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March 27, 2009

Lost 5.10 “He’s Our You” – Review

Filed under: he's our you, lost — Tags: , — Roco-D @ 3:55 pm

There is no doubt in my mind that “He’s Our You” is one of the best episodes of “Lost” that I have seen since the season 4 finale. It was an introspective voyage into the cyclical journey of Sayid Jarrah, intertwined with wider perspective on his antagonist Ben Linus, the Dharma Initiative, the “Hostiles”, and of course, the very nature of fate and freewill.

"We're The Good Guys"

Change is a major theme of this episode, we are reminded of the change that young Ben underwent during his rise as leader of the “Others” — He went from an abused Harry Potteresque child, to the man that we see today — a man of knowledge, sacrifice, ruthlessness and compassion — A man hated by the Losties for much of this journey. It’s hard not to think that 1977 Sayid didn’t play a part in Ben’s future direction. We are also reminded of the change in Sawyer (sorry, “LaFleur”). Gone are the days when he embraced the life of savagery = “We’re in the wild!”, he’s now a man of responsibility, of love..a man who bucks against the trend of his Dharma buddies to bring civility to the truce – “since when did we start acting like them!?”. (although I wasn’t impressed by the raising of his hand for the vote to execute Sayid). But for Sayid, change has never come easy, and when it has come, it’s rarely lasted for very long. Whether it’s through fault of his own, or the fickle nature of the Universe, Sayid has always lived in a cyclical existence of love and death. It follows his around like a bad smell. Nadia, Shannon, Nadia again, Elsa – all gone, all dead. No matter what he does, Sayid can’t seem to change himself or his circumstances. He is capable of love, but he can never hold on to any happy existence; whether it’s the woman of his dreams, or doing some redemption building work in the Dominican Republic.

1.09 He's Our You

Ben, somewhat surgically, cut to the core of of Sayid’s existence by suggesting that killing is in his nature, that it’s not a choice, but a matter of fact..a matter of fate. In the very moment that he uttered those words, I could almost hear the Universe rubbing it’s metaphorical hands with relish — Sayid was determined to prove Ben wrong, to prove to himself that he could change, that he had freewill to alter his existence and become one of the ‘good guys’.

He's Our You

But Sayid began proving Ben right almost immediately — he was back in hit-man mode before Hurley could checkmate the spirit of Mr. Eko. Sure, Sayid cares for Hurley, but helping a friend out of a fix was never really the problem. It’s his inability to stop killing people that Sayid can’t seem to kick. Whether it’s Mr. Avelllino, the men with the dart guns (probably hired by Ben), or the Russian dude with the wad of case, Sayid gets a buzz from killing people (just look at the artistry of his ‘kills’). The suggestion from the writers seems to be that it stems from his childhood — not so much in sparing his elder brother from the expectations of his moronic father, but happily exceeding what was expected of himself, no matter what the cost. We’ve seen so little of Sayid’s family, so having this insight was extremely useful, albeit somewhat contrived – we really needed more to go on than one chicken kill to trace exactly why Sayid is the way that he is (although the chicken scene did serve the purpose of metaphorically laying out the all important question in relation to his time-travelling execution of young Ben: What came first — the chicken or the egg?). That said, whether we like it or not, the writers are certainly of the opinion that murder is second nature to Sayid.

1.09 "He's Our You"

Back on the island, Sayid comes full circle with young Ben, who brings him sandwiches and a book — “A Separate Reality”, take a note of that because I’ll be coming back to it in a bit. I loved all of the scenes between young Ben and Sayid, but I wasn’t quite sure where it was going at this stage. My initial impression was that Sayid began to feel a sense of sympathy, or empathy, even, towards lil’ Ben. Although the scene with Roger Linus roughing up his son for bringing Sayid a sandwich was contrived (I mean what are the chances of both Linus’ ending up in Sayid’s cell together at that moment), it was vitally important in distracting me from what was to come. I noticed Sayid instinctively leaping up from his bed when Roger grabbed lil’ Ben — it seemed clear to me that Sayid wanted to protect the younger Linus — a sense of mutual understanding had surely bought them each others trust — “daddy issues” were about to bring them together, right!? At this point, I began to believe that Sayid wanted to take young Ben under his wing and try to change the path that he goes into take. In the infamous words of John Locke, “I was wrong”.

He's Our You

Going into this episode, the thing that I most wanted to know was whether young Ben, at this time, had fore-knowledge of  future Sayid and the Losties. The notion went against my belief in the “rules” of time-travel, but the end scene between Sayid and Ben in the previous episode (“Namaste”) was so ominous that I began to wonder whether Ben somehow knew of 2004 + Sayid at this stage. Thankfully, my initial understanding was confirmed, through young Ben’s utter fascination in Sayid, and by extension, the Hostiles. Ben had been told by Richard Alpert to be “patient” 3 years earlier (“The Man Behind The Curtain”), and he took Sayid’s arrival as a vindication of that patience. Importantly, we have it confirmed that consciousness of future events only travels from the point of view of the time-traveller, not those who are “when” they are supposed to be (i.e. young Ben and the Dharma idiots). That said, I’m confident that at some point in his adult life, Ben began to realise that he was part of a much bigger cyclical game involving time-travelling folks — how else would he know so much about the Losties in 2004? My guess is that Alpert (or Jacob) later informed him about the visitation that was bound to fall from the sky in the mid-00’s — a re-meeting with old friends who wouldn’t remember him because for them, it hadn’t happened yet. Again — what came first, the chicken or the egg?

1.09 He's Our You

The cyclical nature of events in this episode were also accompanied by mirror images, specifically with Oldham the D.I. version of Sayid – I loved the “He’s Our You” line by Sawyer, it spoke a 1000 “levels” (as did Horiss’ ‘game’ shout-out to Mikhail’s line in “Enter 77″). The entire torture scene was fantastic: instead of pliers or reed, the D.I’s top torturer uses reality changing drugs (a shout out to the book referenced earlier), that compel Sayid to let go and tell the truth (“the whole truth”). Indeed, Oldham’s words could be said to mimic Sayid’s battle with change - “it’s out of your control, so fighting it is a poor use of your energies”. On a deeper level, the suggestion is that Sayid is fated to be what he’s always been..even trying to change seems futile for Mr. Jarrah.

1.09 He's Our You

I loved seeing Sawyer sweat it out as Sayid gave a hilarious drugged up performance, which veered between uber awareness and total confusion — Fantastic stuff! Radzinsky’s interruptions were also hilarious, he really is a pain in the ass (at least we have his death to look forward to). I was intrigued by the D.I’s response to the future knowledge they were receiving from Sayid. Despite Radzinsky’s protestations, they seemed to brush it off as Sayid reacting to an overdose of the hallucinogen, but I’m guessing they will begin to realise Sayid’s authenticity once the incident and purge come along.

1.09 He's Our You

Seeing as this is Lost, and very little is coincidence, Sayid’s crucifixion-like pose as his was whacked out of his mind on LSD cubes was surely intentional. As was the image of him being ‘tempted’ by Ilana, who was obviously playing the tole of the ’snake’ which tempted Sayid out of his metaphorical Garden of Eden — weakening his preparedness to walk away from Island life, and bringing him back to the place where awakening happens, and where knowledge is king. (notice the amount of red in that bar scene). I liked the fact that they cleared up how Sayid came to be on the plane in handcuffs, and who Ilana was. Although I still believe that Widmore was behind it — Ilana may think that she’s working on behalf of Peter Avellino’s family, but since he was a Widmore associate killed in this ‘war’ with Ben, I’m betting that Widmore is doing his part of the job in getting people to ‘where they need to be’. For me, it’s clear that although Ben and Widmore are on opposing sides, they have to cooperate to a certain extent if they want a shot at ultimately bending fate to their advantage. Otherwise why on earth would Widmore tell Desmond where Mrs Hawking was, and why would both Widmore and Ben both help Locke (and the rest) get back to the island? Because it’s mutually beneficial.

1.09 He's Our You

Sayid’s moment of clarity was quite something — he suddenly believed that it was his purpose to kill young Ben Linus. Reading between the lines, this was Sayid making an excuse for his hopelessness. He couldn’t face the idea of his return to the island being meaningless, not after all that he had lost. So he relegated his freewill to his own perception of fate. It’s an easy enough thing to do when you’re desperate — just look at John Locke’s belief in the hidden message of the Swan hatch light from season 1. There can be confort in even the false light of destiny. But unlike John, Sayid seems unable to grasp onto any altruistic purpose. Sure, he has an eye for the ladies, but other than that he is a killer. It should be noted that his ‘awakening’ also seemed to the result of the LSD that Oldham gave him. After all. I can’t see the  literary reference as being meaningless.

1.09 He's Our You

The burning bus was a good diversion by young Ben — he’s clearly displaying “Otherish” skills already — it can’t have been easy coordinating that with such precision. Sure, it was a bit contrived in the way it deflected every-one’s attention (including that ‘man of thought’ LaFleur), but I loved the way a hoodied-up Ben slinked his way into Sayid’s quarters. My heart broke ever so slightly as his broken glasses were only out-sorrowed by his pathetic tears — the poor boy was clearly at breaking point, I mean, how much abuse can one person take? Ben was not only fascinated by the Others, he wanted to escape, he wanted to embrace something different other than the life he had been given. After all, when the fists are flying, sure anything is better than here.

He's Our You

I was hoping that Sayid would take young Ben under his wing. I was hoping that he’d instill a positive influence in his life. For someone who is so opposed to adult Ben, this was Sayid’s chance to tabula rasa Ben, to shape him into a person he believed was better. Instead of that, Sayid proved conclusively that he doesn’t kill out of choice, but because it’s a part of his nature. He took the easy option. Maybe he was always supposed to. Acting as Ben’s role model was far too much work, so he decided that Ben didn’t deserve to live. I find this a preposterous attitude — if adult Ben was really that bad then why did Sayid ever work with him post-Island? It seems that Sayid cannot see the bigger picture here! Ben isn’t Hitler, and yet Sayid lured the young boy out into the wild. Once Jin was dispatched (contrived scene I have to admit – only served the purpose of giving Sayid the gun with which to kill Ben), he had the audacity to tell Ben that he was right (as if young Ben knew what he was talking about!)..and he shot him. :(

He's Our You

The most despicable act on Lost. Ever. There is no-way back from this for Sayid — intending to murder a 12 year old kid is unforgivable. Especially when there were other options. Especially when the likes of Sawyer and Juliet, who had been through just as much conflict with Ben as Sayid has, are able to coexist with young Ben without harming a hair on his head. Make no mistake, this wasn’t an altruistic act by Sayid, this wasn’t Sayid protecting his ‘friends’, this was Sayid executing a 12 year old boy because it gave him a purpose. Let’s see that line again: shooting young Ben gave Sayid a purpose in lifeit was, he believed, his destiny. How sad, how pathetic, how that.

But then, maybe it was always supposed to be this way — whatever happened, happened, right? Did Sayid actually challenge this notion, or did he merely follow the rules of his own predetermined path? Oh fate, you’re so deceptive!

Ben's alive on 2007, see!

That’s not to say that Ben IS *dead*. Personally, I don’t think this is the case — we know that he’s alive in 2007. We also know that there are “rules” on what you can and cannot change. Unless a bullet wound suddenly materialises in future Ben’s chest, then I think it’s safe to say that his he never died in 1977. My guess is that the island healed him, and that Sayid’s act was seen as an act of aggression from the “Hostiles” on the D.I., thus blowing the truce wide-open, and eventually leading to the purge..and in turn, to the slightly older Ben defecting. (as we saw in “The Man Behind The Curtain”.)

The only other possibility that I can see happening, is if this current time-line (even though I don’t believe that time is linear), is a separate time-line..or, as the book reference alludes: “A Separate Reality”. This could add credence to the “Imaginary Time/Space” reference from Faraday’s journal. If the events that took place in this episode (i.e. Sayid shooting Ben)  are actually happening in a separate reality, then, and only then, could a version of Ben die 1977, whilst still leaving a future Ben (from the original reality) alive and well in 2007. But one would have to assume that at some point these 2 realities would have to converge, which could lead to disastrous consequences and probably paradox. (Cazimir Effect?) Hence why I think it’s safe to assume that Ben never died in 1977, and that if we were to see his chest in the present day, we’d see the scar from the bullet where Sayid ALWAYS shot him in 1977. If this is the case, then Ben is a man of great control — knowing that Sayid did that to him in his relative past and showing such restraint (and at times compassion) towards the guy — wow! Especially when we bear in mind the way in which Sawyer hunted down and murdered Cooper (a man who didn’t actually murder his parents), it just shows what a forgiving man Ben is.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

By it’s very nature, this episode was about choice and freewill. It used mirror themes, and contrasting character directions (Sawyer/Sayid) to get across some very powerful messages. Ultimately, i’d like to think (although it’s probably the opposite) that Sayid had freewill but he didn’t use it because he believes that he can’t change. This in itself begs the question of what represents the ’script’ and what it the improvisation (freewill)? By reverting back to his typical self, did Sayid do what he was “Supposed to do”, or did he throw away a golden opportunity to actually change the script of fate? From what we saw, he gave in to fate’s cyclical hold over his actions — he succumbed, he didn’t “have a choice about it” (as Oldham pointed out during the ‘truth’ torture scene) — he did what he always did.

My belief is that Sayid knows that he is unable to change. So instead of trying to change himself, he attempted to change the world – he tried to change the his environment, and consequently he settled for the idea of altering future events by *killing* Ben. Ironic, because the saying goes: “Before you can change the world, you must change yourself” (or words to that effect). The duality of this decision is quite fascinating when I think about it. On the one hand he’s accepting the fact that he himself can never change, but on the other hand he’s attempting to exert his perceived importance on his surroundings by trying to kill young Ben. He’s embracing this perceived sense of destiny – the singular purpose of his entire life to kill Ben, but what he’s failing to see is the futility of his self-perpetuating anguish.

Whatever happens to Sayid from here on it, he’s shown that he’s a man of fate – he played right into it’s hands. He gave up, and as he himself said whilst under the truth serum – he’s a “bad man”.

That said, I can’t wait to see lil Ben recover from this and go on to join the “Hostiles” in the early 1980’s. Strange to think that the fall-out between the D.I. and “The Hostiles” was always heightened by Sayid’s actions on this very day in 1977. After everything that has happened on this show, this is becoming one of the most mind-boggling, yet totally viable series of events. In other words — the pieces are beginning to fit right into place.
Excerpt from the book that young Ben gave to Sayid – “A Separate Reality”:

A Separate RealityYou think about yourself too much and that gives you a strange fatigue that makes you shut off the world around you and cling to your arguments.
A light and amenable disposition is needed in order to withstand the impact and the strangeness of the knowledge I am teaching you. Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy, and vain. To be a man of knowledge one needs to be light and fluid.

One has to reduce to a minimum all that is unnecessary in one’s life.

Once you decide something put all your petty fears away. Your decision should vanquish them. I will tell you time and time again, the most effective way to live is as a warrior. Worry and think before you make any decision, but once you make it, be on your way free from worries or thoughts; there will be a million other decisions still awaiting you. That’s the warrior’s way.

A warrior thinks of his death when things become unclear. The idea of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit.

To be a warrior you have to be crystal clear.

My acts are sincere but they are only the acts of an actor because everything I do is controlled folly. Everything I do in regard to myself and my fellow men is folly, because nothing matters.

Certain things in your life matter to you because they’re important; your acts are certainly important to you, but for me, not a single thing is important any longer, neither my acts nor the acts of any of my fellow men. I go on living though, because I have my will . Because I have tempered my will throughout my life until it’s neat and wholesome and now it doesn’t matter to me that nothing matters. My will controls the folly of my life.

Once a man learns to see he finds himself alone in the world with nothing but folly. Your acts, as well as the acts of your fellow men in general, appear to be important to you because you have learned to think they are important.

We learn to think about everything, and then we train our eyes to look as we think about the things we look at. We look at ourselves already thinking that we are important. And therefore we’ve got to feel important! But then when a man learns to see , he realizes that he can no longer think about the things he looks at, and if he cannot think about what he looks at everything becomes unimportant. Everything is equal and therefore unimportant.

We need to look with our eyes to laugh. When our eyes see , everything is so equal that nothing is funny. My laughter, as well as everything I do is real but it also is controlled folly because it is useless; it changes nothing and yet I still do it.

One must always choose the path with heart in order to be at one’s best, perhaps so one can always laugh.
You don’t understand me now because of your habit of thinking as you look and thinking as you think. By “thinking” I mean the constant idea that we have of everything in the world. Seeing dispels that habit and until you learn to see you will not really understand what I mean.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Parallel in Sayid killing the chicken in his flashback and Ben bringing him a chicken salad sandwich.
  • In the flashback with the Losties and Ben at the dock, we got a another glimpse of the yacht with the word “ILLUSION” written on the side. Makes me wonder if this adds further weight to the “Separate Reality” literary reference that was dropped in this episode. Or perhaps the “illusion” refers to the “Reincarnation” anagram written on the side of Ben’s van (also again pictured in the shot at the dock)?
  • The Dharma Initiative were open to defectors joining their ranks. This makes sense, because know that the “Hostiles” (“Others”) have  also seen defectors join their ranks — namely, Ben and Ethan (and probably others). It also seems likely that some of the “Hostiles” had previously defected to the D.I. All this really adds credence to this ‘war’ that the two sides were engaged in. Much of any war is political.
  • Glad we didn’t get much Jack and Kate in this episode. Though I did laugh as Jack’s eyes lit up when he saw the fire — this is right up your street, huh, Jacko! Getting sick of seeing Kate’s sour-puss attitude though.

Best Lines:

Ben to Sayid: “You didn’t kill them for ME, Sayid. YOU’RE the one that asked for their names. There’s no one else in Widmore’s organization that we need to go after. Congratulations! Mission accomplished!”

Sayid to Sawyer: “A twelve-year-old Ben Linus brought me a chicken salad sandwich. How do you think I’m doing”

Sayid: “..ask Sawyer”

Oldham: “Who’s Sawyer?”

Radzinsky: Who Cares!? — Just the way he said it, hilarious!

Sawyer to Sayid: “You’re out of your mind” — he was, quite literally. Another reference to the book “A Separate Reality”?

Overall episode rating: 9/10 – loved it!

1 Comment »

  1. [...] review copyed over from my blog: There is no doubt in my mind that

    Pingback by Official 1.10 "He's Our You" Discussion Thread - Lost Community Forums - Official Spoiler-free Lost Fansite — March 28, 2009 @ 8:07 am

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