After last weeks lighthearted episode, the Lost pendulum swings back to the serious side with a Sayid-centric episode. Oddly though, the backstory we get in the flashbacks does absolutely nothing to flesh out his character, except to add the knowledge that he can cook. We already knew he was a torturer and we had a pretty good idea that he regretted his former occupation.
Remember the “Sadly for us both, you are wrong.” line that he said to Sawyer way back in Season One when Sawyer said that he didn’t believe that Sayid had ever tortured anyone? So what was the flashback for? Did we really need it? What was the point of a flashback with no new information or insight into the character in question? There is one clue from it that I think will turn out to be important.
Nope, not the cat.
The box. Rather, the cat in the box.
More on this after the jump…
This week opens with Sawyer on the beach. He spies some activity emerging from the jungle. It’s a ping-pong table that Jin found in the jungle. Hurley figures that it was thrown clear when the hatch exploded. Sawyer isn’t so sure, since he thought that the hatch collapsed.
Hurley’s answer is probably as much for the audience as for Sawyer. “Look, Dude, all I know is the sky turned purple. After that, I don’t ask questions. Just make myself a salad and move on.”
Sawyer sees that Paulo is carrying a copy of “Guns and Ammo” that was once a part of his stash. When he confronts him about it, Paulo tells him that the group shares things now. However, since he’s so insistent, Paulo offers to give the Hillbilly back his magazine.
As he tries to hand it to him, Sawyer spots the roll of toilet paper that the magazine was wrapped around and tells Paulo to keep it.
I guess he figures maybe Zorro doesn’t always wash his hands.
Deep in the jungle, Locke, Sayid, Kate and Rousseau are following the bearing that Locke gleaned from Eko’s Scripture Stick. Sayid remains unconvinced about the rationality of following the bearing and when they stop for food, he tells John exactly that. With that in mind, he leaves the group to go and gather some food.
As he gathers fruit, he hears a sound that’s out of place in the middle of a jungle. A cowbell?
Another shameless LOST cameo??
Cautiously, he picks up his rifle and moves towards the strange noise. Parting the undergrowth, Sayid comes face to face with…a cow.
He follows the cow back to a clearing where a man is feeding a couple of cows in a paddock by a house. A house with a satellite dish.
On the beach, Sawyer approaches the group gathered around the ping-pong table. He has found the perfect ball for their new addition, but he’s not giving it away. He wants his stuff back and even Nikki’s admonition that the “stuff” wasn’t really his in the first place doesn’t phase him.
“A) It was mine when I took it. B) Who the hell are you? And C) Because I’m fair, I’m gonna let you play me for it.”
He wants to play ping-pong against the group’s best player, with the return of his stash as the prize. Sun comes up with his stake in the game. If he loses, he can’t use a nickname for anyone for a week. Even the Hobbit thinks its a good idea.
Remember the game of guava-poker he played with Jack? Sawyer might be a con-man extraordinaire, but he hasn’t proved very good at winning bets where his selfish interests are at stake lately. It certainly looks like the writers are going to get a week off from coming up with new “Hurley is a fat guy”isms.
The four intrepid adventurers are watching the house and planning their next move. Sayid figures that the only way to find out who the man feeding the cows is would be to ask him.
At a restaurant, Sayid chops vegetables. A fellow employee calls to him, calling him “Najiv” rather than “Sayid” and for the barest second, he hesitates, but then seems to remember that “Najiv” is his name. A patron wants to talk to him. The patron is Sammy and Sammy thinks that “Najiv”s cooking is delicious. So delicious that he wants to offer a fellow Iraqi a job at his restaurant at twice his current pay. It appears that “Najiv” isn’t as effective at disguising himself as he might have hoped.
Arms raised high in the universal “Please don’t shoot me” position, he heads in. Dead Eye McDharma shoots him anyway. In the arm. Sayid manages to convince him that he’s not “who you think I am” (That sounds awfully familiar…) and to not kill him. Patchy comes out of the building but Kate and Locke get the drop on him and disarm him.
His name is “Mikail Bakunin” and he claims to be the last living member of the Dharma Initiative.
I know what you’re thinking, all these years, how do i keep my eye patch so clean and new looking. . .
(*Philosophy Major side note. Mikail Bakunin was a very famous Russian political philosopher. An advocate of a form of anarchism called “Libertarian Socialism”, he opposed the philosophies of Marx as too much based on a dictatorship and wrote that freedom must come from the masses, rather than in some way be imposed. He actually was exiled (!!!) to Siberia and managed to escape.*)
Locke heads inside to check the house and Kate and Bakunin get Sayid up and help him inside. The Russian has some experience with gunshot wounds, gained from time spent in Afghanistan with the Soviet Army. He tells Kate where to find the medical kit and proceeds to examine Sayid’s wound. Bakunin grabs the bottle of Dharma Initiative Vodka (Next to the Dharma Initiative Merlot! – Both bottles carry the “Swan” version of the Dharma logo, for whatever that’s worth.) and prepares to treat the wounded man. This gives Sayid the chance to do what he does best: Ask questions.
He asks how Bakunin came to be on the island, and when the Russian answers with an evasive “I hardly know where to begin,” Sayid suggests that he begin with the Dharma Initiative.
Bakunin spins a tale of growing up in Kiev, joining the Soviet Army and eventual dismissal from the military. He claims that a newspaper advertisment.asking “Do you want to save the world?” drew him to the initiative, who he describes as “Very secretive, very rich, very smart.”
Eleven years ago, he came to the island on their behalf, stationed at the Flame Station, the purpose of which is to communicate with the outside world. His assignment is perfect, since he likes computers and communications equipment. He survived the “purge” that the Dharma Initiative launched against the “hostiles” by not becoming involved. Four of the hostiles offered him a truce when the “purge” was over, taking only two cows, drawing an imaginary line around Bakunin’s valley and then leaving him to his own devices. When asked why the “hostiles” weren’t interested or concerned about the satellite dish, he claims that it hasn’t functioned for years. He doesn’t know who the “hostiles” are, but he knows that they were here for a very long time before the Initiative arrived.
It turns out that Sayid’s restaurant job was in Paris as we see the Famous French Phallus…er, Eiffel Tower lit up behind him as he walks to Sammy’s restaurant. Sammy introduces him to his wife, Hamira who has some very painful looking scars on the back of her hand. One of Sammy’s guys grabs Sayid by the arm and Sammy asks Hamira, “Are you sure this is him?” When she answers, “Yes,” a brief struggle ensues that ends with Sammy’s boot in Sayid’s face.
Out comes the bullet and in go the stitches. As he sews up the wound, Mikhail notices that his cat is clawing at a rug. He says something to the cat in Russian and Sayid catches the name “Nadia” in the words. Turns out that the cat is named after Nadia Comaneci, the world famous Romanian gymnast, not Sayid’s lost love. If I had to guess, I’d say that the producers were slyly telling the audience to not get too hung up on the abundance of “Daves” and “Brians” in the show. After all, most people know a bunch of Daves and a few Brians…
Also, kind of odd that Mikhail came to the island 11 years ago with a poster of a gymnast who was almost 20 years out of the spotlight. Comaneci was the darling of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where she scored the first ever perfect 10 in Olympic competition on the Uneven Parallel Bars. She went on to score a total of 7 perfect 10′s. She’s Romanian, not Russian, so it’s also a bit odd that a Russian man would admire her, considering that she’s from a competing country, but that might be nit-picking. Ok, so it’s nit-picking.
Finished with the doctoring (Who needs a spinal surgeon when there’s a crazy one-eyed Russian ex-military dude handy?) he offers Kate and Sayid some iced tea. He also takes a moment to check in on Locke. Locke is playing chess with computer and losing.
(*Terrible continuity/sloppy chess alert. The chess board changes DRAMATICALLY from the moment the “Checkmate You Lose” box pops up to the next shot of it when Mikhail opens the door. In the first shot, the White King is on its own rank in the right hand Bishop’s position, yet in the next shot, the right side of the rear rank is empty and several other pieces have shifted noticeably. As for the Chess part, IF Locke was playing White, there were no pieces threatening his King, yet he was Mated. If he was playing the Black, how could he lose when his piece (Black Queen) was the last one moving?*)
Mikhail tells Locke not to bother trying to beat the computer as it was programmed by three Grand Masters, and it cheats.
Darn tootin’ Cyclops.
Locke’s take is that computers don’t know how to cheat, which is “What makes being human so…distinctly wonderful.”
A) What the hell kind of statement is that?
B) Was he playing the same game I was watching?
C) What kind of an idiot goes into the house of the man who just shot one of his friends and starts playing computer chess?
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Locke character, but in this case, I’m baffled by his behavior. Sure, he likes games. We know that, but this is like sitting down to play tic tac toe with one of the lions in the Roman Colosseum. Sayid is in the other room with a bullet in him and Locke is playing a game?
While Locke goes another round with the chess game, Sayid reveals to Kate that he is certain that Bakunin is NOT Dharma and most definitely NOT alone in the house.
On the beach, Sawyer prepares for a different kind of confrontation. It turns out that Hurley is the group’s choice to play Sawyer for all the marbles…er, booze and porn….
Hurley asks for a “Mercy Rule” to avoid anyone getting beaten too badly. Judging from the first point, Sawyer will be very glad he agreed to it.
Like I said before, it looks like the writers are going to get a break from making up clever nicknames for Sawyer to torment his fellow castaways with…
Mikhail brings Kate and Sayid the promised iced tea and a conversation about the Flame being the hub and FINALLY an explanation for that cable that Sayid found on the beach surfaces. It seems that it runs from the Flame Station out into the ocean where there is a sonar buoy that helps guide in the Dharma submarines.
Sayid now understands how the Others were able to get around his position and grab the sailboat out from under them.
When he tells Mikhail, “At least we were able to kill one of them,” all pretense drops and the two men attack one another. Bakunin moves like a trained boxer, but despite his wound, Sayid holds his own until Kate can put a gun (followed by a boot) in the Russian’s face.
Just in time to be of absolutely NO help, Locke comes out of the computer room, gun drawn.
Sayid instructs Kate to get some rope.
In a storeroom, Sammy places a metal bowl in front of a shackled Sayid and bids him drink. When the bowl is drained, the interrogation begins. Sammy knows about Sayid’s background as a torturer and tells him that he is certain that the chained man was the man who tortured his wife when she was arrested for harbouring an enemy of the State.
Sayid admits that he is using the false name “Najiv” and that he was indeed a torturer. He tries to convince Sammy that his wife is mistaken and that it was not he who tortured Hamira. Sammy wants him to admit that he was that man, and if he doesn’t, Sayid will not leave the storeroom alive.
As they bind the one-eyed Russian, Kate asks Sayid how he is so certain that Mikhail isn’t alone in the house. Turns out that the saddle that is still on the pony outside has its stirrups set up for someone much shorter than Bakunin. Sayid figures that they sent someone out to check on the Russian and the downed comms after the sky turned purple.
“Well, if there’s someone else here, they’re hidin’ pretty good. I checked every nook and cranny of this place.”
Sayid flips back the clawed carpet to reveal a trap door in the floor. “Not every nook and cranny, John.”
In the storeroom, Sammy uses his fists to convince Sayid to admit his guilt. The once and future torturer refuses to admit to something he did not do. Probably because if he admits it, he’s just as dead as if he doesn’t. Hamira stops the beating before it can escalate to anything more serious than fists.
Beneath the Flame Station, Sayid and Kate search the basement for the horse’s rider while Locke stands guard over the unconscious Russian. The chess playing computer is distracting, but he is supposed to be keeping an eye one the prisoner.
In the underground part of the Station, Sayid sees blocks of C4 explosive wired into the structure.
John doesn’t see any explosives, and the game is just too darn tempting. He leaves his post and moves into the computer room.
Sayid breaks through a door into a room full of bank boxes and Dharma binders. One of the binders is an “Operations Manual”. Sounds important. I’d take it.
Locke is back at the chess game.
(*Terrible continuity/sloppy chess alert! The chess board once again changes dramatically. When we see the board that lures Locke away from his job of guarding the Russian, it has no Knights left on the board for either side. When we see the game he actually plays, there are several knights on the screen. How many games does he play? As for the chess, his Checkmate? Not a Checkmate. Granted, it’s only 2 moves to Mate, but still! How hard would it have been to make it a real Checkmate??? In a game with a real player, the player might resign after the move Locke made, but most computer programs will force you to play to Mate even when you have them dead to rights.*)
While he sits there congratulating himself, the screen goes all squiggly and there’s Dr. Candle or Wickman or whatever his name is this week.
“Manual override achieved. For pallet drop enter ’24′. For Station Uplink, enter ’32′. For mainland communication, enter ’38′.”
Surprisingly, despite his Season 1 (Hit Sayid over the head to keep him from triangulating the radio signal) aversion to them getting rescued, he enters “38″. Unfortunately the satellite dish is inoperable. The helpful Candle/Wick-guy suggests that if he wants “Sonar Access” he should enter “56″, so John tries that. Sorry, John, Sonar is down too. Candle asks “Has there been an incursion on the Station by the Hostiles? If so, enter ’77′.”
Seems rather ominous.
Not quite as ominous as the knife that Bakunin puts to his throat just as he’s about to enter the first “7″. Nice move John.
In the basement, the horse rider gets the drop on Kate, but just as she’s picking up Kate’s gun, Sayid gets the drop on her. It’s Ms. Klugh and Kate’s not happy to see her. Her fist is though.
Sayid asks her if there are any more people he needs to worry about. Despite the gun pointed at the middle of her chest, Klugh seems remarkably unafraid. Sayid directs her up the ladder to the main level.
Seems that John is Mikhail’s bargaining chip. He wants to trade his hostage for theirs. Locke figures that if Bakunin was going to kill him, he’d already be dead. While he and Sayid argue, a vehement back and forth between Klugh and Bakunin erupts, mostly in Russian.
I freely admit that my Russian is rudimentary at best. A friend found this translation on the net, but I can’t speak to its accuracy. If anyone has a better version, please post it for us.
Klugh: Mikhail. Mikhail! You know what to do.
Mikhail: We still have another way [out].
Klugh: We cannot risk. You know the conditions.
Mikhail: There is another way.
Klugh: They captured us. We will not give (or let, or betray) [unintelligible].
Klugh: You know what to do. It is an order.
Mikhail: We still have another way!
Klugh (in English): Just do it, Mikhail.
Mikhail: Forgive me. (shoots)
If it’s accurate, the conversation has a pseudo-military feel to it. “It is an order,” implies a rigid chain of command.
Regardless of the translation, the result is that Mikhail appears to kill Ms. Klugh with a single bullet to the chest. Locke and Sayid proceed to subdue him with extreme prejudice. Sayid doesn’t kill him though.
On the beach, Hurley makes peace with Sawyer after humiliating him at the ping-pong table. He even gets the opportunity to preempt one of Sawyer’s trademark nicknames for him, which was probably at least as satisfying as whuppin’ Red Neck Man’s ass.
As Kate grabs some extra ammo, Locke sits in front of the computer where Candle repeats his question about the incursion. Sayid hollers for Danielle as he leads Mikhail away from the Station. Sayid questions him about his true history, and now he claims to have never been a member of the Dharma Initiative, while asserting that the rest of his story was true. Sayid remains skeptical as Danielle joins him. He tells her that they now have a “ticket” to find where the Others live, find her daughter, rescue Jack and just maybe find a way home.
Mikhail tells them that there is nothing they could do to him to make him give up that secret.
The look on Rousseau’s face says “Wanna bet?”
Turns out that Mikhail isn’t the “ticket” that Sayid spoke of. Nope. He was talking about a map that shows a “Barracks” with running water and electricity. It’s a good bet that the Others would use a place like that for a home base.
Bakunin warns the Iraqi that when his guard is down, he won’t hesitate to kill him. As long as they keep Locke away from any board games, I’m thinking they can handle this guy.
Rousseau isn’t so sure though and suggests that it would be wiser to kill him, considering they only need the map.
On the floor of the storeroom, Sayid awakes to see Hamira enter. She carries a cat. She sits down and relates how when she first came to Paris, she was always afraid and never left the safety of her apartment. Until one day, she saw this cat being tortured by some children. They trapped it in a box and they were dropping firecrackers into the box.
Let’s just stop there for a second. Cat. In a box.
I mentioned that before, didn’t I.
(*Geek Side Note. Schroedinger’s Cat is the name of a famous postulation about quantum physics. See, Schroedinger used the analogy of a cat in a box to explain the quantum principal, part of which states that the act of measuring or observing actually has an effect on the outcome. If you place (and no this was never a physical experiment, it’s a postulation) a cat in a box and then place a can of poison gas in the box, when you seal the box something interesting happens. There is a 50/50 chance that the cat is alive or dead at any given moment. If you never open the box, because it is in this “quantum” state, the cat can never be considered dead. As soon as you observe the interior of the box, the cat’s odds of survival change dramatically. I’m sure there are folks out there who can explain this more thoroughly than I, so I leave it to them.*)
She talks about how the cat turns violent when it forgets that it is safe. She understands how the cat feels. And it’s all Sayid’s fault. She only wants him to acknowledge what he did to her.
Weeping with regret, he admits his guilt.
This very moving moment in which Sayid faces his demons and is forgiven does nothing to change our perception of Sayid. We already knew that he regretted being a torturer. We already knew that he was basically a good man. We already knew that somehow he was going to get out of the storeroom.
We didn’t know about the cat. Or about the box.
While the human part of the equation is important to the character, the cat, the box and what the two in combination represent is (in one geek’s opinion) important to the plot.
In the jungle, Locke and Kate catch up to the other three and Locke smugly tells Mikhail that he beat the chess game and why the Russian didn’t want him playing it.
What we have here is a modest, 1960′s style 3 bedroom one bath family farm, with satellite. Currently, our asking price is…
When Sayid asks, “Meaning what?” the Flame Station explodes in…um…flame.
Sayid is understandably pissed off at Mr. Blow Up A Hatch A Month. When asked what he had done, Locke explains about the Incursion protocol that he tapped into by beating the chess game.
Considering that the communications gear in the Station has been completely destroyed and given Locke’s history with Sayid and radio gear, I’m going to bet that Sayid keeps a much closer eye on John from now on.
The group heads out into the jungle, but not before Sayid shares one last, meaningful look with the cat…
Dude, seriously, get that light out of my eyes.