NOVEMBER 6, 2010
AIRED: FEBRUARY 8, 2006
If memory serves, "The Long Con" was the beginning of the end for my mom, who was a big Lost fan at first. But she really hated this episode, and then when S3 started getting all weird, she gave up entirely. Thanks a lot, "Long Con". Now she watches shit like Criminal Minds. I'm not a big fan of the episode either; it's a marginal improvement over "Fire + Water", as there are some good moments sprinkled throughout (and Kim Dickens! Had a crush on her since Zero Effect), but overall the episode goes out of its way to make you hate two of the main characters.
Granted, Sawyer has always been the sort of guy you love to hate, but his dickishness goes above and beyond the norm here. It actually made more sense when he was doing it just to piss off Jack, but the whole "You stole my stash, waaa!" excuse in his big speech near the end just comes out of nowhere. If it was so upsetting to him, why is this the first we've heard of it? It should have been threaded over the past few episodes, but if anything he's been unusually charming and civil since he got back - helping Hurley with Libby, getting along with Jack, etc. And the thing that sets him off doesn't seem right either - Jack takes back the painkillers that "belong to the group". But since when did Sawyer have them in the first place? Jack's always had all the medicine, hasn't he? Wouldn't the painkillers have come up back when he was having headaches?
And then we have Charlie being his assistant, which also is both out of character and poorly written to boot. How did Sawyer have enough time to even think of this plan, let alone rope Charlie into helping him? Sun gets attacked two scenes after Jack takes the pills, and the lighting is about the same. It just doesn't work. It's also idiotic for Sawyer to take a Mary statue as a "reward" for Charlie - wouldn't Locke notice one was missing and automatically have a pretty strong suspect?
(Speaking of the statue, at least I have an answer to my question from yesterday's episode - Locke didn't break them because he was superstitious about breaking them. Fine. Compared to everything else in this episode, it's genius.)
Some other sloppy stuff too - Hurley says he found a manuscript in one of the suitcases. OK, they've been there almost two months now - they're STILL going through suitcases? What, do they limit themselves to one a day? Supplies, food, etc - all of these things are crucial to their survival (pre-Hatch), so why would they still be finding stuff? All of the suitcases would have been gone through and sorted within the first week, tops. Also, Ana Lucia makes a Scott/Steve confusion. Sure, it's funny, but how would she know about that? She came along long after Scott (or Steve) died.
I wasn't surprised to learn that this episode's writers, Leonard Dick and Steven Maeda, were responsible for very few (to be fair, otherwise good) episodes, writing only one more after this ("S.O.S.") before moving on to other shows. All of the writers have been responsible for clunkers, and there have been worse episodes, but this is definitely one of the sloppiest over the show's run. I was actually surprised to learn that they HAD written episodes before - at times it almost feels like fanfic. Interestingly, one of their episodes was "Adrift", which was supposed to be a Sawyer flashback and reportedly featured Kevin Dunn, who appears here. So perhaps it was partially recycled from there.
Luckily, that stuff is fine. I liked the "twist" in Sawyer trying to pull the briefcase trick in front of Cassidy, and the little ties to episodes past (Kate's mother is their waitress) and future (Cassidy and Kate eventually become friends) are well implemented. Still, the final scene only serves to make us further dislike Sawyer, but until that point it's a decent enough flashback. And again, I am a fan of Ms. Dickens, so I had no problem spending some time with her.
I also enjoyed the little "B" story of Hurley and Sayid trying to pick up a radio signal. They were paired very rarely, but Hurley's open and lovable nature made for a fun contrast with Sayid's stoic and silent demeanor. Also, it features one of several hundred Lost scenes where a character comes over to another and tries to make idle chit-chat with someone before the other character gets annoyed and asks what they want (there are two in this episode alone, plus a sort of third between Jack and Ana Lucia). Make a drinking game out of it! Well, if you're watching every episode back to back I guess. Otherwise it wouldn't really be much of a game.
Luckily, Ben shows up tomorrow. The season gets back on track after that.
Where are we?