THINGS I NOTICED - RECON
Sawyer-centric episodes never really disappoint, but Recon was not my favorite episode of season six. Although James Ford's off-island scenario directly opposes what we've seen of his pre-Jughead life, his motivations and basic personality remains constant. There were mirrors and reflections, but no Earth-shattering life changes for him - at least not yet. The on-island stuff was a lot more interesting, but even that seemed a little flat this week. Things I Noticed:
Man, I'm Gonna KILL My Guidance Counselor!
Can someone tell me where you sign up for James Ford's job? If sleeping with a suspect's hot wife in order to plant a trace seemed a little over the top for you guys, that's because it WAS over the top. There was very little realism in this week's opening scene, and a whole lot of (intentionally?) bad acting. The entire Ava/con storyline had an overly rehearsed feel to it, right down to James calling "LaFleur" to shatter the illusion and bring in reality.
It would be easy to chalk this scene up as a simple introduction to James Ford the LA cop, but that's not even the half of it. Instead, we're whisked away to a world of awful detective cliches: a wondrous land of cool badges hanging from long chains, of Laker tickets and blind dates with fast, fiery red-headed women who despite being ridiculously hot can't seem to get a guy on their own.
James tells Ava "I don't need saving", using the same line Claire gave Kate during Sundown. We know that on-island, Sawyer and Claire are in the same boat, having thrown in with the MIB version of John Locke. Off-island James Ford doesn't feel he needs saving either, despite still being emotionally tortured by the murder/suicide of his parents.
The most symbolic part of the scene however, comes as James is convincing his mark that she's busted. As far as Ava is concerned she knows where she is, what's going on, and what to do next. All of this is an illusion however, perpetuated by her own version of events. It falls away the moment James says his 'magic word', and the door busts open. In the blink of an eye, she realizes that nothing is not what it seems to be. Quite suddenly, everything changes.
Look at the background as Miles' team breaks into the room. We see a mirror image of the word HOTEL, as if the doorway represents peering through the looking glass to the other side. Yes, I know we're seeing the back side of the hotel's sign that probably faces the road. But at the same time, we're being shown all these mirror-image references for a definite reason. Time and time again, they shouldn't be ignored.
An even bigger clue comes back at the station as Miles serves coffee, taking the black mug while giving his partner the white one. James' mug has the word HOLLYWOOD written across it, as if to emphasize the acting, set-building, and trumped up feel to Sawyer's version of his sideways reality. Just as his encounter with Ava was all a set up, perhaps so is Sawyer's ALT. In that case it becomes a place of magic, mirrors, and special effects... in a single word, it's Hollywood.
Date a Redhead / Die Alone
Just as they were partners in the Dharma version of law-enforcement, Miles remains Sawyer's partner in the alternate reality as well. The two of them are the Ponch and Jon of LOST... those guys were always setting each other up on blind dates with overly-attractive (by 70's standards) women too. Those dates never ended in sex though. They were more likely to end in roller-skating, sharing sodas at the malt shop, and cheesy freeze-frame smiles just as the credits rolled.
We also learn here that Miles' father, presumably still Dr. Chang, got off the island as well - if he ever was on the island in the first place. His own watered-down version of the ALT-reality involves working for a museum.
Claire's Squirrel-Baby Looks LIke Jar-Jar Binks
At least we learned this week that Claire didn't think her baby was Aaron. Instead, she used it to replace the son she lost in order to maintain her maternal sanity. This didn't stop Kate from going "Ewwww" though.
Isn't It About Time For Zach To Ditch The Teddy Bear?
As Flocke tells his people that he'll be available for Q&A, Cindy chimes in by asking what happened to everyone else at the temple. The dark man tells the truth here - that the dark smoke killed them - but not the whole truth; something we've seen throughout LOST. Still, he also seems concerned with keeping everyone safely non-mutinous and reassured.
Every five minutes, Locke keeps promising to take care of everyone. It's as if the MIB has figured out what we've known all along: you get more flies with honey than with a shotgun... more compliance with explanation and answers than mysteries and silence. This is the opposite of Jacob's previous approach, leading to more mirror imagery and direct dichotomy between these two characters.
At the mention of smokey, Claire grips Kate's hand protectively. I thought she did this this to make it known that Kate's 'one of them', and to visually mark her as a loyal member of Flocke's crew. Despite Claire still being infected, this seemed to be a moment of clarity. Later in the episode however, I adopted a different opinion: Claire was scared. More on that later in the recap.
In A Kill Or Be Killed World, It's Good To Be A Smoke Monster
After calling Sawyer over to the new cool kids table, Flocke comes clean about being the smoke monster. Thinking back to what a huge mystery this once was, I thoroughly enjoyed this moment. Although not a revelation for us, this was a pretty big reveal as far as Sawyer was concerned. Still, it didn't even phase him. Sawyer's one true motivation remains the same: getting off the island for good. But by the end of the episode, as he bargains for his friends' safe passage as well? I think we start to see signs of old Sawyer shining through.
Again, it would've been easy for the dark man to lie here. Telling Sawyer the straight-up truth seems to be a refreshing change from all the secrecy and lies we've associated with LOST for so long. Even so, the smoke monster's admission has a deceitfully underlying purpose: he follows that truth by fibbing to Sawyer about why he's sending him to Hydra island, tricking him into going for made-up reasons. "Do whatever you can to gain their trust, find out what you can about them, and then get back here." Now where have we heard that before?
It's kind of interesting that the dark man doesn't do his own recon here. He's already told his army that they'll be sitting around camp for three days, so it's not like he has any pressing engagements. Maybe this has to do with him crossing the water. During dead is dead, Locke took his shoes off during the canoe ride over to the main island, and put them back on when he reached the dock. Yet if the water bothers him, why did we see a resurrected John Locke standing ankle-deep in the ocean right after the crash of Ajira 316? I'm not sure what the deal is with him and water, but something definitely seems up.
In the last part of their conversation, the dark man mentions taking the Ajira plane as a way off the island. I'm calling bullshit on this one, as he mentioned it only to keep Sawyer going. He may want to leave, but I don't think the plane (or the sub for that matter) has anything to do with the MIB's escape. I mean, where would he go? It's not like he's gonna just fly off to LA and take up a 9 to 5 job or something.
I Got To A Point In My Life Where I Was Either Going To Be A Criminal Or A Cop... So I Chose Cop. Because Hey, This Is The Alternate Reality, And That's How We ROLL, Son!
Gag me with a candy apple... Sawyer's whole date with Charlotte - from the ice-breaking banter to the cute little jokes - was over the top sugary and sticky-sweet. It was way too Days of Our Lives, and way too "take me to bed or lose me forever". Like Indiana Jones and his whip, it was also far too Hollywood... too "set me up with a beautiful blind date who wants to have sex an hour after meeting me" perfect.
In fact, everything's going amazingly well until James Ford asks Charlotte if she wants some water. Again, water acts as a catalyst for change. It's here that Charlotte stumbles across the Sawyer corner, replete with Watership Down, Anthony Cooper folders, newspaper clippings, and family photos of a much happier time. Sawyer's even got an 80's style boom-box and a container of petroleum jelly within easy reach - the staples of any good bachelor pad. Smooth, bro.
I guess my point here is that Sawyer's life is a little bit too stereotypically contrived. It's all too neat... as if Charlotte herself were a set up (not saying she is, not saying she isn't...) designed on cue to bring about a change of heart in this version of James Ford. It's like everything we've seen here was written for an episode of [insert crime drama], cheesy dialogue, unlikely situations and all.
Hydra Island... Now With 800% More Death, Carnage, and Flies!
Sawyer's trip down memory lane, much like Jack and Hurley's, was designed to instill ghost-town imagery wherever he walked. The deserted Ajira plane, the beating zoo... it felt a lot like that last episode of Survivor, where the final contestants walk past the burned-out torches of their eliminated comarades.
Revisiting this scenery from seasons past feels a lot like going back to your old childhood haunts and digging up some bittersweet memories. Kate's sundress is conveniently left where Sawyer can ponder their past together, helped out by sappy piano arrangement and some heavy sighing.
If Sawyer somehow ends up with Kate again, a good many people will go absolutely berserk... and probably rightfully so. Although it would be nice to have some closure within the original love triangle, Saywer's relationship with Juliet would be severely cheapened if he starts falling for Kate again within hours of her death. Not to mention that cup of coffee they're still supposed to go for, in this life or the next.
Eventually Sawyer meets up with Zoe, a girl who wins LOST's "suckiest at lying" award for all six seasons. "How many people are you? How many guns do you have?" It doesn't take a con man to know what was up here, and it didn't take long to see we were being introduced to a whole new crowd of people with guns and hidden agendas... again. Sawyer's "Take me to your leader" line was delivered with resigned sarcasm, reflecting exactly what we all felt at the moment, minus ten million eyerolls.
Mirrors, Fists, and Shattered Bromances
I'm not sure why Miles was so up-in-his-partner's-face about going out to Australia. "Trust" didn't seem a good enough reason to pull your friend's credit card info and throw him up against a row of lockers, at least not without some deep-seeded, unrequited man-feelings.
Then again, go back to earlier in the episode where Miles tells Sawyer "You know you can tell me the truth" (cue creepy music) "...about anything". Reflecting back, it's a little bit like Miles is watching over Sawyer in a suspiciously knowing way.
And like everyone else on the show, seeing himself in the mirror reflects back the truth to James Ford. Despite every attempt to be the Ponch to Miles' Jon, he's still obsessed with finding and killing the man responsible for the death of his parents. He can't be James Ford the happy and successful (and set up with a great girl, too) detective until he resolves his Anthony Cooper issues. And these aren't issues you can just shove aside... or lock away in your underwear drawer.
This Is Completely Inappropria- Wait! CATFIGHT!
"Sayid are you alright?" Hell no he's not alright. Claire's not alright either, and if Kate had brought her A-game she wouldn't be ass-down at knifepoint struggling to keep from getting an unwanted tracheotomy. Flocke steps in and tosses Claire off like a sack of potatoes, but not before reprimanding her like he's scolding a little girl.
And so this got me thinking... what if Claire is a little girl? Not in the physical sense of course, but in a mental sense maybe her mind got reset to when she was a kid. Think about that. She's prone to quick bouts of anger, then shows remorse later on by hugging Kate and crying. She holds Kate's hand... she plays with dolls... in essence, she's acting a lot like a scared, angry little girl.
Is this what the sickness reduces you to? Does it strip away the logical inhibitions an adult would have, leaving you with radically childlike tendencies? Did Vozzek just solve the sickness??? I vote 'hell yes' to all three.
Later on, Claire does seem legitimately sorry, as a child would after throwing a tantrum. Either the sickness itself isn't constant - allowing for moments of clarity and remembrance - or it's a twisted version of childhood. I'm leaning toward the latter, as it would make the sickness far more interesting and a lot less 'evil'.
If this is the case, the MIB is gonna have his hands full when Sayid decides he wants to play on the swingset... and delivers an unholy asskicking to anyone that tells him he can't.
I'm Sorry I Keep Stealing Jacob's Lines...
After the catfight, Flocke apologizes twice to Kate. He still seems overly concerned about keeping everyone happy, which makes sense because he knows that most people have been kept in the dark for too long. In trying to make amends, he accepts full responsibility for Claire's attack on Kate, and then uses Jacob's own line: "I'm sorry this happened" - yet another in a long line of direct connections between these two characters.
I've discussed the possibility that Jacob and the MIB are two halves of the same entity, and we see two types of evidence that point to this. The first are the mirrored and reversed traits: white and black, chaos and order, secrecy and full disclosure. Other evidence however, comes in the form of direct parallels between these characters: shared ideology, symbolism, and even identical dialogue. As these last few episodes fly by, keep this in mind and try to look for these things. More and more I get the feeling we're barking up the right tree.
When Kate asks where Sawyer went, Flocke offers to take her hand and show her. She refuses to accept his gesture of help, and gets up to follow him on her own accord. This keeps Kate markedly separate from everyone else on the MIB's crew who has made some type of deal with him. So far, Kate's done nothing of the sort.
All The Biggest Cowboys Have Mommy Issues
Flocke and Kate's conversation as he showed her Hydra island gave us more critical insight into the dark man's past. Once again he claims to be nothing but a man, something that has seemed very important to him these last few episodes. Whatever happened to the MIB, I'm starting to think he somehow lost his original form - the one we saw on the beach with Jacob during The Incident - for good.
Could it be that his physical body was destroyed, but his essence remained on the island in the form of the dark smoke? We already know he can take the form of those who've died, but over time even this seems to be wearing on him. Unlike Jacob, the MIB has no physical persona he can call his own, and it will be interesting to find out what exactly happened to his original body.
Even more mysterious: his mother. The dark man talks of once having a mother just like everyone else, but unlike everyone else his mom was crazy. Maybe she had the sickness when the MIB was just a boy, resulting in what happened to him. The way he spoke of his growing pains seemed like he was downplaying something a lot more horrific. His concerns about Aaron having a crazy mother may be a genuine reflection of him not wanting a child to go through the same thing he had to, and at times like this the MIB garners a lot of sympathy points. His character gets greatly humanized in this scene. Lots to process here, and I think it should make us go back and examine just who was talking to Claire in her season one visions and dreams.
Thanks Michael Landon!
"That's what life's all about - laughing and loving each other - and ***knowing that people aren't really gone when they die***
Yup, that's right... there's an "other side". There always has been, from the very beginning, yet so many people refuse to accept it. This is the proverbial curtain on the stage - the looking glass that separates everything we've seen so far from the real answers we've been salivating over since the show first started. I know it, lots of others know it, and Michael Landon definitely knows it.
If you've listened to the ODI Podcast, you already know my opinion on this. Everyone who's ever died on LOST has reached the other side. What's over there? An open bar, live music, and a lot of drunk "dead" people. Boone, Shannon, Charlie, Eko, Ana Lucia, Rose, Bernard, even Arzt, although they're serving him virgin drinks and still making fun of him whenever his back is turned.
What's that, Michael Landon? "We have all the good memories to sustain us ***until we see them again***. HUGE hints here. Just my opinion of course, but Mike's handing out big clues as to what we should expect at the end of the show.
Want less theorizing and more matter-of-fact reporting on this scene? I aim to please both sides here. With a little help from Michael Landon, Sawyer recognizes that hating on Cooper his whole life is preventing him from actually living a happy existence. He stops off at the Sunflower & Brew store and tries to make amends with Charlotte, but in her words "he blew it". Maybe it's too late for James Ford to turn over a new leaf, even in the ALT timeline.
As always with him, Sawyer sits on the fence between right and wrong, good and bad, convict and cop. The title's clever play on words seems to demonstrate the constant battle between the side of Sawyer that wants to do good, and the side that keeps falling back into more criminal activity. Ponch and Jon never plotted vengeance and murder, unless I missed that episode.
Awwww... What An Adorable Little Sonic Fence!
For about the 800th time, Saywer is marched somewhere at gunpoint. Widmore's sub has all the dark corridors and sinister locked rooms you'd think it should have, while above deck his crew begins setting up a low-budget version of a sonic perimeter. Someone should probably tell them there's only a half-season left.
In Widmore's quarters, Sawyer does almost all of the talking. He refuses to take Widmore's hand, then blames him for the death of the Ajira people. Pushing aside Widmore's denials, Sawyer cuts right to the chase: both of them know Locke is dead, yet he's still walking around and plotting new craziness. Sawywer however, makes the quick and possibly inaccurate assumption that Charles Widmore is here to do battle with the man in black.
"I'll bring the old man right to your doorstep... then you can kill him." Widmore smirks here, probably because he doesn't WANT to kill Flocke. It's hard to say what Widmore's motives are at this point, but he definitely knew Locke had to go back to the island. It also stands to reason he knew Locke would have to die to accomplish that goal. Therefore, if Widmore had wanted Jacob safe, he wouldn't have encouraged Locke to go back at all.
The only deal Sawyer's willing to shake on involves the safety of his friends. He's playing both sides of the fence to get what he wants, and doesn't seem to trust either side. He's a smart enough con to hedge his bets.
Puppy-Dog Eyes And An Ultra Lame Ending
Unfortunately, the ending of Recon was pretty lackluster. After giving Miles his best puppy-dog eyes, James Ford hands over the folder containing all his info on Anthony Cooper. It's unsure whether or not he plans to keep tracking the con man down, using the present tense as he tells Miles "When I find him, I'm gonna kill him".
As a good partner, Miles is obligated to talk Sawyer down off this ledge for a few days before ultimately helping find Cooper and bring him to justice. Sawyer's redemption comes the moment he catches Coop and refuses to kill him, which at this point would be pretty damned predictable. Cue fugitive Kate, a car crash, and yet another "son of a bitch!"
On-island, the ending is even worse. Sawyer and Kate could be playing 'I never', but instead they're discussing how to escape... not by plane, mind you... but BY SUB! Dun-Dun-DUUUUUNNNNN!!!! Sorry, but that just totally sucked.
So What Saves A Shitty Ending?
An incredible, jaw-dropping promo for next week's episode. If you refuse to watch it for fear of being spoiled, you're probably a Communist.
THINGS I NOTICED - RECON