After two weeks with the Oceanic Six, we return to those still on the island this week right where Sawyer, Faraday, Miles, Juliet and Jin left off: at the well, waiting for John Locke to return. When Locke fell down the well, the group was cast back to a time when the four-toed statue loomed large over the island (to me, it looks like a statue of Anubis, who weighed the hearts of the dead against a feather to determine where they would reside in the afterlife – could this be a hint about the function of the island?), but when Locke turned the wheel, they were launched into the 1970s. Charlotte was gone, but their headaches and nosebleeds stopped. Without a real leader, Sawyer becomes the de facto head of this unit of survivors, suggesting that they all head back to the beach to make camp and wait for Locke to return.
Sawyer: Now we wait for him to come back.
Miles: For how long?
Sawyer: As long as it takes.
Utilizing the strangely out-of-place title cards from last week, we jump to three years later, where Mad Men‘s Jimmy Barrett interrupts the good time grooves of his Dharma partner and his girlfriend when he noticed that Horace Goodspeed is out doing drunken dangerous shit, like blowing up trees with dynamite. They insist that the only way to calm Horace down is to go get LaFleur, Dharma’s Head of Security who, as it happens, is James Sawyer. 70s Sawyer and 70s Miles (now called Ennis, I think) head out to grab Horace and put him inside where he can’t blow shit up and hurt anyone. Meanwhile, Horace’s wife, Amy, goes into labor, telling Sawyer that the two of them had had a fight.
Back three years earlier, a mournful Daniel tells the rest of the group that after the second flash, Charlotte just disappeared. That lent some credibility to the theory that his tampering with the timeline had begun to write her out of existence. As Faraday puts it, “She moved on. We stayed.” Moved on to where? I’d like to believe that that statement fits with the Charlotte-written-out-of-time theory, but that’s later disproven when Faraday sees a little redheaded girl playing in the Dharma camp, calls out Charlotte’s name and the child looks back at him. So, maybe the island was just done with her? Where does it put people it’s done with? Wherever Charlotte may be, Faraday isn’t all here, either, his mind clearly somewhat fractured by the grief of losing yet another loved woman to time travel.
On their way back to the beach, the group hears shots and they see a woman with a sack over her head, about to be kidnapped from the lovely picnic she was having by two hostiles with guns. Sawyer and Juliet go play hero, rescuing Horace’s future wife and killing her assailants. Amy starts to freak out about the dead men, insisting that they bury the bodies and bring back the body of Paul, her dead Dharma companion that she reveals to be her husband. She is afraid that the death of her assailants means a truce between her people and theirs has been broken.
On their way back to Dharmaland, Sawyer convinces his friends to let him create their cover. He tells Amy that he and his friends shipwrecked on this island on their way to Tahiti. In a daze, Faraday almost walks through the sonic fence, until Juliet pulls him back. They ask Amy to turn it off, and she appears to, only to zap them all when they cross the line, slyly revealing the earplugs she’d popped in to protect herself.
Three years later, Amy’s baby is both early and breach. The Dharma obstetrician tells Sawyer-as-LaFleur that she was meant to get off the island days ago in order to prepare for her delivery. Worried that Amy will die, Sawyer goes to find Juliet, now the island mechanic in charge of fixing up all those sweet-ass VWs, and convince her to come out of retirement and help deliver the baby via Caesarian. Juliet is reluctant, considering what little luck she had saving women and children when she was brought to the island under the cover of Mittelos “Lost Time” Bioscience. Sawyer wins her over by suggesting that maybe the thing she was brought here to correct hadn’t happened yet. As Juliet takes over the labor and delivery, Jin approaches (still named Jin, by the way) to give Sawyer the daily “looking for their people” report. He once again asks Sawyer, “How long do we look, James?” To which Sawyer replies, “As long as it takes.”
The AV Club’s Noel Murray wrote last week about Lost‘s reliance on repeated lines such as “live together, die alone,” “we need to go back!” and so on. I definitely kept that in mind this week while watching and noted the frequency of times the other Losties would ask their new leader LaFleur how long they should keep looking. It seems that, in Locke’s absence, Sawyer became the man of faith this week, assuming the Creole moniker of LaFleur perhaps to assume a little of the magic and mysticism that comes with Cajun culture. Or maybe he just thought it sounded pretty and believable. Nonetheless, his new name makes me think of the fleur-de-lis, a symbol widely associated with both monarchy and Boy Scouting. (Husband Note: And the celebrity-lookalike hooker service in the great film L.A. Confidential.) The symbol’s name literally means lily flower (like the last name of an actress who plays a certain flame of Sawyer’s), and is associated with the Virgin Mary, symbolized by the white lily – a woman who’s shown up on this show not only in the figure of Claire, but also as a placeholder for some heroin. However, in England, people mistook the name (because the English do not spell things well) as fleur-de-luce, or flower of light, and began associating it with the Holy Trinity. For me, the choice of name represents Sawyer’s faithful commitment to believing his friends will return to the island as Locke had, for lack of a better term, prophesized. It is appropriate to me that LaFleur would care so much to see Amy’s child be born, and also appropriate that he should keep such vigilant watch and a hope-against-all-hope that his friends will return. Without Locke, someone on the island has to be a bastion of faith. And Sawyer became that when he became good ol’ Jim LaFleur.
Juliet, by the way, is able to successfully deliver Amy and Horace’s baby boy, which made me immediately ask: who does that baby boy grow up to be? We know it’s not Ben Linus, which immediately made me horrified for the fact that whoever that little boy is, as he might not grow up at all, but might suffer the fate of being killed by Ben in the purge. How weird would it be for that kid to grow up to be Juliet’s lover, Goodwin? I don’t think the timeline is right for that, but it would be weird . . . like . . . Cordelia-fucking-Connor-on-Angel weird.
Three years earlier, Sawyer wakes up on Horace’s couch and, with Sawyer’s friends deferring all questions to him, he starts spinning the tale of how his current group of people found their way to the island. He tells Horace they were on a salvage mission to find the wreck of the old slave ship The Black Rock and wound up in the woods when they went looking for their missing crew member. Horace offers Sawyer and his people safe passage to Tahiti on the Dharma sub, but, ever faithful to his people, Sawyer tries to finagle another week out of the deal. Then the Dharma Alarm sounds and everyone is rushed inside as a torch-bearing Richard Alpert approaches. He demands to speak to Horace and wants to recover the bodies of his people. Sawyer demands that Horace let him take over negotiations, and the con man proceeds to swindle the immortal Alpert. Sawyer tells Alpert that he isn’t Dharma and so no truce was broken when he killed Alpert’s people in self-defense. Sawyer then tells him about Jughead and asks if Alpert remembers John Locke, for whose return he is so diligently waiting. Satisfied by Sawyer’s silver tongue, Alpert agrees to leave once he is given the location of his people’s bodies. However, he also asks for the body of the man his people killed. Amy, broken hearted over the loss of her husband, Paul, doesn’t want to give up his corpse, but agrees after taking his ankh necklace for herself. As a reward for saving everyone’s ass, Horace lets Sawyer and friends stay for two more weeks, which will clearly turn into at least three years. Juliet wants to leave immediately, but Sawyer convinces her not to go because its 1974 and her life will not be there for her.
Three years later, she’s still there, saving babies, working on cars and shacking up with Jim LaFleur. After three years together in Dharma bliss, the two are saying, “I love you’s,” which are basically just like saying, “Fuck you, Kate Austen.” In yet another nice bit of repetition, Horace wakes up on Sawyer’s couch after his night of drunken dynamite danger. Sawyer tells Horace the good news: he has a healthy baby boy, with the bad news being, of course, that he missed it. Sawyer asks him why he and Amy had fought that night, and Horace tells him that they got into a fight because he found Paul’s ankh in the back of Amy’s sock drawer (what man borrows socks from his wife?), and took it to mean that she never got over her first husband. He asks LaFleur if he thinks that three years is really enough time to get over someone, and Sawyer launches into a tale of regret about the one that got away, but assures Horace that he’s moved on.
“Is three years long enough to get over someone? Absolutely.” –Sawyer
Later, LaFleur gets a call from Jin. He leaves Juliet’s naked backside and rushes out immediately for the inevitable reunion with Hurley, Jack and, yes, that girl he totally thought he was over. I’ve never really given a shit about Kate and I much prefer the person Sawyer is when he’s with Juliet, but I really like the look on Sawyer’s face when he sees these people he thought he would never see again. Yes, he had faith that they would return, but I don’t think he knew how it would affect him when they did return, and what it would be like to see that woman he had loved for so long come back into his life. Poor Juliet. I hope that her three years of happiness doesn’t fall away because of Kate’s return and become a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young lyric (“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”).
This was a good episode to remind the fans who aren’t that much into time travel about the show’s emotional core and its reliance on human drama, as well as a nice segue back into on-island stories, which are always, always, always better than Oceanic Six stories. I like it. And I hope Kate kept her promise and has news about Sawyer’s darling Clementine, which I maintain is what he asked her to do before he jumped out of that helicopter.
I think this was a wonderful episode. Yes, it explored the emotional core of the show, and as I learned from the beast known as the LindelCuse on that pre-s5 premiere special a couple months ago, this is what they spend at least 80% of writing sessions thinking about – not the sci-fi/fantasy aspects of the show, but character motivations and their own personal, emotional arcs. Yes, it did a great amount of summary for what happened in those three years between the end of the time traveling and the “present,” with the rise of LaFleur as its own tiny story. And yes, it, like last week, took a step back in order to give us as much backstory as necessary before it blasts off into insanity in the coming weeks.
But what I loved was that it gave Sawyer, for once, his first uplifting storyline of the entire series. We’ve been smacked with his terrible life again and again – his dead parents, his bloodlust on his search to find the original Sawyer, his destructive cons, and all the bad decisions he’s made on the islands – so it’s just such a breath of fresh air to see a happy, productive, non-thieving, non-growling James Ford/James LaFleur. His redemption as a person, or as much as what can be called redemption, drove my emotions in this episode more than most of Jack’s entire arc, and that’s impressive.
Hell, I teared up twice during the last ten minutes of the episode, first when he and Juliet kiss and the second when Sawyer spots Kate Austen coming out of the blue VW van only moments after revealing that he couldn’t even remember her face anymore. And these tears are for the guy who stole items out of people’s luggage for bartering purposes in s1. Come on, man. Give some respect.
I also appreciate any show that gives me a mixture of some great character actors from some of my favorite shows, including 24 (the beautiful Reiko Aylesworth), Mad Men (Patrick Fischler) and Friday Night Lights (Kevin Rankin). Oh Lost, you know how to please the cult TV show viewers.