Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Midside: S4E03 The Economist

LOST is back. I don’t mean to say that it hasn’t aired two previous episodes this season. It most definitely has aired two LOST-esque episodes. However, this week’s episode is what I’ve come to expect from LOST. A character we all know and love went on a mission on the island and his flash forward mirrored that mission. The symmetry has returned and with it the quality of LOST has skyrocketed through the rough again. It’s been a big week in the world of our TV show. The strike is over and there’s much to discuss.

Upon the news of the cessation of the strike, I was immediately overjoyed. We would be receiving our 16 episodes of LOST, and the season could very likely air uninterrupted. It wasn’t before long that the fallout of the strike disappointed. We’ll actually only be getting 13 episodes of LOST this season. That fact means we’ll be getting ten less episodes of LOST this year than we usually do. I feel like a junkie whose dealer is holding out on him. Also, there’s going to be a four week break in between the eight episodes that are already filmed and the five episodes that are yet to be filmed. I can’t help but be disheartened by all this news. They’re taking our LOST away from us. However, there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The missing three episodes from this season will be tacked onto the remaining two seasons. In a way, this season will be a “teaser season”, in the words of Pushing Daises producer Bryan Fuller and we’ll get more LOST in the future. Heck, at least we’re getting LOST. 24 isn’t coming back until January 2009!

Onto the episode.


Before I go into an in-depth of analysis of this flash forward and how it changed the show, let me first make a statement. I missed Sayid. I know he was in last season, but he sort of wasn’t. He was backgrounded in a way. I also know that Naveen Andrews supposedly complained about that very fact. Well, apparently his complaints (or maybe ours) worked. Everyone reads The Midside, including the writers, right?

Sayid has always been one of my favorite characters and he proved why in this episode. Essentially, his brilliance is all summed up in his statement of not knowing whether the people from the boat were here to rescue them or kill them. Sayid is very deliberate with his choices and does not make a decision rashly. One of my favorite things about is how he always seem to mediate between Jack and Locke. Those two characters are supposed to be the leaders on the show, but really Sayid is the person who knows what’s going on. Now that I think of it, Sayid seems to be reining Jack in and Sawyer seems to be reining Locke in. Remember how important the Sayid and Sawyer relationship was in Season One and how they became the dynamic duo last season? The plot thickens….

Onto the “game changing” (sort of) moment. I can’t say I was shocked by the end of the episode. Was I surprised? Yes. Was I shocked? No. Ben being Sayid’s boss was a delicious bit of irony that no halfway decent writer could pass up. That irony is why the depth of LOST writing has returned. Sayid’s statement about never trusting Ben seemingly contradicting with the end of the episode was brilliant. Notice, however, that I said seemingly contradicting. I’m not convinced that Future Sayid trusts Future Ben. Has Sayid ever trusted Jack? Has Sayid ever trusted Locke? Has Sayid ever trusted anyone? The answer to these questions is no. Sayid is such a brilliant soldier and communicator because he trusts people to do one thing: act like themselves. It’s a secret to winning the game of Survivor and the game of life (not the board game, actually life) that few people know. Sayid assesses the situation (assess the situacion) and decides what to do based upon the outcome he most desires. So, does he trust Ben? I doubt it. So why is he working for Ben? The answer to that question is what throws this entire series into flux.

If most of the characters were working for Ben, you could figure out why. Juliet listens to Ben to get home. Jack would listen to Ben to get off the island (he still would, even though he thinks he wouldn’t). Sawyer would listen to Ben to protect himself or Kate. Locke would listen to Ben to be important. These character traits are why Ben is able to be so successfully manipulative. He can exploit these characters well. Sayid, however, is extremely tough to exploit. His one weakness is that deep down he’s a lover and not a fighter. It’s why he cried when he shot the agent who tried to kill him. It’s why he loved her even though it was a con. So, arguably, Sayid is listening to Ben out of the love for his friends or his love for Nadia. I’m leaning towards the latter and saying it is less Sayid being manipulated and more him making a rational choice. The rational behind that choice is where the mystery lives.

The truth of the flash forwards that was revealed through this episode is as follows: though the Oceanic Six are off the island physically, they are not off the island. This condition was hinted at through Jack’s cry of “We have to go back”, but that cry is in itself misguided. They don’t have to go back in the sense that they physically need to return to the island. That desire is just Jack’s misguided guilt. They do, however, have to go back in the sense that they never left. They left too many doors open. They didn’t say goodbye. The conspiracy lives on. They’re too entwined in the island’s politics. While it’s true that in life you don’t always get to finish your business before you leave, the key to a good story is that business being finished. Also, in real life, many people struggle because they’re in one location story wise, but another physically. I have a friend who is struggling with that right now. She’s here at school, but her story is elsewhere.

This story has not left the island. After the season three finale, there were cries that the flash forward ruined the suspense. We would know who got off the island. We would know who won Gilligan’s Island. But you know what? This show was never Gilligan’s Island. It was never about getting off the island. Rescue has never been about leaving the physical location. It’s been the characters freeing themselves from the (negative) bonds of their former lives. Truthfully, I don’t really care about who the other two members of the Oceanic Six are. I mean, I care in the sense that I want to know what their story is. But they aren’t off the island. If the remaining two are Jin and Sun, I’m willing to bet that Sun’s father plays some role in this whole game between Ben and whomever (or Jacob and whomever or Ben and Jacob or etc) and the two will still be living under his rule. Jack is still living under the shadow of his father. Hurley is still crazy. Sayid is still a soldier forcing information out of people. And, I’m betting that, Kate is still living under the rule of an oppressive male (a parole type officer) the way she did with her father whom she killed.

It’s really quite brilliant what the writer’s have done. They created flash forwards and eliminated the importance of the element of time. Desmond time traveling could actually happen now and it would be completely natural to the plot. I’m also eagerly anticipating the first on island flash forward. The writers teased it a bit at the beginning of this week’s flash forward, so hopefully we’ll see it soon. I’m betting that Locke will be the first on island flash forward, and he won’t be where we’ll think he’ll be on the island. Although, maybe he’ll be in the temple with Richard.


I’m not sure about the way Sawyer and Kate were reunited. I mean, I like that they were reunited, but it seems as if Kate is Sawyer’s prisoner and he’s never treated her in such a manner before. He’s always let her make her own choices unlike Jack, who constantly tells her what to do. I understand that Sawyer was finally taking a chance and stating how he feels. If anyone thinks he hasn’t changed on the island, all they do is need to watch that scene again. Actually, Sawyer is quite possibly the character who has changed the most over the series so far. The conversation was a huge step forward for him. Remember, he wanted on the raft so badly in season one. Now he doesn’t want to leave. I don’t know though, the scene just felt unfinished to me.

It’s interesting how the Kate and Sawyer dynamic has come to exemplify the key debates on the show. Should I go with Jack or Locke? Should I stay on the island or leave? Their conversation openly debated the main questions we all struggle with. It was just like the scene from House of the Rising Sun in season one where he asked her if she was going to stay on the beach or go to the caves. They’re also the questions we struggle with in life. If someone’s goals happen to line up with yours for the moment, are you “with” them? Are you on the same team? Are you ever one anyone’s team but your own? I still think their relationship is going to play a key role in the finale. If only Kate would stop running. And her need to run is why the scene felt unfinished to me. Sawyer should have opened the door to give her the opportunity to leave. Although, he probably didn’t need to because she knows she can get up and leave and he won’t stop her.

It was crazy how easily Hurley deceived everyone. Everyone on this island is so good at deception. Part of me wants to say it’s ridiculous how good they all are, but I think it’s actually an unspoken truth of life we all like to hide. Most of us are that good at deception and don’t like to admit it. Maybe we can’t be con men, but we could definitely pull off what Hurley did. What’s even more interesting is the way Hurley became so afraid of Sayid. Rousseau even was pointing a gun at Sayid, the guy she trusted the most to begin with!

Jack’s power is completely gone, at least in the inner circle it is. Sayid tells him what to do. Kate mocks him from being left behind. He’s left to making small talk with Frank about the Red Sox…and no one ever wants to make small talk with a Yankees fan about the Red Sox. So far, Frank is my least favorite new character. Sorry Frank, I have to be loyal to my boys from Boston. You stick to the Bronx.

Desmond made a triumphant return and I actually cheered. The writers seem to be managing his character very intricately. Well, they manage everything intricately, but what I mean is that taking him away from us seems to be intentional. It’s made me like him more. He’s now one of my favorite characters on the show, and he’s going to play an important role in the end game. I’m sure of it. Time travel here we come…


I keep returning to Locke’s line from the first season. “Two players, one light, one dark.” There is a giant chess game going on here and all the characters are the pieces, but what are the two sides. Is Ben the leader of one side and the conspiracy the other? But doesn’t Richard seem to be part of the conspiracy and didn’t he recruit Ben (by the way, I miss him. That stupid show on CBS be damned.)? The point I’m trying to make is: we still have no idea what the two sides are and what they want. We’ve gotten some hints. Naomi had on the same wrist band as Elsa (the agent Sayid killed in his flashfoward) and they seem to be the opposite side of Ben, but who are they? And why does Ben know so much and not tell anyone about anything? Sometimes I think all these problems could just be alleviated if a couple of the people trusted each other.

Daniel’s timer trick is messing with my head and I can’t even get my head around it. Did it take the rocket half an hour to get to the island? Is the island half an hour behind in time, so when they talk to the people off the island they’re actually talking to the future? I have no idea. I can’t even begin to figure it out. Where does this time variance stuff fit into the electromagnetic cloak shield and the Portuguese outpost detecting the island? I’m literally very confused on all this stuff. At least when the season two finale blew my mind, I was able to figure it all out. This whole thing with Daniel’s trick is just ridiculous.


-Alright, I’m done for this week. I expended a lot of time and energy, and, believe it or not, that last paragraph about the Time Trick was the most difficult to write of the entire column. And if you don’t believe that, then there’s only one thing left to say:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Jayemel can be reached by email at

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