Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Recon" Analysis

It’s the greatest two days of the year.

The Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament are like Christmas and Lost Season Premiere Day rolled into one. It’s a tradition for me and my friends to take off work and drink for 12 hours each day while watching the games.

Why do you care?

It’s now Sunday afternoon, I haven’t started my “Recon” analysis, and I’ve got another 10 hours of basketball staring me down. Long story short, it all adds up to an especially short and crappy “Recon” analysis this week. The good news is – and I almost wonder if the Lost writers did this intentionally since they knew I had a busy week – there’s not a ton to analyze this week. Like I said in my “Instant Reactions”, this episode was an appetizer. It’s a totally necessary episode, but more of a setup episode than anything else. There were a few hints about some bigger reveals, and some natural character interactions and progressions – but other than that, it was a fairly straightforward episode.

Let’s do it.

James Ford. The Flash Sideways in “Recon” was pretty enjoyable. It was still the same old Sawyer we know and love… except in this reality his name isn’t Sawyer – it’s James Ford… and he’s not using his wit and lovemaking abilities to con people – but to be a cop. It was great to see Miles included as his partner, as he’s perhaps the only male character who can stand toe-to-toe with Sawyer and call him out – a nice reminder of the relationship that the two developed during their three years together on the Island working for Dharma. It’s a good reminder for all of us that although Sawyer has appeared in more episodes with characters like Kate and Jack, he actually knows characters like Miles, Juliet, and Jin more than anyone else on the show, as he’s spent more than three times as much time with them from 1974 to 1977. I’m a little worried about the way the writers had Sawyer linger when looking at the Polar Bear cages with Kate’s discarded dress inside. He belongs with Juliet! Not Kate!

Speaking of the Juliet, a lot of people were anticipating she would have an appearance in this episode, to show the other side of the “going dutch for coffee” conversation she had with Sawyer just before dying. Since we didn’t see it, does that mean that it was just a Juliet-Sawyer Fan Club dream that we all were hoping would happen, but won’t?

Not necessarily. Although I was predicting that these silly Flash Sideways would somehow intersect with the main On-Island storyline on Lost by now, since they haven’t, I think we have to open ourselves up to the possibility that they are going to stick around for the entire season. While there doesn’t seem to be enough time to feature a second Flash Sideways dedicated to a single character, there are enough loose ends in each of their storylines that we might see the final two or three episodes of this season featuring a “royal sampler” of Flash Sideways that feature multiple characters interacting.

If you think about it, we’ve got some established connections between Sawyer à Kate à Claire à Jack à Locke à Sawyer (though Anthony Cooper) and à Ben. We’ve also got some connections between Sayid à Jin à Sun. It’s not out of the question to think that the writers could “tie up” all the Off-Island storylines through one episode featuring each of these character connections.

The point is – if we are going to see the Flash Sideways continue throughout the whole season, there’s a chance that the “happy endings” for our characters aren’t going to happen on the Island, but off the Island. If they get a chance to jump consciousness from one reality to another, their happy ending might be the final scene of the Flash Sideways – not the final scene of the character on the Island… and for Sawyer, that happy ending would almost certainly involve Juliet.

While I’m thinking about it, let’s keep in mind that Juliet told Sawyer (and Miles) two things in the season premiere:

JULIET: “It didn't work, we're still on the island.”

JULIET: “I have to tell you something, it's really really important.”

(through MILES): “It worked.”

So she changed her opinion of what happened when the Jughead detonated over the course of a few minutes… which means that she was seemingly jumping back and forth from one reality to the other during those final minutes of life. For me, this gives us two possible explanations for how our characters could “choose” to jump realities in the end:

  1. By dying. Which would give Lost a little taste of the Purgatory Theory that was so popular in its early days. When you die, you jump to the other reality. But I still think this cheapens the deaths of all the characters on the show over the first five seasons, so I’m not a huge fan of it (see: Charlie).
  2. By being exposed to the super electromagnetic core of the Island. I could see this being the “pseudo scientific” explanation for how a character could chose to jump from one reality to the other – by getting too close to the “unique electromagnetic properties of the Island” and perhaps exploding something while there. Juliet just happened to suffer fatal wounds as a result of this – which is why she died while she was slipping from one reality to the other. But if there was a safer way to do this, maybe you come out okay on the other side.

Well, that all sounds like a lot of gibberish. How many brain cells did I kill on Thursday and Friday? Let’s get back on task…

What did we actually learn from the Flash Sideways? Much like Ben’s last week, not a whole lot. James Ford used the code word “LaFleur”, but instead of it being one of those “reality bleeding moments of confusion” like we saw with Jack, he probably came up with the name the same way he did on the fly to use to trick Dharma in 1977. It’s a name he’s used before. He likes it. It sounds pretty. It means “the flower”. Sawyer is sensitive like that. Similarly, James Ford’s brutal childhood past is the same as Sawyer’s – two dead parents as the result of a con by Anthony Cooper. Although this time, instead of becoming the man he hated (a con), he went the opposite route and is working to bring down cons (as a cop).


The interesting thing about this change is that for the first time in these Flash Sideways, we see where a lack of involvement from Jacob could have had a direct change on the outcome of the events. Without Jacob showing up at the funeral for Sawyer’s parents, he wasn’t there to give Sawyer a pen – which Sawyer would use to write his angry / cute letter to Sawyer:

"Dear Mr. Sawyer, You don't know who I am but I know who you are and I know what you done. You had sex with my mother and then you stole my dad's money all away. So he got angry and he killed my mother and then he killed himself, too. All I know is your name. But one of these days I'm going to find you and I'm going to give you this letter so you'll remember what you done to me. You killed my parents, Mr. Sawyer."

It’s a bit of a stretch, since it’s pretty likely that Sawyer would find someone else with a pen or write the same letter later – and also, we see that James Ford still wants to kill Sawyer, even though he’s a cop. But this is where I thought we were going with the Flash Sideways at the beginning of the season – seeing what would happen without Jacob’s involvement, on an earlier iteration of “Jacob’s Loop”, so I have to throw it out there. It doesn’t seem likely that this is the case, but this without knowing where the writers are going with the Flash Sideways, this is still what I would have done.

Yikes – this is way too much Flash Sideways talk. Remember when I said I wasn’t going to analyze them until we understood more about them? I’m a total liar.

Back to the Island.

Deals. There were a lot of promises made in “Recon”… and in an episode that centered around conning people, you have to wonder how many of these are going to hold up. Let’s review:

Sawyer promises Jin that he won’t leave the Island without Sun… kinda like Kate promised Sun that they wouldn’t leave the Freigher without Jin – and we all see how that worked out.

SmokeLocke promises everyone that he’ll answer all their questions… just not right now. Pretty convenient (both for SmokeLocke and the Lost writers, who can defer their answers to the show’s mysteries for another week this way).

SmokeLocke promises Zach and Emma that he’ll keep them safe… even though he just murdered like 20 of their fellow Others.

SmokeLocke promises Kate that he’ll keep her safe after apologizing for Crazy Claire’s outburst… even though he is the one responsible for it thanks to lying about Aaron for all these years.


Sawyer’s promise aside, it’s the ones made by SmokeLocke that I find interesting. Is he really going to protect all these people and answer all their questions, even though Alpert has told us that he won’t rest until he kills every living thing on the Island? Does he really think he’s going to use Ajira 316 to leave the Island, when it’s in shambles? Or is he just slowly manipulating everyone into a false sense of security and trust of him, only to murder them all once he uses them for all they are worth?

I won’t get into the big debate about good and evil here, but wouldn’t it be just like the devil to seemingly tell you the “truth”, carry out bad acts, but do it with a grin, comforting you all along? Likewise, isn’t it just like God to not explain everything to you, make you rely on faith and do the right thing even when the devil is tempting you?

Even though SmokeLocke is coming across in a very positive light right now, making promises to characters and sounding like he cares about them – I wouldn’t believe a word he said. He’ll keep his promises, as long as those promises continue to aid him in reaching his end goal of “going home”.

Widmore. Speaking of not believing a word that someone says, let’s talk about Charles Widmore. He claims to have not killed the surviving members of Ajira 316 who were still on Hydra Island, but can – or should – we believe him? This isn’t the first time he claimed innocence about killing a bunch of people from a plane crash (see: Fake Oceanic 815), only to later admit to the truth. Why would this time be any different?

The easiest reason to pin the big pile of dead bodies on Widmore is that there aren’t many other good candidates. In fact, I think that list begins and ends with SmokeLocke. Who else is left? We know what all our Survivors (with the exception of Alpert) have been up to ever since Ajira 316 crashed on the Island… and Alpert doesn’t really seem like the mass murdering type – both from a physical and moral perspective.

What about SmokeLocke? It’s possible that he turned into Smokey, dashed over to Hydra Island, killed the remaining Ajira 316ers, and then came back to the main Island to play dumb about it all. But that wouldn’t explain why there was the path of bodies being dragged away from the plane. Smokey doesn’t need to drag people around – he would pick them up and move them, without leading a thick trail on the ground. On the other hand, I also didn’t see a single gunshot wound on any of the bodies… or any real blood on their clothing. How in the world could Widmore’s Crew have killed so many without shooting them? Sneaking up behind ALL OF THEM and breaking their necks? Conversely, Smokey could turn into a giant smoke hand, crush their internal organs, and then throw them in a big pile fairly easily, leaving no blood stains on their clothing.


Hmmmm – it’s a toss-up. I guess the hard physical evidence tips a little more towards SmokeLocke killing everyone this time… at least for now. But let’s not forget, three years ago Widmore sent a crew to the Island with the instructions to kill everyone and bring Benjamin Linus to him – and although he’s bringing a different looking crew to the Island this time (and coming along for the ride himself), it’s likely that his intentions are still the same. Taking the Island by force didn’t work last time – maybe this time he’s looking to use a little more finesse… or bring along a secret weapon or two.

Desmond. The more I think about it, the more certain I am that Desmond is behind the locked door of Widmore’s submarine. Again, the last time we saw Widmore off the Island, he was standing outside the hospital where Desmond was being treated for the gunshot wound from Ben. It seems easy enough that after hearing about Ajira 316 from Eloise Hawking, Widmore grabbed Desmond, rounded up a submarine and crew (oh, the things that money and power afford you), and headed for the Island. Why does he need Desmond? No idea – aside from Hawking’s assertion that “the Island isn’t done with Desmond”, and that everyone Lost fan in the world has been begging for Desmond’s return to the show all season long. Desmond is special – and that could mean anything from “he’s the one who has the magic power to kill SmokeLocke” to “he’s the one who can go back in time and change the current events”.

No good theories here – but with the season halfway completed, if Desmond is ever going to come back to the Island, the time is now.

Aaron. Finally, we need to touch on the unexpected story that SmokeLocke told Kate this episode:

LOCKE: "You referred to me as a dead man. I am not a dead man. I know what you're feeling, Kate. I know what you're going through."

KATE: "And how do you know that?"

LOCKE: "Because... my mother was crazy. Long time ago, before I... looked like this... I had a mother, just like everyone. She was a very disturbed woman. And, as a result of that, I had some growing pains. Problems that I'm still trying to work my way through. Problems that could have been avoided had things been different."

KATE: "Why are you telling me this?"

LOCKE: "Because now Aaron has a crazy mother too."

For me, this strengthens two fundamental points about SmokeLocke that we need to keep in mind:

  1. He’s a person. Not that he was a person – but that he IS a person. Maybe he can turn into Smokey, shapeshift, and can no longer be killed by bullets or knives – but he’s a person. He had a mother, knows what it’s like to love, and knows what it’s like to feel the pain of loss.
  2. He’s alive. He said he’s not a “dead man”. Earlier in the episode, he also said it’s “kill or be killed, and I don’t want to be killed”. Which means that he can be killed (if only we could figure out how), and he’s more like Alpert (never aging) than some “god”.

I semi-joked in the Instant Reactions about this opening the door for Aaron to grow up, go back in time, and “become” Anti-Jacob, with the whole purpose of the loophole and his comments about “going home” boiling down to changing the past to save his mother or somehow overcome his “mommy issues” (PS – nice to finally see someone on Lost have mommy issues instead of every other character with their multiple daddy issues).

In all honesty, I think that’s a little far fetched. People like it because it draws Aaron back into the fold and makes everything about him in Season One far more important – but it doesn’t explain the vision of Young Jacob, the hatred towards Jacob, or why Anti-Jacob (as Smokey) didn’t act sooner to “save Claire”, if that’s all that it was about.

Instead, here’s what I’m thinking. SmokeLocke told Kate these things as a warning to learn from his mistakes. If you want to get all mythological about it, perhaps it’s a warning to not let Aaron become the new Anti-Jacob on the Island. If you want to keep it simpler, it’s more about Kate ensuring that she remains involved in Aaron’s life when (or if) they get off the Island, to prevent him from suffering the same psychological scars.

SmokeLocke is responsible for making Claire so crazy – for giving her something to obsess about that he knew wasn’t true to turn her into a soldier in his army, and maybe he feels a little guilty about that. Giving Kate this little piece of parenting advice might be his way of clearing his conscience and making things up to Aaron.

Okay – that’s all I’ve got this week. Again, my apologies for the crappy Blog this week – other priorities got in the way.

Until tomorrow night!


Brian Leonard said...

Screw the analysis--how are your brackets? =~>

timcourtois said...

I think SmokeLocke's conversation w/ Kate about Aaron having a crazy mother was intended to build on the theme of Smokey offering a "deal" to his followers:

1. He said to Sayid, essentially, "The thing you love most in the world (Nadia) is gone; but I can give her back to you."
2. Similarly, he's saying to Kate, "The thing you care about most in the world is reuniting Aaron with his sane mother; that's not possible now. But I can offer you a reality in which that IS possible.

I think the theme here is that the sideways reality is the place where the "other" life offered by Smokey has happened: Sayid has Nadia alive; Kate gets to help Claire keep Aaron.

(And Ben gets to choose helping Alex over his self-advancement...)

Brendan said...

"Richard Alpert doesn't seem like the mass-murdering type."

Well, he did help orchestrate the Dharma Purge with Ben. Mass murder is really the only word for that.

And last season, when the Others captured Locke, Faraday, Charlotte and Juliet (and who else? I can't remember), Richard admitted to killing the US Army brigade.

I'm fascinated by Richard, as if every other Lost fan, and I find him so... I dunno, trustworthy. But it's funny, when you catalog some of the things he's been involved in, dude's got serious blood on his hands.

Counting down the hours til next episode...........!!

robpatt said...

all i have to say is go Cornell. Andy Bernard is from there.

Brian, can we place bets on how many episode's Widmore's crew stays alive? Im guessing 2-3 till they are toast.

Anonymous said...

If smokelocke and widmore are working together smokelocke could have killed the people and widmore's people could have piled them up.

Cathy said...

The rules prevent SmokeLocke from killing the candidates. He used a loophole to kill Jacob. Maybe he's planting a seed in Kate's brain that she needs to protect Aaron from Claire by whatever means necessary. The candidates can pick each other off one by one.

DeuceGort said...


In case you don't read io9, here's a great LOST article..

Joyce Saenz Harris said...

I agree with Brendan. And I do believe that Smokey, not Widmore, killed the Ajira redshirts. Here's why:

Go back and watch "The Incident." UnLocke tells Richard (who still thinks his new Leader is John Locke) that after they visit Jacob, they need to "take care of" the remaining Ajira passengers. Richard asks what he means by that, and UnLocke says: "You know what I mean."

As Brendan points out, Richard did orchestrate the 1954 murders of the US Army brigade, and he also helped carry out the Dharma purge in 1992. It is entirely possible that he also was with Smokey when the Ajira redshirts were massacred. (Maybe Richard was the one who dragged the corpses off the beach and into the clearing.)

I suspect that Richard now realizes he has been complicit in at least three mass murders that were carried out at the command of...not Jacob, but by the Man in Black, masquerading as Jacob or as John Locke, Jacob's appointed disciple.

No wonder Richard was despondent and suicidal. I hope we'll find out more about all this in "Ab Aeterno."