“He’s Our You” Recap and Analysis …
Previously, on Lost: Little Harry Potter, I mean Ben Linus, runs into Richard “The Timeless Wonder” Alpert looking a bit disheveled in the jungle of mystery, back in 1974. Ben wants to join the Hostiles. Richard tells him that he must be patient before he can join. Yeah, you’re probably going to have to wait about 18 years or so. Back in 2007, grown-up Ben has been manipulating Sayid into killing a whole bunch of people, before they join Jack, Kate, and Hurley on Ajira Flight 316. Destination? 1977. Back in the ’70s, Jin finds Sayid wandering around near the Flame and has no choice but to take him captive. Later, in the Dharma brig, young Ben brings Sayid a sandwich, and they meet again for the first time.
This week on Lost: When I said all hell was going to break loose this week, I had no idea what might happen, nor did I think I’d have to wait until the last 30 seconds of the episode to find out exactly how prophetic that statement would become. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover after the episode, so this recap is going to be fast and frenetic. Let’s do it!
When Sayid was a boy, his father asked his brother to kill a chicken, but his brother couldn’t do it. So, Sayid when into the pen and broke the chicken’s neck. When his father found out who had killed the chicken, he looked at Sayid and his brother and said, “At least one of you will grow to be a man,” before turning his back and walking away. Ahh, daddy issues. Where would Lost be without you?
As we all know by this point, it’s a Sayid flashback episode, and the traditional flashbacks are back! Well, okay, so Sayid’s really in 1977 and the flashbacks occur all over time after this particular time, but it’s in Sayid’s own personal timeline and … nevermind. You know what I mean. At any rate, let’s just cover the flashbacks right up front.
Sometime between 2005 and 2007, Sayid continues to kill for Ben. He makes his last hit in Moscow, killing a man that tried to bribe him with money from his safe. Sayid then proceeds to exit the building and meet Ben in a cold, dark alley. Ben proceeds to tell Sayid that this man was the last of those in Widmore’s group that could be of potential harm to his friends, and then tells Sayid that he’s pretty much done. Sayid goes off to build houses in the Dominican Republic.
In 2007, Ben finds Sayid working in the D.R. and tells him that Locke is dead, and that he thinks he was murdered. Yeah, Ben, by you, you delightful little bastard. Ben then tells Sayid that someone has been watching Hurley outside the Santa Rosa Mental Institute, and that Sayid has the power to stop them. Sayid tells Ben that he’s done, he doesn’t like to kill, to which Ben responds dryly that he must have been mistaken, then. Oh, Ben, why do I love such a bastard?
Later in 2007, we flash back to the time when Jack, Kate, Sun and Sayid are all gathered on the docks, and Sun has a gun to Ben’s head. Everyone disbands and Sayid heads straight to a bar, where he sips on $120-a-glass MacCutcheon’s scotch. Soon, a familiar face shows up and sits a couple of chairs down from him. It’s Ilana, the woman we see escorting him to Guam a couple of episodes back in “316.” They flirt, she orders a big steak and soon Sayid is buying her her own glass of MacCutcheons. Okay, seriously, let me interrupt this flashback to say guys listen up: Nothing good ever comes from a girl picking you up in a bar. Take it from me. The same probably holds true for the same situation online, but I’m too dumb to stop falling for it.
Danger sign #1: She talks to you first. Danger sign #2: She looks like this. Danger sign #3: She orders a steak. Danger sign #4: You infer that she could be a prostitute and she doesn’t slap the curls out of your hair.
A few minutes later, they’re both back in Sayid’s room, about to get it on – that is, until Ilana does a roundhouse kick to Sayid’s head and then pulls a gun on him. Yup, double-crossed again. Told you so, bucko. Ilana informs Sayid that she’s been hired by the family of the guy he shot on the golf course and that he’s going to Guam.
A little later, Ilana is escorting Sayid through the airport on the way to Ajira Airways Flight 316. Sayid is fine until he starts seeing Jack and Kate and Hurley and Sun, and then he realizes that, holy shit, he’s about to end up back on the Island. So, he suggests another flight. Nothing doing, says Ilana, and they board. On the plane, Sayid sees Ben board and he asks Ilana if she’s working for Ben. She doesn’t seem to know who Ben is, so Sayid lays out that he’s a lying, manipulative, murdering bastard. Ilana doesn’t know how anyone could work for such a man. Sayid simply says, “I did.” And … we’re all caught up.
Now, back to 1977, if you please. Sayid’s still down in Dharma jail after being taken down there last episode by Sawyer. Ben brings Sayid another sandwich – chicken salad, yum – and a book (Carlos Castaneda’s A Separate Reality, more on that later). Ben asks Sayid about Richard and says that he’ll help Sayid because he wants to get out of there. Horace and Radzinsky show up a little later, remove the plastic ties around his hands and ask him who he is and if he’s in trouble with his people. Sayid simply says thank you, and Horace says that he’s afraid they’re going to have to kick it up a notch. Bam!
Back in main Dharmaville, Juliet’s cooking up some bacon (yummm – you should’ve taken a drink if you were playing along with the drinking game!), but not paying it much attention because she’s staring out the window, contemplating how long it would take to dig a grave for the bitch that’s now living across the way. Sawyer comes in and assures her that everything is just going to be a-okay, and to keep her pantyhose on, he’s working on it.
Sawyer, you bastard … look at that face. Don’t screw this up, bub.
Sawyer suits up, get his LaFleur on and heads down to the Dharma jail to talk to Sayid. He tries to convince Sayid to pretend to be a Hostile deserter, and Sayid tells him to stuff it. Later, Roger Linus comes in to clean outside Sayid’s cell and they have a little chit chat. Roger says that he’s amazed that Sayid was captured by these morons, and Sayid tells Roger that they might be morons, but Roger is cleaning up after them. Oooooh, burn. Ben shows up with another sandwich, and Roger gets a teeny bit pissed, and shoves his kid around a little. Sayid actually has a problem with this, but does nothing to stop it.
The next bit can only be described with pictures, because it is so very classic.
Back at the “we think we’re cool kids” table, Hurley has made breakfast …
“… soooo I got this cool new logo now and all. Oh, and did you guys know that Sawyer and Juliet are shacking up these days?”
“Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. Where’s my dynamite?”
Sayid won’t play ball with the Dharma folks, so they have no choice but to load him up and take him to see Oldham, and Sawyer soon tells Sayid that “he’s our you.” Doesn’t sound good. They tie Sayid to a tree, and Oldham douses a sugar cube with either a psychotropic concoction of his own, or a little sodium pentathol, and shoves it in Sayid’s mouth. How do I know it’s sodium pentathol? Because long before Lost, I was watching the Bristows use the stuff like candy all the damn time in another J.J. Abrams joint known as Alias. Anywho, it’s not long before Sayid is loopy as hell and willing to tell them the box scores to the last Knicks game. He proceeds to spout off about the various Dharma stations around the island, including the Swan, which hasn’t even been built yet. He confesses to have come to the island on a plane and to have spent over 100 days there before returning to the mainland. He also confesses to come from the future.
It’s about that time when Sayid gets a little punch drunk. Heh.
Needless to say, Horace, Radzinsky and Oldham are not happy with the results of their truth serum.
Back in Dharmaville, Kate has come to work with Juliet in the motor pool. Kate soon tells Juliet that she knows about her and Sawyer and that it’s all good, she was done with his hick ass anyway, and Juliet says that she’s relieved because she didn’t know how she was going to tell Kate without it sounding like she was saying “stay away from my man, bitch, or I’ll make you bleed.” They have an awkward little friend moment when you wonder if Juliet might just grab a crescent wrench and beat Kate anyway, until Sawyer and the others show up with Sayid and escort him back to jail.
Okay, I know this is going to sound strange, but putting the girls in those little blue mechanic’s jumpsuits is just HOT. Somebody grab the grease gun! Okay, that sounded dirty.
Ahem. Later that night, the head honchos of Dharma all meet at Horace’s house and discuss the fate of Sayid. There’s some arguing, but in the end, Horace’s wife Amy says that she wouldn’t feel safe with him away and that they should kill him. Man, that is one cold bitch. Of course, she was just about raped by the Hostiles, so who could blame her? It’s put to a vote and all but Sawyer vote yes. Horace tells Sawyer that he’d like to make it unanimous and Sawyer reluctantly acquiesces, since he’s stuck between Iraq and a heart case.
Knowing well what’s going to happen, Sawyer heads down to Dharma jail to give Sayid an out. He tells Sayid to beat him up and take his keys so that Sayid can escape. Again, Sayid refuses, stating that all of it doesn’t make sense, that they are all back on the Island, and there seems to be no purpose in it. Sayid tells Sawyer to leave, and so he does.
Sawyer heads over to Kate’s bungalow and asks her if she knows why everyone came back. She doesn’t know why everyone else came back, but she knows why she did. We do, too, you homewrecking whore. Before she has a chance to open her freckled face, though, a flaming Dharma van comes plunging out of the darkness and into one of the bungalows. All hell breaks loose as everyone runs for firehoses located around the village, and they get the fire under control. While everyone is distracted, little Ben sneaks down into the jail and offers to set Sayid free if he will take him to the Hostiles. Sayid agrees, and they make their escape.
As they flee into the jungle, another Dharma van approaches. It’s Jin, and Sayid comes out to confront him. He tells Jin that Sawyer helped him escape, and Jin just wants to check in with Sawyer to make sure. Sayid doesn’t wait for that, and knocks Jin unconscious. Ben comes out from hiding in the brush and is amazed that Sayid is able to do that. He then tells Sayid that they should probably get going, but Sayid hesitates. He has his hands on Jin’s pistol now, and we all see what’s about to happen. Sayid turns to Ben and says, “You were right about me … I am a killer.” He then raises his hand and proceeds to pop a cap in young Ben’s ass.
“Why didn’t … you tell … me … you didn’t … like … chicken salad …” THUD
Although we could all see it coming, in the select few seconds of silence after Ben’s body hits the ground, everyone watching suddenly starts to realize the implications of what has just happened, and there is the low, steadily-growing sound of heads exploding across the nation.
Cue the thonk!
Well, damn folks … that was a classic ending. I thought for a second there that Sayid was going to bite the big one since his story seemed over, but it looks like he’s found a new purpose on the Island: that old temporal cliche of killing Hitler before he comes into power. Oh, Sayid, if only it were that simple.
Obviously, the big question for this week is what the hell happens now, if little Ben is dead? By that one act, Sayid opened up a giant can of temporal worms that could cause all quantum hell to break loose, or it could just be the first in a series of very fortunate events. In order to fully understand the implications, and theorize what the potential outcome may finally be, we’re going to have to delve back into some temporal theory. We’ve talked in depth about string theory (in the analysis for the fifth season opener), and the time travel theories of Hedges Theory and the Novikov self-consistency principle (in the analysis for “Jughead”), so if you need to review those before we start, please go right ahead. I’ll be bringing up the Novikov self-consistency principle a bit, but in an altered form. Right now, I’m going to delve into something that I’ve covered in the past, as well (in the analysis for “The Other Woman”) – divergent timeline and static timeline theory. I’ll also be talking about mutable timeline theory and multiple branching universe theory (otherwise known as the Multiverse).
Just one thing to keep in mind as we’re reviewing these – it is assumed, for the sake of our arguments here, that little Ben is dead. I’ll talk about alternatives to that outcome after we cover these for things, okay? Let’s do this!
WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO NOW?
Static Timeline Theory
The static timeline theory that I mentioned in my analysis last season of “The Other Woman” was really a misnomer. I have changed that name to reflect what it is really showing, and it will be represented a little later as Mutable Timeline Theory.
Static timeline theory is basically the same theory that I’ve been harping about for most of this season. It is sometimes referred to as predestination theory. It relates to the Novikov self-consistency principle, which I summarized a bit in the analysis for “Jughead”:
“This principle is pretty much what Daniel was spouting off about in the season premiere. He explained to the left-behinders basically that ‘whatever has happened has happened, and you can’t change it.’ Some call it destiny, but temporal philosophers call it sell-consistency.”
Essentially, what static timeline theory states in relation to what has happened with Ben is that in the history of the world, it has always gone down that little Ben was shot by Sayid. Got that? History has always shown little Ben getting shot by Sayid and that will never ever ever change. Sayid was always destined to go back in time and always destined to shoot little Ben in the chest. So, if this is the theory that the events in Lost adhere to, it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Since there are clues as to the validity of this theory in relation to the Island and what’s happened, we’ll take a closer look at this after we go over the next three theories.
Divergent Timeline Theory
I first talked about divergent timeline theory last year in the analysis for “The Other Woman.” I used it to illustrate how Daniel’s memory could be swiss-cheesed after his experiments with Eloise, the rat. Let’s take a look at what I wrote back then, in relation to divergent timeline theory:
“Divergent timeline theory is the cleanest and safest of the theories surrounding time travel and the effects of monkeying around in the past. In figure 1, you’ve hopped in the DeLorean and gone back to 1955, where you run over one of old man Peabody’s pine trees. At that exact moment, an alternate divergent timeline skewed off from the one in which you first hopped in the DeLorean, so when you head back to the future, there’s only one pine tree (fig. 2). The other timeline with twin pines still exists, but in an alternate timeline in which you never traveled back in time and killed one of the pines and therefore it is inaccessible to you.”
In relation to what’s happened with Ben within this theory, the act of Ben being shot immediately created a divergent timeline where Ben never grew up, never let loose the toxic gas to kill of the Dharma Initiative and, essentially, never harassed the Oceanic survivors or turned the Great Wheel to move the island and set the time traveling in motion in the first place. I think you all can see how divergent timeline theory can really open up a bottle of temporal whoopass, right?
Now, if all this has happened and we’re dealing with divergent timeline theory, then there is no possible way that the survivors could now return to the future they left. They would have to somehow go back into the past and ensure that Sayid did not go through with his plan to shoot Ben, essentially setting right what went wrong, and all the while hoping that the next leap would be the leap home …
Mutable Timeline Theory
Mutable timeline theory is what I referred to as “static timeline theory” back in my analysis for “The Other Woman” last season. I changed the name because the timeline in this theory really isn’t static – there is only one timeline, but it’s able to be changed. The effects of something in the past being changed in this theory act as a sort of “timewave” that completely rewrites everything from the point that was changed or went wrong. Here, to get a better understanding, let’s look at what I wrote last year:
“Mutable timeline theory can get a little hairy. You hop in the DeLorean, as usual, and go back to 1955 and run over one of old man Peabody’s trees, as in fig. 1. At that exact moment, the entire timeline from that point on is completely destroyed and rewritten based on what occurred in the past. There were NO twin pines in your future, and therefore you would only remember a single, lone pine in 1985. This is a predestination paradox, which basically states that whatever has happened in the past was meant to happen and our current timeline reflects that. Now, the sticky part comes in on fig. 3. Let’s say you decide to go BACK to 1955 again and you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing and run over Doc Brown as he’s crossing the street. At that exact moment, the entire timeline would change, completely eradicating any evidence that you, the DeLorean or Doc Brown ever existed. Oh, and you never ran over a pine tree, either, so now there are twin pines again. That’s heavy, I know. That’s the sticky part of mutable timeline theory.”
I’ve used the DeLorean and Back to the Future for many of these examples, and mutable timeline theory is sort of like when Marty’s picture from 1985 starts to fade. He’s got a certain amount of time before his timeline is erased completely, at the point when his parents are supposed to kiss on the dance floor. In the same vein, if our timeline in Lost is mutable, then the survivors have set in motion a “timewave” that will soon erase their existence and rework the timeline in order to eradicate the paradox. The only way that this theory could really work in a literary sense for Lost is if Faraday knows that it’s happening and can warn the survivors of what they need to do to set things right.
Honestly, this one was a front-runner last season when it was just Daniel’s subconscious mind wandering about the temporal frontier, but now that there’s a whole mess of Oceanic survivors mucking around in the past, it would almost be literary suicide to start running with this particular theory.
And now, diverging almost completely from temporal theory, and running with the crossover of different realities and alternate universes, I give you …
Multiple Branching Universe Theory
This theory relates to the belief that crossover rifts can develop in the continuum between alternate universes, at points where specific timelines overlap. It is very similar in scope to divergent timeline theory in that any action in the past can instantaneously create a separate timeline, and therefore a separate reality, that branches off significantly from the main timeline. For instance, the moment that Ben was shot was a branching continuum point where several realities could intersect. In a parallel dimension – the one that we know and have followed – Ben was not shot at that point. Either Sayid wasn’t there, or Sayid hesitated and Ben was able to escape, or all manner of outcomes that resulted in Ben living. On the other hand, there are also an infinite number of realities that could have branched out from that specific spot that ended with Ben’s death. Sayid and Jin could have wrestled with the pistol and it went off, or he was hit by the Dharma van as it came by … basically any scenario you could imagine where it happens at the exact same moment where all the space-time continuums overlap.
Multiple branching universe (multiverse) theory doesn’t really deal too much with temporal causalities; rather, this theory deals with opening rifts between realities that allow individuals, consciousnesses and constructs to pass back and forth. With multiverse theory, Dan’s experiments with Eloise and the ones with Dharma would have been to tap into those multiple realities. When the Great Wheel was turned, the Island started skipping about through not only times, but realities that are lined up very closely to our own. These close alternate realities only differ from our own in a miniscule way, branching and diverging at subtle points throughout history, and there may be multiple points where the two realities overlap each other in the future, which would allow for transit between the two again.
The difficulty with multiverse theory is that it’s a very complex thing to relate in a literary sense. However, multiverse theory would allow for multiple standard temporal paradoxes to occur without much consequence, other than for the future of the current reality in which our survivors now inhabit.
If you’re missing out on this week’s drink recipe, then you’re not getting the whole story. One last thought that came to me about Ben and this predicament is the existence of something so preposterous, so outlandish, that it just might be true. This explanation can be traced back to a little red herring introduced in season two of Lost: the evil twin.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the Ben that was shot was not the somewhat-maladjusted Benjamin Linus that grows up to gas all of his people. Maybe we haven’t seen the whole story, and Ben has a doppelganger, somewhere on the Island or in a parallel universe, a la multiverse theory. Is it crazy? Is it improbable? Sure! But some have said the same thing about time travel …
THE EVIL TWIN
- 1 bottle of Sambuca
- 1 bottle of Jagermeister
- 2 small shot glasses
Make sure the Jager is well-chilled. Keep the sambuca at room temperature. Fill one shot glass with sambuca and the other with Jager. Down the sambuca shot, then almost immediately the Jager shot. Although the two seem diametrically opposed, you’ll soon find that they form a deliciously complex mix on your palette, almost as if they aren’t really that different at all.
Next round, shoot the Jager first, then the sambuca. The sambuca is light, but sharp, which will clear your senses and make you think a little clearer. The Jager is dark, but mellow, and will entice you to dance on a table with a lamp on your head. Continue to repeat alternated shots until one side of your personality wins out over another. I hope for the sake of your loved ones, it’s the light side. Just to be safe, hide the button that activates the nerve gas reserves.
SO WHAT THE HELL IS REALLY GOING ON?
When we first went over static timeline theory, I mentioned that there were many clues that pointed toward it being the one that reigns over the story in Lost. First and foremost, Faraday has stated many, many times in past episodes that “what has happened, happened.” As a matter of fact, the title of the next episode is “Whatever happened, happened.” This points directly to static timeline theory in that the timeline is unchangeable. The history of the world is just the history of the world, and we will see the events of Ben being shot unfold naturally, as they are supposed to in the natural course of the world. In my personal opinion, that’s exactly what’s likely to happen. In the past of the Island, in 1977, a Hostile escaped Dharma custody, ran away with little Benjamin Linus, knocked out a patrolling Dharma deputy, stole his gun and shot Ben in the chest, leaving him for dead. This one event could have begun the long warring feud between Dharma and the Others, eventually leading up to their deaths from the gas attack.
The sticky part is that the gas attack was initiated by Benjamin Linus, and he was just shot in the chest. If static timeline theory holds true, then Ben can’t really be dead. We’ve seen the Island take care of other people that it’s needed before – Locke, anyone? – so if the simplest solution usually holds to be the truest solution, then the Island will save Ben. Locke laid in the ditch with the dead Dharma folk for a while after Ben shot him, so maybe Ben will lay in the road for awhile before the Island heals him enough to be up and about. There’s also the possibility that Richard or the other Hostiles will find Ben and take him to be cared for, later returning him to his dad and Dharma. This would also fully cement Ben’s loyalty toward Richard, the Island and the Hostiles, and guarantee that he would do anything and everything in the future to ensure the safety of the island – even if that meant killing off a whole bunch of people.
There is another possibility, related to the Island healing Ben. It might be possible that the Island wants EVERYONE off the boat, so to speak, and Ben is the one person who could do all that. If Ben is healed independently of the Hostiles and he believes that Sayid is one of them, then he could harbor resentment toward the Hostiles, as well. Remember, now, that Ben takes all his orders from Jacob in the future, and he’s supposed to be the only one who can see Jacob. Jacob may be an extension of the Island – a manifestation of Cerberus, perhaps – that is trying to get Ben to just eradicate all the wild cards on the island.
At any rate, we shall soon see the fate of young Ben and how the writers choose to get all the survivors out of this fine mess. Personally, I can’t wait to see how they pull it off, and if it’s anything like we’ve discussed in here.
WAITAMINUTE, THERE’S ONE OTHER THING
Oh yeah, Ilana! So, who the hell is Ilana really working for? Is she secretly working for Ben, or does Charles Widmore pay her bills? Is she a free agent, working on her own to get back to the island for her own benefit? Perhaps she’s an Other, or a child of one of the Others that left the island with Widmore when he and Eloise Hawking went to the mainland.
Do any of you have some decent theories on this one? I’d love to hear them!
There’s far, far more that I could cover – but isn’t there always, though? I really want to talk a bit about the possibility of Jacob being an interdimensional traveler, or the future self of one of the survivors, and I’ve never really gotten into how quantum phase states work and how that relates to Christian Shephard and a few of the other “ghosts” haunting the island. All in due time, I suppose. Next week’s episode seems like a bit of a filler from the previews, just gearing things up to go sliding headfirst into the finale, so maybe we’ll have some extra time to go over some of those things. In the meantime, however, keep thinking those thoughts, and if you have an epiphany, tell me something good.
Chris Kirkman is a graphic designer/photographer/journalist/geek extraordinaire with way too many Bruce Campbell movies in his library. Michael Emerson, Lost’s Benjamin Linus, called Kirkman’s recaps “one of the smartest articles I’ve ever read about what goes on on our show.” Kirkman is still hoping that Lost will end when Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, complaining of a strange, strange dream. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.