Lost Season 5, episode 8: LaFleur
At last, some answers in the time traveling puzzle! And a chance to see just what sort of fantastic leader our wise-cracking con man Sawyer can be! The movement back and forth from the “present” in the 1977 and the moment in 1974 when the island remainders Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Jin and Daniel realize they are stuck back in the flow of time was really fun for me, even if it did slow down on the mind-bending time travel and stick to a slightly more conventional unfolding. Best of all, we are inside the Dharma Initiative, back in the 1970s before the Others’ hostile takeover/massacre. I loved each step of the way as Sawyer, so cocky and yet not nearly as annoying as earnest, honest Jack, exercises the skills of a lifetime of lying to save those he has come to care about. This show is a lot about leadership – what qualities make a leader and how do you get others to follow you – and it is about time we got to see Sawyer’s take on the subject. Sure, he can’t perform a blood transfusion of his own blood using nothing but a sea urchin’s spike, but the wily way with which he improvises is far more pleasurable to watch, and just as awe-inspiring to me.
Before I get ahead of myself, a brief plot synopsis, just to keep us all on track: in this episode we learn that as soon as Locke disappears down the well, the flashes through time stop. This happy news is confirmed by the very sad realization that since she died, Charlotte’s body has stopped traveling in time with them. Sawyer is determined to wait it out until Locke returns. It just so happens that when they are is 1974, at the peak of the Dharma Initiative. They save a Dharma woman whose husband has just been shot by two of the Others (called the hostiles by Dharma folks – and believed to be indigenous to the island by them, which is interesting to note). Through some fast talking, including confronting Richard with the news that he is waiting for Locke’s return, Sawyer buys the crew some time, which apparently, turns into full time jobs, houses, and Dharma jumpsuits. Three years later (1977), Miles, Sawyer, Juliet and Jin are fully integrated into Dharma life and clearly do not expect the return of Locke or anyone else, when Jin comes upon Hurley, Kate, and Jack recently crashed from Ajira 316.
Besides the spotlight on Sawyer’s leadership skills, we get to see Juliet and Sawyer in love. I so wanted to say something a few posts ago when you started wishing they’d get together. Aren’t you proud of me for keeping my mouth shut? But there you have it – I don’t know about you, but I really believe their relationship in a way I never did with Jack and Kate, or even Kate and Sawyer. Their tender scene in the kitchen felt the most like a genuine couple and less like a soap opera of anything we’ve seen and I’m totally cheering for them, second time round and all. Unfortunately, the episode harped on the “big question” of how Sawyer is going to feel when Kate returns. As Horace asks him, is three years really enough to get over someone? Sawyer seems quite sure until the episode closes with a lingering look passing between him and Kate on their reunion. I don’t normally yell at the TV, especially when I’m watching reruns, but I wanted to scream at him not to fall for her freckled melodrama. Here’s hoping that Sawyer was right in his comments to Horace.
Speaking of Horace, we also see the birth of his son with Amy, the woman rescued by Sawyer and crew in 1974, facilitated by Juliet. I’ve been thinking about your reflections on birth and maternity in earlier episodes, and I think you are right: something is going on here. The idea of maternity and birth is laden with meaning throughout the seasons and that only seems stronger now. First of all, why can the Dharma women give birth on the island? What happens later to make safe, full-term reproduction impossible? Difficulties in childbirth can’t help but raise this theologian’s eyebrows. Add a definite, though as yet unspecified, moment when these difficulties begin and you have the makings of a solid fall narrative. The question is, whose sin brings it about and why?
OK, I am going on too long. This is where the season really picked up for me last time and I am pretty confident it will be the same the second time round. I still want more answers when it comes to Dharma and the Others, but I will be looking for new clues as we keep going.
You might not yell at the tv, but I do! I was loving this James and Juliet get-together (and yes, I’m very proud of you for not giving it away – thank you!). I love them because they make such a great team; there’s no dependence, just simple trust and willingness to believe in the other (Juliet in 1974 in Sawyer’s leadership, James in 1977 with Juliet’s obstetrics). Why Sawyer would even consider going back to Kate when this episode – the episode where he gets with Juliet – is the first episode in which we’ve seen him really smile is beyond me (seriously, I was surprised by the look of a smile on his face and realized we’d never seen a genuinely joyful and not mean or sarcastic grin on him before). So, yeah, while you don’t yell at the tv, I gave my screen a loud, “come on…argh!” before shutting it off in frustration!
All that being said, one of the (many) things that I can’t figure out with Lost is why whenever a leadership spot opens, we – or rather, they – assume that a man is going to fill it? First Jack, then Locke, now Sawyer. Once Locke disappears, everyone assumes that Sawyer will take the lead, but it’s Juliet who knows the island best and who has proven herself to be just as capable as Sawyer. So what I can’t figure out is whether Lost is just a little sexist, or whether it’s attempting to portray the way in which things would really be. By this I mean that as they play with notions of civilizations and their births and developments, and as our islanders have gone through various forms of development, is their own little patriarchy a comment on how they think civilizations actually come to be; that is, in a way that eclipses or denies female leadership?
So what has happened to Daniel? Is he just in shock or is something else going on here? His mind does seem really blown – is he just trying to figure things out or is something more cosmic taking place? I loved the scene while Juliet, Miles, Daniel and Jin are waiting for Sawyer to come out from speaking with Horace and the camera is spinning, spinning around them – like a spin in space to accompany the spin they’ve been doing through time. Daniel even says of their stuck-in-time, record-jumping moves, “The record is spinning again. We’re just not on the song we want to be on”. But then just as he says this, he sees the childhood version of Charlotte running across the lawn. And we get insight both into how Charlotte has a memory of Daniel once telling her that she would die on the island and how Charlotte and Daniel might have a deeper bond than simply their work for Widmore. Furthermore, in addition to asking what has happened to Daniel emotionally or psychologically, we can also ask what has happened to him in the move between 1974 and 1977 – we didn’t see him in 1977 on the island. So did he take the sub back? And if so, why him and not the others? What happens in those intervening years?
Now, on to the island birthing – yes, I really like your thoughts on the Fall! How interesting! So in Genesis chapter 3, the chapter of the Fall in the Bible, God tells Eve that women will suffer pains in childbirth because of her and Adam eating the fruit of knowledge. I like this parallel you’re drawing, and I think it would ultimately be confirmed if the event that causes problems later down the road were some sort of knowledge-gaining event or some sort of disobedience to the design or way the island is supposed to work. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
Oh, but wasn’t it lovely to Juliet finally able to deliver a baby! The spectrum of emotions moving across her face as she exited the surgery was beautiful!
I was also intrigued by the necklace Amy pulled from Paul’s neck. It’s an ankh, an ancient Egyptian symbol denoting eternal life or the key to life, and it is frequently held by Egyptian gods in images of them. So why did Paul have this around his neck? And what does it mean that the man whose death facilitates our friends’ entry into the Dharma initiative bore the symbol of eternal life, even as the man whose death facilitates the end to the flashes (John Locke) is himself being resurrected?
All questions, I hope, to be answered another time!