Lost Recaps: S1E8: Confidence Man

by thethreepennyguignol

Hello, and welcome to what is now the official Sawyer from Lost Hate Blog corner of the internet!

This week’s episode of Lost, Confidence Man, is centred around my least favourite frosted-tipped wannabe-fuckboy of choice, Sawyer, as played by Josh Holloway. And you know what? I was ready to give Sawyer A Chance. A lot of people have been keen to tell me that he’s a great character, or at least on his way to becoming one, and I assumed that, like Jack’s episode, I might actually find my opinion on him shifting this week.

But no! This is the early noughties, and this is a love triangle subplot, so, with Jack being a passably decent human being, Sawyer must be a raging piece of shit who passes off workplace sexual harassment as louche bad boy charm. This episode opens with Sawyer fucking Naruto-running out of the sea towards Kate yelping “Touch my penis!” and only gets worse from there, somehow, and I am tired, you guys.

I do not ask that all my TV characters are morally upright, or anything like that. Far from it; some of the most interesting stories are the ones told around people who are far from it and also in love with their secret angsty floppy-haired dog-dad boyfriend but I digress. But there are two key things that you need to pull that off: an actor who brings enough likeability to the role to stop it from being unwatchably repulsive, and the acknowledgement of the show that this person is a total fucking fucker.

First and foremost, I don’t think Josh Holloway has the charm or charisma or talent to pull Sawyer out of “unbearably fucking smug”, at least at this stage of his performance. This episode deals in flashback with Sawyer’s previous life as a confidence trickster, and frankly, I feel like the show is trying to pull the same kind of con on me right now – convincing me that this person is actually worth a second of screentime when I can’t help but groan in distress every time that he swaggers, dick first, into frame. His performance is so gratingly mannered, and, without Holloway to lend it the depth that promises something beyond that, he’s just a caricature with “angst” scrawled on one of his enormous pecs.

But, more importantly, the problem with Sawyer is actually Kate. Or maybe it’s that the problem with Kate is actually Sawyer – I’m not sure which one I find more frustrating to watch when they’re on screen together. Look, I know that this was A Different Time and everything, but it’s still just gallingly shite to watch this woman who has consistently expressed her disgust and dislike of this man continually be pushed into sexual situations with him because, you know, she really does want his frosted tip.

Sawyer, in this episode, beats the shit out of someone for no good reason to the point where he is struggling to walk and apparently witholds life-saving medicine from an innocent woman until he forces Kate to kiss him in return for it. This kiss is meant to be some sexy, hot moment between the two of them, a confirmation of her Secret Desire for his nasty little wiener, and it just…it just doesn’t make any fucking sense! Kate has been shown to be tenacious, intelligent, stubborn, and, most significantly, protective of her own emotional safety. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t scan for me that she would continually seek out Sawyer, a man who has proved himself to be violent, aggressive, and mean to the point of putting the lives of innocent people in danger, and that secretly, she’s been wet for him all along. It totally undercuts a lot of the character we’ve seen so far, and, if you’re having to get your love triangle to extort physical affection from each other to move things along, maybe you need to work on your fucking romance writing for a hot second, huh?

So, yes, Sawyer can continue to get fucked. Elsewhere in this episode, Naveen Andrews reminds me why he is, by far, the most interesting character in this show – his B-plot surrounding his anger at Sawyer and the unleashment of a violence that he didn’t want to engage with again is genuinely interesting, not least his trek off into a long, dark night of soul(ful eyes) at the episode’s end. Also, there’s a scene at the start where Jack is patching him up after the attack on Sayid last week, and honestly, it scans just like the start of some seriously angsty hurt/comfort fanfiction that I would only be slightly ashamed to say that I had read.

Confidence Man, I was ready for you to change my mind. But all you did was remind me just how much I despise everything about this diabolically rubbish love triangle plot. Let Kate be a character in her own right, stop sticking her with boring men, and maybe throw Sawyer into sea for a bit, at least until he develops into a more interesting character who doesn’t exist purely to harass Kate into wanting his penis. Or learns how to act. Either or. I’ll wait.

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 Not Confused, Just Lost)