When Lost fans speak of “set-up” episodes, they’re usually trying to be kind about an hour wherein nothing really happened besides moving characters emotionally and placing them geographically so they are primed and positoned for more eventful episodes to come. This wasn’t that kind of “set-up” episode, even though it often played this part very well. “Recon” really worked for me, thanks to the riveting return of James “Sawyer” Ford to the story’s mainstage and clever, trickster storytelling where every line seemed to have double meaning and so many scenes seemed pregnant with possibilities for what’s really going on. Emphasis on pregnant. But I’ll get to that theory later. Spoilers below!!
I liked how this “set-up” episode was all about set-ups, from its opening sequence fake-out that seemed to present Sideways James Ford as every bit the slutty, soul-numbed vengeance-questing criminal as his Island iteration, but then revealed himself to be a… slutty, soul-numbed vengeance-questing cop. There was no Juliet in his life, and we were made to ponder if that made all the difference. His partner seemed to think so. Miles! Detective Miles Straume, who tried to fill Jim’s lonely void by setting his buddy up with a blast from Lost’s freighter folk past, Sideways Charlotte Lewis. We got a provocative dark knight twist in the end: Just as Island James Ford used his lawless life as the means to hunt and kill the con man who destroyed his family, Det. Ford was using his law-keeping life as the means to the exact same end. We were left to debate the thin lines separating good and evil, justice and injustice, heroes and villains. (Theorize: “Recon” = The Departed, with Sawyer representing both the Leo and Damon parts. Does Fake Locke = Jack Nicholson? Dogen = Martin Sheen? Miles = Mark Wahlberg? Go!)
On the Island, Fake Locke was setting up someone by sending Sawyer over to Zoo Station — but it wasn’t just James. My whole take on Smokey’s strategy: send Sawyer away, isolate Kate, sick Psycho Claire on her like some rabid dog, then save Kate from said psycho, all in the name of setting up Kate for a risky bonding moment, one that saw him sharing more cryptic tidbits about his background – semi-redacted details from his dubious dossier of his life. Who is this abused smoke monster child? Who was his abusive smoke monster mother? And how exactly do smoke monsters make baby smoke monsters?
Despite the Smoke’s expert game-playing, I was left to wonder if Sawyer got the best of the Monster by the end, both by subverting his expectations of him (Sawyer, “the best liar” Smokey had ever seen, seemed to baffle his boss by — brilliant! — always telling him the truth) and proving himself anew to Kate by cutting her in on his submarine escape plan. Kate guessed the plane. Silly rabbit! Don’t you know Sawyer’s all about the Watership Down? But the main reason why I think Sawyer won the day is that he didn’t do what Fake Locke really wanted him to do. And what did Fake Locke really want Sawyer to do? To answer that question, consider again the title: “Recon.” We were meant to think “reconnassaince mission.” But it’s also a pun: “re-con.” As in: Sawyer was a con man. A trickster. If Smokey was the real con man in this episode, then what con was he running? Answer: a con we’ve seen before on the show. Which con was that? And wasn’t I going to tell tell you what I meant by “pregnant”? Tricked you! I’ll tell you in my recap in the morning, but I’ll give you a hint: It’s all Dilbert’s fault. And while you chew on that one, stuff your face with even more of my insanity: Totally Lost is here! Everybody cheer!