Am I the only one who thought of "Five Easy Pieces" with all the talk of chicken salad sandwiches in this seg?
Tonight's installment of "Lost" was the weakest of the season to date, for this Dharma bum. I didn't gasp enough, which means I've been spoiled by the greatness of the previous nine installments. "He's Our You" had a bunch of good lines and the whoa factor certainly picked up in the last four minutes or so.
Generally speaking I love a good Sayid episode so this was kinda doubly disappointing. But let's think about what we've learned tonight about our favorite former member of the Iraqi Republican Guard.
Certainly this seg, written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and helmed by Greg Yaitanes, reinforced what we've already learned from Sayid's unfortunate dalliances with Femme Nikitas in past segs. At heart, he's a lover, not a killer. He has a healthy libido, for sure, but even more than that, he wants to be loved. He wants to be accepted as a good guy, not a monster who tortures and murders on demand (whether it's chickens or Russians or a golfing buddy of Charles Widmore).
Even in the childhood flashback scene to his boyhood in Tikrit, you get the idea that Sayid snapped the neck of the chicken for his brother (I presume?) to be a pal, rather out of a blood-lust for poultry. Interesting that the brother is unfailingly honest and admits that Sayid killed the bird without hesitation, to his own detriment. Which probably only raises Sayid's esteem for his brother.
Moreover, Sayid seeks a purpose to his life. For a while, it was the burning desire to reunite with his long-lost love Nadia. Then of course it was getting the Oceanic 815-ers off the island. And then it became avenging Nadia's death after their devastatingly short reunion, and protecting the friends he left behind on the island (that's some guilt trip, eh?).
But when Ben dumps him in the flashback scene in Moscow after Sayid takes out the Russian dude, he's crushed. Not only is he being abandoned but he's now lost his purpose, and he suspects there never was one to begin with, that Ben's talk about needing to protect his friends was horse manure.
"There's no one else in Widmore's organization we need you to go after," Ben tells him. "Mission Accomplished!"
Sayid sounds like anything but a warrior, whining in a Moscow back alley: "What do I do now?"
Now, you kinda figure Ben made this abrupt break this on purpose, just to be able to further yank Sayid's chain down the road. He certainly did a good job of that when he visited Sayid in the Habitat for Humanity-type organization in Santo Domingo. (Ben sure has the travel wardrobe to die for. He's always dressed appropriately for the local style no matter where he is.)
"You're capable of things other men aren't," Ben says in his extra-fast voice, as if to leave no nanoseconds between words so that no one can argue with him. "It's in your nature. It's what you are. You're a killer, Sayid."
Sayid only half-heartedly puts up a defense. "I don't like killing."
Later in the seg, Sayid has a fairly mellow reaction to the truth serum drug (probably mixed with some psychedelics, judging by Oldham's tepee) because he's ready to bare his soul. Well, that and the influence of the Carlos Castaneda book, "A Separate Reality," that the 12-year-old Ben handed him along with the chicken salad sandwich. (Tangent: My dad knew Castaneda; they were anthropology grad students at UCLA together in the early '60s and they kept in touch over the years.)
And it would seem the acid trip helped Sayid find his reason for coming back to the island. So much for Oldham being the brutal torturer -- "He's our you," as Sawyer explains to Sayid (thus explaining the seg's title).
"When I woke up in the jungle and realized I was back on the island, I felt no purpose to it. Now I know," Sayid tells an incredulous Sawyer later on in the episode, trying to explain why he won't take up Sawyer's offer to let him out of the clink.
I'm having trouble interpreting the reaction of Horace and the others to Sayid telling them "I am from the future" and warning them that "You are all going to die, you know." On the surface they didn't seem to get the significance of Sayid being someone who's done the island time-travel tango and thus knows about things that haven't happened yet to them, or maybe they just have good poker faces. (Nah, not Radzinksy, he's a hot head.)
The reaction of Oldham (the Stanley Owsley of the Dharmas in a nice guest shot from William Sanderson) -- "Maybe I should use half a dropper. Oops." -- is hard to read. Does he think Sayid is just raving nonsensically because he's had too much, or Oldham thinking he got too close to a truth that some of them can't handle.
Obviously, this episode tangles up the fates of Sayid and Ben, in the '70s and the mid-2000s, in interesting ways. For a while it looked as if the Internet speculation about Sayid being the one to take Ben to Richard Alpert and the Others (I still say that sounds like a one-hit '60s wonder band. They did "96 Tears," right?) was true, and it may yet be.
I didn't gasp too much at the sight of Ben getting shot by Sayid because of course, we know Faraday's rules. But does Sayid? Does he think he's headed off Ben's purge by shooting him as a boy, or is this some kind of theatrics between them for the Dharmas?
All of the Ben and Sayid stuff in this episode made me think of the season-one episode title "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues." Ain't it the truth!
Also, I guess I forgot how much Sayid and Sawyer don't particularly get along. Being on the run in the jungle is preferable to Sayid than a world where Sawyer's in charge.
The other thing that leaped out at me in this seg was the brief mention of "Ann Arbor" in the scene where Horace and the high-ranking Dharmas are trying to decide what to do with Sayid. When Horace resists Radzinsky's cutthroat call to execute the man he's convinced is a spy, Radzinsky promises that he'll "call Ann Arbor" and get them to make the decision. So intriguing. Damon and Carlton are on record as saying that at least one of the De Groots, the couple who founded the Dharma Initiative at the U. of Michigan at Ann Arbor, are still alive, at least in the 2004 time frame of the show.
** Could it be any clearer that Sawyer and Juliet were not holding their breath for the return of their old pals. I don't think he's pining for Kate anymore, nor does Juliet have a torch for Jack, but Juliet is very upset at the thought of upsetting their life in Dharmaville. She seems to have even given up on the idea of reuniting with her sister and the nephew she's never met. "I never actually thought they'd come back," Juliet laments.When Sawyer pushes Kate about why she came back, he sounds annoyed. "Why, Kate?"
** "Who couldn't see that coming?" Chef Hurley tells Jack and Kate about Sawyer and Juliet.
** "Let's see how you feel after three years of living in the '70s" -- Sawyer to Sayid. Hey at least the Dharma jumpsuits aren't as bad as some of the leisure suits of the era.
** Great "Lost" moment: A 78 of Billie Holiday crooning "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," playing on a 1920s-era gramophone, in the jungle outside a homemade tepee.
** Loved the crrrrrr-uuunch of the sugar cube that Sayid's forced to eat. Kind of like the stuff the real Richard Alpert was munching on with Timothy Leary at Harvard back in the day. "Don't be afraid. Just turn your mind off (and float downstream?) and let it take control," Oldham tells Sayid.
** More obsession with ages and dates. Sayid mentions Ben's age as 12, though he looks older than that to me. If that's true, however, then Ben was born in 1965 (I thought it was earlier in the '60s) and he's 27 at the time of the purge, assuming that the purge was in 1992.
** Burning VW buses are such a hassle to clean up. Just ask LaFleur. "Three years, no burning buses. You all are back for one day..." Sawyer scolds Jack. Once again in the burning-bus scene, Sawyer's the man of action while Jack barely knows which way to turn.
Thursday afternoon afterthoughts:
Some interesting ideas picked up from reading other "Lost" blogs. I don't think for a moment that Ben is dead (though there is a theory that maybe young Ben is not the same Ben that we meet in 2004?!), but the shooting is surely going to provoke all-out war between the Dharmas and the Hostiles. And when is Radzinsky going to put together the pieces of Jin storming in to his station a few episodes back to ask about whether any planes showed up on his radar and Sayid's druggy confession that he came to the island on a plane.