Who knew an episode focused on Sayid could be so … meh? With those puppy-dog eyes and that timely torture angst, Sayid is a fan-fiction magnet! Lie detector! Icy strategist! Human nutcracker! So watching this seasoned survivor become a kind of emo James Bond (with Michael Jackson's hair, circa 1998) didn't work for us, even in flash-forward, even topless. C'mon, now, would a cynical expert on interrogation really fall for that old "I'm just a sweetly beaky personal shopper who reads Easy Sudoku" trick?
But that's the thing about a middling episode of Lost, no matter how many intriguing plot possibilities it opens up, no matter how many good quips it contains ("Oh great, the boat brought us a new Sawyer"): If the character stuff doesn't win you over, even the biggest enthusiast morphs into Comic Book Guy. Still, it was gratifying to see that Ben survives, tiny evil glasses intact. You'd think someone would have stomped on them by now.
The Future: The Spy Who Came In From the Oceanic Six
In a truly kickass opening sequence, Sayid wears his hair in a ponytail, plays golf and mind games, and assassinates a very nervous bigwig at an exclusive resort in the Seychelles. Then his hair turns lustrous, and he seduces a Euro gal. They fall in love — OR DO THEY? She's vulnerable — OR IS SHE? He confesses he's there to kill her boss, she shoots him because she's a double agent, he shoots her back, and then we get the big reveal: He's working for Ben, which is pretty amazing, and suggests some fascinating possibilities. Although the actual spy plot seemed totally telegraphed. And Ben (stitching Sayid up like Han Solo) reminds him of some mysterious incident — lodged in between the past and the future — when Sayid regrettably thought with "his heart instead of his gun." Heh-heh.
The Present: In Search of CharLOTT
To their credit, everyone on the island is peppering everyone else with questions. No one answers. Locke growls, "We're beyond compromise." Hurley, amazingly, acts as bait to ambush his own buddies — and after a bit of shuffling, Kate stays with the Locke-ites, Sayid trades Miles (a.k.a. the "angry Chinese guy") for Charlotte (a.k.a. CharLOTT, at least in Sayid's pronunciation), and in the final sequence, the helicopter heads back to the freighter with Sayid, Desmond, and Dead Naomi, as Sayid's enormous, sad bicep dangles before us, a symbol of his depth and moral conflict. Also, adorable head case Jeremy Davies discovers something wonky about the way the island processes time.
What We Know Now:
Being one of the Oceanic Six can get you laid in any coffee shop in Europe.
Ben has a hidden closet of suits and passports, one of them under the Kerouackian name Dean Moriarty.
In the future, Ben is the boss of everyone, and possibly a kindly veterinarian.
The Wha? Factor:
Why is Sayid mourning Naomi? (And when did he get so sentimental and easily suckered in general? And is this what Ben's referring to when he asks Sayid about thinking with his heart?)
Why is he killing these people? And who are these people? And why is Sayid a Ben-whipped assassin, while Jack and Hurley and Kate appear to be living normal(ish) lives?
Where did Jakob's cabin go?
What's with all those dogs in cages? And is Vincent involved? —Emily Nussbaum
Episode 2: What's the Deal With These New Guys? [NYM]
Episode 1: We're Pretty Sure We Have It All Figured Out [NYM]