Sunday, July 10, 2011

LOST Redux: S2E13 The Long Con

(At the request of a reader, I will be reposting old editions of my LOST column as they no longer appear on the internet. I will not be making any edits to them, so please be aware that they represent a moment and time--my thoughts and analysis after watching an episode's initial airing.)

Well, well, well, ain’t you folks lucky? This week’s episode was a Sawyer episode and you know what that means, right? You don’t? What kind of a fan are you??! You’re not a fan? And I thought the reason my column from last week was so unsuccessful was because it was posted during an off week. Regardless, bet you all still want to know why you’re lucky. Well, I’ll tell you. A Sawyer episode puts me in a great mood; exactly the opposite of the mood a Charlie episode puts me in. So, if you want to know what to anticipate think back to my Fire + Water column and flip it. This Sawyer episode especially energized me. It was the return of the best Sawyer of all, the badass action hero Sawyer.

A little house cleaning before I get to the goods. My brother instant messaged me over the last week to inform me that not only was my column fraught with typos, but that I “stole” Mr. Snerdly from the illustrious Rush Limbaugh. In order to rectify his objections, I’d like to first apologize for any typos and errors that may slip into the final drafts of my column (I edit each extensively, but not even the world’s only Repunklican is perfect) and clarify that the use of Mr. Snerdly was meant as an homage, not intellectual theft. To quell any doubters, I will cease use of the name Mr. Snerdly and introduce my arch nemesis, Mr. DoGooder (Mr. DoG for short)

Now that everything’s all tidy down my end of the beach (unlike the Exile Strip that is developing on LOST Island), we are now all prepared to take this week’s journey into The Midside…


When I said the name of this section would be to honor Highlander, which is known for its flashbacks, I had no idea an episode of LOST would so closely mirror the writing style of the immortal show. The distinction I am about to draw here is tricky. Typically, every week, we see an almost completely unrelated story from one of our main characters’ past that eventually gives us some insight into their current actions on the island. On Highlander, the events in the flashbacks almost always mirrored the current events in the episode. The point being that Duncan had been through so much that his experience gave him an advantage over the mortals (and often other immortals) around him. Sawyer’s flashback worked in the same manner, starting off slowly and giving us little reason to place any emotional investment in the back story, but building to a beautiful crescendo that made us demand to see the ending before the episode finished.

For about the first fifteen minutes tonight, I was disappointed. I had high expectations. I was comparing this episode to Confidence Man and Outlaws before it even began. I wanted more Sawyer now and even more Sawyer later. Much to my chagrin, the events on the island unfolded and the writers seemed to be more concerned with the quadrangle, the Jack vs. Locke feud, and baiting internet fans with Hurley’s dialogue. Sure, I enjoyed the Kate and Sawyer flirtation and I wondered just how the untouchable con man could have a mere common mark see through him, but it just wasn’t up to par with what I had come to expect from a Sawyer episode. Although, looking back, Josh Holloway’s acting in the scene where Cassidy “sees through” his con was amazing. I was wondering where the urgency that he displayed pulling the same con in Confidence Man was, but we all know the answer to that quandary. Hey, maybe if Sawyer ever cleans up his act and they get rescued, James Ford could be an actor too.

Along came the bathroom scene. Sawyer was acting all normal and Cassidy dropped the bombshell “admitting” that she had $600,000. Admit it, at first you thought that Sawyer was about to get conned. You know how I know you thought that? Because I had the same exact thought. For a few seconds I allowed myself to think that he loved this Cassidy and part of the reason he is so scarred is because she conned him. Then I looked at her and compared her to Kate in my mind. Then I compared her to his mark in Confidence Man in my mind. No, she’s too old, not good looking enough (I know, how shallow of me), and not nearly clever enough for him to fall in love with. Part of what attracts him to Kate is the tit for tat gamesmanship they participate in. It was at this point (about halfway through the episode) that I knew that something was up.

Back on the island, the quadrangle plus Locke was ready to explode. Another thought hit me. This episode of LOST was like an episode of Survivor. Everyone runs around screaming at each other, too worried about their own wounds, to sit back and assess the situation to realize what is really going on. Jack was too worried about saving the day. Kate was too worried about Ana Lucia. Ana Lucia was too worried about Kate. Locke was too worried about his power being usurped. In fact, the scene that sealed it for me was the Locke and Sawyer exchange in the hatch.

When Sawyer told Locke about the guns, Locke should have noticed one thing. Sawyer was acting out of character (besides being so concerned with everyone else’s business). Let me ask you something, Mr. DoG, on any other day, what do you think Sawyer would say if Locke asked him to push the button? “You think I’m going to waste my whole damn day pushing some hunk of plastic that’s probably connected to some high powered executive’s popcorn machine on the other side of the island?” Ok, maybe his response wouldn’t be that absurd, but you get the drift. His whole goal was to get Locke out of the hatch with the guns and Locke obliged without even knowing it. Am I surprised he actually did press the button? No, his goal wasn’t to cause complete chaos, only to make a point (albeit a very in your face point).

The flashback offered us a similar clue. Using our knowledge of Sawyer, we should have been able to notice a discrepancy between what was happening on screen and what we knew to be true. Do you know what that information was? Very good, Mr. DoG, Sawyer’s accomplice was claiming that Sawyer was in love (Sawyer even went on to say “I love you.” to Cassidy later.) Now, if you don’t trust the writers and assumed they were making a mistake, I could see how you could miss that incongruence. It is also plausible for you to have thought at that point that he was lying to Kate about being in love (though you’d then have to ask yourself what reason he had to lie to her about love in that situation). Regardless, at that point, I knew he would emerge with the $600,000.

Back on the island, LOST became House for a scene. Every episode of House, the good doctor House runs around doing seemingly crazy things until his master plan is revealed at the end, everyone gasps, he smirks, and his patient’s life is saved (except for that one time, but come on, you knew they were going to kill the homeless lady, I mean, come on, she was homeless). A similar resolution occurred tonight. The quadrangle plus Locke was ready to explode. It was a heaping mess of something unimaginable that concluded with Jack repeating “Two guns!” over and over again. Then, a shot sounded. How many of you thought one of the 815ers was shot? You definitely feared for the safety of Scott or Steve or whomever and the oddly missing Claire. Not I, said Jayemel (that doesn’t really rhyme like “the fly” though). The second the shot went off, I knew Sawyer would come trotting out of the jungle, boomstick in hand, Ash style. When he did emerge, I started cheering. (Literally, I’m not kidding. I was cheering about as much as I do when the New England Patriots score a touchdown.)

Here’s the problem I’m having with Sawyer’s speech. For the majority of the audience, I’m sure this episode was a huge swerve. Sawyer has been built up as a lovely dovey recovered villain over the first half of the season. He went from victim, to patient, to Kate’s boyfriend. He was in. This episode was Sawyer’s heel turn. Right, Mr. DoG? However, to me, it was nowhere close to a heel turn. I agreed with everything he said in the speech. Who were they to take his stash and distribute amongst themselves? Who was Jack to decide Sawyer couldn’t take back what he found in the first place? Furthermore, why has no one else stood up and challenged everyone to ask himself why they’ve decided to follow Jack and Locke? In fact, right now, I am challenging each and every one of you to think about Sawyer’s speech and try to find the true evil contained in it. You can’t. There was none. Mr. DoG, if dissent is patriotic, then you must love Sawyer. Also, you have to appreciate the economic advantage he garnered himself by absconding the prized possessions on the island. Remember, economic superiority (and preparedness). is the real reason he hoards things

The falling action involved Kate and Charlie (I’ll get to Charlie in a little bit). Once again, the Kate and Sawyer scene mirrored a scene from House, this week’s House in fact. The resemblance was uncanny. At the end of House, Dr. Wilson lectured House, saying he made the decision he made because he has to be miserable and he has to be lonely. Kind of reminds you of what Kate says, huh? As with Wilson’s lecture of House, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to take Kate’s lecture of Sawyer at first. Then I remembered something, House is the hero of House (not Wilson) and Sawyer is the hero of Sawyer’s flashback episode (not Kate). House and Sawyer don’t care about what people think of them (be it their best friend Wilson or whatever Kate is to Sawyer) so they don’t need to explain their motives to anyone. What was Sawyer really doing? He was standing up for himself and giving the island a wake up call. I also think the end of the flashback where he puts the photo face down shows he’s not as bad of a person as he thinks he is. He felt so guilty over what he did he couldn’t stand to look at the picture. Don’t feel bad for him because he had to suffer through a few sticks and stones being thrown at him, and don’t fall into the trap of throwing the sticks and stones either. Remember, he wasn’t the one who hurt Sun. (And did you notice the smile he gave Kate when she asked him how he knew what she would do? His response was dead on. “Now how would I know that?” It’s impossible to know what people are going to do; Sawyer is just an expert in reacting and keeping a goal in mind. It is easy to see order in chaos if you keep yourself focused with a strategy.)


I’d like to begin this section by saying that I’m still not a fan of Charlie. What he did was pretty stupid and reckless and I’m willing to bet it was his idea. I bet Sawyer told him to scare the group, and Charlie, the clever hobbit that he is, decided to endanger Sun’s life. Although, let us not forget, Sun emerged from the staged kidnapping unharmed. There was no way anyone could have known she was going to trip and hit her head that badly.

Wasn’t Charlie looking positively evil in that last scene in the dark, though? The lighting, the hoodie, the way he was talking. It all added up to a quite demonic-like turn for Charlie. I’m not quite ready to dismiss him yet either, though. What he did was pretty stupid and vengeful (allowing yourself to become a tool of a con man to see someone else suffer political humiliation is asking for trouble), but at least he finally did something. He stepped up and said he has had enough and tried to gain some measure of control. However, his episode-ending visage has still earned him the nickname Darth Chuckles. Young Chuckles learned that the force is with those who seek to use it.

What was up with Hurley this episode? Was he trying to cheer Sayid up, offend him, or get the radio fixed so he could listen to some music? If he wanted to offend Sayid, all he needed to do was draw a picture of Mohammed and show it to him. Then Sayid would have declared a jihad on all pudgy people, all Americans, and all former lottery winners. Forget it, he would have declared a jihad on the whole island and then there really would have been chaos.

Not much happened with the other characters in this episode. Kate and Ana Lucia both harbor negative feelings for Jack and negative feelings for each other. I was actually kind of hoping a catfight would break out between the two of them near the end. I guess we’ll save that for another episode. Jack and Locke are still teetering between feuding and being friends. Jin and Sun are still in love. It’s all earth shattering stuff really.


I really wish there was something to write about in this section, but there really isn’t anything substantial. One thing is that you have to wonder why no one considered that there are two groups of others when they were trying to figure out who Sun’s assailants were. Everyone on the interweb seemed to ponder that possibility immediately after (and many before) we met Zeke. Maybe the writers are leaving it out because there is only one group. Or maybe they’re leaving it out because they want us to be surprised by it later. Or maybe…

Also of note is Hurley’s time joke. Hurley has become a conduit for the writers to poke fun at the hardcore fans. Sure, Hurley joked about the radio being transmitted through time, but how are we supposed to interpret that comment? Remember way back in the beginning when Jack told Hurley there are no dinosaurs. Maybe that meant there are dinosaurs. Maybe the radio was transmitted through time. My point is it is impossible to decipher what the writers mean by those comments (if they mean anything at all). Instead, I am going to sit back and watch as the ILC (Internet LOST Community) jumps through hoops on cue.


Wow am I tapped out. Nothing takes more energy out of me than a Sawyer episode. First, I enjoy the episode (yes, that does take energy). Then I analyze the episode. Then I analyze Sawyer. Then, since I see a lot of myself in him, I analyze myself because I’m introspective and Emo like that. Isn’t it interesting how our perceptions of a show can make us view it differently? Do I not see Sawyer as evil because I see myself in him and don’t want to consider myself evil? Do hardcore Charlie fans see themselves in Charlie or just think he is hot? Do all viewers most enjoy the episodes of the character they most identify with or am I self-centered? (And before you people think I’m a manipulative jerk, my second favorite character is Sayid, so you can stop writing that hate mail right now.)

We can all sleep tight tonight because there’s a new sheriff in town.

As always, if you disagree with anything that was written here and you think that Sawyer is the villain, evil, a jerk, or something else derogatory:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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