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The World Is a Smaller Place Now

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | March 23, 2009 |

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | March 23, 2009 |

“Namaste” is the ninth episode of the fifth season of “Lost,” meaning the season is more than half gone. Written by Paul Zbysxewski and Brian K. Vaughan and directed by Jack Bender, the episode is notable more for the gaps it fills in the island’s timeline than anything else; the big reveal at the end of the episode is played in the moment as a shocker, though what’s really important about it is how it will affect things going forward. I should also probably take this brief moment to remind everyone that I do, in fact, like this show, despite my occasional light jabs. It’s one of those great puzzle mystery genre soaps that pop up once every decade or so, and it’s a genuinely fun ride.

The episode opens with Ajira Flight 316 cruising gamely along in the middle of the night like it’s not heading for disaster. The Oceanic Six Minus Aaron are all sitting in their seats looking contemplative, while up in the cockpit, the co-pilot — who isn’t named, but is played by Dan Gauthier, who among other things was in “Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style,” which is now all I can think about — comments to pilot Frank Lapidus that he spotted a member of the Oceanic Six on board. He’s talking about Hurley, which yes, he’s a member of the Oceanic Six, but so are several other passengers. Hurley’s just the easiest body to remember, I guess. The co-pilot says Hurley must have nerves of steel to be flying once again over the South Pacific, to which Frank replies, “Well, maybe he doesn’t believe that lightning will strike twice in the same place.” Oh, Frank, you cunning little rogue. You know exactly what’s gonna happen. Sure enough, the plane starts to shake from turbulence, and yada yada yada, the white light raptures away Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid. When the light recedes, the plane is soaring through the daytime sky and losing power. The co-pilot tries to restart the engines as the clouds part to reveal the island getting really close in the window, and Frank throttles up and works the jetliner between the hills like a master. Also in this scene, a voice can be heard reciting the Numbers as the co-pilot radios for help, but I don’t know where they’re coming from; the original broadcast of the Numbers was found by a young Rousseau and replaced by her own distress signal in French. Coming up on the edge of the island, they spot what looks like a runway below them — this is what Sawyer and Kate were forced to work on when imprisoned by DHARMA a couple seasons back — and Frank begins to take her down. There’s an unfortunately cartoonish shot of the underside of the plane as he begins to pilot her down to the ground, but they eventually touch down, and Frank shouts out for the co-pilot to engage the reverse thrusters, which I thought only existed on the Milennium Falcom but apparently are real. The plane rockets down the short runway, and Frank realizes there won’t be enough room left for the plane to stop. The plane smashes into the jungle as the screen cuts to black.

Some time later, Frank awakens in a daze, still strapped into his seat. Wiping blood from his forehead, he looks over to see that the co-pilot has been impaled Reaver-style by a branch that plunged through the front window and pinned him to his chair, killing him. Frank grabs a flashlight and manages to work his way back to the main cabin, where Caesar is attempting to revive Ilana. “Jarrah?” she asks, unsure of what’s happening, but as she opens her eyes, she sees that it’s Caesar, who explains about the accident. Ilana looks to her left and sees that Sayid has indeed vanished, and when she tries to stand, she stumbles to her knees. Caesar helps her back into her seat as Frank staggers by, spotting Sun. The two former residents of the island help each other to the aisle, and Frank looks around and wonders aloud what happened to Jack and the rest. “They’re gone,” a man says, and Frank turns to see Ben standing there looking as creepy as ever. Frank asks where they went, but Ben just shrugs and says, “How would I know?” How about because you can summon the smoke monster, you murderous little guy. You know a lot more than you will ever let on.

Thirty years in the past — and it’s important to remember that these shifts aren’t between locations or worlds, but from the present to the past in the same place — Kate is exiting the DHARMA van and looking at Sawyer with a mix of longing, regret, and possibly a sublimated desire to project her abandonment issues onto him and ruin his life. (The title card that establishes the time period also is a reminder that, though Ajira 316 did go through some kind of time flash, it stayed in 2008.) Sawyer stares back like he thinks this might be a good idea. Hurley drops his guitar case, runs up, and excited gives Sawyer a big hug, shouting, “You’re alive! Dude!” Sawyer says, “Easy on the ribs there, Kong,” and Hurley says he actually missed Sawyer’s nicknames. Sawyer and Jack have a not totally unpleasant moment where they shake hands, then Sawyer and Kate share a friendly but business-like hug as each says how good it is to see the other. Jack looks down for a moment, possibly working through whatever potential feelings he may have for the brunette wingnut that jumped his bones the night before. Sawyer gets excited as he talks about how Locke actually succeeded in his quest, and asks where the older man is, but Jack hangs his head and informs Sawyer that Locke is dead. (Well, in 30 years, he’ll be resurrected on Hydra Island, but what can you do.) Sawyer is stunned by the news and asks how it happened, but Jack just echoes the same sentiment Sawyer used to push through his own losses three years earlier: “It doesn’t matter. He’s gone.” Hurley finally asks why Sawyer and Jin are decked out in DHARMA gear, and after Sawyer and Jin have a quick little Lenny and Squiggy moment of “I thought you were gonna tell them,” Sawyer confesses that he’s officially a DHARMA member. Jack, understandably not quite getting it, asks if DHARMA came back to the island, but Sawyer replies, “No, we came back. And so did you.” Then he lets the other shoe drop: “It’s 1977.” Hurley’s response is the most rational: “Uh, what?”

A few minutes later, Jack is pacing as he confirms that Sawyer has been waiting for three years, and Kate tells Sawyer that’s how long it’s been since they parted in the chopper. Jin’s walkie lets out a call from Miles, asking their location, and Jin reminds Sawyer that if they don’t check in soon, a patrol will be sent out. Hurley, who’s on a roll in the reunion scene, responds with, “Dude, your English is awesome.” Sawyer, thinking on his feet, tells Jin they need to bring their friends back to the Barracks since they can’t go traipsing around the jungle with the Hostiles. Kate seems a little thrown by the term, which is weird, since she was there for the same three months most everyone else was, and you’d think they’d have shared stories. Hurley says other people from the plane could still be out there, which tips the Six’s hand, as Jack admits to Jin that Sayid, Frank, and Sun were on the plane. This is all Jin needs to hear to scamper over to the jeep, despite Sawyer’s warnings to stay so they can figure out what to do. Jin hops in the car and says he’s heading to the Flame to check with Radzinsky to see if any plane has landed on the island, which (a) bad idea plus (b) DID YOU SEE A PLANE JIN NO YOU DID NOT. Sawyer’s in the right on this one, and Jin should know just as well as anyone that bombing around the island looking for Sun, even after three years of gainful DHARMA employment, is likely to raise some eyebrows. But with MercutioMichael dead and Claire chillaxin’ in the ghost cabin, I guess the show needed someone new to go charging wildly into the jungle to look for a loved one. So Jin speeds off as Sawyer tells the trio to hang tight on the shore while he figures out how to explain where they came from. Kate steps up and asks, “Other than you and Jin, who else is still here?” Sawyer’s face says it all, but the only possible answer is a smash cut to Juliet.

Juliet walks into the security station where Miles is douchily not monitoring anything, and she asks him if he’s seen Sawyer, to which he replies that he hasn’t. She sounds a little worried as she talks about how Sawyer got a call from Jin that morning but hasn’t been around, so Miles walks over to the monitor bank and decides to help out. They see Sawyer pull up to his house, which cuts to Sawyer rifling through his closet, looking for clothes. Juliet walks in and asks what the hell is going on, but Sawyer can only say, “They’re back.” When Sawyer explains who he’s talking about, Juliet looks shocked and a little scared. Sawyer tells Juliet he doesn’t understand their friends’ return any more than she does, but he adds, “I gotta find a way to bring them in before somebody else finds them and they screw up everything we got here.” This is an important line because it underscores just how much Sawyer et al. have achieved in three years, moving forward and adopting different lives even as Sawyer maintained his vigil for his missing friends. But the Oceanic Six have just spun their wheels. The moment also gets to Sawyer’s concern for his life and his commitment to working from a plan, a theme that runs throughout the episode. When Sawyer says he has to figure out what to do, Juliet reminds him that there’s a sub coming in that afternoon.

Out at the Flame — destroyed in the episode “Enter 77,” when it was run by Mikhail — Jin pulls up and grabs his rifle before sprinting inside, where Radzinsky is working on a model of a geodesic dome and muttering to himself like a crazy person who would kill time building a geodesic dome. The model is being constructed on a set of blueprints; it’s the Swan station, the first one discovered by the castaways when the hatch is blown open. Jin busts in and bolts to the control room off the main area, where he starts fiddling with a monitor array and checking printouts. Radzinsky pretty much loses his shit, telling Jin to keep his hands off the technical stuff. “I thought you learned English,” Radzinsky says, which is another awesome way to make friends. Jin tells him he needs to check the radar logs to see if a plane landed on the island. Radzinsky is rightly dubious and reminds Jin that if a plane had landed, Radzinsky would probably have told people about it. Jin asks Radzinsky to check with the other stations, and Radzinsky starts to blow him off again, but Jin grabs the guy by the collar and shoves him against the wall, repeating his request. Radzinsky caves, but he pushes his chair around in valiant protest as he radios the other DHARMA stations to ask if anyone has seen a plane land recently. He asks Jin why the phantom plane is so important, and Jin, who can’t tell the truth and is in no way prepared to lie with any conviction, simply says, “It just is.”

Back in 2008, Sun stands on the beach, fidgeting with Jin’s wedding band. Ilana comes up and asks if she lost someone, since Sun looks like she’s searching for someone, but Sun says she was traveling alone. A few feet away, amid some dazed survivor and recovered luggage, Frank calls everyone to attention and gives them the sitrep: The radio’s dead, but he thinks everyone should “hunker down” and wait for help to come when people realize Ajira 316 has gone missing. While he’s talking the camera pans the group of Ajira survivors, one of whom is played by Brad Henke, whose credits include “Dexter” and the rapey Christian Patrick on “Sports Night.” He doesn’t say anything, but it’s a lock he shows back up in future episodes for something. Frank wraps his speech, but Caesar jumps up and asks where they are. When Frank says it’s not on his charts, Caesar suggests getting new ones, since he’s already spotted buildings and animal cages nearby, as well as a bigger island across the water. While Frank and Caesar square off for temporary control of the group, Ben, who’s been sitting in the shade, quietly stands and scuttles off into the jungle. Sun sees him go and sets out in pursuit, stumbling after Ben as he cuts through the wild. She loses him only to have him reappear creepily behind her, and he asks why she’s following him. She responds with her own question, asking where he’s going. “Back to our island,” Ben says like he’s talking to a slow child. “You wanna come?” We know Sun will say yes, and that she and Frank will take off in a boat and that Ben will be left behind for Locke to find, but what the hell, it’s still a fun little moment.

Back at the Barracks, Juliet walks up to Amy, who’s sleeping in a hammock with a crib by the side. Juliet reaches down quietly to pick up a clipboard from a small table, since Amy apparently takes her paperwork with her during naptime, but Amy wakes up. Juliet is almost away when Amy calls her name, and Juliet rolls with the punches like a pro and tells Amy she just came to get the sub manifest, and that Amy should take it easy. Amy helpfully tells Juliet that two of the recruits washed out because they didn’t want to take the sedative. Juliet bends over the crib and picks up the baby, which looks like every other baby in the history of babies, and asks Amy if the kid has a name yet. Amy says she and Horace want to name the baby Ethan, news Juliet also takes in stride. It’s a nice little moment, since now we know who Ethan’s parents are, but it’s also kind of pointless for now, since unless there’s a connection to Horace or Amy that’s later revealed, who cares how Ethan got to the island? Amy asks Juliet when she and Sawyer are going to have a kid, but rather than discourse on personal responsibility or the desire not to create a mewling little life form that will grow up to hate her, Juliet just says that the timing has to be right. Juliet takes the clipboard and walks away.

Back out at the shore, Jack, Kate, and Hurley are still hanging out. Kate asks if the woman who told Jack how to get back to the island mentioned the whole time travel thing, but Jack says she “left that part out.” Sawyer pulls up in the van and frantically begins distributing clothes as he explains that the threesome will be posing as the second batch of recruits coming in off the submarine that’s pulling into port at that moment. Jack asks how the cover story will work, and Sawyer tells him that everyone gets knocked out before the trip, so they all meet each other on the island at in-processing. Jack says they should be looking for the rest of the people from the plane, but Sawyer says Jin will find it if it exists, and that disguising themselves as new recruits is the only hope Jack and the others have of making it; another group isn’t due for six months. Jack polls Kate and Hurley, who side with Sawyer. With that, they get ready to move.

Down at the Flame, Jin is pacing in front of the bank of monitors — one of which is playing “The Muppet Show,” so do with that what you will — when Radzinsky tells him that every station has checked in and none reported seeing a plane. A small alarm goes off, and Radzisnky shoves Jin aside as he approaches the instrument panel and finds that a motion sensor alarm was tripped in grid 325. He reasons it’s a Hostile inside the perimeter, which is all the prompting Jin needs to once again go tear-assing off into the jungle with his rifle. Weaving through the tall grass, he sees a figure dart by a few meters away, and he closes the distance to find Sayid standing there, luscious man-locks looking considerably swampy after his brush with death and rapture back through time. The men have a happy moment of reunion as Jin asks Sayid if he’s seen Sun, but he replies that he doesn’t know where she is. Before they get further, Radzinsky catches up and raises his rifle at Sayid, and Jin switches into DHARMA mode, bringing his A-game in hopes of faking out Radzinsky. Jin raises his weapon and tells Sayid to hit his knees and shut up, lest he be killed.

Meanwhile, Sawyer is driving Jack, Kate, and Hurley across the island like he’s leading a field trip. Hurley brings up that everybody in DHARMA, you know, dies a horrible death by gassing before being dumped into a mass grave, but Sawyer doesn’t seem too fazed. Hurley asks if he plans to stop the group killing, but Sawyer responds that he’s “not here to play Nostradamus,” plus Faraday has “some interesting theories” about what can and can’t be changed. Jack, who’s sitting in the back seat wearing Donnie Brasco’s polo shirt, leans forward at the name and says, “Did you say Faraday? He’s here?” Sawyer drops one of this week’s requisite mysteries when he cryptically replies, “Not anymore.” I guess that answer somehow satisfies the group, or at any rate, they don’t get a chance to ask about it before stops the van in the Barracks courtyard beneath a banner that reads, “Welcome new recruits.” People are walking around in denim jackets looking groovy, and Blues Image’s “Ride Captain Ride” is playing on the stereo. Everybody piles out in front of a building bearing the sign “Processing Center” as Sawyer distributes leis and informs them that Juliet has rigged it so that their names will be on the list. All that Jack and the others have to do is watch the indoctrination video, get their jumpsuits and work assignments, and try to look casual. Hurley worries that they might have to answer questions like who’s president in 1977 — duh, Taft — but Sawyer grins a little as he says it’s not a game show, and that everything will be fine. They queue up to head inside, but as they’re walking, Miles come driving douchily up in his own van, hopping out and calling out for “LaFleur” and complaining douchily that he hasn’t been able to get the guy on his walkie. Jack, Hurley, and Kate turn to cast looks at Miles, who douchily breaks character as he not-too-quietly asks Sawyer what they’re doing there. Sawyer smoothes it over and walks Miles back to the van as he asks what the problem is. Miles says it’s Jin, and that there’s a “14-J” at the Flame. Sawyer radios Jin, who says he and Radzinsky found a Hostile in the jungle. Out at the Flame, Jin watches Radzinsky lock Sayid in the pantry, and Jin slips outside to tell Sawyer that the Hostile is actually Sayid, and they found him alone.

Back in 2008, Sun and Ben are trekking through the jungle like they aren’t mortal enemies or anything. Ben tells Sun that they’re about to come on three outriggers, one of which he plans to take one back to the main island, and that she can come along to help row or stay behind. He takes his arm out of the sling and feels the joint, but the island’s healing powers seem to be working, since he looks fine. Sun asks if Jin is on the main island, to which Ben replies, “Honestly, I don’t know. But that’s where I’d start looking.” Now, any time Ben uses the word “honestly,” it’s a safe bet he’s lying, but Sun is smart enough to know this. Just then, Frank catches up to them, calling out for Sun but not returning Ben’s calm, eerie little, “Hello, Frank.” Ben is like Buster Bluth with his constant greetings. Frank asks Sun what she’s doing, and she tells him of Ben’s boat and plan to return to the main island, admitting that she doesn’t want to trust him, but has to out of circumstance. A few moments later, they’re at the beach, where Ben finds three outriggers partially hidden by palm fronds. Sun walks to the boat as Ben clears it off, and Frank warns her that Ben is more dangerous than she knows. “That boat I came here on — it was filled with commandos whose only mission was to get him,” Frank says. Ben pipes up, “How’d that work out for everyone?” Well, Ben, they killed your daughter, so it wasn’t exactly awesome. Sun asks Frank to join them, but he says he has to stay and watch after the passengers. Ben seems to almost respect this, so he tells Frank that there’s a dock on the other island due south, and a road that leads to “a town” where Ben used to live. (Sure, the Barracks is pretty gutted by now, but it’s still better than the beach.) But before Ben can finish giving instructions, Sun steps up and clubs him over the head with an oar, knocking his ass out cold. “I thought you trusted this guy,” Frank said. “I lied,” Sun says, almost completely devoid of emotion. If only her willingness to turn on someone could help Jin travel through time.

In 1977, Jack and Kate are watching the indoc video in the processing center, which features Marvin Candle/Pierre Chang advising the new recruits to stay within the confines of their new living quarters and to keep an eye out for the sonar fence designed to keep out the island’s “abundant and diverse wildlife.” Creepy Phil calls out Jack’s name from a clipboard before guiding him to the uniform station, where Jack sits in front Dr. Chang himself. Chang is annoyed that he can’t find Jack’s file, but he chalks it up to bureaucratic disorganization. He shakes it off and extends his hand and a “Namaste” greeting, and it looks like Jack’s gonna get out of this with nothing but that “Party of Five” smile, but then Chang asks, “Who was your shuttle driver?” You can almost see Jack (not unreasonably) thinking, “What the hell does it matter?” But instead he stalls for a few beats before saying it was LaFleur. Chang checks off a few forms and finds an index card with Jack’s work assignment on it, saying he’s been assigned to the Shed as he grabs a jumpsuit and boots for Jack. I really, really wanted Jack to ask for something in a low-rise bikini, preferably mesh, but instead Jack spots the “Workman” label on the breast pocket and asks for an explanation. Chang says that based on Jack’s aptitude test, he’ll be doing janitorial work. Good one, Sawyer! On the other side of the room, Kate is idly pacing when Creepy Phil comes up and says hi, asking her name so he can check it off his list. Creepy Phil checks his pages and says that Kate’s not on his list or the sub manifest, and he goes right into serious mode when he asks who her recruiter is. Kate stalls with a clever “Um,” but she’s saved when Juliet appears in the doorway and tells Creepy Phil she’s got the new list from Amy complete with last-minute additions, including Kate. The guy is satisfied and walks away, and then Kate and Juliet make their introductions like they haven’t been chasing the same man back and forth between them for years.

Out at the Flame, Sawyer pulls up to find Jin waiting nervously outside. Jin explains that Sayid just came walking out of the jungle in handcuffs, but that he hasn’t been able to get any information out of him with Radzinsky refusing to leave them alone. They head inside, and Radzinsky tells Sawyer that the newcomer is locked in the storage room and that he very well could have seen the model of the Swan or the survey of its intended location. Radzinsky, showing the genuine spark of the insanity that Kelvin Inman claims made the man take his own life, says the Hostile can be taken care of if they just shoot him. Sawyer says he appreciates Radzinsky’s input but would like to talk to the guy before they decide on execution, and he has Radzinsky hand over the keys, which he tosses to Jin who frees Sayid. Sayid makes eye contact with Sawyer when he emerges and has a genuine moment of “you have got to be kidding me” before concealing his emotions as he’s pushed into a chair. Sawyer launches into a speech about being head of security, all for the benefit of Radzinsky, and tells Sayid that he has to identify himself as a Hostile or be shot, according to the terms of the truce. Sayid, who totally remembers his notes from freshman drama, does a yes-and, saying, “We do not refer to ourselves as ‘Hostile,’ but yes, I am one of them.” Sawyer pulls Sayid to his feet and begins to lead him out, telling Radzinsky that they’re taking him to the Barracks, which makes Radzinsky start whining again. The guy says Sawyer is making a “huge mistake” and that he’s going to talk directly to Horace about this. Sawyer calls his bluff and tells him to talk to Horace all he wants, then turns and leaves, and Radzinsky follows.

Back in 2008, Sun and Frank have crossed the water and are docking at the main island, which in addition to being inhabited by a smoke monster is now deserted and just plain terrifying at night. They make their way up the pier, Frank with his flashlight drawn, and sure enough, they catch a glimpse of what looks like the smoke monster screwing around in the bushes ahead of them. “Whoa,” Frank says. “Tell me you saw that.” Sun, selective about her denial, says it’s probably “just an animal,” which Frank isn’t buying. They arrive at the Barracks, where they see the sign from the Processing Center dangling by one chain, like the killer pushed it with his knife as he walked by. Sun and Jin look behind them to see a light come on in a nearby building, and instead of screaming and running like anyone with any sense, they just stand there and watch as the door creaks open to reveal a shadowy figure. (This is the part where Kenneth held my hand.) But it’s only Christian, who still wears his shirts dirty and buttoned to the collar. He even introduces himself, and Sun says she’s looking for her husband, and asks if Christian knows where he is. Christian looks down for a moment, then back at her, and says, “Follow me.” He leads them into the dusty, broken-down Processing Center, heading right for a wall adorned with a series of framed group photos. Sun asks again where her husband is, and Christian plucks the photo from 1977 off the wall, wipes off some of the grime, and hands it to her, saying, “He’s with your friends.” She looks at the photo and sees, among others, Hurley, Kate, and Jack decked out in DHARMA jumpsuits. “I’m sorry,” Christian says, “but you have a bit of a journey ahead of you.” This is wonderfully ominous and could mean all sorts of interesting things for Sun and Frank. (On an unrelated note, right after Christian speaks, the camera cuts back to Sun and pushes in a bit, and over her left shoulder, on the right side of the frame, you can see what looks like a woman turn her head in the dark. It’s frightening and weird, and is probably just a P.A. that couldn’t hold still, but it adds to the creepiness of the scene.)

The photo transitions the episode back to 1977, where the new recruits half-heartedly say “Namaste” as they get their picture taken. Creepy Phil steps in and tells everyone to be sure and review their security protocols, and to also help themselves to burgers and punch. Creepy Phil sucks at hosting. Anyway, as the group breaks up, Sawyer radios in and says he’s coming in with a 14-J, and as Sawyer pulls up, Creepy Phil asks the group to hold back because of a “minor security situation.” Jin and Radzinsky lead Sayid around the van, and he of course has that weird moment of eye contact with Jack, Kate, and Hurley, so at least he knows he’s not alone among the Ajira 316 survivors. Hurley hits the deadpan: “I guess we found Sayid.” Inside the security station, Sawyer and Creepy Phil lead Sayid into a cell, and Sawyer tells Phil to bring Sayid some food. “We’re not savages,” he says. Sawyer shuts the cell door and gives Sayid a slight nod, a realistic way for him to acknowledge his friend without overplaying the card.

Later that night, Jack is cruising the sidewalk when he passes Phil and asks for directions to James LaFleur’s house. Phil points to his right and says LaFleur lives there, and Jack gets maybe 10 feet away when Phil calls out, “But I wouldn’t call him ‘James.’ … He hates it.” Jack nods and turns, and Creepy Phil stops smiling as he watches him go. Dude. Jack knocks on the door and is blown away when Juliet answers; he even gasps a little. They hug, and he apologizes for not figuring out a way to say hello when he saw her at the Processing Center, but she says it’s okay because they weren’t supposed to know each other anyway. Jack says he was looking for Sawyer but must be at the wrong house, but Juliet says he’s right and invites him in. The tiniest look of confusion darts across his face as he steps inside and starts to put it together, and it’s the beginning of a fantastic interchange that sees Jack and Sawyer begin to redefine their roles and the way they relate to each other. Jack finds Sawyer sitting in the living room and reading, and as Jack stands there in his dorky jumpsuit, you can almost feel the balance of power shift to the guy calmly sitting with a book, the guy that took the girl you never knew you didn’t want to leave behind. Juliet excuses herself as Jack and Sawyer silently work through all this, and it really starts to hit home when Sawyer says, “What can I do for you, Jack?” Jack’s now the new guy, the one who needs help or approval, and Sawyer is running the show. Jack asks about Sayid, and Sawyer says he had to “improvise,” since Sayid was caught in the jungle and would’ve been harmed since he can’t very well admit how he got there. Sawyer reassures Jack that Sayid is safe for the moment, which is all that matters, and that he’s working on what to do next. “Really?” Jack says. “Because it looked to me like you were reading a book.” Bad idea, Jack. Don’t be a smartass to the guy that saved your life just because you don’t get to hold the conch. Sawyer smiles a little as he tells Jack that Churchill read every night, even during the Blitz, and claimed it helped him think better. “It’s how I like to run things,” Sawyer says. “I think. I’m sure that doesn’t mean that much to you, ‘cause back when you were calling the shots, you pretty much just reacted. See, you didn’t think, Jack, and as I recall, a lot of people ended up dead.” It’s a fantastic smackdown not just because there’s truth to it but because it drives home just how much has changed in three years, and how Jack might have to take a backseat to Sawyer, who’s got more time on the island, more knowledge of DHARMA, and the willingness to be patient before enacting a plan. This is the intelligent Sawyer of the old days, and it’s good to have him back. He was scrambling after Locke left, but he seems to be up and running now. Jack counters, “I got us off the island,” but he really only got a handful of people off the island, and they aren’t doing well. Sawyer just sighs and says, “But here you are, right back where you started.” Sawyer stands to guide Jack out, saying it was thinking that saved Jack’s ass and thinking that will save Sayid’s the next day. “Let me do what I do,” Sawyer says. Jack walks away, and Sawyer steps out onto the porch to watch him go, then turns his attention to the next house over, where Kate is standing on her own porch. (All she does is pace. Everywhere she goes.) They exchange an awkward little wave, and it’s clear Sawyer is just totally whipped and ready for another bite of bad cake, and then he turns away and heads inside.

Over at the security station, Creepy Phil is monitoring things when a kid with brown hair and glasses walks in and says he’s there to deliver a sandwich. It’s totally obvious who the kid is, but the episode still does its best to milk the moment. The kid walks into the cell are and passes the brown paper bag to Sayid through the bars, and Sayid thanks him for the meal. The boy asks if Sayid is a Hostile; Sayid, unable to tell the truth and unwilling to lie too much too soon, simply says, “Do you think I am?” The kid tries a different tack, asking for his name, so Sayid introduces himself and then asks for the boy’s name in return. “I’m Ben,” the kid says. Sayid gets points for not falling over or trying to strangle the kid. Instead, he replies, “It’s nice to meet you, Ben.”

And that’s the episode. It was a pretty solid installment overall, but the best moment was the inversion of the Jack/Sawyer dynamic at the end. But of course, now we know that young Ben was on the island by 1977, which leads to some interesting questions. Did the adult Ben remember Sayid, Jack, Hurley, Kate, Sawyer, et al. when he saw them again as an adult, and they met him for the first time? It would be an easy retcon to make to say that he did, since Ben doesn’t let on to much in the first place, plus Charles Widmore remembered Locke after 50 years even though he only met him for a few hours. Also, in Season Two, Michael was told to bring Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley to the Others’ camp if he wanted to rescue Walt; did Ben request those four people because he’d met them as a boy and wanted to know how their fates intertwined? Also, where the hell are Rose and Bernard? They should have kept making the time jumps, which would mean they stopped in 1974 and have been living on the island for three years; are they with the Others? Also, it’s possible that Ben will now have “always” met Sayid as a boy, meaning Sayid was always fated to go back in time from a future point. But what happens if Ben gets sucked back in time and sees himself? (Okay, that won’t happen.) And what happened to Faraday? Is he dead, or is he with the Others? Speaking of the Others, what are they up to in 2008? Do they have anyone on Hydra Island to start screwing with the 316 survivors, or will we run into them on the main island? And just what kind of journey do Sun and Frank have ahead of them? If Christian tries to push them down a well and make them turn the frozen time wheel, I’m going to be upset.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.