Friday, May 21, 2010

"Lost" Fifteen Favorites: "Outlaws"

“I never cared about having carte blanche ‘cause I just wanted to spend some time with the only other person on this island that just don’t belong.”


Number seven on my Fifteen Favorites list is a more obscure episode from Season 1, “Outlaws.” I like this episode because it really reveals quite a bit about Sawyer, and there is some amazing Sawyer/Kate chemistry. This is back when I really liked that pair together- before Kate started really getting on my nerves because of how badly she treated Sawyer. I also like that the episode took a little time to deal with the emotional consequences of recent events. Charlie is suffering from a bit of PTSD following the incident where he killed Ethan, and Sayid is tasked with helping him through it. Overall, I just thought this episode did a great deal of really nice character work, and it’s nice to give a little recognition to an often overlooked, yet good quality, episode.

The episode opens with a flashback to the murder-suicide of Sawyer’s parents. Compared to that trauma, Sawyer’s on-Island trials in this episode seem kind of inconsequential. Sawyer wakes up in the middle of the night to see a boar rooting through his stash. Sawyer scares the boar, and it runs off, taking the tarp of Sawyer’s tent with it. Sawyer takes this as a personal insult, especially when he goes out in the jungle looking for the boar and it attacks him a second time. While it seems kind of silly on the surface, I think this plot gives us a lot of early character development for Sawyer. And it’s certainly better than the fairly lame re-hash “Sawyer wants to kill the tree frog” plot in Season 2.

Meanwhile, Jack is locking up all the guns, and he tells Kate that one gun is still missing. Kate, still fawning all over Jack (actually, I don’t think she’s ever not fawned over Jack, except maybe in “I Do") sassily tells him that she can get the gun back from Sawyer. She finds Sawyer as he’s wandering the jungle, still seeking revenge on the boar. Not surprisingly, Sawyer has gotten himself a bit lost. He’s followed tracks from just about everything but the boar, including himself. Kate offers to help track the boar for a price. She wants carte blanche for whatever she wants from Sawyers stash. We know, of course, that what she’s really after is Sawyer’s gun. Sawyer is so irritated by the boar with the apparent vendetta that he agrees to the terms.

My favorite scene of the episode (and one of my favorite scenes of the series overall), features Sawyer and Kate chilling by their campfire at the end of their first day of boar hunting. Sawyer produces an airplane mini-bottle of alcohol, and Kate wants one too. Sawyer says she can have her own bottle if she agrees to play a game of “I Never.” Some very interesting things are revealed during this game. I think the fact that surprised me the most the first time I saw the episode is that Kate was married once. This would later be explored in detail in “I Do,” but at the time of “Outlaws,” it was a rather shocking revelation. I love the easy banter between Sawyer and Claire in this scene. The questions they ask each other keep getting more and more pointed, but at no point does either of them give the game up.

Sawyer and Kate wake up the next morning to a third boar attack. And of course, the boar roots all through Sawyer’s stuff but Kate’s backpack is left untouched. Soon after the boar leaves, Locke shows up. Locke tells this story about a dog that showed up at his family’s home after his foster sister died, and I think Sawyer and Kate find it more awkward than helpful. Later on, Kate finally finds a useful sign- a wallow used by the boar to keep cool. Rustling in the bushes reveals a boar alright, but not the one Sawyer was looking for. This one’s a baby. To Kate’s disgust, Sawyer picks up the piglet, and no he doesn’t smoosh it like that tree frog I mentioned earlier. He holds it out and taunts mama or papa boar.

I’m not sure why Kate seems so incredibly horrified over all this. Sure, Sawyer’s not being nice to the boar, but he’s not exactly hurting it either. I just don’t think that the level of Kate’s reaction is quite warranted. Maybe she’s more disgusted with herself for enjoying spending time with Sawyer. When the boar he’s been after does finally appear, Sawyer thinks Kate has left. Perhaps more disgusted with himself than Kate was, despite her hysterics, Sawyer puts down the piglet and lets both boar go along on their way.

Although the opening flashback took place when Saywer was just a little kid, the rest of the flashbacks are much more recent. He’s about to start the usual pigeon drop con when he’s interrupted by another man sitting in his hotel room. The man’s name is Hibbs, and he and Sawyer once had a falling out over a job that went south. Hibbs tells Sawyer that he has some information that might interest him. There’s an American man living in the Sydney area who used to be a con man and used to go by the name “Frank Sawyer.” Thinking this man is his nemesis, Sawyer hightails it to Sydney.

My reaction when I saw Frank for the first time was “Thatcher Grey!” Jeff Perry, who plays Meredith’s awful father, also plays Frank the shrimp truck owner. Sawyer and Frank make small talk as Frank cooks up Sawyer a batch of shrimp in hot sauce, but when Frank goes to put the plate of shrimp on the counter, Sawyer is gone. I think we’re meant to believe Sawyer didn’t have the stomach to kill Frank and chickened out. Sawyer ends up in a nearby bar, where of course, since this is Lost, he happens to meet Jack’s dad, Christian. Christian tells Sawyer that he wishes he could tell his son he’s proud of him, but he’s too chicken to go through with it. This scene itself doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but later scenes between Jack and Sawyer that reference this scene are wonderful. There’s one in this episode where Sawyer starts asking Jack questions about his dad when he hears Jack say “that’s why the Red Sox will never win the series,” and there’s an even better one in “Exodus.”

Egged on by Christian, Sawyer returns to the shrimp truck and shoots Frank before Frank really has a chance to say much. Frank doesn’t die instantly, though, and before he dies, he tells Sawyer that Sawyer was lied to. Frank never went by the last name of Sawyer. He owed Hibbs money, so Hibbs made up this story to get revenge. Sawyer tries to maintain the tough exterior as Frank takes his last breaths, but we can see that he’s devastated by his mistake. I guess part of it is that Original Sawyer isn’t dead yet, but I think an even larger part of it is that he’s horrified he killed an innocent man.

Also dealing with becoming a murderer, although in his case the victim wasn’t so innocent, is Charlie. He’s being avoidant, even with Claire. Hurley notices this and is concerned, even as Charlie insists he’s fine. Hurley knows better and consults Sayid, figuring that since he was a soldier, he might have some experience with PTSD and what Charlie’s going through. Sayid agrees to have a chat with Charlie. Charlie isn’t all that receptive to the discussion at first, but he takes it to heart when Sayid tells him that he’s not alone, so he shouldn’t pretend to be. By the end of the episode, Charlie is talking and going on a walk with Claire again, and all is right in that little corner of the Island world- for now, at least.

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