Friday, November 8, 2013

A Lost Gem: Confidence Man

Earlier this week, my roommate started watching my favorite television show of all time, Lost. Lucky for me, her headphones broke so I've gotten the pleasure to listen along. Last night, we watched episode 8 from season 1, "Confidence Man," as I requested viewing privilege. And, while I may be biased as the episode featured my favorite character Sawyer, it settled all those silly notions in my head that shows I currently love are better.

The always sexy Josh Holloway, who is starring in a new CBS drama Intelligence that comes out in January. Everyone should watch.
The simple plot of "Confidence Man" is that Shannon has an asthma attack and is in dire need of her inhaler, which she lost during the crash. Jack and Sayid torture Sawyer, as it is assumed that he's hiding it. In the end, it's revealed that he doesn't have it. However, the episode encompasses a lot more than just that.

As always, the episode is filled with flashbacks from the featured character's past. We dive into Sawyer's life as a con artist. Another show that uses flashbacks is Orange is the New Black. I hated the way OITNB did their flashbacks. They kinda pulled me out of the story as opposed to bringing me further in and it's one of the main reasons I stopped watching after a couple episodes. Watching Lost reminded me how flashbacks should be done. They connect to the given storyline on the island, although the connection may not be obvious until later in the episode. In "Confidence Man," Sawyer's flashbacks explain why he takes punches from Jack and torture from Sayid instead of telling them the truth - that he doesn't have Shannon's inhaler. When he forces Kate to read the letter aloud, we think that Sawyer's con in his flashbacks is the con that killed a little boy's parents. However, we later discover that he wrote the letter when he was a little boy and it was his parents. He takes these punches and torturing as punishment he believes he deserves for becoming like the man who ruined his childhood.

My poor baby being tortured.
Keeping with flashbacks adding onto the island storyline, the transition from island to flashback is awesome. Just generally, the score in Lost is absolutely fantastic. Seriously, go listen to it if you haven't already admired the score of the entire series. Well done, Michael Giacchino. Also, they always use a close-up on the featured character for the transition, which gives the idea that it's the character who recalls these moments. We then are brought back to the island and see the character make actions based off of recalling that moment from their past.

And still, the episode does more than the main plot and flashbacks. Every second in the episode is essential to the story. They move every plot at least a tad bit further whether you realize it or not. For instance, when Michael gives Sun the plants she is looking for and Jin calls out to her from behind. That tension planted in the pilot continues to build. Another example is Claire and Charlie. A seed is planted in this episode: Charlie and Claire's relationship. In the beginning of the episode, she says she'll move to the caves if Charlie can find her peanut butter. He comes back later in the episode with an empty jar and pretends to eat peanut butter with Claire. Too cute.

"This is the best bloody peanut butter I've ever tasted."

It's only now, after I've gone through the struggles of writing "Cracked," that I can appreciate how much is in every episode of Lost. It's truly a talent to be able to fit so much into 43 minutes. Every episode is just as jam-packed as the last, but it doesn't feel that way watching it at all. Until you sit down to write a blog post and realize how well written and timed the whole thing is and find yourself marveling over how unbelievably talented Damon Lindelof is (and all the other show writers).

As a whole, I have to say that Lost knows how to handle an ensemble cast better than any other show I've seen. Each character's story is intriguing and re-watching has made me realize how many seeds they plant without the viewer realizing. Example: In a different episode, when Walt beats Hurley in backgammon, he says "Hey, you owe me $20,000!" and Hurley replies "Don't worry, you'll get your money!" And of course we think haha oh Hurley, you always crack me up. But give it maybe 5 or 6 more episodes and we discover that Hurley won majorly in the lottery in his past. It's these little seeds, that I'm only able to appreciate now that I'm seeing it all again, that make Lost so genius.

Lost holds a special place in my heart. It's the reason I'm going into the television industry and attending Ithaca College and taking this course and writing this blog post. Lost sold me on this medium of storytelling, because they incorporated everything I was looking for. And for this reason, it will always be my most influential television show.

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