Written by Damon Lindelof
Directed by Tucker Gates
Everybody in the island is keeping secrets, but right now the most mysterious one is Sawyer, who, unless I’ve been lax in paying attention the first seven episodes, has never even mentioned his name to anyone until now, when everyone seems to know it. The logical explanation is that he told Kate, who up until now has been the only person he’s revealed anything to, and she told the others. However, I have a different theory, which I will explain in a little while.
In his flashbacks, we see that Sawyer was a con man, taking thousands off people, and seemingly not caring who he hurts. The flashbacks show this is a very particular act that’s he probably done many times with few variations. They’re big many cons to— $160,000 in the one he does here From his attitude, it seems like he’s the man in the letter that we’ve seen him read a couple of times— which in this episode, tells the story of a boy whose mother he seduced, took money from his father, who then killed his mother and himself. That seems to be the con we’re seeing here until the episodes conclusion when we learn that Sawyer wrote the letter after his family was destroyed. He’s spent his lifetime hunting this man, and in the process has taken on his name and character.
Now, on the island Sawyer has a chance for a clean slate, which may have been why he held off giving his name for as long as he did. However, he has held on to the loathing and anger so long, he can not relinquish it. That is why he has taken on the worst aspects of man on this island, going through the luggage of dad people, creating a hoard, and generally being an asshole. It’s not until ‘Confidence Man’ that we see how deep the hatred is.
When Boone comes looking through his luggage for Shannon’s asthma inhaler, he beats the crap out of him. Boone goes to Jack with his suspicions, and Jack, who from day one hasn’t liked Sawyer, goes after demanding them. That’s when things get ugly.
Sayed, who has his own reasons for enmity against Sawyer, offers to help obtain the information. Turns out, in the Republican Guard, he learned torturing skills. (We’ll find out soon enough how he learned them) He then goes to work on Sawyer, in a brutal scene. I’ve seen a lot of torture on 24 and Alias, but it has a much more desperate and realistic feeling, mainly because Sayed clearly doesn’t want to do it. When in an act of frustration, he buries a knife in an artery, he looks utterly horrified at what he has done.
What makes the scene so brutal is that Sawyer never had the inhalers. For starters, he never does anything to imply that he’s got them, and he clearly doesn’t seem at all upset about what’s being done, and while Sawyer has been a colossal jerk he never does anything that will really hurt a castaway (Not helping is something different). The entire exercise was one in self-punishment, something that he wanted to make the real Sawyer feel all the pain he does, at least that what he thinks.
It also explains his relationship with Kate. It’s mainly been flirtations and salaciousness on his part, but look at his face when Kate finally is about to kiss him. Even though this is a supposedly a trade for the inhalers, he wants some human contact. (And it didn’t look like Kate was just going through the motions on her part) He’s never had meaningful relationship, but he clearly wants Kate. Trouble is, he can’t have her, because he doesn’t believe that he (or the real Sawyer) is deserving of love. We see that when in the final flashback when the appearance of the child of his current marks jolts him back to reality.
The episode also brings out an unpleasant side of Jack’s character. He’s pledged to save lives and protect the survivors, but he clearly doesn’t think Sawyer qualifies. Part of this is because of his jealousy of Kate’s attraction to him, but a lot of it has to do with the morality he seems to swear to. Jack doesn’t like people who don’t follow his code, and he will demonstrate that over and over on the island.
Sayid is clearly pissed. He thinks (even though he doesn’t say it while he’s torturing him ) that Sawyer is the man who injured him and destroyed the transmitter in the previous episode, which gives him another reason to go after him. But we can see that this is a path he did not want to go down again. His reaction to this is to leave the beach in an attempt to map the island proper, and get away from the person he was.
Though Shannon’s fate is at the center of the episode, we don’t see a great deal of her. However, her behavior is one of real alarm and concern, making it the first time she hasn’t acted like a hollow bitch. We may not like her, but we don’t want her to get sick. It’s also interesting that despite all of the horrible things that are being done to help her, Sun ends up being the one to save her by creating a paste out of eucalyptus. There’s definitely a cost as she has to go to Michael to get it done, which makes Jin, who is already wary, even more suspicious of his wife.
We only see Locke in a cameo when Sayed questions him about what happened. Notice that Locke is the one who points (without actually accusing) the finger of suspicion at Sawyer, as well as giving him the knife he ultimately sticks on Sawyer’s arm. Also note that he says the attacker might be someone who has a motive to stay on the island, which Locke clearly has. Is he conspiring to deceive? We’re going to find very soon that he’s good at that.
The rest of the actors are seen in cameo. It’s now pretty clear that Charlie has a thing for Claire as he tries to lure her into the caves. He goes through a somewhat hysterical search for it bef0re finally bringing her imaginary peanut butter. Considering what happens, it’s pretty clear that their something going on between the two of them.We also only see Hurley in a couple of short but funny scenes, one where he calls Jack calming Shannon down to avert an asthma attack a ‘Jedi moment’, and one where Charlie gently points out that even though they’ve been on the island two weeks (or nine days, if you’ve been counting) he hasn’t lost any weight. Could this be another of the island’s mystical powers, because none of them look like their starving either?
Sawyer is one of the more complicated characters on the show, and will be treading the path between darkness and light several times during the course of the series. He’s a bully, a jerk, and a redneck, yet their is something almost charming about him. (Then again, that is a vital trait of a con artist). Can he let go of the past? It’s clear as he holds a lighter over the letter that he wants too, but right now, he can not find the strength to do it. Will this be his test of the island?