Being a Lost fan is occasionally a little like being some kind of religious nutcase. When people tell you they quit the series because they didn’t think that the answers would come, you simply have to nod sagely and agree to disagree. If pressed on the matter, you can only respond: “I have faith that it’s all part of a plan.” And your fellow conversationalist will come away satisfied that they’re correct, while silent mocking you. Still, I believe in the Lost writers – much like a fully paid-up Scientologist, I’ve got too much invested now to simply bow to common sense – so naturally, when I see some proof that there’s method in the madness, I feel more than a little vindicated.
And what is it about this episode that’s getting me so worked up? Well, it’s that the Lost Island appears to exist in some kind of chronal anomaly – or, for those of you that don’t speak Technobabble – a Time Hole. Hints about this have been dropped in writer interviews and supplemental material ever since the far-flung days of Season One, and suddenly the payoff has finally shown up in the series proper, justifying the discerning fan’s otherwise blind faith. Season 4 is fast procuring a reputation for being the one that finally delivers on three years of setup. While we, the audience, don’t yet understand exactly what this Time Thingy means, we can at least be confident that the writers do.
It’s almost fitting that this revelation comes in an episode centred on former soldier Sayid Jarrah barely a fortnight after Naveen “Sayid” Andrews admitted on Jonathan Ross’ chat show that he didn’t think the writers of Lost had much of a road map. Let’s hope the Lost writing staff don’t concentrate too heavily on overseas interviews, otherwise Sayid may end up doing his best Dr. Drake Ramore impression any day now.
It’d certainly be a pity – after all, despite Andrews’ doubts, he manages to portray Sayid as about the least clueless character on the Lost Island, always calm, confident, and with the aura of serene lunacy only a reformed torturer could have. He makes compelling watching, even when he’s all but done up in plus fours and a tank top on the golf course. Taking the centre stage for this episode’s flash-forward, Sayid is revealed as the fourth member of the elusive “Oceanic Six” and that, following his time on the island, he’s become a covert agent with a heart of gold – one that unfortunately leaves him susceptible to gunshot wounds. When his fake relationship with the woman he’s spying on becomes something more, he warns her to leave before he kills her employer – unfortunately, she’s as deceptive as he was, and when she shows her true colours, he only just manages to escape with his life.
Meanwhile, in the past, Sayid proves that he won’t learn anything from the betrayal he suffers at Hurley’s hands while on Locke’s trail. And like Shakespeare said: how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is, to have the comedy fat guy make you look stupid in front of your new friends. Oh well. After some negotiation over just why the so-called rescuers want Ben, the situation ends with Miles the Ghost Whisperer now in the “care” of Locke’s group of insurrectionists, while Desmond, Sayid, the Lawnmower Man and Lara Croft head back to the boat. Lost is a show with fantastic cinematography, but after 3 years, that aerial, helicopter view of the island looks as fantastic to us as it must do to the characters themselves.
Of course, there’s a twist ending. There’s always a twist ending. Mere minutes after spitting at Locke that “The day I start trusting [Ben] is the day I’ve sold my soul.” future-Sayid is shown dragging his bullet-riddled self back to his employer for some surgery. It turns out that the man pulling Sayid’s strings is none other than everyone’s favourite punching bag himself – Ben. The two are apparently involved in some kind of plot to bring down the same organisation that was shown last week rounding up Team Rescue Boat – the same one that approached future-Hurley in the season’s premier. With their agenda, capabilities, and even their name still a mystery, it’s bound to take a while for us to figure out exactly why Sayid and Ben would team up against them, but you can be sure of one thing: it’s all part of a plan.