Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Pompatus of Lost: 2.13--Sawyeriana

Lights up deep in the luxurious recesses of the Hatch. Jack and Locke are hanging in the gun locker, working at stowing all of the island armaments. Oh, the tension! Two men, two styles of leadership, two agendae, two sets of poorly hidden baggage. Could this be the episode that puts their divisions in stark relief? Probably not! It's a Sawyer Flashback episode.

Jack notices the heroin statues and asks, rightly, why in hell does Locke wants to keep them there. "Oh, why not hold on to something that's already been the source of major creepy conflict," Sawyer responds. "Besides," he says, "I'm superstitious." Which of course, we all know is a load. Jack asks for the combination, which allows Locke to once again get his zen menace on, giving some sort of song and dance about how he prefers to think that Jack wants to know in the spirit of ensuring that someone will know the combination in case something happens to him. Jack's all: "Like it or not baldy, I'm the mayor of Funkytown, so fess up." Numerologists: the combo is 7, 33, 18. Locke then leaningly suggests that Jack get his medical supplies and stow them in the gun locker as well. "Whatever for?" Jack wonders.

Out at the beach, in the Outcast District, Sawyer is ragging on Charlie for having to relocate to "the suburbs." Suburbs? For my money, the Rape Caves are more suburban: its denizens sacrifice a short commute to the Beach for quieter living away from the hustle and bustle of the beach. The Hatch represents the AOLesque suburban tech corridor where all the white collar Losties work. Plus the adjacent golf course is so Reston. While it might be hip to live down at the beach, the trade-off is the higher crime rates. There has, after all, been a recent uptick in baby theft and arson. Where Charlie lives is more like Bethesda--a soulless facsimile of urban life roughly adjacent to the downtown area but filled with smug bitches who think they're superior because they have a Jaleo.

At any rate, Sawyer seems content to rip on Charlie, remarking that inspiring Locke to proffer a beatdown is like Ghandi beating his own kids. Yeah, you know, I know that Ghandi was a hero to most, but if his kids were Dalits, guess what? He would beat them. And he'd do it with a song in his heart. So let's not go around empty-headedly sucking Ghandi's dick just 'cause we can. Charlie is totally feeling me, because he snarktastically points out that maybe Sawyer should shut the hell up and worry about the fact that Jack is ransacking his tent.

Sawyer rushes over, inflammed, demanding to know what's up. Jack tells him that he's come for the pills Sawyer took that now "belong to everybody." Sawyer dusts off an IMF white paper praising the value of capital commodity acquisition, but Jack won't budge from his crazy reckoning that nationalizing available resources in a time of crisis can help to buttress societal stability. Sawyer tilts his head, making full use of his Danger Hair and Glower Power, but Jack is pretty much unfazed. Sawyer warns Jack that he'll be sorry.

We head to Flashbackistan. Sawyer is bedding down a woman named Cassidy. Glancing at the clock, he jumps up, claiming to be late for a meeting. Cassidy muses that he must be off to shag some other woman, but Sawyer avers, saying that he can only wrap his mind around one woman at a time. His three pronged dick, however, is another story. Sawyer goes to leave and pulls the whole suitcase of money falls open routine that I believe we've seen before. Well, Cassie's hip to Sawyer's clumsy con artistry, immediately seeing through his game and informing him that she doesn't have the money to make scamming her worth it. We almost believe it, until she asks Sawyer to teach her to con. Sawyer agrees to take her under his wing, once the deluge of anvils has ended.

Back on the beach, Kate arrives at Chez Sawyer with new-to-him reading material in tow--a stack of what looks like decades old fashion mags. Sawyer thanks her for the thought, but reminds her that he lost his stylish specs during his misadventures with the Rainbow PUSH Oceanaire Club and Rafting Society Unlimited. He asks Kate to read to him, but before she can launch into an extended narration of articles written during a time when Anna Wintour's vagina wasn't a crusted and barren realm of craggy stalactites, they spy Jack and Tequila walking together, planning the Anajack Resistance Army.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the beach, Hurley stumbles upon Sayid indulging in that favorite pastime of lonely island widowers, the beating-out-of-the-shit of coconuts. Hurley makes some small talk, informing us that Bernard, as a part of a necessary plot convenience to explain away why, at some point, the castaways teeth don't simply start to rot out of their heads, is a dentist. Sayid seems uninterested. But, hey, lookie what Hurley got from ol' Bernie! A short-wave radio! Now Sayid can use his delicate fingers doing what he loves--fixing electronic devices! Because no one wants to see a grief-stricken Sayid open up a six pack of Sadr City, after all. Sayid brushes Hurley off, but as he leaves, we see Sayid staring longingly at the radio. His eyes say: "Oh, radio, with all your transistors and diodes, why can't I quit you?"

Jack and Tequila are wandering through the jungle, scheming their little schemes. Tequila finally says something approaching astuteness: "The problem with you all is that you aren't scared enough." Finally! That's what I've been saying this whole season! She then pointedly asks Jack for the combination to the safe. Jack shoots her a look that says: "Uhm, I think perhaps no." Uncomfortably, Tequila switches topics: "Hah. Just kidding Jack. Say, buddy, did you ever hear that one about the Gulf of Tonkin?"

Meanwhile, Sun is off tending to her Secluded Garden of Magical Healing Flora when suddenly she hears a rustling in the woods. After a tense moment or two, it's revealed that the noise is nothing more than Vincent, the world's most useless watchdog (though, in his defense, it may be asking a lot for Vincent to serve in that capacity seeing as he may or may not be a projection of Walt's animal summoning mind). Sun smiles, relieved. Suddenly the sky opens up with sudden downpour of tiny anvils that look like droplets of water. And that's when Sun is grabbed from behind and dragged off by an unknown assailant. Remember the Maine!

Over at Sawyer's tent, Kate and Sawyer hear the commotion abd give chase after Sun. After a moment or two, they happen upon Sun's unconscious body. She's been beaten and dragged a considerable distance. Sawyer yells for Kate to find Jack, and hoisting Sun into his arms, he runs back to the beach and hands her over to Jack. At that moment, we see Ana Tequila arrive on the scene a few moments late, as if she's just pulled a Goodwin. They notice that Sun's limbs have been tied in the manner of The Others, and Ana remarks that "they're back."

The group falls out, debating if it can be true that the Stevedores have come to their side of the island hours after promising to leave them alone. For some, the idea doesn't pass the sniff test, but it doesn't come close to assuaging Condolucia Rice, who's all about the slam-dunk pretext for going gun crazy. Locke arrives to throw a wet blanket on all the fifty-four forty or fighting that's taking hold of the Losties, saying that he doesn't want everyone running around blindly shooting at one another. Jack agrees that the best course of action is to wait for Sun to regain consciousness so that she can tell her side of the story. Hey, who knows, maybe she deserved it!

Sawyer, conspiring with Kate, doesn't buy the scenario. He cites as evidence the fact that the hood used to blind Sun was a different "weave" than the one they threw over Kate's head. Of course, there's no way to verify this, but Kate, awestruck by Sawyer's sudden seriousness, lets it go. Sawyer basically points out that it feels to him like Jack and Tequila are running some sort of game, misleading the Losties into war without a plan to win the peace. The upside to the scene, however, is that Sawyer brings up the lovely visual of Kate and Sun in a hot-oil grappling match. I can't tell you how happy pondering that image makes me.

Back in Flashbackistan, Sawyer and Cassidy double-team a couple of college douchebags into buying cheap-ass necklaces for hundreds of dollars. Whoop-de-frickin'-doo.

Kate confronts Jack about Tequila's motives, and Jack pulls one of those Jackisms that I really hate--skulking off in such a way that sends the message to Kate that she's a total idiot for suggesting such a thing, knowing full well that he's actually taken what she's said to heart and that he's totally going to act on it--he's just too much of a closed-off dickhead to give Kate any indication that she's made a good point.

Jack and Tequila catch up with each other. She tells Jack that she's managed to convince a couple of people to join the army, allowing us to chortle at a Scott-slash-Steve joke. Yo, old school! Tequila seems positively geeked that Sun's kidnapping has led to an increase in support for their miltary excursions. "We're living in a post-Sun-kidnapping world," Tequila says, "The Congressional Democrats are just kidding themselves if they think otherwise." But before Jack can fully unspool his recent work, The Fog of Sun's Kidnapping, he's told that Sun has regained consciousness.

Jack asks Sun to tell him what happened, and thank God--the producers decide not to subject us to a two-part special flaskback episode. Basically, she was grabbed and she kicked and she fought and she ran and she fell. Not much else to say about it, though Jin and Sun spend a couple moments yelling at each other in Korean. Jin turns to jack and starts yelling, over and over again: "Gun! Gun! Gun!" I guess he's forgotten that he's not on Angel anymore, and that J. August Richards is back in the continental United States, shooting the new Law and Order spin-off, Conviction. Hopefully Bernard will calm him down and remind him.

Sawyer, however, is worried that it won't be long before the Losties get to starting up a posse. Kate surmises that Tequila is going to use Sun's kidnapping to make a play for the guns. She tells Sawyer to run, run like the wind, and tell Locke. Locke will know what to do. Sawyer acts as if it's the last thing he wants to do, as the gathering clouds of anvil form overhead.

Back in Flashbackistan Cassidy tells Sawyer that she wants to learn to do a "big" con. Sawyer corrects her, informing her that it's actually called a "long" con. I guess confidence men have their own style sheet and a specific way they format their footnotes, too. Whatever. This episodes trips to Flashbackistan are total Dullsville, but it's by design. We're trained to expect the events of Flashbackistan to serve as a dramatic counterpoint to the evolution that our characters are forced to undergo as events on La Isla Encanta unfold. As we see Sawyer's Flashbackistan story move forward, we're conditioned to expect the following:

  • his skill as a scammer allows him to perceive the Ana Lucia scam unfolding
  • his regret for the way he treated this Cassidy woman fuel his desire to do the right thing
  • he'll save the day and get that much closer to earning a "Get Out Of Black Smoke Stompy Monster Free" card.
When you think about it, it's a pretty good game the writers are running on us.

Sawyer encounters Locke in the Hatch's well-appointed library, where Locke is discovered leafing through An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, which causes every film student in America to simultaneously say, "Aha!" as the writers totally let them in on what's going on in this episode. Sawyer warns Locke that Jack is on the way to grab all the guns he can cart off. He tells Locke that he'd better change the combination. Locke reasons that changing the combination would only hold up Jack temporarily. Locke decides to post Sawyer as the button-pusher as he moves the guns to an undisclosed location. By the way, Locke continues his general trend toward glibly deceiving people--he tells Sawyer that he's alphabetizing the books when what he's clearly doing is checking each book for hidden spools of film. Maybe he hopes to find the opening scene to The Andalusian Dog in order to hammer home the point to the two or three film students too dense to catch the Owl Creek reference.

Back in Flashbackistan, Sawyer meets up with his Con Man Boss at a diner, where Kate's mom waits on them. This Flashback scene is interesting because it seems to be something of a plot hole--Sawyer seems to sincerely not want to scam Cassidy, but, unless he's working on walking out on his Con Man Boss without paying him, it's difficult to see for whose benefit this scene is staged. Anyway, Bossman threatens to put one "in his ear" if Sawyer doesn't come through with the green. I don't know if he means a bullet or a pregnant earwhig--either way it sounds bad.

Back at the Hatch, Jack arrives in a huff, looking for steel. Sawyer hilariously tarries at entering the numbers to reset the alarm. When he's good and ready, he sends Jack to the gun closet, revealing that the firearms have been cleared out. How Locke managed to carry all that shit off by himself is left unexplained.

Jack runs to the beach. It's suddenly night. Is it just me, or did time seem to move awfully quickly. Jack and Locke get into a shouting match over the guns, but just as the confrontation is building to a head, shots ring out. People scream and look around for the source of the gunfire. Ha ha. It's Sawyer. He played everybody and has taken the guns for himself. Well, he told Jack not to take his pills. Of course, this leaves the question--how did Sawyer pull off the Sun abduction? Clearly he had an accomplice. Credit Wife of DCeiver for sussing it correctly. I got it wrong. Way wrong!

Back in Flashbackistan, Sawyer comes back home to find a black car outside. He enters and, in a panic, tells Cassidy that she's the long con, that he knew she had money all along and that his big boss has come to collect. He tells her that she's in danger because he wouldn't take her money, and instructs her on how to escape. He sends her off with the money, sets up a meeting place, and tells her that he loves her.

Now, this is curious. Watching this trip to Flashbackistan, I was inclined to suspect that Sawyer was being insincere, mainly because this scene is the next scene after we learn that Sawyer's been scamming the Losties to get his hands on the gun. Any thought that Sawyer's past regret was leading him to do right by his fellow Losties is already dispelled. Shouldn't this scene have come between the scene in the Hatch and the big reveal on the beach? It seems to me that it would have deepened the whole trompe le monde thing going on in both the Flashback and on La Isla Encanta, and made the eventual revelation a lot more potent.

Back on the beach, Kate arrives at Sawyer's tent to question him about how he pulled off his little stunt. He won't cop to any secrets, but seems to get a little personal when it's suggested that he had Sun dragged off. Kate reasons, stupidly, that he did what he did because he wants to be the most hated person on the island. Whatever. What's important is that Kate and Sawyer are totally breaking up. So, suck it, Skaters.

Sayid comes upon Hurley, who is reading what looks like a manuscript for a novel called Bad Twin, authored by Gary Troup. The book will be on shelves this May, by the by, and, not surprisingly, customers who bought the book also seem to be fans of The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. One wonders if this is same Gary Troup who played cricket for New Zealand.

By the way, you fans of Gary Troup really ought to get together with people who love anagrams.

Anyway, Sayid tells Hurley that he's managed to fix the short wave radio. They trundle off to a clear spot on the beach and try to pick up the signal. At first, the only thing they can tune in is Rousseau's broadcast loop, but then they pick up a signal from a radio station called WXR, playing the Glen Miller Orchestra and their version of "Moonlight Serenade". At first, Hurley exults, believing the transmission to be potentially emanating from somewhere in close proximity. Sayid puts the kibosh on those hopes, though, pointing out that radio waves on the short wave band can bounce around for thousands of miles. "It could have come from anywhere," Sayid says. That's when Hurley offers an interesting theory of his own: "Or any time." Chew on that, theorists.

Sawyer is shown tromping through the woods. We find out that Sawyer's accomplice was, in fact, Charlie. Congrats to everyone who made that call. I sort of thought the beaten down and bedraggled Charlie might be days away from doing something that ballsy. Sawyer offers him the heroin Marys, but Charlie sneers and says that the reason he did what he did was simply to make Locke look like a fool in front of everybody. Know what, I'm kinda glad he succeeded.

Of course, Charlie is equally curious as to Sawyer's motivations. For the answer, we make one last trip to Flashbackistan, where we learn for sure that Sawyer's whole waiting-for-my-man black car routine is a fake and he's managed to send Cassidy off with a bag of fake money. Returning to La Isla, Sawyer simply shrugs and tells Charlie: "I'm not a good person...never done a good thing in my life."

Ooh. I guess someone's Dharma isn't showing much initiative.

Next week: Thank fucking god. The Losties finally let the damned timer run down.


PK said...

Speaking of timing... doesn't it stand to reason that Charlie and Sawyer would have tried to suss out one another's motives before coordinating a dangerous con? If Sawyer's such a good con man, why didn't he figure out Charlie wasn't still using?

Ed said...

You know, the best part of this episode was Hurley's almost throw-away line about "or any time." He laughs it off with a "just kidding, dude," but that's so gonna be important.

BTW, if they're not in the present day, if La Isla Encanta is some time vortex thing, that might explain how it was nighttime all of the sudden when Jack went to yell at Locke for moving the guns. Narnian time is different than our time, you know.

But that would be a very subtle thing that I doubt would be built in so subtly.

PK said...

It would explain the Stevedores' old-timey dress code, too.

A. L. Deviant said...

The time flux thing would certainly explain the hair growth (or lack thereof) issue. And who doesn't like Big Band music?

jolene said...

Thanks for another enthralling recap... much appreciated since I missed last week's ep!

(And where else could I get such an acute geographic-cultural assessment of the local 'burbs?)