I could have sworn that there was a new episode this week, but this looks an awful lot like old plotlines dressed for another airing. Sayid's the focus: we see him when he was just a young soldier in the first Gulf War, forced by his U.S. captors to torture his former commanding officer. So that's the origin of that. Rousseau's back, and she's captured someone she's convinced is an Other. This guy's story is that he was a rich dude who was on a balloon trip with his wife, and they crashed on Craphole Island, and she died. Sayid, who once decided to go on an island walkabout because he was so broken up about torturing Sawyer, tortures this guy and decides he is an Other, for a few reasons: a) he doesn't know exactly how many handfuls of dirt it took to bury his wife (Sayid still being in anguish over Shannon's death); b) the guy used past tense when Sayid thought he should have used present tense (so he kicks the crap out of him instead of just upping his warning level to twenty percent); and c) he feels no remorse whatsoever as to what he's done.
So Sayid tortures
Sawyer Balloon Man with Locke running interference on Jack, who threatens to let the timer count down to zero. Which it does, and it briefly flips to some red and black hieroglyphics before a panicked Locke can enter the numbers and reset it, while Jack's free to stop Sayid from stomping Balloon Man to death. There's some slight wiggle room as to whether the guy's lying or not, but what may have been a slight smile when Jack intervened seems to indicate that Sayid's instinct is right.
And what's up with the major power shift after Sawyer stole all the guns? You know, where you kind of thought that maybe they'd finally started to plan the story arcs from now until the rest of the season and you couldn't wait to see how this would play out? Well, um... actually, you'll have to wait a little while longer. Sawyer catches Hurley eating food pilfered from the hatch, and then they go hunt a
boar tree frog because it's really bothering Sawyer. I wish I were kidding.
If only guest star Clancy Brown could have cracked a few skulls, it could have been more entertaining.
Sure enough, there he is, being ordered to burn some files. The commanding officer is shouting morale-boosting slogans like "Stop again and I'll kill you myself!" and "We leave when I say!" Unfortunately, his Tony Robbins-esque pep talk is interrupted by U.S. soldiers busting down the door, pointing guns at the them, getting all up in they grills. Hilariously, while Sayid and the commander and some of the others get down on the floor, a couple of the soldiers continue to shred, seemingly having taken no notice whatsoever of the American army busting down the door.
One of the Americans asks who's in charge. The commander says nothing. Too bad Sayid LOOKING AT HIM gives him right away. The sergeant doesn't notice, and instead yells for the industrious paper-shredders to stop or else they're dead. One of his men actually questions that decision, so we know we're off in some kind of fantasy world here. Sayid fortunately prevents his comrades' slaughter, so the sergeant asks if he's in charge. Sayid says no, but doesn't give up his CO, saying that the commanding officer left a couple of hours ago. "Your English is good, Abdul," says the sergeant (and I briefly thought he said "Apu"), "but you're lying. And that ain't so good." He raises his rifle and smacks Sayid in the face with it.
We're in war-torn Iraq, some kind of prisoner compound, and I really would have hated to be the Hawaiian location scout for Lost looking for a place to film these scenes. Sayid's hauled out of the compound for another sergeant who has heard Sayid speaks English. "Son, we don't want to be here any more than you do. But your pal Saddam had to go marching into Kuwait..." says the sergeant, painting Gulf War I in ridiculously optimistic strokes. But what's important here is that this guy is, as it happens, also Kate's dad. Kate's dad asks if Sayid's ever done any translating. "Formally, no," says Sayid, and the sergeant chuckles. "Hell, the fact you know what 'formally' means, we're good," he says.
He says that an Apache helicopter went down in this sector two days ago, and their sources tell them the pilot was captured, and taken to the local Republican Guard intelligence commander, a man named Tariq. "He was our commanding officer!" says Sayid, who gives up info a little easily, if you ask me. Then he sort of redeems himself by lying and saying that when the bombing started, Tariq took off for Hillah, which is actually different from what he told the soldiers down at the shredding party earlier. "Hillah, huh?" says Kate's dad, and Sayid says that's right. So the sergeant motions to his men, who open a nearby garage door. "Welcome to Hillah," says Sergeant Dad, for there is Tariq. Guess they figured out who was in charge there. You got a bit of a tell, Sayid.
On Craphole Island, Sayid is washing himself at some makeshift basin that seems to have been set up as far away as possible from any of the Lostaways' camps for some reason. Ana-Lucia comes running up, and demands to know where Jack is. She's pretty pushy with the guy whose soul mate she Cheneyed not all that long ago. Sayid calmly asks her why she needs to know.