LOST Chapter Eight – Confidence Man

Written by Damon Lindelof
Directed by Tucker Gates

Shannon’s asthma medication runs out and the castaways suspect Sawyer has more in his stash.  Meanwhile, Charlie attempts to convince Claire to move to the caves.

Another theme of LOST is Sawyer being shirtless

 “No.  Don’t stop now.  I think my sinuses are clearing.”

Self-loathing is a common theme on LOST.  Honestly, if we take the characters to be a cross-section of American society, then the majority of Americans have horrible fathers and they hate themselves.  I hope this isn’t true, but as the creators of LOST said, “it makes good drama.”

In rewatching these early episodes, I find that I had forgotten just how character driven this show was in the first season.  While character stayed important throughout the series, I think it is mainly this first season where the narrative was driven more by character than plot.  This changed somewhere along the way.  Possibly somewhere around season two or three.  Regardless, it is fun to watch a show that emphasizes character so much.

Back to self-loathing.  We learn in this episode that Sawyer hates himself because he was a confidence man.  This isn’t necessarily a problem, but when Sawyer was a child, a man conned his parents, which resulted in Sawyer’s father killing Sawyer’s mother then himself.  The con artist (who used the name Sawyer) is still out there somewhere.  Sawyer has been hunting him, but along the way became him.  However, a recent con job brought all this baggage back to the fore when he attempted to con a husband and wife who had a child.  He couldn’t go through with it.

On The Island, Shannon has run out of asthma medication, and her condition is getting worse.  Boone is convinced Sawyer has the spare medicine because Sawyer is reading Watership Down, a book Boone had packed for his trip.  Sawyer, in reality, doesn’t have the medication, but he sees the act as a type of penance.  He has the need to make the others hate him because he hates himself for what he has done.  Thus, he pretends he has the medication and offers to give it to Kate so long as she kisses him.  At first she refuses, which eventually results in Sawyer being tortured at the hands of Sayid and Jack, although primarily Sayid.  Jack calls it off pretty quick.  This is where we learn that Sayid’s job as a communications officer for The Republican Guard included “getting the enemy to communicate.”  I think Sawyer, at this point, has made a type of peace with dying.  I don’t think he particularly wants to die, but he probably feels he has it coming.  And make no mistake, Sayid is perfectly willing and capable of killing Sawyer, a conviction that we can trace back to John Locke.

In The Moth we saw Locke manipulate Charlie for good.  In this chapter, we have Locke manipulate Sayid, presumably to transfer suspicion, but possibly to eliminate someone Locke distrusts.  At the end of The Moth, Sayid attempted to triangulate the French signal, but was attacked from behind.  Locke hints, none-to-subtly, that the attack came from Sawyer.  With hindsight, we know this is not true.  We know that it was actually Locke who attacked Sayid.  So this begs the question, did Locke want Sawyer to take the fall so he could maintain his “trusted” position in the camp, or did he merely want Sawyer eliminated because he felt Sawyer had no place in this new Island society.  Did he feel that Sawyer was beyond redemption?  In these early chapters, it would seem Locke is no better than Ben, the primary difference being that Locke wants people to heal on his terms.  Ben just wants to be in control and doesn’t care a thing about healing or redeeming other people.  I get the impression Locke has a bit of a Messiah complex.  And skipping ahead quite a bit, I think that, much like there is always a bigger fish, on LOST there is always a bigger manipulator.  Locke manipulates quite well until we find Ben, who proves to be much better at manipulating.  Perhaps it is because the person who manipulates feels he is always in control.  Thus, he becomes a larger and much more satisfying target.  But even Ben gets played by The Man in Black.  And in each case, the one who is being played realizes it.  Locke knows Ben constantly manipulates him.  Ben even knows he is being played by The Man in Black.  In each case, they allow it because they believe they will get something out of it: Locke the respect he feels he has always deserved, and Ben revenge against Jacob for being ignored for years.

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