Plot contrivances don’t work nearly as well with poorly sketched characters. Lost has rolled out mind-blowing episode after mind-blowing episode this season, and the natural inclination is to step back and gaze bright-eyed into the maze of plot twists that Lindelof and Cuse have thrust upon us. Wonderful and epiphanic as the story of Lost has been this season, we should not ignore the character work being done. “LaFleur” was my favorite episode of the season, and it’s not particularly close. The big reason was that, on top of all the story aspects, the episode contained beautiful character moments, poignant events that will inform how we view not only the next few episodes, not only the rest of the season, but the rest of the series. I’ve always considered Sawyer to be my favorite character on Lost, though I had become unsure of his place in the overall story arch during the last couple seasons. It felt like Sawyer had served his purpose. “LaFleur” proved otherwise.
To call what Sawyer went through in the episode complicated would be a vast understatement. By the end of the episode, the audience was as emotionally confused as Sawyer. How the hell is he supposed to feel? His friends are back, the people he’s been waiting and searching for. But, in those three years since infiltrating the Dharma Initiative, the circumstances changed dramatically. After Locke worked his mojo on the donkey wheel, Sawyer was a lost man, without Kate, without a plan, holding on to a tenuous mission (await John Locke’s return), a mission who’s basic premise was unclear. As Juliet brought up, maybe getting the island stuck back in time was the end game. Maybe John accomplished all that he was supposed to accomplish.
Sawyer never had anything on the mainland to go back to. You could say his daughter should have been ample motivation, but with all the uncertainty surrounding that reunion, and the fact that she’d still be a young child, meant that Sawyer’s best chance at a worthwhile existence, a contented existence, was on the island. We saw it last season – Sawyer relished living in New Otherton, and would not have minded if the entire Oceanic crew had set up shop there and lived happily ever after.
Now, three years after Locke permanently cast the island’s remainders into the 1970’s, Sawyer had etched out a nearly idyllic existence. Sawyer was, for perhaps the first time since we met him, happy. He’s a respected member of the community, he has a job that he excels at, he gets to read books and drink wine, he’s back in the cozy confines of New Otherton and, most of all, he’s in love with a woman who reciprocates his feelings.
Josh Holloway deserves ample praise for his work. Throughout the entire island-moving ordeal, he’s played Sawyer in as realistic manner as you could hope for, reacting to the time jumps in perfectly Sawyeriffic ways. Despite his history, despite his often crotchety demeanor, Sawyer has always been one of the most sympathetic characters on Lost. When it comes down to it, he might be the closest thing we have to a pure protagonist on Lost. He’s stayed true to himself, hasn’t allowed the island to influence his principles and, when the going gets tough, both personally and within the group, he always comes through. It’s possible that I enjoyed tonight’s episode so much because it gave us some happiness, allowed the audience to feel warm for once. In the aftermath, we can only fear for the worst. We know it’s about to get hairy again, and that Sawyer will have to make tough decisions. How will he handle Kate’s return? After those three years, Sawyer had all but given up hope that the mainlanders would return, and you could sense Sawyer’s relief. Although that was the whole point of becoming a Dharma, Sawyer didn’t really want the others to return. Even in his conversation with Jin, I felt that he had to take that stance (that they would search for the mainlanders for as long as it took) because it was what would keep Jin, Miles, Juliet and (presumably) Faraday on the island with him.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Sawyer is unhappy to see Jack, Hurley and Kate. He is going to be conflicted, though. How else is he supposed to feel? I’ve always rooted for Kate to end up with Sawyer, but that changed tonight. I want Sawyer to stay with Juliet. I really want the dude to be happy. We know that’s not going to happen, because this is Lost, and no character remains in stasis for too long.
Shoot – I’ve written all this and I haven’t even talked about all the other craziness from the episode. The statue, the Alpert/Sawyer conversation, the birth (god, that was cathartic for Juliet, wasn’t it?), the duality of the the Goodspeed/Sawyer waking up on the couch scenes, Sawyer’s con man instincts coming into play, Jin’s much improved English, etc. Considering we have two weeks until the next new episode, I’ve got time to write another Lost article. Dammit, I love this show.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of ABC)