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Flower Power – 5.08 “LaFleur”

By Fishbiscuit,

  Filed under: Lost Recaps
  Comments: 53

“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances. “ – Aristotle

It’s no surprise to those of us who have always loved this guy, but when it comes to True Heroes on Lost, Sawyer has always been the real deal. This week, however, he was more than just a mere hero. He was, in every sense of the word that I can think of, the ideal man.

Kind and gentle

but brave and protective.

Noble and honorable

but wily and adaptable.

Helpful and neighborly,

sweet and funny,

but still hotter than the hinges of holy hell.

It’s not fair to hold any real man to these kind of standards. OK, the flower sniffing thing was way over the top. And yes, the whole cotton candy daydream with Juliet in ticky tacky town was sweet enough to send us all into a diabetic coma. But that was all very much to the point. This wasn’t reality we visited this week. The whole sticky sweet thing was entirely too good to be true.

And as we all know, when things are too good to be true…they’re not.

When Locke wrenched the big Dharma gear back onto its ancient axis, he unleashed one final, penultimate Timequake on our travelers, which landed them not into some super thrilling spot on the time space grid, like when dinosaurs roamed the earth or when aliens first descended to earth to start making crop circles. Nope. The record stopped skipping in the very prosaic year of 1974.

And this wasn’t the 1970s of Star Wars and Studio 54 and Led Zep and Saturday Night Live either. This was more like the 1970s of the Brady Bunch and Neil Diamond and earth shoes and pet rocks. The really sleepy, boring part of the 1970s. When everybody was getting stoned on hash brownies while numbing out in front of the boob tube.

” A single taste of this native fruit made my soldiers forget everything they had ever known; where they were from, where they were going, everything” – The Odyssey

Like Odysseus’s sailors among the Lotus Eaters, our time travelers seemed to be under a spell. They molded themselves into Dharma material and melted into bland, comfy niches in the humdrum of Utopia. Jin learned English and became a loyal deputy. Dead people stopped harassing Miles and he took a nice steady day job. Juliet, as we’ve seen her do before, adapted to new circumstances by snagging the hottest blond in circulation and by finding a new way to make herself useful.

Everything was just so totally groovy, man. And about as exciting as an episode of Happy Days, where the Fonz has to tell Richie’s girlfriend he lost her charm bracelet. However, just before the final Timequake stranded them in this blissful Snoozeville, our travelers were given a glimpse of a vision whose meaning, if they had understood it, might have served as fair warning that this whole idyllic interlude had TEMPORARY stamped all over it.

That proud towering statue, we all know, has since been reduced to one stubby four toed foot. Debate rages in the fandom as to which famous Egyptian god or goddess the statue was intended to represent. Was it Horus the falcon headed God of both The Sky and of War?

The god whose unimpressive namesake stumbled through a good bit of this episode?

Or Anubis the God of the Dead, who protects souls on their journey to the underworld?

How about Sekhmet, the Warrior Goddess, “the Mistress of Dread, who gives life eternally”?

All possibilities, but it’s unlikely it will turn out to be any of them. This is Lost. They can make up their own pseudo Egyptian deity. These gods are all kind of a Mr. Potato head thing anyway. Basically, put some animal ears and a miniskirt on a longhaired ambisexual person, give them some kind of metaphysical property of the universe to govern … and, Presto! You’ve got yourself a brand new supernatural spirit.

Let’s call him Sawkhot, the God of Lost Souls Enslaved by Time and Space.

The ancient Egyptian death obsession is very much a part of the clue soup on Lost. We’re used to hieroglyphs popping up in strange places. Like Daniel’s map, whose hieroglyphs apparently suggested he might want to “travel north”.

Or the sequence that briefly flashed on the Swan hatch countdown clock during the failure sequence, which intrepid translators have determined has the approximate meaning of “Underworld”.

Or the message on Ben’s hideaway, which translates as “summon protection”.

Or the one in the frozen wheel room, which means, unsurprisingly, “time travel.” Or alternately, “resurrection.”

It’s kind of a morse code of Lostspeak. Basically, like the polytheist polyglot of Egyptian mythology, these hieroglyphs, when looked at in a general sense, are all hinting at the same thing – Time. Space. Death. And “Let’s get the hell out of here.” Unfortunately, even on an island with a time blooping wheel in the basement, they’re all still enslaved by time and space. No matter how pretty this little greenhouse utopia might have seemed,

nothing changes the fact that it still ended up like this.

Because if there’s one thing that’s been drummed into our heads in Season Five, it’s this: Whatever happened, kiddies, it damn well happened.

Daniel is the only one who seems to realize just how horrifying this mantra actually is. Foreknowledge isn’t a gift; it’s a curse, because it only means you’re going to know ahead of time, maybe for years, exactly what horrors you won’t be able to prevent.

The Time Lawz of Lost tell us that our gang has flash forwarded backwards into an Island era that … somehow … they were always a part of. See? Amy was always saved from the brutal Hostiles by the brave sea captain and his band of shipwrecked salvage workers.

Juliet was always the magical blonde grease monkey who jumped out from under the transmission to perform a flawless Cesarean section and deliver Amy’s healthy baby boy.

And the truce between the D. I. and the hostile indigenous people was always saved by the shipwrecked sea captain, Jim LaFleur, who made himself at home and became their sheriff.

The tiger formerly known as Sawyer changed his stripes as easily as he slipped into a khaki jumpsuit. Time may have stopped, but that doesn’t mean things have stopped changing. James Sawyer Ford LaFleur still knows how to turn himself into whoever he needs to be. But what made him pick the name LaFleur?

“The flowers have been growing thorns for millions of years. For millions of years the sheep have been eating them just the same. And is it not a matter of consequence to try to understand why the flowers go to so much trouble to grow thorns which are never of any use to them? “ – The Little Prince

La Petite Fleur is the reason The Little Prince left his planet, Besixdouze, to roam the universe in search of a way to keep her from being destroyed. But Sawyer probably wasn’t thinking of that. He probably wasn’t thinking that an Orchid is a Flower either, or that the Orchid is the name of the hatch where the D.I. is trying to keep the beast of time trapped in a bottle that is doomed to shatter.

Sawyer probably wasn’t thinking that it was the lotus flower that hypnotized Odysseus’s men into forgetting their homes either. Who knows? For all we know, maybe he was just a fan of Dodgeball and the great Pete LaFleur.

But either way, it doesn’t matter. The symbolism was clear. Flowers don’t last.

“And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey,
love the one you’re with.”
– Stephen Stills

Our trusty Lost romance writers gave us another Cliff Notes love story this week. Taking two characters with virtually no connection in the story prior to this season, the writers crafted a surprisingly convincing schematic of a romance told in shorthand. Juliet had Sawyer’s back. She trusted him. He asked her to stay. And Bam! Next thing you know, they’re an old married couple enjoying the joys of the status quo in Othertown.

It was an interesting counterpart to the parallel by-the-numbers romance we saw in last season’s Something Nice Back Home.

Like Kate and Jack in that episode, there was no buildup, no passion, no excitement to it. We were just dumped in media res into a domestic daily show already in progress. Unlike Kate and Jack, however, Sawyer and Juliet actually seemed to be good to each other. No weird ass marriage proposals, no drunken tirades, no vile recriminations, no secret keeping, no lies.

These two were Mr. and Mrs. Schmoopy. They were so schmoopy the only thing they had to talk about was whether he was the schmoopiest or if she was even schmoopier.

Until that phone call came, and you could almost see Sawyer’s heart jump into his throat.

Reality came calling soon enough, as it always does, and the bubblegum story of Sawyer and Juliet looks like it’s just about to get popped.

To be more precise, it wasn’t actually Juliet and Sawyer we were watching. Much as it pains me to accept it, I guess we’re not supposed to be calling him Sawyer anymore. It seems we have to call him James now, whether we want to or not. But whatever his name is, we do have to call him Hero.

He jumped into the well to save Locke, but when he realized that couldn’t work, he was as faithful as a knight. He would wait for Locke to return. How long? “As long as it takes.” He took charge, but not in an asshole Jack-assy way. He just offered his best guess and was open to suggestions. The first thing our newborn Leader encountered, naturally, was a damsel in distress.

He saved her life, followed her wishes by burying her two attackers, carried her husband’s body home to her humble village and was taken to their leader. While the other survivors waited outside the infamous Gameroom of Bondage, Horace knew instinctively which one of them was the fearless leader.

All the conman’s skills came effortlessly into play, as he smoothly segued from one artifice to the next, trying to ingratiate himself into the Dharma Initiative’s good graces. Unsuccessful at first, he proved his salt a few moments later when Richard entered the camp, demanding justice for the death of his men.

James surfed the rapidly shifting circumstances like the professional conman we almost forgot he was. Richard did not know what hit him. First, the stranger who knew his name owned up straight out to the murder of Richard’s men. Then he mystified the magic man himself by reminding him of the gimpy bald guy who had poofed into and out of Richard’s camp 20 years before. Having made his bones with the Dharma Initiative, James and his dimples quickly nailed down the heart of the lady doctor and disappeared into Timepsace to re-emerge as the sheriff he’d once promised he’d be.

OK, it wasn’t as hot as when he was all dangerous, stealing guns and tortured kisses. And yeah, the only people that are afraid of him now are these guys.

And yes, there was that unfortunate flower sniffing incident. It’s not what I call a thrilling new incarnation for the sexy outlaw. I understand even Han Solo needs to take a rest now and then, but I think one episode of Mike “Sawyer” Brady will be quite enough, thank you. The classic American Western hero may long for domestic tranquility, and of course that’s part of his manly charm, but there’s no fun in watching him actually live that way.

James was trying to be steadfast, to hold true to his promise to Locke. He was the anti-Jack. Whereas Jack’s group, fondly known as the O-Suckers, went back to reality and became a bunch of selfish, miserable assholes, James’s group stuck together and took care of each other. Under the direction of Captain Jim, Jin faithfully patrolled the island, sector by sector, searching for the return of their missing crew.

Three years passed and James never gave up looking. This would be, quite obviously, the opposite of what Mr. Live Together Die Alone chose to do. He just never bothered for one day to look for his lost friends, to find out what happened to them, to see if they needed his help. Jack did exactly nothing. Nada. Zip. In the three years that have passed since Ben turned the Dharma Wheel, while one leader has grown,

the other has shrunk.

I have to admit, I can’t wait to see how that plays out.

And it won’t be long until we do see it, of course. Because time marches on and every fool gets enslaved by it in the end.

Only hours after Charlotte moved on through the gates of the afterlife, baby Charlotte waved innocently at a mournful, resigned Daniel. Paul’s widow gave away her husband’s body and then gave birth to Horace’s son.

The endless round of birth and death is not going to ever stop turning. And it’s always going to be a bitch trying to figure out what part of Time’s vile vortex we’re currently caught up in.

The ankh is one of those infinitely layered symbols that fit so well into the Lostverse. Perhaps modeled after the design of the lifegiving Nile, it has many meanings, but comes back around to the same general theme of our story – birth within death, death transcended, life seeking infinite form. Egyptians and their army of gods were famous for their preoccupation with the rituals of death and of passage to the Underworld.

The penultimate god of that populous mythology was Ra, the Sun God, Supreme Commander of the Sky, the Earth and the Underworld that Awaits Us All. Now Richard Alpert’s initials, as many have noted, are R.A. And like the ancient Egyptians, he’s in touch with his feminine side, at least when it comes to eye makeup.

I don’t think there’s much doubt at this point that the man does not age, and I’m having a hard time seeing how he’s not immortal. But why did he demand Paul’s body as justice for the murder of his men? Was there some creepy burial ritual or sacrifice that needed to be performed? And why were his men brutalizing Amy and her husband in the first place?

At what point in time was Richard’s group forced into the wilderness? Widmore said he’d lived 30 peaceful years on the Island, so presumably he was still there when the Dharma Initiative arrived like imperialist colonizers to build their presumptuous little utopia. We can assume there were conflicts at first, that the flaming arrow throwers were subdued and a truce negotiated. So where does the arrival of Boy Ben fit into this timeline?

When the Island schoolroom was disrupted by a gunbattle outside the gates, was that before this truce was made or after it was broken?

Did Ben know the legend of the stranger Jim LaFleur that wandered into town to save the peace? Did he know about the lady mechanic with the mysterious OB/GYN skills? When did pregnancy become a death sentence?

When did the Island morph into a place that roamed through timespace visible only through the ultra-sensitive detections of a massive swinging pendulum? When did everybody stop using the submarine as an express train back to reality?

When did Richard rethink his hairstyle?

What happened to Olivia, who came to the Island with hairy Horace? Did he dump her for a younger trophy wife?

When Amy is in bed with Horace, does she sometimes make believe he’s really Tony Almeida?

Ahem.

But seriously, it does seem like there was a time when the Island was a much more mundane sort of place. And it seems that this moment in time, this time when Sheriff LaFleur was in his prime, was the moment in time when something happened to change all that. Because everything changes.

Now, as everyone knows, the sweet harmony of time travel has only one natural enemy – the Paradox Monster. In order for any time travel story to stay true to its own loopy Rulez, some unbreakable conventions must abide. For one thing, no one can ever meet themselves in the same physical place.

Juliet could not get on that 1974 sub, not just because the yummiest man on earth was asking her to stay, but also because if she went back to 1974, she’d be fighting her 5 year old self for her parents’ attention. And that would just be weird. Similarly, the Ben that fell out of Flight 316 can’t show up in the same dusty yellow town where little Ben is still playing dolls with little Annie.

And while the time travelers can do anything they want to do, since Whatever Happened, Happened, they can’t change anything that already happened. You get that? They can’t, for instance, smother Little Ben with a pillow, tempting as that might be, because then there would have never been a Big Ben to turn the wheel and send them back in time to smother him. In other words, it seems like if you could somehow keep jumping forward in time to do things that couldn’t be changed, then nothing in the past could ever kill you, and you’d be damn near immortal. Maybe that’s what those Egyptians were trying to get at and maybe that’s why they made this Wonky Time Island their kingdom.

But for now, we still have a lot to figure out. Here’s what I think.

The rope Sawyer was left holding in the time when the statue still stood was the signal to the ancient indigenous people, Richard’s people, to dig the well. When they dug the well, they found the magic portal of time and doodled some hieroglyphics on the wall above the wheel they built, in that magical way that ancient people constructed astronomical wonders like Stonehenge or the Sphinx.

Centuries passed and the Dharma Initiative arrived, triggered by reasons yet unknown, and built a utopian society of conformist drones who labored to uncover the lost secret of the wheel. We didn’t see what job Daniel was assigned, but I’m guessing this is when he found his calling as a Mine Engineer.

But by who and when and why was the well filled back in?

Richard Alpert isn’t just a monogram for Ra. It’s also the birth name of the 1960s guru of hippy spirituality, Ram Dass, whose teachings can be summed up in a simple motto: “Be here now.”

The only way to stop the merciless march of time is to stop trying to stop it. But that’s something that James Sawyer Ford LaFleur doesn’t need to be told. It’s his instinct to go with the flow and make the best deal you can in any circumstance. It doesn’t mean he has any control over outcomes, of course.

There were pretty flowers outside of his little cottage, but there were also pretty flowers around the murder scene of Amy’s husband.

The only power of the flower is its momentary charm. Flowers don’t last. And neither will Sawyer’s con.

Our clever triangle toymakers went meta a few times this week, like when they built a neat little story within a story. Amy had lost Paul, the man she’d loved passionately. She settled for the safe, traditional dude, a nice enough schlub, but the type of guy who occasionally gets drunk

and blows up a tree here and there.

Still Amy keeps a piece of her broken heart hidden away in her own private drawer, never mentioning it, never letting on that she still has it, that she’s still thinking of her lost love. Since Horace is the kind of snoopy jackass who pokes around in his wife’s private stuff, he learned that he’ll always be in competition with that memory, and he snapped. But Conman LaFleur came to his rescue.

In one of his new roles as Dharma marriage counselor, James was able to smoothly con Horace into believing that three years was long enough to get over someone. Absolutely.

But one look at his face, as cloudy as the ocean sky before a storm, and you could see that he hadn’t been able to con himself. The face he’d laid awake nights trying to forget? The one that he had convinced himself was never coming back? Ever? That face he couldn’t even remember at all anymore? The face that launched a thousand ship wars? Well, guess what?

Looks like Jimmy LaFleur can kiss that make believe life goodbye. Nothing lasts, except memory.

And it doesn’t take a hieroglyph decoder to tell that he hasn’t forgotten so much as a freckle.