Now that Jack has become destiny’s child and John has become the smoke monster, the last LOST alpha male left standing appears to be Sawyer. When last we saw him he was sitting around in his dirty drawers guzzling ethyl alcohol and thinking that he’d been born to be alone. But a few days R&R at the Monster’s backwoods campgrounds, and it looks like he’s almost a new man. He’s taking care of his friends.
And he’s starting to click into place the combination locks on a new con, one that will hopefully get him and his friends off the Island for good.
It’s like he wrung the last bit of Dharma dweeb out of his hair and remembered that he is the awesome James Ford, badass extraordinaire.
OtherJames wasn’t that much of a badass. He was a lonely sad manwhore who ate frozen dinners at night in his dreary apartment while watching corny vintage tv by himself. In some ways his life, like the lives of the other OtherLosties, was marginally better than it had been in the original timeline:
He was a cop, not a crook. He didn’t seem as angry, but he wasn’t half as good at playing women.
He did have one good close friend.
He hadn’t killed anybody. He hadn’t yet become his enemy.
And even though he was on the right side of the law this time,
he still got paid to get laid.
Badges and Sawyer have gone together since the Pilot Part Deux.
And a badge was very useful to him during his long con as Dharmatown’s Deputy Dawg.
The pigeon drop in the opening scene of OtherLOST paralleled our first glimpse of Sawyer in his mirror episode – Season One’s Confidence Man.
One thing I did wonder about: can cops have sex with their suspects? While their backup listens in electronically? Wouldn’t that be entrapment or invasion of privacy or something else that would get a case thrown out in five seconds? I know, I know, that wasn’t the point. The point was that OtherJames was still a sexy ass beast. That’s a constant.
And he definitely had a little bit of that going on.
But he was also a shady, sketchy, roundheeled kind of cop. We’d already seen how he let a handcuffed Kate escape the authorities in LA X.
In this episode, he was abusing his LAPD credentials to track down the same lifelong enemy, Anthony Cooper, that Sawyer had dedicated his life to killing. Which means he had the same horrifyingly tragic event in his past.
The big important things don’t seem to change in OtherLost. Hurley still wins the lottery. Locke is still in a wheelchair. Jack is still a big spinal surgeon. Kate is still a fugitive. And James Ford is still the broken boy whose father killed his mother and then himself because he got so jealous he lost his mind.
Just like Sawyer, OtherJames is bent on murder. He doesn’t seem quite as dedicated in his vengeance, but it still dominates his life.
He still uses sex as a drug to numb the pain. He still lies and schemes and hides behind his charm as he waits for his chance to kill his enemy. And he still hates himself.
The mirroring we’ve grown accustomed to in Season Six continued in this episode.
This eighth episode of Season Six was titled Recon, an obvious shoutout to the eighth episode of Season One, Confidence Man,
where Sawyer confessed to Kate the same sad tale of family woe that he confessed to Miles in this episode.
There were echoes of other Sawyer-backs. OtherJames on patrol wore an outfit a lot like the one Sawyer wore in Outlaws on the most fateful night of his life.
He made a trip to Hydra Island,
the place where he’d learned his most life altering lesson in Every Man for Himself.
LaFleur was the safe word that was used to call an end to his charade with the pigeon.
He was engaged in the same kind of sophisticated fakery that he demonstrated with such flair in that same episode.
And, as in every prior Sawyer centric, the character that dominated the subtext of the storyline was …
This was a great Skatey episode. It had tackles, just like the old days.
Hell, it even had bars!
It may have been Sawyer’s episode, but every other scene, rotating in a kind of back and forth flip show, was about Kate. Just as Kate’s latest centric featured the critical moment when Sawyer let go of his Dharma dream,
Sawyer’s centric focused on the moment that Kate and Claire had their long awaited confrontation.
And I’m going to have to say this flat out, to all those besotted fanboys who haven’t yet accepted that Juliet is …pssst … dead, the reason for that is this: Sawyer’s story and Kate’s story are indelibly linked. They always always have been. And not to rub it in, but it’s starting to look like they always will be.
I’m not sure how this glaring, boldly presented plot point has been missed by anyone. Last season, we watched Juliet turn from complex scheming genius to a clinging, whining female who killed herself – much like Sawyer’s father – because she got so jealous she lost her mind. Some fans apparently dug this sad deconstruction so much that they have been steadfastly refusing to let it go ever since, to the point a kind of derangement syndrome seems to have set in. This episode should have hit them like a big red flying toolbox to the noggin.
But if not, maybe I can help.
You see, LOST is a tv show that has been weaving the tapestry of its story for more than five long years. And all across those years there have been certain common threads. In the case of Sawyer, the common thread from the beginning has been …
Let’s start with the books on Sawyer’s dresser. All of them are books we’ve associated with LOST’s most famous reader, but I’m not going to get all esoterically literary here. It’s not half as complicated as all that. In fact, it may just be the utter simplicity of it that makes it so invisible to the nerd herd out there.
First there’s Watership Down, the book “about bunnies” that was left lying on top of Sawyer’s clothes when he was skinny dipping, only to be discovered by …
Then there’s A Wrinkle in Time, the book Sawyer was painfully reading right before he was dragged off for an eye exam by …
And then there’s Walker Percy’s Lancelot, the book Sawyer was reading the day he gave one of his guns for a recon mission to …
I’m befuddled about this memory lapse by reviewers who seem to have otherwise photographic memories of LOST’s arcane plot twists and mysteries. Is it part of the same Kate Hate that causes fanboys to repeat the same lame PleaseKillKate “joke” on every message board they can find? Do they secretly long for a leggy blond to become fixated on them to the point she’ll kill herself if she can’t have her man exclusively to herself? Or do they just have a thing for really big, ugly flowers?
I’m not going to belabor this point any further. I’m just saying that it’s time to move on. Juliet is as dead as Claire’s squirrel baby. This is a show with a history that didn’t start last year. Sawyer’s moving on and so can we all. It’s time.
Besides, it’s not as if you won’t see Juliet again. I love these avis that were made by geekfreak over on Oh No You Didn’t. They picked up on the hat thing over there too, and you know what they say about what it means when the hat fits:
There is one important book that isn’t sitting on James’ dresser.
Sawyer already mentioned Of Mice and Men in The Substitute, when he asked The Monster if he’d read it, and The Monster said no. Maybe OtherJames hasn’t read it yet either. Maybe that’s because he’s still living it.
“A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. … I tell you a guy gets too lonely and he gets sick.” – John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
There was a very poignant quality to James’ life in the OtherLOST. He seemed somehow softer, more breakable.
Especially when compared to the hardbitten badass he’s become on the Island.
Nothing much can hurt Sawyer now. He’s been through so much, he’s bulletproof. It’s not that he wants to die exactly. He’s still trying his best to survive. I think it’s more than he’s willing to die now. But he’s also willing to live. He’s not giving up. It’s just that he’s lost all fear.
Sawyer has been engaged in some very high level diplomatic discussions with both the Island’s Deity
and its Royalty.
He’s taking a very interesting tack. The Monster tells Sawyer that he trusts in his ability to bring back good reconnaissance – because he says Sawyer is the best liar he’s ever met. Considering The Monster is probably about two thousand years old, that’s a pretty bold statement. But is it accurate?
“Truth alone wounds.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Sawyer never seemed like a good liar to me. He’s a good faker. He can pretend to be somebody else with complete ease. He’s James Ford who became Sawyer who became LaFleur who became …
the man with no name. Sawyer’s looking more Clint Eastwood than Steve McQueen on the Island. He’s not a dashing action hero. He’s more the noble loner. And he’s got his own Fistful of Dollars game going on between the two warring clans. Maybe Sawyer’s higher purpose has been revealed.
On Detective Ford’s desk in L.A., there’s a small statue in the corner, a Franciscan monk, holding a child, perhaps the Christ child, in his arms. It could be St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things.
It adds another grace note to the mystery of Sawyer’s purpose on the Island.
Who is Sawyer protecting and how will he be able to do it? Will it be him that has to end up protecting the Lost Souls by staying behind – or dying – to protect the Lost Island?
The Monster has sent him to the other island, Hydra Island, to gather information on the situation there.
The Monster pretends he is sending Sawyer to discover the fate of the Ajira passengers, but of course he already knows their fate. Since obviously he killed them himself! That’s not really why he’s sending Sawyer over there.He needs to find out what’s happening with the man who has been coming to the Island all season, the one – I’m guessing – that Jacob has been expecting.
It’s a familiar face, but one that represents one of LOST’s least understood mysteries. What is Charles Widmore’s agenda after all? Does anyone really know? We know he came to the Island as a very young man. Or perhaps he was even born there.
We know he grew into middle age on the Island, that he comforted Ben after his trip to the Temple and that he fathered a crazed genius son with Eloise Hawking.
We know that he was eventually banished from the Garden of Eden by Ben Linus, after he’d created a mutant Human-Island child with some as yet unknown Earthling.
Ever since then, Widmore has apparently been tootling about the world in his submarine, trying to come back to the Island. But why? What does he want with it? And what is his connection to The Beast who has been trapped there for all these centuries?
It’s a tessellated mystery that feels like getting lost in a maze. For instance, let’s assume that it was The Monster, in the form of Christian Shephard, that sent John Locke back to the mainland to look up Eloise Hawking, an appointment that Locke unfortunately had to adjourn due to some unavoidable unpleasantness.
The upshot of Locke’s journey was that The Monster took over his likeness and the five potential Candidates (or Recruits?) got returned to the Island. So who did this benefit?
Clearly The Monster. That’s all well and good, but there’s one hitch in all of it. The Monster sent Locke to Eloise Hawking – who is a person very intimately connected to Charles Widmore.
Does that mean The Monster and Charles Widmore are in cahoots? Is this The Monster’s ride to the freedom he craves?
Why then is Jacob looking forward to his arrival? Is Sawyer being walked into a trap? Is the con man getting conned again?
That’s hardly the only possibility, of course. Widmore is setting up pylons to keep The Monster penned away from him. So, it’s also very likely, just as likely, that when The Monster gave Hawking’s name to John, it was Eloise – and by extension, Widmore – who was being conned. The Monster knew exactly how Mrs. Hawking would react, knew she’d tell the Candidate-Recruits how to get back to the Island. He couldn’t have known Ben would also go and murder Locke, I don’t think, so that part might have been a bonus. The Monster’s con of Widmore was even more successful than planned. But now Widmore is back to even the score, and Jacob has been counting the days until he gets there. So what’s in the closet?
Sawyer is now in the middle of this grudge match. And he’s handling it in an interesting way. He’s not telling any lies at all. Not to anybody. He’s just letting himself be used as a conduit. He tells Widmore the truth about NotLocke. Then he tells NotLocke the truth about Widmore. He’s hoping to let the two of them duke it out while he rides out of town in a puff of smoke. With Kate. Naturally.
Sawyer’s con may or may not be successful, and he may yet get caught in his own trap. Widmore knows they don’t trust each other and Widmore doesn’t look like an idiot to me. He’s not taking Sawyer’s word at face value. I’m guessing Sawyer realizes that. The Monster, on the other hand, strikes me as rather gullible. Almost the way a child might be.
This is just my impression. I admit I’m bewitched by the beauty of Terry O’Quinn’s portrayal of this fascinating creature. I find myself imagining the details of the fairy tale that underlies his existence. He reminds me at times of a big misunderstood monster who is trapped on an enchanted Island by a spell he is struggling to break. He lives in a cave, like Grendel from Beowulf and he is, like Grendel, a bit of a twisted mama’s boy.
In this episode, The Monster confessed his secrets, separately, to Sawyer and to Kate. He told Sawyer that he wanted only to leave the Island. He whined petulantly, like a peeved adolescent, that everyone thinks they need to protect the Island from him, but all he wants is to get the hell off of it. He just wants to leave home, dammit. Can’t the bloody authority figures stop trying to keep him caged up and let him do whatever he wants?
Maybe The Monster chose to kill John Locke, because Locke was so hell bent on protecting the damn Island. But the only reason he was trying to protect it was because he’d looked into the Monster’s eye and found it beautiful. In other words, the Monster forced Locke to protect the Island he didn’t want protected. See? The Monster, among other things, is insane.
The Monster also confesses to Sawyer that he does not want to be killed. In other words, he still considers himself to be alive.
The being inside Locke’s body, the force within the Black Smoke Monster’s tornado – that spirit is the essence of a soul that has never died. At least according to him.
This is one of the deepest mysteries of life. And it’s one of the deepest mysteries on LOST.
“Dying is not romantic, and death is not a game which will soon be over… Death is not anything… It’s the absence of presence, nothing more… the endless time of never coming back… a gap you can’t see, and when the wind blows through it, it makes not a sound…” – Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
As children, we wishfully refuse to believe in the finality of death. It is easy to get children to believe in a heavenly place where those we love will wait for us, just as we remember them, until we get there ourselves to see them again. It doesn’t seem to dawn on children that they’ll have to be dead themselves before they get there.
That’s part of what Papa Ingalls is telling Laura in the Little House on the Prairie scene that Sawyer watches in his sad little apartment.
The episode is called “Remember Me”, and in it Pa tries to comfort Laura as a neighbor’s death approaches, reminding her that as Christians they believe in an eternal heaven where her soul will travel after death. He tells her that “people aren’t really gone when they die.” And as ironically presented proof of this, in typically subversive LOST fashion, we have our unkillable Smoke Monster. Who is all kinds of dead. But definitely not gone.
How did he get trapped on this Island? Why is he being trapped there? Who is he to begin with?
Ever since the bloody handed boy appeared to NotLocke in The Substitute, I’ve been imagining that The Monster has been on this Island since he was … that boy. Something horrific happened to him, or was done by him, when he was just a child on the magical Island. After this week, that explanation feels a little more certain.
The other person The Monster confided in was Sawyer’s mirror character in this plot – Kate. On the surface, The Monster seems to be playing Kate, offering her something she really wants, just like he did Sayid. He saves Kate from Claire’s killing rage, and then goes to comfort her, to assure her that she will not be harmed because of him. He takes her aside and tells her a long story, about how he was badly damaged as a child by a mother who was insane, and now he wants to be sure that little Aaron doesn’t end up with a pyscho mommy like he had.
He conveniently leaves out the part where he is the reason Claire went crazy in the first place. He plays into Kate’s heart’s desire – her love for Aaron, her wish to be his mom. But it didn’t seem to me like Kate was taking the bait.
She gave The Monster a sympathetic ear, but she kept her wits about her. Now that Kate has been wedged out from under Jack’s left butt cheek, she’s starting to seem like an intelligent human being again. And it sure looked like the Monster appreciated her. What was he looking for from Kate? Why so courtly and polite?
There were a few moments during their talk on the beach when The Monster looked for all the world like a troubled little boy, trying to get someone to understand how hard he’s had it. He knows he’s messed up. He’s trying to be honest with himself, and face up to his personal issues. But you know who’s really to blame, don’t you? It’s always the mother’s fault!
The Monster is the true Man with No Name in this story. We still don’t know what to call him. When we first learned that Jacob had a companion on the Island, many began to refer to him as Esau – Jacob’s twin from the Book of Genesis.
Now we have a new piece of information. We know that The Monster considered his mother to be a crazy woman, and whether or not that’s true, it adds a new dimension to the story. Esau, after all, was the son the mother shunned.
“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. “ – Genesis 25:28
She actively colluded with her preferred son Jacob to have him receive the family birthright, the blessing of the firstborn, bestowed upon him by his dying father. She may not have been crazy, but I don’t think Esau ever quite forgave her. So, is The Monster really the son of a crazy mother, or is this just a case of “Mom liked you best? ”
Was the older boy – the stern one who scolded NotLocke in the jungle – was he the son that Mom liked better? Was he Jacob?
Is The Monster the bestial Esau, the brute who sold his birthright for a big pot of greasy stew?
I am imagining a story where this younger boy did something very bad. Perhaps it was the mother that he killed instead of the father, a little twist on the standard man myth. Perhaps he could not be killed because he was yet a child, so instead he was put under an enchantment to keep the world safe from his original sin. Maybe he was a baby psychotic and this was the best way for him to be punished fairly, to keep the world safe from him while still showing mercy for his youth. In his dealings with the children from the Temple, and his behavior around Claire, The Monster seemed like a kid playing Daddy.
He’s like the Boy King of the Island. Sometimes he’s Locke, sometimes he’s The Smoke Thing. But inside, he’s still just a child.
He’s Peter Pan trying to keep order amongst his Lost Boys. And what does he see in Kate? Does he see what Peter saw in Wendy? Is he looking for someone to tuck him in at night and tell him stories?
This was the big episode where Kate and Claire’s drama came to a head.
Claire was acting super creepy throughout, most creepily so when she took Kate’s hand and odd little smileys kept twitching around her mouth.
She showed her pretty dolly to Kate.
She explained resentfully that she had to make do with the little Jar Jar Baby because that was “all I had”.
Kate didn’t quite get the hint, but she figured it out a few minutes later when Claire tried to butcher her up like a rabbit for dinner.
Zombie Sayid looked on without flickering an eyelash.
I think after this episode, we can lay to rest the question of what happened to Sayid.
Sorry, kidz. Sayid iz ded.
Adieu, you wily Iraqi. We’ll miss you.
The Monster in his wisdom had initially told Claire that her baby had been taken into the Temple. This was a pragmatic move on his part. He wanted Claire to have something to hate, so that hate could give her a reason to live. That same kind of Hate is what Sawyer’s story has always been about. In LOST and in OtherLOST, hatred and revenge are the fuel that keep James Ford moving forward. In OtherLOST the hatred feels more muted. He seems like a pretty nice guy when he hooks up with Charlotte.
Rebecca Mader made her encore appearance in this episode, joining the cavalcade of reappearances in Season Six of People Who Died in seasons past. I guess Darlton still owed her some payback after that whole kerfuffle about her age … because they gave her more face time with Josh Holloway than she probably had dared wish for. I wonder if they even had to pay her.
Charlotte looked like she could definitely have had a return engagement on James’ hot sheets if she’d played her cards right. But she totally blew it. Offered a T-shirt from his top drawer, she began shoveling through his stuff like she was on an archaeological dig site. I mean, how rude can you be, Miss No Manners Nosy Pants?
I didn’t blame James for tossing her out after she yanked open his private possessions and started poking around in them. But I know the message we were meant to take from it: OtherJames is still keeping too many secrets.
“Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets.” – Paul Tournier
He’s not just hiding his private family tragedy from his one night hookups. He’s still unwilling to open up and tell the truth to his best friend. Miles and James had a funny little bromance going on. James flirts with him, but Miles is too serious to be distracted. When James won’t admit to his lies, Miles breaks up with him. But OtherJames isn’t as hardcore as original Sawyer. He feels bad when Miles wants a divorce. He wants to kiss and make up.
They have a real heart to heart, and James’ defenses finally start to come down. He tells Miles the truth about his vendetta against “Sawyer”, knowing that Miles will never let him carry through a plan like that. He gives up on vengeance. Ruefully, he starts to hand over the folder he’s been hoarding, and at just that redemptive moment …
Boom! Who should come crashing into his life, in perfect Bullitt fashion but …
Sonuvvabitch! Of course! Who else could it have been? Because like I told you in the beginning, Sawyer’s story has never been about just Sawyer. It’s always been about Sawyer …
… and Kate.
The woman who met his child’s mother before she ever met him. The woman who was the first to learn his terrible secret and to slowly begin to draw him back into the land of the living. The woman that Juliet was so sure she couldn’t compete with that she chose death over trying. The first woman he ever fell in love with, after thirty some years of hard, angry solitude.
When Sawyer came upon the cages where he and Kate had been kept captive together, he found her discarded floral dress still laying on the block where she’d taken it off. It might have seemed a contrivance, but it was one the story needed. To those of us who follow the story closely, the dress doesn’t represent just the passion that Sawyer felt for Kate during those few hard days.
The first day he saw her in that dress was the day she was brought to the cages dressed in it, the day that Sawyer’s heart broke for her fear and vulnerability.
He reached out to her, comforted her, made her laugh.
He gave her food.
When Sawyer held the dress in his hands, he was remembering something that will keep him going a lot better than Hate will. He was remembering Love.
In Tricia Tanaka Is Dead, Sawyer first told about his fondness for Little House, and naturally the person he told was Kate.
In this episode, Sawyer was remembering the really important part of Pa Ingalls advice. Not the pie in the sky part, the magical thinking that we’ll get to see our dead loved ones again someday. That part’s not really sure, even for those who desperately wish it to be true. But the part we can count on, the part we can live by, is this part:
At the end of his little recon adventure, Sawyer hasn’t really cleared anything up. He is forming a plan, but its outcome is still very uncertain. One thing, though, has been decided. Sawyer didn’t jump into that hole after Juliet. He didn’t jump into that grave. He’s alive, at least for a little while longer. And if life’s about livin’, like Pa Ingalls says it is, then maybe that’s what he best start doin’.
As the episode ends, he returns to Kate, who is recovering from her no good very bad day at the campfire.
He does what he’s always done – he makes her smile.
Then he tells her the whole truth. There’s no more lying or faking left in this con man. He’s letting the Truth do all his fighting for him. Widmore and The Monster can duke it out however they like. Sawyer will set the table and then he and Kate and whoever else wants to come will slip out the back door.
In the course of the episode Sawyer has moved decisively past being “not with anyone” to being part of “you and me”. In What Kate Does, Kate told Jin she wanted to “figure things out together” with Sawyer. Now Sawyer wants the same thing. The two Outlaws are on the same page – a place that, for all their long and winding road together, they’ve never actually been before just now.
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”
– Thomas Merton