Lost in Retrospect: Confidence Man

More non-mythology. This was an episode I was iffy about the first time around, but in the intervening years I became a huge fan of Sawyer, and hence his first day in the limelight has become one of my favourite episodes of season 1.

For a refresh on the episode, I suggest you visit Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.

Sawyer is one of the most incredibly dense, layered characters in this show or any other I can think of, and this episode really lays it bare. The first time I watched this episode, I understood that he’d taken the name of the man responsible for his parents’ death, but I didn’t absorb it, I didn’t really understand what I’d just learned. How much do you really need to hate yourself to take the step of taking that man’s name? And it explains his actions for the next four  years. This is a man who wants to punish himself for the crimes of his namesake because he thinks he’s reached the end of the road. I mean, Sawyer is trapped on a desert island–what are the odds he’ll ever be able to find the guy now? (Heheheh…) I’ve read criticisms of Sawyer’s actions mid-season 2, saying they’re ridiculous and out-of-character, but… I feel like I’m just repeating something obvious, but it just boggles my mind how brilliantly deep this character is, especially when he originally came across as the Losties’ answer to Han Solo with the jerkarse dialled up to 11.

And he’s not heartless, which always seemed like an easy criticism to make of Sawyer. He’s got heart. He’s got too much heart. He can’t live with himself for the things he’s done to other people, because he’s one of the few who really knows first-hand how destructive a con man can be to the people he cons. Look at his face in the flashback when he sees that kid. Josh Holloway is one of Lost‘s great discoveries, and the reasons why are all on display in this episode.

This episode also begins the slow descent of Sayid. Not a descent from being awesome, mind you, but rather a descent from the moral fortitude he’d managed to build up in the years since leaving Iraq. He gives into his impulses here and turns to violence as a solution, turns to it with such enthusiasm that he blows off Jack and Kate ordering him to stop, leading to Sawyer’s almost-death by stabbing. And at the end we see his remorse, that same remorse he’ll really demonstrate in the next episode.

It’s a simple episode with an intricate character study, and how much you enjoy the episode depends on how much you enjoy the character. In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, Sawyer is overall one of my favourite characters in the show, so despite a lack of mythology and very little movement on the larger story arcs, I thought it was a ripper of an episode and definitely one worth revisiting.

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