Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lost - Season 3, Episode 11 - "Enter 77"

In a recent interview with producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, the producers kept alluding to episode 11 answering some of the big questions regarding the story of Lost. I don't think "Enter 77" solved any mysteries or said anything of importance. Regardless, it's a damn fun hour of Lost that reminded me of the early episodes.

The episode doesn't start with a flashback! Instead, we open on a concerned Sawyer walking up the beach, looking in various tents. He walks by Hurley and a group carrying out what looks to be a ping pong table. Hurley says "they found it," probably wreckage from when the hatch exploded. The only thing they don't have is a ball.

Sawyer spots The New Guy walking with a magazine. "Hey!" Sawyer calls out, "That's my Guns and Ammo." Sawyer is agitated. He yells about people stealing his stuff. The New Guy says something like, "Things are different, man. We share now." Sawyer calls him Zorro and lets him go.

In the wilderness, Sayid is hacking plants down, leading the way for Locke, Kate, and Danielle Rosseau. They've been going for two days, following the course Locke saw on Mr. Eko's walking stick, which read: Lift Up Your Eyes and Look North. John 3:05. Sayid says they've been following the heading "Three-Oh-Five" for two days and haven't come up with anything. He leaves everyone to rest and goes to get some fruit (what a guy!), but when he returns they're going to have a "serious discussion" about their next move.

Picking fruit alone, Sayid notices movement in the bushes. He grabs his weapon and creeps forward to investigate. The brush is thick and there are a lot of places to hide. Sayid finds a good view of a clearing and a red cow. According to my friend Lonny, there's a phrase from the bible, "The red cow will lead the way to the messiah," that could be a nice little clue from the producers that some pivotal change is coming. And it certainly seems promising!

There's a whistle from nearby and the cow escapes. Sayid moves closer and finds a hiding place behind some trees where he has a perfect view. There's a house in the woods, surrounded by gated cow pastures. There's a satellite dish on the roof and the house seems remote enough to be truly isolated. In front of the house, a tall man has his back toSayid. He turns around to survey the area and Sayid gets a good luck at his face. A large black patch covers his right eye, the rest of his face is scarred and fissured from heat and neglect.

His face - or more accurately the patch - is familiar. Early in the season, when Locke and the others found the Pearl station, this man was on one of the video feeds.

Back on the beach, Sawyer shows up to where they’ve set up the lame duck ping pong table and produces a small yellow ball (that must have been in his other secret stash.) But he’ll only hand it over under one condition: everyone needs to return his stuff. The New Girl pffs and says “No way, Mister!” Sawyer shoots back with, “Wait, who are you and how long have you been on the show?” They come up with a compromise. Sawyer says he’ll play a round with their best player and if he wins, everyone around the table at least must return his stuff. And if he loses? “You choose,” Sawyer says. Jin and Sun speak Korean to each other and then Sun looks up and says, “No nicknames. For a week.” Deal.

In the next scene, Sayid, Kate, Locke, and Rosseau are hiding behind bushes. Sayid looks through binoculars to get a close look at the house. He decides it’s best if he goes in alone and unarmed so as not to startle the man. Rosseau doesn’t think any of this is a good idea. “I’ve stayed alive by avoiding such encounters,” she says. (Well, maybe that’s why you’ve been stuck here for sixteen years!) She says she’ll wait for them nearby, “whoever survives.”

Sayid gives his gun to Kate raises his palms and approaches the house.

Flashback time:

Sayid is slicing and dicing vegetables in a restaurant’s kitchen. His boss comes in and tells him in subtitles there’s a man who wants to see him. Sayid steps outside to where people are eating in small outdoor tables covered by umbrellas. There’s a distinctive Arabic look to the restaurant but it doesn’t seem like we’re in an Arabic country. A man calls over Sayid and asks him if he prepared the dish he was eating.

Sayid, by the sudden excited look on his face, is overjoyed someone appreciates his cooking. (who knew?) The man tells him to sit down and asks him we’re he’s from. Sayid lies and says, “I’m Syrian.” The man switches to subtitles and says, “Please, you’re as Iraqi as I am.” He introduces himself as Sami and says he owns a restaurant, that his chef just quit and invites Sayid to come work for him. Sayid, who introduces himself as Najef, is skeptical.

The present:

Sayid is walking towards the house when there’s a loud report from a rifle and Sayid’s shoulder explodes in fake blood. He falls to his knees. From the house, the man with the patch is holding a rifle and leaning out an open window shouting, “The boundary hasn’t been broken!” and “You promised to stay on your side!” Sayid shouts back, “I was on a plane that crashlanded on this island!” The man stops shouting. “A plane?” he asks, sounding genuinely interested. “Wait there!” the man says and closes the window.

Locke and Kate use this opportunity to rush forward. When the man opens the door to help Sayid, Locke fires at his feet while Kate shouts for him to let go of his weapon. He complies and lays down his weapon without a fight. Locke goes inside to see if anyone else is about while Kate attends to Sayid, who seems okay. Kate asks the man with the patch, “Who are you?”

The man says, “My name is Mikhail Bakunin, I’m the last surviving member of the Dharma Initiative.”At the house, Mikhal has offered to help with Sayid’s gunshot. With Kate’s help, they take him inside the large house and Mikhal sends Kate off to the kitchen to fetch bandages. Sayid starts to ask Mikhal questions, about how he knows to fix a gunshot wound (“I was in the Soviet army, I know field medicine..”), how he ended up part of the Initiative (“I answered an ad: Would you like to save the world?”), and what happened to the others.

“They died in the Purge,” he says, “in a battle with the Hostiles.” Sayid, of course, believes The Hostiles are the group we know of as The Others and says they have also lost people to them. Sayid asks him how he survived.

“By not getting involved,” he replies.
Meanwhile, Kate is doing a great job snooping around. She find husks of meat in cold storage and boxes of Dharma products in the shelves. Locke is investigating a room full of documents. He finds handbooks for various Dharma Protocols including “Food Drop” and an “Operations Manual” for this station, known as the Flame. There’s also an old-fashioned computer with the words “Ready to Play? Y/N” on it. It’s chess and Locke, intrigued, decides to play a game while his friends are busy trying to stay alive (Instance of Locke Stupidity #1).

Mikhal finishes stitching up Sayid and asks them if they’d like some iced tea. Kate and Sayid, of course, agree. Mikhal drops by Locke and tells him not to bother with the chess game, it’s impossible to beat and “it cheats.”

Sayid meanwhile is whispering to Kate that he doesn’t trust this man. He puts on that typical Sayid untrusting-glare and says, “He’s not Dharma, he’s one of them. And I’m sure he’s not alone.”

In flashback land, Sayid is walking through a darkened street with the Eiffel Tower in the background. He glances down at a small note and looks up to try to find his destination. He enters an old building that looks like it belongs in Damascus. There’s faint Arabic music coming from all directions and large Oriental rugs hanging on the walls. Sayid sees a group of men sitting around and asks to see Sami. Sami emerges from the back with a woman. They greet Sayid amicably but when the woman extends her hand to Sayid, we can see her arms are scarred. Her expression turns dark and she gives a nod to Sami. The men jump up and grab Sayid and push him to the floor.

Sami asks the woman, “Are you sure it’s him?” “Yes,” she says, “He’s the one.”

On the beach, Sawyer returns to the ping pong table and asks them who are they sending out to face The Grand Master. (Aside: I love ping pong. I’m quite good at it and I would pay real money to take on a cocky know-it-all like Sawyer and beat him!) Hurley comes up to the table and asks Sawyer if they should enact a “Mercy rule.” Sawyer’s never heard of that before. “As in,” Hurley elaborates, “if one of us is down 11-0, we call Mercy and end it.” Sawyer thinks they’re just making it easier for him and agrees. But as soon as they start playing and Hurley achieves an early Ace, Sawyer knows he’s in trouble.

In Paris, Sayid is held prisoner in the basement of the restaurant. Sami comes down with a bowl of water and instructs Sayid to drink. He accuses Sayid of being part of the Republican Guard and torturing his wife. He says he will pay for what he did, but first he must admit to it or he will be killed outright. Sami’s wife enters and gives Sayid a long look. Recognition does not pass on Sayid’s face at all, yet Sami’s wife insists that he is the man who tortured her and burned her arms. Sayid shouts, “I would never torture a woman!” but it falls on deaf ears.

Back at the Flame, in a strange move by the writers, Mikhal and Sayid exchange a stare and Mikhal says, “Why are we still playing this game? When we all know it has moved to the next level.” And then they break out into a fist-fight. Sayid and Kate quickly subdue him and then Locke shows up with a raised pistol way too late to be of any help. (Instance of Locke Stupidity #2).

Sayid theorizes that Mikhal is definitely not alone, that probably the Others sent someone else out here “when the sky turned purple” and communications outside world went dead. Outside of the house, there’s a saddled horse that would be too small for Mikhal. Locke says he searched “every nook and cranny” and couldn’t find anything. Sayid lifts up the nearest rug and reveals a hatch. (Instance of Locke Stupidity #3).

Sayid and Kate go down to the basement while Locke sits over a subdued Mikhal. Downstairs, they see C-4 explosives on numerous columns. They’re not alone. Someone sneaks up on Kate and attacks her from behind. There’s a scuffle in the dark until Sayid shouts, “Stop!” and raises his rifle. Standing behind Sayid and Kate is Ms. Klugh, who you may remember as the Other representative when dealing with Michael and seemed to be in charge during Ben’s imprisonment by Jack and Locke. Kate recognizes her from the dock and immediately wants to punch her lights out.

Upstairs, Locke has gotten bored in the three minutes Kate and Sayid have been downstairs and returns to his chess game. (Inst… ah, forget it!) Locke pulls some crazy Russian maneuver to win the game and the screen changes. Another familiar face appears, the Asian doctor who seems to be “the face” of the Dharma initiative. It’s a pre-recorded menu and he prompts Locke to enter certain codes to access Flame station protocols. Locke enters 3-8 to access Satellite communications, but the doctor informs him communications are down. Locke then enters 2-4 to access sonar communications. But that too is down. The doctor then says, “If there has been an incursion by the Hostiles, Enter 7-7.” Locke seems about to do it, but Mikhal slips a knife under his throat.

Back at camp, Sawyer is fuming after losing his game. Hurley appears and says his mom use to have a ping pong table in her basement. Sawyer is about to call him something funny (earlier he referred to Hurley as “Grimace” from old McDonald’s ads and Jin and Sun as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) but Hurley shakes his head and smiles, “Hurley. Or Hugo, if you prefer.”

Finally, Hurley tells Sawyer not to worry about Kate. That she’s with Locke and Sayid and she’ll be okay.

In the conclusion of the flashback segments, Sami’s wife, Amira, comes to visit Sayid alone. She is carrying a cat (who appears in the Flame station as well) and tells a story about the cat and about herself. She says when she first came to Paris, she was afraid to even go outside. She says the cat was tortured as well by some kids. They locked her in a box and threw some firecrackers in. The cat has recovered but every once in a while, randomly, the cat will scratch or bite her. Amira says she can relate. She knows what it’s like never to feel safe. “Because of what you did to me,” she says. She pleads with Sayid to confess. And he does.

Shawn and I debated this morning about whether Sayid’s confession was genuine. I don’t think it was. (Shawn thinks it was genuine.) I think Sayid saw the compassion in Amira’s personality and realized that if he conceded to her wishes, she might actually let him go. Which is exactly what happens. Seeing Sayid repent, crying and apologizing, she says she will tell her husband that she has made a “terrible mistake” and Sami will let Sayid go.

Back at the Flame, Sayid leads Ms. Klugh by gunpoint outside where they are greeted by Mikhal holding Locke prisoner. It’s an old fashioned prisoner exchange. But nothing is quite as it seems in Lost. Ms. Klugh starts to speak to Mikhal in Russian (Lost Easter Eggs has the translation, along with a lot of other sites.) They start yelling back and forth in Russian. Locke shouts, “Don’t let her talk!” Sayid shouts for them to “Stop!!” Ms. Klugh yells out, in English, “DO IT!” Mikhal moves his pistol from Locke to Ms. Klugh and fires.

Locke turns around and knocks Mikhal to the ground. Sayid angrily approaches him and points his rifle at his neck. Mikhal begs him to finish it, but Sayid doesn’t. He shows mercy and doesn’t fire.

Later, Sayid leads Mikhal outside to find Danielle. She approaches from the jungle, surprised to find a prisoner. Sayid questions him again and he admits to never being a part of Dharma, but that everything else he said was true. Sayid demands Mikhal take them to the Others camp. Mikhal refuses. Sayid unveils a map he found at the Flame, showing a series of pipes running from the Flame to an area marked Barracks. “They have running water and power,” Sayid says this has to be where the Others live. Danielle says they should kill Mikhal, he’s not necessary and will not hesitate to kill them. Sayid, again, shows mercy and says “No,” they will not kill him.

In a short scene, we see Locke approaching the computer and thinking about entering 7-7.

Back outside, Locke and Kate come back and Locke says to Mikhal, “I know why you didn’t want me playing with the computer.” Then, suddenly, the Flame station explodes in a eruption of flames. Sayid looks at Locke. “What did you do?” he demands.

Locke, channeling Joey from Friends, shrugs and says, “The computer said Enter 7-7, so I did.” (Instance of Locke Stupidity #18)

* * *

An action packed episode for sure! There were definitely some odd choices by the writers. The transition from “friend with Mikhal” to “Others! Attack!” felt really sudden and jarring. Also, Locke’s stupidity in playing a chess game while his friends were busy trying to answer questions and blowing up another station added to the level of “Huh?” that I’m left with after this episode.

As usual, no answers were given. Anything Mikhal said about Dharma is probably not true, except maybe an aside about submarines, but the overall story of the show definitely progressed. Sayid and his party now have a map to try to find Jack and an Other prisoner which could prove very useful. The episode was interesting and didn’t drag like the last few. I don’t know why the writers decided to destroy the Flame. There always seems to be a lot of storyline potential when they find a new station, but then they always abandon or destroy it, so it feels a little unsatisfying. It’s like getting a new toy and then it getting taken away quickly. But it also reminds me of when Danielle destroyed her secret lair after she was found by Sayid. It keeps with the theme of things being very transient on the Island.

Pictures from Lost Media.

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