It may have been Sawyer’s episode, but it is Daniel Faraday who has gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Straight to the recap this week on a very grounding, very good episode. (We’ll attack this chronologically even though the episode jumped back and forth between 1974 and 1977.)
- Sawyer, Kate, Miles and Juliet have all jumped somewhere into the deep past (or deep future) before Locke resets the wheel. We glimpse a towering (four-toed?) statue in the distance. Finally! Answers! Actually, no. Because:
- Locke resets the wheel for good and the foursome experience a different jump, “more like an earthquake,” according to Miles. Juliet guesses Locke has done it. Which means they’re all stuck in … 1974.
- What’s more, Charlotte’s body has disappeared (the dead don’t jump) and Daniel is seriously losing his marbles.
- Sawyer takes control but doesn’t have a plan aside from going back to the beach.
- Miles ridicules Sawyer’s plan with a comic soliloquy entitled, “The Orchid vs. The Beach: The Only Plan You People Ever Have.”
- Juliet backs Sawyer up. Erin calls it: “They’re totally gonna get together.”
- Michelle Dessler’s on the island too! And we thought she and Tony Almeida were dead in the TV universe. She’s about to get shot until Juliet and Sawyer decide to start messing with the past.
We interrupt this recap to say that we don’t believe Daniel when he says, “It doesn’t matter what we do. Whatever happened, happened.” If nothing could be changed, why is everyone — from Ben and Widmore to Jack and Locke on down to Sawyer and Juliet last night — fighting so hard to change it anyway? Are the writers Calvinists? Would they really have us believe that all these efforts for redemption will be for naught? We vote no.
Back to the recap:
- Michelle Dessler — er, Amy — expresses her gratitude at being saved by tricking Sawyer and crew into walking through a sonic fence.
- Some scruffy guy named Horace Goodspeed (who in three years will get a kick out of blowing things up when he’s drunk) tells Sawyer he’s “not Dharma material” and gives him two weeks to pack up for a submarine trip off the island.
- Sawyer proves his worth by negotiating a truce with Richard Alpert, who demands atonement for the deaths of two of his men. Richard is slightly freaked out that Sawyer seems to know anything and everything about the island.
- Three years later, Jeremy Piven’s right-hand man in Old School and the creepy video store clerk from Ghost World (a k a, Patrick Fischler) shows up. He’s working for Dharma. And maybe because he’s never made out with a girl in his life, he lectures his Dharma partner for turning their outpost into a makeout closet.
- Horace ( “our fearless leader”) is on a nasty bender. And he has access to dynamite.
- Sawyer has become a slightly less stubbly man named “James LaFleur.” He and the others have seamlessly integrated themselves into Dharma life.
- Amy is pregnant.
- Erik Brueggemann texts that “Charlotte will be birthed by this curly-haired lady [Amy] at the end of this show.”
- Quick flashback to 1974, where Daniel, still in full wig out mode, spots young Charlotte running around the Dharma compound.
- Erik texts: “Bushleague.”
- 1977 again: Juliet comes out of medical retirement to deliver Amy’s baby boy.
- Sawyer and Juliet become the picture-perfect Dharma couple.
- Horace Goodspeed, Amy’s new husband, reveals that his drunken fireworks display was the result of discovering the ankh pendant worn by Amy’s dead husband, Paul. Horace asks Love Dr. LaFleur: Is three years long enough to forget someone? Sure, LaFleur answers: Look at me. I am so over Kate.
- Sawyer is so not over Kate. She, Jack, Hurley and Jin all turn up in the North Valley. The episode ends with Sawyer and Kate exchanging a smoldering, long-distance glance. (Doc Jensen: “If they gave Emmy nominations for meaningful gazes, Holloway should start ironing his tuxedo T-shirt and best ripped jeans, because he’d be going to the ceremony.”)
Dave Powell made a good point about last week’s episode when he said that the twist at the end really wasn’t much of a twist. Who didn’t know Locke would find Ben in the infirmary? We’ve seen the perils of going for the trick ending with each new M. Night Shyamalan movie. “Lost” is far, far from receding into Shyamalan territory, but the point remains: Go for the twist every time and you’ll burn the viewer out. Better to mix it up with a genuine emotional charge that can’t just be pulled out of thin air.
After a lot of perplexing, mind-bending developments this season, we’ve been grateful for the emotional grounding provided by the past two episodes. And Ben will confess that Sawyer, his least favorite character in season one, has become one of his favorites. Or should he say, LaFleur has become one of his favorites. LaFleur was Sawyer at peace with the world: suave, confident, settled. He picks flowers! He walks with a spring in his step! He’s not as sardonic! Sweet, domesticated Sawyer: We hope you enjoyed it while it lasted. Because it can only go downhill from here.
Doc Jensen throws a new slew of theories against the wall to see what sticks, but the one we’re most intrigued by is what he calls “a saga that’s doubling back on itself” (see page two of his weekly column). The theory: season 5 mirrors much of season 2 (Man of Science/Man of Faith paradox, lots of Dharma Initiative) and season 4 mirrored season 3 (what Jensen calls “split group story lines; a climactic attack on the castaways; similar Coffin/’We’ve got to go back’ cliffhanger”) with the notable difference that season 4 booked along while 3 wandered in circles until the very end. So — will the 6th and final season mirror 1? Now that we know the castaways were already on the island when they crashed in 2004, will 6 retrace 1’s timeline but now from the future (past) castaways’ perspective? Will Sawyer and crew become the ones who shoot flaming arrows at Sawyer and crew? Is the show a snake eating its own tail?
Will Season 5 culminate with an event that will alter all of “Lost” chronology, setting up a Season 6 that will reveal the scope of those alterations by retelling the entire saga from the very beginning? How’s this for the opening sequence of next year’s premiere: Jack wakes up in the jungle, right after the crash of Oceanic 815. He races around the beach, saving people, just as he did in “Lost’s” pilot. Except this time, things are little different. Boone, Shannon, Michael, and Walt won’t be there — but Miles and Faraday might. Maybe Locke will still be a paraplegic; perhaps his magic legs were a temporary gift lent to Locke so that he could accomplish what he needed to do for the Island? And all the flashbacks? The same — and yet, significantly different, too. Call it ”The Rough Draft to Final Draft Theory of ‘Lost.”’
We’re intrigued by this. To pull in one more literary reference (if you’ll indulge us in a moment of English major wonkery), it reminds us of Milton’s numerology in “Paradise Lost,” the epic poem about the biblical Creation and Fall. In the poem, the final 26 lines echo the first 26; there are twelve books which have a similar “doubling back on itself” structure (Book One “echoes” Book Twelve, and so forth); numbers take on a “holy” significance (for example, three being good as it correlates to the Trinity, with four being bad as it’s the Trinity plus one [Satan]*; also, seven being the perfect number); and the poem is ordered so that its central verse, falling at the precise middle of the 10,565 line poem, is an evocation of Christ “Ascended, at his right hand victory” (VI, 762), a ringing affirmation of Christianity’s central belief. This is something Galbraith Miller Crump got at in his fantastic (and surprisingly readable) book The Mystical Design of Paradise Lost. “Lost” is steeped in exactly this kind of numerical obsession. Its writers exert a deity-like will over the structuring of its storyline. (They have talked before about how they envisioned the entire arc of “Lost” before it even begun. True or not, they were certainly thinking big from the beginning.) Hurley’s lotto numbers have haunted the show since their introduction in season 2. And of course there are the religious parallels between “Lost” and “Paradise Lost”: Life and death, sin and redemption, Creation and the Fall, the Island as Eden and a kind of Hell (see “This Place is Death”), plus those Adam & Eve skeletons in the cave. Perhaps we’ll tease this out a bit more down the road.
No “Lost” next week, so we’ll have more time than usual to marinate on this one. Your thoughts? Or, if you’re nonplussed by “Lost,” you can chime in with your Top 5 albums of all-time over at the boisterous Readers Forum (VIII).
* = The holy numerology plays out in specific lines of the poem: for example, Book III, line -333: “[Hell, her numbers full] thenceforth shall be forever shut.” The closing of Hell (which occurs in Book III’s parallel, Book X) is God’s triumph over Satan, aligned with a portion of Milton’s poem shrouded in numerical holiness. Book IV, line 444 is a statement from Eve — “For we to him indeed all praises owe” — is a declaration of obedience to God though it will soon be twisted by temptation from Satan (the unholy 4th member of the Trinity). This kind of stuff happens all throughout the poem. Almost makes us want to read it again. (Almost.)
This line [IV, 444] also reinforces another of our “Lost” theories, which is that the concepts “good” and “bad” don’t really apply anymore. Ben and Widmore surely aren’t polar opposites of good and evil — they’re both scheming and conniving to fulfill their own intentions which to them may seem virtuous but certainly don’t play out that way to others. Thus, Ben is certainly not a “good” person for killing Locke, but if he did it to fulfill some ultimate good (in Ben’s mind) which may in fact be an ultimate good for John and/or others, we can’t categorically call Ben “evil” either. “Paradise Lost” offers a similar theme which its symmetric structure also supports: Every act is capable of being echoed in two different ways — ascending or descending, if you will — depending on how it is utilized by either a satanic or a sublime mind (or a secular and a holy mind, if you prefer). The act of obedience can be a good thing (Eve declaring obedience to God) or a bad thing (Eve obeying her temptation). It’s a question of orientation — to what or whom are you obeying? This comes back to “Lost’s” backgammon metaphor: “Two players. Two sides. One is light. One is dark.” We naturally thought, the first time around, of two sides being the castaways and The Others. But it was probably simpler than that: Two sides in every person, and each left to discover which will prevail in him.