Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts on Recon...

BIGMOUTH: Maybe because of the boars, I've always considered pork the perfect food accompaniment for LOST.  I actually fried up some bacon as a snack before watching Recon, so maybe this is the swine talking.  But I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, which scored an 8 out of 10 on my Sickness Scale (4 for character, 4 for mythology).  In fact, Sawyer's flash sideways may be my favorite of them all so far.

A wonderful, magical animal...

I was hooked from the teaser, which led us to believe Sawyer was back to his conning ways, but then revealed that he's a police in the Mirror reality.  I loved Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, who was one of my favorite things about Prison Break (2005).  I didn't get the sense her character will play much of a role in the Mirror timeline, but her cameo was welcome nevertheless.  I was also ecstatic to see Sawyer and Miles partnered again as cops.  I've commented before on my appreciation for Josh Holloway and Ken Leung as actors.  You might expect their similarly sardonic deliveries to be overkill.  As we saw last season, however, they actually pair well together.  Someone should really cast them in a buddy comedy.

Starsky and Hutch?

I'm exactly like Indiana Jones.  But the real treat for me was the return of Charlotte, and not just because she looked great as Sawyer's blind date.  Her line about "Indiana Jones" set my whackadoo wheel spinning because it points to a possible Mirror-reality storyline that I've mentioned previously.  I suspect that Charlotte, like Keamy's crew, works for Widmore in both timelines.  I further suspect that, in both realities, she was present on the Island as a child and has been haunted by the memory ever since.  Widmore is using her (and possibly Dr. Chang) to help him find the sunken Island.  It wouldn't surprise me if she'd returned from an archaeological dig in Tunisia just prior to her date. 

You can't miss the bear...

Here's where things get a little whackadoo.  When Charlotte found the Sawyer file in James's drawer, my first take was that she simply made a mistake.  Upon rewatching, however, I got the distinct impression that Charlotte was looking for something.  Maybe it was just innocent snooping, the way some folks poke around the medicine cabinet at a party.  Still, if Charlotte was on the Island when she was younger, so presumably was Widmore.  Maybe he knows all about the Candidates and sent Charlotte to find out what she could about James.  Perhaps the title "Recon" is ironic in the sense that James was himself the target of a reconnaissance mission in the Mirror timeline.

Who's Anthony Cooper?  The Sawyer file suggests another intriguing route the Mirror reality may take.  It looks like Anthony Cooper conned Sawyer's parents in both realities.  And while James didn't adopt the "Sawyer" moniker or become a con man himself in the Mirror universe, his obsession with finding Cooper still took him to Australia.  (More on that in a moment.)  I'm guessing that Cooper is Locke's father just like in the Crash reality.  In the Mirror universe, however, Cooper renounced his life of crime and never conned his son out of a kidney.  Sawyer will track Cooper through Locke, culminating in a confrontation that mirrors their deadly encounter in The Brig.  This time, however, Sawyer will spare the reformed Cooper's life.

Good touch, bad touch.  As I say, Sawyer's fate was always apparently to follow his obsession with Cooper to Australian-- and to return on Oceanic 815.  Indeed, I was struck by how closely James's Mirror self resembled his Crash reality counterpart.  They even watch the same television shows (Little House on the Prairie) and read the same books (Watership Down and A Wrinkle in Time).  Yes, Sawyer became a cop, rather than a con man.  But as many of you all everybody noted, he remains the same basic person he is in the Crash reality.  This is important because it belies the Man in Black's claim that Jacob's touches were about pushing James to the Island.

So what was their purpose?  Right now, the big difference seems to be the "Dear Mr. Sawyer" letter Little James wrote in the Crash reality.  That might seem like a small detail, but it's already had major implications.  For one thing, that letter was the key to Kate and Sawyer's bonding back in Season 1.  In fact Jacob's visits to Jack and James both seem to be about building a triangle between them and Kate.  Notice how Jacob touched Jack just after the latter had the "count to five" experience that he then related to Kate shortly after the crash of Oceanic 815. Not only did Jack and Kate bond over this story, they later used it as a code during her escape with Sawyer from Hydra Island.

I'm gonna let them fight it out.  Moreover, the Sawyer letter seems to be what drove James to become a con man in the Crash reality.  Yes, he's something of a rogue in the Mirror reality, too, but that's a far cry from being "the best liar" the Man in Black has ever met.  Jacob needed Sawyer to be an expert con man, and in Recon we finally got a glimpse why.  As Sawyer mentioned to Kate, he's planning to con both Widmore and the Man in Black, playing them off against each other.  In the comments, I dubbed this the "Yojimbo" con after my favorite Akira Kurosawa film of the same name, in which a tricky samurai pits two rival gangs against each other to save a town.

So, if Widmore and the Man in Black are rivals, does that mean the former was on Team Jacob all along?  It's possible but by no means necessarily true.  Remember that last season Bram told Miles he was "playing for the wrong team" by working for Widmore.  Given that Ilana's crew was clearly working for Jacob, it seems unlikely they'd say that unless Widmore had some connection with the Man in Black.  I suspect we're going to learn that the latter two know each other well.  I even wonder if the Man in Black made a similar offer of leadership to Widmore as he did to Ben last episode.  Perhaps those sonic pylons are to make sure the Man in Black makes good on his pledge.

My mother was crazy.  Speaking of the Man in Black, I was strangely moved by his confession to Kate of having had a crazy mother himself.  He seemed to be speaking from a place of truth, but I have to wonder.  We've yet to meet the Man in Black's mother, if he even has one.  We have, however, met Emily Locke who is certifiably insane.  And I suspect the Man in Black was channeling Locke's memory of that troubled relationship to facilitate his emotional con of Kate.  In fact, it may well be that the Man in Black was also channeling Locke's emotions when he told Sawyer that he knew "what it's like to lose someone you love."  Perhaps he was referring to Helen.


Either way, the Man in Black seems adept at emotional manipulation, which brings me to one last whackadoo speculation for your pleasure.  Some of you expressed skepticism about Claire's emotional swings.  But one look at what my friends J and L have dubbed Claire's "Tickle Me Fucked Up Doll" erased any lingering doubts I had.  Claire's gone, mon, and she ain't coming back.  That has me wondering: was this the Man in Black's plan all along?  The psychic, Richard Malkin, told Claire that she must be the one who raises Aaron because of her "nature, spirit, and goodness."  So what happens to him now that she's both crazy and infected?  Maybe Aaron becomes the Anti-Christ...

That's all from this end  Over to you, Wayne...

* * *

WAYNE: I give Recon an overall 6 on the Sickness Scale, divided equally at 3 between mythology and characterization.

Previously on Lost. Well, no, there isn't any "Previously..." to be had. There's no lead in, for the first time in over one hundred and ten episodes, because we know everything we need to know already. The smoke monster's identity has been revealed, Sawyer is no longer James, Jim, or LeFleur, he's back to being Sawyer the smooth-talker, the bringer of nicknames. Sawyer the con man. We know of a Mirror reality, which is almost a pun for the Crash reality in that familiar characters in different roles are almost bumping into each other left and right. My snow globe analogy seems to fit: for the second week in a row, we learn of another member of DHARMA who is in Los Angeles. Okay, Miles's father works at the museum, fine. You go where the jobs are. And then there's Detective James Ford, "Jimmy" to the women he cons in undercover cop stings.

The episode itself is a mirror of "Confidence Man" in S1, only this time around, the open briefcase spilling cabbage -- AKA the pigeon drop -- leads to Sawyer's having a gun pulled on him by his mark. Sawyer tries to tell gun-wielding Ava that the place is bugged, and they want her husband, not her, for the big prize. She doesn't believe Jim's a cop, and maybe some of the audience doesn't, as well. Sawyer -- at this point, we don't know he's Ford in the Mirror reality -- says the safe word, "LeFleur," and a half-dozen cops bust in the cheap motel door's door. 

What's in a name? "Recon." The obvious answer might be re-con, another reflection back on the first-ever Sawyer flashback. I say that the title actually was word play for "Re: Con" -- i.e., regarding the various definitions of con. In the Crash reality, Sawyer tells Jin that he, too, knows the Man in Black is not Locke (the big con).  Fake Locke wants his main man Sawyer to take an outrigger to Hydra Island, to offer up some recon(naissance) on the activities of the remaining passengers from Ajira 316.  Fake Locke states plainly that he knows some of those passengers intend to do them harm. And then there's the conning tower of Widmore's sub, which we saw just below the surface of the water in the final seconds of last week's episode. To "con" the vessel is to direct the helmsman on how to conduct, or control, the sub. And so it is that the Man in Black is conning Sawyer: he knows that Widmore has set up camp on Hydra Isle.

I theorize that Zoe, who just looks crafty, was actually a passenger on Ajira 316 who contacted Widmore via the plane's radio. I also suspect that Widmore was told the flight path of Ajira 316 by Eloise herself, who knew Widmore would get on the sub and periodically attempt to make radio contact at the flight's last known location. This is a call back to "The Incident," when the Man in Black cryptically tells Ben that, once Jacob is dead, the remaining passengers of Ajira 316 must be taken care of in some manner. Having Locke's memories, he would know about the Tunisia meeting with Widmore and the coming war. The Man in Black very likely knew that Widmore would soon return to the Island, banishment or not. (Actually, there is a loophole here, as Widmore did not return to the main Island at all.) Widmore has men setting up a sonic fence because he knows the Man in Black is free of his prison. Again I point towards Zoe, who helps several of Widmore's men capture Sawyer and bring him to the sub's bowels. 

My thoughts: in the time between trussing up Rousseau-style and his going to see Sawyer boozing it up, the Man in Black took time to barrel through an underground conduit to Hydra and wipe out the redshirts before north to the Barracks. He knew the jig was up when he saw Locke's corpse with the sideways-walking crab on his head, so the Man in Black killed the remaining survivors in the hopes of scaring Widmore upon his return. Perhaps Zoe hid cockpit, unseen by the cocky unLocke. 

Charlotte. Big deal. Waste of Mirror reality, gang. We already knew about Det. Ford's looking for the real Sawyer -- that's what took him to Sydney the previous weekend. After some shots of Josh Holloway's chest, Sawyer leaves the room to get his blind date some water.  She finds his secret Stash, the Sawyer dossier, which we already saw. Her hand touches a copy of Watership Down, which Sawyer was reading in "White Rabbit," thought this episode was devoid of deja vu looks. There was no reason for Charlotte even to bother drawing our attention to the book. Yes, her father likely worked at the Orchid in the Mirror reality, as dying Charlotte knew of the well and screamed what I still think to be a phrase to be repeated again before the series finale, "This Place Is Death." Maybe she heard tales of time-traveling bunnies. But man, what a long way to go. And sure, she gets the goofy flower -- le fleur --that Sawyer gave Juliet, like, thirty years ago. Only he brings a six-pack this time, leaving the flower behind when Charlotte rebuffs him for making her leave at 3:00 AM, earlier that day. Each episode of the Mirror reality shares the theme of loss, and Sawyer as Ford breaks a mirror, the other running image we see past the looking glass.

Australia's the key to the whole game. In "The Shape of Things To Come," Hurley, Sawyer, and Locke are playing Risk just prior to the appearance of Keamy and his cohorts. Hurley points out that Australia is the "key to the whole game." The reason, of course, is that Australia has only one entrance -- through Indonesia -- in Risk.  This is analogous to the Island, which may only be accessed by one compass bearing. Another Hurley-quote of prescience: "This is what he wants--to fight amongst ourselves." Translation: Widmore is staying put on Hydra, and will let Team Jacob/Hurley and Team the Main in Black/Sawyer, candidates and recruits one and all, battle on the main Island. As Widmore told Ben during their bedroom confrontation: "That island's mine, Benjamin. It always was. And it will be again." And so Charles will watch and wait.

Both Kates. Mirror Kate does what she did in Crash reality -- smash up a lot of cars. Wonder how often that will happen when she gets back to L.A. and discovers the joys of texting. In the Crash reality, Sawyer tells Kate that he's not on anybody's side and confides how he conned both Widmore and the Man in Black. My immediate thought was that Kate will run and find Jack (and Hurley), and everyone else in that third group, and fill them in on Sawyer's intel. Moving back to Mirror  Kate, she has the bad luck to ram Starsky & Hutch's car, then runs off *resigned sigh* with a hood over her head.  The show ends with Ford and Austen face to face. And I actually think this scene marks the beginning of the Mirror reality's end.  Soon enough, the deja vu will overflow, and the Mirror reality will engulf the Crash reality, just as the explosion of Jughead caused the waters of the Pacific to seep over the Island, eventually submerging it.
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