Summary and Spoilers
Our timeframe begins just as Locke descends into the well in his attempt to leave the island. But this story is not about Locke; it is about what happened to the people he left behind. When Locke turned the donkey wheel, there was one more big earthquake flash, and then silence. Immediately, Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, and Jin knew that this was different. The headaches were gone. Later, when they rejoined Daniel, he confirmed what they already knew: time travel was over – they were not jumping anymore. And wherever they were now, this was where they were going to stay.
Daniel’s alone-ness meant that Charlotte was not among them. Her body disappeared during one of the flashes. This is explained much later in this episode, when a little red-haired Dharma girl waves at Daniel. Charlotte lives again on the island as she did the first time, and for whatever reason, she wasn’t able to co-exist at another stage in her life in this same place. Or something like that.
Speaking of Dharma…this is where the castaways find themselves. It is ‘That 70s Island’, 1974 to be exact. Dharma is heavily entrenched on the island, and they are in conflict with The Others.
As the survivors are heading back to the beach, they come across a conflict where they see a Dharma member dead, and two men putting a burlap sack over the head of a protesting Dharma woman, Amy. Sawyer and Juliet win a gun battle and bury the two dead Others. The woman takes them back to the Dharma compound, but she does it according to protocol, which means she tricks them at the sonic fence and they are brought in unconscious.
The Dharma leader, Horace, questions Sawyer, who is using a fake name (Jim LaFleur) and a fake story (their salvage boat crashed on the reef). Horace believes the story but still insists they leave the island on the next sub bound for Tahiti, despite Sawyer’s request that they be granted time to find the missing members of their crew. Their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Richard Alpert, who has easily penetrated the Dharma defenses. There is a tentative truce between Dharma and the Others; Richard has come to find out why the truce was broken and where his missing men are. Against Horace’s wishes, Sawyer speaks to Richard alone and drops a few time-travel hints like ‘Jughead’, ‘bald guy leader’, and ‘John Locke’. He admits to killing the men. Richard agrees to keep the peace but he takes the injured body of Paul, Amy’s husband, as payment
Horace agrees to let Sawyer stay for two more weeks to search for his crew. That night, Juliet says she has been trying to get off the island for years and she will leave the next day, but Sawyer convinces her to stay just two more weeks.
Flash forward three years. The castaways have been accepted at Dharma and are working members of the community. Sawyer is head of security, with Jin and Miles working under him. I’m note sure where Daniel is. Juliet is an auto mechanic; she is not only still on the island, but she and Sawyer are living together and very much in love. It has been a good day: Juliet overcame her fear of failure with helping women on the island deliver babies; she successfully helped Amy give birth to a boy. But the big story comes the following morning, when Jin rings Sawyer with a big surprise: he has found Jack, Hurley, and Kate.
In the final scene, Sawyer stands in a remote section of the North Valley and gazes on his long-lost friends, including a woman named Kate. He seems to remember her very much, which is different to the story he just told Horace about how she had faded from his consciousness.
This episode fills in the gaps in what happened to those that Locke left behind, while we wait for the Next Big Thing to advance the plot – namely, for Jin to tell someone about finding Jack, Hurley, and Kate.
Although Ben is not in this episode, I found myself once again surmising on whether he is good or evil. It is a credit to the way his character is written and the way it is acted (by the talented Michael Emerson) that we still don’t know for sure. But a bit more light has been shed. We see that when Richard led the Others, they had a hard line, but they kept to a truce. Ben came in and killed all the Dharma people. And I don’t think making a judgment on Ben says anything about Widmore. Widmore could be more or less evil than Ben – we really know little about him.
Maybe if Locke can take over leadership of the Others, he can maintain the peace with Dharma and avert the Dharma massacre. Surely there is room on the island for both groups. But how does Widmore fit into this, and why didn’t Widmore try to get back onto the island as well?
The meeting of Sawyer and his old companions
The chemistry between Juliet and Sawyer
After the big flash, Sawyer lies on the ground and sees that the rocks surrounding the well are back. Without looking, he jumps over the side and grabs onto the rope – then looks down and sees that there is still solid ground inside the well. I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t at least look down first before jumping over the side of the well.
Also after the big flash, Juliet says it is all over – the time jumps have stopped. This is a big leap of logic to make in a short amount of time, yet she seems very sure of herself.
Richard: You're not a member of Dharma Initiative, then what are you?
Sawyer: Did you bury the bomb?
Richard: Excuse me?
Sawyer: The hydrogen bomb, with Jughead written on the side, did you bury it? Yeah, I know about it. I also know twenty years ago some bald fella limped into your camp and fed you some mumbo jumbo about being your leader. Then, puff, he went and disappeared right in front of you. Is this ringing a bell? That man's name’s John Locke, and I'm waiting for him to come back. So, you still think I'm a member of the damn Dharma Initiative?
Richard: No. Guess I don't.
Sawyer: All right, listen up. When we get there, there's gonna be a lot of questions. So just keep your mouth shut. Let me do the talking.
Miles: You really think you can convince them that we were in a boat wreck?
Sawyer: I'm a professional. I used to lie for a living.
Sawyer: You do realize it's 1974. Whatever it is you think you're going back to, it don't exist yet.
Juliet: It's not a reason not to go..
Sawyer: What about me? You really going to leave me here with a mad scientist and Mr. I Speak to Dead People? And Jin, he's a hell of a nice guy, but not exactly the greatest conversationalist.
Juliet: You'll be fine.
Sawyer: Maybe. But who's gonna get my back?
Sawyer: Let me talk to him.
Horace: Excuse me?
Sawyer: Your buddy out there with the eyeliner. Let me talk to him.
Horace: We had a truce with these people. You don't understand.
Sawyer: I understand I'm the one who killed his men. And I'm the one who's going to go out there and tell him why I did it.
Horace: I can't let you do that.
Sawyer: It's a good thing I ain't asking your permission.
"I had a thing for a girl once. And I had a shot at her, but I didn't take it. For a little while, I'd lay in bed every night, wondering if it was a mistake. Wondering if... I'd ever stop thinking about her. And now I can barely remember what she looks like. I mean, her face... it's.. She's just gone, and she ain't never coming back. So... Is three years long enough to get over someone? Absolutely."