Here is Jeff Jensen's take on The Economist.
Lost is not kind to lovers, especially on Valentine's Day. For the second straight year, our beloved crypto-drama has aired an episode on February 14. And for the second straight year, Cupid was kicked in the nuts. Last year, in the trippy time-travel tale ''Flashes Before Your Eyes,'' Desmond toggled back to his breakup with Penelope, just to break up with her all over again. Last night, in ''The Economist,'' Flash-Forward Sayid fell for a woman he shouldn't have, and ultimately broke her heart — with two bullets to the chest. (To be fair, the femme fatale shot him first.) These things happen when you play secret-agent assassin for Germany's most morally ambiguous veterinarian — Benjamin Linus. Yes, you read that right. In his off-Island future as a member of the Oceanic 6, the former Iraqi torturer smokes European fat cats for über-Other Ben, who in his off-Island future has a croaky, low phone voice (All the better to delay the last-scene reveal of my true identity, my dear!), runs a pet hospital in Berlin, and manages a global conspiracy on the side. The Man With 1000 Passports has a whole list of bad people he wants dead, ''people [who] don't deserve our sympathies,'' as he told Sayid. Note to Ben's customers: Pay that doggy-grooming bill on time!
Who's The Boss? Or where's the boss? That's what Locke was asking as he led his tribe of freighter fraidy cats to where Jacob's cabin should have been, only to discover that his house of sprits had disappeared from its circle of ash/salt/kitty litter. Abandoned by his Island god, Locke looked, yes, lost, and banged-up Ben was quick to jump all over that: ''He's looking for someone to tell him what to do next,'' the devilish Other told Locke's disgruntled flock. With Hurley showing signs of instigating a shareholder rebellion over the Charlotte-hostage issue, CEO Locke squelched the dissidence and shored up his office by playing the fear card, brow-beating Hurley with some tough talk about the cost of compromise. Did Flash-Forward Hurley's regret over choosing Locke over Jack begin here?
The Negotiating Committee Meanwhile, in Happy Helicopter Valley, the Jack Pack negotiated the terms of rescue with freighter fellas Daniel Faraday (twitchy physicist), Frank Lapidus (bushy-faced pilot), and Miles Straum (angry young ghost whisperer), who, of course, may not be there to rescue them at all. The shifty trio made it clear they weren't flying anywhere without C.S. Lewis (Charlotte edition), so Sayid stepped up and said he'd hike to the Dharma barracks and negotiate her release. Jack wanted to come, but given how the good doctor tried to shoot Locke in the face the last time they squared off, Sayid thought he should stay behind, lest the deal-making devolve into one of those protracted bargaining battles marked by phlegmatic rhetoric, heavy-handed tactics, and unreasonable demands over digital downloads.
Control Freak Jack got a proxy at the table, however, by sending Kate with Sayid and Miles. He felt her presence would give Sayid more leverage, as Locke wouldn't dare attempt any underhanded knife-in-back stuff, not with moony Sawyer there to play bodyguard. Yeah, you could say it was a contrived way to set up the possibility of more sex scenes between the old Hydra humpers. Still, it felt like classic Jack emotional dunderheadedness. You could tell Kate wasn't thrilled with Jack treating her like a pawn on a chessboard, and my hunch is that what we really saw in the moment was the beginning of her dawning realization that as much as she may dig Jack's cheese, he's got a lot more getting over himself to do before they can have a flash-forward future together, much less swap valentines and spit.
Acquisitions... Arriving at the Dharma barracks — or, more recently, New Otherton — Sayid, Miles, and Kate found Hurley tied up in the closet, allegedly left behind by Locke. It was a trap, one that exploited Sayid's soft spot for his friends and loved ones, a fatal flaw that makes both him and Hurley the most easily manipulated of the castaways. I thought Sayid should have seen through this ruse, and his failure to do so continued a dubious tradition of super-soldier Sayid not living up to his Republican Guard pedigree. (No wonder we beat those guys in three days.) Maybe I'm selling him short. Sayid was probably content to let Locke play and win his little mousetrap games, just as long as he sealed the deal he had come to make. I think he knew he would: His package was much too appealing. He offered Locke a hostage swap — Miles for Charlotte — plus himself. Sayid had come around to Locke's belief that the freighter people are nothing but bad news. His master plan, he told Locke, was to infiltrate the freighter and gather intel — corporate espionage. Locke was sold.
…and Mergers Meanwhile, as upper management haggled in the billiard room, Kate and Sawyer caucused in Ben's bedroom. The shaggy rogue explained that he has no intention of leaving the Island because there was nothing but a prison sentence waiting for him back in the real world, and since Kate was looking at the same fate, hey, why not stay with him? Kate was dubious: ''How long, Sawyer? How long do you think we can play house?'' Saywer was bold: ''Why don't we find out?'' I was impressed with the former con man's risky emotional frankness. I was also intrigued by the fact that this scene took place in Ben's bedroom, with all those tribal masks all over the place. Hmmmm…honesty and masks — hey, that sounds like a possible allusion to another work by Charlotte's namesake, C.S. Lewis: Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the mythical Cupid and Psyche love story, told from the point of view of Psyche's jealous sister. In the book, Lewis argues that you can't commune with the divine or experience supernatural possibilities until you drop your corrupt false self — your mask — and get your moral character in order. (Yo, Locke: Now you know why you keep losing your mystical connection to the Island. You're just not good enough.) Anyhoo, Sawyer's you-complete-me pitch may have swayed Kate, because she didn't return to Happy Helicopter Valley with Sayid and Charlotte. The ''I blew it'' look that passed across Jack's face when Sayid told him the news was pretty priceless; it reminded me of House of Meetings, Martin Amis' novel about brothers in love with the same woman, who go from being stuck in a Soviet gulag to struggling to return to ordinary life — very Oceanic 6. But I'm probably digressing.
Petty Cash Drawer I'm betting that the scene you'll be talking about the most on the message boards — besides the Ben flash-forward reveal — is the nifty moment when Sayid discovered Ben's secret stash of passports, foreign currency, and suits. Clearly, Ben does a lot of traveling for work. (Remember, the Others do have that off-Island company, Mittelos Biosciences; presumably, Ben is the boss.) Long ago, I wondered if the Others had an airstrip on the Island, so I wouldn't be surprised to discover Ben has a corporate jet, too — plus a hangar full of old Oceanic airplane parts. You know, leftovers from the false evidence that the Others planted in the Sunda Trench. (Just a theory.) Now, if you're going to go all crazy on me and claim that the multiple passports and husky-voiced Flash-Forward Ben are evidence that there multiple Bens in the world thanks to alternate universe/wormhole theory, I'm in! (FYI: The name on the Ben passport Sayid examined looked to be Dean Moriarty — a character from Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Moriarty is also the name of Sherlock Holmes' nemesis. Just so you know.)
Deficit Spending Another scene I bet you'll be going nutty over was the one where Daniel Faraday did his rocket experiment, which concluded with his admittedly ''beyond weird'' discovery of an apparent 31-minute time differential between freighter reality and Island reality, where time seems to pass more slowly. What does this mean? I don't know — but I immediately went to barnesandnoble.com and purchased Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time so you guys can borrow it, read it, and then summarize it for me while I eat grapes and watch Big Brother. Seriously, I'm crunching theories, but it takes time for me to do quantum physics. It takes me mere seconds, however, to do some cheap biblical analysis! Did you see the numbers on Daniel's clocks? One said 3:16, while the other said 2:45. As it happens, Daniel 2:45 is the culmination of the story in which exiled Daniel earned an exalted place in King Nebuchadnezzar's court by interpreting a dream concerning the future of Babylon and how ''the fourth kingdom will be a divided kingdom.'' Hey — that sounds like the fourth season of Lost! Meanwhile, Daniel 3:16 is part of the famous story of how Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown in the fiery furnace but were saved by God. How might that apply to Lost? Well, thematically, the story deals with three men who refused to abandon their spiritual beliefs and bow down before a false idol — a story that stands in stark contrast to Sayid's flash-forward arc.
The Sell-Out In the opening scenes of ''The Economist,'' we were given two quick, quiet moments that re-established two very important things about Sayid. First, we saw him praying. Sayid, if you recall, is a spiritual man, a Muslim. Second, we saw him tenderly shut dead Naomi's eyes and examine her bracelet, inscribed with ''N., I'll be with you always, R.C.'' Sayid, recall, is a romantic (see: Nadia; Shannon), and I bet that his desire that Naomi be sent home for a proper burial appealed to his religious convictions and sentimentality. Yet in his flash-forward future, Sayid ain't exactly living according to those ideals. In fact, like James Bond, his license-to-kill existence makes a mockery of the sanctity of life and love. Sayid remains sufficiently decent in the future that when it was finally time to move against the Economist, he came clean with Elsa, as he had genuinely fallen for her. But then she pulled a Casino Royale on him: It turned out she was an undercover lover, too, seducing him in hopes of smoking out Ben's identity. Elsa was Sayid's mirror twin, and to make sure we got it, Sayid smashed a mirror reflection of his Lady From Shanghai doppelgänger before popping some caps into her.
After Sayid stumbled into Ben's safe house/vet office for some first aid, his boss mocked him for his weakness. Then Ben dropped this intriguing tidbit: ''Need I remind you what happened the last time you thought with your heart instead of your gun.'' Sayid's response was even more mysterious: ''You used that girl to recruit me into killing for you.'' But Ben the master manipulator hit him where it hurts the most: the bottom line. ''Do you want to protect your friends or not?'' Sayid looked like a man over a barrel. What did he say about Ben earlier in the episode? ''The day I start trusting him is the day I sell my soul.''
Welcome to Hell, Sayid. Now get that game face on — there's work to be done.
That's what I got. How about you? Do you have a theory about the identity of the Economist? Who is the ''R.C.'' on Naomi's bracelet? (Regina the freighter chick?) Who are these names on Ben's assassination list? Scribble away!