Intimate. Brutal. Terrifying. No, I’m not talking about the return of According to Jim on ABC, I’m talking about the hellish chamber play that is the final third of this episode. It’s a long-awaited showdown between two people you perhaps never suspected would ever have anything to do with one another. Astute fans of Lost may have suspected the twist revealed in this episode, but no matter what your level of surprise, watching Sawyer’s moment of "catharsis" is truly a harrowing moment.
(Curious on my initial take way back when? Check it out!)
4) In Short
"It’s Parents’ Weekend on the Black Rock!"
John Locke (remember him) is reading a file inside a red folder. A muffled voice can be heard inside a body-length bag nearby. Locke tells the mystery person to stop his yammering already, then throws the file into the fire.
Kate wakes up inside Sawyer’s tent and prepares to make a Walk of Shame back to hers. She says it’s nothing personal, just "old habits." Sawyer offers to walk her home (heh), telling her he has to pee anyway (eh). When he walks out, he sees Hurley and Jin acting strange in a nearby tent. After leaving them, he hears something nearby in the jungle. He pulls out his gun to find Locke shining a flashlight right in his eyes.
Locke tells James that he’s kidnapped Ben, and he wants Sawyer to kill him. Why Sawyer? Well, Locke’s read Sawyer’s folder, and knows him to be a murderer already. Sawyer initially resists the offer, but eventually gives chase after Locke slowly walks back into the jungle.
On the beach, Charlie is gathering food from the Lostaway Beach "kitchen." Jack asks him how the camping trip went; Charlie awkwardly lies to the man once in charge of their camp. Upon returning back to Des’ tent, Mr. Hume reiterates that he doesn’t trust any man that spent 10 days with the Others and lived to tell the tale. Juliet’s presence isn’t helping matters, either. Charlie and Hurley realize they don’t trust Jack anymore.
In the jungle, Sawyer asks Locke what else is in his file. Locke surprises him with detailed information about the death of Sawyer’s parents. (Priming the psychological pump: you evil bastard, Locke.) Sawyer snaps, demanding to know if Locke is conning him the way Ben did earlier this season. With a knife at his throat, Locke admits he’s too cowardly to kill Ben himself. Sawyer relents, but insists that he’s not going to kill Ben. Rather, he’ll simply take him back to camp. Locke simply states that once Sawyer hears what Ben has to say, he’ll change his mind.
Hurley comes across a man he CAN trust: Sayid. Why? Cuz Sayid rules, that’s why. And he’s a Pisces. OK, I don’t know if that’s even true. In either case, Hurley brings Sayid back to the tent. Sayid’s beyond thrilled no one’s told Jack yet. Inside the tent, the woman reveals her name: Naomi. That’s not all she tells him. She tells him she’s part of a search and rescue crew. She tells him her ship is 80 miles offshore. She tells him the entirety of Oceanic 815 was found 4 miles underwater off the coast of Bali, with all bodies inside. She tells him she received a set of coordinates from Penelope Widmore: coordinates seemingly pointing to an empty spot in the middle of the ocean. She tells him that three days ago, she passed through a set of clouds and happened upon the Island.
Everybody got all that? Good. Now, spot the lies! It’s fun!
Sayid’s skeptical of her story, convinced that not only was her helicopter crash concocted, but that she probably has no way to communicate with her freighter. Annoyed at his skepticism, Naomi produces the satellite phone, and asks Sayid to remind her not to rescue him. Well played, Naomi. Sayid looks at the phone in the same way prepubescent boys look upon a newly discovered stack of adult magazines.
Locke leads Sawyer to a stream, where Sawyer soaks his aching feet. Shoulda put some shoes on after pity sex with Kate, James! He wants to know exactly what Ben is going to say to make him change his mind; Locke demurs, saying it isn’t his place. Sawyer then tries to pass off the murder charge on his rap sheet, saying he didn’t mean to kill THAT man. Locke stares at him blankly, and calmly asks whom he DID mean to kill. That shuts Sawyer up in a hurry.
The two finally reach their destination: the Black Rock. Inside, Locke tells Sawyer than Ben’s in the brig. While moving through, Locke explains its history to an amazed Sawyer. Upon reaching the brig, we see a man with a bag over his head. As Sawyer saunters in, Locke bars the door behind him, locking Sawyer in not with Ben, but Anthony Cooper. Pretty sneaky, John.
Sayid is examining Naomi’s phone. He tells Hurley it’s more sophisticated than anything he’s come across so far. While trying to make it work, Kate comes for the pair. After Hurley unsuccessfully tries to lie, Sayid asks Kate to keep what he’s about to tell her private.
Locke sits quietly while Sawyer bangs on the door. Rousseau enters the Black Rock, and the two have a small stare-off reminiscent of the one John had with Eko the first time they met inside the Swan. Rousseau tells him she’s looking for dynamite, and is oddly unconcerned with Sawyer’s banging behind Locke.
Inside the brig, Sawyer is still yelling. He threatens to shoot Locke through the door; Locke casually reminds him that were there any bullets in that gun, Sawyer wouldn’t have held him at knifepoint earlier. Cooper’s impressed despite himself, telling Sawyer he didn’t "raise no dummy." Yup, he tells James, that bald-headed boy’s my son.
Cooper reveals that a few days ago he was driving of his car outside of Tallahassee when out of nowhere, someone rammed into him and drove him off the road. Next thing he knows, he’s being taken into an ambulance, where one EMT smiled as he stuck the IV in his arm. Next thing Cooper knows, he finds himself in a dark room, gag in his mouth. The first thing he sees? His "dead" son. Sawyer’s confused by the "dead" comment. Cooper reveals that Oceanic 815 was found at the bottom of the ocean, giving a similar version of events to the one described earlier by Naomi.
After Cooper reveals that he threw his son out a window, Sawyer asks what made him do that. Now things start to pick up: Cooper starts telling Sawyer about the long line of cons he’s pulled over the years. He also states his various names over the years: Alan Seward, Louis Jackson, Tom Sawyer…whoa. Sawyer’s look completely changes in an instant.
He asks Cooper if he’s ever been to Jasper, Alabama. Cooper says he has. Sawyer pulls out the infamous note written as a child and makes Cooper read it. Cooper starts to read it aloud; eventually he realizes that Sawyer wrote it as a child. Cooper’s attitude is almost cavalier, all but egging Sawyer’s rage on. He tells Sawyer how his mother practically begged him to take her money and rescue her from her "sorry" life. Sawyer yells, "Finish it!" in regards to the letter. Cooper tears it in half. And right about then, Sawyer’s sanity snaps in half as well. He grabs a nearby chain, wraps it around Cooper’s neck, and strangles him to death. Holy sh$t.
Jack and Juliet are eating lunch on the beach. Kate comes and wants to talk to the doctor alone. As Juliet gets up to leave, Jack insists she stay. Kate thinks that’s super awesome. She gets them both up to speed on the Naomi situation. When Jack asks why no one told him, Kate bluntly replies that no one trusts him. Juliet says, "We should tell her," but Jack states that it’s not time. Boy, Jack’s kind of a big poopy-head in this scene. I mean, I get it now, but this scene still makes me kinda wanna sorta totally slap him.
Locke slowly comes into the room. He thanks Sawyer for doing what he couldn’t. Outside the Black Rock, Sawyer vomits. Locke tells him to go back, and that Juliet is a mole. He hands over the tape recorder, lifted from Ben’s tent, and offers it to Sawyer as evidence for the camp. He announces that he was never undercover, merely on his own journey. As he leaves, Sawyer asks him if Cooper’s tale of his son’s fall was true. Was John in fact a cripple? "Not anymore," replies Locke. Locke picks up his backpack, throws his father’s covered corpse over his shoulder, and with something approximating a grin, heads in the direction of Benjamin Freakin’ Linus.
8 Days Ago
We pick up where we last saw Locke: staring incredulously at his father in New Otherton. Locke asks Ben why he brought Anthony to the Island; Ben insists it’s all Locke’s doing. In the confusion, Cooper noms on Locke’s hand, providing the mysterious injury seen in "Left Behind." Tom tazes Anthony, closing the two of them inside the room. Ben tells John they are moving out the following morning to an "old place," and invite John to come along.
3 Days Ago
Locke helps Cindy erect a tent in an open field. Several of the Others look at Locke like he’s one of the Jonas Brothers. Cindy tells them they have been "waiting" for him. Tom tells Locke that Ben’s looking for him. When Locke arrives at Ben’s tent, he’s listening to the tape left by Juliet in the Staff. He nonchalantly explains his entire plan to Locke: infiltrate the Lostaway Camp and take the pregnant women. Wow, that’s…direct of Ben, isn’t it?
Locke hands Ben his walking stick: turns out Ben’s been on the mend ever since coming into contact with Locke. He wants to show Locke the mysteries of the Island…but according to him, Locke is still "crippled" by the memory of who he was before coming there. According to Ben, Locke brought his father to the Island in order to purge that last remnant holding him back. To truly be one of the Others, a gesture of "free will" needs to be made. In Locke’s case? That gesture is killing Anthony Cooper. So, not a competitive eating contest? OK then.
That night, Ben wakes Locke up. Rise and shine, John: time for some good ol’ patricide! Ben leads Locke to the ancient pillar upon which Anthony has been tied for some time. Locke grabs a knife from Ben; Mr. Linus then ungags Anthony. Anthony’s words get in Locke’s ear, calling him a coward as Ben urges Locke to kill his father. As the three argue, a crowd of Others slowly gather behind them. Ultimately, Locke can’t kill Anthony, much to the disappointment of those that gathered. "I’m sorry," Ben loudly announces. "He’s not who we thought he was." Locke makes his own walk of shame through the Others.
2 Days Ago
Locke unwraps the bandage from his hand to find it fully healed. Richard comes up behind him and introduces himself formally. As the two look down on the makeshift village below, Richard reveals that Ben set up Locke to fail the night before. He explains that Ben doesn’t want anyone in the group to think he’s special. When Locke asks why Richard would tell him all this, Alpert tells him that Ben’s been wasting their time with "novelties" such as "fertility experiments," when what the group really wants is a reminder that there’s a higher purpose to being on the Island.
Richard knows that Locke won’t kill his own father, but insists he needs to "go" if Locke is to achieve his true purpose. He hands Locke the red folder seen at the episode’s outset. Locke looks at the name in the folder incredulously: it’s James Ford. When Locke questions why Sawyer would kill Anthony, Alpert advises John to keep reading.
Locke wakes up to find The Others all but packed and starting to leave camp. He asks Ben what’s going on. Ben informs him that they are leaving without him. John’s confused; after all, isn’t he special? Ben says that everyone makes mistakes. Unless Locke follows carrying his dead father on his back, he shouldn’t even try to follow the trail they will leave for him.
16) The Mythology
Even though he’s on the sidelines for the majority of the episode, Richard Alpert hangs heavy over the events depicted. How so? Glad you asked!
1) He got the man from Tallahassee.
Ben ordered Richard to get Anthony Cooper a few episodes ago in "The Man From Tallahassee." Anthony might think he’s in hell, but it’s on a metaphorical one: he’s alive until Sawyer Princess Leia’s his Jabba neck inside the Brig. Richard and potentially a few others left the Island, went to Florida, ran him off the road, and took him back. The big question remains: did Richard leave during at the moment that we see Ben request it, or was Anthony already in custody?
All we know is that Anthony had to have been kidnapped within the last month of the show’s history. After all, Anthony knows about the falsified wreckage in the Sunda Trench, which was discovered two months after the Lostaways crashed landed. So either Ben previously ordered Richard to keep Anthony around as an anti-Locke insurance policy, or asked Richard to use a super-secret way to get off the Island pronto and get a constantly-watched Cooper right then and there.
Both options are equally probable, and I’m not going to really argue passionately about either. What’s important here is that Richard’s trusted as Ben’s right-hand man, to the point that various Island secrets unknown to other Others are intimately known by him.
2) He wants to reset the balance on the Island.
Watch Richard’s face after Locke refuses to kill Anthony. It’s disappointment, to be sure, but not for the reason you might think. I don’t think Richard is upset because Locke refused to kill his father; he’s upset because Locke failed to stand up to Ben’s false dichotomy. Why do I think so? Because of Ben’s knife.
I don’t want to get too overtly psychoanalytical here, but the knife is a phallic object. And the Island is earth, something connotatively associated with the female. Now, remember the two objects that Locke picked as a child that met with Alpert’s approval: a compass and a vial of granules: both elements tied to the earth in some fashion. They represent elements that are in a manner of speaking "alive." A knife can only bring death, and as such, cannot truly be used for proper entrance into the Island’s good graces.
Richard knows this, but cannot overtly act upon it anymore than, say, Ms. Hawking can literally make Desmond push Penny away or Ben himself can make Jack perform surgery. Ben’s talk of an "open gesture" of "free will" is correct, a half-truth like so many other things he says. But the proper gesture would be one of atonement or forgiveness, not violence.
To frame this all another way: killing Anthony serves Locke. Forgiving him serves the Island. Ben’s actions have served only himself, and Richard now seeks a selfless leader to reassert control. But as we’ve seen through Locke’s life, he’s still not quite ready to truly assume that mantle.
23) The Moment
I can’t breathe myself watching Sawyer finally attack the man that’s responsible for the person he is today.
42) In Retrospect
- I can’t help but wonder if Daniel Faraday’s notebook contains the equations that allow those satellite phones to ultimately communicate across the invisible boundary surrounding the island.
- I have a problem with the carelessness Ben employs in casually putting the tape recorder away. It’s so un-Ben, and for one of the few times in the last stretch of the season you hear the creaking of plot points being forced into place.
108) In Summary
The choking, claustrophobic nature of the brig itself calls to mind the last days of The Swan, in which the walls seemed to inch inwards, imperceptibly, until you realized you can barely move. Expansive jungle landscapes are purty (especially in high-def, Blu-Ray goodness), but watching Sawyer and Cooper go at it in a space barely able to fit them both comfortably is a true marvel.
And now: the stage is set. We’re going to the cabin, baby. Strap in.
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Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to join the all-new Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Twitter feed. Pretty soon he’ll have as many platforms as Lostaways have daddy issues.