A Tale of Two Sayids. That’s what this episode boiled down to. On the one hand, there’s the Sayid who does what is necessary to aid or protect the people he cares about. Similarly to Jack Bauer, he has few qualms about torturing someone for information, or even killing them, if the end result will help his friends, family, or comrades. On the other hand, there’s the Sayid who is plagued by guilt over the things he has done, who wonders if he really is no more than a cold-hearted killer. This is the Sayid who seeks redemption through good deeds, or comfort in relationships. The majority of this week’s episode presented us with these two conflicting sides of Sayid’s personality, and it left us wondering which side is dominant at the end.
Sayid’s Dark Side
- As a child he kills a chicken. Killing animals as a child is never a sign of good things to come.
- As an adult he chooses “torturer” as a profession.
- He continues to use his methods of torture and combat while on the Island.
- After he leaves the Island, he agrees to work as an assassin for Ben, to eliminate the people in Widmore’s organization who pose a threat to his friends. He is immune to their begging, as we see him in this episode disregard a man’s pleading for his life and offer of money, and shoot him anyway.
Sayid’s Virtuous Side
- He spent the majority of his adult life searching for his childhood love, Nadia, never losing hope that she was alive.
- He romanced Shannon on the Island, and was genuinely devastated by her tragic death (I’ll never forget the image of him carrying her lifeless body out of the jungle, a despondent look on his face).
- He has a weakness for women. He got involved with a woman named Elsa who he later was forced to kill after discovering she was a spy. And in this week’s episode, he fell for Ilana, who posed as a woman who likes lonely, sad men, but after seducing him, revealed herself to be a bounty hunter of sorts, come to capture him and take him to Guam to answer for what he has done.
- After he had killed everyone on the list (again, to protect his Island friends and as revenge for Nadia’s death), he chose a simple life building houses for those in need.
Sayid and Ben’s Common Ground
- As a child, Sayid matter of factly broke the neck of a chicken, after luring it to him with feed. This action pleased his father, who apparently sees toughness, violence, and obedience as admirable and necessary qualities in a “real” man.
- Sayid sees something of himself in 1970s Ben. He winces as he watches Roger physically and verbally reprimand Ben for lying to him and making a sandwich for the prisoner. We can assume that Sayid’s father also used physical force to assert his authority, a characteristic which Sayid carried with him into his adult life. Sayid knows that Ben also becomes violent and deceptive (not to mention a sociopath).
- Speaking of Ben’s deception, now that we know Ben murdered Locke, we also know that he was flat out lying to Sayid when he visited him in South America and told him he “thinks” that someone killed Locke, and that someone is going after all his friends now. I suppose this was Ben’s way of manipulating Sayid into going to L.A., knowing that all of the Oceanic Six needed to be reunited for a chance to return to the Island. We still don’t know the whole story behind Ben’s intentions and plans. But we do know that he is a master manipulator and one crazy, yet bizarrely calm, Other.
- As Sayid sits in his Dharma jail cell, he ponders his purpose for returning to the Island. He tells Sawyer that when he woke up in the jungle and realized he was back on the Island, he realized “that there is no purpose to it.”
- At this point, Sayid has basically been abadoned by his friends (Sawyer, Jin, and the others are too concerned about keeping their cover to really help him) and feels hopeless. Can’t blame the guy. All the women he’s ever been involved with (that we know of) have either died or betrayed him. He’s spent the last three years murdering people, and now he wonders if there was any purpose to that beyond Ben’s own selfish motives.
- What is there left for him to do to redeem himself? Well, right in front of him is a boy who will turn into a pathological liar and cold-hearted killer, a boy who he sees something of himself in. Sayid probably wishes that he himself had never grown up to do the horrible things he has done (torture, assassinations, etc.), just as he wishes Ben would never go on to cause such destruction on and off the Island. By killing Ben as a child, he believes he is preventing all the devastation that will happen if he lives, and he is also, in his mind, “saving” Ben from what he will become – an option that Sayid never had, but now perhaps wishes he had.
- It seems obvious that Ben won’t die from the gunshot wound that Sayid gave him, but it was startling and disturbing to watch Sayid shoot a child (even if the child in question is Ben), right after saying, “You were right. I am a killer.” As always when faced with the choice of violent actions, Sayid thinks he is doing the right thing by shooting Ben, and I wouldn’t say that he enjoyed it (Ben accused him of enjoying killing people in one of their off-island conversations), but couldn’t he just as easily have tried to redirect Ben’s psychotic tendencies to something more productive and healthy? If he wants to change the future, there are probably other ways besides killing people.
- Little Ben’s gun shot wound means trouble for Sawyer’s carefully crafted cover story. I’m guessing Jack is the only doctor on the Island, and he will once again face the dilemma of whether or not to save Ben. A dilemma, first of all, because he will wonder if Ben is worth saving, and secondly, because if he reveals himself as a doctor, that puts all of them in jeopardy.
- Based on the preview, it looks like next week’s episode will be Kate-centric. Will we find out what happened to Aaron? I hope so. I still think she gave him to Claire’s mom.
- Is anyone else wondering what happened to Rose and Bernard? It’s one thing for their contract to only stipulate that they appear in a few episodes, but it’s another for the writers to ignore them completely. Are we to think they didn’t time travel with Sawyer’s group? If so, why not? And will they run into Sun, Frank, Locke, etc.? Or did they join the Others, who it seems are immune to the flashes?
- Will we see Desmond again this season?!
- I’m glad we found out how Sayid ended up on Flight 316 to Guam. The increasing look of disbelief and fear on his face with each familiar face he saw at the airport was great. Jack, Hurley, Kate, Sun…. Ben?!! He would have to feel like he was either in the Twilight Zone or some strange Purgatory, being punished for his past deeds, or getting a chance for redemption.
- The guy who Sawyer referred to as “our you,” the Dharma Initiative’s go to torture specialist, was played by William Sanderson, who I recognized immediately (despite the passage of 20 years) as Larry from Newhart. “Hi. I’m Larry. This is my brother Darryl. And this is my other brother Darryl.” I don’t know why that running gag was always so funny to me. He was appropriately creepy in his role as Oldham.
- The book young Ben handed to Sayid was “A Separate Reality” by Carlos Castaneda. A synopsis on Amazon describes it in this way: “In this book, Castaneda resumes his apprenticeship, determined to go deeper still into don Juan’s world, to learn to see beyond the surface realities of life. He continues his dialogue with don Juan, intuitive, wise, demanding, and fierce in his struggle to see and know beyond the vision of ordinary men; and himself, a man of courage and intelligence who submits himself to don Juan’s teaching, to enter into another world as a participant rather than an observer.” I’d imagine that the parallel here is that as Castaneda was looking to don Juan for guidance and knowledge, young Ben was looking to Richard (or perhaps Jacob) for wisdom that would lead him to a deeper understanding of the Island and his role on it.
- I really like Sayid, and the way the writers have developed his character over the seasons. His story is a tragic one, I’m very sympathetic to his situation, and I continue to hope that he can somehow have a happy ending, or at least something other than a horribly sad one.