One thing we did kind of like about the episode is that it marked a return to the season 1 through 3 narrative technique (and one for which the show is known) of focusing on one character and using flashbacks to both comment on the current actions of that character and to fill in some background on them. We suspect, since there are so many dangling plot elements regarding how and why the O6 got on Ajira 316, we're going to be seeing more of these as the season winds down. That's fine by us. We're dying to know what Kate did with Aaron or whether or not Sun met with Widmore before boarding the plane or what the hell happened to Desmond and Penny. The problem is, Sayid's flashbacks revealed almost nothing we didn't already know or strongly suspect.
The first flashback, to his childhood in Iraq, strongly echoed (no pun intended) Mr. Eko's backstory. Sayid killed so his brother (?) wouldn't have to. Nicely done and it set up the theme of the episode: that Sayid is, at his heart, a killer. Of course, we knew this already because the only character who racked up a higher body count during the course of the show is Ben himself. We've lost count of the number of people Sayid has killed both on and off the island so a scene spelling out that he's a killer seemed a little superfluous to us. It's like having a flashback for Jack showing he's a doctor or for Kate showing she's an annoying, self-centered, cock-teasing pain in the ass (oh come on, we had to work that in somewhere).
It seemed as if this episode was going to explain how and why Ben and Sayid had their falling out. We always suspected that Sayid must have discovered that Ben had his wife killed or at the very least that he had been lying to Sayid all along about the people he was ordering him to kill. Well, there were no answers here at all. Ben and Sayid parted ways because...well, they just did, is all. Why that resulted in Sayid telling Hurley to always do the opposite of whatever Ben tells him, we don't know. And we kinda wonder if we're ever going to know because it seemed as if the writers thought they were filling in all the blanks, as if they've written the final chapter on the Ben/Sayid alliance.
Not that the episode was completely without merit. We'll get to the "shocking" ending in a bit, but what stood out to us was how certain scenes echoed older, somewhat iconic scenes from earlier in the series. To go along with the Eko echo, we had a scene in a bar with Sayid and Ilana that was eerily similar to the scene where Jack and Ana Lucia first met in the airport (doubly so because the actress looks so much like Michelle Rodriguez that it's a little distracting) and we had Sayid tied to a tree, ostensibly being tortured (even if they just dosed him with some acid on a sugarcube, how very '70s) while Sawyer looked on, which of course strongly echoes the scene in season 1 when it was Sawyer tied to the tree while Sayid tortured him. All very clever callbacks which make us wonder if it's just about the writers being clever or if there's something else going on that actually causes these echoes to happen.
Which reminds us, part of the reason we're getting a little antsy with the whole "back to the '70s" subplot is because ever since the time shifting stopped there's been almost no magic or mystery. It's all very plodding and we only have so much interest in seeing Horace or Radzinsky in the flesh and we've REALLY lost interest in the whole love quadrangle going on between Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Juliet. Just love the one you're with, bitches, and save yourselves a shit ton of trouble. More of Locke staring off into the distance and saying something cryptic and less meaningful glances and long pauses between pretty people with extravagant problems, please.
Hey, remember when we said this was going to be a short post? Ha. Fooled ya.
We felt bad for Sawyer as everything he built up for himself over the last three years started to unravel in front of his eyes and despite his chest-puffery of last episode, he doesn't seem to have the skills to fix the situation. On the other hand, the growing annoyance of Sawyer (and to a lesser extent, Juliet) with the arrival of the other 815ers struck us as a little misguided. They DID come back to save your asses, y'know. It's not their fault that you all decided to play house in DHARMAville.
As for that ending...was it really a shock? It seemed to us that the whole episode was leading to that point anyway. Sure, it's a shock to see a 12 year old get shot point blank by an adult on network television but does anyone really believe that Sayid managed to kill l'il Ben? Before we say something we'll regret later (because you never can tell what the hell these writers are going to do next), we admit we can toy with the idea that somehow Sayid managed to change the past or create an alternate timeline, but we seriously doubt it. L'il Ben will get miraculously healed by the island and/or the two secret doctors hanging out in DHARMAville will be forced to come out of the closet and save his life.
Of course, it didn't escape our notice that l'il Ben slipped Sayid a copy of Carlos Castaneda's A Separate Reality when he was in that cell and you just KNOW the writers gleefully wrote that little Easter egg in just to fuck with the fans' heads.
No, more important than a possible time paradox is the fate of Sayid now. His actions were alarming not because he shot a kid, but because he seemed resigned to his fate as a killer in such a way as to make us think that HE thinks he's at the end of the road. We can guarantee that before this is all over, at least one major character will be dead, but we're really hoping not to see any major deaths for a while. Save that for the series finale, writers. Please?
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