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Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010


Episode 21 - The Greater Good

17 January 2017

Present: Locke arrives at Boone’s funeral and admits it was his fault that he died. Jack attacks him calling him a liar. Kate drugs Jack to force him to get some sleep. Locke apologises ineffectively to Shannon, so she asks Sayid to do something about Locke. Sayid and Locke head out to the beach craft and Sayid questions him. Sayid tells Shannon that he believes that Locke wasn’t lying about Boone and that his death was an accident. But Shannon steals the gun key off the sleeping Jack and tries to kill Locke. Sayid stops her and she runs away from him. Sayid demands that Locke take him to the hatch.

Flashback: The CIA come to see Sayid in London. They tell him that they will tell him where Nadia is if he helps them infiltrate a terrorist group in Australia. He does and begins deceiving his old university friend Essam. When he tells the CIA that Essam doesn’t know anything about the stolen explosives they tell him to convince Essam to go through with a suicide bombing. Sayid refuses but they threaten to arrest Nadia if he doesn’t. When he and Essam are in the truck preparing to set off he tells Essam the truth. Essam shoots himself. Sayid stays in Sydney to claim Essam’s body and bury it. That delay meant he got on Oceanic flight 815.

The Good: It feels like a while since Lost has presented “just” a normal episode of television drama. But this is no less good for that.

We find out lots of details about Sayid which we hadn’t known before. We still don’t know how he escaped the Republican Guard, but once he left Iraq he spent seven years looking for Nadia. Presumably he was searching the Muslim communities in various European countries. We now know he was in Australia because he was doing a job which would finally reunite him with Nadia. That helps explain why after all these years her memory seemed so fresh just after the plane crash (see 109 for more). All this information confirms and elaborates on what we already know about Sayid. The final twist is that his guilt and moral behaviour led him to miss his original plane and bury Essam. That act meant he ended up on Oceanic flight 815 which might have intriguing implications (see The Unknown). Or it might simply remind us that Sayid is mostly a good guy.

His story with Essam is pretty straight forward, but is enjoyable nonetheless. Essam plays the reluctant suicide bomber really well. He gives off a very believable sense of vulnerability and sadness about the loss of his wife. Although it is only hinted at, the writers give a good balanced picture of Essam’s religious life. The men in his cell are clearly using his sadness (as Sayid does) to make him go through with the bombing. And yet Essam tells Sayid that “the imam preaches peace” and that he is concerned with all the innocent people.

What makes the story so enjoyable though is the horrible position Sayid is put in. He has to choose between Nadia and Essam and of course after years of searching that seems like no choice at all. He even offers Essam a chance to escape when they are given the explosives. But when Essam learns the truth he flips it round on Sayid (see Best Moment). When you see the story from Essam’s point of view, you feel truly sorry for him too. The story has a nice moral greyness to it, which is of course the shade which best reflects reality.

Locke’s communication throughout the episode is very poor. His rambling, incoherent speech at the funeral doesn’t convince anyone that Boone died a noble death. And then his apology to Shannon seems very insincere or at least brief. Perhaps he could have washed Boone’s blood out of his shirt before sitting next to her! But it’s interesting to see Locke suddenly so unlike the man with all the answers, as we have seen him so far. Clearly Boone’s death has rattled him, which is understandable and it’s good to see him showing human emotions.

A few other nice things happen in the background. Locke mentions that a storm is coming nice and early in the episode, so that it doesn’t seem like a dramatic contrivance when the rain falls. Kate drugging Jack is actually an affectionate and responsible thing to do. There’s some nice comedy with Charlie and the baby, though the baby likes one persons voice story is pretty old hat.

The Bad: Locke being responsible for the attack on Sayid (107) is an interesting payoff. Locke’s argument that leading people to the source of a distress call claiming everyone was dead would have been dangerous is incredibly spurious. It makes perfect sense for Locke, because he believes that they are all meant to be on the island. But to anyone trying to escape, his behaviour is treacherous. Particularly as he lumps the raft in with the distress signal. He is basically admitting he doesn’t think they should leave the island, from that statement there is no way Sayid should trust him at all. Sayid ought to report that statement to Jack and Michael and warn everyone not to let Locke near the raft.

I’m not sure that Muslims would use the word fate to describe things happening. I feel sure they would talk about God’s will or something like that. It feels inauthentic to use the word fate either way.

Shannon trying to murder Locke is a bit too clichéd for my tastes. It seems to happen all the time in television shows that when someone dies, the victim’s friend or lover has to go and seek murderous retribution. I almost always feel this is poor writing. Though I have never had a close friend murdered, I am pretty sure fear, sadness and pain would overwhelm most people more often than it would drive them toward murderous revenge. But in this case when Locke is clearly innocent and Shannon even has time to cool off and think about it, it seems like a dramatic scene written to be dramatic. Rather than being a logical action from what we know of Shannon’s character.

The Unknown: Sayid told Rousseau that Nadia was dead (109). Why did he lie to Rousseau? Was he trying to bond with her or have the producers changed their minds about this detail?

One of the theories that has developed about Lost over the course of its first season is that the survivors were all meant to be on the island. Does it have any significance therefore that we are shown the specific detail that Sayid “chose” to be on the plane through his actions? Was he not “meant” to be on the plane but ended up there because of his actions?

Best Moment: Essam and Sayid are sitting in the truck filled with explosives. Sayid admits that he is working for the CIA and tells Essam to leave. Essam seems so hurt by this: “You said we were going to do this together. You said you lost someone?” Sayid confesses that Nadia is still alive. From Essam’s point of view this is an utter betrayal: “You used me to find a woman?” Essam becomes angry at the betrayal and suddenly you see how unjust Sayid’s actions seem to him. But the anger passes and sadness returns “Well then Sayid, I hope she makes you whole again” he says and shoots himself. It’s a lovely piece of acting by Essam, he really conveys his emotions well.

The Bottom Line: A really solid episode of drama. Sayid is an admirable but brutal character. It makes him very interesting and understandable. Between Jack and Locke’s obsessive behaviour, he seems like the calm and logical one and gives off a reassuring presence. It may be his worldliness and the suffering he has seen that make him so level headed. The episode has its weaknesses though, so can “only” be called very good.



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  • This was an enjoyable episode but it doesn't feel like a standard Lost episode, but rather a standard drama episode.

    The character development was good. I enjoyed Sayid's flashback as it covered a lot of details in Sayid's story and provided an engaging story with excellent emotional payback. The fact that Sayid caught Oceanic 815 was because he wanted to bury a friend is quite ironic and is good storytelling.

    I loved Essam in this episode. As you stated above, Essam's last scene was excellent and Sayid's manipulation from earlier in episode made the scene very impactful.

    Sayid interrogating Locke was very tense and I enjoyed it. Terry O'Quinn was outstanding with how he portrays Locke here. Locke is shaken by Boone's death and it is shown excellently. Locke's speech which leads to Jack attacking him was the best moment of the episode in my opinion.

    However, this episode isn't the greatest for a number of reasons. For one, Shannon's goal to kill Locke is cliché and isn't exciting television since we know that Locke will survive. Additionally, it is out of character for Shannon of all people to try to kill someone. This episode suffers from a weaker on-island story. While there are some nice moments, there is little tension and the outcome is fairly obvious. I knew that Sayid would learn about the hatch and I knew that Locke wouldn't be killed.

    The Charlie/Sawyer and Kate/Jack stories are fine for what they are. I'm not too sure about this point, but didn't Jack only show the guns to the select few he gave them to? If that is the case then how did Shannon know where to find the guns? That would be a plot hole, though it may not be the case if I am forgetting a detail somewhere.

    Overall, this was a fairly ordinary episode. There is good character work, but nothing groundbreaking. While this episode isn't bad, it's not nearly as good as what Lost has produced recently, making it a little disappointing.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Aaronic, 14/01/2017 6:43pm (4 years ago)

  • Oh Kay! Why do the survivors not share more information? I'm afraid that's one mystery that was never resolved.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 04/09/2011 2:40pm (9 years ago)

  • I felt there was far too much meaningless gun-wielding in this episode. There's no drama holding a gun to someone in their own flashback since they clearly survive it, nor in pointing it at someone like Locke when it's pretty obvious that they wouldn't kill off someone so clued into the island.

    I was also surprised that Locke isn't more obsessed about opening the hatch. After seeing his desperation for the island to show him the next step (in 119), and then being rewarded with the light coming on, he's done and said nothing in the last two episodes. Admittedly last week focussed on Boone's death, and rightly so, but this week Locke seems to be going about his business as normal.

    People grieve in different ways but I haven't found Shannon's behaviour all that convincing. We know she can be a drama queen, so I was expecting more histrionics. I'm sure it's difficult portraying grief convincingly as an actor, but I guess I was hoping for better from Shannon - in contrast, Jack has been excellent during his emotionally-charged scenes.

    My final complaint is why do the survivors not talk to each other about what they're finding out about the island?! Different people know different things about Rousseau, the hatch, the others, etc etc. I would have expected people to pull together more and share intelligence, with the aim of keeping safe and finding out how to get off the island.

    Having said all that, this was still a solid episode, with particular interest provided by Sayid's flashbacks, further fleshing out his character.

    Posted by Kay, 03/09/2011 8:59pm (9 years ago)

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