I complained last time that at this point in Season 1, Lost seemed to be spinning its wheels, unable to proceed with anything the audience has much interest in. Well, “Outlaws” doesn’t even try to advance the overall plot of the show. It exists almost entirely as a standalone character study, aside from some housekeeping from last episode. (Apparently, Charlie was as surprised by his own actions as we were.) But I don’t necessarily mind standalone episodes, if they can give us some good stuff to chew on. And “Outlaws” gives us some terrific stuff.
When I hit play on the DVD menu, I remembered that “Outlaws” is the episode where we see young James Ford for the first time, and where we finally see why Sawyer was in Australia. That made me very happy, because it’s one of the standout flashbacks. The opening scene, where a young James hides from his murderous father, is surprisingly grim. It needs to be, because it helps us understand the depth of Sawyer’s quest for revenge. Sawyer is usually so canny, but his rage clearly blinds him to Hibbs’ trick. And Josh Holloway does a fantastic job of showing that struggle between holding on to bitterness and rage, and understanding that it won’t make him feel better. Some of the most remarkable scenes in the episode are in this flashback as well. We get out first glimpse of Christian Shepherd outside of a Jack episode, and aside from being a well-written scene, it hints at the web of connections between our characters.
Initially, I was less impressed by the on-Island story, about Sawyer hunting a boar he’s sure is out to get him. But after some consideration, I like this part a lot too. Sawyer came to the Island full of guilt and bitterness, and I can totally buy that he would want to take it out on some dumb animal. Clearly it’s not that he hates the boar, he just needs something to shoot. So in the end, “Outlaws” is about Sawyer becoming a little more human. There’s that moment of clarity at the end where he aims the handgun at the boar, and then decides to not shoot it. After all, “it’s just a dumb boar.” We’ve seen the mistake he made not one month before, and he remembers it too. He finally understands that anger will only take him so far.
One more scene bears mentioning. The “I Never” sequence between Kate and Sawyer is just terrific. Holloway and Lilly are both in find form, and that undeniable chemistry between them is at the perfect simmer. Like many of the best parts of season one, it doesn’t barrel forward. It’s content to let everything unwind naturally. And not only that, we get some great little hints about Kate, including the fact that she’s married and that she’s killed a man.
So after the bomb that is “Homecoming,” “Outlaws” provides a really great return to form. Season One was due for a great episode, and we finally have one after some serious doldrums. I still wish it tied into the overall flow of the show a little better, but it’s hard to complain about sidetracks when they are as good as this one.
- Hibbs is played by Robert Patrick, who also played the T-1000 in Terminator 2. I’m surprised he doesn’t come up again later on.
- Sawyer tells Duckett that his name is James. Had we learned yet that this was his real name?
- I want some shrimp in hot sauce.
- The whispers appear for the first time since “Solitary.” According to Lostpedia, they say “it’ll come back around,” which is what Duckett says when Sawyer shoots him.
- I barely mentioned the Charlie subplot, because it mostly wraps up a plot point that I don’t care for. But I’m noticing a theme that Charlie seems more sensitive to violence than other characters, even if he was the violent one.
- On Tuesday, we’ll do “…In Translation.” I’m gone most of the weekend, so my sister Jamie will take over that review. I hope to have other guest reviews as the show goes on. Treat her nice!