Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Man from Baghdad

Arguably the most underutilized character on Lost, Sayid (Naveen Andrews) has always ranked among my favorites anyway, and last night's episode, "The Economist," was a vivid reminder why. On the island, we see the Iraqi War veteran deftly negotiate a prisoner exchange with the normally non-negotiable Locke. In the flashforwards, we learned that the Iraqi War veteran will become one of the "Oceanic Six" -- the catchy moniker given the evidently half-dozen escapees of their current environs -- as well as a globe-trotting assassin under the employ of Ben. As played by Andrews, Sayid has always been the person most capable of surviving under the circumstances; yet unlike Jack, he's not a natural leader. There's something quiet and recessive about him that causes him to linger more in the background than he should. And as Ben implies, Sayid's empathy has a way of getting him into trouble.

"The Economist" was another beautifully economical episode, where every line and gesture seem to count. I liked how Jack is for the moment slightly humbled, reined in from behaving too rashly and showing confidence in his cohorts (especially Sayid and Kate) to think and act independently. I liked the emotional texture of many scenes, namely Sayid and Desmond's helicopter ride off the island and how silence was used to convey the magnitude of that moment. And like everyone else, I'm liking how the flashforwards are adding a layer of mystery to the show while continuing its examination of the role of fate. From character to character, Lost always asks: Are we sentenced to a certain destiny, or can we escape from it, outwit it, outrun it? The answer to that question -- like Sayid himself -- is ambiguous and ever-changing.

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