In honor of March Madness, EW is launching a tournament to determine the Greatest TV Couple of All Time. But before we can finalize the brackets, we are turning to you, our hopeless TV romantic readers, to decide which five couples — all part of a love triangle on their respective shows — make it out of a qualifying round to fill the final slots. Today, we’re debating Sawyer & Kate versus Sawyer & Juliet on Lost.
On a mysterious island filled with troubled protagonists with noble aspirations and daddy issues, no one could ever compete with James “Sawyer” Ford. As played by Josh Holloway, Sawyer was introduced as the area bad dude: a criminal con man who set himself up as the looter kingpin in the early days after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. But the character became so much more: A vengeful orphan with a heart of gold, his evolution from scalawag to hero provided Lost with one of its most intriguing character arcs.
And, to put it mildly, the ladies loved him. At various parts of the show, Sawyer hooked up with four of the female regulars, counting a late-period alternate-reality fling with Charlotte – and that’s not to even mention Cassidy, his flashback baby mama. But when we talk about Sawyer’s Great Romances, we’re really talking about two very different women: A pair of strong-willed action heroines. They both had mysterious pasts. And they were both good backup in a gunfight. They were even both ensconced in simultaneous triangles with Sawyer’s rival Jack, therefore creating a kind of four-dimensional love tetrahedron. But that’s where the similarities ended.
When Lost began, it was all so simple. Relatively. Jack was the noble, troubled leader, and Kate was the action heroine with a secret. That left Sawyer as the grinning bad-boy – the Wolverine to Jack’s Cyclops. The spicy love-hate chemistry between Kate and Sawyer produced some of the greatest flirty scenes of the show’s early years. (Their best was probably the boozy game of “I Never.”) The Kate-Sawyer relationship reached its peak when the two of them – trapped in polar bear cages by the others – engaged in a muddy prison hook-up. Or maybe the high point came in the season 4 finale, when Sawyer whispered in Kate’s ear, kissed her goodbye and jumped out of a helicopter. (In his inimitable style, Sawyer managed to combine the most swooningly romantic moments from Lost in Translation and Last of the Mohicans.)
But that moment also marked the official beginning of the other great love of Sawyer’s life. I’m talking, of course, about Juliet Burke. Initially introduced as a femme fatale allied with the Others, Juliet became a valued member of the castaway tribe. And unlike Kate – who could be a bit all over the map, emotionally – Juliet had a strong, quick-witted, no-bull personality. Sawyer and Kate were always kind of star-crossed, but Juliet’s relationship with Sawyer formed organically. If you’re a Suliet fan, then the defining moment is probably the dock scene from “LaFleur,” when Sawyer – using all his impossible powers of charm – convinces Juliet to stay on the island for just two more weeks. In a weird way, the two of them became the most realistic couple on the island this side of Rose and Bernard. And in a series finale filled with tear-inducing reunions, can anything match up to Sawyer and Juliet meeting at the vending machines? “Kiss me, James.” “You got it, Blondie.” We’re crying now just thinking about it!
Let’s get down to business here though: Which couple deserves to take a place in the Greatest TV Couple of All Time bracket? Kate and Sawyer were the show’s Sam and Diane: Over the first few seasons, their sparkly love-hate chemistry slowly broke down the walls around their criminal hearts. But Sawyer and Juliet were the show’s Chandler and Monica: They grew together slowly but steadily, and became a functional couple, able to survive all kinds of time-tossed island shenanigans (and even death itself.)
Who’s moving on to the next round? Vote below.