet have already left a mark, by saving the lives of Amy and her son when no one else could. The rest of this crew must also be destined to complete some special work on the Island. Whether their deeds are good or bad, they have been sent back to make sure that whatever happened does happen. Somewhere in this time period, there is an unloved boy named Benjamin Linus. His hatred of the Dharma Initiative is growing (probably along with an almost-oedipal desire to kill James and take Juliet as his own). The date of the Purge has already been set. Linus and Alpert will kill Horace and all of his people, and then leave their unburied corpses to rot in the jungle. If these characters do not find some way to escape from the past, then they too will suffer that same fate.
0:05 Previously on Lost, Sawyer slaps Daniel. Two questions come to mind. First, why was it necessary to show the slap again? It did seem a bit gratuitous in the first place, but it seems especially odd to repeat the slap to open a Sawyer episode. I can only guess that they were trying to highlight the amazing character development in this season from loose-cannon-Daniel-slapper to flower-sniffing-Juliet-lover. It’s such an amazing transformation. I think it’s even more amazing than Sawyer’s previous character transformations in Seasons One, Two, Three, and Four.
Second, which current main characters could get away with slapping Daniel and not make the scene completely ridiculous and/or have either the entire fan base turn on them? The answers: Sun, Juliet, Kate, Rose, and Sawyer. He’s the only male who can get away with slapping someone for no apparent reason. It’s an odd phenomenon.
As long as they decided to include the Great Slap, I think they should have gone all the way with the opener and begun with some really unnecessary violence. I would like to start a petition for including the following ‘Previously on Lost’ montage on an extended DVD version of LaFleur: Marshal Ed Mars gets smacked in the head with overhead luggage; Mr. Eko beats Michael, Jin, and Sawyer with his Jesus stick; Locke blows up the Swan, the Flame, and the submarine in rapid succession; Keamy shoots Danielle, Karl, three unnamed survivors, and Alex; and then Sawyer slaps Daniel. Those five events would summarize the entire plot of the five seasons quite elegantly. There would be no need for any of those recap shows.
0:21 Also previously on Lost, Sawyer screams “Come on!” during another time jump. Is this repeated phrase intended as homage to Arrested Development? If so, I would also like to start a petition for Sawyer to stop using the phrase “Son-of-a-bitch!” and start using “Come on!”. Holloway’s delivery needs a little work, but it never gets old. Scream it out loud at your computer. It’s quite the stress reliever.
3:28 Miles mentions that his nose is no longer bleeding. Everyone has assumed that Miles nose has been bleeding because of his long-term exposure to the Island. The simpler explanation is that Miles has been snorting a few lines of coke on the side, and just using the time sickness as a convenient cover-up. He’s from Los Angeles, so it makes sense.
4:46 Phil walks in on Jerry and Rosie’s hootenanny. The Lost naming department must have had the day off. Or, maybe, they have become even more cleverer than we can possibly imagine. When combined, the names Phil, Jerry, Rosie become an anagram for R.I.P. Josh Eerily. I’m not exactly sure what the means, but it sounds like bad news for Josh Holloway. Perhaps the introduction of Rosie offers a clue as to what happened to our missing characters Rose and Bernard. Desmond has somehow altered the timeline so that Jerry and Rosie have replaced Bernard and Rose. Come to think of it, what is the deal with all of these flower names in this episode: LaFleur, the Orchid, Rosie, Sun-flowers? Is there some botanical explanation of time travel that we’ve overlooked?
5:41 Horace, fearless leader of the Dharma Initiative, gets drunk and blows away a tree. Jack Shephard, fearless leader of Oceanic 815, has been there, done that. Jack has actually one-upped Horace here, because when he was blowing away trees back in Season Three, he was dead sober at the time (as far as we know, at least).
5:50 Jerry and Phil seem quite convinced that LaFleur would kill them if they screw anything up. Does LaFleur really use murder as his primary management technique, or are those special brownies just making them a little paranoid?
6:32 The deep growl “What kind of situation?” preserves the secret of LaFleur’s identity for a few more precious seconds (similar to Ben’s voice in The Economist). If you’re ever going to become someone’s mysterious boss, the first thing you need to do is get yourself one of those special voice modulators that works whenever your back is turned.
6:45 The first segment finishes with a shot of the Dharma jumpsuit with the LaFleur nametag (just in case anyone was not paying attention to the two guys who already mentioned the name LaFleur six times in the last sixty seconds). As far as I can remember, every other Dharma nametag used the person’s first name, not their last name. Perhaps it was too confusing to keep straight Jim and Jin. Or perhaps Dharma thought that “Jim, Head of Security,” sounded far weaker than a French word for flower.
8:54 Sawyer mentions that the news of Horace’s drunken antics will be all over the coconut telegraph before breakfast. Sawyer’s biggest challenge in adapting to the past must have been the need to retrofit his catalog of pop-culture references. Here, he only needed to replace Internet with telegraph to make sure that Amy understood his meaning. Still, I think he went a little bit overboard with this one. He only needed to go back 30 years, not 130.
9:40 Daniel appears distraught as keeps repeating: “I won’t do it, I’m not going to do it.” Is it just me, or does he seem to have taken Charlotte’s ‘no chocolate before dinner’ advice a tad too seriously? It’s okay, man, just calm down and have a piece of chocolate.
14:22 Sawyer removes the mysterious hood, to reveal a new character underneath. ABC used this scene as the primary hook in their promotional commercials, only to introduce a minor new character. My favorite ‘under-the-hood’ suspect was a younger, long-haired 70s version of Anthony Cooper. The last time Sawyer removed a hood like that from someone’s head, he was hanging with Mr. Cooper in The Brig. How long will I keep waiting for Cooper’s return? As long as it takes.
18:48 The Dharma internist mentions that Amy’s baby is breech. “It’s upside down.” For all Lost theorists looking to the baby’s adult identity, he should be easy to spot in a crowd. All we need to do is look for the person who is upside-down.
19:28 Juliet emerges from under the Dharma van with overalls and a sweet bandana. My sources tell me that, in her contract negotiations for Season Five, Elizabeth Mitchell demanded that she be able to wear a bandana at some point. ABC reluctantly acquiesced. Also, Jorge Garcia wanted to wear a yellow headband, and Jeremy Davies insisted on a top hat. Keep your eyes peeled.
19:52 Juliet reminds Sawyer: “Don't you understand that every time I try to help a woman on this island give birth, it hasn't worked?” The proper comeback would have been: “Well, don’t you understand that every time I try to help a woman on this island get pregnant, it hasn’t worked? How do you think that makes me feel?” It would not have achieved the goal of persuading Juliet to help with the delivery, but it would be a fair point. Why is it that even with his super-Island-sperm-count, he cannot get anyone pregnant? (Actually, I now have a new theory that Ana-Lucia actually was pregnant when she was killed in Two for the Road. There’s some nice symmetry there.)
21:27 Jin speaks English. (Maybe he does, or maybe all of us are actually speaking Korean. Think about it.) It appears that the entire time travel story was nothing more than a clever ruse to give Jin a chance to learn English. Thankfully, Daniel Dae Kim never needs to speak another broken sentence again.
22:00 Juliet arrives to tell Sawyer and Jin “It’s a boy.” Here are the Vegas odds on the little guy’s identity.
3-to-1: No one. Not every baby is important. Sometimes a baby is just a baby.
4-to-1: Ethan. He lived on the Island, and he’s wrapped up in the pregnancy storylines. The age (32) is off, but approximately right. Tom and Goodwin are both far too old. He would need to defect from the Dharma Initiative with Ben.
10-to-1: Jacob. Horace built the Cabin for himself and the missus, so his son Jacob would inherit the place when they die. It’s still unclear on how he gives orders to Richard.
10-to-1: Caesar. The Dharma doctor made sure to mention that Amy needed a Caesarean section. He didn’t even use the common abbreviation of C-section. The age works. The ethnicity does not quite match, unless Amy has been seeing someone on the side.
20-to-1: Pickett. He’s too old, but it would fit nicely if Juliet were only able to deliver the boy into the world, so that she could kill him later.
25-to-1: Desmond. Desmond’s family history has never been revealed. He would need to be adopted by some Scottish family, but I’m sure that kind of thing happens every day. This baby is uniquely and miraculously special. The rules of Island birth do not apply to him.
25-to-1: Karl. He looks too young. However, it would be very funny if Ben’s real reason for being upset was that Alex was dating a man twice her age.
25-to-1: Aldo. Just to piss off anyone who wasted time thinking about it.
25-to-1: Keamy. All Keamy is good Keamy.
22:45 Sawyer wakes up with Horace in the game room, and promptly drinks a glass of milk. Coincidentally, whenever I fall victim to a sonic weapon fence, I also like to refresh myself by ordering a giant glass of milk. I almost wish that Sawyer’s con on Horace had failed, and he had to resort to Plan B: use a fake Russian accent; yell out “Why are we continuing to play this little game, when we all know it has moved to the next stage?”; and then smash the glass of milk against the wall.
22:51 Jin asks, “No more flash, Daniel?” The writers are really sticking it to Daniel Dae Kim here. Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in.
25:51 An adult Daniel stares longingly at a young red-haired little girl. Season Five of Lost has become a shameless rip-off of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, except with some decent writing thrown in every now and then.
28:00 Horace strolls out to meet an exceedingly Hostile Richard. It’s the Egyptian deity showdown: R.A. the Sun God vs. Horus the God of War. Mr. Alpert brandishes a torch, has a mean five-o’clock shadow, and is missing the top button on his shirt. Mr. Goodspeed wears glasses, keeps his hands in his pockets, and has a name tag declaring himself as a Mathematician. I think we all know who is more badass here: Horace, by a mile. Whenever your leader feels confident enough to broadcast his mathematician status, then you know he must be one mean son-of-a-bitch. Plus, you never know when Doug Hutchinson might get the urge to tear out your liver and eat it raw.
28:42 Miles asks “Sub anyone?”. Good question. It seems like an odd moment to mention food, but you can’t really blame the guy: he hasn’t had anything to eat since the days of the Statue, which happened centuries ago. I could go for a sub myself, actually.
30:29 Sawyer cons Richard without any coherent explanation of his identity, just by dropping a few names: Jughead and John Locke. Before, he managed to quiet Horace’s suspicions by dropping the name Black Rock. Sawyer does not have any real understanding of what is going on, but he convinces them anyway. I have always wondered how much information Lost auteurs Lindelof and Cuse share with their junior writers, like Elizabeth Sarnoff, who wrote this episode. Based on the amount of reveals that Damon and Carlton keep for their own episodes, my guess would be that they keep most of the secrets to themselves. Were Sawyer’s two cons in this episode Sarnoff’s inside joke about what it feels like to be a secondary Lost writer? You don’t have any clue about what’s really happening the Island, so you just have to fake it. Drop a few names: Richard Alpert, Horace Goodspeed, Dharma Initiative, Hostiles, Ankhs, Four-Toed Statue. You make the audience think that you’re revealing something amazing, even when you’re not. Wear a few feathers, and people will mistake you for a chicken. If you keep this game up for two weeks, then all of the sudden you can keep it up for three years. If so, then bravo to Sarnoff for slipping this joke past her producers.
34:51 Sawyer reminds Juliet: “You do realize, it’s 1974.” President Richard Nixon reigns once more. I think that if they had traveled back another two years, our resident Republican would have hopped on that submarine to cast avote for Tricky Dick. With Gerald Ford running in 1976, I doubt James Ford would even bother, despite the name connection. It’s 2009, and American pop culture can never get enough Nixon. Thirty years later, he continues to be the most fascinating figure of the second half of the 20th century. Thirty years from now, people will still be making good Nixon movies, writing good Nixon books, and telling good Nixon jokes. He’s the gift that keeps on giving.
36:07 Another three-years later flash-forward confirms the year as 1977. Dr. Marvin Candle has a more literal mind than we ever imagined. When he said “If there been an incursion of this station by The Hostiles, enter 77,” he was not kidding. Enter 1977, back when there was peace between the two groups. On the plus side, at least Sawyer can now resume using those Star Wars references without anyone thinking he’s crazy for using the word Wookiee. On the minus side, Juliet will probably drag him out to the mainland on the submarine to watch Woody Allen’s whining in Annie Hall. Poor guy.
36:20 A freshly shaved and shampooed Jim LaFleur stops to sniff a yellow flower on his way home. The Lost writers really pulled out all of the stops to soften his image. His name used to contain layers of toughness: James, a regal first name; Sawyer, the name of a literary anti-hero; and Ford, the name of a hard-core capitalist. (On second thought, maybe Lost just dropped the name Ford to avoid any negative associations with the American auto industry and Matt Millen.) Now, he’s Jim The Flower. Even Jimmy The Flower sounds a hell of a lot more intimidating, like one of those ironic gangster names. Nope, even that much would be too tough. We’re now watching Life According to Jim, The Flower.
37:27 Juliet and Sawyer offer a glimpse of life in the LaFleur household. Apparently, it involves two people with long blond hair and abnormally well-developed chest regions trying to out-smirk one another. On another note, the key to any successful long-term Lost romance now seems to be hair color. You will eventually end up with the person whose hair is most similar to yours. Sun and Jin work because they both have black hair (ditto for Sayid and Nadia). Sawyer and Juliet work because they’re both blondes (ditto for Charlie and Claire). Jack and Kate might work, because they’re both brunettes. Why does Desmond and Penny work? Well, as we all know, the rules don’t apply to him. He’s uniquely and miraculously special.
37:49 Horace wakes up on his couch, to find LaFleur reading a book. The screen captures make it difficult to read the title on the spine. My best guess is that he was reading 1984, and trying to imagine what the future might be. I’ll bet he also sniffed some of Dharma’s special flowers and watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for a glimpse of those amazing technologies in the next millennium.
38:57 Horace and Jim share a heart-to-heart discussion of marital troubles. Like any good family sitcom, no episode would be complete without our white-collar smarty-pants learning a valuable life lesson from his funny blue-collar neighbor. Middle American family values must always triumph over those liberal intellectuals, or else the advertising money stops flowing. According to Horace, the whole fight with Amy began when he tried to wear some of her “socks.” We don’t need Sigmund Freud here to decode his euphemism. Amy did not hide that necklace in the sock drawer, but in the other drawer right next to it. Looks like we’ve found the real source of their marital problems, Horace’s double life as a cross-dresser.
40:12 Sawyer declares that he barely remembers what Kate looks like. Even if you had never seen 316, you could have easily predicted that Kate’s face would return before the end of the episode. When will the Lost characters ever learn how to manipulate the Island’s Magic Irony Box. Some day, Locke should say: “Boy, I’m really not interested in finding out what the Monster is anymore.”
41:20 LaFleur now sleeps with a shirt on, but Juliet still sleeps topless. Shirtless Sawyer is no more. Shirtless-less LaFleur lives.
41:39 ABC accidentally inserts a Jeep Wrangler commercial into the episode. Somehow, it’s not quite as effective as Shirtless Sawyer’s similar endorsement of Davidoff Cool Water cologne. There are too many shirts, and not enough slow-motion.
41:58 Jack emerges from the Dharma van wearing a designer suit from 2008. He instantly takes the title of best-dressed man on the Island, as everyone else is stuck wearing outdated 1970s fashions. I expect that in the next episode, Sawyer will offer to help Jack get a job in the Dharma Initiative. Jack’s response: “Yeah, like the guy wearing the $5,000 suit is going to get help from a guy who doesn’t make that much in four months. Come on!” Five minutes later, Jack approaches Hurley: “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
42:18 Kate emerges from the van, and engages in a staring contest with Sawyer. I can only imagine how this scene must have read in the pages of the script. “Music swells. Sawyer stares at Dharma van, mouth slightly agape. Cut to close-up on Hurley. Camera pans for close-up on Jack. Cut back to close-up on Sawyer with slight smile. Music swells further. Cut back to close-up on Hurley. Cut back for extreme close-up on Sawyer, as he removes his glasses in slow-motion. Kate emerges from van and takes a few steps forward. Music swells even further. Cut back to extreme close-up on Sawyer, with the wind tossing his hair in super slow-motion. Cut back to extreme close-up on Kate in super slow-motion. Cut back to ultra-close-up, ultra-slow-motion, shot of Sawyer as music ultra-swells. Cut to black screen. LOST. Distribute Kleenex. Collect Emmy.”
42:28 Sawyer-Kate staring contest continues.
42:38 Sawyer-Kate staring contest still continues.
60:00 Sawyer and Kate are still staring at each other. I’m ready to call it a draw. It’s also possible that my browser froze up.
Whom will our handsome Jim choose? Will it be the sweet and smart Julie, who is the same age as Jim, and who is ready for a long-term relationship? Will it be the sexy, but self-centered Katie, who is ten years younger, and who has never had anything longer than a fling? It’s an original predicament unlike anything you’ve ever seen before on network television. Who will win the final Flower Ceremony? Stay tuned for television history, next week on ABC’s The Bachelor.