Lost Recaps S1E3: Tabula Rasa

by thethreepennyguignol

Sawyer, I can announce with confidence, is the kind of man who gives himself finger-guns in the mirror before he leaves to go to the one party of the year that someone forgot to uninvite him to.

Sawyer is the kind of man who shares suggestive memes on Tumblr announcing his love for wild and kinky dominant sex; he has never done anything more adventurous than doggy.

Sawyer says that music sounds better on vinyl than on anything else; secretly, he can’t tell the difference.

Sawyer, if he was cast today, would be played by Ansel Egort.

Devastatingly, worst of all: it seems like Sawyer is actually going to be a main character of this fucking show.

After the pilot, which I covered last week, we’re into Lost proper, and, well – okay. Let’s start with the positive, shall we?

Now that we’re done with the grungy, messy work of establishing the what, the who, the where, the when, and offering the question of why, this episode feels, in some ways, a little more grounded. One of the best things about a big ensemble cast like this one is the myriad of dynamics and relationships that the show can tap into at will. There’s a sweet little subplot, for example, about John Locke (the actual scandal of just naming a character after the philosopher who put forth some of the major ideas upon which your show is based is something I refuse to recover from) making a whistle to track down young Walt’s lost dog before allowing his father to be the one to re-introduce the two, a simple but slick story that allows for us to get to know a few more of the characters better without having to empty a big load of flashback on to our laps.

Speaking of, this is a heavy episode for the ol’ walkin’ Kate, who apparently spent most of her time before being butterfly-netted by the feds wandering around the Australian outback like Randy Flagg with worse eyebrows. I really would enjoy kissing like Evangeline Lilly’s performance here, but the flashbacks feel pretty hacky at this point – the dramatic obsfucated past, the one-armed man, the double-cross that her noble heart must forgive. Most of these characters are still sketch-ins right now, and I’m okay with that, especially with a cast as big as this one, but the flashbacks thus far just haven’t felt satisfying or cohesive, or even reflective of themes in the present storyline.

Speaking of hacky: Sawyer, somehow, insists on being a thing. I had no idea that he was actually going to be a main cast member until my boyfriend, held hostage into watching this with me, made a passing reference to romantic tension between him and Kate, and I was struck with the grasping terror of realizing that I wasn’t going to get rid of that easily.

Look, I watched Escape from New York for the first time recently, where I promptly fell in hate with the diabolically arsey Snake Plissken; performatively Male, grindingly uncool, painfully boring. I’m getting this very same energy from Sawyer, and that’s not a good thing; it feels like he plans every one of his conversations fifteen times before he goes near thinking about having them, but it’s not like the show is trying to unwind some interesting vulnerability or anything. It’s just that Josh Holloway can’t act nuance through his bleached tips and perma-grimace, and the writing refuses to elevate him above a Jane the Virgin villain level of on-screen seriousness. His level of charmless affectation feels so parodic that I know it’s going to take a hell of a lot for me to take his drama-smoking seriously, and, apparently, I’m going to have to figure out a way to do it, anyway.

In other boring leading man stakes, Jack is still kicking around – his big plot this week is having to kill someone who is in the process of a painful death. And honestly, I get what this is meant to represent for his arc and all that, but for God’s sake, he’s a doctor – it’s hard to believe that he would be this squeamish in the face of death, that choosing to end the violent suffering of a person who wants him to do just that would be so ground-shaking for him. Matthew Fox isn’t a terrible actor, but this plot is just a little baffling to me, and he doesn’t bring enough to it to sell it as this enormous moral shift that it’s clearly intended to be. At least he took a few classes in euthanasia. That’s a relief.

I’m still moderately interested in what comes next, if only for the promise that some of the smaller characters and more interesting actors (Harold Perrineau, Naveen Andrews, Terry O’Quinn) have shown so far. But, even with Kate’s story taking on a little more shape, it looks like we’re still cursed with a couple of diabolically uninteresting leading men who are threatening to get in the way of the small blossoming that the story is trying to coax out. Strap in, folks – it’s going to be a long, Sawyer-heavy ride. And I already want to get off.

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book,Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!

(header image via Pedantic Semantics)