Here's the rewatch blog for Episode 9 of Season 1, Sayid's first centric, Solitary. This episode introduced a lot of mythology, including The Others, The Sickness and the Whispers, three aspects of the show that even after 6 seasons is not entirely satisfactorily explained. The title of this blog is a quote said by Sayid to Rousseau during this episode, and sounds an awful lot like our resident Scotsman's signature line, "I'll see you in another life, brother." These blogs will attempt to document how dominant themes, issues and plotlines were developed in this episode. These blogs will also attempt to make further connections to later parts of the show concerning those themes, plotlines and issues.
With the introduction of Ethan Rom, at this point merely a new face among the Oceanic Survivors to the unknowing audience, we get our first introduction to the Others, the dominant group that led the Island under the direction of Jacob, since Richard's arrival in 1867. Danielle refers to them as "Others" in this episode, and there in lies the reason for their name the rest of the show. Did the Others ever have a real name for their organization? Just like the fact that, in my opinion, The Man in Black never having a real name was a good vehicle for making him more mysterious, the same applies for the Others. In this episode, Danielle claims that Others were "the carriers" of the Sickness. This begs the question of where the sickness exactly comes from. We know that it is linked with the Man in Black, and that Danielle's team seemed to have contracted it by going into the chamber under the Temple, an area known to be associated with the Man in Black, as seen in "This Place is Death." We know now that the Others didn't "carry" the Sickness, and that Danielle's perception of these events seems to be slightly distorted and skewed, because as far as I know the only Other she came across during this period was Ben, stealing Alex. It seems to me that the Sickness is a "recruiting" tool for the Man in Black. He brings people close to death back to the land of the living, (aka Sayid, and possibly Claire) but at a price. They become soulless, emotionless zombies willing to do the Man in Black's bidding. Claire possibly died, or came very close, during the mercenaries' bombing of The Barracks/New Otherton in "The Shape of Things to Come," and was brought back and Infected. However you theorize this concept to work, it is important to note that The Sickness was introduced in this episode.
On a lighter note, was I the only one who thought Alex was a boy when Rousseau first mentioned her in this episode? During "Exodus" Danielle referred to her child as a "she" so I was put straight after that.
We also get the first mention of, and the first instance of someone hearing, the Whispers in this episode. The Whispers are actual distorted speech made by souls on the Island who can't move on. The final scene of the wind whipping through the trees as Sayid encountered the Whispers for the first time was pretty spooky, and very effective. Michael's somewhat lame delivery of the explanation aside, I have no problem with the actual answer to one of the show's oldest mysteries. It simply makes sense, and fits in with the final twist of the show, that the afterlife is a place where everyone else moves on. For people who failed Jacob's test of humanity, like Michael, the Island is their purgatory. Why the Whispers seemed to be associated with the Others very often is less clear. Ben seemed to clearly associate the Whispers with the Others when he stole Alex from Rousseau, but given Michael's explanation, this association doesn't exactly seem to fit. Does anybody have a good explanation for these discrepancies?
Aside from the mythology-heavy aspects of this episode, we also get major Sayid character development. The episode nicely juxtaposed island and off-Island scenes. In Sayid's flashback, he interrogated people through the use of torture. On Island, Danielle interrogates Sayid through the use of torture. Did anybody notice that Danielle shocking Sayid was very similar to Dogen shocking Sayid during the early parts of Season 6? I certainly remembered this scene from "Solitary" when I saw Dogen torturing, or "examining," Sayid during "What Kate Does."
Sayid is introduced in this episode as a cool-headed leader with a troubled past. He goes into exile after his past catches back up with him during the last episode, as he tortured Sawyer for Shannon's inhaler. Sayid seemed to move on from his troubled past during his relationship with Shannon, but that was shattered with her death. He reverted back to his old ways during the imprisonment of Henry Gale/Benjamin Linus, but after this he developed and became one of the most respected members of the survivors' community. He suffered another setback, being shot by Roger Linus, while trying to help his friends in Season 5. Sayid has always been the most selfless survivor, willing to get hurt, or die, in exchange for helping his friends. He always seemed to be trying to atone for his previous sins, and he made the ultimate sacrifice when he saved his friends in the sub by running away with the bomb. RIP.
One of the things I always loved about Lost was their ability to intersperse light-hearted comedic scenes with more serious ones, and this episode does it well. Hurley constructs a golf course, and most of the survivors join in the fun. This is juxtaposed with Sayid getting shocked and injected by Danielle. Hurley and Charlie were Lost's comedic relief, and when the Island conflicts got too intense, you could always count on them to lighten the mood, whether it was through the Dharma van, ping pong with Sawyer, or Hurley yelling at Jin to pee on his foot.
Thank you for reading as always. I always appreciate comments. Stay tuned for Claire's first centric, "Raised by Another." It should be posted in a few days. We are also another episode closer to the review for "Stranger in a Strange Land," the review I'm sure everybody is waiting for. Namaste.