For the last few episodes, we've been running in place. No one's made any attempt to find Michael or Walt; we're not making progress on that army. and about the only thing that's happened is that Locke and Jack now trust each other less. However, the seasons about to get a charge of adrenaline in 'One of Them', and the man who delivers it is Sayid.
Sayid has been a bystander the last few episodes, because he has been in mourning for Shannon. He has always felt like an outsider on the island; he is never regarded with the same respect that Jack or Locke is. In the flashback, which is arguably the most edifying of all season 2, we learn that he's always felt that way. The flashback is set in the end of the First Gulf War, after Baghdad is invaded. Sayid, looking younger and possessing an innocence we never though he had, was taken prisoner. (And though he is never identified by any of his officer, the man who takes charge is Sgt. Sam Austen, the man that Kate believed was her father. We see him looking at a picture of her in a scene near the end). We know that Sayid was a torturer; now we see that it was the Americans who taught him that particular skill. And he is young enough to feel disgust at his actions, and to swear he would never do it again. However, the man who instructs him (remember his face too) tells him now that he has a skill that he may need someday.
In the present, Sayid is greeting by another person we haven't seen for awhile--- Rousseau. Considering what she did last time, and how (which he points out) trust is an issue. Then we see why she's called for him--- she's captured someone she claims is an Other, and that he will lie to them for a very long time. Everything Rousseau tells Sayid about him eventually comes true, but we won't know why she knows this until Season 5.
The man that she captured calls himself Henry Gale, and that's what I'm going to call him for now. (I'm sure that everybody knows his identity, but nevertheless...) Sayid brings him to the hatch, and tells Locke. They dress the wounds that Rousseau has given him, but Sayid remains wary-- and decides to do what he deems necessary to get the truth. The scene of the interrogation and torture is far less polished than anything that you'd see on 24 or The Shield, but Sayid demonstrates (to Henry's shock) that he has not lost any of his abilities. Unlike those shows, Henry does not break, but Sayid leaves the scene convinced that he is an Other.
This leads the way to yet another Jack vs. Locke confrontation. Jack being a healer is loathe to do what is necessary, and Locke wants to see the evidence. This is completely opposite of their normal approaches--- but Jack finds a way to get past it--- the button. When the computer starts beeping, Jack overcomes Locke, and holds him, reminding him that he doesn't believe anything's going to happen.. Well, he lets Locke go a little late--- and for the first time, we start getting a hint of what might happen when the timer counts down to zero. Could this be the sign that it's for real? We don't yet know, and, judging from Locke's face, he doesn't want to find out. Jack and Locke end the episode trying to keep Henry out of sight, but not convinced that Henry's an other. Sayid is convinced but doesn't think he can explain to anyone why. So he turns to another outsider, Charlie, who was hung by his neck and left for dead by them less than a month ago. It's hard to figure out what Sayid sees in Charlie (this plotline, like a couple others in Season 2 doesn't really go anywhere) but he knows that the coming of Henry is important, and that the survivors need to prepare for something that's coming.
Even the comic subplot of the episode is pretty grim. Sawyer, yet again, is being trouble by nature--- this time he's being harassed by a tree frog. However, now that he's declared himself the 'new sheriff', nobody wants to help him. (And yet he seems surprised when Jin pointedly snubs him: 'We ain't friends no more?") Must like he handled the boar in Season 1, he takes offense to the frog. His assistant is pretty unlikely--- Hurley. Turns out that Hurley didn't give away all the food in 'Everybody Hates Hugo', and he has been binging quite a bit. Sawyer more or less blackmails him. It's hard to believe this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but it is--- Sawyer and Hurley will have a complicated relationship for the next two seasons. Sawyer continues to taunt Hurley, who again shows spine, and tells Sawyer to his face what an jerk he is. Again, Eventually, they run down the frog, but whereas he spared the boars life, Sawyer crushes the little guy. Ouch. Guess this signifies how hard-skinned he is, though he won't have developed iron until quite a bit later.
But this episode is really about two exceptional actors--- Naveen Andrews and Michael Emerson. Andrews ability is a known quantity, but for the last few episodes we've almost forgotten it. The scene where he is about to torture Tariq is shocking, even though we never see him actually do anything--- he just comes out looking older and literally with blood on his hands. He claims that he'll never do it again, but in this episode he seems to realize this and calls himself 'a torturer', as if he's accepted it. Emerson is equally impressive, especially if you've been watching the series. He seems like a frantic, afraid man from Minnesota, but there is something undefinable in his behavior that makes the viewer, not quite trust him. Later episodes will show that we have reason not to trust him.
At the end of 'One of Them', Locke reminds Sayid that Rousseau still thinks of the crash survivors as Others, and that she's still an outsider on an island full of people. So maybe is all relative. But then again, maybe Sayid is right And even if he isn't, there's a whole new set of problems coming.
My score: 9.7