Almost without fail, everyone who starts to watch Lost can’t stand Sawyer in the early going. He just seems like such a bad guy, you know? He’s hoarding stuff, always seems kind of smirky, and has the habit of giving nicknames to everyone he meets. Then those fans get around to watching “Confidence Man,” and nothing we know is nearly as clear-cut anymore. In fact, we finally see one of the central mysteries of Lost. Just who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys?”
As “Confidence Man” shows, there is never just one answer. Sawyer sure seems like a bad guy though. Boone (in a spot of Boone brilliance) starts to raid Sawyers stash for Shannon’s inhaler, certain that Sawyer is hoarding it like he hoards everything. Jack and Sayid agree, and the episode revolves around what they will do to get back Shannon’s medicine, before her asthma becomes too much to handle. They decide to take Sawyer into the jungle and torture him, in one of the more squirm-inducing scenes so far in the show. Turns out Sawyer doesn’t have the inhaler, but he doesn’t tell anyone for a long time.
Just why is that? As Kate says later, it seems like Sawyer wants people to hate him. That’s probably because he doesn’t like himself very much. But I have a hunch that another aspect of it is that Sawyer knows a thing or two about people. He knows that humans can be very dark creatures sometimes, and as he’s demonstrated throughout the show, he isn’t wild about Jack’s “hero” complex. For Sawyer, there are no heroes. He won’t stand for people being sanctimonious. The survivors, like the audience, assume that Sawyer is a bad guy, when really he hasn’t done anything wrong on the island. And then when we see the “heroes” of the show, like Jack and Sayid, torture an innocent man, our assumptions are again shattered. The world isn’t divided into “good guys” and “bad guys.”
I haven’t commented a lot on the acting of Lost, because it’s of variable quality at different times. But I think I would be remiss to not give props to Josh Holloway. Usually guys like Terry O’Quinn and later Michael Emerson get accolades for their work. But Holloway seems very comfortable with his role, which is impressive when you consider that it’s basically his first one. As I mentioned in “The Moth,” he has the ability to be unpredictable, even when we know the character. He’s obviously a charming guy, but he can really make Sawyer dark and violent, sometimes within the same scene. He’s a big reason why this episode worked so well.
A lot of other stuff going on on the island, including the beginning of Charlie’s courtship of Claire. I liked their scenes a lot, although Charlie seems to have shaken off the effects of withdrawal pretty easily. Locke’s theory about who clubbed Sayid over the head has an extra layer when we realize who really did it. And for once, we got some moments of tenderness between Boone and Shannon, instead of just bickering. Those character moments, combined with the moral ambiguity, make this a great outing. Overall, “Confidence Man” is one of the best episodes of the season so far.
- More hints at the thank-heavens-that-didn’t-work-out affair between Michael and Sun.
- The first sign that Hurley is a Star Wars fan. Imagine that.
- Also the first time that the show has commented on Hurley’s weight. It’s usually handled sensitively, and I think they do that pretty well here, while still keeping a light touch.
- More info on Sayid’s past, and next episode is about Sayid. Have you noticed these older episodes basically setting up who will get the flashback next time?
- Have you read Watership Down? Maybe you should.
- As demonstrated by Sawyer, anything is instantly funnier when you add “of mystery” to the end of it.
- Next up is “Solitary.” See you then!