As a diehard “Lost” fan (and a diehard Jack hater), I’m always thrilled for an episode based around Sayid. As a former member of Iraq’s Republican Guard, he knows way more about technology, strategy, and well, everything, than Jack. I’ve never understood why Sayid isn’t the one in charge. Needless to say, I was looking forward to last night’s episode, which featured Sayid, Locke, Kate, and Danielle (my favorite island butt-kickers) heading off into the jungle to rescue Jack from his captors.
The show’s structure–a present island story correlating to one character’s flashback–sometimes fails when one of the stories is way less interesting than the other. Last night’s episode was great because both stories were compelling. In the flashback, Sayid (using an alias) was living in Paris and working as a cook. He met Sammy, another Iraqi expat, who offered Sayid a job in another restaurant.
Then the plot took a turn: The job was just to lure Sayid to Sammy’s restaurant so his wife, Amira, could get a look at Sayid. Amira had been tortured as a prisoner of the Republican Guard, and after seeing Sayid, She swore that he was the man who tortured her. So Sammy locked Sayid up and beat him–trying to get Sayid to confess his crime.
Meanwhile back on the island, the four adventurers come upon a house in the middle of the jungle and meet its mysterious resident, an eye-patch-wearing Russian named Mikhail. Although Mikhail at first is nice to the trio, Sayid quickly figures out that Mikhail is laying a trap and springs into action. He could have killed Mikhail but chose instead to let the man live. Why?
Well, it turns out that Sayid too was once spared. One night Amira comes to Sayid without her husband and tells him of the horrors and indignities she suffered at his hands. She asks him to grant her the respect of acknowledging what he did to her. Sayid finally confesses that he had been her torturer. And instead sentencing him to death at her husband’s hands, Amira forgives Sayid. She tells him a story about rescuing her pet cat from a group of violent children, saying that every person is capable of cruelty. She, however, is strong enough to choose otherwise, so she lets Sayid go.
One popular theory about “Lost” is that characters on the show die as soon as they come full circle and reconcile with their past. I worried about that last night, as Sayid’s own moment of salvation could have spelled his death on the show. But he heads off into the jungle–with captive Mikhail in tow–and goes on to try and rescue his friend.
It’s not clear what will happen next as Sayid and company head further into the unfamiliar island. But for one episode, he got a semblance of peace because he was compassionate and fair. He showed mercy where none was deserved, which is significant for a guy who has spent far too many scenes getting shot and torturing others. It just goes to show that he really should be in charge.