He had to murder an innocent man to get to that stage, I think. That *completely* works for me. He needed another precipitating event other than just the realization he had in "Confidence Man" about the damage he was doing as a con man.
Based on promo photos from the ep, showing Sawyer looking angsty and drinking in a bar and buying a gun, I guessed it would likely be about him hunting down "the real Sawyer." I wrote up a spec storyline ( An Indefinite Amount of Time) in which Sawyer finds the real Sawyer, beats him up, but ultimately decides to let him live.
I guess that doesn't work because it might have given him a measure of peace. Although the way I wrote it, it didn't solve anything, didn't make him feel any better, and certainly didn't give him any closure.
I also didn't have him produce the letter, partly because I knew he still had it and wouldn't have given it away, but also because he thought it would be anticlimactic, in a way. But having him start to read it was so *little boy* of him. Breaks my heart.
Interesting to see what the writers do with a storyline even when us viewers have an inkling of what they're going to do. Sometimes, massively disappointing. In this case, not.
The parallel with the boar had its merits, but I don't think deciding to spare a boar's life is anywhere near the same as deciding to spare a man's life! Of course, they couldn't have him gunning for a person on the island, so this had to be the next closest thing.
I do like how the episode was so comic and so tragic at the same time, from the "I Never" drinking session to the run-in with the boar, to Locke's revealing story about his own childhood. Really subtle, well-played and written transitions for the most part.
If only every episode could be this good!
And is Sayid smug or what?
Also -- loved Sawyer's expression when he realizes that the man in the bar was Jack's dad. I interpreted it as surprise and sympathy. I think he will tell Jack one day. I look forward to them becoming friends or teaming up (more so than in "Homecoming") in the future. I just want to see them sit down and realize how much they have in common. And since it's network TV, I'm OK with it being platonic. ;->