So for the strandees, the flashes have stopped. For the rest of us, however, they are just (re)beginning. Question: are the 1977 scenes flash-back-forwards, or are the 1974 scenes flash-back-backs?
I'm guessing "LaFleur" will be a polarizing episode for Lost fans. It was chock-ful of the multiplying side characters, chronology that requires a slide rule, and dense history that make some people think Lost is a tease, an endless network of bottomless rabbit holes. Me, I can watch Dharma Initiative stuff until the second coming (of Locke, anyway), so I was in geek heaven with this one. The nerdiness, the cultiness, the microbuses—I love it all. Then again, I also liked the first part of season 3, and pretty much anything involving any hatch, ever, so take that with a grain of salt.
Before we get to the Dharma download, however, credit to Josh Holloway for a good character performance in what was a pretty mythology-heavy episode. While I thought it was a little heavy-handed to have the entire Horace-Amy story serve as a setup to the question "Is three years long enough to get over someone?" (answer: not if that person is a major cast member), it was a nice, sweet moment when Sawyer chided Horace about missing his baby's birth—especially given what we know about Clementine. He's so sensitive when he wears his glasses! (I hope Dharma was finally able to equip him with prescription lenses.) And I had always hoped Sawyer and Juliet would become a thing. Shame that's not likely to last.
I will give one thing, however, to the critics' of Lost's endless complications. One of the frustrating/challenging aspects of the show, five seasons in, is that not only do you have to remember events stretching through the show's history, you also have to remember which of the characters know what you know, and who has met whom. Thus I found myself straining to remember, for instance, how Sawyer knows Richard Alpert and how he knows the history of the Black Rock. (I may be blanking, but I don't recall Sawyer and Richard meeting in "Jughead"; he might have encountered Richard and the Black Rock around the time of "The Brig," but I don't recall and am not about to dig it up now, so those with superior Lost-fu are welcome to enlighten me in the comments.) Personally, I like the challenge, but I can see why people just give up after a certain point.
On to the hail of bullets:
* Can we / should we assume that Locke and the other Ajira survivors are also in 1977, separated only in space and not time from Sawyer and company? Or is that assuming too much?
* The Sawyer-Kate reunion might have been a tad more affecting had it not been given away in last week's spoileriffic preview. I have to remember to start avoiding those.
* Incidentally, while that may get most of the attention, for me the more touching reunion was Daniel's with child Charlotte—Jeremy Davies made his tortured loss mingle with joy at the slight glimpse of the girl he would eventually love.
* The baby. I assume there are theories out there already as to who it is, but I'm at a loss. Too young to be Ben (whose birth is already accounted for anyway), too male to be Charlotte (who appeared in the episode as a girl anyway)—but I can't think of anyone else purported to be born on the Island who would have been around 30 at the time of the Oceanic crash.
* For that matter, the fact that survivors of Oceanic 815 are now themselves figures in Dharma history opens any number of possibilities for how they could influence their own "future"—I'm too exhausted to think about it, but you're welcome to have at the possibilities.
* Favorite guest casting? Jimmy from Mad Men? Michelle from 24? Or Herc from FNL?
* One thing that's still a mystery about the Others is that, while Richard Alpert may not have changed, the Others/Hostiles definitely seem to change, as an organization. "Jughead" showed them as a tightly disciplined, militaristic outfit; this episode—at least with the murder of Amy's husband—made them seem more like a sadistic cult. (And what was up with their demand for Paul's body?) Later, they purge Dharma, but take on many of its trappings. Maybe the Others have a way of absorbing the attributes of whatever groups they encounter/destroy. But what are they originally, at their core?
* With Sawyer doing the heavy emotional lifting in this episode, Miles edged him in the sarcastic-remark sweepstakes by a nose, I think, particularly with the rant about the yo-yo-ing between the beach and the Orchid: "It's the only two plans you people have."
* What happened to keep Sawyer et al. from being shipped off by sub two weeks later? I sense this will be a future Lost Discussion Group question.
* And speaking of who knows what about whom: We know that Juliet joined the Others around 2001, but what did they tell her about their history? Does she know the Purge is coming—about 15 years from the "present," if my math is right—or do they leave that bit out of the Orientation film?
* We saw the statue! Check one item off the "promise kept" list—though I hope there is more explanation about the four-toed feet, someday, besides "They belonged to a really big eight-toed guy."http://tunedin.blogs.time.com/2009/03/04/lostwatch-that-70s-show/