'Lost': Course Corrections for 'Recon'

sawyer-sideways-lost-0316-3.jpgIt's been fairly quiet on the " Lost" front this week. No proclamations of brilliance, like after "Dr. Linus," nor threats to take pitchforks to the street, like after "What Kate Does." People seem to have either really liked the episode or simply not been too bothered by what they didn't like about it. Either way, it hasn't provoked a particularly passionate response in what little I've seen. I'm not sure if this says anything about the episode in particular or the "Lost" fan in general. My problems with the episode were minute and mechanical in nature, but as a table-setting ep, it didn't leave a lot to analyze, either.
 
Luckily, that hasn't stopped me from coming up with eight new insights into "Recon" after thinking about it for the past 48 hours. Here they are. And if you haven't listened to this week's podcast, do so as soon as possible: I think our guest this week offers up the best explanation for the sideways timeline that I've heard yet.
 
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My wife made a pretty great comparison the morning after the show aired. I had talked in my recap about Smocke selectively (but fairly truthfully) downloading his backstory to people that would be sympathetic to that particular part of his narrative. She went the other way, comparing it to The Joker's various "backstories" in "The Dark Knight." In other words:  Nothing he says about his past is true. It's just something to say to cloud his true origin. Whereas The Joker's inherent unknowability is key to the movie's message, I think "Lost" will ultimately deliver a definite origin story for Smocke. But still, I dug that comparison and think it's worth keeping in play.
 
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Another compelling way to look at Smocke's hints of backstory: He's either consciously or subconsciously invoking the life of the man whose meat suit he now inhabits. Many of you pointed out the Locke's own mother was a few cans short of a fully stocked Dharma station pantry, and it could be argued that John Locke felt himself "trapped" for most of his life as well. In this iteration, I prefer to think of this use of Locke's past as almost subconscious, since it means Original Recipe Locke isn't lost and gone forever. Wishful thinking? Sure. But it's nice all the same.
 
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So Widmore spends more than a decade finding the Island, and once there ... he stays on the sub? That's like a kid who goes to Disney World, begs his or her parents for the next few years to go back -- and then stays in the parking lot once (s)he returns. I can't tell if Widmore's just buying time until the pylon circle is constructed, or if The Island will perpetually give him leg cramps if he tries to climb the sub's ladder.
 
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"Recon" offered a nice counterpoint to "Dr. Linus" in one respect in their sideways stories: "Linus" was all about repressed evil coming to the surface, whereas "Recon" focused on hiding evil just waiting to come out. For Sideways Ben, Locke's suggestion to become principal unleashed a dam of untapped lust for power. For Sideways Sawyer, becoming a cop was a way to justify/tame his innate desire for revenge. Did he choose cop over criminal due to Jacob's absence in this timeline? That assumes Jacob is actually absent in this timeline, a fact I'm not willing to currently concede.
 
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Whether you're a fan of the epilogue theory or the mirrorverse theory, I think it's hard to argue that Sideways Sawyer is a "better" version of that character. It might seem silly to say that the man who chose cop over criminal is the lesser of the two characters, but he's absolutely the less complete version of those two. Officer Ford didn't experience the pain and growth of Island Sawyer, which in my eyes makes him the inferior version. That doesn't mean that what happens to him over there isn't important: If he can let go of his anger toward Anthony Cooper, then Sideways Sawyer can accomplish something Island Sawyer could not, even through his murder of Cooper in the Black Rock.
 
These sideways stories have become something of a Rorschach test for "Lost" fans. They tend to see what they want to in them. Those who support the epilogue theory can point to moments in each sideways segment and make their case. Same for the mirrorverse side. I don't like the idea of erasing Sawyer's growth on the Island for an epilogue in which he's barely past his original Square One, but that doesn't mean it's not possible that's the point the writers want to make. I just hope we learn with at least a few episodes to go what these stories mean, one way of the other.
 
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A lot of you noted that I omitted the revelation that Pierre Chang was still alive, working with Charlotte, and ostensibly using two arms to do so. I was too busy turning over the implications of Sawyer's search for Cooper to listen to much of what Miles said, I must be honest. That, plus I was imagining the spin-off show "42 Jump St." in which Miles and Sawyer try to infiltrate local community colleges posing as students.
 
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I think we need to change the term for what Claire and Sayid are from "infected" to "broken." They are not brainwashed by any means; they have simply been stripped of hope, and are led on by inertia rather than initiative. For Sayid, he's simply a leaf being carried along a stream, unable to engage in anything pre-emptively anymore. Claire's fed on a diet of anger, rage and squirrel baby for so long that she's currently past the point of compassion. The character that was the center of "Maternity Leave" has taken leave of all the elements that once made her maternal. Two days later, I'm buying her apology to Kate less and less. Her rage-o-meter will fill up again before long, and while some fans might root for Kate's death, I'm hoping Ms. Austen fulfills her mission to reunite Claire with Aaron. Only then might Claire be whole again.
 
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Mix tape time, y'all! Each week I select some tunes for you to stick in your ears, inspired by the latest episode of "Lost." First up? The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," because this set to a montage of Miles/Sawyer cop action might make my brain overload with awesome. Given his taste in floral arrangements, and his time in the hippie-era Dharma Initiative, I'm guessing Sawyer would dig The Grateful Dead's "China Cat Sunflower." Since I wager his humor runs dark in both timelines, I bet he's also got Stone Temple Pilot's "Pop's Love Suicide" on heavy rotation as well. When Miles is going for an early morning jog, thinking about the secrets his partner might be keeping, I imagine him listening to Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms." Given Smocke's suddenly mother-addled nature, I think he's been listening to Genesis' "Mama." For the hurt Charlotte Staples Lewis, Indiana Jones-esque and heartbroken, I suggest The Allman Brothers Band's "Whipping Post." For Claire's creepy compassion as Locke lies to The Tailie Kids, I offer The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."
 
Those are my thoughts 48 hours after "Recon." What are yours? Leave them below in the comments!
 
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Photo credit: ABC