May the Best Man Win
The Los Angeles Timeline
Sawyer's in bed with a beautiful woman, because that's what he does. (She's played by Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, so I thought she'd wind up with a bigger part in the ep, but I was wrong.) Sawyer realizes he's late for a meeting and hustles to go when he spills a load of cash from his suitcase, the set-up for a classic con. She grabs a gun and gets the drop on him, calling shenanigans on his story about a business investor, saying she recognizes a con man when she sees one because she used to be married to one. He turns the tables on her and says he's actually a cop, and that he can call in a squad with one word to take her down. When she calls the bluff, he simply says, "LaFleur," and vice cops kick in the door and cuff the woman. That's right: In the non-crash world, he's James Ford of the LAPD, and he's partnered with Miles. I would totally watch a show with that premise.
At the office, Sawyer is working his way through a call sheet of Anthony Coopers when Miles comes up to chat, and it becomes clear he thinks Sawyer's recent trip was to Palm Springs. Miles also tries to set Sawyer up with a friend, but Sawyer claims to have plans. Sensing a dodge, Miles asks Sawyer if he's telling the truth, which is a nice juxtaposition with the other Miles, who can read people right away. Sawyer agrees to the date, and later on he heads to a nice restaurant to meet the woman, who turns out to be Charlotte. (I get that everyone still knows each other in this world, but come on.) They flirt and dine, and he tells her that he became a cop because he reached a point where he had to choose between crime and law, and he chose law. That was apparently all she needed to hear, because before long, they head back to his place to hook up. When they're done, Sawyer heads to the bathroom while Charlotte looks for a T-shirt and rummages through his stuff like that's okay to do. In addition to Watership Down, she finds a binder full of info about Sawyer's troubled past and the con man that ruined his life, at which point Sawyer returns and flips out about her spying, kicking her out of the apartment.
The next day, Charlie's brother, Liam, arrives at the police station to ask about his incarcerated sibling, but the action shifts to Miles as he finds Sawyer, takes him in the locker room, and almost starts beating him up. Sawyer thinks it's about the Charlotte fiasco, but Miles found out about Australia by running Sawyer's credit cards. (How Miles expects to have a leg to stand on in an argument about trust is beyond me, but whatevs.) Sawyer refuses to say why he was there, so Miles breaks up with him, partner-wise, and storms out. Then Sawyer, determined to hit every beat in the bad 1980s cop-movie playbook, punches a mirror.
That night, Sawyer eats a TV dinner and watches "Little House on the Prairie" when he realizes that life is meant to be shared, it's bad to be alone, etc. He gets a six-pack and a sunflower and heads over to Charlotte's, but she blows him off at the door and refuses to let him in. "You blew it," she says, shutting him out for good. Sometime later, he drives up to the station as Miles is walking by, and Miles joins him in the car so Sawyer can apologize. He gives up the binder and reveals his backstory, and he explains that he'd gone to Sydney to track down a lead about Anthony Cooper. When Sawyer finds the con man, he plans on killing him. They don't get much further in the talk when a car slams into them and spins around. The driver gets out and starts running as Saywer and Miles (who are totally fine) drive in pursuit. They hop out and continue on foot, and Sawyer gets around and gets the drop on the runner, pulling back the cap to reveal the person to be Kate. It looks like he recognizes her from Oceanic 815, too, but he's definitely caught by how cute she is.
The Island Timeline
Let's do this quickly, because not much happened.
Sawyer's waiting at Claire's hut for the Enemy and Co. to come back when Jin wakes up. He wants to get out and look for Sun, but Sawyer says they should stick there, with Locke, though they both know it isn't really John. Everyone eventually gets back, and Claire shows Kate the absolutely creepy fake baby she made, saying it was "all I had." That thing reminds me of something out of Jan Svankmajer, and I really don't like to look at it. Fake Locke says it was a "long and traumatic night" and that the people at the Temple were killed by the smoke monster, and with that he pretty much starts leading his group off into the jungle.
As they hike, Sawyer gripes about having to make camp when he wants go home already, so Fake Locke takes him aside and gives him a special mission: reconnaissance on Hydra Island to see how many people are left from the Ajira flight. Sawyer takes a canoe over to the smaller island and investigates the wreckage, finding a pile of corpses in a small clearing near the plane. He sees a woman run by and chases her down and tackles her, which is apparently just how Sawyer deals with people. She tells him she's "the only one left" and that she was out collecting wood when she heard screams and came back to find everyone dead. Sawyer, though he's been told by Fake Locke to play it cool, tells this woman, Zoe, the whole story: He and some friends are on the main island with a leader who plans to get them off. They're pushing the canoe back to the water when she asks Sawyer if he and his people have guns, and the weirdness of the question tips him off that she's lying. He pulls his weapon on her and tells her to start telling the truth, so she whistles and summons other guys with guns from the jungle. New people are showing up all the time now.
They take Sawyer to the pier, where the sub is docked, and he's brought below deck to see Charles Widmore. Sawyer says he remembers the man's name from the Kahana mishap, and though he refuses to believe Widmore's claim that they aren't responsible for the deaths of the Ajira passengers, Sawyer does reveal his entire situation with Fake Locke, agreeing to keep Widmore's presence quiet and lead Fake Locke right to Widmore so the old man can kill him. All Sawyer wants is passage home, and Widmore agrees.
Meanwhile, back on the main island, Claire jumps Kate and almost cuts her throat, and Fake Locke steps in like a bad dad to calm things down by slapping Claire. He takes Kate down to the shore and tells her about Sawyer's mission and about his own past, saying that long ago he had a crazy mother who wound up scarring him emotionally in ways he's just now understanding. The Enemy wants Kate to know this because now Claire is a crazy mother, which can have an effect on Aaron.
Sawyer later comes back from his errand and tells Fake Locke everything that he's seen and done, including the fact that there's a padlocked door on Widmore's sub with something hidden inside. Sawyer says he promised to sell out Fake Locke to Widmore, which should help them fight Widmore when the time comes since the old man won't be looking for the double-cross. When the Enemy thanks him for his loyalty, Sawyer dismisses it and simply says that they had a deal first for a trip home from island, and that's all he wants. Watching Sawyer work his various cons has always been great, and this one is fascinating because he lies by telling the truth, gaining people's trust by selling out their enemies.
Later on, he tells Kate what he's seen, how he promised to help the Enemy, and how he made a similar promise in a double-cross to Widmore. She asks what he plans to do, and he sits back and says, "I'm gonna let them fight it out." His real plan is to lead Widmore and the Enemy to each other and then grab Kate and escape on the sub, making a final run for freedom from hell island.
And that's that. See what I mean about a general feeling of being insubstantial? It wasn't a terrible episode or anything, just a kind of bland one that needed to lay track for what's coming ahead. The action with Sawyer on the island could easily have been condensed to half an episode, but whatever. I'm glad Widmore's people are finally on the scene and setting up a sonic fence and prepping for a battle, though who knows what form it could take. I also like that, after so many ups and downs, Sawyer is a little defeated, reduced to a con man just looking for a ticket home. What did everybody else think?