And away we go! As expected, last episode was all about putting the final pieces in place, and starting with this episode, it’s all about moving the narrative forward. To be fair, there weren’t too many major revelations in this episode, except for the shocking (or perhaps not-so-shocking) ending. But there were a lot of interesting little pieces of information that you may have missed along the way if you didn’t examine things too closely…
Sayid the chicken killer
So…Sayid was able to kill a chicken with little remorse as a youngster. That’s pretty telling, especially with the way it dovetails with the episode’s conclusion. But here’s another piece to take from this: what does Sayid’s actions, especially later in life, tell us about his ability to choose? I think that’s a theme running all through this episode, and even through the over-arching tale of this season as a whole. I’ll touch more on that a bit later, once we’ve lined up the body of evidence.
“Brought you a sandwich…and a book. I’ve read it twice.”
Really, I’ve never been able to truly decipher what the writers want us to glean from the books they strategically place in the show. “A Separate Reality” seems like a really good title for a possible explanation for the end of this episode, when Sayid ends up shooting Ben. But if I remember correctly, most of the books shown on LOST indicate what the story is *not* about. So I’m going to stick with that again, and say that it’s a head fake. The events in this episode are not a separate reality from what we theoretically know about Dharmaville. It is, in fact, the same reality we are all too comfortable with. This is another topic I’ll dive into further detail on later. But for now, let me just say that I think the book (not ever having read it) is a red herring.
Sayid completes his mission
I guess that answers why he was off doing his Habitat for Humanity work earlier in the season. And it also answers why he was so thoroughly bitter with Ben when the Oceanic 6 had all gathered at the dock before Flight 316. It would be one thing for Ben to end the crusade against Widmore and his people (assuming he was telling the truth that they were all dead…or that all of the people Sayid hunted down were indeed Widmore allies), but beyond that, Ben tosses Sayid aside like last week’s newspaper. Sayid had convinced himself that he was Ben’s partner in crime. But in fact, Sayid was simply a pawn in Ben’s game. But Sayid was so caught up in what he was doing that he couldn’t see how Ben was playing him…or maybe he simply chose not to. But now…now that the game is over…Sayid knows that it was all for naught. Or perhaps, it was all about him coming to grips with who he really is.
Goodspeed and his “interrogation”
Horace really does seem to be one of the few well-intentioned guys in Dharmaville, doesn’t he? He tries to treat Sayid with respect, and gives him multiple chances to do what Goodspeed thinks is the right thing. But what I took from this scene is Sayid’s unyielding faithfulness to his friends. At least at this juncture, he’s prepared to take his knowledge of what’s really going on to the grave in order to protect the LOSTies in Dharmaville. How ridiculously ironic that the guy he’s protecting the most…Sawyer…will have such a complete moral breakdown, sentencing Sayid to almost certain death, later in the episode.
“It’s over, isn’t it?”
There are times in LOST when you just have to take a step back and admire some of the acting performances on the show. And Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet) is just absolutely knocking it out of the park right now. I have to admit, I originally thought that she was miscast, and the whole “defecting Other” role she played in most of Season 3 never really captured my imagination. But these past few episodes of playing house in Dharmavile…I really think she’s nailing it, more than anyone else on the show in fact. Great stuff, and it really makes me feel for her character.
“Oh, he’ll talk to me.”
The conversation between Sayid and Sawyer is actually very insightful, if you take a minute to really think about what they’re saying. Sayid asks Sawyer why he tolerates living with a young Ben Linus, and Sawyer’s response is, “I ain’t got a choice.” Once more back to fate vs. free will. Despite the fact that Sawyer is on the outside of the steel bars, he feels less empowered to control his own destiny than a locked-up Sayid. While Sawyer seems to be losing his backbone with each subsequent appearance in the episode, Sayid becomes more and more empowered to do and say what he wants.
One other interesting thing about this exchange: Sayid offers Sawyer the chance to release him out into the wild of the island, but Sawyer refuses. He’s concerned about betraying the trust of the rest of the Dharma folk. Later in the episode he changes his mind…but by then, it’s too little, too late.
“I made a sandwich for you…”
Poor little Ben. It almost makes you feel sorry for him, doesn’t it? He loses his mom without ever getting to know her, he gets the beatdown from his dad consistently, and some total stranger that he tries to help escape from prison shoots him for apparently no reason. Is it any wonder that he turns out the way he does? Oh wait, that’s my end argument…let me get back to that in a bit. But for now, notice what Ben’s dad tells him: “I’ll tell you what to think.” Could the writers have beaten the fate vs. free will theme over our heads with any more tenacity? Well…
“If I can find you, so can the people who found Locke.”
Ben’s duplicitous and reflexive statement notwithstanding, he’s got Sayid figured out even more than Sayid himself does at this juncture. Of course, it could be because he actually knows more about Sayid’s actions (circa 1977 especially) than Sayid himself. But at the heart of the conversation is the real question of the episode, the season, and perhaps the series itself: are we creatures of destiny, or can we control our fate? If we’re programmed a certain way, if our circumstances are fated to turn out a specific way, is there anything we can do to stop it or change it? Ben knows that Sayid’s a killer, and Ben knows that the island is not done with Sayid. And despite Sayid’s protestations to the contrary, he’s going to go kill the guy spying in Hurley, plus several others (despite them trying to do nothing more than tranquilize him), and he’s going to try to kill young Ben back in 1977. Sayid’s path has already been determined…it’s now just a matter of when he decides to accept it.
Oldham, the hippy interrogator
Hey, if Goodspeed and Sawyer can’t make it happen, then why not some guy in the middle of the jungle who lives in a tent? While there was no additional info revealed in Sayid’s interrogation, I can’t help but to think about how this would seem to the Dharma folk. It’s almost as if they’re in the position that we were way back in Season 2. How the heck does this crazy guy from out of nowhere know so much about what they’re doing? Actually, it makes me wonder what it would be like to watch LOST over again from the beginning, but in chronological order. I bet that would be really trippy, and really cool, to see how it all played out. And I also bet it would be way too much work to ever think about realistically doing. In any event, it seemed like a cool thought, even if completely unfeasible.
The Dharma mob calls for Sayid’s head
The decision they all make is not too far from what the original LOSTies may have done if they caught an Other (like Ben in Season 2). In fact, it’s almost expected. But if you haven’t been following along all episode, Amy gives you one last chance to hear the words. They have to kill Sayid. They have to because they “have no choice.” Wow, could they be any less obvious?
Of course, the other big thing to get out of this sequence is Sawyer’s complete moral meltdown. Instead of fighting for what he believes to be right…instead of fighting for his friend’s life, he caves in to peer pressure and the desire to keep up the charade. Sawyer does the unthinkable and raises his hand when Goodspeed asks for unaninimity. Way to go Sawyer; I guess playing house with Juliet is more important than Sayid’s life. It doesn’t look like you’re too ready to make the tough decisions correctly…
Sayid lowers his guard
It’s almost sad how many times Sayid tries to get away from being a killing machine. But despite his best efforts, he just can’t get away from it. And this time, it’s Irina that helps him (OK, forcefully drags him in handcuffs) back to his destiny. Although you had to see this one coming based upon the events of previous episodes, it’s still hard to believe that Sayid got himself caught. For better or for worse, the island’s not yet done with him…
Little Ben sets Dharmaville ablaze
Not too bad for his first act of villainy, is it? A great distraction, and fairly well thought out. And he even brought along a little dark hoodie to both disguise himself and look a little evil. Great job Ben! Too bad you had absolutely no idea what Sayid’s true agenda was…
By the way, I love the actor playing little Ben. He comes off as a very believable young version of Ben Linus, but on top of that, he really makes you feel sorry for Ben as a youngster. Skillful acting from multiple angles in this episode.
Sayid takes out Ben, and jacks up the entire timeline in the process
Or does he? OK, despite it being fairly well telegraphed, it was still a pretty shocking sight to see Sayid put a bullet in a little boy…even if that little boy’s name is Ben Linus. But don’t jump to conclusions just yet. I’m a firm subscriber to LOST’s insistence on non-paradoxical time travel. In other words, whatever happened, happened. It’s hard to imagine, but Sayid always shot little Ben back in 1977, we just didn’t know it.
I know, some of you are saying, why didn’t Ben know Sayid when they captured him back in Season 2 (circa 2004)? Well, that’s a great question, but I’ve got a better one: who’s to say that Ben *didn’t* recognize Sayid? Ben is an accomplished liar. As I pointed out in a previous entry, he does it with the simplest of discussions and off-hand remarks. Is it really beyond the realm of possibility that he knew Sayid but simply lied about it? I certainly think it’s a very valid possibility.
But back to Sayid for a moment. He was clearly trying to rid himself of years of pain by killing Ben before he ever could neagtively influence his life the way he did. Unfortunately, he wasn’t aware of Faraday’s knowledge of how the timeline works. If he did, perhaps he’d try *not* to shoot Ben. Why? Well, in essence, if Ben survives (and I’m betting the ranch that he does), then Sayid well have in effect, helped to create his own misery. His actions against Ben as a child helped to create the monster that Ben is as an adult. Almost sounds cyclical, doesn’t it? And if you subscribe to the “whatever happened, happened” theory, then you almost have to wonder as to whether or not Sayid had any real choice in the matter.
If Sayid was always destined to shoot young Ben in 1977, was there any way he could avoid it? Couple that with Sayid’s nature as a killer, and you have overwhelming circumstances that work against Sayid having any chance of doing anything other than shooting Ben. When thought in those terms, Sayid’s shooting of Ben was about as inevitable as the Purge, the Incident, and any other activity that we know is going to take place.
So here’s the real kicker: where does the “whatever happened, happened” theory end? If we can look back to 1977 from 2009 and know what *must* happen because it did, wouldn’t that apply to anyone looking at 2009 from any point in the future? When we think about the present, we believe we have free will because none if it has happened yet. We can make decisions and take actions freely because the future is untold. But all of 1977 Dharma believes that they are in the present, and they can take whatever actions they want. But the truth of the matter is that we know that Ben lives to grow old. And we know that Ethan lives to at least 2004. So their free will, at least with respect to doing something that would get them killed, is in fact, restricted. (As an aside, wouldn’t it be interesting to know that you wouldn’t die until at least after a certain date? You could pretty much do anything and know that you’d be safe. Hey…does that remind you at all about the discussion that Ben and Widmore had with each other? Is it possible that they’ve met their future selves and know that they will live to at least some point in the future? Hmm…)
I don’t want to get too metaphysical here (too late?), but I think that LOST really wants us to ask the question of fate vs. free will, especially with this episode, and the season as a whole (Locke is told he will die, the O6 know they must go back). You could have some really entertaining discussions on this topic using LOST as a springboard, and I hope that some of you might share your thoughts on it below. But with that, I move on to…
- What are the LOSTies going to do with Ben? Will he survive, and if he does, how will his psyche be impacted by this turn of events?
- Can Sawyer keep his secret together, or will he be forced to stop playing house with Juliet?
- How long will it be before Jack steps in and tries to set things straight?
- Will we get to see what Sun is up to on her journey next week?
- When the heck will we get to see what’s up with John Locke?
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again next week!