Saturday, 20 March 2010

LOST 6.8 - "Recon"

Saturday, 20 March 2010
WRITERS: Elizabeth Sarnoff & Jim Galasso
DIRECTOR: Jack Bender
GUEST CAST: Alan Dale, Mickey Graue, Kiersten Havelock, Neil Hopkins, Kimberley Joseph, Rebecca Mader, Frederick Koehler, Sheila Kelley & Jodi Lyn O'Keefe
[SPOILERS] While I really like Sawyer (Josh Holloway), I often find myself bored by episodes that revolve around his character, ever since season 3. One flaw to Lost has been how a handful of characters are pigeonholed by whatever broad description they were branded with originally, doomed to repeat that role in every season since. Hence, Sayid's stories tend to involve him being forced to embrace his dark past as a torturer, and Sawyer's stories usually involve him conning people. "Recon" managed to twist its subplots into a few intriguing shapes, but ultimately I just found it averagely entertaining with some enlightening information dumps.

X-Timeline '04: Sawyer, Miles & Charlotte

In whatever reality/time this is supposed to be, we found Sawyer working for the LAPD with Miles (Ken Leung) as his partner, using his con man skills in the service of good and  police resources to trace Anthony Cooper (Locke's father), the murderer responsible for killing his parents when he was a boy. So, despite the fact we saw and heard evidence that Locke gets on with his father just fine in this reality (he's not responsible for his disability, hasn't stolen his kidney), ol' Cooper's still a killer?

Sawyer himself was shown to be a lonely soul; agreeing to a blind date setup by buddy Miles with beautiful Charlotte (Rebecca Mader) and later sleeping with her, before ruining the chance of a proper relationship when he caught her nosing into a scrapbook where he keeps the clippings about his tragic past. In an unexpectedly realistic moment, after Sawyer goes to try and make amends with Charlotte, she refuses to accept his apology.

I'm still speculating about what these X-Timelines could mean (are they real, or "symbolic"), as we've had eight to contemplate and find parallels between. Knowing that Sawyer has sided with "evil" Locke in the present-day timeline, his flashsideways showed Sawyer's life to partly be an improvement (he has a legitimate job), but is otherwise crushed by loneliness and a lack of resolution to his childhood trauma. So, if you subscribe to the theory that these flashsideways are a denouement to season 6, where characters receive their "reward" according to whom they sided with (Jacob or his Enemy), I guess this is more evidence for that. Sayid and Sawyer (followers of Locke) have both had flashsideways where their lives are vaguely improved, but ultimately hollow and unsatisfying compared to the original timeline. Anyway, as a piece of storytelling, I wasn't particularly invested in anything going on here, and any "mystery" over Sawyer's grief had already been explained years ago. We've also thoroughly explored Sawyer's backstory in the original storyline (where it was resolved in season 3), so I had no real desire to see a retread, which is what this felt like.

The Island '07: Sawyer, Locke & Widmore

It turns out that present-day Sawyer's been hanging out with Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) back at Claire's (Emilie de Ravin) hut while The Temple massacre was going on in "Sundown", but now Locke's (Terry O'Quinn) returned with his band of followers and promises to get them all off the Island. To do this, he recruits Sawyer to provide reconnaisance of the Hydra Island, which is where the survivors of Ajira Airlines Flight 316 are still stranded after the crash during season 5, and find out what the situation is. It's funny, I'd totally forgotten about those guys!

Having rowed across to the Hydra, Sawyer discovered the landed airplane and a pile of dead passengers who'd been dragged to a clearing to rot. There was only one survivor, a bespectacled woman called Zoe (Sheila Kelley), who claims she heard screaming and found everyone dead. Sawyer, quickly sensing a fellow con artist at work, drew a gun on her and demanded to know the truth, only to immediately find himself surrounded by an armed gang -- the crew of a submarine belonging to their leader, Charles Widmore (Alan Dale), whom Sawyer is taken to see. The two men reach an agreement: Sawyer will bring "Locke" over to the Hydra Island, claiming the coast is clear, so Widmore's team can kill him, in exchange for safe passage off the island for him and his friends. However, after arriving back on the main island, Locke reveals the absolute truth to Locke and the deception he'd planned with Widmore, meaning Sawyer's decided this Smoke Monster's more trustworthy than the billionaire who sent a freighter to wipe them out in season 4.

This storyline is where the meat of pertinent information came from, and it tied up loose ends with the Ajira flight I don't think many people remembered were even dangling! It was primarily fascinating to see that Sawyer choose Locke over Widmore, although this could be a "long con" -- you just never know with his slippery character. Regardless, it wasn't really as snappy as previous Sawyer episodes have been, while I'm still a little confused as to why Sawyer's sided with a being he knows to be the Smoke Monster that's terrorized, and killed, many of his friends in the past. I know Widmore's hardly a beacon of goodness, but at least he's human and has a working submarine.

The Island '07: Kate & Claire

This wasn't a true subplot, but we saw Claire threaten Kate (Evangeline Lilly) for "stealing" her baby, taking a knife to her throat as Sayid (Naveen Andrews) watched impassively. Locke broke up their fight, later explaining to Kate how Claire feels the way she does: he told her a lie about Aaron to keep her focused these past three years, so now those deep emotions have nowhere to go. Interestingly, he also revealed he's the product of a "crazy mother", just like Aaron is now, which felt like a statement to take particular note of. It also amused me that, given the amount of "daddy issue" Lost's human characters have tackled in the past, that there's a chance the supernatural characters -- Smokey (and perhaps Jacob) -- have "mummy issues".

In Summation

Like I said, I'm not really interested in Sawyer's past, or alternate past. His character was excellent in the early seasons, kind of drifted in season 4, but came back strong in season 5 thanks to his romance with Juliet and leadership role within DHARMA. In season 6, he's a broken man, and there's definitely a story there to explore, but his X-Timeline didn't involve me emotionally. And it still feels like Lost's playing a dangerous game keeping the nature of its tangent timeline a secret, because it could really help us appreciate what's going on if we knew what relevance or effect it was having on the "real" characters. I'm hoping we'll get an explanation soon, and it's not being stored up for the series finale. Maybe re-watching season 6 will reap added reward, if that's the case, but I'd rather not have to rerun this final season to appreciate it.

Questions, Questions, Questions!

-- What's inside the submarine's locked room?

-- Who or what killed the passengers of Ajira Flight 316?

-- Why didn't Sayid help Kate when she was attacked by Claire? Is this a sign that he's "turned" evil now?

-- What is Widmore's plan? Why did he take the submarine to the Hydra Island and not the main island?

-- How does Smokey expect to fly the Ajira plane off the island? Is he going to give airline pilot Lapidus an offer he can't refuse?

-- Who is Smokey's "crazy" mother? Is this Jacob's mother, too? Is Smokey mixing up his memory with that of Locke's mother, who was schitzophrenic? This is another sign that Smokey was telling the truth when he said he was human once, so are we to believe he was transformed into this smoke entity as a punishment for something?

-- Is Aaron still going to be an important character, as he was primed to be back in season 1? If so, will he be returned to the Island somehow? Is he already there, aboard the sub's locked room? Okay, a quick theory: the Smoke Monster is Aaron, who somehow gets sent back in time at some point to fulfil his destiny. No?

19 MARCH 2010: SKY1 (HD), 9PM