Wednesday, July 22, 2009

1.09 Solitary

Follow along! The episode guide to Solitary is in Finding Lost, pp. 57-62.

This is one of the episodes I was most looking forward to rewatching, since we actually saw Rousseau’s backstory in (sorta) real time in season 5. For the most part, the writers remained consistent with what Rousseau tells Sayid. The differences I noticed: she says they built the underground shelter in their first few days on the island, but when Rousseau kills Robert – who is the last of them save her – they’re still living on the beach. In her story to Sayid, she makes it sound like they lived on the island for two months before anything bad happened, and that they’d been attacked on their way back from the Black Rock, when in fact it happened on their first day on the island. She says she’s never seen any of the Others, but we know from “Dead Is Dead” that she saw Ben come and take Alex. Also, I’d mentioned back in my original episode guide for “The Little Prince” that I loved that she’s wearing the sweater we later see on the island, but now I see the sweater in “Solitary” is a dark brown colour, and the one she’s wearing when she comes to the island is a light grey. They could argue that over time it turned brown, but I don’t think it would take on quite that chocolate colour, no matter how old it is.

Fun stuff I noticed:
• Jack says that Sayid is a trained soldier, and it cuts to Sayid getting tripped up in the net. I remember at the time wondering if Sayid had been lying and actually had no idea what he was doing.
• Jack to Hurley: “Things could be worse.” Hurley: “How?” Me: “Um… let me tell you a little something about what’s about to happen to all of you…”
• The Island Open is even more meaningful now that we know they’re about to go through SO much worse… it was nice seeing all of them just enjoy themselves for a moment.

Things that have new meaning:
• Locke’s the guy who brings Ethan into the fold of the group. This could back up the theory that Locke may have been a baddie from the beginning, but it also makes me remember the flashback in “Further Instructions,” when he led the cop right into the marijuana grow-op commune.
• When Rousseau strokes Sayid’s cheek and says, “I’m so sorry,” we think of how kind and motherly she is when she’s so young in “This Place Is Death.”
• Sayid says to Rousseau, “The more I hold on, the more I pull away from those around me.” That could be said for just about every character by the end of season 5. Jack’s obsessions drove Kate away; Sawyer refuses to let go of the ideal of Kate; Kate is holding on to Aaron; Sun is holding on to her grief over Jin, etc.
• In the whisper transcript for this episode (see Finding Lost, page 61), you can hear a beep, like an old computer, which makes me wonder if the sound is coming from one of the old IBMs on the island.
• Since we didn’t see Rousseau with any of the stuff she had in the underground shelter (like the batteries), we can probably assume she either found it washed up on shore, or, more likely (since I doubt those batteries would have been aboard a boat) she’s found a few of the Dharma vans and took them out.

Questions that still need to be answered:
• What are the whispers?
• Why is Rousseau’s English even better now, after not speaking to anyone for 16 years, than it was when she first came to the island? (Yes, I’m being a smartass…)


JW said...

1.09 Solitary:
When we talked about Walkabout, a lot of you mentioned the writer, David Fury. I confess that I never paid attention to who wrote what episode until reading your comments about him. So I see he’s the writer of this episode too, and you know what? He’s my new hero! Think about it: he’s given an episode where Sayid spends the whole time talking to someone while torturing and being tortured, and meanwhile everyone else is playing golf. It’s not much to work with. And yet Fury’s dialogue is so riveting, he turns it into a must see episode of Lost.

Gillian Whitfield said...

Ethan!!! That baby that was born in 1977 and looks more like 35-40 than 27. My theory on the whispers: It's the ghosts of the survivors past and they are taunting the survivors and reminding them of their wrongdoings.

Hunter said...

I've finally caught up with the rest of the group! I was always a day or two behind the rest of you in the previous weeks. By the time I'd seen the episodes, everything I wanted to say had already been said.

I noticed most of the same inconsistencies as you did, Nik. Though the whole shirt thing, ya gotta let it go. It makes those of us who actually notice it look insane...which we are.

I'm an avid golfer and I love the golf scene everytime I watch it. I also feel so bad for the guys. Their putting green is terrible! How could you ever possibly judge the break on a putt!

It's amazing that this episode gives us two big mysteries that still haven't been solved after 5 seasons: the whispers and the sickness. I also had forgotten about the storm Danielle mentions, which must be the same storm that Lapidus and Naomi have to fly through to get to the island.

Jennifer said...

Okay, so I have some more questions as well as some observations.
Again with the irony: the torturer is being tortured.
And Sayid did see the one wire so he got tripped up by the net...give him a break! I thought Rousseau was wearing the same outfit...wasn't sure of colors.

Okay, Rousseau says, "They control it now." When did "they" take it over? Where is it again that her transmission originated from? She really understands the pain of losing someone you love because of something you did (she really is a tragic figure.) She also says, "'It' killed them all...It was them. They were the carriers." She's talking of the Others, right? What were they carriers of? What exactly killed them (her team?)

Why was her team (a science team, right?) at the Black Rock? Yes, I have seen what happened this season but I'm so confused and I have never had anyone to talk to about this before.

When Rousseau & Sayid hear the roar, she says..."If we're lucky..." and then "there's no such thing as monsters" So what does she think the roar is?

LOVING Hurley!!!

I continue to have issues with Kate(I seem to be fascinated with her), she says "...from one outcast to another..." Why does she feel like an outcast here? She seems to be fitting right on in.

Susan said...

Jennifer, I too have always thought Kate's outcast line was weird. Isn't she trying to hide the fact that she's different from everyone else?

Love the scene where Michael and Jack are closeup, discussing some important decision, then we find out they're deciding which club to use. Then Charlie and Hurley are at the flag waving their arms and taunting Jack.

I've been trying to reconcile the two stories we see of Danielle. We did miss some time between Jin's flashes, and maybe they had gone to the Black Rock and afterwards started acting strangely so Danielle thought they caught the sickness then. As for the hole in the ground, maybe they dug it out and later abandoned it - like our Losties did with the caves. I will have to rewatch This Place Is Death again to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Loved this episode; it showed us that Sayid can and does feel fear (evidenced by his fervent prayers to Allah while hanging from the tree), though normally level-headed and more than able to, as Jack put it, take care of himself.

My beef is perhaps even more minor than the sweater change, but I just have to wonder: If Rousseau is savvy enough to rig up an electrical torture device, MacGuyver style, out of some car batteries and a box spring (?) how is it she wasn't able to fix a simple mechanical music box that took Sayid three seconds to figure out?

And further, why did Rousseau even *have* an electrical torture device? Had she used it in the past? Not if she was being truthful about not having seen anyone else for 16 years. So did she rig it up solely for the purpose of torturing Sayid? She could have done that easily enough with her fists and feet, since he was tied down and helpless.

I'd also like to know how she managed to drag his unconscious body through the jungle and then heft him up there when she probably weighs 110 lbs soaking wet.

Of course these are minor details that I didn't even *notice* the first time around. I'm becoming more picky about inconsistencies on the re-watch!

The Shout said...

I've been reading a great little book called 'Memory: A Very Short Introduction' it talks about the reliablity of memory.

How you remember something relies on the emotional state you were in at the time (strong emotions create strong memories - which is why you can remember your first kiss but not what you did last week), altered by prejudices and can be effected by other memories. Memory is very subjective.

Also, listen to someone tell a story; they rarely tell it in a linear fashion. Different memories can become mixed over time creating new memories and the recounting of them can also be effected by how you subconsciously try to link events to fit your own view point and logic.

Taking these factors into consideration, eye witness testimony is completely unreliable. In fact, after 16 years, Rousseau does a pretty good job of recounting her story.

variabull said...

Danielle: But Nadia, you left her too?
Sayid: She wasn't on the plane. She's dead...because of me.

Sayid was on Oceanic 815 to L.A. to finally see Nadia after getting the information from the CIA. Nadia is run over after Sayid gets off the Island as a member of the Oceanic 6, an event Ben uses to turn Sayid into his own personal hitman. So is this another bit of dialogue like Charlie's "I was dead and Jack came back and pulled me up" and Sawyer's "4 year old birthday wish" or was Sayid trying to gain Danielle's sympathy?

Anonymous said...

Nikki - I've wondered that about Sayid myself considering the number on times he's been captured:

1) By Danielle here

2) By the remaining Others when they set the trap in the Season 3 Finale

3) In Season 3 when he, Locke and Kate find Otherville (remember he ends up handcuffed to the swing set)

4) By Hurley and Locke in S4 when he comes with Miles to get Charlotte

5) By Ilana in S5 - though he was drunk & horny

6) Back on the island he runs right up on Jin

Though I guess torture was his area of expertise your comment made me laugh.


Teebore said...

She says she’s never seen any of the Others, but we know from “Dead Is Dead” that she saw Ben come and take Alex.

Although, it's entirely possible that she didn't equate Ben with the Others. She doesn't think she's seen any of them, but she actually has.

Of course, then, one has to wonder about her trapping of Ben in season two: did she not recognize the man who stole her daughter (he'd lost the awful hairpiece by then, after all)? But I suppose that discussion should wait until we hit that point in the re-watch.

I don't think any of the contradictions between Rousseau's story here and what we saw in "This Place Is Death" can't be reconciled with some creative thinking (most of which has already been discussed) but at the same time, I wouldn't mind a little clarification on some points, particularly how it was that Rousseau lived on the island for at least four years with Dharma but apparently never encountered them.

I suppose Ben's threat to her when he took Alex kept her confined to a small part of the island, but then, you'd think Dharma would have stumbled over her even if she didn't stumble over them. Ah well, it's probably not that important.

Nikki Stafford said...

I've actually been ruminating over this episode for a few months now, after I revisited it after the Rousseau eps we saw in season 5. I've written about this episode a lot since January on my Nik at Nite blog. A LOT. So I didn't want to repeat everything I said over there, but if you've been following my S5 blog posts, you'll see how much I love this episode and how much I've been praising the writers for getting so much of it right. And as I wrote in my season 5 book, I think any inconsistencies between Rousseau's stories in the present and what happened could be chalked up to her state of mind -- I believe I actually said that a few months ago on those posts, too.

So I agree with Shout, that it must be traumatic to have to kill your lover, lose all your friends, and then have your baby taken. If everything in the scenes in season 5 had matched perfectly with Rousseau's story, I think I would have questioned it. I actually like that they've thrown in some details that are later wrong, to show that her state of mind had wavered. I don't think Rousseau is insane, but I do agree with Sayid, that she's been alone too long, and of course the mind can't handle that.

Teebore: Later this season she'll say the Others took Alex. So if she saw Ben walk in and take her, and she says it was one of the Others who took her, then she has indeed seen one of them. That's the only part of her memory that I think she would remember clearly, and I do actually still nitpick that.

However, I can see why she didn't match him up with the guy in the net. The Other who took Alex had horrible Pee-Wee Herman hair. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Gillian: I agree; I said that in my book, too, that Mapother is about 40 when we first see him, and I just don't buy that he's in his late 20s. Maybe the island has aged him. :) Or maybe he really was born in 1977, then when he was 10 he went back in time for 10 years and relived those years, still aging. Heehee...

Nikki Stafford said...

JW: Were you a Buffy fan at all? Fury is basically the writer who created Spike, and they always brought him in to write all of Spike's dialogue. The guy is pretty amazing. He's very vocal, outspoken, and controversial (a few years ago he loudly pronounced in interviews that no, in fact, the writers on Lost had NO IDEA where the series was going and were just making it up as they went along) but he's also a lot of fun. I interviewed him a few years ago and he was great.

Nikki Stafford said...

Hunter: I thought that, too! But then thought, hm... I guess they don't have a lawnmower, and short of taking some of Jack's surgical scissors and cutting back the putting green, I don't know what else they could do! ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

variabull: I've often wondered if Sayid says Nadia is dead just because he's given up hope at this point. When he sees her after the rescue, he blinks like he's looking at a ghost. I think deep down, he really thinks she's dead.

humanebean said...

ELO, kiddies! Back from the brink after missing out on last week's rewatch party due to pressing work obligations. It was great to read last week's recaps and commentary even if I hadn't the time to contribute!

Watching this episode again brought back memories of my initial impressions - as much as some pretty weird stuff had happened to the Losties by this point, it struck me that "Solitary" marked a bit of a turn towards darker material in the series. Torture? Perhaps it was the headlines of 2004, examining America's wartime policies and Abu Grahib in particular, but this episode struck a somber chord when it first aired that was distinct from its predecessors.

I recall the "Guys, where ARE we" factor ratcheting up a notch when Sayid found the trip wire in the jungle. Whaaaa? And, Nik - I too LOVED Hurley's response to Jack's line, "things could be worse." "HOW??" His exasperated tone is priceless.

Interesting to me that Sayid's superior tells him about a potential transfer to Intelligence and adds what sounds like "if you still wish it". Hmmmm, it's significant if Sayid was already into 'enhanced interrogation techniques' and was looking to step up to the Big Leagues with MI. Lends a bit more urgency to his career as a torturer.

I found new resonance in the shot of Danielle sighting Sayid down her rifle barrel given what we now know of her final encounter with Robert. No firing pin! "Robert didn't notice, either". DAMN, these guys are good!

"They control it now". And why, exactly, has first Dharma and now Ben's gang left Danielle's message broadcasting? I know they are jamming signals offshore ... but why not kill the message?

I thought they handled the introduction of Ethan extremely well, in an episode where some of the background survivors were featured more prominently. How cool is it that Danielle warns Sayid about the people he is returning to, "watch them closely". Abso-freakin'-LUTELY! I think I have less of a problem with what we will later realize is a discrepancy matching up Ethan's appearance to his age. Hey, being Tom Cruise's cousin for all those years will WEAR on a guy, ya know? ; ]

Azá said...

Great re-re-cap Nik - loving how succint these are and also all the comments from everyone, really good work!

Adding to the praise of the Humanebean, yaay for the writers and the cleverness with continuity of the firing pin on Robert...

I don't know if it was me or not, but I got the same feeling twice throughout the episode. When they are all playing golf, I can kind of hear the time travelling sound effect? :s

Surprised nobody has mentioned the translation of the photo? Again another reference to basically seeing you in the next life. There are so many similar lines:

- Desmond's legendary "See you in another life, brother".

- Jack to Desmond on Penny's boat - ditto.

- The driver of the sub in season 5 finale - "see you all on the other side"...

The Shout said...

One thing that struck me in this episode - Sayid shooting himself in order to stage Nadia's escape is later echoed by Michael freeing Ben. Interesting that both of them commit acts of betrayal which will lead to the deaths of friends, in an attempt to find a loved one.

V said...

In this episode Sayid learned Rousseau's name by reading it off a jacket. Did we ever see her wear that jacket in Season 5? I don't remember it, but that would be some cool continuity.

variabull said...

Sayid: Shes dead...because of me.

SORRY NIKKI, I don't buy it. In "The Greater Good" the CIA uses Nadia's whereabouts as a lure to get Sayid to infiltrate Essam's terrorist cell and retrieve the C4. When Sayid finds out that the cell wants his old university roomate to martyr himself he pleads with the agents to allow him to get Essam out. They are afraid that Essam's disapperance would result in the loss of their opportunity to get the C4 back. So they tell Sayid that Nadia is a lab technician in Irvine Ca. and they will arrest her as an enemy combatant if he doesn't persuade Essam to go through with the plan. So if Sayid really thinks she is dead why does he allow himself to be used in this way, with the resultant death of his friend? Also by the end of "Solitary" we find out that Sayid had secured her freedom those seven years ago in Iraq. I would think he would only feel responsible for her death after the hit-and-run by the "supposed" Widmore henchman after getting off the Island. He also used the Oceanic 815 ticket to try and get to LA.

I was thinking more along the lines of some sort of Minkowski Spacetime ramification for Island time with the possibility of no objective time flow since all events of spacetime are equally existent. Of course whenever I start to think about time on the Island I get a migraine.

Marebabe said...

I have one itty-bitty thing to add: Regarding Hurley's numbers, we hear Danielle ask the question, "Where is Alex?" 23 times. She cycles through all the languages she knows, and some of them are murky and hard to hear, but my count is 23.

Seabiscuit said...

I rather liked the rapport that Sayid established with Danielle, and the reveal of the mysterious French woman was well-done.

And I liked that the "Alex" of which she spoke turned out to be a girl. D

"I continue to have issues with Kate(I seem to be fascinated with her), she says "...from one outcast to another..." Why does she feel like an outcast here? She seems to be fitting right on in."

Indeed she was. But I always assumed she was referring to her fugitive life off-Island. Interesting how Sawyer later alludes to their mutual "outcast" status during their game of "I Never".

thorsten said...

Nikki, I don't know if you by 'old IBMs' refer to the mainframe machines whirring away in the Swans geodesic chamber, but the Dharmaputers usually are Apple IIs…

SonshineMusic said...

@Jennifer & Susan: about Kate. I think her outcast line here is very telling for her character. She always feels like the outcast, like the outsider. Even though it appears that she fits in and is even becoming a leader of the group, on the inside she still feels very much on the outside (wow, that sentence came out weird). She is hiding everything that she is and has done and so can't really belong.

@Teebore: how it was that Rousseau lived on the island for at least four years with Dharma but apparently never encountered them.

Of course, if she was freaked out of her mind by her people turning on her, then I would guess she didn't go exploring that much. And Dharmaville doesn't seem to go hunting around the Island too much, either.

Okay, now on to my thoughts...

Sawyer is such a jerk at the beginning of this episode and I just sigh and say, I love him, which is totally weird since I never, ever go for the bad boy, but on Lost my two favs are Sawyer and Ben. How twisted is that?

There really could have been a Sayid/Kate story line, the way she's all worried about him. That would have made for some interesting moments later on. I think the big thing is that the writers have not/will not allow any romance to develop and last. Anytime something begins to really go somewhere they kill someone off... Shannon, Libby, Juliet, etc.

LOL at Locke's line, "Ethan has some experience."!!!!

I love Hurley in this episode and his speech is so much more moving to me than Jack's live together speech.

about Rousseau and her comment about the Others. I was confused by that? Does she mean "the Others" or is she referring to her crew as "the others" or what?

This is the episode where that old triangle really kicks into gear with all three finally being aware of all the other components. Don't know why I feel that's significant, but I noticed it.

Susan said...

The main reason I find Kate's outcast remark weird is that she's trying to portray herself as a normal 20-something girl, hiding the fact that she's an outlaw. She fits in so well with the group I'm surprised Sawyer didn't wonder at her comment.

I think Danielle didn't encounter Dharma for two reasons: the truce kept Dharma in one section and Hostiles in another; and Ben warned her to run the other way if she ever heard anyone coming.

Benny said...

Quick hit:

Think about this, had it not been for the trap and Rousseau, Sayid may hav very well run into the barracks or some station by following the cable!

al10105 said...

Is it really necessary to point out every inconsistency of the previous seasons? Of course there will be goofs. We know the writers couldn't possibly have planned out every single detail that will last through the series. But really now, stating something as insignificant as the change in shirt colors over a certain amount of time and how she could have learned english better on her own? Now you're just being nitpicky.

Nikki Stafford said...

al10105: Actually, if you'd read the comments above you'll see that I stated I was only pointing these things out as things of interest, not nitpicking them at all. It never fails to amuse me that I could write thousands of words praising something, and then write a single sentence pointing out something that was less-than-perfect, and that's the one I get nailed for every time.

If you think I'm doing this just to nitpick the show, then you haven't been following the rest of the rewatch. Would I really be devoting this much of my life talking about a show that I just want to nitpick? Hardly.

Juanita's Journal said...

I haven't seen this episode in quite a while. I was a bit taken aback by Kate censuring Jack about Sawyer's torture. In fact, I found her comments rather hypocritical, considering that she didn't bother to free him when she had the chance. Or were her emotions really about Sayid's departure?