Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kill a chicken, kill Hitler

Lost returned to the "single character focus and flashback" format Wednesday, with another excellent outing entitled "He's Our You."

While there was nothing completely shocking in this one, save for the last couple of minutes, it did give Naveen Andrews a chance to flex his acting chops and gave us lots of time-traveling paradoxes to wrap our increasingly fried noodles around. So what happened? In a nutshell:

Lil Sayid, in a scene reminiscent of Mr. Eko's flashback, did what his brother couldn't do, and took a life. But instead of a villager, it was a plump chicken that got mysteriously thin upon having its neck snapped. All grown up and off the island, he killed a Russian dude* at Ben's behest. Once that mission was complete, Ben, on his way to a Huggy Bear cosplay convention, gave Sayid his "freedom," letting him know that all of Widmore's people had now been killed. Sayid pondered what to do with his life, since all he knew was killing. Later, after Sayid had been on the Habitats for Humanity Redemption Tour, Ben showed up again trying to solicit his services.
*the folks at Lostpedia caught this little nugget: the Cyrillic to English translation of the name on the window as Sayid leaves is "Oldham Pharmaceuticals." Not coincidentally, the Timothy Leary De Sade of the DI is also named "Oldham."
"John Locke is dead. I think he was murdered." (Emerson, as always, brought some amusing nuance to "murdered," even funnier since we the viewers know exactly who murdered poor John).

Sayid rejects Ben, which gets us this: "Because, Sayid, to put it simply: you're capable of things that most other men aren't. Every choice you've made in your life -- whether it was to murder or to torture -- it hasn't really been a choice at all, has it? It's in your nature. It's what you are. You're a killer, Sayid."

After we flash to the scene at the Marina where Ben freaks everyone out by showing up, we see Sayid in a bar, drinking the ultra expensive scotch that Widmore said wasn't good enough for Desmond. A hottie we know as Ilana cozies up to Sayid, and some small talk later, they're ready to knock boots. Although Ilana's idea of that is more literal, as she knocks her boot directly in Sayid's face and pulls a gun on him, declaring that she's going to take him back to Guam to answer for his murder of the dude on the golf course. As we saw in "The Economist," Sayid is 0 for 2 in getting tricked by chicks who want to fuck him that turn out to be not what they claim (disappointingly, I know the moral of that story all too well, so I can't fault him for falling for it again).

Back on Craphole Island: Lil Ben brings Sayid a sandwich and a book, and gets beat by his dad. Sawyer tries to get Sayid to play along and claim to be a defecting Hostile, but Sayid says "nope." Hurley serves breakfast and tells an oblivious Kate that Sawyer and Juliet are cohabitating fuck buddies. Jack, uncharacteristically, but perhaps chastened by LaFluer last week, goes with the flow, dude. The DI folks take Sayid for interrogation to see Oldham, and though he lives in a creepy teepee, we don't see his brother Darryl, his other brother Darryl, Dr. Eldon Tyrell nor Al Swearingen. Oldham gives Sayid The Magical Hallucinogenic Sugar Cube of Truth, and Sayid spills nothing but, in a hilarious scene. The increasingly annoying Radzinski blabbers on about his plans, and no one really believes the Iraqi. Goodspeed holds a tribal council meeting, and everyone, egged on by new mom Amy, wants to kill Sayid. Lil Ben sends a flaming VW Microbus of Distraction into the DI compound, then shows up to spring Sayid from the Mayberry lock up (no sign of Otis sleeping it off), in return for taking the youngster to see Richard and the Hostiles. Sayid takes off with Lil Ben into the jungle and runs across Jin. Jin gets taken down by Sayid, who grabs Jin's pistol and then proceeds to plug Lil Ben with a round right in the chest. DUN!

This episode was ostensibly a question about free will vs. destiny, seen through the eyes of Sayid. Is he a killer by choice and circumstance, or is his a killer simply because that's what he is and he can't escape it, no matter what he does (or how many huts he builds for the third world impoverished)? Similarly, is Ben like he is (and as we've known and seen him for 3 season now) because of his circumstances (dad beating, getting shot by the dude he sprung from jail, whatever happens/happened with Widmore, etc.), or is he just a born liar, manipulator and orchestrator of evil? But the more interesting questions come about from that age old sci-fi trope, "if you could travel back in time and kill Hitler, would you?" Tons of great sci-fi has been built on this premise (and the whole Terminator franchise works this one, too, only from the standpoint of killing a "good guy") and it will be fascinating to watch it play out on Lost.

First, we have to look at the rules that have been established on the show (keeping in mind that Daniel Faraday probably isn't the most mentally reliable narrator, but he has been our touchstone for understanding how time travel works with Lost): whatever happened, happened.

If that's true, then of course Lil Ben can NOT be dead, since he's obviously existed in the timeline beyond that incident. So what happens? Well, we've seen that the island can actually heal people and bring them back from the dead (Locke and Mikhail, among others). And of course we've scene that the "island" won't let people go until it's through with them (see Jack's and Michael's attempts to commit suicide). So my best guess on what happens is that Jin wakes up, sees Lil Ben shot, and brings him back to the DI on the verge of death. Jack probably won't help, but Juliet will, and Lil Ben will be saved, forging his lifelong crush on her (see the painting in his apartment that looks like her, and also remember the comments from "present day" Others that indicate Juliet looks like the woman from "long ago" in the portrait).

HOWEVER, if Lil Ben truly dies, then that opens up a whole can of existential worms for the show to chew on. Will they attempt to look at parallel or alternate realities existing on this show (for example, one where Lil Ben doesn't die and grows up to do all we've seen him do, and one where he does die, and plays out without Ben to influence events on the island)? At first, I didn't think team Darlton would go there, but two things keeping nagging at me. One, doesn't the nature of the DI camp look slightly different in the "present" where Sun and Lapidus are, chatting casually with Christian Shephard? Two, remember the broadcast coming from the island when Lapidus is landing Ajira 316? It sounded like the "numbers," which was the original island transmission, which was later changed by Rousseau, and even later, jammed by The Others. So if Ben died, there was no conflict with "Hostiles," and no war with Widmore. If Widmore isn't kicked off the island, then Desmond probably doesn't get to the island via Widmore's boat race. If Desmond doesn't get to the island, perhaps the numbers are still entered into the computer every 108 minutes, and Oceanic 815 doesn't crash there. If 815 doesn't crash there, Jin is never on the island. If Jin is never on the island, then no one stops Rousseau from entering Smoky's Cave of Dismemberment and Thrown Voices. If that doesn't happen, then she doesn't live to change the original signal transmission to her own warning. Hmmmmm.

Ouchy. Head hurts.

Okay, quotes, questions and comments and theories for "He's Our You:"

Why didn't Sayid plug Lil Ben more than once? If you're gonna make him dead, then make him dead.

Also, Sayid didn't know Faraday's musing about time travel, so he rightly thought he could "save the day" by stopping Ben in his youth.

IF Ben lives, will he carry the knowledge of Sayid's murder attempt with him throughout life? Or, will it be like with Desmond's encounter with a past-traveling Faraday, and he will only recall this once "present catches up with him?"

If the island can heal Locke's legs and bring people back from the dead, then why couldn't it heal Ben's spinal tumor?

Elizabeth Mitchell once again proved she's the best actress on the show. Her question to Sawyer, on the surface about Sayid -- "it's all over, isn't it?" -- was played with great subtext as she was also looking out the window at Jack and Kate. Beautifully done.

Hurley about Sawyer and Juliet: "I thought it was kind of obvious. I mean, who couldn't see that coming?"

"A 12 year old Ben Linus brought me a chicken salad sandwich. How do you think I'm doing?"
"Sweet kid, huh?"

"..and don't forget to try the dipping sauces, they really bring out the ham." Was there some kind of "pig message" going on that I missed? They mention ham a couple of times, the torturer (and Russian pharma company) was named "OldHAM," and Juliet was cooking bacon.

We've long thought that Radzinsky killed himself. But he's so fucking annoying, I wouldn't be surprised if Kelvin, or someone else, just shot him to get him to shut the hell up.

"Because I am from the future."
"Maybe I should use half a dropper. Ooops."
"You used exactly enough."

"Even a new mom wants you dead." Notice that Amy seemed to be the one spurring on the "kill Sayid" movement? Well, how about this: Amy is a spy for the Hostiles. And she's afraid that Sayid, who everyone believes is a Hostile spy (or possibly a Hostile defector), will blow her cover. So she's working to make sure that doesn't happen. Perhaps in return for her spying, she, or at least her son, Ethan, will be allowed to join the Hostiles. (We know Ethan winds up as an Other/Hostile).

Dumb things done for dramatic tension: Why would Sawyer attract attention by standing on the porch talking to Kate? Why not go inside, and stay away from prying eyes like Phil's, or from Juliet?

"Three years, no burning buses. Y'all are back for one day!"

Next week should be a doozie. Until then, Namaste.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting theory on makes sense, especially considering her line delivery during the Council meeting.

    And, like you, I'm thinking SOMETHING has changed in the timeline. Maybe the "whatever happens, happens" rule only applies to the BIG stuff, but other little things can still change? Take Charlie's death, for instance...Desmond was able to save him several times, which allowed for certain things to happen, but he did ultimately die. However, by saving the times that he did, he allowed Charlie to live long enough to signal Penny, which is how Penny knew where to look for Desmond, which allowed the O6 to be rescued. Wonder what would have happened if Charlie had drowned or was eletrocuted earlier?

    Great recap, as always.