Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2.13 The Long Con

Follow along! The episode guide for “The Long Con” is in Finding Lost, pp. 250-254.

Where the most recent Jack flashback was something I’d completely forgotten about, Sawyer’s flashback is one of the most important of his arc. We see how he not only pulled life-destroying cons on married women, but long cons on those who thought they could see right through him – namely, Cassidy. Later we’ll see Cassidy befriending Kate soon after Sawyer left her in the lurch, and then Kate reuniting with her after the rescue, and Cassidy’s child by Sawyer. We see the pain he’s in at the end of this episode, but that’s nothing compared to what he’s done to Cassidy. What seemed like a one-off flashback at the time that furthered the story of Sawyer taking the guns on the beach turned into something much bigger for the longer story of his character.

Fun things I noticed:
• This episode has always seemed a little odd to me. Coming on the heels of the practically useless “Fire + Water,” and also following the ominous:

Jack: You wanna form an army?
Ana Lucia: Count me in.
Jack: Let’s round ‘em up.
[Two weeks later] Ana Lucia: So, about that army… uh, I’ve been trying to round up people but the problem is…
Jack: What army? What are you talking about? I have patients to tend to.

Yeah, following THAT big cliffhanger that went nowhere, we have this one, where Sawyer pulls this long, elaborate con to declare himself Sheriff of Lostville… only for that storyline to kind of drop, and no one really treats him like a sheriff or cares about his guns or looks to him with any different eye than they did before.
• Sawyer’s banter at Charlie at the beginning of the episode is priceless: “Well, well, now look who had to relocate to the suburbs. Ain't that just like a woman? She keeps the house and you get the cheap-ass apartment. Man, I thought these people hated me, but I've got to hand it to you -- stealing a baby, trying to drown it -- now, that's a new low. You even made Locke take a swing at you. Hell, that's like getting Gandhi to beat his kids.”
• So, I was talking to these two women a few months ago (I think they may have been moms at my daughter’s gymnastics class or something) and they were talking about Sawyer and how he has really weird shoulders, and he should either work out more on his shoulders or he should stop appearing without a shirt. To which I replied: “He has shoulders?? I… didn’t notice. I must have been distracted by, uh…. *cough*” Do you think he has weird shoulders?
• When Sawyer goes outside and sits in the car, he counts to five, which is what Jack counted to when he was under stress and needed to let the fear in for five seconds.

Things that have new meaning:
• Gordy tells Sawyer, “You’re a con man. It’s not what you do, it’s what you are.” Again we have this moment where someone is told WHAT they are, and then they become that person. Just like Ben telling Sayid he’s a killer, here Sawyer is told he’s a con man, and it’s in his blood.
• Gordy orders a chicken salad sandwich, which is the sandwich Ben brings to Sayid the first time he comes to visit him in the jail cell. Probably no connection… it’s just me watching too much Lost.
• Sawyer says that a tiger doesn’t change his stripes, and he’s right. Even when he’s the big hero in S5, he’s still conning all of Dharmaville in the longest con of his life. The Cassidy con lasted a few months, but for over three years he convinces the people of Dharmaville that he’s someone he’s not.
• Hurley and Sayid sitting on the beach listening to the music – at the time, it was meant as a joke. But I’m sure now we’re supposed to watch that scene and assume an earlier timeline has accidentally cut in to Sayid’s short-wave radio signal, and we really are listening to a radio broadcast from the 1940s.


Gillian Whitfield said...

"There's a new sheriff in town, boys! Y'all best get used to it". That has a whole different meaning in season five.

I'm the person more known on here as Writing is my Passion. But I decided to go by my real name.

This is probably my favourite Sawyer-centric episode on Lost, followed closely by "Confidence Man".

The scene with Hurley and Sayid listening to the radio = priceless. It has a whole new meaning in season 5. The writers did (to quote Cassidy) their homework.

Another thing that Sawyer said "I'm not a good person Charlie, never did a good thing in my life". I can't help but think that that will be completely different from season 3 on.

Marebabe said...

Cassidy said, “Show me how to con people”, but she seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the basics already. Lots of people would be suckered in by the sight of all that cash spilling out of the briefcase, but she was immediately suspicious. And I loved Sawyer’s neat and tidy catchphrase: “It’s all in the details.”

Didja notice that Sawyer called Cassidy “Dimples”? Cute.

Remember how there were multiple clues in “Walkabout” that Locke had been paralyzed? And we (most of us) only realized it at the moment when we first saw Locke in his wheelchair? There were clues in this episode that Sawyer was running a con on the Island to get possession of all the guns, but I’m not devious enough to have recognized them the first time I saw this episode. And when Sawyer cast suspicion on Ana Lucia, it was just like when Locke cast suspicion on Sawyer for bashing Sayid on the head (when Sayid was trying to triangulate the radio signal).

I thought that Sawyer really, REALLY loved Cassidy right up until the very end. Even now, I’m only mostly convinced that he didn’t really love her.

On the DVD’s, I love the music that plays on the menu page for disc 4, with the lava lamp and all. I usually let it play thru at least a couple times before starting up an episode. And the worst DVD menu? No question, comin’ up on disc 5. That’s the one with the extreme static buzz of old fluorescent lights. That’s a sound that makes my teeth itch, so I mute the TV super fast on that one!

Erin said...

My Sawyer does not have weird shoulders. He is the perfect speciman of a man, and with a cute accent to boot. He can appear without a shirt pretty much whenever he likes, and I'll be happy!

PS: I have lots of other stuff to say about this episode, but my son's preschool meeting is in about 20 minutes, so I've gotta run...

Joan Crawford said...

"Gordy orders a chicken salad sandwich, which is the sandwich Ben brings to Sayid the first time he comes to visit him in the jail cell. Probably no connection… it’s just me watching too much Lost."

Haha! I love this! It is so true, I do this, too! "Jack, Sawyer and Ben have all touched their right ear 3 times since the beginning of the season - what could the connection be!? Why the right ear? Why three times, are we listening for a clue repeated three times?!"

Joan Crawford said...

@Marebabe - Sawyer calling Cassidy "Dimples" really took all the magic and sweetness out of him calling Kate "Freckles" for me. It was just another con - in fact, it seems when he is being "real", that he calls he calls her "Kate".

"Please" excuse "my" use of """"!

Marebabe said...

@Joan: I difinitely see your point. But here's another way to look at it: Consider that Sawyer bestows nicknames on everybody all the time. It's just what he does. And as Hurley will tell you, the nicknames are not always flattering, sweet, or endearing.

variabull said...

An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge (Alfred Hitchcock Presents/The Twilight Zone both Season 5)
Jacob's Ladder (film)
Valley of the Shadow (The Twilight Zone Season 4)

I'll never forgive the Time/Newsweek movie reviewer who spoiled my first viewing of "Jacob's Ladder" by mentioning "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" so I won't leave any plot details. A small touch of irony, Serling introduced it as a "film shot in France by others". Just see it, or wiki it, might be pertinent to Lost. "Jacob's Ladder" is an underated film that has a Jacob, a Sarah, and a Gabe...a hallucinogen (the Ladder), flashbacks,flashforwards,dreams,a book reference to a philosopher,a hospital, a mental ward, body parts, even blood spray on an aircraft windscreen. In the special features documentary the film's writer Bruce Joel Rudin considers the film as a modern interpretation of the Bardo Thodol/ The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The BT was intended as a guide through the experience the consciousness has after death, waiting for the next rebirth.

As for "Valley of the Shadow" its something I found after our discussion of "23rd Psalm" another possible reference. It also has a wikipedia entry. Check it out.

Can anyone else see Josh Holloway behind the wheel of a tan Firebird Esprit--Jimmy-Joe Meeker by way of Georgia--cue Mike Post theme music please?

So has anyone besides Rose and Aaron NOT RUN A CON on Lost. Who is running the longest con? Jack? "Loophole" Locke? Jacob? Or is it Lindelof, Cuse and the rest of the writing team?

Moonlight Serenade broadcast to you from WXR US Army Base Kodiak Alaska, 1945. Apparently those Looking Glass gals weren't very good at their jamming jobs. So is the broadcast taking a shortcut through a wormhole with one end at 1945 earth or is it taking the usual root taking 59 (51 if Jason Hunter is right) light years (and the Island is not exactly in the South Pacific). Faraday's rocket time dilation experiment suggested the Island was moving faster than the rocket. Is Jack listening to the same station when he hears Moonlight Serenade while stalking ex-wife ("Don't trust her") Sarah?

Seabiscuit said...

So Sawyer is behind the assault on Sun, instilling a heightened fear of the Others in her so that when they come to kidnap her (for the second time in her mind), she kills Colleen in a panic, and then in turn Colleen's husband Danny takes out his anger and grief on... Sawyer.

"It'll come back around", indeed.

Fred said...

The exchange between Locke and Jack at the beginning really sets up the episode. Notice John wants Jack to put the medicine into the locker. Jack takes the suggestion that Sawyer is stealing pain killers. But it could also be that John thinks Charlie is going to get desperate once he starts detox again (but Jack knows Charlie isn't using).
The exchange really highlights John's trust issues (as well as his inability to really see what is going on round him), and at the same time highlights Jack's need to retain control.(I see Locke's decline as beginning in trust issues, which then spiral into self-esteem, and finally anger/pessimism/loss of faith).

I keep wondering if the Others were watching all this over at the Pearl or in Mikail's cabin? I mean, Ben shows up shortly after this, and he zeroes in on Locke. He already knows Locke's weak spots, and I get the impression they might have been watching Sawyer's Long Con from the cameras in the Swan hatch.

In the flashback, although it's not shown did Sawyer kill Gordy? I get the impression he might have. Gordy threatened Sawyer and Cassidy. Or did he push things forward and con Cassidy before he had planned? I really don't know, and did that whole bit with Gordy really add anything? Also notice the picture of Sawyer and Cassidy, it reminds me of Desmond and Penny. Too bad he didn't take it with him.

One thing that keeps bugging me was why Sawyer made a bid for the guns? I think Sawyer realized things were getting out of control--Ana Lucia and Jack's wanting to raise an army; Locke's growing trust issues with Jack, Charlie and most anyone else. If things had continued, it's likely the beach community would have gotten dangerous. What was needed was a single authority figure, at least till things calm down. Taking the guns away reduces them all back, in Locke's early phrase, "to a scared bunch of people with sharp sticks."
You have to imagine that if Ben was watching all of this, he'd have been mighty impressed with Sawyer's ability to get people to do what he wanted, something Ben manages to do.

@Nikki: I don't think Charlie was using anymore (even Jack wasn't concerned with that, and he would be able to detect drug abuse). No, I think he really, really, really wanted to humiliate Locke. And he got his wish.

I was disappointed with this episode as concerns Sayid. He really didn't get much to do. At times the show is ensemble cast, and then it reduces to a small number of main characters, while the rest spin their wheels in the background.

As for Hurley's "time" comment to Sayid, I heard the executives had not wanted the show's creators to make any mention of time-travel--they didn't want the show labelled as sci-fi as it would lose audience numbers. Okay, but these were appranetly the brains behind suggesting the show be a series, not serial narrative, and more like a procedural. What!!! This episode, Locke will show you how to set up a rabbit trap. Next episode, Sayid will spend the entire airtime showing you how to build a radio from spare parts.

SonshineMusic said...

This is probably one of my top 10 Lost episodes (I have no idea what the other 9 would be so don't ask). I didn't even realize how much I liked it until I saw the episode title coming up and got super excited. I love the fact that we get this glimpse into Sawyer and how he has always been (in his own words) a "complicated man".

I believe that he did love Cassidy and I think that he only did what he did to protect her, not only from Gordy, but also from himself.

@marebabe: Didja notice that Sawyer called Cassidy “Dimples”? Cute

I caught that too and thought, awwwwwwww :)

@variabull: Or is it Lindelof, Cuse and the rest of the writing team?

Ah hahahahaha!

Correction to myself: re: earlier episode, Jack doesn't put the guns in the Hatch until this episode, which explains why he still has the key around his neck in said earlier episode.

John: "I'm superstitious." HA!

And we have further proof of Jack's eidetic memory! He remembers the combination when John lists it once - also, remembers the 'numbers' when Desmond tells him once - remembers them so well that he corrects Locke upon coming back into the Hatch.

I have always loved Sawyer's thirst for the written word. It really adds depth to his character. (insert picture of curling up with Sawyer on a rug in front of a fireplace reading aloud to each other........)

Where was I?

John: "I'm alphabetizing." HA!

And of course the classic Sawyer line, "This close to the high score on Donkey Kong." HA!

I like how John says, "an agreement you were about to violate." Did you notice Jack was looking for John when he comes into the Hatch? How does Locke know that Jack was actually going to violate the agreement?! They do have trust issues. And if the Others were watching this, they would definitely have been able to use this information for Ben to get in between them.

I love how Kate is really the only one on the Island who calls Sawyer out and pin points his exact problem - you know, about how he wants people to hate him.

Fred said...

@SonshineMusic: I like your idea Sawyer was trying to protect Cassidy from Gordy. It may well be true.

As to Locke looking through the the books, he was trying to find more footage for the film--still many edits indicate missing pieces.

tiasabita said...

I love this Sawyer-centric episode! Nikki, in your book you mention that maybe Cassidy knew all along about the con, that maybe she was the one conning Sawyer and to watch the episode with that opinion in mind. Wow, it sure could have been taken that way! When Sawyer jumped out of bed to get to that appnt the way Cassidy said, 'Ah, an appnt, riiiggght!' And then she just didn't seemed too freaked out by the briefcase full of cash! Oh well, I guess we know now that she was the connee! But I think Sawyer really DID love her and I agree with you, SonShine Music, that he did what he had to do to protect Cassidy from himself and Gordy. Maybe we'll see what really happened to Gorday in S6.

And I loved Hurley trying to cheer up Sayid with the radio and that in the end Sayid recognized the kind gesture. 'Put the lime in the coconut...' - guess Sayid wasn't up on his cheesy 70's pop songs!

I don't know about yall, but I don't know any 20-something guys (or any guys of any age) who can whip 700$ out of their wallet to buy crappy necklaces for their girlfriend's birthday!

And a couple other things I found odd - that Sawyer and Kate could hear Sun's scream in the jungle over the sounds of the rainstorm and the crashing waves. She had said to Vincent, 'What are you doing all the way out here?' or something similar that made me think she was not close to the beach. Maybe after she was attacked and escaped she ran closer, don't know. And also, as many times as someone has been followed/found in the jungle, why didn't anyone try to follow/spy on Sawyer to find the hidden guns? Yes, I agree with several of you that the 'new sheriff' story-line kinda fizzled.

Sawyer's shoulders look weird? Huh? What are those gymnastic moms smoking?

Susan said...

Seabiscuit re "It'll come back around" -- awesome analysis, I never thought that situation all the way through.

SonshineMusic I agree with your comment regarding John thinking Jack was breaking their agreement. John is so gullible he believed what Sawyer was saying and it never occurred to him that Jack would include him; this isn't the first -- or last -- time that John will believe someone who is manipulating him.

As for Sawyer, personally I doubt he had the good of the camp in mind when he took the guns. I don't know if Kate is right about him wanting people to hate him, but I've noticed that whenever he becomes more heroic and/or likeable, he soon reverts back to his old self (a tiger doesn't change its stripes). And not that this has to do with the story ROFL but he does have odd-looking shoulders.

Fred said...

@Seabiscuit: "It'll come back around." Don't know if that quite works, but I like the idea.

I mean, Sun learns it was Charlie and Sawyer who kidnapped her, so the kidnapping would instill a fear of her fellow survivors. As for Danny, he already had it in for Sawyer before his wife Colleen was killed by Sun.

But I like the idea of "it'll come back around." It's such a big part of LOST.

Ali Bags said...

My love for Sawyer knows no bounds but I agree with the pot-smoking gymnastic moms - he does have weird shoulders, they are rather sloping. However, I've always thought it's his face that makes him - those eyes....mmm......anyway, I thought Josh did a great acting job in this episode, turning on the charm and then turning to stone. It's not that easy to act like someone who's in love but pretending not to be in love pretending to be in love, if you get what I mean.

I do think the writers lost their way a bit in the middle part of season 2 - too many storylines that went nowhere. I imagine them all sitting around planning season 5, and someone saying 'Hey, remember when we made Sawyer the new sherrif in town and nothing came of it? Well, let's actually make him the Sheriff of Dharma!'

Anonymous said...

I'd forgotten how frustrating it was during this season to have one episode present what would seem to be a major plotline (army, sheriff, Charlie's hallucinations, etc..) only to have them all but forgotten the next week.

But it's nice to remember how awesome dark loner Sawyer was as opposed to the stereotypical "bad guy with a heart of gold" he eventually became.

Lovin' the rewatch!

SonshineMusic said...

@Ali Bags: I've always thought it's his face that makes him - those eyes....mmm

Yes, yes. Seriously! His eyes are so expressive. I actually made a note about that and then was coming back to post it this morning when I saw your comment. Love Josh Holloway's eyes!

Fred said...

@Seabiscut: My apologies. I went through Nikki's Season 3 book and found the appropriate episodes. Sun only learns of Sawyer's plans from the Long Con after the incident with Colleen. Now did the writers really plan this that way? Or was it just dumb luck? Anyway it makes for great storytelling, and still like that line,"It'll come back around."

One thing from Fire+ Water, dod Locke not want Aaron baptised? His line to Claire about baptism is quickly followed by the off-putting comments about Charlie wanting to save himself. In the end, both Aaron and Claire are baptised. Does this mean anything in the context of the LOST story. Locke sure has a lot of interest in kids, especially those with super powers, like Walt.

The Shout said...

I do think the writers introduced the whole raising an army 'plot' for a reason. Together with the stand off with The Others in The Hunting Party, it adds another layer of paranoia to the camp, which Sawyer is able to exploit. One of the main themes running through the second season is dissolution - Locke's faith, relationships in the camp and by the end the season, the splintering of The Losties around The Island - which again feeds into the paranoia and leaves The Losties open to Ben's manipulation.

Gillian Whitfield said...

@ Marebabe's first comment about the DVDs: I am the same. I love the disc 4 menu. I'm not too crazy about the disc 6 menu, either.

J.W. said...

I agree with Fred and think it's really funny to see Locke pouring through the books looking for more bits of film.

I also agree with Marebabe about the DVD menus. We go from really cool this week to really bad next week.

I think The Long Con is a really well written, wonderful episode that occurs at a time when the writers had no idea what the big picture was. They were leaving all these threads to expand upon later: "It's the lost footage from the orientation film!" "Let's form an army!" "There's a new sheriff in town!" But then instead of expanding upon these threads, they kept cutting them short and trying something else. In the next episode, they will finally create a thread that won't be aborted, though I don't think they knew what they were doing with that one when they started it either.

This episode, though, is good because it plays off the first season Sawyer flashbacks, has some fun twists and turns, and has lot of layers to it. After all, we're still talking about who conned who!

Anyway, onto the next episode, where I will start the "Ben" drinking game. Everytime Ben tells a lie, I take a drink. I will be playing with chocolate milk. If you play along, please don't use tequila.

Jenn said...

The Ben drinking game! Hilarious!

Al through this episode, I thought Sawyer would stop the long con. I was actually surprised when he followed it through. I'm not even sure if I wanted him to stop or not. (In stopping, he would have been able to run off with Cassidy, showing his ability to have compassion, but in following through he remains true to his nature.) Hm?

Marebabe said...

@J.W.: I love the idea of the drinking game. With five whole seasons behind us now, we've found out the truth of nearly all of Ben's statements. But what will you do if Ben says something and you're not absolutely sure if it's a lie? For example, I'm not sure of Ben's astrological sign. Is he, in fact, a Pisces? You've opened up a really fun can of worms!

Susan said...

Ben's birthday is supposedly in December so that makes him a...well, not a Pisces. I don't remember exactly how the December birthday was established, but I will check Lostpedia to find out.

Nikki Stafford said...

Marebabe: I believe his birthday is December 19, because we know that's the day of the Purge, and Ben's father wishes him a happy birthday right before Ben kills him. So he was lying when he said he was a Pisces. Interestingly, though... in the godawful Stranger in a Strange Land, Juliet is branded with a symbol that looks an awful lot like the Pisces astrological sign.

Anonymous said...

I have never liked Cassidy; she's not Sawyer's type at all - not sophisticated, glamorous or beautiful enough. And she has no problem with conning people; not because, like Sawyer, she's filled with self-loathing and regret, but because she wants something fun to do. Yeccch. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Sawyer's "daughter" turned out to be a con to get her money back.

Josh's shoulders could use some "beefing up," I agree. It would make his chiseled abs look that much tastier. Please note that Sayid's shoulders are already perfect. And I prefer dark eyes. :)

Nitpick: Locke, convinced that Jack is coming to get the guns, says that changing the combination won't keep him out of the armory. Um. Okay, why did he previously think that lock would keep everyone out and now it won't? That made no sense whatsoever. All he had to do was change the combination, then have a reasonable talk with Jack when he arrived. It was completely out of character for Locke to take someone else's word for what was going to happen and then freak out and panic.

SonshineMusic said...

@ J. W. the Ben drinking game! Love it! Maybe I should start a list.... Now THAT would be fun.

And ACK! If Ben's birthday really is Dec. 19th then that means my brother shares a birthday with him. This is even funnier because my brother loathes Lost and all things connected to it.

I was talking another coworker into watching Lost ("I'll lend you my DVDs!"). My brother overheard and hollered from the other room, "Stop ruining people's lives!"

Haha :)

Marebabe said...

@Susan & Nikki: Thanks for the December birthday info.

@Sonshine: The list is such a good idea, I wonder if Lostpedia already has a catalog of Ben's lies, constantly updated as more information has been revealed. And I feel really bad for your brother. If you're ever planning an intervention, you should be sure to let all of us know when and where. We can help! ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Marebabe: The list is such a good idea, I wonder if Lostpedia already has a catalog of Ben's lies, constantly updated as more information has been revealed.

If they don't, it would be an easy thing to put together. Simply go through each script and pull out every single line of dialogue he ever says. ;)

studiorose: Locke, convinced that Jack is coming to get the guns, says that changing the combination won't keep him out of the armory. Um. Okay, why did he previously think that lock would keep everyone out and now it won't? That made no sense whatsoever.

I agree with you COMPLETELY. I've never understood that. Jack's not some master thief; Locke argues that it would only delay Jack, but it could take him days to figure out the combo (while Sayid is torturing Locke on the side or something). We see Locke disassembling it, but you have to know the combo in the first place before you can do that.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with Josh Holloway's shoulders, although I will admit that I did think they were sloping the first time I saw him walk out of the water in Confidence Man. Then I realized, he has Body Builder shoulders. The muscles in his neck and the top of his shoulders are more developed than the average man because of the way he lifts weights. They are not as developed as the competition level body builders, but enough to give a slightly sloping look. My husband worked out with weights like Josh does, but he didn't do the exercises to build up the top of his shoulders that way. If you look at Swartzeneggar in is day, you'll see what I mean. So maybe Josh should work less on his shoulders instead of more and wait for those muscles to go away. Then he can look like everyone else.

Juanita's Journal said...

Do you think he has weird shoulders?

Yes. Josh Holloway has slopey shoulders. I've noticed for a long time. And yes, a shirt would better suit him.

As for "The Long Con", this is one episode that went no where. And Sawyer's complaint about people taking his stuff, after he left the island on the raft really annoyed me.

Juanita's Journal said...

I have never liked Cassidy; she's not Sawyer's type at all - not sophisticated, glamorous or beautiful enough.

Sawyer never struck me as the type who dated "sophisticated or glamorous" women. Especially since he was just a two-bit hustler before landing on the island.

Juanita's Journal said...

One thing that keeps bugging me was why Sawyer made a bid for the guns? I think Sawyer realized things were getting out of control--Ana Lucia and Jack's wanting to raise an army; Locke's growing trust issues with Jack, Charlie and most anyone else. If things had continued, it's likely the beach community would have gotten dangerous. What was needed was a single authority figure, at least till things calm down.

I don't buy this argument one bit. Sawyer conducted the con out of revenge for Jack taking his pills and for the loss of his other belongings to the castaways, after he left on Michael's raft. Sawyer wasn't trying to restore some kind of balance. He was being his usual, vindictive self. And personally, I thought it was one of the most stupid acts he had ever committed.