Season 2, Episode 13
Date of airing: February 8, 2006 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 18.74 million viewers, 11.2/16 in Households, 7.7/17 with Adults 18-49
In which Sawyer turned into the villain of the story again, because for some reason the writers needed to undo all the work they have done with the character, who has become more likable over the course of the previous dozen-or-so episodes. For some reason the writers needed to hammer home that Sawyer is not the antihero we thought he would be, that he would never be interested in joining Jack and Ana Lucia’s planned militia, that he would never want to be seen as the good guy of the group, as he always thinks of himself as the villain. It begs the question why Sawyer wants to be seen as evil and terrifying, and why he never had any interest in going into the good place of life. Maybe his life as a con man has defined him as the villain of the world and he simply cannot do anything else, because he feels unhealthy doing good things, but why did he decided to be part of the raft, let alone help his fellow raft passengers when the crap was about to hit the proverbial fan? Sawyer got a bullet in his shoulder to save Walt (maybe he got that bullet trying to protect himself from dudes who wanted to kill him), and Sawyer was very much interested in not being too much of an asshole when he was a prisoner of the tail-section survivors group. And now that he is all healthy and ready to go, he decides to be a dickhead again? I’m not so sure what this has to do in his character arc and why the writers needed Sawyer to be the villain again. Maybe it’s part of an ongoing story, but maybe this episode was also just proof that the writers needed a flashback story to coincide with the island story, so here we have Sawyer, pulling long cons in both timelines, just so the flashbacks and island stories sync up for once.
This made the episode a little less interesting, despite Sawyer being a more intriguing character ever since he turned somewhat into an antihero. It’s sort of astounding how the series is tracking back his development and turning the clock around on him, almost turning this episode into a bottle show story-wise, as neither the Others nor the big and deadly dangers from the jungle made huge appearances throughout 13 episodes of the season so far (the black smoke monster itself became visible for two scenes, and the Others were mostly silent and invisible and only sometimes deadly for most of the appearances, before suddenly drawing a line and making a “deal” two episodes ago). It’s almost like the writers retreat between the first and second season did not lead to much during the season, because the writers were still stalling. Was it because they didn’t know when to make the big story moves, not knowing when the show would need them or did they fear they would lose audiences? Did the writers not know how to treat the back story they developed and when to include them into the narrative, knowing that the first big step towards it would completely change the show? This episode was essentially like most of the first season, in which some fo the characters track into the jungle for no reason to deal with their personal demons. Only this time around the jungle was replaced with Sawyer’s con and wishes to get some guns.
At least Sawyer has proven that he can be a major villain. Telling Charlie to attack Sun, facing his survivor mates to tell them all that he is armed and pretty much dangerous, which means no more messing around with him — I’m pretty sure everyone hates Sawyer now (and Hurley was the one who initially thought he is going to lose all of his friends earlier in the season), which means Jack and Ana Lucia should think about training an army not to bring down the Others, but to subdue Sawyer. There is actually an idea behind all of that, as the levels of dangers are being removed from the show’s elements you rarely get to see (the Others, the black smoke monster) and kept “in-house” among the survivors. In hindsight, Sawyer always seemed like the more interesting villain among the regular characters, which is why the attempt at placing him in his redemption arc via being part of the raft kind of made sense. But now that the writers were retreating the story, I’m getting a little disappointed. But if it means that Sawyer is placed to the back of the row for a few episodes, giving attention to the other characters, I will accept the moves partaken during this episode. And it looks like Sawyer is about to have a break — after Ana Lucia killed a woman, she only had one or two scenes for the next few episodes. After Shannon died, Sayid had ample time to grieve and now it’s time for him to wake up again. Which is probably something he did when trying to fix the radio and turning it into… a radio. Hurley will be happy, because the batteries of his CD player ran out long ago. Oh wait, I just remembered there is a record player in the Swan station. No radio or new batteries that may or may not be in the station needed.