Little Clementine Phillips—if she does exist beyond a photo and really is Sawyer’s biological daughter—seemed to have hit the jackpot. Although she lost out on having her real father taking an active role in her upbringing, she won a nice little bank account when she became the latest Lost child without a daddy. Perhaps Clementine was just a figment of her mother’s conning imagination, a payback long con from the student to the teacher. However, if she’s real, she says a lot about Lost’s concept of fatherhood; money often substitutes for workaholic, abusive, or absent fathers.
So far, father/child relationships don’t have a successful track record. Here’s just a partial list of relationships uncovered so far:
• Locke’s father used and then abandoned his son…again, but he did offer him money the last time
• Jack’s father set up an unhealthy rivalry between himself and his son and helped create lots of guilt-inducing situations
• Sun’s father manipulated her entire life, but he made sure she was surrounded by wealth
• Claire’s father (who is possibly also Jack’s) wasn’t around
• Charlie’s father adamantly opposed his son’s career choice
• Kate’s father was a drunken abuser murdered by his daughter
• Penny’s father controlled at least her love life, but he made sure she was surrounded by wealth
• Walt’s father was separated from his son several times and committed murder as part of a plan to be reunited with him
• Alex’s father was killed by Alex’s mother
• Sawyer’s father killed his wife and then himself
Not a lot of happy families here. Perhaps Sawyer believed that he wouldn’t be a good daddy; his best contribution might have been fathering the child. He might’ve envisioned some not-so-far-off day when little Clementine asked, “How did you and mommy fall in love?” “Well, honey, she was really hot, and really into me, and very easy to con out of all her money before I ran away. Mommy called the police, who found me and sent me to prison. I didn’t like her very much then. But when she came to prison and told me about you, Mommy and I decided we’d make a nice family.”
Lost doesn’t show biological fathers with many good attributes, and perhaps money was the best gift Sawyer could leave for his daughter. Maybe she’ll even grow up to be someone like Kate, full of doubts about her self-worth in large part because of her daddy issues, but strong and independent—if a bit on the dangerous side.
However, Lost does make a better point about surrogate fathers:
• Charlie dotes on baby Aaron, and although he’s overprotective at times, he makes sure that the child has what he needs
• Desmond, a possible choice as another surrogate daddy for Aaron, protected Aaron from being scorched by lightning
• Jin, likely not the biological father of Sun’s baby, looks after Sun’s welfare and, although overbearing at times, acts this way to protect the unborn child
• Sam, the man Kate long thought her biological father, loved and wanted to raise her, although that didn’t work out long-term
OK, so the list of surrogate fathers is much shorter, but at least some male “parents” look after the children and take an active role in protecting or nurturing them. Families, not only on Lost but in much of the modern world, are created from those who love each other and can nurture children, not necessarily pairs of married parents and their biological children.
The episode’s title, “Every Man for Himself,” as well as a line Sawyer repeated several times, showed not only Sawyer’s outward philosophy of life, the one that colors most of his actions, but many Lost fathers’ approach toward parenting. Kate fired back, “Live together, or die alone” as she chose continued incarceration rather than abandoning Sawyer to face the Others alone. That’s a concept strange to Sawyer and other Lost fathers. Although not all these infamous daddies are dead, they do seem very much alone; the people around them may fear them or dislike/hate what they do or have done. Sawyer could be in danger of ending up alone and regretful as much as Christian Shephard was in that Sydney bar where he bought Sawyer a drink—right before Shephard died alone.
Sawyer is just the latest in a long line of men who may think their children are better off without them, but, as Claire once told Desmond, really think only of themselves (appropriately enough, in “Live Together, Die Alone”). No matter how sensitive or caring Sawyer seemed at times in his latest backstory episode, he still looks out for Number One first.
Poor little Clementine, paid off in babyhood, wealthier in cash but poorer in parents. Should a new reading of the old song lyric be “you are Lost and gone forever”? And whose line is it, anyway—Sawyer’s or Clementine’s? When we look at the parent/child relationship Lost style, the result is still the same: “Dreadful sorry, Clementine.”