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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

LOST Retrospective: “Solitary” (Season 1, Episode 9)

By on July 31, 2010

(This post is part of a series. I’m blogging through all the episodes of LOST, taking a new look at them in light of what we know now that the series is over. Click here to read my introduction to the series and my thinking behind it.) Click here to see all my LOST posts.

Warning! If you have not watched LOST all the way through to its finale, this essay contains spoilers!

Sayid: “You see, some things can be fixed.”

Lost Solitary SayidQuick synopsis: Focus: Sayid. Sayid, now self-exiled from the Lostaways, stumbles upon a cable leading from the sea into the jungle. He follows it into the jungle, only to be caught in a snare. He ends up in the captivity of Danielle, the French woman of the mysterious distress call. She tortures him because she believes he is one of the “others” who know the whereabouts of her daughter. Eventually she softens to Sayid as she hears his story of his own suffering. In flashbacks, we see Sayid in training as an interrogator for the Iraqi Republican Army. He is assigned to torture information out of a woman whom he discovers is a childhood friend. When finally ordered to execute Nadia, Sayid kills his superior officer, then shoots himself in the leg to cover Nadia’s escape. Danielle eventually lets Sayid go, and at the end of the episode he encounters for the first time the whispers in the jungle. In the meantime, Hurly recognizes that the survivors are going crazy with nothing to do, so he builds a golf course. And we meet Ethan for the first time, as Locke’s hunting partner.

Season one continues its series of flashback episodes to establish the basic backstories of the main characters, mostly those who will wind up in the church at the end of the final episode. In this episode, the focus is on Sayid. Just a few point of interest from the perspective of how the whole series ends up:

Near the end of his encounter with Danielle, Sayid reveals what Nadia had scrawled on the back of her picture she gave him as she was escaping: “You’ll find me in the next life, if not in this one.” This may be another strong hint that the creators had the “heavenly” ending in mind from the beginning.

In another foreshadowing of how the series would end up, Sayid, trying to convince Danielle to let him return to the survivors, tells her, “The only way off this place is with their help.” This is another way of putting Jack’s “live together or die alone.” In the end, the survivors must learn to help each other toward each other’s eventual redemption.

At one point Sayid convinces Danielle to let him try to fix the broken music box that had been given to her by her now dead lover Robert. When the box plays again, he says, “You see, some things can be fixed.” This could be taken as a restatement of the theme of LOST. Even the most broken people can be fixed.

And once again, we should give some thought to the title of the episode. Sayid has chosen to live in solitary exile from the other Lostaways because he believes his Iraqi army training has turned him into a danger to them. And Danielle also lives in solitary confinement, imprisoned by her fear of the Others who she believe took her daughter and caused the death of her lover. Together they learn that despite these fears, they must learn to “live together or die alone.”

The comic strip character Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” And existentialist playwright Jean Paul Sartre had one of his characters say, “Hell is other people.” But LOST stands very much in the contrary to those statements. In the world of LOST, the only salvation is each other.


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