”Lost”: Torture, hostages, and ping-pong
Last week, we saw Hurley come to terms with his curse; this week, Sayid faced his past as a specialist in ”interrogation” for the Iraqi army. Lost didn’t completely abandon the fun and games this time, but that wasn’t a bad thing. This episode answered some lingering questions without the melodrama that plagued the show earlier this season. Plus, Kate totally punched Ms. Klugh in the face!
But first, let’s talk contrast. Hurley and Sawyer were playing ping-pong on the beach, and Kate, Locke, Sayid and Rousseau were getting shot at in the jungle. And that’s not all. In no time, the guy returning fire — Mikhail, the eye-patch-wearing gentleman who had made a brief appearance on a Dharma video monitor — was serving iced tea and claiming to be the last surviving member of the Dharma Initiative. He certainly had all the props — a Dharma jumpsuit, Dharma crackers, a chic Tribeca-lookin’ pad (love those exposed ceiling beams, Mikhail!) — but Sayid wasn’t buying it for a second. The rational antidote to Locke’s faith-based speculation, Sayid is always adept at smoking out a liar.
Backing up to the beach for a minute: Word has it that Nikki and Paulo are going to become essential characters on Lost, but that clearly hasn’t happened so far. In the last episode, they had one line apiece. Paulo: ”Are we out of Dharma oat bars already?” Nikki: ”Did you check behind the powdered milk?” (Part of me likes to imagine the actors getting their scripts that day.) Sawyer (as usual) said it best when he snapped at Nikki, ”Who the hell are you?”
The beach subplot was wrapped up pretty neatly: Sawyer got his Playboys back, and Hurley finally won something other than the cursed lottery. But I ask you, Lost watchers, how will we survive the next episode if Sawyer isn’t allowed to use any nicknames? That means no calling anybody JumboTron, Zorro, or Captain Bunny Killer. But perhaps Sun won’t be too strict in enforcing her rule — after all, she already gave up on speaking only English with Jin in this episode. Not that a ping-pong tournament doesn’t merit an exception.
I was glad to get a little Sayid backstory that didn’t include any scenes of torture, since I’m getting enough of that on 24 these days. Sayid, who was working as a chef in Paris, confessed to torturing a woman, although the scene left the possibility that he was lying to (a) escape being murdered by the woman’s husband or (b) assuage his guilt for the other atrocious acts he had committed. (He was reminded of all this because Mikhail’s cat was named Nadia, and Nadia was an Iraqi woman whom Sayid had helped escape execution.) So many other shows would end with Sayid pondering these very things while an alt-rock ballad builds in the background, but on Lost, stuff blows up. And that’s why we love it.
Locke — who should perhaps be kept away from computers for the foreseeable future — typed in 77, and the entire Flame Station burst into…flames. Of course, my first thought was that 77 had to be the sum of some of Hurley’s numbers. I’m bad at math, so I Googled it: 4 + 8 + 23 + 42 = 77. What does it all mean, Lost Watchers? Although I have no complaints about this episode — it was funny and frightening and had several unexpected twists — the ping-pong scenes on the beach made me pine just a bit for (I know, I’m not supposed to say it) season-1 Lost. The series’ mythology is fun (in an endlessly complex kind of way), but does anyone else sort of miss the beginning, when the show was less like The X-Files and more like a contemporary riff on Lord of the Flies? Anyone?
A few more questions till next time: Why did Ms. Klugh tell Mikhail to shoot her — and is she really dead? Even though Mikhail is one of the Others, do you agree there might be some truth to what he told Sayid about the Others? Could they be former Dharma test subjects who revolted? And, finally, are you at all interested in seeing Nikki and Paulo fleshed out as characters?