You just gotta love the little things about Lost, don’t you? Y’know, all that stuff not actually connected to the show being connected to the show. Take, for example, practically half the cast getting DUIs. Dom’n’Evie’s relationship. Josh Holloway’s aftershave advert. It’s those little things that keep us fans giggling outside of the actual show. Another little thing for the list: last night’s episode, “The Economist”, aired in stateside on Valentine’s Day, the perfect time to watch two romantically-involved individuals… try to assassinate each other. Aww. Now, is this an example of Lost amusingly becoming its own metafiction? Or is it just a coincidence in the scheduling? (Remember: nothing can ever be just a coincidence when it comes to this show!) Either way, you can guarantee that Hallmark won’t be considering making greeting cards off the back of this episode.
I only have a couple of bones to pick with last night’s episode, so I’ll get those out of the way first. Firstly, the Kate/Sawyer scene in New Otherton a.k.a. The Barracks strove a little bit close to fanservice. We haven’t seen Kate and Sawyer properly talk since the end of season three and it was nice to see them chat it out, but we could have been spared the very soap-opera vibe of the scene. And just when we think we have a handle on Kate, the writers make her change sides at the merest mention of shacking up with Sawyer. This I have a problem with: Kate’s decision to join the Southern gent seemed less about the criminal’s motivations and more about the need to keep the Jack-Juliet-Kate-Sawyer “love square” storyline going. Which isn’t good, and nor does it keep that particular storyline feeling fresh. If a character is going to jump through hoops for the sake of the story, you begin to lose any interest in the character. This was all a bit muddily written – seriously, Kate forgot she was a criminal? I know she’s been looking a bit more excited recently than any convict has the right to, but really, did she just forget she blew up her dad? (Now THAT’s a Hallmark card I’d love to see – “Sorry For Blowing Up Dad. Love and kisses, Kate”.)
Also, while it was fun to see New Otherton again, the “prisoner trade” that Sayid brought about was a bit barebones – why would Locke release Charlotte for the snarkier and more secretive Miles? It seemed underdeveloped, but that may just be some canny misdirection on the show’s part. Hopefully we’ll find out why Locke is more interested in Miles in coming episodes – maybe he’s even Ben’s spy? The Charlotte rescue mission reminded me throughout of Alex’s fake capture of Sawyer and Kate in “Not In Portland”, giving me a feeling that, like Alex in that episode, Sayid has a plan. Maybe it’s what Sawyer called “the old Wookie prisoner exchange”, maybe it’s not.
But let’s not concentrate on the flaws too long. “The Economist” was a pretty good episode, if not for Daniel’s experiments, Ben’s secret identities or the tease of a new Big Bad (all of which I will cover later on), then for its focus on everyone’s favourite tortured torturer. Fact: over three seasons, there has never been a bad Sayid episode. Ever. You have to give it to Naveen Andrews – whenever it’s his time to shine on the show, he one-hundred-percent brings it, be it in a flashback or otherwise. And last night, he brought it to Flashforward City. Ladies and gents, Sayid Jarrah is one of the Oceanic Six, and while he hasn’t grown a beard or entered a mental institution, he’s become an assassin for Benjamin Linus. Back on the island, he said that the day he started trusting the former Head Other is the day he would have “sold his soul”. Ironic enough that he ends up working for him, his loyalties to keeping his friends safe (the Oceanic Six? Those still on the island? Both?) being the only thing that could save his soul. It’s funny how the characters on this show fight so hard for redemption on the island, only for those who get off it to crave it once again. “The Economist” was chock full of these little ironies.
In his post-Island story, Sayid (rocking a hairdo that was, for better or worse, truly pimpalicious) was in Berlin, supposedly living off Oceanic settlement money and sightseeing while putting the moves on Elsa, an economist’s assistant (Sleeper Cell’s Thekla Reuten). It was Sayid’s mission to get to the so-called “economist” through the blonde, but as we know, Sayid loves attractive blondes. And as anyone who’s seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade knows, it is always dangerous to trust attractive blondes called Elsa. Sayid found this out the hard way upon being shot by the double agent, who had been keeping tabs on the former soldier throughout their affair for her employer. In a great scene that turned from delicate to despairing at the sound of a pager, Sayid put his emotions to the side and killed Elsa. Crying over her body, we saw that Elsa was wearing a silver bracelet, not unlike the one worn by…
Naomi! Yes, she’s been dead three episodes now, but she’s still pushing the plot onwards. Sayid found a silver bracelet on her corpse with a message enscribed in it: “N, I’ll always be with you. R.G.” This lit a fuse in both Sayid’s head and his heart, seeing how it was written for him by Nadia, his childhood friend who he searched the world for prior to the island. While the flashforward didn’t tell us whether or not he has seen Nadia since leaving the island, we can assume there can at least be a connection between Nadia, Naomi, Elsa and the mysterious R.G. Could he be the new Big Bad to the series? I’m in two minds about this. One, I think that the name could be a red herring, supposedly leading us to the head of the island operations, only for it turning out to be what Frank called “middle management”. Two, R.G. is an alias for a mega-powerful figure we have yet to meet but that we know a little bit about already. What monolithic character within the Lost universe do we know of that speaks German? None other than the Austrian-born co-founder of the Dharma Initiative, Alvar Hanso! I personally think I’m onto something here. What do you guys think?
The other big on-island events happened on the impromptu helicopter site. Desmond (who needs to learn how to properly button his shirt) demanded to leave the island on the chopper after Frank and Daniel kept their mouths shut on a possible connection to Penelope Widmore. Good for him, I say. It’s good to have Desmond back – I sure hope he gets some redonkulous premonitions this year… or at least some flashbacks explaining why he got kicked out of the army. Sayid, as we know, also left the island, but seeing him take off was still a Very Big Deal. His eyes conveyed total relief at leaving his new home – even a little sadness worked its way in there – while his body language said that he’s prepared to carry out Mission: Infiltrate The Freighter. The Big Ask: will Desmond make it home too?
The Very Very Big Ask: is island time not real world time? Daniel carried out an experiment involving the freighter firing a “payload” onto the island – namely a rocket with a timer in it. All very scientific stuff – I found myself agreeing with Frank over his description of the jittery physicist: “Half the stuff he says goes over my head. The other stuff goes way way over.” What I couldn’t agree with was Frank’s nonchalant reaction to the results – the rocket from the freighter reached the island a full thirty-one minutes and sixteen seconds later than it should have. It seems that Daniel’s comment from last week’s episode about the light “not scattering quite right” was more than just an endearingly odd thing to say – it was possible evidence that this island is not of this world. In a recent pre-season interview with Entertainment Weekly, Matthew Fox pointed out that there were important questions the audience would soon see addressed within the show. Namely: “What is this island? Where is this island? When is this island?” That final question is very, very intriguing and, with this week’s developments, hints that time travel (or something to do with time – I’m a big fan of time travel escapades) could have something to do with it. Upon leaving the island, Daniel told Frank to “make sure” the helicopter left on the same bearing as it came in. Could this bearing be, say, the same compass bearing of 325 degrees Michael was handed upon leaving the island? And if so, is it possible to get back to the island? Big, big questions indeed.
As for Team Locke, we saw Hurley help trap Sayid, Kate and Miles upon their rescue mission. Despite his regret at helping Locke do so, Sayid still had warmth in his voice when he told the big dude he wouldn’t hurt him. I wonder how long this can last until Hurley betrays Team Jack big time, as was hinted at in the season premiere. And how long will it take to see all of the Oceanic Six back together?
And so, we find ourselves at the end of yet another Lost recap and with the usual set of questions: Do you fear for Sayid’s soul like I do? Would you drink Locke’s ice tea? Who here thinks that Charlotte and Daniel are mega-cute together? Could Ben be fighting the “right” fight off the island, morally dubious though it may be? When are we going to see Michael and Zoe Bell’s character already?
Til’ next week, I’m Lost. (And if your mum’s a blonde called Elsa, tell her I’m sorry for my assumptions above. I will be sending a card in the post.)