On ''Lost,'' Sawyer goes to the dark side in order to get control of the survivors' guns

By Scott Brown
Updated February 08, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST
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Credit: Josh Holloway: Art Streiber
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”Lost”: Sawyer’s two con jobs

Greetings, kittenfluffs. I have returned. (Whitney told me y’all love being called ”kittenfluffs.” I won’t pretend to understand that, but hey, I aim to please. Kittenfluffs.)

So…anything interesting happen while I was gone?

As a matter of fact, yes. Charlie turned babynapper, Hurley fell for Libby (ain’t nothing like the lure of the Other — which, I maintain, Libby is), and Eko cemented his spot in the Lost yearbook as Most Riveting Screen Presence. And this week? Well, it was a chance for Sawyer to shine. Okay, maybe ”shine” isn’t the right word. Con men do not ”shine” — too conspicuous. Though the whole 10 pastiche at the opening tested that theory: How many sherpas and/or PA’s do you think it takes to oil up Josh Holloway for a ”fresh from the sea” shot?

But, beefcake aside (and there was an awful lot of Sawyerflesh on display this time out), what was this episode about? It seemed like an attempt by the writers to prove these characters haven’t lost their edge. There it succeeded. Lest we forget Sawyer is a lying, murderous sonofabitch, we saw him pulling off two ”long cons” in parallel: one in flashback (which included a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of Kate’s mom, Diane, waiting on Sawyer at a diner) and one on the island, involving an unseen and (at least for me) unguessed accomplice, Charlie. Nice to see them diving into the abyss with these characters instead of rehabilitating them.

As for motivations? That’s a bit weaker. Sawyer, recently healed by Jack, got pissed off when the good doc policed his meds. He revealed a previously unaired beef: He’s mad everyone stole his stuff while he was out a-raftin’, getting menaced by Other pirates and Dharma sharks. You’d think he’d be just a little grateful that Jack saved his life, but this is, after all, Sawyer, a born survivor with a well-developed death wish. He’s a bundle of contradictions. Did this one take him a little far? It did seem a bit petty, screwing over the whole camp because the big kid touched his stuff. And the ep never completely connected the dots between the con and the con artist. Why does the conner con? Power. Humiliation. Rage. All of which were implicit in Sawyer’s choices, but the writing left a big gap where that epiphany should be. Instead, we got a warped love story with Cassidy (Kim Dickens) and more fear-of-intimacy moments. Okay, fair enough. But it didn’t fully illuminate Sawyer’s anger.

The closest we came was a pretty fine scene between Sawyer and Charlie in which the latter got to embody that anger — he wants to see Locke humiliated, knocked clean off his throne. Sawyer’s not quite up to admitting he needs the same from Jack — that would mean admitting he doesn’t have Kate in full thrall. But too much of this was left unplumbed. We were instead left with the mechanics of the con, which, quite frankly, weren’t that interesting.

I did, however, enjoy the excruciating slowness of Sawyer’s typing in those numbers. He’s an accomplished prick, our man from the South.

As for the rest of the episode: Spring must be coming, because seeds are being planted all over the place. First there’s Locke, rifling through an Ambrose Bierce short story for…what? Clues about the hatch? The real clue, most likely, is the story itself. ”Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a massive parallel-reality fake-out, the 19th-century granddaddy of ”it was all a dream!” Goes like this: A Rebel sympathizer is being hanged on a bridge by Union troops. The rope breaks; he falls into the river and escapes. A harrowing journey home ensues. He dodges bullets. He crashes through the woods. Finally he makes it home. His wife opens her arms to him…and the rope catches, breaking his neck. It was all a fantasy, and the joke is on you, dear reader. What does this have to do with Lost? Perhaps it’s a clue to the dream state these survivors inhabit. Perhaps it pertains specifically to Locke, who entertains the grandest illusions of the island’s inherent beneficence.

And then there’s that manuscript, the one Hurley was reading before Sayid came along to play radio. (Yes, Sayid. Remember him? Gosh how I miss that guy. Oh, and by the way, Jack, if you’re starting an army? Ask an army officer for help. Not a police officer.) The book is Bad Twin, by Gary Troup, a mystery writer who boarded flight 815 and is now presumed dead. From Amazon (where the ”real” book will soon be sold, in a gloriously meta tie-in):

Paul Artisan, P.I. is a new version of an old breed — a righter of wrongs, someone driven to get to the bottom of things. Too bad his usual cases are of the boring malpractice and fraud variety. Until now. His new gig turns on the disappearance of one of a pair of twins, adult scions of a rich but tragedy-prone family. The missing twin — a charismatic poster-boy for irresponsibility — has spent his life daring people to hate him, punishing himself endlessly for his screw-ups and misdeeds. The other twin — Artisan’s client — is dutiful and resentful in equal measure….Troup’s long-awaited Bad Twin is a suspenseful novel that touches on many powerful themes, including the consequence of vengeance, the power of redemption, and where to turn when all seems lost.

The dueling dualities continue. Locke and Eko? Ana-Lucia and Jack? Sawyer and Kate? All light-dark pairings, all ”twins,” in a sense.

Oh, and speaking of Sayid’s new radio: Who’s biting? The Lost writers must be impatient: They’re dropping hints right from the mouth of Hurley. ”The signals…could be coming from anywhere,” said Sayid, after they tuned in what sounded like an American oldies station. ”Or any time,” said Hurley. Pillsbury, my man: You’re pre-geeking us! Don’t do that! You’ll put us out of a job! (By the way, it’s been noted: The station’s initial call letter was a W, which would make it in the eastern half of the U.S. The full title: WXO, which are letters 23, 24, and 15 of the alphabet. Make of it what you will.)

And that, kittenfluffs, must be my sign-off for the night. It’s good to be back. But I don’t think I’ll be keeping up the ”kittenfluffs” thing, no matter how much y’all like it. One Mississippi, two Mississippi…and I’m gone.

What do you think? Were you happy to see Bad Sawyer again? Did you believe his or Charlie’s motivation? And how disappointed will you be if this all turns out to be a dream?

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