Saturday, March 28, 2009

"He's Our You" Analysis!

Unlike most episodes, where I need a little time afterwards to "digest" everything that happened, I'm feeling pretty good about this one right off the bat because there really wasn't that much to it. Some people loved the episode (because they love Sayid, and he was front and center for the full hour) and some people hated the episode (because nothing really "happened" for the vast majority of the episode). As for me, I come down somewhere in the middle. Yes, it was good to "fill in the gaps" on Sayid's story… but nothing that was revealed was all that shocking. It was almost like those flashbacks were designed to give us exactly enough information to explain why things happened (why Sayid "quit" working for Ben, how Sayid got "arrested" by Ilana and ended up on Ajira 316) without raising any new questions or giving away any huge revelations. In some ways, those flashbacks were a bit of a letdown since they seemed like "the easy way out". Instead of Ben and Sayid having some huge falling out or fight - it was simply that Ben stopped giving Sayid orders and the two men walked away from each other. For the time being, Ilana appears to be a simple bounty hunter - not a former Other or person working for Widmore for some greater purpose. In both cases, my reaction was "okay" instead of being "holy crap!"


As for the on-Island 1977 action, Sayid seemed resigned to "give up" for the majority of the episode, not willing to work with Sawyer on his schemes to free him or come up with a cover story - which seemed pretty uncharacteristic for Sayid. It's like he was a broken man, instead of a calm, confident, hero. Aside from killing Benjamin Linus, which Sayid seems to realize is "his mission" on the Island, he seems willing to lay down and die rather than fight… which was kinda sad to me. Perhaps finding out that Ben is still alive despite his best efforts will be just the spark that Sayid needs to find a passion and mission on the Island again. If not, I think his days on Lost are numbered. Here's hoping!


On to the analyzin'…


Widmore. For the over-analytical among us (me), one of the still-outstanding questions from Season Four has been the identity of The Economist. As the season progressed, most casual viewers probably just assumed that The Economist was Widmore, which makes total sense - but if you look closely at the details of the episode "The Economist", they actually seem to rule Widmore out as a candidate (relive the memories here: Later in the season, we also saw Ben visit Widmore in "The Shape of Things to Come" - before the events of "The Economist" episode took place, which even further seemed to prove Widmore was not The Economist. Long story short - it seemed like Ben and The Economist didn't know each other, when Ben and Widmore clearly have a long history. So up until this point, there was still a big question mark about this Economist. Was it a third party that we hadn't met yet? Was it someone like Jacob or Alpert?


As it turns out, the most obvious answer was the correct one - and maybe we were all looking into the details of "The Economist" a little too closely.


This week, after Sayid completes his "last kill" for Ben, Ben clearly states "that man was the last of Widmore's people" who were putting the Oceanic Six at risk, which seems to confirm that all the people who Sayid had been killing over the years were working for Widmore, who is also The Economist.


Long story short - in case anyone out there still had "Who is the Economist" on their "Outstanding Lost Questions" list, which has to be about 1000 pages long at this point, you can cross it off!


From an overall storyline timeline perspective, we've got the following:

  • Ben leaves the Island after turning the FDW
  • Ben recruits Sayid
  • Ben visits Widmore
  • Sayid kills Widmore's Henchmen
  • Ben determines that Sayid's work is done, and sets him free


This just seems a little strange to me, since one has to assume Widmore would just recruit new henchman - and at this point, Ben still has no idea how he's going to get back to the Island (I'm assuming Locke hasn't left the Island at the point of Ben and Sayid parting, since you have to allow enough time between this scene and Sayid starting to work with "Build Our World" in the Caribbean). It all just seems like Ben was using Sayid for the sake of using him - sure he might have been killing Widmore's men, but there wasn't an "end game" in mind - unless it was just to put himself in a advantageous position over Widmore in their "race for the Island" by taking out Widmore's resources.


The other thing that bothered me was there really wasn't some huge fallout between Sayid and Ben. Remember Sayid's impassioned plea to Hurley about "if you meet Ben, always do the opposite of what he says"? Where did that come from? To continue the overall storyline timeline perspective:

  • Ben determines that Sayid's work is done, and sets him free
  • Sayid goes to work in the Dominican Republic building homes
  • Locke visits Sayid
  • Ben kills Locke
  • Ben visits Sayid, claiming that Widmore killed Locke and is threatening Hurley
  • Sayid rescues Hurley and tells him to never trust Ben


See the disconnect? Where does Sayid get off telling Hurley to "always do the opposite of what Ben says" when in fact he is doing precisely what Ben told him to do? Or is it just that Sayid hates himself for doing what Ben told him to, and wants to save Hurley from a similar fate? Either way, we never saw anything that reveals why Sayid went from happily killing the people on Ben's list to absolutely hating him and promising to kill him if he ever sees him again. Maybe that scene will happen in the future and this will all make sense, but for now, it just seems like a glaring character inconsistency for Sayid.



Ilana. Last week we seemed to confirm that Ilana and Caesar did not know each other pre-flight (since Caesar called her "lady" after the crash, instead of "Ilana"). This week, we learned more about her identity - she's a bounty hunter, hired by the family of Peter Avellino (the guy Sayid killed on the golf course last season)… at least that's what she thinks. Here is where there are three distinct schools of thought:

  1. Ilana was truly hired by the Avellino family, and the fact that this just happened to put Sayid on Ajira 316 proves that it was "fate" or "destiny" that he end up back on the Island.
  2. Ilana thinks she was hired by the Avellino family, but was really hired by Ben - who was pretending to be the Avellino family. Ben is ensuring that Sayid ends up on Ajira 316, rather than it being a question of fate.
  3. Ilana knows she is working for Widmore, but is using the Avellino family story as a cover to hide her true allegiances. This opens the door for Ilana to suddenly become an agent for Widmore who made her way back to the Island… thus helping him "find the Island".


Looking at the history of Lost, the first scenario seems the most likely. After countless conspiracy theories over the first two seasons, we eventually found out that it was "fate" that Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island (not some pre-planned event). Although some still have elaborate schemes to the contrary, it seems like it was "destiny" that our Survivors ended up on Oceanic 815 in the first place. Sayid ending up on Ajira 316 - and back on the Island - could follow the same logic, where we come up with conspiracy theories and logical ways to explain it… but in the end, it comes down to fate.


The second scenario removes this "mystical element" from the explanation, and is easily explained. Ben would know the names of the people he killed, and has the wealth to hire Ilana for the job under false pretenses. Also, what are the odds that the Avellinos are one of the less than 175,000 people who live on Guam? It seems a little convenient that someone murdered in the Seychelles (population 82,000) would have family in Guam. Out of the 6.7 billion people in the world, it's like two needles in a haystack.


The third scenario is definitely the most fun, but also the kind of scenario that Lost nerds like me come up with in hopes of everything having deeper meanings and shocking twists. If there really is a "war" coming for the Island, I have to assume that Widmore will be involved… and unless he finds the Island again, how is that going to happen? There's a million other ways that Widmore could enter the picture, but having Ilana be the one to pull him back to the Island makes her character infinitely more interesting and important - and not another Nikki / Paulo throwaway-type character.


So what's it going to be? I'm hoping for the third scenario… but if I was a betting man, I'd go with the first. Prove me wrong, Lost writers!


Sawyer. Poor Sawyer. First he tried to "play house" with Kate in Dharmaville (unsuccessfully). Then he succeeds in "playing house" with Juliet, builds a nice comfortable life for the two of them, and finally seems to find peace and happiness… and then along come our Ajira 316 Survivors and suddenly his cover is nearly blown, burning buses are running into buildings, and Juliet seems to be questioning their love. It's pretty ironic actually. Locke left the Island and pleaded the Oceanic Six to return to the Island to "save the other Survivors" - but from the moment Locke left, things have gotten significantly better for those Survivors to the point where things were going pretty great. Granted, they're living a lie in 1977, but you can't tell me that they haven't been happier on-Island than the Oceanic Six have been off-Island. When our Ajira 316 Survivors showed up, Sawyer's first instinct was to get them assimilated into the Dharma culture, not "figure out how to get off the Island or back to 2008". Clearly, he's found something on the Island that he never found off-Island - an honest "normal" life. You could argue that it's nothing more than "playing house" - it's fake, it's temporary, and it's inevitably going to end (by the Purge if nothing else), but I can't help but feel bad that Sawyer's happy world is quickly coming crashing down.



Ben. Last but not least, we have our good friend Benjamin Linus. Speaking of feeling bad, it's pretty cruel how the writers have done their best to make the audience feel sorry for Ben - dead mother, abusive father, miserable on the Island, nerdy-looking, shot by an Iraqi - when we all know that he will grow up to be a conniving, murderous, two-timing, still nerdy-looking guy. Which means at the end of the episode, I didn't feel any remorse for an innocent kid who just wanted to belong getting shot point blank in the chest - part of me wanted to cheer, part of me simply said "it's not going to stick. Whatever happened, happened."


Still - this event is really pushing Faraday's theory about being unable to change the past to the test. I know a lot of people have commented that this seems to take away the notion of free will, since it seems like everything is pre-destined to happen, and there's nothing you can do would change it - but I think it's important to realize that "whatever happened, happened" only applies to the time travelers in the past - they're the ones who are in the wrong place in the space-time continuum, and are therefore "handcuffed" by the repercussions of their actions. In 1977, members of Dharma could do whatever they wanted. Likewise, our Survivors in 1977 still have free will and can die or affect the other time-traveling Survivors, they just can't interact with the events of 1977 enough to change the outcome… if that makes sense. So once our Survivors return to 2008, everything will once again be up for grabs. The future will be unwritten, just like the theme song to The Hills.


But for now, we're in the past. This story has already been told, and our Survivors are somewhat just "experiencing it" firsthand. So even though Sayid has always shot Ben, it has always just been a part of Ben's life that makes him the man we know in 2008.


I can see two possible ways that the shooting of Benjamin Linus will play out:

  1. He's magically fine. Although we know that the Island doesn’t let people die until they're supposed to, this is a little different because we actually saw the bullet make a hole in Ben's body, as opposed to a gun not firing (Michael). It's also different than what happened when Ben shot Locke, since this bullet was to the heart, instead of in the side (conveniently close to where a scar from kidney surgery might be). I would have a hard time believing that Ben is just going to sit up, have no blood pouring out of him, and be like "huh, apparently I'm invincible". Lost may have time travel and smoke monsters, but this would be absurd to the point where I might have to pretend Season Five never happened.
  2. Ben is injured, but survives. Hard to believe since Sayid is a trained assassin, but it would set the stage for a pretty great storyline where Jack and Juliet have to save the life of Benjamin Linus. The bullet could have missed Ben's vital organs, allowing Juliet or Jack to remove it, patch him up, and eventually bring him back to health. The great thing about this theory is that it could give us an explanation to the "she looks just like him" comment that the Others made about Juliet when she first arrived on the Island. I would think that if she is able to save him, Ben would be eternally grateful to this mysterious woman - and if he happened to find a woman who looked just like her twenty years later, he would have an affinity towards her. Ah, puppy love.


As I've mentioned before, I think this season ends with "The Incident", which sends our Survivors back to 2008. From the perspective of Dharma, our Survivors must just "disappear", I suppose. But still, Dharma will remember them - they'll know their names, their habits, and their history. However, after the Purge Benjamin Linus is going to be one of the few people left on the Island with this intimate knowledge of characters like Jack, Juliet, Sawyer, and Sayid. He's going to "know" them before they ever arrive on the Island, and know what they did to him in his youth - both good and bad. As I said before, this has to be a huge advantage to Ben, and explains how he is so easily able to manipulate our Survivors and stay one step ahead of them. Because technically, he doesn't just know their past, he knows their future! He knows what they will become… or is it that he helps mold who they become? Crazy time travel chicken and the egg discussions!


After this episode, the relationship between Sayid and Ben becomes far more interesting. So - Sayid shoots Ben in 1977 and tortures him in 2004… almost killing him twice. I wonder if Ben sent Sayid on missions around the world killing random people not to weaken Widmore… but just to mess with Sayid and put him through the same pain and torture that he has caused Ben? I mean, taking that many lives has to weigh on you, right? That could explain the sudden ending of their killing spree. Ben just figured he'd put Sayid through enough, and things were even now.


Probably not, but this puts Sayid right up there with Locke and Alpert in terms of "most layered relationship with Ben" of any characters on the show, making their scenes all the more interesting from here on out.


Note: I did go back and review the Sayid / Ben scenes from inside the Swan Hatch in Season Two. There's no real obvious "hints" of their prior relationship, mostly because Ben is uber-mysterious and creepy to everyone equally… although his frightened screams when he first saw Sayid while caught in CFL's trap could be interpreted as "oh crap, not this Iraqi again! He shot me in the heart the first time!"



What's next for Ben's character? As I mentioned in the Instant Reactions, I think his miraculous recovery from a should-be fatal gunshot will certainly pique the interest of the Others (once they find out about it), and might even make them start thinking "Huh, the Island doesn't want him to die. Maybe he's special?" which has to be a great argument when Ben eventually runs for the position of "Leader of the Others". The problem is that there is still a lot of time between this episode and the Purge, which means we're probably not going to see that gradual acceptance into the Others happen. Based on the timeline and episodes remaining, we've probably got no more than a week or two left in 1977, which means we might leave Ben as a kid recovering from a gunshot wound, left to wonder about what exactly happened in the next few years leading up to the Purge.


PS - I definitely think Ben was the one to light the Dharma van on fire, creating the distraction needed to free Sayid.


PPS - No, Ben's Dad wasn't inside that flaming Dharma van - he dies via poisonous gas in a Dharma van on the day of the Purge, remember?


…and I think that's all for this week. Discuss!


Unknown said...

When Ben was shot I was yelling at my TV, "Double-tap, Sayid, Double-tap to the head!"

This is kind of like when they assumed that Patchy was dead, even though he was still breathing. Just about anyone else faced with the same situation would make sure! But as we know, it's only meant to drive the plot. Oh well.

Hey, now, what about Jack? Was it totally awesome that he let Sawyer handle things? I think so! I hope the trend continues, but with things going crazy now, that might not be the case...

Strider said...

I too was hoping that Sayid would do a double-tap to the head. I was surprised that he did not.

But there is another possible scenario: Ben survives because Sayid shot him in the heart ... but we already know that Ben has no heart ... ergo ... no vital organs have been damaged ... ;)

Jennifer said...

are there any photos of ben with his shirt off? He would have a big scar for a chest wound on an island in 1977.

Anonymous said...

I think the writers are not caring anymore since they know how long they have left for the show. This season is pretty weak so far and seems like they could have gotten the same amount of stuff so far in half the episodes.

Its my opinion that they should of forgotten about a 6th season and just crammed the 5th one with all good stuff and went out with a bang. but whatev i'll watch either way.

as far as Ben goes I think that Jacks going to have to blow his cover to fix ben. it also seems like there are no medical doctors around which is odd (I guess they dont have the Staff yet?).

I am going to guess that the rest of the episodes are going to be like this one until the season finale where they drop a bomb on us, and leave us hanging with no real answers until next season. IDK I hope it gets a little more meaty and less of a ride to see what we already know happens, but form someone else's perspective.

Joyce Saenz Harris said...

I'm still wondering if Widmore was really the Economist. Seems that Ben never sent Sayid after Widmore himself -- only after his associates, such as Avellino. So why would Sayid hang out in Berlin for weeks, waiting for Elsa's boss to show up, if the Economist were Widmore? It would be much easier and quicker to find Widmore in London, where Desmond, Sun and Ben himself have contacted him.

Plus, remember that when Charles asked Ben if he had come to kill him, Ben said, "We both know I can't do that." Apparently, the Island isn't finished with Charles, either.

So I think the Economist was not Widmore himself, but one of his top henchmen -- maybe his right-hand guy in Europe. And Elsa was protecting her boss -- who might have been the Russian, Ivan Andropov, or might've been someone else whom we never saw Sayid kill.

TheycallmeVic said...

Brian, a 4th theory for Ilana is that she thinks she was hired by the Avellino family, but was really hired by Widmore, just throwing it out there.

I don't really think she was hired by Ben, because when Sayid entered the plane Ben looked surprised to see him. At least that's what I got from his look, which is quite hard to read at times.

As for Ben's affinity towards someone that looks like Juliet, how would the Others know what she looked like, when they weren't even there when Ben was shot/healed?
And wouldn't Ben just remember her? since Charlotte remembered Faraday and she was much younger?

Guys, Sayid didn't shoot Ben in the head because he just physically couldn't do it. You could see he was struggling with the thought of shooting a young boy, he had to think it hard before he squeezed the trigger.

jack said...

Sayid was clearly conflicted about shooting young Ben thus not willing to pump more rounds into an innocent young boy.

Christoph said...

i hate to sound like an advertisement.. but i'm gonna recommend everyone check the LOST podcast for more insight.. they do a really good job of telling us key info and revealing little clues as far as what questions will eventually be answered without being too spoiler-ish...

Hector A P said...

Any chance Ben could have actually told Sayid while off the island 'you are going to go back to the island, go back in time, and shoot me as a 12 year old [or however old he is]"?

This could possibly explain Sayid's "do the opposite of what ben says" comments, since he thinks Ben is crazy, not having experienced any time travel yet.

This would also explain Sayid's statement of 'I know what I am here to do' in the middle of the episode.

Steve said...

Excellent as usual...

Here are my comments:

- Ilana maynot know she's working for Widmore. I stated multiple reasons in the blog for why this is so.

- Widmore wants the people on the island as much as Ben. If the people don't come back to the island, it will be bad for time/space existance.

- 815 fate? Really? How about Abbanon(or whatever his name is) pushing Locke to the walkabout? We also know that Ekko was pushed on the plane, and the case can be made for many others... What is fate?

- Fate: Look, Locke is thought to be leader of the others because of his appearance in the 1950's fortelling his future. Alpert MAY think this because of his appearance. Ben and Widmore KNOW That for their present existance to be 'real' they must ensure that 'what happened, happened'. Just because it's fate doesn't mean that fate doesn't have agents. Call it what you will, but both Widmore and Ben MUST get the o-6 back to the island.. because they HAD to be there.

- Interesting thought about that: It's not that the O6 never should have left, I think they ALWAYS left the island... otherwise the photo christian showed sun would not have the O6 as new recruits. No, it's not that they weren't supposed to leave, just that they HAD to come back.

- Yet the agents of this FATE were none other than Widmore/Abbadon who made sure that he was on that plane.

- Fate may be fate, but there are instruments of 'fate', and those are Ben, Widmore, etc.

- Sayid: The consiracy mind in me seems to think he's a wild card. Dharma thinks he's an other, so they consider the truce broken. Sayid could very well be the catalyst for the purge.

- Yes Brian, I think option 3 is the most interesting, but remember, this is LOST. There will be a deeper meaning to everything. I do agree that sometimes we thing too much(like the "economist") but we need to recognize what's noise and what's real... I think in this case, the "war" is very real... and I think there there IS a deeper meaning.

- Ben shouldn't have any fear of Sayid up until his return to the Island. Sayid pretty much told young ben that old ben was still alive... and why would he try to kill Young Ben if Old Ben was already dead? OK, I can think of some, but I think this explains why Ben is so calm in being tortured in the swan, and why he's so calm during his cancer surgery. He KNOWS he's not going to die, and has full faith in 'fate' that things will eventually work to make things happen as they happened. WHEW!

Steve said...

Arbor and Strider: You guys miss it.. he couldn't double tap him to the head because it never happened. If he HAD, then he would never be there to shoot him. It's a time paradox, and you will not find that on Lost.

I know it's out of character, but so's him trusting Ilana. What Happened, Happened.

Steve said...

pntsoffdanceoff: Weak? Really? I think this may be the best season.

You aren't looking at the big picture. Let me tell you how all this works.

- The producers/writers know where they want the show to go, but without a firm end date, they're stuck in the middle of the 'story' and treading water. This happend in season 3... Damon and Carlton have said this.

- ABC agreed to end the series after 6 seasons. This allowed Damon and Cartlon to plan for how they will unwind the story. They WANTED 5 seasons, but ABC wanted 6, so they agreed on the final three seasons, with the seasons being shorter(17 episodes instead of 24.

- You're also forgetting all the loose ends. Really? Do you want to go out with a bang without explaining Adam and Eve, or Aaron, or the Widmore/Ben deal... etc?

- Remember,the basic premise for where the show was going existed from the beginning, it's how they were going to tell this story that was unknown.

Steve said...

One more I guess... Ben did not tell Sayid to kill him. Think about how Ben walked on the plane, he KNEW they would all be there, because he KNEW they were there in the 1970's. He wouldn't have to tell Sayid. What happened happened.

Think of it as you would watching... say... star wars.
You've seen the original trilogy, and you're watching the prequals for the first ime. You already know that all the Jedi die except for Yoda and Obi-Won, you know that Anakin father Luke and Leia through padmae, etc. You knew this, but you weren't sure how it would happen the first time through.

This is how Ben sees life. He knows that Sayid shot him, he just wasn't sure of how the events would unfold... but Future Ben knows that whatever happens sends Sayid to the island in 1977.

Hope that helps.

jack said...

maybe a bit off subject but a few seasons ago, what about Abbadon telling Locke "...when we next meet, you will owe me one..." (sic)? Abbadon is dead and his story line appears incomplete as of now. A very small detail but any thoughts?

nickflight said...

This is a bit of a silly idea but I'll put it out there.

What about if Little Ben does die and that is how he is able to lead the Others? Perhaps death is a prerequisite for leading them or even joining them.

Remember Richard telling Ben when he expresses interest in joining Hostiles that he has to be very patient, maybe he had to wait until he was dead. This could be said of Locke, maybe he can lead the Others now that he is dead (Richard did tell John that he had to die, though I assumed it was going to be to bring back the O6, but what if it was more than that?).

This would allow the shooting scene to have integrity and still keep the "what happened, happened" concept workable.

James Tatum said...

Ben's puppy love and gratitude of Juliet saving him takes a horrible turn in season 3 when he orchestrates Goodwin's death and brings Juliet to see it: "After everything I did to get you here, after everything I've done to keep you here, how can you possibly not understand... that you're mine?"

James Tatum said...

Oops - meant to say "potential gratitude of Juliet possibly saving him in 1977"

Anonymous said...

"Either we make a decision, or I call Ann Arbor--and they make one for us."

Who is in Ann Arbor? Do we know who's in charge in Ann Arbor?

glf said...

What's with Sawyer & Juliet? Them in love with DI is not working for me.

Remember in LaFleur Sawyer gives Jin a tragic look when Jin says his 100+ scout around the island for Locke & O6 (reminder Locke TOLD Sawyer he was going to and needed to bring them all back) was unsuccessful - then when they turn up - he's so surprised and put out and it's like go away you're going to spoil it for me here.

Isn't why remainers set themselves up in DI is to be in a position to be able to safely receive their friends when they return? I would have thought when O6 returned it's like we've been waiting for 3 years and now you're here we're ready to go into action..

And Juliet - she's a world class medical specialist and she's now happy to forget all that, fix DI vans and play house in a false utopia?

TheycallmeVic said...

Tommy, I was thinking the same thing during the episode.

According to Lostpedia, Ann Arbor, MI is the location of the University of Michigan, where the DeGroots were studying when they founded the DHARMA Initiative (

It's also where Pierre Chang is from.

Becky said...

Here's a thought maybe "The Economist" is Aaron. Aaron from the future goes back to 2004-2007 and is also in a fight for control of the island with Ben and Widmore. Wacky thought huh?

Dharma Mayonnaise said...

Re: pantsoffdanceoff (love the name) and Season 5… I agree with Steve. While it might not be as action packed as some like, imagine the series ending in Season 5 as you say – our favorite show is over and we have all these questions about little plot points and character development. I most definitely like the ability to learn more about our characters and tie up more loose ends. Even in episodes like this one where there’s not a ton of jaw-droppers, it’s a good chance to catch our breath and get a handle on the storyline.

And Tommy, Victor’s right about Ann Arbour. The podcast’s also thrown some shoutouts to Ann Arbour as being the birthplace of Dharma.

TheycallmeVic said...

Remember the woman behind Sun in Namaste? Apparently it was just a crewmember.

Dharma Mayonnaise said...

Aw man. With the way Christian looks up right before the camera goes to Sun, I was CONVINCED that it was someone of significance in the show.

I wonder if Darlton put that in there just to watch the Lost blogosphere turn upside down haha

Jacob said...

Here's a question I thought of after Sayid shot Ben;

Why would Ben join the Others if he thinks that one of them just tried to kill him.

He was under the impression that Sayid was an Other so if he survives why would he trust the Others? Maybe Richard can do some smooth talking to convince him that Sayid is from the future but this has to put some doubt in his mind.

I was thinking that there's now a 1% chance that Ben doesn't purge Dharma and join the Others. Okay, maybe .05%.
Still, something to think about...