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Lostwatch: The Long, Long, Loooong Con

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I’m going to dispense with the usual Spoiler Alert on this post, because damned if I can think of any information in last night’s Lost that would qualify.

We learned that, if you screw with people’s heads–Benry Gale conning Sawyer, Jack exploiting Juliet’s resentment of Benry–you gain power over them. Very meta, that. That’s pretty much what the entire series of Lost has taught us. Other than that, what did we learn? That Sawyer is a tough guy with a hidden heart of gold. That Kate has a thing for him. That Desmond continues to be psychic. That the imprisoned Jack, Sawyer and Kate continue to be, well, imprisoned.

And that, but for a hint here and there, was it. I usually disagree with people who moan that Lost "doesn’t provide enough answers"–Twin Peaks provided an answer and look where that got us–but last night may have been the first episode where I thought they had a point. Particularly annoying was the episode’s climactic "reveal"–that the captives are being held on an island off the coast of The Island–which was more or less told to us two episodes ago, when Benry freaked out that Sayid and company could discover the Others’ location because they had a boat.

The thing about a reveal is, it kind of needs to reveal something. Sawyer’s reaction–you went through all this just to keep me in a cage when I couldn’t escape anyway?–pretty much spoke for me. Yiou would think that, with only six episodes airing in the "miniseries" this fall, the producers would pick up the pace. If anything, it’s been the opposite. The problem, I think, is the focus on the captives, which is necessary, I guess, to give us insight into the Others, but frustratingly requires watching three of the lead characters sitting in cages week after week. (You can see this six-episode arc ending up hanging from some cliff involving Locke’s attempt to rescue his comrades, but who knows how long until the cast actually ends up reunited at this rate?)

It’s almost worth it simply for the extra screen time for Michael Emerson. (Or should I say Michael Emmyson! Apologies to Walter Monheit.) But we got only a further trickle of information about the Others last night as well–the most significant one, that Benry apparently has a spinal tumor that Jack may be required to operate on, came partly from the preview of next week’s show. But maybe the greater revelation was that, while the Others have contact with the outside world, they don’t have particularly good supply lines with the outside world–not enough, for instance, to have a working set of cardio paddles in their operating room so that Jack could save the Other who was gutshot by Sun on the boat. Does this mean that the Others are estranged from the Dharma Initiative, cut off without so much as an airdrop of ranch dressing? Also, the news that Juliet is a fertility doctor must have some significance, given the Others’ obsession with kids, and the lack of pint-sized Others toddling about.

Otherwise, slim pickings. "The only way to gain a con man’s respect is to con him," Benry told Sawyer, and he’s partly right. Lost has won fans’ respect and loyally by conning us so expertly for two seasons. But it also needs to remember what Sawyer knows well: if you want your marks to buy in to a long con, you have to give them a taste of what you promise, to keep them believing there’s a big payoff somewhere down the road.

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