It's interesting, the difference a day can make. Even before seeing 'LeFleur' I was set on writing a piece on Sawyer for Chaos in General. It was going to be a piece about how even though Sawyer is (as all characters are) important to the overall series, that his character has yet to develop much beyond the man who crashed on the island. I even had a title: "The Impotence of Sawyer"
It was going to be about how he hasn't had a flashback since the beginning of season three where we had that convoluted plot in which he found out he had a daughter, denied her, and then got involved in some half-assed scheme to help find some lost cash and magically he'd be given a "reward". Then, when he did, he gave it all to his daughter… which was supposed to be some grand gesture, but really he was just repaying the money he owed his baby-momma so it wasn't that self-sacrificial actually.
It was going to be about how he had a traumatic experience when he was a child and how this somehow justifies his life of crime and every bit of assholery he pulls. It was supposed to be about how this character has been wasted, ignored, and yet glorified by an ignorant audience.
And then I watched 'LeFleur'.
LeFleur did little to advance the plot of the show. The only true plot points we learned were: 1) at some point the Others had a truce with Dharma, and obviously it gets re-broken at some point later, 2) the Fusies were, for at least a couple years in time, part of the Dharma Initiative, and 3) whatever happened that makes all the women on the island die with their unborn babies hasn't happened yet (window of opportunity, I say!)
But it did wonders for the development of Sawyer's character.
It was almost as if these first six weeks of season five have been the cocoon Sawyer's ugly worm has been wrapped in and this episode was the emergence of something different, something evolved, advanced… something worth watching. Now, I'm not saying Sawyer's importance level has jumped, or that he's a flawless human being because he's far from both. He's just finally taken his own advice and Cowboy'd up, both in his ability to communicate with others, and his ability to understand what love truly means.
Sawyer Learns to Work Well With Others
Did he come up with a stupid plan? Yes, but like Jack has done – and Juliet pointed out – a dumb plan is better than no plan and along the way, maybe something better comes along. For me this was both about the group still left, and Sawyer himself. After exacting revenge on the Real Sawyer, he has had NO plan, no purpose. To pull a quote from a brilliant movie, "You know, it's very strange -- I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life." In The Princess Bride, Inigo is told that he would make a great Dread Pirate Roberts – the leader of an infamous pirate ship; for Sawyer, his new role is as leader of a make-believe salvage vessel.And, as opposed to the first six episodes, now he IS acting as leader. Unfortunately to do so he has to rely on old bad habits, but his con – his lies – are only for Dharma, for the falseness of Dharma Initiative on the island. When the true descendants of the island come, represented by Richard Alpert, Sawyer speaks for the group again and this time he speaks only the truth. I would dare say the part of the conversation we WEREN'T privy to went in depth with his explanation of "who" they were.
As leader, like Jack, he conjures up a lie to conceal the truth about the circumstances of their arrival and, unlike what had happened off the island, Sawyer has kept his group together, happy even. He's secured their places in this society of which they are not a part of in more ways than just not being Dharma, and he's succeeded in being someone people look up to and run to for guidance and protection.
Regretfully, while we saw the beginnings of this transformation in 'LaFleur', we weren't able to see the events that took them from this group being accepted into Dharma to this group living in tandem with Dharma and for the first time since season one, I look forward to seeing another Sawyer episode. To see this development. To see the questions and the arguments and the story of those three missing years. And I'm curious to see the extent to which Juliet was involved in that transformation.
Sawyer Discovers Love
Before emerging out to tackle the 'Hostiles', Sawyer, in a throwback to a season one scene between Jack and Kate, asks Juliet if she has his back and she, rightly so, responds that she does. Juliet has been moving along between the events of the finale and now calmly despite what is occurring because she too has lost purpose. We've watched her act as a sedative for Sawyer's aggression these past few episodes, almost as if she knew it wasn't the right time for it. But here she, like Sawyer, seems to wake up to the world – her actions and words retaining the air of calm, but infusing it with a bit of the snark from before and whether she realized it or not, she redefined herself as Sawyer's other half when she shot that Other to protect him.
And in that action Sawyer, who has until now only dabbled in the idea of 'Live Together, Die Alone', finally adhered to it, understanding that without these people, he would be dead. More specifically, without Juliet he would be dead. Their conversation on the dock, where she told him she would be on the submarine come morning wasn't meant to be romantic, but as a clear indication that these two people, at that moment, have nothing in the world for them except each other.
Neither relates to Dan, or Miles, and the people they DO relate to are gone from the island, and from their time, and Sawyer and Juliet choose to remain together to wait for them – but in that time, in those three years, they've developed a relationship secure enough to exchange, with sincerity, "I love you"'s and to depend on one another wholly. Their previous relationships with Jack and Kate had started them on a journey where they finally accepted how they were flawed, but their relationship with one another is what was necessary to 'fix' them. Whether they stay together remains to be seen, but they needed one another to get past the stalemate of character growth they'd both entered into in season four.
Sawyer Finds Acceptance
If there's one thing Sawyer has been lacking his whole life it was friendship and acceptance. At an early age his parents were gone and his life was thrown into chaos. He became a drifter, a loner, a con artist looking out for numero uno. This episode began with him seeking the help of Juliet, at the risk of blowing their cover, to help a woman (in both the 'flashback' and the 'present day') and ended with him trying to figure out how to develop a way to save his friends (in both the 'flashback' and the 'present day') and, along the way, saving the stability of this group of people, and the integrity of a man, who had previously been his enemy.
This is the development that I've been waiting for with this character; the development that was stalled by the all too present shenanigans of the triangle. Sawyer's willingness to be accepted into a group, accept being a rung in the chain of command, and develop long-lasting relationships with those around him was a breath of much needed fresh air into this character (quite frankly, Juliet's as well) and while I don't expect it to be perfect, or to be without set-backs, I now have expectations for Sawyer that I haven't had for a while.
I expect him to continue to Cowboy up and I believe he will.