Lost - Season Six, Episode Eight - Recon
Written between 9th and 10th February 2013
Recon, more than ever, makes an effort to mirror its Season One counterparts, "Confidence Man" and "Outlaws". Sawyer is one of the more interesting of the original cast, not just because he's tall dark and handsome but because he's someone who undergoes a noticable character arc in which he becomes a better person. He just hits all of those archetypal "bad boy" hero traits, and in Season Five he becomes a better protagonist than Jack is. There was the small, thorny issue of the flash-sideways becoming increasingly less relevant when played out on our original characters, but I'll get to that.
After the Temple Massacre, the Man In Black sends Sawyer over to Hydra Island on a reconnaissance mission, aware that Charles Widmore has arrived. Kate meets Claire, finding her replacement baby doll and starting to get worried. Claire attacks Kate and tries to kill her, and with Sayid watching on, MIB is forced to intervene. Sawyer discovers the Ajira aircraft intact, and follows a trail to find a pile of dead passengers from the aircraft. Seeing someone running through the woods, he meets a woman named Zoe who claims to be the last survivor. He sees through her ruse, and Sawyer is cornered by Widmore's team. MIB talks to Kate and claims that his mother was crazy, and that now Aaron has a crazy mother. Sawyer talks to Widmore, and promises to lead MIB right to him in exchange for passage off the island. While he pretends to be loyal to Locke, he reveals to Kate that he plans to let the two sides fight it out while he steals the submarine.
In the flash-sideways, we see Sawyer carrying out his trademark con, only to find himself surprised when his victim is another conwoman, carrying a gun. He says a codeword and it's revealed that in this Universe he's a cop, albeit one that has still been following the trail of the conman that killed his parents. His co-worker Miles sets him up on a date with Charlotte, where she is apparently impressed and they sleep together. Looking for a shirt the morning after, Charlotte accidentally finds Sawyer's case files on the death of his parents, and he snaps at her - he's been searching for Anthony Cooper for most of his adult life. He watches an old romance film, and decides to go over to Charlotte's to apologise. She dismisses him, telling him she blew it. Revealing all to Miles about his past, they get caught in a police chase and the villain Sawyer apprehends turns out to be Kate.
Usually, it's alright if an episode's flashbacks/forwards/sideways aren't 100% captivating. You can always miss them and not be any worse off the next week, because it's always gonna be the main plot that's more important. The Flashsideways are different, and the problem this week didn't come from bad acting, or a choice that later down the line won't make sense, but mostly from sheer boredom. Sawyer is a great character, and I absolutely love a lot of his backstory, but it's something we've seen so many times before. It's like... I'll hop fandoms for a second, it's like the repetitive nature of the various companion introductions in Doctor Who. Ooh, wow, Tardis is bigger on the inside. Moffat has had to make it more interesting because it's something we've got to get through, but it's not really very interesting. The same is true of having to re-learn Sawyer's backstory, which is pretty tedious when Flash-Sideways Sawyer is pretty much indistinguishable from our main storyline Sawyer apart from the fact he's a cop instead of a conman.
That was an odd thing, really, when over in the main storyline so many damn-important things happened that weren't really treated as that big of a deal. The death of all of the Ajira passengers is never actually explained; the official explanation is that Widmore's team did it, but I don't really see the motivation nor the will for Widmore to kill that many innocent people. We got to sort out Kate and Claire's thing, we got to see Sawyer's plans in motion, we had nods to MIB's backstory... all this stuff happened and it never felt framed by anything meaningful. Sorta like the series groaning under its own weight, just trying to move the plot along another few inches.
I did ultimately enjoy Recon, despite all the crap I've said about it. Sawyer is always gonna be an enjoyable character to watch, and the episode also allowed us to take a look at a lot of our characters in some very different lights. It's a penchent for quiet character moments that the series won't be able to maintain, as we slide slowly towards the finale in nine episodes' time.