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Thursday, March 18, 2010

TV Watch: Lost, Recon

This episode seems to have hit with mixed reviews from fans, but I'm on the side that really, really liked it. On one level partially because Sawyer remains a pretty interesting character - consistent but unpredictable, likeable but a jackass, smart but good with a gun.

But mostly? Because I think it shows hope that the writers are not going to be holding back as we get into the last half of the last season of Lost. And I think the most interesting bits of this last episode weren't Sawyer.

But SmokeLocke.

This is the guy (or thing) that Dogen called the incarnation of evil. And also killed everyone at the temple who stood in his way. And plotted the backstabbing of Jacob since he himself could not kill Jacob. And I dunno, probably kicked a puppy.

Yet I kinda liked him this episode. And not just in a "wow, that's a cool villain" kind of way. It's impressive that would could otherwise be an amorphous killing machine presented himself in such a human way. Those people at the temple? Out to kill him. He doesn't want to be killed ... so he killed them. His primary goal isn't to destroy but to escape.

And he apparently had a crazy mom. Who may well have been like Crazy French Lady and Crazy Claire Lady. Some have even suggested it is Crazy Claire Lady and through a wild adventure of time travel, Aaron is SmokeLocke. I'm not really buying into that, though I think there is an interesting line of continuity between Walt, Alex and Aaron. Well, some continuity. Walt seemed to have powers, Alex doesn't show any. Alex and Aaron were born on the island, Walt was not.

My guess is that we lost a lot of backstory when Walt was prematurely removed from the storyline due to puberty related acting. There is a lot of grey zone with Michael's past, considering how little we know of Walt's mother ... and if the other island kids are of note ... the mother is the important one to watch here. Vincent, originally Walt's stepdad's dog, has a very loose, potentially non-canon link to the Hanso Foundation via the Retrievers of Truth portion of a previous Lost ARG. So there may be a very tenuous link to DHARMA with Walt's mom, or at least his stepdad. All we really know of Brian Porter is that he was an American lawyer working in Amsterdam (Hanso is HQ'd in Denmark).

Let us remember one of the fundamental themes of Lost: kids are important, and almost all pregnancies on the island end very, very badly. So the identity of SmokeLocke's mom is fairly core to what the hell is actually going on here ... it's unlikely that she is just some random crazy broad.

What's fun is that it once again feels like Lost has almost laid out enough clues in the past to point us in the right direction, bringing some of the old mystery feel to the show again.

The side story also, once again, showed an unlikely pairing ... Miles and Sawyer being both cops and partners. The Girl pointed out that they were both con men in the past (Miles being a somewhat unorthodox one, but still...). Like Alex appearing in an LA school, this is obviously not just the days of their lives if Jacob / The Island weren't a part of it.

My guess at this point? "LA X" as it were, is the island. It might not be tropical, and it might not be surrounded by water ... but everyone is stuck there just as they were in Season One. They may have arrived in a different way, but LA X is the same kind of fishbowl that the entire show has been playing with. Now, I don't know if the writers have any great reveals in mind to connect these two, or to show LA X's artificiality ... or if it will just vanish in a big white light at the end of the show (or what was the color of the exploding sky? Violet?) ... but I'm sure it bears little connection to the "real" off island world.

For the really super spoiler avoiders, stop reading now (though I'm only talking about the previews and not any plot spoilers).

Next week, however, is the episode many a Lost fan has been waiting for ... and if the writing so far has started to form a cohesive backdrop to end this story, then this one will be a milestone. Why? Because it appears to focus on Richard Alpert - who stands at the intersection of many things concerning the island and may have some pretty keen perspectives on what is going on. Certainly not one to miss.


Unknown said...

Where is Faraday. I miss him, and I want to know if he's going to figure into the ending.

Seeing his long-lost redheaded beauty reminded me of him.

sterno said...

Sawyer is, by far, the most interesting character on the show. He's at times come off as one of the most despicable characters and at other times come off as one of the most caring. Ultimately he's motivated by his own self-interest, but where that self-interest overlaps with his feelings for others it gets mighty interesting.

What's great about the setup with him, SmokeLocke and Whitmore, is that I'm not sure what he's thinking. He appears to have sold out Whitmore, but on the other hand, telling SmokeLocke what he did is about the best way I can think of to get SmokeLocke to run over to the other island. Sawyer trust himself and nobody else, and he's not about to let either SmokeLocke or Whitmore dictate his fate.

As for SmokeLocke, he's a wonderful devil character. He knows how to get at other people's motivations and manipulate them. One minute he's deeply sincere, the next he's a lashing smoke demon. But what makes it work so well is that he's not cartoonish. He's not cackling evilly. He's the kind of evil that sneaks in and gets under your skin before you know it.

In the end, I see this all coming down to a simple question: who's getting played? There's a battle of deceit going on between Locke and Sawyer but it's not clear who's on top right now. I think that will be the critical factor in determining how this all ends.

Overall I loved this episode, however, I'm beginning to get tired of the ludicrous synchronicities that are coming up in the future world. This episode was particularly egregious for that.

As for next week's episode, yeah I think Alpert is the only person who actually knows what the hell is going on that's likely to give us a reasonably accurate view of it. All the other players have reason to be deceitful or have their own spins on what's happened.

Josh said...

My biggest concern with this season is the LA X world. It's increasingly obvious and correspondingly less interesting. It was a curiosity when we didn't know what was going on, but now it is becoming less of a foil or character device and more of, well, almost a nod just for fans.

But the "hey look, that's Charlotte" gag doesn't have a lot of charm. Thankfully, I started to feel this way with the flashforwards as well, but it didn't kill the season as a whole. At worst, LA X will be filler.

As for Faraday, I would think we might see him if we get into any more egg-headed time travel, and I would be very surprised if he doesn't show up in LA X sometime. Course, his fate in Season 5 might have been the conclusion to all that narrative about what happens to you "in the past".