Apr 22 2010 12:04pm

Lost Round Table: “The Last Recruit”

Bloggers Bridget McGovern, Theresa DeLucci and Rajan Khanna are back yet again for this week’s Lost round table discussion for the episode, “The Last Recruit.”  Jack! Smocke! Desmond! Hell, everyone was in this one. As usual, spoilers and links after the jump.

Theresa: So we spent a whole episode making Hurley into a leader and he backs down before the title card even comes up on this episode? Lameness.

With Hurley fading into the scenery and Jack being all wishy-washy about what to believe, Sawyer once again steps up. If Jack is (or was) a man of science and Locke a man of faith, Sawyer’s a man of action. Loved that “get off my boat” scene. Sawyer makes a decent plan when it’s needed and sticks to it. Or at least he did tonight. Or at least until Widmore double-crossed Sawyer’s double-cross. Why call off the deal? What’s Widmore playing at? There’s just so much going on all over the Island and in the other reality that sometimes I can only nod my head and go, “Okaaaay... so everyone’s going along with this now.” If I’m feeling my allegiance constantly shift from scene to scene, imagine how clueless those redshirts in the MIB’s camp must feel. And they live on Craphole Island.

How can anyone trust a word from the MIB’s mouth? That beatific smile is never to be trusted. It’s also getting a bit grating because the MIB tells everyone half-answers that never feel very satisfying. And if the first volley was made in this great war between him and Widmore, it didn’t have a lot of weight because of that.

Does anyone believe for a second that Sayid executed Desmond? Maybe he left him in the well though, similar to the way Sideways-Sayid left Jin in the restaurant’s freezer, but gave him a boxcutter. If anyone can appeal to the shred of love and decency in a jaded Sayid, it’d be Desmond. Or Hurley.

I want to believe that this story will have an ending worthy of its beginning, but I hate to say it, but I’m feeling a tiny flutter of BSG Finale Syndrome. There’s so much going on and so little time left.

Bridget: I agree, Theresa: I’m a bit nervous. In general, this episode seemed really off to me—it felt mechanical, like watching someone set up a high-stakes game of Risk for an hour. As we approach the final episodes, such positioning is clearly necessary, but the plotting and several performances seemed workmanlike at best, and some of the dialogue was lamentable. Case in point: we finally get the momentous Sun/Jin reunion that the show has been teasing out for approximately a thousand years: the music swells, and there’s laughter-huggy-tear-kissing…and then ol’ Chesty Lapidus intones, “Looks like somebody got their voice back.” And killed the moment deader than Christian Shephard.

Seriously—why do the writers hate Jeff Fahey? Did he steal someone’s parking space? The man only gets about a dozen words an episode, and somehow he ends up with the schmaltziest hunk of cornball dialogue this side of Seventh Heaven? What gives?

I’m still a sucker for a good Star Wars reference and Miles’ attachment to the term “jabonies,” and lord knows I can’t get enough of Mr. Burt Reynolds, but I expect a little bit more from Lost. I’m going to be totally irrational and blame Zoe, because—let’s face it—she’s awful. Sheila Kelley delivers lines like she just sustained a head injury, and she seems to be channeling some sort of low-rent Tina Fey-meets-rabid, wild-eyed bandicoot vibe, with a hint of Garth from Wayne’s World thrown in. I say we elect her scapegoat, kill her off as quickly as possible, and hope for the best. Who’s with me?

Maybe I’m just irritated that Hurley’s moment in the sun was eclipsed so quickly, and we’re back to the familiar Jack/Sawyer power dynamic. As long as we’re focusing on Jack, though, is it fair to say that he’s the only character in the Sideways world that really seems content—not perfectly, rapturously happy, maybe, but solidly content? Logic would indicate that they’re setting him up to have the most to lose if Earth-2 goes away, right? How else to explain the episode’s repeated insistence on his positive relationship with “David,” Jack’s very own emo Opie...that can’t end well, can it?

As for probably-not-dead Desmond, I find it interesting that Widmore’s people seem to want to keep his presence on the Island a secret, referring to him as “something” and “it.” I wonder if there’s any intentional parallel here between Desmond “The Package” Hume and Smocke, who is often referred to as “That Thing” and as a What, rather than a Who…

Rajan: I felt very underwhelmed this episode. I think Bridget got it right when she said it felt mechanical. And count me in on the BSG finale nerves along with everyone else. I feel like they’re taking the same approach, which is to figure out what you want to do at the end, then spend most of the season leading up to it moving people around. Only you can’t move them too quickly, because you have episodes to fill, so much of it seems like treading water. Oh, yes, they throw us a few answers here and there, like Smocke being Christian (which I found disappointing), but even those seem mechanical. Items to be crossed off the to-do list. Much like the whispers were explained last episode.

I also felt the same way about the Sun/Jin reunion. It lacked a great deal of weight. And while I agree that Lapidus’ line was lame, I thought Jin’s “We will never be apart again” line to be so much worse. This season of Lost has had more soap opera melodrama than any other.

And what’s with all the backpedaling? Theresa already mentioned Hurley. Then there’s Jack who decides he wants to be a follower after choosing to be a leader just an episode or two ago. Of course he corrects himself leaving him with Smocke. This makes the thing about Jack as the new Jacob seem much more likely. Especially as Jack doesn’t want to leave. But I was thinking as the episode opened that as much as I dislike Jack, there was a time when I would have enjoyed watching him and the real Locke interacting. This new configuration, not so much.

Nothing really seemed to sing here. Claire’s supposed switching of sides seemed convenient and clumsy. Sun’s reversion to English didn’t quite pay off her forgetting it in the first place. Sayid’s whole waffling bit seemed forced. And where the hell is Richard? On the other hand, the Earth-2 storyline was much more enjoyable, mostly because everyone was coming together and they seem to be leading toward...something. But still, it feels like they are running out of time.

I hope they really pull out the stops moving into the finale because I felt this was kinda weak sauce. C’mon, Lost, I know you have better in you. If you’ve been saving it up, now’s the time to let it all out.

Fun Lost Links:

Viva, Lapidus!

Volcanic Ash Cloud Turns Out to Be Finale of Lost

Lost-themed iPhone backgrounds

It's the Hatch! It's a cake! It's the best birthday ever!

Lost Untangled” recaps starring Puppet Pierre Chang  (and his Facebook page)

The Lostpedia Party Planner

Lost Tarot Cards

Theresa DeLucci is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in Chizine. She’s eagerly awaiting the return of True Blood. Well not so much the whole show, but at least Alexander Skarsgård in a tank top

Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and his fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Shimmer, GUD, and Steampunk Tales. He lives in Brooklyn with his two cats, Chloe and Muppet.

Bridget McGovern is a lit nerd, a film geek, and a complete pop culture junkie. She enjoys David Bowie, roller coasters, and the scintillating oeuvre of Burton “The Bandit” Reynolds more than anyone probably should.

1. trench
Im wondering, do you 3 even like this show? Because that episode was pretty good. It wasnt my favorite ending but at least we had lots of movement from the characters. We didnt have to just focus on one persons pov from earth-2. Maybe you all should move on to a new show.
Jennifer B
2. JennB
Sayid definately did not kill Desmond. The vacant look in his eyes was gone after he got back from the well. Sayid is back!

(I don't know how Naveen Andrews did it. I almost wonder if he had been wearing some sort of contacts as evil Sayid.)
Curtis Mortensen
3. mathrik
I have to agree with #1. I loved that episode, but all I'm reading in this roundtable is "Please don't end like BSG. Please don't end like BSG." There was a lot going on with all the characters and both universes are picking up momentum as we move toward a convergence.
Bridget McGovern
4. BMcGovern
If anything, I'm wondering if I'm *too* invested in the show at this point--I'm sure a lot of other people feel this way as well. Expectations are so high that the fear of eventual disappointment looms unusually large. As I said, positioning needed to happen--I just think it could have been handled more effectively.

@trench, I agree that the shift in focus was a welcome change, and there were plenty of other positive elements in the "The Last Recruit," but this was one of the weaker episodes of the season (and possibly the series), in my opinion. That said, all we want is a conclusion that lives up to show's usual high standards. Lost is still the greatest thing on television right now--I think we all just want to see it go out with a bang rather than the proverbial whimper.

@Jenn B: I know!!! I thought the treatment of Sayid was one of this week's high points. I enjoyed the parallels between Sawyer's assumptions about him on the Island and his characterization of Earth-2 Sayid as a "bad guy" before arresting him. We know that the reality is more complicated than that for Sideways Sayid, which helps undermine the idea that he's gone irrevocably over to The Dark Side by joining up with Team Smocke. (The Anakin exchange was amusing, but Hurley brings up a good point, right?)
5. rogerothornhill
@ Velocipede Woman: Yes many of us do have far too much invested in this show, and in this last phase it can never live up to all our expectations. Shows that are just starting (e.g., Glee) can potentially be anything their fans want them to be, and shows that are *just* genre exercises (e.g, FlashForward) we don't hold to as high a standard. This is a once or twice a decade sort of thing.

Yes yes yes far more than "What Kate Does," this was by far the most disappointing episode of this final season, because so much was happening in terms of the overall arc and it was so horribly bungled. They assigned it to third-string screenwriters because Darlton and Sarnoff can't write everything and this was the result.

Good narratological symbology read on Sideways Jack there, but y'all should lay off on the Zoe-hating: mark my words, feral temp is the new geek.
6. Alfvaen
I liked the Earth-2 plotline, with everything beginning to connect, but the island was a little weak. Also, why was it nighttime when Locke went off to talk with Jack, but daytime when they came back?

Also, who is "The Last Recruit"? Is it Jack, coming over to Smocke's, or Claire, getting "on board" with Sawyer? Neither of them quite seems to fit.

One wonders whether Claire came over to Hydra with the others just so that she can get shot so they know Widmore means business. She's expendable in a way the Candidates are not. Does Widmore know about the Candidates?
Dave Thompson
7. DKT
Wow, I'm stunned. I loved this episode. Not as much as the last couple, but I really thought the pace crackled. When FLocke said to Jack. "It's okay. You're with me now" and LOST went up on the screen, I thought "ALREADY?!?" I was just along for the ride.

I'm not sure I really buy into MiB being Christian Shephard, although I wouldn't be completely surprised. But Christian Shephard showed up on the freighter to "dismiss" Michael, and he showed up in Jack's hospital after they left. And MiB isn't supposed to be able to move across the water without some kind of transportation. So something feels off there.

I'm also not sure Hurley's done leading and I expect his role in the endgame to be a big throughout the rest of the season.

Rajan, you really think this is the soapiest of all seasons? I mean, I know you were let down by Sun losing her English, but don't you remember season 3? The Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle has faded so much into the background it's difficult to even see. It's still in play a bit, sure, but there's no pretty dresses from Ben or cage sex voyeurism.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it was the best episode of the season by a long shot, but I thought it did exactly what an episode at this point of the season should do, and it rip-roared along.
Theresa DeLucci
8. theresa_delucci

I love this show! It's probably the only show I've ever skipped out on social events to watch live. For six years! Like Bridget, I'm probably too invested in this show. For me, I care about the characters, not so much the mysteries. And I agree with Raj that there's a bit of an answer checklist going on. It's fine; other people want to know about Christian's ghost, etc. but I don't care much about Jacob's rules. (Though I will say I *did* want to know some of the bigger stuff, like what was the monster and what was up with those lottery numbers. Both of which were answered in a great way.) I want to see if Sayid will be redeemed, if Hurley will become confident, will Desmond and Penny be safe?

Maybe if we get some more background on the MIB and Jacob, I'll feel differently.

I've actually been enjoying the sideways universe more than the Island stuff because the people are the focus and the Island connection is an unraveling mystery.

And yeah - I liked Sayid in this episode. Especially since he most likely did not execute one of the show's best characters!
Theresa DeLucci
9. theresa_delucci
@ rogerothornhill
Agreed on many counts. We've only been doing the round table since season 5. If this was season 1 or 2 or the back half of 3 and most of 4 - well, every post would be "Holy Frack! I love this show soooo much!" (Um, except for boring Jack and Kate episodes.)

This episode just felt off to me. Like it was written by new writers. I even checked the credits again to see if it was directed by someone really random. Like Mario Van Peebles. But it was directed by the guy who did "Ji Yeon," which I thought was a cool episode, even though some people found it manipulative. (For a reminder, that was the one where Sun was giving birth in a flash-forward and Jin was running to a delivery room in the past.) The guys who wrote this episode also wrote "The Package" which we all loved.

@6 Alfvaen
Yeah, I have no clue who the last recruit was, but I guess I'm going with Jack. I mean, he jumped off a boat to get back to the MIB's camp.

I actually miss some cage sex. Even if the love quadrangle thing between Jack, Kate, Saywer, and Juliet got to be a bit much in places, it made me feel like these characters had richer lives. Nowadays, everyone's got Jacob-related stuff on their minds, which granted is really a life or death situation, but we're not watching any relationships grow, as friends, as lovers. It was moments like that that made me love Lost in the first place.
Dave Thompson
10. DKT
@ theresa_delucci: I can kind of understand that. I don't miss that particular arc, but I miss Juliet a lot - I really warmed to her in the last season and the relationship she had with Sawyer.

I do think relationships are happening, though. Jack's son (more in the Lighthouse episode than this one, where he seemed to put his daddy issues behind him - I did laugh at the Opie comment). And I think love itself is a very powerful motivator for most of the characters on the show: Sayid, Desmond, Richard...Jin and Sun were just reunited. But I understand a lot of that is shadowed by the MiB/Jacob relationship/conflict.
Richard Fife
11. R.Fife
My thought when I first saw this episodes' "Previously on"

Otherwise, I'm in the camp of Earth-2 being interesting, Island being fairly annoying.
12. Mndrew
Lost is Jeff Fahey's punishment for "Lawnmower Man 2".
Theresa DeLucci
13. theresa_delucci
Jack truly makes the best faces.

Loving the Jeff Fahey appreciation. I can't wait until Machete finally releases. Reading his IMDb page, I had no idea he is a trained ballet dancer and travels to Kabul to visit the orphanage he supports. Lost is totally underusing him. I demand a Lapidus interpretive dance.
Rajan Khanna
14. rajanyk
Lapidus is a great example of how I feel the characters are just being positioned. If he turns out to fly the plane off the island in the end, then it will just seem like they decided to keep him around until then without doing anything with him. I know they have a ton of characters, and I know I'm one of the people yelling for developments with the main cast, but it feels like people like Lapidus are just, as others mentioned, wasted. And it makes them feel like cardboard cutouts at times. Hell, Sun was a cardboard cutout for a while until her episode came along. That's why I was happy to see Ilana go boom - she wasn't serving any purpose and just taking up screen time. I don't want to see Lapidus go the same way, but I wish there was a way to manage so large a cast in a better way. Shows like Mad Men and The Wire do it well, IMO. Lost, at least in this season, hasn't been doing as well as I would like.
Rajan Khanna
15. rajanyk
Oh, and for the record, I love the show, too. It's one of my favorites of any TV show, ever. But you're always hardest on the ones you love. And I've come to expect a lot from Lost because they've shown they can do so well. There are some shows I can lean back and enjoy without worrying too much or being overly critical. They're enjoyable and that's enough. But Lost has never been one of those because, in a way, it's always been so much more.

That being said, there were still a lot of moments about this episode that I loved. Seeing Sayid shake off his zombie state was great. Miles and Sawyer smoking out Sayid on Earth-2 was great. There were others.

@DKT - With the soap opera stuff, I know they've played with the love triangle or quadrangle thing before, but this season has had more bedroom scenes and cleavage shots and lines of dialogue that are supposed to be romantic but just seem forced to me. On the other hand, they've had a few episodes about love that I thought were handled really well. So I guess it's just that those moments stick out.

Incidentally, as Sun and Jin are running toward one another, the fence is right between them, where they are going to meet (probably an intentional framing choice), but part of me was thinking that they would both get blown apart by the fence.
Dave Thompson
16. DKT
@rajanyk: I could point to Shannon in a bikini and Kate bathing in her underwear from season 1, but fair enough. I'm with you in that I'd prefer the show be less cheap with that kind of stuff.

I do agree that Lapidus has been totally wasted this year, and it drives me nuts, because he was well used in the last couple seasons. It's interesting - he seems like one of the very few characters on the island with no baggage/guilt/need for redemption.

I did think Sun and Jin were going to get fried there. I guess Zoe ordered the fence be turned off, but that shot really was poorly put together.
Theresa DeLucci
17. theresa_delucci
Yeah, instead of watching them run to each other with swelling music, I was waiting for Jin to get within five feet of her and have his head explode Scanners-style. Which would have been completely cruel, but also kind of hilarious in a Whedonesque way.

Maybe everyone likes Lapidus because he has no baggage. He's just a conspiracy nut along for the ride, in way over his head, and the kind of guy you want to kick back and share some skunky Dharma beers with.

Also - I stand corrected. The Island does in fact have a runway. The Ajira flight just narrowly missed landing on it. The Others built it. So Lapidus flying them off the Island is plausible. But I still feel like the submarine would be safer, with the right bearings and all.
Dave Thompson
18. DKT
I definitely think that's at least part of the reason people like Lapidus. He seems like a genuinely decent guy who wants to do the right thing and help out. I hope he makes it, although I'm fully expecting him to get killed.

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