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Cindy McLennan: B | Grade It Now!
Both Ends Against The Middle

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Island Reality; Claire's Lair: Claire is packing various crap -- most notably, Chekhov's knife -- from her lair when her eye is drawn to her salvaged blue and white bassinet, which looks exactly like the one which once held baby Ethan Goodspeed (pay no attention to past-me calling it a pram). And as if that thought weren't creepy enough, Claire pulls open the discolored tulle draped over it, to reveal the best homemade baby doll, ever! Claire is smiling at her "baby" and fussing with its covers when Kate enters. "This is where you lived?" Claire says, "Yeah," and she gently pats the tulle which is now laying on the bottom half of the best homemade baby doll, ever. When Kate gets an eyeful of "Baby" she asks, "What is that?" Claire turns to her. "It's all I had." Burn.

Outside, Faucke tells his minions that while it was a long traumatic night for all of them, and they certainly must have a lot of questions, they must keep moving. Cindy, who appears to be in the midst of a Culture Club LARP, wants to know what happened to the people who remained at the Temple. When Faucke says, "The black smoke killed them," Sayid watches with vacant eyes. Emma and Zach, who must still have souls, are upset by this news, so Faucke squats down to comfort them. "I know what happened back there was really scary, but it's over. You're with me now, and I promise I'm going to take care of you." I might believe him if he'd remove those ridiculous ribbons from Zach's head, and burn that grungy teddy bear. Claire, seemingly enraptured by her glorious leader's act of kindness, has never looked more like a victim of a mind-control cult than she does as she grabs hold of Kate's hand. Once Faucke is done putting on a show, he orders the gang to move out. With a wry smile that Kate can't see, Claire releases Kate's hand.

Sawyer touches base with Kate. "Sounds like you had a hell of a night. [...] Jack, Hurley, the rest of them -- did they make it out of the Temple?" Kate tells him she saw them leaving on her way there. Sawyer adds, "What about Miles?" Instead of explaining that they got separated when she went to find Claire, she simply says, "I don't know what happened to him." It's true enough, as far as it goes, but sometimes the dialogue seems cryptic for no bloody reason, other than this -- the writers have fallen into a rut. When Kate expresses her surprise that Sawyer is with Locke now, he corrects her. "I ain't with anybody, Kate." Do you think he has canned responses all ready for her?

L.A. Reality; Cop Shop: Detective James Ford is at work, on the phone, calling an Anthony Cooper about some unclaimed property. "Can you verify you were in Alabama in 1976?" He can't, so Ford crosses that guy off the list and starts calling the next one. Right after he asks for Anthony Cooper, Ford's partner -- Detective Miles Straume -- arrives with coffee.

Jim (whose coffee is in a Hollywood mug) cuts his call short and gives Miles some b.s. about Cooper being an old buddy who's gonna hook him up with Laker tickets. In this reality, Jim is still more than willing to lie, but he seems less ready and able. When Miles asks if Jim met up with Cooper in Palm Springs, Jim draws a total blank until Miles nudges him along -- "on your trip... last weekend?" Of course we know he really went to Australia for the... weekend (?!) because we saw him get off the plane.

Jim offers up some sunshiny, Mai-Tai-fueled blur excuse that Miles seems to buy. "Well get it together, 'cause you've got a date tonight, pal." Miles has arranged a date with a friend of his who works at the museum...WITH HIS FATHER! Jim is reluctant at first, so Miles -- in what might be the singular most awkward line reading in the history of this series -- says, "What is your deal. Do you want to... DIE... ALONE?" I'm not even going to dignify that with a link. I will mention though, that Miles notes that he's not asking museum girl out because he already has a girlfriend. If it's Ana Lucia, I'm gonna barf. Go Naomi. Choose Naomi!

Jim tries to make a deal. He'll go out with Miles' friend, if Miles will leave him alone. Miles says, "Throw in one of those Laker tickets? Hell yes, I will." Rather than saying, "Deal," and then later claiming he couldn't get the tickets, Jim starts muttering an ill thought-out excuse about how he's already pulling strings with this guy. "I don't know if I can get another seat." Miles looks at him like -- how exactly did you make detective. He's nicer in this reality though, so instead of saying that, he just reminds his partner that he can always tell him the truth. "Are you lying to me, man?" Jim, looking guilty as sin, says, "Why the hell would I lie?" Oh, probably because you're still planning on killing "Tom Sawyer," even though you're a cop instead of a criminal, now.

Island Reality; Jungle: Faucke leads his band of buggered through the woods, and instructs them to fill up on water, because they'll be camping for a couple of days, in a clearing about a quarter of a mile off. Sawyer marches up from behind. "A couple of days? I thought you said we were getting off this rock." When Faucke says, "We are," Sawyer wants to know when. Once they're alone, Faucke scolds Sawyer for interrupting him. Sawyer snarks, "I'm sorry, I forgot my manners." Faucke sighs and then, straight-faced, forgives him.

Sawyer wants to know what happened back at the Temple. "How'd you know to rescue everybody from that smoke thing?" Faucke says, "I didn't rescue them.... I'm the smoke thing." Sawyer glares at him and asks if he killed all those people. Faucke explains that he gave them a chance to leave peacefully and they refused. He claims that the Templars think they're protecting the island from him, but since all he wants to do is leave, it's either kill or be killed. "And I don't want to be killed." I don't blame you for that, Faucke, but at this point, I don't think the Templars are protecting the island from you. I think they, and the island, are protecting the world from you. Regardless, I'm just marveling at Terry O'Quinn. He somehow managed to stuff that line full of both malice and vulnerability. He's just incredible, isn't he?

Faucke leads Sawyer off to the beach where once, long ago and far away, Sawyer, Kate, and Karl left abandoned the outrigger after they returned from Hydra Island. And that's where Faucke is sending Sawyer now. He wants him to find the Ajira plane and the other passengers and do some recon, because he believes some of them want to do them harm. He's not worried about anyone doing Sawyer any harm because, "You are the best liar I have ever met. You tell 'em whatever you need to tell 'em to gain their trust, find out everything you can about them, and then get back here." Sawyer wants to know why he's doing this. Faucke says, "Why do you think, James? We get on that plane, get off this island, and we never look back." Is he going to magic it back to proper working order?

Thoughts During the Break:

All right, Miles' interest in getting at Detective James Ford's pink secrets seems a little...intense, no? I mean, they relate as if they've been partners for a while. If they haven't been, wouldn't Miles now be pushing too hard? Assuming they have been partners for a while, wouldn't James' secretive nature have reared its head before now? Something about Miles' interest seems sudden, but it's wrong that it's sudden, which takes me out of the episode. I don't blame Leung or Holloway. They're both great. This week's trip to Sideways land tastes like contrivance cake. Also, did James really go to Australia for only a...weekend, or was that just clunky wording?

I love, love, love that Miles' father is alive in this reality. I hope he's still Dr. Pierre Chang. But Joyce Saenz Harris (a.k.a. in these recaps as "Reader Joyce") asked me if Miles is talking about Chang, then why does Miles' nameplate read Detective Miles Straume? To that I say -- who knows what the heck Chang's name really is? I mean, I've always assumed Chang was his real name, but it could be just another layer of Dharma pseud. Or perhaps their name was Chang, but leaving Dharma requires some sort of witness protection program procedures. In the first reality, only Lara and Miles would have changed their names. In this one, if Daddy-Dearest is alive and well, perhaps they all made the change.

The commercial is almost over, so I'll stop after this: How about that Faucke, just up and admitting to Sawyer that he is the smoke monster? That was so cool, and yet, his lies are starting to show, but I'm getting ahead of myself. And now it's...

Show Time:

L.A. Reality: Jim Ford is relatively dressed up, and I'll studiously avoid his red shirt, to point out that he could stand to wash his hair. He scans the lounge area of a nice restaurant, as he calls Miles to ask him what his date looks like again. She's the only one in the joint with red hair. IT'S CHARLOTTE! And man, does Rebecca Mader clean up well. She's got that red-haired, blue-eyed Maureen O'Hara coloring, and is dressed to the nines in a sparkly little number that does all the right things for her. Jim turns on the Southern charm as he introduces himself, and neither of them seem disappointed in Miles' set-up, to say the least.

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