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Lost

Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010

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Episode 8 - Confidence Man

21 December 2016

Present: Sayid is looking for the person who hit him. Sawyer makes himself a suspect by beating up Boone who was looking for Shannon’s asthma inhalers. Sawyer refuses to hand them over and so Jack and Sayid torture him. He says he will tell Kate if she kisses him. She does and he says he doesn’t have the inhalers. Sayid attacks him and accidentally stabs him in the arm. Kate realises that the letter he carries around wasn’t written to him but by him. The letter is from a child telling a Mr Sawyer that he conned his parents and they are now dead. Sayid leaves the camp, ashamed of what he did.

Flashback: Sawyer is in bed with a woman and she “accidentally” discovers his brief case is full of money. He cons her into giving him her husbands money to invest in an imaginary government sponsored oil operation. But when Sawyer sees they have a son, he calls off the deal and walks away.

The Good: Sawyer’s story is gripping throughout and the twist at the end is a very strong one. The story is so intriguing because there is no obvious reason why Sawyer is refusing to be reasonable. All he has to do is make a trade for the inhalers and yet he would rather be tortured than do it. That tale keeps you hooked, wandering what is really going on. But even better, it is combined with the apparent story of him conning a family who are destined to die because of his deceit. Again you watch, drawn in by the question of what really happened and whether Sawyer is tortured inside by the guilt of what he did?

The twists in both cases are very clever. Sawyer the guilt ridden con man isn’t as good a story as Sawyer who became the man he was hunting. It makes Sawyer that much more interesting when we learn that he is guilty of the crimes he has spent his whole life trying to avenge. It helps us see his aggressive behaviour as a desire not to be liked. After all, if he has become the man he hates, then he deserves to be hated. If he gets Kate’s sympathy and pity, then the real Sawyer might deserve those feelings too. And that is something Sawyer can’t accept. At the end of the episode he refuses to burn the letter, in his heart he is still determined to find the man who is responsible for his parent’s demise.

It’s a great story, complex and clever, but it wouldn’t have worked without the right actor. Sawyer gives the best performance of the season so far here, commanding the stage every time he is on screen. He looks very much the part of a confidence man and there is an intensity to his performance that he never lets up on. When he swaggers out of the sea or trades insults with Jack his smile never drops. Similarly when trying to get Kate to hate him he never wavers, his grimace of determination is powerful and unyielding.

The torture scene is convincing and dramatic. You have to wander whether Sawyer deserved it and what it means for the morality of the survivors that Jack would go along with it. So it’s thought provoking too and Sayid’s decision to leave shows he would clearly rather preserve some morality on the island.

The supporting players do their jobs well and the usual characterisation is in place. Kate and Jack show their essential goodness by trying to help Sawyer no matter what he throws at them. Sayid is a convincing torturer and Sun also tries to help out.

The scene where Charlie and Claire pretend to eat peanut butter will doubtless irritate some viewers. It’s about as saccharine and cheesy as a budding romance can look. However I think it makes a very important point as well as demonstrating the range of characters trapped on the island. The point is that the survivors are going to have to learn to live without all the comforts which they are used to. So Charlie’s silly gesture is an attempt to show Claire that they will be able to survive if they choose to do so. With a positive mindset perhaps they will get through this ordeal. Charlie is the ideal person to make that point because he is going to have to be positive to get over his withdrawal. In an episode when some very serious characters get down to torture and fist fights, Charlie and Claire also show the softer side of island life. It’s important for Lost to feature a wide variety of personalities to draw in a wide audience, so I give them credit for this scene.

The Bad: Locke’s suggestion that Sawyer used a cigarette to set off his bottle rocket seems completely implausible. Not only is the cigarette an unreliable plan, but Sawyer had to set off the rocket after Sayid’s. That sort of timing would have been nearly impossible. It seems clear that it wasn’t Sawyer who attacked Sayid.

In the flashback Sawyer leaves his money at the house when he flees. Why would he do that? He will still need the money to help him pay off his debts. It seemed an odd moment.

How big is this island? Sayid says he hopes he will see Kate again. It’s a statement which implies the island is big enough for him to be gone for some time. But if it is that big then shouldn’t have someone discovered it already?

Those music montages feel like a crutch. It’s as if the directors can’t think of any other way to finish the show. I know that they like to lead the audience toward the next character’s story, but it still feels out of place so early in the show’s development.

The Unknown: How big is the island?

Best Moment: Sawyer forcing Kate to read his letter. It’s the first time we have seen him shout when he tells her to shut up. He then walks up to her with a glare of stone as she reads it aloud. The letter’s contents implies that Sawyer is a conman who is riddled with guilt about what he did. It’s a very effective and dramatic way of setting us up for the twists.

The Bottom Line: A superb performance by Sawyer, a very well written story and a dramatic and brutal sounding torture scene. It all makes for a brilliant episode and more confirmation of Lost’s huge potential as a show.

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  • I absolutely loved this episode, which I always thought was criminally underrated and forgotten. I agree with all of the points above, as I thought they made this episode truly great.

    I loved the scenes between Kate and Sawyer I this episode, especially the ones with the letter. They were fantastic together, having some realistic friendly conversation, while also showing excellent storytelling and development.

    I love the twist in the flashbacks. Once again, Lost made me think I knew where the story was going, but shocked me by turning it into something else entirely. Lost's plot twists worked really well because of this, and how they also turned a good story into a great one.

    The torture scene was gripping and fantastic. This episode definitely had one of the best on-island stories in season 1.

    I still really enjoy the musical montages, which is one thing I find myself disagreeing with you about. I though they effectively showcased the current place of many of the characters in a fun and peaceful manner.

    I had very few issues with this episode and it told a fantastic story both in the flashback and on-island. An excellent episode from Lost.

    Viewer score: 81 / 100

    Posted by Aaronic, 18/12/2016 11:51am (8 months ago)

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