Thursday, March 5, 2009

Confidence Man

I haven't written anything yet about Lost this season -- what gives? Mainly I've been unsure of my responses. I haven't loved it, I haven't hated it; and with time-travel it's usually either one or the other. Lost has had boffo episodes on the subject in the past, always involving Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick). But as Season Five's theme, with the large ensemble coming and going along with its magical, mystical, high-maintenance island through years, decades, and possibly centuries, the show, while still involving, has felt a tad uncentered. Adding to this dislocation have been the hijinks on the mainland, with last year's Oceanic Six struggling to return to the island because....well, because Ben says they have to. Why does anyone still trust Ben at this point? I know he's a fan favorite and the fine actor who portrays him (Michael Emerson) a critics' darling, but I grew tired of the character's machinations two years ago. Yet last night's episode, "LaFleur," felt beautifully centered; and it was an unlikely character -- the show's original con man -- who made it happen.

As Sawyer, Josh Holloway has always been fun. Well, not always: he was on the whiny side in the first episode or two of Season One, a young, inexperienced actor who had inherited a role originally conceived for an older man. It didn't take long for the show's writers to realize he was at his best doing nothing. While Jack, Locke and most of the other characters pushed forward with their various agendas, Sawyer kicked back and relaxed, hording the plane's stash and giving everyone an endlessly creative array of nicknames that were even funnier coming out of his easy drawl. Over time we came to learn he was a man on the run, and also a killer, yet beneath all of it lay a wounded nobility which in moments of extreme duress could rise to the surface.

The fun of "LaFleur" (Sawyer's latest nom-de-plume) was that after three years with the Dharma Initiative -- the island's equivalent to suburbia -- Sawyer finally experienced true happiness. Finding love with Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell). Usurping the role of leader from Jack and Locke as effortlessly as those two have strained. While still bitingly funny (his description of swarthy Nester Carbonell's Richard as "the guy with the eyeliner" was a laugh-out-loud moment), Holloway also got to convey a sense of peace with himself that was pure pleasure to behold.

Of course, the concluding scene heralding the return of our castaways means all good things must come to an end. I'm hoping for at least an upcoming scene where Sawyer describes Jack as "the guy with the facelift."

1 comment:

Ed Howard said...

I've been really enjoying this season's time travel adventures, though you're right that they've mostly lacked a real emotional center (with the exception of the great Locke-centered episode about his time as Jeremy Benthem). But this episode has been the best all season, by far. It was a good balance of the show's mythology and secrets (more info about the Dharma Initiative, the glimpse of that (four-toed?) statue) and the more personal, emotional character beats. Sawyer and Juliet have some real chemistry, and it was great seeing them so happy together, so much so that the return of Kate at the end was actually kind of a bummer. I'm hoping the show goes into more interesting places with the return -- and provides some justification for it besides "Ben said so" -- rather than returning to the love triangle/quadrangle status quo that sometimes marred earlier seasons. We'll see...