Lost Recaps S1E9: Solitary

by thethreepennyguignol

You know, I’ve been looking forward to this episode a lot. 

The last nine weeks, since I started these ill-advised recaps, the entire world has gone to shit. I’m not saying that re-watching Lost in 2020 has caused the fabric of reality to break and the world to begin an avaricious attempt to consume itself, but the evidence speaks for itself. But, quantum pessimism aside, I’ve been so ready to have a whole episode based around Sayid.

Sayid, to me, has just been the abject and obvious stand-out of Lost so far. Whenever Sayid’s not on screen, all the other characters should be asking, “where’s Sayid?”. Naveen Andrews has sensational chemistry with literally everyone, a powerful and charismatic screen presence, and an intriguing backstory that doesn’t happen to resemble that of the band Oasis, which is a bonus. So this episode, Solitary, which promised to be all about him, seemed to tantalize with the promise of an actually good outing. I feel like I’ve been dragging my ass through this for little reward since Walkabout, and it’s only fair that I get to indulge myself with some good ol’ Sayid, right?

Ugh. Much like the grim House of the Rising Sun-But-About-Korea episode, the biggest issue I have with Solitary is that it seems to display a thundering lack of knowledge, or even lack of inclination to knowledge, about the non-Americanised culture it’s trying to display. It ostensibly tracks Sayid, a soldier in the midst of a domestic Iraqi conflict, as he collides with an old friend and new enemy from his past and begins to question the validity of his life choices and allegiances.

Well, in theory, that’s what the episode is about, but in practice, it’s nothing more than the most barely sketched-in outlines of conflict that you can imagine: we never actually find out anything resembling the details of the conflict, why Sayid landed on the side of it that he did, why his friend ended up on the other one, what those sides actually mean, even where in the fucking country any of this is taking place. There’s literally no attempt to show any of the politics, either personal or Governmental, to give us a deeper insight into Sayid; when his friend tells him that this is not the man that she knew him as, we’re never actually given the remotest hint as to why she feels that way, or if it has any basis in truth. This is truly some just fucking embarassing writing; I’m not asking for a historical treatise, but an indication that someone had at least skimmed the Wiki would be nice.

Back on the island, things aren’t much better; after Sayid stalked off by himself last week, I was hoping that we might at least get a good long, dark night of the soul for him as he wandered about by himself in his wifebeater and sweat beads. But instead, he winds up stuck in the middle of a relatively dull exposition-dump – encountering Danielle, the French woman who sent out the distress message, Sayid ends up as mostly a sounding board for all the relevant plot details that she has to offer. There are a few solid moments between them, mostly thanks to Naveen Andrews’ supernatural ability to have chemistry with literally anyone, but it’s kind of annoying that he gets lumped with such a high-stakes story that distracts from the deep-dive into him that I really wanted. Charlie’s episode just had him poking at a moth, basically – why couldn’t Sayid get the same so we could spend some time really getting under his skin?

Not to mention the fact that the B-plot this week follows Hurley setting up a makeshift golfcourse to keep everyone occupied and having fun. I mean, I don’t hate this as a subplot, but in an episode which has so much enormity going on, cutting back to Matthew Fox debating the best club to take a swing with feels incongruent at best. It’s nice to see some of these characters having a bit of fun for a change, especially Matthew Fox, who I always like best when he’s fifteen seconds out from a tantrum, but was this really the episode for the Big Sports Tournament sub-plot? I feel like it wasn’t.

So, yeah, I was looking forward to this episode, but it was yet another let-down in a long string of them. And one in which nobody even stabbed Sawyer a little bit. At this point, Lost is starting to get on my tits, and I’m just waiting for it to do something to redeem itself. If you’ve watched this show already – what is there to look forward to? And if you haven’t, do you think you’ll be carrying on?

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book, Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!

(header image via IMDB)