Flash-sideways timeline (2004)
A naked James rolls off Ava who he is in bed with as she says "wow!" Ava looks at the bedside clock and reminds James that he is supposed to meet a guy in 18 minutes at 9 A.M. He jumps up and starts to dress and moves a briefcase to the bed. It falls open revealing a lot of money in bundled banknotes. Ava asks what he is doing with the money and Jimmy says that she wasn't supposed to see the money. He explains the money is for a potential investment. As he explains that he won't take long the woman draws a gun and points it at Jimmy. He tells her to take it easy. She says she can spot a con man because she's married to one. Jimmy says that she's a fool because the whole situation is a set-up, that there is a van outside, the room is bugged and is surrounded by cops. He explains that the cops just want her husband. Ava calls his bluff and Jimmy says the code word "La Fleur" and the police burst into the room. Miles leads the LAPD team in arresting a stunned Ava. Miles tosses James his LAPD badge and James addresses Miles as "partner".
Back in the police station Det. James Ford is calling a list of Anthony Cooper's. He rings one asking him to verify he was in Alabama in 1976. As Miles arrives with a mug, he overhears James calling Anthony Cooper but James claims that he was an old buddy who he ran into in Palm Springs when he was there last weekend. Miles reminds him that he has a blind-date with a friend who works with Miles' father at the museum and it is that evening. James then spins another story but Miles seems aware that James is lying to him and says "You know you can tell me the truth" and asks whether James is lying. James says "Why the hell would I lie?"
James is dressed up and arrives at a bar. He rings Miles to ask what his blind date looks like and Miles explains that she's a redhead. There's a looker alone at the bar and James introduces himself. Charlotte and James dine out. She is an archaeologist. She says she's exactly like Indiana Jones. As they talk she asks that he tell her the truth about his life. Soon they are in bed together. Later she asks to borrow a "T" Shirt and he directs her to one of his drawers. Watership Down, A Wrinkle in Time and Lancelot are on the chest of drawers. Charlotte rummages for the "T" Shirt and finds a folder marked "Sawyer". A family photo slips out and while replacing it she sees an old newspaper cutting about a man killing himself and his wife and their nine year old boy surviving. The photo in the clipping is the same as the one Charlotte found. James comes in and falls into a rage. He tosses Charlotte out.
The next day at the LAPD, Charlie's brother Liam Pace is hassling the desk sergeant about Charlie's arrest at the airport on a drugs charge. He accosts James, but James says that that is not his department. Miles emerges and abruptly tells James to come with him. Miles is furious. He asks James whether there is something James wants to tell him. James mistakes the demand as having to do with James' treatment of Charlotte but Miles has discovered James was in Australia, not Palm Springs by tracing his credit card transactions. Miles indicates that Sawyer was indeed on Oceanic Flight 815. Miles talks about trust, but James rebuffs Miles saying that what he was doing in Australia was none of Miles' "damn business". Miles leaves saying that he is not James' partner anymore. James smashes a mirror.
That evening James arrives home. He only has TV dinners in the fridge - he prepares one and watches an old episode of "Little House on the Prairie". The character says that "if you live you life based on what's going to happen, before you know it your life is over". James is affected by this and he goes to Charlotte's apartment with a sunflower and six pack of beers. Charlotte is having none of it. She says she doesn't know whether he is lonely, guilty or completely mad. She closes the door in his face saying that he blew it.
As Miles exits the LAPD offices, James is sitting in his car and calls him over. He reluctantly gets into James' car and James hands him the folder marked "Sawyer". James explains that when he was nine his father shot his mother and killed himself and that Sawyer was the reason why. He says the only lead he has is the name Anthony Cooper. He says that when he finds Sawyer he's going to kill him. As they speak the sound of a police siren approaches and suddenly a blue sedan broadsides into the back of James' car. The driver makes a dash for it as James and a squad car pursue her. James slams the suspect against a gate. James is surprised when he realizes that Kate is the person he'd encountered at LAX when he passively assisted in her evading other law enforcement personnel.
Original timeline (2007)
Sawyer is making tea at an open fire outside Claire's hovel. He wakes Jin and says Claire and Locke said they will be back by sunrise. Jin says they have to get out of there but Sawyer says he's with Locke. Jin says "That is not Locke" but Sawyer says he knows but whoever he is he says he can get them off the Island. Jin says he can't leave because Sun is here somewhere. Sawyer says if she's here, Jin has his word they will not leave without her. As they speak, Locke leads his group into the camp. There are 20 of them in all. Amongst them are Sayid and, bringing up the the rear, Kate. Kate greets Sawyer.
Inside her hut, Claire packs a few belongings and goes to the cradle to tuck in the make-do skeleton doll of Aaron. Kate comes in and asks in disbelief "What is that"? Claire says sadly, "It's all I had". Locke calls everyone together and tells them they are going to move. He says he will make himself available to answer questions, but not at the moment. For now he wants to keep moving "to take advantage of the daylight".
Cindy wants to know what happened to the rest of the people who stayed at the Temple. The Man in Black pauses before saying the black smoke killed them. This upsets Zach and he begins to cry. Locke walks up to Zach and Emma, saying that he knows what happened back at the Temple was really scary, but now it's over. He promises the children that he'll take care of them. Claire takes Kate's hand and Kate reacts with uncertainty to this gesture. Sawyer approaches Kate and asks about the other Oceanic passengers and Miles. With great concern Kate asks "So you're with Locke now"? Sawyer says he is not with anybody.
Locke leads the group through a coastal forest. He says there is a clearing ahead where they will make camp and they should make sure everyone has enough water because they will be there for a couple of days. Sawyer interrupts wanting to know when they are getting off "this rock". With controlled annoyance Locke suggests they should talk about this in private. Once aside an angry Locke points his finger toward Sawyer saying he wishes he hadn't interrupted him. Sawyer sarcastically apologizes for forgetting his manners and asks how Locke knew to rescue people from "the smoke thing". The Man in Black says he didn't rescue them as he is the smoke thing. Sawyer says "Are you telling me that you killed all those people" but the Man in Black again puts his twist on it, saying he gave them the opportunity to leave peacefully but they didn't take it. When Sawyer asks why they didn't take that opportunity, the Man in Black explains with conviction that those people believed they were protecting the Island "from me" whereas all he wants to do is leave so it is either "kill or be killed". The Man in Black moves off saying he doesn't want to be killed.
They arrive at the beach with a view of Hydra Island. The Man in Black tells Sawyer he is going to take an outrigger to the island to do some recon. He says that on the island is the plane which brought Sawyer's friends to the Island and he has reason to believe some of the passengers that remain there mean to do Locke and his group harm. Sawyer asks what will happen if someone tries to attack him. He tells Sawyer that he's not worried about Sawyer because he's the best liar he ever met and all he needs to do is say whatever he has to to gain their trust, find out whatever he can and then get back. When Sawyer asks why he is doing all this the Man in Black says "you get on that plane, you fly off this Island and you never look back". A sullen Sawyer starts his voyage across the water.
Once on the island Sawyer sees the cages where he and Kate had been prisoners. He finds the dress that she wore during her time as a prisoner and he reflects on the time he had with Kate.
Kate sits down to talk to Sayid. She asks if he is OK and he says "no." She asks him if he believes Locke can get them off the Island and Sayid says yes. Claire suddenly attacks Kate from behind trying to stab her in the throat with a large knife. Kate screams for Sayid to help as she is overpowered but he looks on disinterestedly. Locke appears and throws Claire off Kate roughly saying Kate did what she had to do by taking Aaron when she couldn't find Claire. He slaps Claire full in the face and grasping her says her behavior is completely inappropriate and he'll deal with her in a minute. Kate is distraught and when Locke asks her if she's alright she screams "No, I'm not alright". She looks on in disbelief at the circumstances as he squats to talk with Claire.
On Hydra Island Sawyer finds the plane. He checks its condition and then finds charcoal from a fire. Drag marks in the sand lead him to a pile of decaying bodies. Sawyer draws his gun when he hears and then sees someone running from him. He chases and then brings the person down. She calls herself Zoe and claims to be the only one left alive of the survivors from Ajira Flight 316. She says while she was collecting wood she heard screaming and when she came back the others were all dead. She asks a lot of questions. Sawyer goes along with her, until they get to the outrigger and she asks him whether the people he is with have guns. This appears to tip Sawyer off, and he pulls his pistol on her. She then whistles loudly and four men appear from the bushes with rifles; they take Sawyer prisoner.
Kate is sobbing in a grove apart from the others. The Man in Black approaches and apologizes to Kate for Claire's attack, saying he has to take responsibility for Claire's behavior because he had told her the "Others" had her baby. Kate asks why he would say that. "Have you ever had an enemy, someone that you needed to hate? Very powerful isn't it? Claire was devastated without Aaron, she needed something, something to keep her going, so I gave her something to hate. And then when you told her the truth, all those feelings, all that anger that she'd been holding onto for so long, it had to go somewhere". Kate replies, "very insightful coming from a dead man". He responds "Well no one is perfect". He tells Kate he promised everyone he'd keep them safe and that still includes Kate and in time everything would be alright. Kate asks where Sawyer went and the Man in Black offers his hand to help her up and says, "I'll show you". She gets up without his help.
He takes Kate to the beach and points out Hydra Island as the place he sent Sawyer. Kate recognizes it as the island she and Sawyer were locked in cages. She asks the Man in Black why he had to bring her here and he says this gives him another opportunity to talk to her. He explains that he is not a dead man and he knows what she is feeling because his mother was crazy. He says a long time ago before he looked like he does now he had a mother who was very disturbed and as a result of that he had "some growing pains, problems [he] is still trying to work [his] way through." Problems he could have avoided had things been different. Kate asks why he told her this story, he replies: "because Aaron has a crazy mother too".
Afterward Claire finds Kate and makes a heartfelt and teary apology. Kate remains very wary as Claire falls on her sobbing and thanking her for taking care of Aaron. Kate eventually returns the hug.
As Sawyer is taken to the submarine at the Hydra Island Dock, he notices the armed science team is erecting pylons, similar to the sonic fence on the main Island. In the submarine, Sawyer passes a padlocked door. Zoe takes him to a cabin where Charles Widmore introduces himself. Widmore asks if Sawyer knows who he is. Sawyer replies he is the man who sent a freighter to the island with orders for the crew to kill us all. Widmore muses "It's sad, really". Widmore denies murdering the people from the Ajira flight, but doesn't expect Sawyer to believe him. Sawyer is direct about John Locke sending him to the island and what Locke's purpose was. Sawyer acknowledges the man who sent him is not really Locke.
Sawyer offers Widmore a deal. He will tell Locke the coast is clear and he didn't find anyone on Hydra Island. Then he'll bring the "old man" right to Widmore's doorstep in exchange for the absolute protection of anyone on Sawyer's boat and safe passage off of the island. They agree each must take the other at his word alone and Widmore agrees to the deal.
Sawyer arrives back at the beach and Locke excitedly runs to help Sawyer who tells him all the passengers are dead. The Man in Black says, disingenuously, "That's terrible. What happened"? Sawyer then plays his hand and reveals truthfully everything about Widmore; the submarine, the six armed men, pylons ("the ones to keep out that smoke thing") and the deal he made with Widmore. The Man in Black gives Sawyer a look of satisfaction and says he appreciates Sawyer's loyalty. Sawyer responds, "You said you could get me off this Island. A deal's a deal".
After nightfall Sawyer sits down next to Kate who is poking at a fire. He asks her what's for dinner and Kate sadly responds she thinks it is rabbit. She asks what he's doing running errands for Locke. Sawyer claims he isn't running errands for anybody and tells her about Widmore. Sawyer reveals his plan is to let Widmore and Locke fight it out and while they have their hands full "you and me are getting the hell off this island." Kate is confused, since neither one of them is capable of flying the plane. Sawyer responds, "We ain't taking the plane, freckles, we're taking the sub".