Oh, Sayid: such a badass character, such mediocre flashbacks. Would his flash forwards be any less lame? The answer: only slightly, thanks to one of the great cliffhangers in Lost history.

(Click here to read my original, if not exactly economic, take.)

The Economist

4) In Short

"The economy sucks; go kill the Economist!"

8) On the Island

Sayid prays aside the helicopter. Nearby, Miles reiterates his need to locate Benjamin Linus to Jack. Sayid quietly moves to Naomi’s body, where he finds a bracelet that says, "N, I’ll always be with you. R.G." But sometimes, a bracelet is just a bracelet, people. (See? Got that one out of the way early.) Jack and Miles want to go after Locke, guns blazing; Sayid wants to leave on the helicopter. He makes a bargain with Lapidus: if he brings Charlotte back safely, Lapidus will take him to the boat.

Sayid shows Jack and Juliet the picture of Desmond and Penny from Naomi’s personal effects. Kate’s feelings are hurt when Jack asks Juliet, not her, to go back to the beach and fetch Desmond. Kate’s so upset she doesn’t even tell Juliet she’s coming with her. Jack wants to follow Sayid to the Barracks; Sayid points out Jack’s not exactly Mr. Diplomacy. Miles prepares to fight Sayid to come along, but Sayid disarms him by agreeing instantly. Oh Miles, you have no idea what’s in store for you.

Sawyer is still prodding Ben for the name of his spy on the boat. Locke points out that information is the only thing keeping Ben alive. They come to the mysterious line of grey ash, marking the territory once occupied by Jacob’s cabin. But the cabin is nowhere to be found. Ben starts digging in: "John’s looking for someone to tell him what to do next," he coldly states through his puffy, bloody mouth.

Locke regroups quickly, stating they’ll move instantly to the Barracks. Sawyer and Danielle note that Jack’s crew will be fast on their heels. Hurley’s upset they are going to take Charlotte as a hostage, telling Locke this isn’t what he signed up for. Locke quiets everyone down, telling them he’s giving the orders now. God help them all.

Back by the chopper, Kate asks Jack how it feels to be all ignored. How does it feeeeeel/To be on your own/With no direction home/Except maybe 325? Anyways, Bob Dylan parody aside, Kate’s got herself a case of the glums. Jack asks Kate to go with Sayid, noting he doesn’t trust Locke. He thinks Sawyer will prevent Naomi’s fate from happening to Kate. She joins Miles and Sayid and they head out. Lapidus is a touch nervous to learn that his key to getting Charlotte back is a torturer.

On the way to the Barrack, Miles wonders just how Locke managed to split the survivors apart. Sayid tells him about the schism between those who thought the boat meant rescue and those who thought the boat meant certain doom. He also reveals he hasn’t quite decided which side he’s truly on.

Daniel Faraday: Rocket Man! Strap in, kids, this is teh awesome. Looks like the downtime waiting for Sayid has afforded Mr. Wizard some time for a little experiment. He establishes a tripod, upon which he affixes a few devices. He asks Lapidus for the sat phone to call Regina to help perform the experiment. He asks her to "fire the payload." However, Faraday’s confused when Regina’s report of the payload’s location doesn’t match up at ALL with what he sees. "That’s weird," she says. "That’s far more than weird," he replies. Time travel: it’s faaaaaantastic!

Sayid and Company reach the outskirts of the Barracks, which appear deserted. Kate wonders if Locke’s group has even arrived yet. They soon hear noises coming from one of the bungalows. Inside a locked closet, they find Hurley, tied up. He tells them that he’s been left behind. Kate can relate. Once untied, Hurley catches them up to speed with what’s happened, noting that Locke’s "gone off the reservation." When Miles calls him "Tubby," Hurley hysterically replies, "Oh awesome, the ship’s sent us another Sawyer." Word that Locke might have gone to Ben’s house before leaving interests Miles greatly.

At the chopper, Jack has an important question for Lapidus: did the Red Sox really win the World Series? A Yankee fan tried and true, Lapidus confirms it disdainfully. But no time for talk of the greatest comeback in playoff history: the payload’s on route! Faraday compares the clock inside the rocket with the watch on his person: they are off by 31 minutes and 18 seconds. "This is not good," Faraday says, in the understatement of the episode. Just then, Desmond turns the corner with Juliet and sees his potential rescue before him.

Sayid et al. sneak into Ben’s house. While Kate’s in the bedroom, Sayid notices markings on the floor under a bookcase in the main room. He pulls back the bookcase to reveal a freakin’ secret room, replete with clothes, cash in various currencies, and a myriad of passports. It’s the coolest walk-in closet ever. Suck on that, Carrie Bradshaw. Back in the bedroom, Sawyer comes in, motioning for Kate to be quiet. She shouts anyways for Sayid, and finds Locke pointing a gun at him. Hurley quietly walks up behind him, and apologizes for deceiving Sayid.

Danielle and Hurley lead Sayid to the game room. Inside? Ben. He tells Sayid he lost a $1 bet with John that Mr. Jarrah wouldn’t be dumb enough to fall for the "Hurley as bait" trick. Back in Ben’s bungalow, Sawyer admits that he’s not looking to leave the Island, and wonders why she’s so anxious to leave herself, what with her legal issues back home. But there, maybe they have a chance at a decent life, a better one in New Otherton than they ever could back in the real world.

In the game room, Locke offers Sayid some iced tea. He apologizes for the "theatrics," stating he didn’t know who would come and in what form. His plan merely covered the bases. After learning Locke has learned little from either Miles or Charlotte, Sayid asks for Charlotte. By accessing their boat, it’s their best shot to understand their motives. Locke wants to spare him the bother, telling him about Ben’s mole on board. Sayid says, "Forgive me, but the day I start trusting him is the day I would have sold my soul." That sound you hear is the sound of a thousand anvils clanging.

Aside the chopper, Desmond is grilling Lapidus about his girlfriend. Neither Lapidus nor Faraday will confirm or deny ever hearing about her, never mind working for her. Des resolves to go aboard the chopper and get answers for himself. Just at that moment, Sayid appears over the hillside, with Charlotte in tow. However, that’s the only person he brought back. He tells Jack that Kate decided to stay, and tells Lapidus that he traded Miles for Charlotte. Lapidus is both annoyed and impressed by Sayid’s cleverness. He offers the final seat to both Charlotte and Faraday, but both are reluctant to leave.

As Lapidus leaves, Faraday quietly insists that he follow the exact bearing out that they followed in. Sayid offers Jack one final chance to come, which he denies. Jesus, no one wants to leave. Sayid suggests Naomi be the last to come, in that she’s dead and really can’t say no. Then we see something we never thought we would: some of our survivors get in a vehicle with the chance to successfully leave the Island. It’s a gorgeous, epic series of shots.

15) Off the Island

Sayid’s playing…golf? Sure, I saw that coming. A man pulls up to him on a golf cart, marveling that Sayid’s the first person he’s seen all morning. Turns out both men are paying quite a hefty price for such privacy. After they discuss the finer points of golf, the mystery man asks Sayid what he does for a living. Sayid reveals he’s living off a large settlement, thanks to being one of the Oceanic 6. The phrase scares Sayid’s new golf buddy, but not as much as the gun Sayid suddenly pulls out as the man tries to leave. Sayid reveals that he knows the man’s name, shoots him dead, and walks all Bagger Vance-like into the sprinklers.

Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man, so it’s no wonder the mystery blonde sitting in a German cafe allows him to sit with her. He tells her he’s looking for Potsdamer Platz, and she gives him both directions and her name: Elsa. He tells her he’s a headhunter (get it? get it?); she tells him she works for an economist specializing in emerging markets. She hardly ever sees him, but is constantly on call. The two make googly eyes, and I just roll my eyes. Outside, Sayid makes a phone call, telling the person on the other line he’s made contact. The voice on the other end says, "Good."

Sayid and Elsa have a date for the opera, and they are dressed to the nines. Sayid’s rockin’ some serious Vidal Sassoon in those long flowing locks of his. Elsa decides to leave her all-important phone behind. Sayid offers to carry it, not wanting her to get fired on his account. When she asks if he has a boss, he replies, "Everyone has a boss." No kidding. When she asks why she’s he’s still in Berlin, he replies the job is taking longer than expected. Smooth, Sayid. She somewhat sadly says she was hoping she was the reason.

Awww, lookie them widdle bitty wuv birds spooning! Or, don’t, if you like your food to not come back up. She busts out the "L" word, and wants there to be no more secrets between them. At that moment, who should call but the mysterious Economist. After she tells him the name of the location she’s supposed to meet him, Sayid insists that she has to leave Berlin immediately, lest she have to answer questions over his impending fate. Turns out this man’s name was on a list: "The man you are working for is NOT an economist!" he screams.

Upset, she leaves the room, but not so upset that she can’t grab a gun and surprise Sayid by shooting him in left shoulder. While he lies in shock on the bed, she calls her mysterious employer, and agrees to bring Sayid in to learn the identity of his employer. Apparently, in the world of high-stakes espionage, no one uses Monster.com. While Elsa plots Sayid’s demise in the other room, Sayid manages to distract her long enough to roll off the bed and shoot her dead. Sayid mourns her death, and notices her bracelet. Which is only a bracelet. It’s only a bracelet. Deep breath. It’s only a bracelet.

A wounded Sayid stumbles into a German veterinarian’s office. A low voice tells him to take his shirt off. A man walks up and starts to extract the bullet from his shoulder. That man? Ben Freakin’ Linus. Still a mind-blowing reveal. Looks like someone sold his soul after all. A broken Sayid sits, helpless, as Ben reminds him exactly what their enemies did the last time Sayid cared about someone. Ben tells Sayid he has another name for him. When Sayid worries that they now know he’s after them, Ben simply replies, "Good."

16) The Mythology

The OMFG factor isn’t quite there anymore when it comes to the cliffhanger, but there’s still plenty of material to mine inside of Ben’s closet. What we see in there in this episode, coupled with what we find inside it during "The Shape of Things to Come," suggests a lot about the Dharma Initiative’s original intent.

Since seeing the hieroglyphic door in "Shape," I’ve held onto the belief that the location of the Barracks is no accident. Furthermore, the location of Ben’s bungalow is not an accident. One can easily imagine the DeGroots originally inhabiting this house, or whoever was the de facto leader of the on-Island activities. The house was literally built around that ancient door, suggesting that what’s behind it was extremely important to the ultimate plans of the Initiative.

Now, other than having an "In Case of Emergency/Changing of the Rules, Open" quality, the door is more than likely not tied into the rest of the closet. What’s inside the closet, however, is intimately tied into the way Ben, Richard, and Tom can move to and fro from the Island, even after the sky going purple. In fact, one could assume that even when the island was easier to reach, this room functioned as something of a "back door" to get where/when you wanted to go.

It’s telling, I think, that it’s Richard and Tom tending to Ben in "The Man from Tallahassee." These are his lieutenants, if you will, and charged with the specific information concerning this back door. Ben’s strategy for keeping the Others in line seems to be in the careful deployment of specialized information that makes the individual feel as if he/she is Ben’s favorite. I’m sure Mikhail would be as angry to hear about Ben’s Magical Closet as he was about discovering the true nature of the Looking Glass. This divide/conquer strategy served Ben well for a while, but as with all things involving deception, soon crumbled.

Beyond all of that, this closet ties into Mittelos Biosciences which ties into the mysterious "Canada project" which ties into the mysterious runway which more than likely ties into the pallet drops. There’s an interconnected series of items at the nexus between the Island and the real world, for a long time, only Ben and a handful of people have known how to exploit it. But I think it’s important to note that this back door is NOT of Ben’s doing: he simply inherited it from the previous owner, the Dharma Initiative. Personally? I can’t wait to see who’s living in there come Season 5.

23) The Moment

I have three: Faraday’s rocket, Faraday’s rocket, and Faraday’s rocket.

42) In Retrospect

  1. The Sayid/Ben moment shows just how well Lost’s fractured narrative can work. There’s a feature on the Season 4 DVD in which you can watch all the flashforwards in correct chronological order, and much like watching a retrospective special put together by ABC’s promo monkeys, it shows just how much less of a show Lost would be if it followed normal narrative rules.
  2. The word "list" takes on new meaning in this episode: exactly how is Ben getting the names that land upon it in the future?

108) In Summary

There’s a lot to like on-Island, and not so much off. If the true identity of the Economist is a mindblower, than this episode is automatically elevated. If not, well, it just shows that Sayid’s a sap for da ladies. And I prefer my Sayid as sapless as possible, personally speaking. Nevertheless, this episode further sets up just how much in danger the Oceanic 6 are, and how it’s not merely guilt that might send them all back to the Island.

Next up: we take a trip to Eggtown. Merry Effin’ Christmas to all. Make sure you leave Santa some milk to wash down his grenade sandwich.

Leave your thoughts about this episode below!

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to join the all-new Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Twitter feed. Pretty soon he’ll have as many platforms as Sayid has dead girlfriends.

Posted by:Ryan McGee