Wow. That was an amazing episode. For those of you who haven't figured this out about me by now, I focus more on the storylines and character development than anything else, more than any individual scene or any clever editing trick. With that being said, it's about time that we put the mysteries of the island on the back burner and spent large quantities of time with a central trio of characters (Sawyer, Juliet, and Horace). Now, I don't particularly enjoy Josh Holloway's acting (I've analogized him to Christian Bale's "Batman voice" in the past, and I'm standing behind that), and some of his deliveries were just too "I have a gruffly voice and therefore have authority" for my taste. But it was the actual execution of this episode -- switching between Three Years Earlier/Later -- that really made his transition into the sheriff (with a gruffly voice) interesting.
Daniel: The best shot of the episode has to go to Daniel watching Amy mourn the loss of her husband, Paul. She is crouched over his dead body in the grass, a visual mirroring Daniel's recent mourning of Charlotte. The reason this shot was so heartbreaking was, one, it only lasted a second or two, and two, Lost put Daniel in the background instead of closing in on a close-up of his sad eyes. (And boy, Jeremy Davies has some sad eyes.) For once, Lost wasn't hitting me over the head with its visual metaphors. It was an honest scene, and one well-played by Davies. As for Daniel seeing the little red headed Charlotte... it's 1974, but didn't Ben mention that her birthday was in the late 70s? That red-headed child is around four years old. So unless that child is jumping through time (which is actually possible, hmm), she is just a red herring.
Sawyer/Richard "Eyeliner" Alpert: This exchange was particularly interesting because Sawyer lies to Horace and the others in the Dharma Initiative about how he and his people got to the island. (Of course, Sawyer's the boat captain...) He explains they were looking for the Black Rock -- which is where he killed Locke's father (a surrogate for the real Sawyer that James Ford wanted to kill) -- which is probably where Horace gets his dynamite for the alcohol-induced explosive Three Years Later opening. This lie aside, I find it very telling that Sawyer uses the truth with Richard. He explains that it was the Hostiles (as the Others were known to the Dharma Initiative) who broke the truce by killing Paul and putting a bag over Amy's head. (Technically, Sawyer says that the truce hasn't been broken because he's not part of the Dharma Initiative, but I think the implication is that the Hostiles originally broke it.) He mentions John Locke by name, and poof, Richard has built a foundation of trust with Sawyer. But the reason why this scene makes me so sublimely happy is... finally -- FINALLY -- we have characters who TALK to one another and ask questions. No more of Juliet evading questions. (It still really annoys me that Ethan shot Locke in the leg, and Locke didn't have the chance to explain that to anyone.) No more of Jack neglecting to ask questions in the first place. (His initial meeting with Mr. Friendly, back before we knew his name was Tom, brings back anger.) Richard actually asks, "If you're not Dharma, then who are you?" Although Sawyer doesn't mention that he's a time-traveler from the future (it would be pointless to argue that truth at this point), he does give Richard a fair understanding of why he's on the island. He pretty much said, "Your messiah? Yeah, I'm waiting for him too," and that was all that needed to be said.
Sawyer/Juliet: I love Juliet; I really, really do. But let's be honest. She is written in the exact same way as Kate. This love quadrangle is beyond absurd. One, Jack and Sawyer are just recycling these women. (And how is Kate going to explain to Sawyer that she had sex with Jack right before they left for Guam? Hmm?) And two, Juliet is being forced into relationships for the sake of the masculine narrative. (And yes, I am of the thought that the patriarchal code of cinema is still relevant to modern televisual narratives. This is a male-driven show, and the women only exist to support the male characters' storylines.) With that being said, Juliet is intelligent and cautious. While it does make sense that after three years, she would develop a relationship with someone at the Dharma compound (let's not forget she was "the other woman" with Goodwin back in the day), did it have to be Sawyer -- and did it have to progress to the point where they were saying "I love you" to one another? And again, that scene proves my earlier point about it being a masculine narrative. Yes, this episode is Sawyer-centric, but Juliet's character is used at the expense of Sawyer's. The "I love you" scene was meant to demonstrate that he no longer has feelings for Kate... but what about Juliet? Was her brief relationship with Jack little more than a way to pass the time? Juliet's become the island whore -- and it's absolutely, entirely unbelievable. Cruse and Lindelof, I beg you. Please stop pairing her off when it makes no sense for her character to be with someone.
Enough of that rant. I thought it was sweet that -- with his alias "LaFleur" meaning flower in French -- Sawyer gave his homemaker hippie lady Juliet a sunflower. I do like the two of them together (honestly, I do!). I just wish that the previous relationship entanglements didn't previously occur.
Sawyer/Kate: Boring. I was SO angry at the last three minutes of the episode. So unbelievably angry. Lost gives me an excellent episode and then does the top three things that piss me off about the show, all within three minutes. One, Sawyer gets a phone call from Jin that Hurley, Jack and Kate have been found. Does he tell Juliet? Of course not. Sharing information is frowned upon on Lost. Did it even occur to Sawyer that Juliet might want to know that Jack is back? Two, when Sawyer sees Kate, Lost pulls the only heart-tugging trick it knows. No talking. No ambient sound (not even of the waves or the wind!!). Same few notes playing over the images. Extreme close-ups on faces. Boring. Boring. A thousand times boring. This has never -- not ONCE in the history of Lost -- brought tears to my eyes. Stop. Doing. It. And three, Kate is still alive. I know, I know. She's not going to die. (And I know that they won't ever kill her character, but until they write her better, I'm going to continue to wish that she dies.) So... Sawyer tells Horace that he's forgotten Freckles's face. (Lie.) Sawyer tells Juliet that he loves her. (Most likely true.) And then at the very thought of Kate coming back, he lies to the woman he loves, leaves her on the bed, and goes to a romantic cliffside to reunite with the woman he claims to have forgotten? No. It belittles Juliet as a love interest. It denies me the ability to ever take Sawyer seriously in a relationship. And it just makes me want Kate to die.
Horace: But I said that I enjoyed this episode, so let's get back to some of those reasons. I don't think that Lost is interested in explaining the Dharma Initiative, but I do think that they are going to explore some of this group's missions through living with them in the present. The D.I. is more like a backdrop for the events that happen on the island, not the other way around. The island is the real mystery, and the D.I. were just a bunch of scientists who inhabited it for a while. Because of this, Lost will only provide a few more answers about them -- mostly revolving around Ben and the upcoming Purge -- but other than that, the primary focus is on the island and the Others. If you remember, we first saw Horace back as the welcoming committee for the young Ben and his father, Broots. (According to Kristin at E!, we're going to see more of the young Ben in a four-episode arc. Huzzah!) But in that earlier episode, which is later than our current time, Horace isn't married to Amy. So what happens to Amy? (My guess is that she dies, and I suspect that it's due to a double-crossing nature of hers. There was something eerie about the way she led our Losties through the sonic fence and pulled out her ear plugs. I don't trust her.) But I did enjoy the Horace-Sawyer exchanges, and I think these two actors worked really well off one another. I found a mutual respect in those scenes, and I hope we see them again in the future.
The statue: Finally, we get to see remnants of an ancient society again. Judging by Paul's ankh necklace, the hieroglyphs on the Temple, and the statue's skirt, this was most likely an Egyptian civilization, which makes sense considering their location. And the statue was probably Anubis. Blah, blah, blah. You know, for someone who loves Greek and Egyptian mythology, this aspect of the show just isn't that interesting to me.
All in all, a very enjoyable episode. I'm happy that we got to see more character development... even if the episode did end on a faux reunion of unrequited love between Gruffly Voice and the Girl Who Just Won't Die.