Solitary (S1, ep. 9)
Flashback-wise, it’s Sayid’s turn to ride the snake. Unlike many of the other castaways, Sayid hasn’t so much evolved away from, or built upon, his past and pain, so much as he has devolved, or deconstructed, himself from a man attempting to chase peace into a man who embraces blood.
-Sayid’s wandering along the shoreline on his repentance hike, and this gives the show a sterling opportunity to inject another piece of mythology into the narrative. Namely, ‘the cable.’ In retrospect, we now know that this cable snakes down under the water and to the Looking Glass station, where Charlie will make his final sacrifice. For now though, it’s just a creepily-incongruous cable. Some hilarity ensues when Sayid makes a big show of lifting the cable out of the sand to examine it - only the camera angle lets us clearly see that the cable is quite visible where the sand meets the water.
-As Sayid preps to follow the cable into the jungle, we see Sawyer licking his wounds both literal and figurative, and now I’m just ticked off at him. Get your self-pitying s*** together, Sawyer/Ford/LeFleur! Fortunately, Kate speaks for the audience when she wisely advises our favorite con man to make an effort with the larger group.
-Kate and Jack talk torture, which gives me the opportunity to note that, as trenchant and relevant as much of this back-and-forth is to our current ‘War on Terror’ (and I, like may others, firmly believe that the Iraq war provides much of the subtext in this show), it’s still subtle enough that in twenty years the dialogue will still be relevant, and not particular to this time and place in history (though hopefully relevant only in an academic sense).
This applies to the flashback sections featuring Sayid as well. Although we're clearly watching him participate in specific conflict, those scenes of him performing his 'work,' and between he and Nadia, are going to play far down the line.
-Sayid discovers jungle traps, and although he thinks he’s cleverly avoiding them, he sets one off with his steps – a nifty nod to the ease with which the Others will later be portrayed moving through the jungle, and the way in which Richard breaches the fence. Rousseau is wise to their tricks.
-There’s a lot of small directorial moments in this show that help make the experience more ‘cinematic,’ and less traditionally televisual. Two brief examples from the scene where Rousseau cuts Sayid down: the shot of the knife cutting the rope, and the shot of Rousseau approaching Sayid.
-The great Scott Paulin (Teen Wolf, as ‘Lolley,’ Captain America, as ‘The Red Skull,’ and Pump Up The Volume, as ‘Brian Hunter, aka, Christian Slater’s dad' (!)) pops up as a dude with a bothersome rash. I like to imagine that when he’s not onscreen, Paulin is using the pirate radio methods pioneered by Happy Harry Hardon to attempt off-Island communication. Maybe he’s talking to 21 Jump Street?
Great Hurley Delivery #1:
Jack: “Things could be worse.”
-Rousseau’s first line, in a multitude of languages: “Where is Alex?”
-Rousseau tells part of her story to Sayid in this episode during an extended ironic 'look now the torturer is being tortured' sequence.
- We get our first glimpse of the music box Jin will find breaking down in the sand during This Place Is Death.
-Ethan Rom! Our favorite non-815er makes his debut in this episode, and he’s introduced after having gone hunting with Locke – assumedly a very odd experience since it’s the first time Ethan has seen Locke since ol’ Col. Kurtz suddenly winked out of existence beside the Nigerian plane (Season 5).
Rousseau (addressed to captive Sayid): “I know what you are.”
Note that she does not say who.
-This is probably obvious, but I hadn’t noticed how well Nadia embodies the qualities that Sayid seeks to cultivate in himself: pacifism, humility, peace of spirit. I like that he chases those things literally in trying to find her, that in her absence on the Island he chases them within himself, and how the desire for those qualities seems to die when Nadia dies.
-In the finale of Season 5 the MiB comments (paraphrased) that ‘it’s always the same. They come, they fight, they corrupt…’ And he’s right, at least to an extent. These characters do terrible things to each other.
-I love that Hurley builds a golf course. And I love how happy it makes everyone.
-Any excuse to put Shannon in a bikini is a good excuse. It nicely balances the Sawyer/CharliePorn of last episode.
-Another slice of mythology enters the show in this episodes final moments. Sayid races through the jungle having been let go by Rousseau, and is momentarily surrounded by The Whispers. There are entire websites devoted to decoding these moments, and from what I’ve seen of the attempts at translation, they hint at a whole other level to the show – one that will be fully explored next year.