Note: This post contains MAJOR spoilers about last night's episode of "Lost." If you didn't see it, please don't read this. If you fail to heed this warning, and get spoiled don't come crying to me about it.
It's an age-old question: What if you had a chance to go back in time and meet someone who was responsible for the deaths of millions of people (Adolf Hitler, say or Osama bin Laden) when he or she was only a child? Would you have the heart to murder this individual, possibly saving the lives of many? Or would you be halted in your mission by the fact that this person -- as vicious as he or she would grow up to be -- was still an innocent child? Could you really murder one child, even if you knew it could benefit humanity as a whole?
It's a fascinating problem, and one that was confronted head-on in last night's episode of "Lost." Sayid, still held prisoner by the Dharma folks, meets a 12-year-old Benjamin Linus, who befriends him, thinking Sayid is one of the "hostiles," whom he hopes will offer him salvation from his abusive dad.
Sayid, previously thinking his return to the island was pointless, realizes (or believes) that he's found his purpose: he must kill young Ben, before he becomes older Ben and is responsible for the deaths of many people.
When this possibility was raised in last week's episode, I thought it would be debated for a couple of weeks. I thought Sayid would weigh the pros and cons -- maybe discuss it with someone who would talk him out of it. I thought it might come down to a moment where Sayid had a chance to kill young Ben, and simply couldn't do it.
I thought wrong.
Last night's episode ended with Ben helping Sayid escape from Dharma jail (with the help of flaming bus -- clearly, the mad genius Ben we all know and love is already forming inside that tiny head) and the two of them running into the jungle. Jin finds them, signals for Sawyer, and you think -- that's it. Sayid's not going to do it. But no. He knocks out Jin and turns around and shoots Ben! A 12-year-old kid!
I couldn't believe it. "Lost" has done some crazy crap over the years, but this is the first time I was actually speechless. Seriously. When it happened, the only sound I was capable of was a long, strange noise that sounded like "GAHHHHH!" My husband, meanwhile, did manage a complete sentence "What the @$#*??!!" he gasped.
Not sure if Ben is dead, but if he is, I'm both awed and appalled. Killing a kid is a rough move, but, in doing it, "Lost" has shown itself to be truly raw and uncompromising.
Still, can Sayid really kill young Ben? Hasn't Faraday said repeatedly that there are rules to changing the past -- i.e. you can't do it unless you're an unshaven Scot with a romantic soul? So maybe Ben is alive -- and now thinks that he's invulnerable. Oof. Too much!
Anyway, here are some other thoughts on episode 10 of season five, "He's Our You."
* Before their fateful confrontation, there's a lot of care to draw parallels between Ben an Sayid. Both were raised by hard men who turned them into killers. Ben, it seems, embraced this transformation, but Sayid keeps trying to be someone else. As Ilana later tells Sayid, this is impossible. When you're good at what you do, she says, there's always someone who won't want you to change. Of course, for Sayid, that someone is Ben.
* The early scene with Sayid, his brother and the chicken is the first time we see Sayid as a child. And, of course, it showcases the two qualities we've come to associate most with Sayid: viciousness and bravery. Also, we see early signs of his compassion, as he steps in to protect his brother. A nice, quietly unsettling moment.
* The episode takes its title from Sawyer's line about Oldham, the torturer that "LaFleur," Horace, and the increasingly unhinged Radzinsky take Sayid to. Oldham, of course, was played by William Sanderson, one of the most versatile character actors working today. His roles include sleazy innkeeper E.B. Farnum in "Deadwood," the seemingly good-natured sheriff on "True Blood," and, of course, Larry, on "Newhart." Embarrassingly, despite his impressive filmography, every time I see Sanderson, all I can think is "Hi. I'm Larry. This my brother, Darryl. And this is my other brother, Darryl." Sigh. I know. I'm an idiot.
* By the way, the torture of Sayid by Oldham wasn't nearly as graphic as some of the things we've seen Sayid do over the years but, in a way, that whole psychotropic sugar cube was even creepier than Sayid's technique. And Sayid's drugged out ramblings were perfectly delivered by the ever-reliable Naveen Andrews.
* Loved the close call in that scene, by the way:
- "Who cares?!"
I hope LaFleur buys Radzinsky a fruit basket for unintentionally saving his ass.
* Jack was convinced that coming to the island was a good thing, but I believe he's quickly learning that Sawyer and the others don't need his help. In fact, Juliet and Sawyer seem more annoyed by the Six's return than happy. I'm sure that feeling will only intensify when they learn what Sayid did.
* Hurley once again proves his odd knack for understanding the emotions of others, quickly and correctly figuring out that Sawyer and Juliet are a couple, and calmly assuming that everyone else has done the same.
* And can I just say that I love Chef Hurley? "Try the dipping sauces. They really bring out the ham." I do want to try the dipping sauces! I do!
* Also loved the gentle standoff between Juliet and Kate. Juliet tells Kate it's better that she found out about the Juliet-Sawyer thing from Hurley. Juliet says she didn't know how to tell Kate without sounding like she was telling her to stay away. The subtext? "Seriously, bitch -- stay away."
* Ok, we have to talk about the outfit Ben wears when he tells Sayid his assassination vacation is over. What was WITH that? Was he wearing a fedora? Who knew Ben even owned a pimp ensemble?
* So, now we know how Sayid ended up on the plane. The question is, was Ilana really working for Ben and didn't know it? And is it somehow important for HER to be on the island, too? And what about Kate and Hurley? Kate tells Sawyer that she knew why she came back to the island, then promptly shuts up.