Season: 1–6, Episodes: 104, Faction: Survivors
James Ford, better known by the alias Sawyer, and known to the DHARMA Initiative as Jim LaFleur, was one of the middle section survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. His rural Southern accent, selfishness, machismo, and folksy use of oft-abrasive nicknames belied his sophisticated and tender sides as an avid reader and a caring lover—elements of his personality that became more apparent as he spent more time on the Island.
On the Island, Sawyer used his skills as a confidence man to accomplish various ends. He hoarded material possessions to leverage power, leading to his involvement in several “A-missions”. His acts of rebellion led him to, at various times, become the most hated survivor on the island, though he still formed a bond with Kate.
In an early attempt at rescue, Sawyer left the Island along with Jin, Michael and Walt on Michael’s raft but was forced to return when Walt was kidnapped and the raft was blown up by the Others. They washed up on shore and met up with the previously unknown tail section survivors of Flight 815 and returned to camp. After pulling off a long con, he gained control of all the guns and a position of power over the other survivors. He was later captured by the Others, along with Jack and Kate, as a result of Michael’s betrayal. While with the Others, Sawyer and Kate were used as leverage to convince Jack to perform surgery on their leader, Benjamin Linus, until he and Kate eventually escaped. During the time spent on Hydra Island and through the remainder of season three, Sawyer started an on-again, off-again relationship with Kate. Sawyer was asked by John Locke to kill a man, Anthony Cooper, who was revealed to be the real “Sawyer”. After Jack called the freighter for rescue, Sawyer joined Locke and a small number of survivors sheltered in the Barracks.
When the Oceanic Six left in the helicopter, Sawyer was left behind after he kissed Kate goodbye (also whispering her to tell his daughter he’s sorry) and heroically jumped into the ocean, when the chopper was running low on fuel. This sort of ended his relationship with Kate. He and a small group of survivors underwent time shifts as a result of Ben moving the Island. He led the small group until a final time shift, where they were stuck in 1974. Sawyer joined the DHARMA Initiative and eventually became their head of security. He began a relationship with Juliet and continued to live in the 1970s for three years until Jack, Hurley and Kate returned to the Island following the crash of Ajira Airways 316.
Sawyer joined the Man in Black upon meeting him, although he ultimately betrayed him whileboarding Widmore’s submarine to escape the Island. The Man in Black however, had conned Sawyer into stealing the sub so that he could kill the remaining candidates with a bomb. After the explosion, Sawyer was knocked unconscious and brought ashore by Jack. While Jack was preventing the Island from being destroyed, Sawyer managed to escape on the Ajira plane with Kate, Claire, Frank, Richard, and Miles.
In the flash sideways, Sawyer was a police detective rather than a crook. Eventually, he was reunited with his lover, Juliet Carlson, and they moved on together with their friends.
3×01 – A Tale of Two Cities
A day later, Sawyer awoke in a cage at the Hydra station with his arm bandaged. He had to work out a way to find food, which he eventually did, much to his pleasure.
However, his happiness was somewhat dampened by the fact that all he got was a fish biscuit and kibble, and by the fact that Tom later quipped, “It only took the bears two hours.” He unselfishly handed over his hard-won fish biscuit to a hungry Kate when she was brought to the cage opposite his. (“A Tale of Two Cities”)
3×02 – The Glass Ballerina
Sawyer and Kate were made to work in harsh conditions in a rock quarry, and during this time, Sawyer rebelled against his captors, and passionately kissed Kate before suffering at the hands of Pickett and his group of Others.
While Sawyer maintained that this was done to test the Others as a group, a connection between himself and Kate was clearly visible. As the two discussed their options and escape plans, they did not realize that they were in fact being monitored remotely by Ben and the Others. (“The Glass Ballerina”)
3×04 – Every Man for Himself
Sawyer planned a second escape by using the electric shock from the behavioral conditioning device in his cage to shock the next person that came for him. Ben was the one to come, but Sawyer’s plan was unsuccessful, because they turned off the electricity. It is likely that this is because his plan was heard over the monitors. He was beaten by Ben and taken into the station where the Others injected an unknown substance into his heart.
When he woke up, he was informed by Ben that he had been outfitted with a pacemaker that would cause his heart to explode if his heart rate went too high. He was also told that if he told Kate what happened, they would do the same thing to her.
Sawyer’s drastic change in behavior caused Kate to worry. He concealed his secret from her, not wanting her to suffer the same fate. Later, Pickett came into his cage, and beat him severely, as punishment for Colleen’s death. He demanded of Kate if she loved Sawyer, and continued to bloody his face until she finally broke down and exclaimed that she did. Kate then learned that she could escape her cage, so Sawyer told her to run and save herself if she really loved him. However, she said that she only claimed to love him so Pickett would stop hitting him, and climbed back in her cage.
Later, Ben and some Others took Sawyer on a hike in order to show him something. On the way, Ben revealed that nothing has been done to Sawyer’s heart, and that it was a ruse to trick him. Ben said that the only way to gain the respect of a con man is to con him, and claimed to be much better at conning than Sawyer. At the top of the mountain, Ben showed Sawyer that they were on an island separate from the Island on which their plane crashed—proving to Sawyer that running was useless, as there was nowhere to go. (“Every Man for Himself”)
3×06 – I Do
From this point on, Sawyer seemed to lose his fighting spirit—Kate awoke to find him listlessly throwing rocks at the food button in his cage. Pickett then came, and told Kate that she had to go and work, and that Sawyer had a day off. However, she insisted that they worked as a team, so, Pickett got Sawyer to accompany her back to the quarry. Unbeknownst to Sawyer, Pickett would kill him if Kate was unable to convince Jack to perform surgery on Ben. Kate became desperate and broke the lock on Sawyer’s cage, urging him to run. However, he didn’t leave, explaining to Kate about them being on a second Island, and that he didn’t tell her because he wanted her to keep believing they had a chance. At this, she kissed him and the two made love inside his cage.
Afterwards, Sawyer asked Kate if she only said she loved him to stop Pickett’s beating. She responded by kissing him again and nestling into his arms, at which he smiles and says, “I love you, too.” The morning after, Kate awakens beside Sawyer to find Pickett and an accomplice have arrived with guns, to kill Sawyer.
At first, Sawyer fought Pickett, but backed off when he saw the accomplice hold one of Kate’s arms behind her back, pushing her up against the bars and holding a gun to her head. Even though she urged him to fight, he stepped out of the cage with Pickett and was forced to his knees. Pickett said he wants Kate to watch, and, in response, Sawyer told Kate to close her eyes. Pickett aimed the gun at Sawyer’s head and says, “This is for Colleen,” before Tom called on the walkie-talkie and interrupted him. Sawyer was left kneeling in the mud, his fate in the balance. (“I Do”)
3×07 – Not in Portland
Sawyer eventually assaulted Pickett, taking away his gun and beating him, while Kate took out his backup. They locked both of them in the bear cage, though Sawyer butted Pickett’s head against the food button three times, triggering the shock effect which left Pickett in pain. He and Kate ran, but only to the beach, seeing their main island two miles away by sea. They were chased down and Sawyer fired several shots at the Others, but ran out of rounds. He and Kate were rescued by Alex, who used her slingshot to wound Jason and lead them to a hiding-hole.
Alex agreed to give him and Kate a boat if they would help her rescue Karl, her boyfriend. Kate suggested, and Sawyer implements the “Wookiee Prisoner gag”, took out Aldo, and rescued Karl.
While preparing to leave the Hydra Island by boat, Pickett appeared and was ready to shoot Sawyer, but Juliet fired first, killing Pickett. She allowed Sawyer, Kate and Karl to escape, and they paddled back to their own island. (“Not in Portland”).
3×09 – Stranger in a Strange Land
Once they reached there, they camped out when Sawyer won an argument as to whether they should look immediately for the castaways camp. They woke up the next morning to find Karl missing, and then heard him crying. Sawyer talked to him, encouraging him to go back for Alex. He and Kate also argued about whether or not she felt guilty for having sex with him. When Karl decided to leave, Sawyer let him, prompting another disagreement with Kate. (“Stranger in a Strange Land”)
3×10 – Tricia Tanaka Is Dead
On their way back to the camp, Sawyer stepped on a dart, debris from the discharge. Kate tried to make up with him, but Sawyer said he has nothing to be sorry for. After their reunion with the other survivor, Sawyer’s mood was not improved by finding out that all his stuff has been taken and divided among the castaways. The loss of the MacCutcheon scotch was particularly irksome. He went after Hurley, who helped drink it. Hurley, who seemed very happy to see Sawyer is alive, hugged him, and bribed him with DHARMA beer to help him with the DHARMA van.
After getting drunk with Jin, and teaching him some English, Sawyer helped Hurley with re-activating the van by pushing it, with Hurley and Charlie inside it down a hill, which ended with a large black rocks. Although Sawyer believed it is their “funeral”, he did so, and was shocked to see that the car did work.
After a short ride in the van, Sawyer came back to camp, with his DHARMA beers, and looked for Kate, but could not find her. (“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”)
3×11 – Enter 77
Sawyer distracted himself from his worries about Kate by trying to win back his stash in a ping pong game against Hurley, but was defeated and had to give up using nicknames for a week. Hurley gave him his Playboy magazines back, reassuring him about Kate, whom he felt was safe with Sayid and Locke. (“Enter 77”)
3×14 – Exposé
He and Hurley were playing ping-pong when Nikki staggered out of the jungle, and collapsed in front of them. After Hurley deduced that her last words were, “Paulo lies”, they went looking for Paulo, only to find him apparently dead, as well. Together, with Charlie, Jin and Sun, they tried to figure out what happened to them, during the course of which it’s revealed that Nikki asked Sawyer for a gun but he refused to give her one.
Under the cover of doing a “perimeter search”, Sawyer finds the diamonds that he then gives to Sun. She threw them back at Sawyer when she found out that he and Charlie were the ones who assaulted and kidnapped her. Later, Sawyer sprinkled them into Nikki and Paulo’s grave and helped Hurley bury them, not noticing that Nikki, who’s only been paralyzed had woken up. (“Exposé”)
3×15 – Left Behind
After burying Nikki and Paulo, Sawyer defiantly called Hurley “rotund,” upholding the letter of his week-long ‘punishment’, if not the spirit of it. Hurley advised Sawyer to try to get in the other survivors’ good graces, as they were planning a vote of banishment. He suggested Sawyer do good deeds, such as giving Claire a blanket, catching and cleaning a fish, hunting boar with Desmond, then cooking it as a feast for the other survivors.
However, when Sawyer ‘casually’ asks Charlie about the vote, Charlie had no idea what he was talking about, and Sawyer realized he had been duped. Sawyer confronted Hurley about the con, and Hurley pointed out that, with Jack, Sayid, Kate and Locke away from camp, the other survivors were looking at Sawyer to fill the leadership role on the Island in the wake of Nikki and Paulo’s deaths. He asked Sawyer if it felt good to be nice. (“Left Behind”)
3×16 – One of Us
After his initial, emotional reunion with Kate, Sawyer became very angry when he realized that Jack had brought Juliet back with the group. When he and Sayid tracked her to where she picked up the medicine for Claire, Juliet confronted Sawyer with her knowledge of him killing a man in cold blood the night before his flight. That was enough to get him to back off. (“One of Us”)
3×17 – Catch-22
Sawyer went to Kate’s tent to talk to her. He entered her tent and he saw her dressing. He asked her if she told Jack about them. He playfully asked her about sex, and she in similar fashion rebuffed his advance, prompting him to ask her if he needed to get her a mix tape. Later, a distraught Kate entered his tent and started kissing him. He tried to ask her what was wrong, but she only wanted him to be quiet and continued kissing and undressing him, and they had sex for the second time.
The next day, Sawyer approached her to give a Phil Collins tape, commenting that if Bernard asked about it, he knew nothing. He then asked if she slept with him because she saw Jack with Juliet the night before. She denies it, but he gently rebukes her, saying that she doesn’t need to use him, she has only to ask. (“Catch-22”)
3×19 – The Brig
While off in the jungle by himself, Sawyer was approached by Locke, who told Sawyer that he had kidnapped Ben and wanted Sawyer to kill him. Sawyer doesn’t trust Locke, but followed him anyways. When asked why he would not kill Ben himself, Locke responded that he was not a murderer. He then reminded Sawyer about the man he killed in Australia (which Locke learned about from the Others’ file on him).
The two arrived at the Black Rock, and headed for the ship’s brig, where Locke said Ben was being held. As soon as Sawyer stepped into the room, Locke shut the door and locked him in with a hooded figure. The figure turned out not to be Ben, but Anthony Cooper. Through talking to him, Sawyer learned that Anthony was a con man. Sawyer asked him what names he had used, and one of them turned out to be “Tom Sawyer”.
Sawyer realized that Anthony was the man who conned his mother. Sawyer pulled out the letter he wrote as a child to “Mr. Sawyer” and ordered Anthony to read it. Anthony started to read, but stopped and explained to Sawyer his theory that they were not on an island but, in fact, in hell. Sawyer told Anthony to keep reading, but he tore up the letter up instead. Sawyer then angrily strangled him to death with the chains he was being restrained by.
Locke thanked Sawyer for killing the man who ruined both of their lives, saying that, “he had it coming.” He then told Sawyer to return to camp, and gave him the cassette player Juliet left for Ben to prove that she was a mole in their camp. (“The Brig”)
3×20 – The Man Behind the Curtain
Sawyer returned to the beach camp with the tape and confided in Sayid. Later that night, Sawyer was present when Sayid made his speech regarding Naomi, Oceanic Flight 815, and his distrust of Jack and Juliet. Sawyer played the tape for the everyone to hear. When Jack and Juliet returned, Sawyer was obviously angry at both of them, but in the end, he listened to Juliet, turned to the tape over, and listened to Ben’s plans on invading the beach. (“The Man Behind the Curtain”)
After hearing about Jack’s plans to use dynamite against the Others, Sawyer joined the main group in the trek to the radio tower. On the way, he brushed off Kate when she mentioned that he had been acting distant ever since he got back from his mission with Locke. Sawyer soon decided he needed to help those at the beach, who could be in real peril. Though Kate wished to join him, he refused to allow it, and went with Juliet instead. (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 1”)
The two made it to the camp, after also refusing Hurley’s offer to help. As they wondered how best to proceed, Hurley drove the DHARMA van into the fray. Together, they eliminated the remaining Others and saved everyone in the process. The last enemy survivor was Tom, who surrendered grudgingly; however, Sawyer shot him in the chest, much to everyone’s surprise – especially Tom’s. Before he died, Sawyer told Tom, “That’s for taking the kid off the raft.” When Hurley commented that Tom had surrendered, Sawyer quietly replied, “I didn’t believe him.” (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 2”)