Outlaws (S1, ep. 16)
Things get Sawyer-centric again in Outlaws, which surely features televisions only spiritually-redemptive Boar-stalking.
-In flashbacks, we see the night Sawyer’s family destroyed itself, and we watch as the con man he became gets sucked into Robert Patrick’s headgame. It’s always good to see the T-1000 pop up, and he gives good sleaze here with his limited screen time. The “Frank Duckett” scam makes it clear that while Sawyer may be pretty good at charming the ladies, he’s no Super-con.
-After last episode’s spiritually-redemptive(?) Ethan-stalking, Jack and Kate gather the guns back together, but Sawyer’s still got one. Of course he does. And Kate thinks she can get it back, because she ‘knows how to speak his language.’ Of course she does.
-The miniature patterns here, in the first season, are a lot clearer on second viewing and the ‘Sawyer’s got our stuff’ motif pops up practically every episode. Watching them in relatively quick succession this gets a little old. But in perspective this repetition was arguably necessary as the show first aired. Since this was the show’s first season, they could not count on folks tuning in every week and being caught up in the narrative, and so we get repeat character beats like these – differently shaded each time – to keep illustrating on a basic level who these people are and how they relate to one another.
-Sawyer, out in the jungle, hears the Whispers for what is, I think, the second time in the series thus far. This time, one phrase stands out as audible, and it lends further credence to the idea that Lost’s creators knew more-or-less where they were headed in a ‘big picture’ sense as well as in this episode: “It’ll come back around.”
-We get to see Hurley’s gift of mending in this episode, as he attempts to help Charlie get over PTSD by enlisting Sayid. Hurley’s a facilitator, always working between people but rarely getting personally involved beyond nagging those that need nagging. Again, this is all consistent with the idea that Hurley, on some level, embodies the notion of PU, the uncarved block.
-I can’t remember who’d told me to look out for the game of “I Never” that Sawyer and Kate play, but they were right. Lily does a great job with this – they both do. We see that the writers have had their ducks in a row on a number of levels, as its revealed that Kate was briefly married (to Malcolm Reynolds, who should have been cast in a recurring role, not a one-off), something we won’t see for another two seasons. We also learn that they’ve both killed a man, and that Sawyer has worn pink. The actors sell this back and forth well.
-Locke gets involved in the hunt for Sawyer’s Boar-nemesis, and again offers a story like the wise sage he is this season. Given what we will learn about Kate’s horse and Nadia’s cat in upcoming episodes, it seems reasonable to me to wonder whether the Boar in this episode is ‘real,’ or is a construct/shape taken by the Monster/the MiB.
-The highlight of this episode for me is the meeting between Sawyer and Christian Shepard. Shepard’s in Australia on his bender and he’s attempting to see Claire while he’s there, which we’ll learn courtesy of Ana Lucia next season. This scene involved solid work from both Holloway and John Terry, and Christian’s comments throughout provide some juicy subtext for what’s to come:
Christian: “"We're all suffering, but don't beat yourself up about it. It's fate. That's why the Red Sox will never win the damn series."
Of course, as Jack finds out in Season 3, the Sox DO win the series. This comment, and the ‘real world’ result, function as a nifty illustration of the whole fate/free will thing. ‘Fate’ is the commandment ‘thou shalt not win the series, Sox.’ The variables were that season’s team, shattering ‘fate’ as individuals collectively working together. Yeah, it’s a stretch. But still.
Christian: “He thinks I feel betrayed by him, but what I really feel is gratitude and pride because of what he did to me."
What’s interesting about the encounter between Christian and Sawyer, other than everything I just mentioned, is the way in which Christian functions to essentially push Sawyer toward his ‘fate’ – killing Frank Duckett. It’s nothing so overt as Jacob giving young Sawyer a pen, but Christian’s comment propels our favorite con man back to murder the wrong man. You could call this simply a comment on the perils/responsibilities of interconnectivity, or the hand of Jacob/MiB/fate guiding Sawyer to where we needed to be, or you could call it coincidence. As it stands, I sort of hope that there’s no eventual answer to ‘why’ the characters on this show intersect and crisscross. The possibilities left open to discuss by not answering that are more interesting to me than doing so definitively by saying ‘Jacob made sure you all kept crossing paths.’
-The moment between Sayid and Charlie was good stuff. It really grounds and explains Charlie’s actions. I like Naveen Andrews’ work on this show quite a lot.
-Sawyer, in flashback, shoots the wrong man. And just before the man dies he speaks his last words: “It’ll come back around.” Eerie stuff, and further implied support for the notion that the MiB/the Island was/is testing these people, or that they are in fact testing/judging themselves – confronting who they are and what they’ve done. On this Island, past and present and future coexist in more than one way, the echoes of Sawyer’s past becoming literal echoes in the jungle. And as the episode comes to a close, Sawyer does the ‘right’ thing, giving his gun to Jack. With another echo (‘that’s why the Sox will never win the series’) Sawyer realizes that he’s met Jack’s father.