The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Episode 10: He’s Our You

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Kathryn!

What the what!?!  How did I not see that coming?  Sayid kills Ben – I don’t even know how to process this…what will that mean in time?  How is that going to affect all the other storylines?  Is it even possible to kill him like that?  Surely Faraday would say no!  Oh my goodness – is Ben now dead in his alternate temporal selves?  Is there a connection between Sayid shooting him in 1977 and Sun thumping him on the head leaving him for dead in the present time?  Too many questions, I know – but I’m brimming with them because I just don’t know what to do with this!!

Ok, why don’t I do a little recap to calm myself down.  We open in Iraq with a father trying to make his young son into a man by having him kill a chicken.  In a scene that is very, very reminiscent of season 2’s Mr. Eko killing a villager and becoming a child soldier in order to save his brother from that fate, Sayid kills the chicken for his brother, revealing his supposedly true nature as a killer.  The rest of the episode offers various proofs that Sayid is this natural born killer, culminating in his murder of the child Ben (was it shocking for you to see a child get shot like that?  I was surprised how not shocking it felt – as if we weren’t watching a child’s death, but rather that kid was a mere representative of the adult Ben we know).

Sayid, being held captive by Dharma, is aided throughout the episode by this young Ben (who, we learn, believes that Sayid is an other/hostile, and that Sayid will take him away to live with the hostiles a la Richard’s promise 4 years ago).  At the same time, Sawyer is doing everything he can to protect Sayid while Sayid messes up all his attempts.  Sayid is taken into the forest to meet Oldham (played by the fabulous William Sanderson!) who gives him a truth serum to ascertain his real identity.  Sawyer describes Oldham as a psychopath who is ‘our you’ – the title of this episode – meaning that he, like Sayid, is the community’s torturer.  Strapped to a tree in a cruciform position Sayid tells his torturers that he’s from the future and that they’re all going to die.

Flashbacks throughout the episode let us know how Sayid ended up in shackles on the plane.  He is being transported by a bounty hunter to Guam (only after the two have drunk MacCutcheon together, Lost’s fictitious brand of luxury whiskey, and only after they’ve made out a little).  He is shocked and terrified to find the rest of the Oceanic 6 on his flight as he did not intend to return with them – indeed, his presence on the flight is as much a surprise to them as theirs is to him.  And it makes me wonder if the unexpected presence of Sayid – who flashes through time with the rest – has some bearing on why Sun did not flash (a mystery yet to be solved).

Back in 1977, with the community having decided to execute Sayid, the child Ben creates a diversion that enables their escape into the woods where Sayid immobilizes Jin, gets away, and kills the kid.  The last couple of episodes have reminded us numerous times that the Dharma initiative gets wiped out by the hostiles and we know that this wipe-out is facilitated by a young (but not child) Ben forging an alliance with Richard and the hostiles.  So in running away with Sayid to be with the hostiles, Ben jumps the gun on his original path (leaving his village maybe 6-10 years ahead of the original schedule).  I know Faraday would say that events that will happen will still happen and, so, by that logic, the community will still get wiped out.  But if Ben the child can really be killed, then is it possible that Dharma is not going to get gassed anymore?  My mind reels!

It’s also worth noting that this episode reminds us that Sayid’s alliance with adult-Ben back in the real world was forged because he wanted to kill everyone who posed a threat to his friends.  And the conclusion to that task always remained fuzzy, at best.  It seems, now, that Sayid has attempted to complete the mission and kill the one, final person who he understands to be the greatest threat to those he loves – and kill him before he can even become a threat!

Oof, I think this will be a tough commentary for you to respond to without spoilers!  Sorry for that!!

ox,
Natalie

Dear Natalie,

Yep, this is a hard one to write without spoilers! I’m not going to say much about boy Ben’s shooting until my commentary on the next episode, so as not to give anything away. But I will say, I remember distinctly how shocking, mind reeling, and upending it was to see it for the first time! Not because, as you point out, it was a child being shot, but because it was Ben – mastermind behind everything, link in all chains, Ben – who was shot. I think I leaped out of my chair and say something like “what the what?!” but probably more parental advisory warning style.

Instead, I want to focus on Sayid. I agree that the opening shot of his chicken-killing episode as a boy in Iraq is supposed to set the stage for the “Sayid the natural born killer” motif of the episode, but what I found so moving about that scene is that Sayid does not kill out of a desire or love of killing, but to help his brother and to shield him from his father’s disdain. It is true that Sayid seems to find these acts of violence easier to bear, but not out of maliciousness, but out of care. Or perhaps he channels the relative ease with which he can confront and perpetrate violence into a means of helping others. As I watched his father praise him as a true man, the young Sayid’s eyes seemed already to carry a certain amount of sadness, as though praise for his violence was already a misunderstanding of his true intentions.

You already mention this side of Sayid, when you point out that all his killing for Ben was motivated by a desire to keep his friends safe. And also, let’s be honest, probably by more than a little anger and desire for revenge. When Ben comes to find him in the Dominican Republic, what Sayid rebels against is Ben’s interpretation of him as a killer who kills for pleasure’s sake (omg, I so want to say something else right now, but I am holding it in, holding it in…).

Besides watching Ben and Sayid play off each other throughout time, I really loved watching Sawyer try to keep it all together as Sayid refuses to play by the rules. Even more than in the last episode, Sawyer’s desire to keep the status quo of the life he has built for himself, and for others, is on display. Don’t get me wrong: I get the desire and given their situation, blending into life in Dharma was probably the very best move. But we know from the get go what Juliet seems to know or guess this episode: this life wasn’t meant to be. It was all a kind of play-acting (I’m not saying the emotions aren’t real, for instance between Sawyer and Juliet, but can they really think they are going to live happily ever after out of time? If nothing else there is the Dharma massacre coming down the line). Sawyer doesn’t want to admit this yet, and I empathize with him. But I also worry that it is a sign of weakness in his own style of leadership: he is very quick on his feet, but craves a stability that Jack, for instance, did not, and it might end up hurting those he is trying to protect.

I never did respond to your musings about the gendered nature of leadership on the island (episode 8, LaFleur). Mostly, I agree: the assumption that the group’s leader will always be a man is clearly absurd given how kick-ass so many of the women are. Like you, I kind of hope it is a meta-commentary on the sexism still rampant in society, but I mostly just think it is just another example of it. The fact that Ann Lucia was the leader of the other survivors group makes me think that they imagine they have dealt with the gender issue or just aren’t thinking about it. But we’ll see…

OK, on to episode 11 as soon as I can so I can finally say what I want to say without spoilers!

K

Read the entire Lost conversation from start to finish…

Written by themothchase

January 18, 2010 at 10:15 am

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