Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review: Lost 1.8: Confidence Man
Sawyer used to be a smooth-talking con man.
Lost - Season One, Episode Eight - Confidence Man
Written 5/5/13
"Baby, I'm tied to a tree in a jungle of mystery, and I just got tortured by a damn spinal surgeon and a gen-u-ine Iraqi. Of course I'm serious."

In the past I've been accused of being an unashamed Sawyer fanboy. This is true. The story of James Ford is one of my favourite of the main cast, and the development of his character from atoning con man to loving, responsible leader, no matter how "traditional" it may be, is one of the show's most subtle and well-executed. In the first few episodes, Sawyer was deliberately written to attract as much hatred as possible, acting for the most part like a total douchenozzle. (My term.) A risky move, really, especially as it's now left up to this episode to flip that perception on its head and reveal James Ford as a character with a great deal more depth.
     Boone (fucking Boone, man...) thinks that Sawyer has Shannon's inhalers in his stash, and so instead of asking him like a regular person he routes through Sawyer's possessions, and gets a punch for his troubles. Ready to believe he's a jackass, Jack goes over and confronts Sawyer, who refuses to say anything about the inhalers. He conspires with Sayid, who has his own vendetta after a stranger knocked him out last week, and the two take Sawyer out into the jungle and torture him. He refuses to talk to anyone but Kate. He reveals to her, after bartering for a kiss, that he never had them in the first place. Maddened, Sayid stabs Sawyer, and in his guilt he decides to go off and explore the shore of the Island. As Sawyer recovers on the beach, Kate reveals to him that she has worked out that the letter Sawyer carries around, the one from a child saying that "Mr. Sawyer" killed his parents, was in fact written by Sawyer as a child to the man who killed his parents. Elsewhere, Charlie gets imaginary peanut butter for Claire.
     In the past, Sawyer is a con-man on a routine con, wherin he convinces a beautfiul woman he's having an affair with to get her rich husband to take part in a loophole scheme, promising to split the outcome of $900k with them if they provide the remainder of the $300k investment. Initially things go exactly according to plan, albeit with Sawyer needing to borrow his half of the money from a crime boss due to having squirrelled his last profit away on something we don't know about. (We'll find out next season.) Just as he's about to walk away with the money, Sawyer notices that the couple has a child, and, seeing a vision of himself at that age, he refuses to go ahead with the con.
Thank god I know that Boone dies. Otherwise this show would
not feel like a good investment.
     Sawyer's internalised guilt over the path his life took means that he never denies having the inhalers. He wants to be punished for the lives he's ruined, the lives he ruined despite the ruination of his own. The way the character is turned so fluently on its head both in flashback and on the main storyline creates two very different images of the episode - one where Sawyer is the bad guy until the very end, and one where Sawyer is letting himself be punished. It sets Sawyer up for his development through the show, as well as providing Sayid with clarification on the direction of his own path towards redemption.
      Confidence Man was the first episode that didn't give us a reason why our centric character had ended up in Australia, and was instead a pretty well-told character developer that confirmed to us exactly what we thought of a character and then.flipped it on its head to reveal a character with a great deal of complexity. The plot started moving, and for reasons however trivial, we've started the slow path towards some of the season's major plot points, starting next week when Sayid goes on his trek across the beaches.


IN TWO WEEKS: Sayid ends up stuck in Solitary thanks to a mad French woman with a Croatian accent.

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