Lost: Enter 77
(S03E11) Now that was an episode! Writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse deserve serious kudos for achieving such a perfect balance of plot and character development. "Enter 77" combined action and humor, and utilized a majority of the cast instead of focusing on a core group of characters. We learned the identity of Eye Patch Guy, and he just might be my new favorite character.
Was it just me, or did it seem like there were fewer flashback scenes in this episode? I actually thought that the presentation of Sayid's flashback proved that less is more with regard to character back story. There were no filler moments, just a close examination of Sayid's time in Paris. While posing as a cook named Najeev, Sayid was set up and held captive by one of his former torture victims.
Amira had been falsely accused of harboring an enemy of the state, her arms permanently scarred by hot oil used during her interrogation. Part of me did not want Amira and Sami's accusations to be true, but Sayid's tearful confession was moving. I genuinely hope that Naveen Andrews gets more screen time, because his performances are always memorable. Amira ultimately forgave and freed Sayid, but he may have learned more about mercy from her cat, which mysteriously ended up in the Flame station.
The ping pong scenes were hilarious, and it's nice to know that Lost episodes can include both drama and levity, instead of just one or the other. Jin discovered a ping pong table during his search for firewood, and the survivors determined that it came from the now-destroyed hatch. Ever the opportunist, Sawyer saw the game as a chance to get "his" stuff back (according to Sawyer, it was his when he stole it). He challenged the beach group to a game, with some pretty high stakes. If Sawyer won, he would get "his" stuff back; if he lost, no nicknames for a week.
He lost, of course, to Hurley and his Forrest Gump-like ping pong skills. I hope that Sawyer's penalty extends through the rest of Season Three, because I am on nickname overload after the last few episodes. The man can certainly pout like nobody's business, though. Even after Hurley returned some of Sawyer's "reading materials," the con man was unable to show a little gratitude. You're welcome, James.
The Flame Station
After following Locke's bearings for two days, the jungle group (Sayid, Kate, Locke, and Danielle) came upon a high-tech farmhouse, complete with cattle and a satellite dish. The farmer was none other than Eye Patch Guy from "The Cost of Living," also known as Mikhail Bakunin (see below for the significance of his name). Mikhail claimed to be "the last living member of the DHARMA Initiative, a rogue member who had refused to take part in a war with the hostiles. DHARMA supposedly lost "The Purge," and Mikhail was offered a truce by the hostiles.
The Flame Station was as well-equipped as The Swan, containing furniture, DHARMA liquor, ammunition, and a chess-playing computer. Amira's cat was also a resident of The Flame, and Sayid learned that it was named Nadia, after the famous gymnast. On a side note, I thought Amira mentioned that the cat was male--why give it a female name? The only down side to The Flame was that the satellite dish was broken, and the station was wired with explosives.
Sayid demonstrated his brilliance once again by deducing that Mikhail was not a DHARMA member, and that he was not alone in The Flame. Kate and Sayid were able to subdue Mikhail after an impressive fight sequence. The Others might not be the best liars, but they do know how to fight. Anyone who can hold his own against a violent fugitive and an Iraqi torturer is pretty awesome in my book. Where was Locke during the fight, you ask? Playing chess on the computer. That's right, playing chess.
Apparently Locke did not learn his lesson from the first DHARMA computer, because he kept playing chess with the Flame computer until it led him to the Manual Override. I like computer games, too, but I think that the discovery of a new DHARMA station and an Other are more pressing matters than setting up one's own personal War Games scenario. Even when charged with watching Mikhail, Locke couldn't keep his eyes off the game. What is going on with Locke this season? His actions used to make sense to me; now I just want to scream at him.
During Locke's chess match, Kate and Sayid found a familiar Other hiding under the trap door: little ol' Ms. Klugh. Kate scored one for the beach survivors when she punched out her former captor, but the victory was short. Mikhail had already taken Locke hostage, and a standoff ensued. Klugh, speaking Russian to her colleague, apparently ordered her own death, but left no contingency plan for Mikhail. The Other was left at the mercy of Sayid, Kate, Locke, and Danielle. After some discussion, Sayid decided to let Mikhail live, but only to accompany them to the Others' camp. Unlike Locke, Sayid made good use of his time in The Flame, and found a map to The Barracks.
Locke, deciding that one screw-up per episode was not enough, actually performed the Manual Override. I am not sure why he believed Mikhail's "hostiles" story even after Mikhail was exposed as an Other, but he did. Locke followed Dr. Marvin Candle's video instructions and entered 77, which caused The Flame Station and all of its communication capabilities to explode. Strange game, Locke. I guess the only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of backgammon?
A few thoughts:
Was anyone else suspicious of Danielle's motives when she ditched Sayid, Kate, and Locke outside The Flame?
I hope there are some Lost fans who are fluent in Russian, because I am curious about the Russian documents found in the station.
Add another name to the list of Lost's philosophy references. Mikhail Bakunin was a Russian revolutionary, credited as one of the fathers of modern anarchism.
See you next week for "Par Avion," the Claire-centric episode!