As we enter Sawyer's episode, things certainly begin to change. Opinions of others seem to go down as they no longer know what to do in their desperation. And as more of Sawyer's past is revealed, we become more sympathetic towards him. This show certainly likes turning things around on you!
Sawyer is a man who looks out for himself. He doesn't share with others, he grabs as much as he can, and seems to revel in the fact that everyone loathes him. There have been multiple times so far where Sawyer is given every opportunity to do the right thing, and while he may do it sometimes, he can never do it without making himself disliked. While some of this could be attributed to attributes of his character, I'm starting to get the feeling (and this episode confirms it) that he wants people to hate him.
This episode certainly contains some of Sawyer at his best in terms of causing people to hate him. He won't let anyone know where Shannon's medications are, and when she goes into an asthma attack, things escalate. Fighting breaks out between Sawyer and Jack about it, as Sawyer is keeping Jack from fulfilling his duties as the leader and doctor of the group.
Jack doesn't want to fight with Sawyer, but he is torn between not fighting and working for the good of the whole group. Kate really doesn't want him to fight Sawyer, but in desperation, Jack caves in to Sayid, even letting Sayid torture Sawyer to get the medications.
All throughout this though, we begin to learn Sawyer's past, what he's done and who he is. A lot about him is assumed by the others, and often very wrongly. The episode shows why Sawyer is the way he is, and reveals the demons that have been haunting him his entire life. Someone killed his parents and ruined his life, and his whole life he has been chasing after this "Mr. Sawyer." But in the end, he himself does the same thing Mr. Sawyer did, he becomes the very man he is chasing. He becomes Sawyer, the man he hates, and therefore hates himself. In a way, he killed his own parents.
But he's not the same as Mr. Sawyer in important ways. When he's going through with a deal very similar to the one that ruined his own life, he sees a kid and calls the deal off. He won't cause the cycle to continue, he will stop it with himself. but if anything, this seems to fuel his own self-loathing. It forces him to realize what he has become. And because he hates himself, it's almost like he wants others to hate him too, because how could anyone like someone like him, who's done what he has.
This self-hatred is most evident when, even during torture, though Sawyer could just admit he doesn't have the medicine, he keeps quiet and endures it. This could be pride, but it seems more than that. It is almost as if this is the height of hatred towards him and he wants it. When it's possible he could die, when his life is in Jack's hands, he wants Jack to kill him. It would be the final act of hatred, it would end the life of the man he hates so much. But Jack isn't Sawyer, and I think is able to see the good in him too. Maybe it's just that he can't let someone die because of his own issues, but I think Jack sees something more than just a person to keep alive. I think he sees something in Sawyer worth saving.
The event of torture in the group brings up some serious questions though. They are first faced with the question of whether or not justice is needed on the island. Someone has supposedly done something wrong, even harming another person, but how do you go about punishing someone for doing wrong? Obviously torture was the wrong answer, for it caused Sayid to be afraid of himself and what he can do, and he left the group. But some justice is obviously needed, and it will be interesting to see how the group figures it out as I'm sure more conflicts will arise as their time on the island stretches on.