Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Thanks anyway, Plato."

The consistency of Lost this year has been simply amazing. Last night, we were treated to an episode, "LaFleur," which was significantly and tonally very different from the two that preceded it, yet still delivered an outstanding hour of television that left me with a big 'ol smile on my face. Almost (but more about those last couple of minutes later).

Once again, we had a cryptic title (much like "Jughead") that could represent any number of things. Turns out, "LaFleur" (Jim LaFleur) was the identity that Sawyer adopted when the Losties wound up, for an extended stay, back in 1974. He felt it gave it a cajun vibe, and seeing as that translates to "flower," it also worked thematically for the story, as this episode featured Sawyer "blossoming" into a leader -- not only for the Losties, but also for the Dharma "security team" -- and into a more well rounded, mature and selfless being. Remember the bitter and self absorbed conman of the early seasons? (Loved him then, too). Well, Sawyer has lost none of his conman skills (the writing, and acting by Josh Holloway, in the scene where Sawyer spins a yarn about "his" salvage vessel and the Black Rock were both masterful), but he's also grown into a character who genuinely cares about the fates of his compadres. For example, in the opening continuation of the flashes, notice how quickly he jumps into the well to aid Locke, only to find that the well is now (or was) filled with dirt. Or his heartfelt conversation with Goodspeed about the nature of relationships. Or his charming chat with Juliet on the dock, or concern about Amy's baby. We've seen hints of Sawyer's heart before, particularly in his dealings with Kate, but it was always one step forward, two steps back. Now, with the belief that Kate (and the rest of the 06) are gone and that they themselves are "stuck" in the 1970s, Sawyer has had time to flourish, and make a nice little life with himself with the delightful and capable Juliet.

I'm not one of those crazy shippers that thinks the character romances are always paramount to the enjoyment of the show. And frankly, I was a little tired of the triangle between Jack, Kate and Sawyer. I see the appeal that each of the characters would have to each other, but there's only so much gas in that tank. For a while, it played to the strengths of the actors, with Matthew Fox doing righteous indignation and nobility, Evangeline Lily doing tormented escapism and Josh Holloway doing sardonic detachment. However, I'd rather see the dramatic tension mined from the inherent difficulties inside a defined pairing, rather than a traditional "who ya gonna pick" set up. That's why, as good as "LaFleur" was, and as happy I was to see Sawyer coupled with (IMHO) the best female character on the show, Juliet, the ending kinda disappointed me. Yes, it should be shocking to see Jin show up with Hurley, Jack and Kate back in 1977 on the island. But to have Sawyer get all gooey over Kate again, after all this time? Please, Lost, don't go there. At least from Sawyer's perspective. Juliet is (again, IMHO) infinitely hotter, smarter, funnier and more capable than Kate, and I'd hate to see a character that's "bloomed" as much as Sawyer fuck that all up after three years of growth.

Speaking of Juliet, just how amazing was Elizabeth Mitchell last night? She's always been a master of the quiet reaction shot or the wry deadpan. "LaFleur" gave her more colors to play (quietly supporting Sawyer on his decision to trek to the beach, having his back with a rifle, pondering her fate on the dock, doing engine work on a VW microbus, welcoming her love home with a meal and a kiss, not wanting to wake up to a phone call, etc.) and she knocked it out of the park. And those were the wonderful small moments. Her handling of the situation she faced attempting to deliver Amy's troubled baby, after all the unsuccessful "Other" births, was fantastic. For an actress who doesn't overplay those smaller moments, and often keeps her agenda and knowledge close the vest, the range of emotions she showed on the porch after the delivery was an acting delight. It was also nice to see her character make thoughtful decisions, such as backing Sawyer on his "let's go to the beach" move, even though she thought it was not exactly the best course of action, but alternatively, was the best play for the group dynamics (and for Sawyer personally in the long run).

Finally, the other thing that made me love "LaFleur" so much was that for the most part, it was a "happy" episode. Don't get me wrong, I love the constant emotional train wrecks that always seem to occur on this show, and as a devout fan of Battlestar Galactica, you know I seem to be drawn toward unrelenting despair, suffering and tragedy (since it so accurately reflects real life), but after the past couple of weeks, I think we needed a little sorbet of things mostly working out. Plus, this eppy had a very deft and nice mixture of character work, island revelations and backstory, quippy humor and driving plot...along with the usual questions.

So, other thoughts, comments, quotes and questions from "LaFleur:"

The two Dharma guards in the opening were named "Phil" and "Jerry." Shoult out to The Grateful Dead?

What exactly is up with the sonic fence? Are there different settings, other than just "on" and "off?" Didn't previous islanders start bleeding and getting their brains scrambled when they crossed it? Here, in 1974, it seems a good set of earplugs will keep you from harm, and all you suffer is a headache. And why wouldn't it keep the Hostiles, or at least Richard, from crossing it? If it doesn't keep them out, then who - or what - is it really for? Just the smoke monster?

FOUR TOED STATUE! Or at least, we think it's that. (we never saw the feet). For that instant, before the "record got on a groove," Sawyer and crew appeared to be waaaaaay in the past, and caught a glimpse of a towering statue that seemed Egyptian in design. Anubis, god of the afterlife, perhaps?

Speaking of Egyptian references, we know that various hieroglyphics have appeared all over the island (button countdown timer, cave home of Smokey, etc.) but another was put into the mix tonight, with Amy's dead husband carrying an ankh. An ankh is an Egyptian symbol meaning "eternal life," and is often referred to as a "cross with a handle." (Other nerds will also recall that this was the key symbol for "Sanctuary" in Logan's Run).

"Thanks anyway, Plato."

What exactly is the nature of the truce between Dharma and the Hostiles, circa late 1970s? And what was the deal with Richard wanting Paul's body back? Was that something cooked up by Richard and Sawyer, so that Richard could claim that his group exacted "justice" for the loss of their two men?

We talked about how smoothly Sawyer handled the initial "debrief," with Goodspeed, but how cool was he with Richard, too? In essence, he was telling the truth, but he dropped that "Jughead" bomb pretty quickly to assert his dominant information position in the tense situation, didn't he? And I think that his "waiting for Locke" comment only served to reinforce the quasi-mystical place Locke takes in the lore of the Hostiles.

So do we know for sure what's going on with the baby situation in this timeline? We've always been lead to believe that the Others had problems with babies. (and this was one of the reasons Juliet was recruited). But we saw Dharma children on the compound, though it was acknowledged that they usually go "off island" via sub for the deliveries. Juliet did deliver Amy's baby successfully, however, so it appears whatever forces affecting childbirth on the island, only happened post 1977, or only affected The Others.

So what the hell is up with Amy and Horace? (note that Horace, as in Goodspeed, and Horus, an important Egyptian deity, are homophones). Was Amy being unduly attacked by Alpert's people in that clearing? Why? Were they on enemy territory, or was there something more mysterious and nefarious going on? And whatever became of Olivia, who we were lead to believe was Horace Goodspeed's wife, or at least significant other, way back in the original Dharma days, when Ben's dad was recruited to the island?

And speaking of which, where are young Ben and his dad?

Also, remember when Horace appeared to Locke in a dream? He was building a "cabin" for the "missus." Is this Amy? Olivia? Or could he have been building a cabin........for his newly delivered son......Jacob. Hmmmmm.

Are three years truly enough to get over the love of your life? Not sure what Amy thinks. We'll find out what Sawyer thinks soon. As for me, ask me again in a couple of months.

Loved Miles arguing about the "plans." Going the station, or going to the beach. "It's the only two plans you people have." So true.

When Miles, circa 1977 jumps into the van with his "boss" Sawyer, Sawyer calls him "Enos." Hee.

Dan's a little fucked up now. How heartbreaking was it when he was describing how Charlotte died, and how her body was "gone?" (And WHY was her body gone? What is the difference between living and dead with the time flashes? And how does this relate to Christain, Locke, and perhaps Claire?) Also, how heartbreaking was it when he saw the little red haired girl? Can we safely assume this is Charlotte, on the island as a youth? And will he, or won't he, warn her not to come back? Though according to Dan's theory, it won't matter now, will it? As always, all of Dan's scenes were superbly played by Jeremy Davies.

However, even though we usually can't trust a lying word out of the lying liar Ben's mouth, remember the ep when he recited Charlotte's backstory? He noted that she was born in 1979. Which would make the little red haired girl on the island that Daniel freaked out over NOT Charlotte. Hmmmm.

Sawyer decides to take action into his own hands, and go talk to "your buddy out there with the eyeliner." Hah! (Also, it should be mentioned that Egyptians are frequently portrayed with heavy eye makeup. Just sayin').

“It’s a good thing I ain’t askin’ your permission."

Finally, where the hell are Bernard, Rose and Vincent?

Sadly, we have no new Lost next week, as it's taking a week off, dammit. But this was a wonderfully fulfilling episode to end a consistent run of quality on, and I can't wait until next time.



  1. I love that you articulate most everything I'm thinking, so when people ask what I thought of a particular episode of a series I can just point them here.

    Nice insight on the Egyptian/eyeliner thing. I hadn't put together that there were multiple allusions to Egyptian culture on the show. (Doh!) And although I think the eyeliner comment was definitely a fan shout out in part, I like the connection you made.

    I'm not positive, but I think this may well be my favorite episode on the series thus far.

  2. I think the "eyeliner" comment was more of a wink and nod to the fanbase, rather than a deliberate strategy in casting Nestor Carbonell and his dark lashes to fit the greater whole, but hey, we Lost fans look for meaning in everything, no?

    Lost has been good about grabbing bits and pieces of various mythologies/theologies (Egytpian gods, Buddhism, Christianity, etc.), and that's apt, since a lot of the debate centers on "faith vs. science" and "destiny" vs. "free will." It's fascinating to watch the elements fit together, but as we both noted, this ep did more than move chess pieces across the board and unveil some of the master plan -- it had HEART.

    I'm certainly putting it among my favorites, though for similar reasons, "The Constant" is always top of mind. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Dude, it's ridiculous how often we notice the same things. I try not to read anybody else's writeups before I do my own, so that I don't accidentally plagiarize someone else's thoughts...I HAVE to start getting my writeups done faster! We even both said the same things about the title!

    And you're right...this was definitely a "lighter" episode for the most part, which was a welcome break considering the last two mind bending episodes.

    I forgot about the "eyeliner" quip in my of the things I love about this show is how much the writers appreciate their hardcore audience, and throw these little shout-outs to us from time to time.

    Great write-up, as usual!