Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Lost Watch 5.10

**NOTE: For once, the tardiness of this column was by no fault of my own, or my best friend, Laziness, but rather the blame lies completely on Comcast and my Mother, who took exception to that Juliet-barb last week and stalled the Internet ever since...***

Salaam and hello, friends. Well, after last week’s utter insanity that was “LaFleur,” this week’s “He’s Our You” was a return to the original storytelling of the series. Before we move onto discuss the themes and such of the show, I’d like to take a moment…
A friend of mine and I were discussing this week’s episode. She was all aflutter about it (a huge Sayid fan), while I was certainly more subdued than this time last week. She finally said something along the lines of Lost needing to be balls-crazy for me to love an episode (To which, I responded, that she only liked movies with sex between gays, a fact she couldn’t deny). I believe this is not true. The end of this week’s episode was shit-your-pants shocking (we’ll discuss shortly), but the rest of the episode was not running-to-the-bathroom insanity.
But I certainly dug it. Quite a bit.
This may be my favorite Sayid episode ever, in fact, and for several reasons. Firstly, I enjoy the flashback, character-centric stories. After a half of season of whirlwind time travel, returning the show to form structurally anchors the show in an at least temporary, static time. I, let the record show, have really enjoyed this stretch of non-character-centric episodes; they were very natural, and considering how few episodes this show has left, allowed for a lot of exposition to pass through very quickly and get the 6 back onto the Island much faster than the saga that was Shannon’s death (Shannon! Nooooo!!) in Season 2.
Also, I felt like this was a great way to catch up with Sayid. Of all the principle characters on the show, I’ve always thought that Sayid was the most mishandled. Speaking of Shannon, I HATED their faux-romance in Season 2. It felt contrived and forced, and the 38 episodes it took for her to finally die (though “The Other 48 Days” is part of that mini-series and one of my favorite all-time episodes) are some of the most dragging. For a while thereafter, he lost his balls. Last season I started to feel Sayid a bit more again. He had some great fights last season and I was cool with his role of our heroes’ blunt object. “You,” though, brought Sayid back to Season 1 – complicated, bad-ass, tortured, funny and natural.
This episode also referenced other moments in Lost lore. The opening sequence gave us our earliest glimpse into a child-Sayid’s life. In a scene that mirrored a moment in Eko’s youth, Sayid steps in to slaughter a chicken so his seemingly older brother wouldn’t have to. It seems even as a youngster, Sayid was willing to get his hands dirty to do what must be done. In contrast to Eko, I don’t particularly think anything altruistic was in the young Iraqi’s intentions in killing the chicken for his brother, whereas Eko kills an old man in order to spare his brother from child armies in Africa. All I know is I thought a lot about Eko in this scene and couldn’t help but wonder if that allusion to Eko and his destined fate isn’t possibly some hint as to Sayid’s.
Later in the episode, we meet Holden, the Dharma Initiative’s resident Sayid (“My name is Holden, and I am a torturer” didn’t quite come out of his mouth, though) and namesake of the episode. He drips some Veritaserum on a sugar cube and drugs Sayid into revealing everything about himself. As soon as they tied Sayid to the tree, I thought back to Locke knocking Boone unconscious and drugging him in order for him find some truth and let go of Shannon (Shannon! Nooooo!!). It also turned the whole blunt, verbal exposition on its ear. Hearing Sayid tell of his last 24 hours was like trying to explain the plot of Lost to nonbelievers. It sounds totally ridiculous completely out of context in a two sentence synopsis, just as I’d imagine explaining you’re from 30 years in the future to a bunch of people who live on a mysterious Island would be. Richard could buy it from Sawyer; he offered tangible information that no one else could have known to prove his story. Sayid sounds like he watched some Battlestar Gallactica with a couple of bong rips and a bag of Nacho Cheesier Doritos in describing his arrival in 1977. Luckily for him, this probably saved his brown behind.
But from what fate? Ben, in trying to recruit the 6 to come back to the Island, labels Sayid a killer, plain and simple. While certainly an arguable, yet definitely not entirely undeniable statement, Ben’s image of Sayid in principle highlighted the nature of their relationship. Broad strokes. Huge blanket statements. Sayid is a killer. Ben is a mass murderer. I found it to be an interesting case study of Ben to see him through Sayid’s eyes in such a flat way. We know how complicated a character Ben Linus is by now, and this season we’ve even gotten a glimpse into his intentions and motivations. Seeing him in full-out-crazy-nefarious mode, fedora and all, is both really cool from a geeky stand point, but fascinating in that we know these characters far more intimately than they know each other. And yet, neither is wrong. Sayid is a killer on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Ben is a genocidal maniac every third weekend. Ben can see this, I think. Sayid, however, is too beaten down to see anything broader than his hatred of Ben Linus.
Even, it seems, when he’s a small child. The other purpose highlighting such a “one-note” Ben of the Present is to further dichotomize him from the Ben of the Past. We see child-Linus delivering chicken salad and escape routes (Juliet to Jack-like?), much to the chagrin of Roger Workman. On a scale of terrible father’s on the show, Roger’s up there with pretty terrible, so seeing him again stirs up insta-sympathy for Ben, in my eyes, and with all the maturing going on with the castaways, particularly Saywer, I expected Sayid to march away with Ben to the Island’s version of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Club. I don’t know where that would be, but if Sayid were to try to positively influence him…I don’t know. I certainly never expected Sayid to shoot a child, even if he were to grow up to be the devil incarnate.
I give Naveen Andrews super-props for this scene. I think Sayid is amazing in the scene, blind with tears over Jin’s unconscious body, saying “You were right about me. I am a killer,” before shakily pulling the trigger. Sayid earns this scene and is really a moment that will define the character for the rest of the show. One way or another, Sayid is going to pay for shooting Ben. The Island, the Others, Dharma, the castaways or himself will catch up with him. It was some shocking shit, and it was certainly a huge exclamation point/question mark-ending that Lost loves to tease us with.
But seriously, will Ben die? Can he? If he dies in 1977, even if it’s alternate 1977, will it kill “Present” Ben? Would there even be a present Ben? Would all the shit that’s happened since Henry Gale stepped into our collective consciousness still have happened?
Ben could not or will not die. There’s no way they’ll kill the most intriguing character on the show, let alone the greatest actor, Michael Emerson. I do think that it would theoretically erase Ben of the Present from existence, though not his entire existence until Sayid goes back in time. We could argue the rules of space/time travel forever, but I think it’s a moot point: there’s not a chance in hell Lost is going to kill off its “villain” right now.
This week gave me a bunch to chew on until next Wednesday’s offering. Keep twiddling those dials…

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