And today we learn member number four of the Oceanic 6--- Sayid. And we also see that fate doesn't seem to have been much kinder for him than Jack or Hurley.
Sayid is about the only character who's come to an epiphany about himself and not died. This goes to one of the larger theories about the island being purgatory, considering that when a character comes to a realization about themselves, they die very soon after. It was true of Shannon, Ana Lucia, and Charlie, and to a certain extent Eko. Sayid has come to the realization that he is a torturer, and as much as he wants to leave that part of his life behind him, the island has not let him. Because these skills have come in useful in the mentality of this land, he hasn't been able to give it up--- witness 'Henry Gale'. The one thing that stops him from being a cold-blooded killer is the fact that he is very passionate, and loves deeply and completely, usually to the detriment of himself..
In 'The Economist' we see that even though he will make it off the island, he will not be able to shed his killer mentality. Just like before, he's become a cold-blooded assassin, only unlike his time in the Republican Guard or on the island, we don't know why he's killing. He has no problem going after Elsa in the biggest part of his flashforward, but he doesn't seem to notice that she's conning him right back. The second she begins talking about love, he gets all doe-eyed again, and for his trouble he nearly gets killed. The scene in which he shoots Elsa sums up his dual nature about as well as anything else we've seen on the show --- he recovers from the sudden attack, distracts her and shoots her twice. Then he walks over to her, holds her, and closes her eyes. His heart keeps getting in his way.
We learn a couple of more secrets while we're on the island. Frank tells Sayid he will fly him back if he rescues Charlotte from Locke's people. Sayid once again takes charge, and brings Miles and Kate back with him to the barracks. He then points out that none of these freighter folk seem particularly attached to each other, or interested in helping the people on the island. But he runs up against a stone wall when Miles refuses to give answers
What they don't know is Locke's leadership is a lot shakier than he'd let on. He is unable to find the cabin, and get instructions, and though he tries to shrug it off, it's clear that he's shaken by it. He manages to regroup in order to pull off a mini-con of his own, this time using Hurley, the one castaway who seems unable to tell a lie. But it turns out even Hurley is capable of lying when it comes to preserving his own interests. And speaking of self-interest, Kate seems more than willing to go back to the bunkers in order to protect her. She has a long conversation with Sawyer, in which he finally reminds her that the only thing she has to look forward to on the mainland is a long prison term (Turns out she doesn't, but then James doesn't have the flashforwards.) It's an interesting reversal--- Sawyer, who made the biggest effort to leave during season 1, now has no interest in doing so, and Kate is going on even though supposedly she has nothing to look forward to bur a life in an orange jumpsuit.
This episode also provided a couple of bigger shocks in relating to time. Daniel--- who seems a little more together, but still hyper active-- runs an experiment in which he tries to get a payload to their destination. The payload does make its target, but when it does show up, it's half an hour behind the real island. Is the island somehow held in some kind of time warp? This would seem a real possibility. After all, Miles had a picture of Ben that he shouldn't have been able to get if he never left the island. And now it seems that, just like Richard, he's been leaving the island at will for years, and there's a very real possibility that he's time-traveling to do it. Does this have something to do with the electromagnetic energy we know pervades the island? We're going to start getting some pretty big hints that this is more than possible.
Of course, the biggest shock of all comes in the episodes final minutes. Sayid returns with Charlotte, having traded her for Miles. Locke seems more than willing to make a deal when he thought Sayid was acting in the island best interest rather than leaving. Kate decides to stay behind for reasons of her own (we'll find them out in the next episode) And even though Sayid kind of cheating, Frank is more than willing to leave Miles behind--- clearly he can't stand the man's sniping either. He agrees to take Desmond as well, even though he tells him point blank that he's never met Penelope. As they take off, there's the kind of soaring music that would seem to indicate that Sayid has left it all behind. But then he goes to a vet's to get his bullet wounded treat--- and we meet his boss, Ben. Even though he clearly says that "the day I start trusting him is the day I sell my soul", one may remember that maybe Sayid has been battered enough by life to feel that he no longer has a soul to sell. Now there's another list, and he's more than willing to serve Ben. He says he doing it to protect his friends, which is doubly ironic considering how determined Ben was to keep them down on the island. Ben is still a master manipulator, whether tied up in a game room, or talking casually about the death of the woman who Sayid loved, even if that love was fraudulent on both sides. It seems that Sayid, like Jack and Hurley, can not leave the island behind.
Any episode that features Naveen Andrews in the lead is always encouraging, because he seems to be the one shrouded in darkness. He is more than up the task in this episode. Ken Leung continues to demonstrate his general snarkiness when dealing with, well, everybody (after he degrades Hurley, he responds by saying : "Great. They sent us another Sawyer." And there are some very intriguing possibilities raises by this episode, yet this episode doesn't seem quite as engaging when its away from Sayid. We do, however, get the sense that even though he's tied up, Ben is still somehow calling the shots, but this doesn't surprise us either. It's also hard to understand why Daniel and Charlotte seem so determined to stay behind, but we won't figure that out for awhile. We seem to be moving forward when the chopper takes off, but soon we're going to find out that this island makes it hard for anybody to come and go. We're about to get a real idea of what that means.
My score: 8.5