ben and sayid: a case study

hello, friends! apologies (again) for the delay in posting. i should learn not to promise “tomorrow” when the constant threat of day-off distractions and having to go to the dmv (shudder) is on the horizon.

however, while we are on the topic of my deliquincy, i must confess that i will be missing the april 8 episode of lost. le sigh, but i will be on vacation (!) in the carribbean. i may hand over the reins to another excellent party, but i shall keep you posted.

now, onto more important matters: HE’S OUR YOU. first of all,  i would like to posit that, at first, i thought this might not be the best title for the episode. zippy line? yes. episode-title-worthy? meh. then again, when i looked beyond that line, i thought of the “our you” part. the whole episode seemed to harp on the connection between ben and sayid. the show has a lot of polar opposites: sawyer/jack ; locke/jack ; ben/widmore; the losties/the others. and while the purpose of drawing oppositions is often to point out similarities rather than differences,”he’s our you” seemed to draw the parallels between ben and sayid.

when sayid goes to rescue hurley from santa rosa, he says “whatever ben asks you to do, do the opposite.” but, it appears that ben and sayid are not so opposite. while they may operate under different ideological systems, both ben and sayid seem to function with some of the same fundamental principles: they do what needs to be done, no matter what. where sayid uses violence, ben uses manipulation. it seems innate to them both, this ability to warp others through malevolent means. and while sayid has tried to stay away from his nature, ben seems to have wholeheartedly embraced it.

but what made ben as wiley as he is? as a kid, he seems sweet and damaged, but cruel? not yet. (although give him a few  years with that asshole roger workman…) as with the purpose of all the flashbacks in the series, we ask “what makes a man or woman who he or she is? what historical factors have lead up to who this person is at this point in his or her life?” and while some character traits seem to be influenced by historical events, lost, especially with this episode, seems to suggest that some characteristics are innate, and they cannot always be tamed.

with the explosive ending to this episode, where young ben is shot by a high-on-destiny sayid, one cannot help but ask: 1. is ben dead? can they DO THAT? WHAT THE CRAP IS GOING TO HAPPEN NOW?!?!??! and 2. if ben is not dead, if he survives this horrific incident, does this partially make him who he is today?

fatal wound?

fatal wound?

i’m going to go on the record right now and posit that young ben will live through this incident. and while i can be convinced that the “future” that sun, frank and ghost pops are in is one where ben dies, the purge happens and dharma shuts down for a very differnet reason (notice that the “orientation” hut was still widely intact; dharmaville was not yet otherville), i gotta say that lil’ ben pulls through. and if he does, that would mean that ben has, effectively, known sayid for almost his entire life. the face of the man  he trusted, who he thought would liberate him from his horrid life, but then betrayed him andattempted to kill him, would be burned into ben’s brain forever.

which, if true, makes every interaction with these two fraught with hidden meaning. ben knew that he would have to get sayid backto the island so that he would attempt to kill him as a child. but along the way, he plays with sayid like a cat with a mouse, sadistically torturing it for his own pleasure.

below, i’ve collected a series of key sayid/ben interactions for your interpreation. leave any thoughts in the comments section.

(transcripts from


From Episode 2.14, “One of Them”

DANIELLE: Don’t believe a word he says.


DANIELLE: He’s one of them.

VOICE: I have no idea what she’s talking about. She’s crazy.

SAYID: How long has he been up there?

VOICE: Since last night. Please, just cut me down. My name is Henry Gale. I’m from Minnesota. Please.

DANIELLE: He’s lying.

SAYID [pulling out his knife]: I’m going to cut him down.


GALE: Thank you.

DANIELLE: You’re making a serious mistake.

SAYID [after cutting him down]: It’s okay; it’s okay. You’re alright. Hold on. Take it easy.

[Danielle prepares her cross bow. Gale sees her.]

GALE [running]: No.

SAYID: Wait. Danielle, don’t!

[Danielle shoots Gale in the shoulder. Sayid runs to him.]

SAYID: You could have killed him.

DANIELLE: If I wanted to kill him, I would have killed him.

SAYID: You shot this man with no provocation.

DANIELLE: He is one of them. Tie him up. You should take him to your doctor. He’s no good to you dead.

SAYID [tying him up]: And then what?

DANIELLE: You talk to him, Sayid. As I recall that is what you do. But know this — he will lie — a long time. He will lie.

[Sayid starts carrying him back to camp.]

BONUS: later in the episode, sayid to locke:

SAYID: Why would I need to punish anyone? I want to find out who he is. I want the truth. And I think we both know that Jack will have issues with what must be done in order to get it. So how long, John, to change the combination?

sayid and ben are in the chamber alone:

SAYID: Your wife, what is her maiden name?

GALE: Murphy.

SAYID: Where did you meet her?

GALE: University of Minnesota.

SAYID: How did she die?

GALE: She got sick.

SAYID: She got sick?

GALE: It started as a fever. After 2 days she was delirious. Then she died. I don’t know why you’re asking me all these questions. I don’t know why you’re treating me this way — why I have to explain to you who I am when you don’t tell me who you are.

SAYID: I was 23 years old when the Americans came to my country. I was a good man. I was a soldier. And when they left I was something different. For the next 6 years I did things I wish I could erase from my memory — things which I never thought myself to be capable of. But I did come to learn this — there was a part of me which was always capable. You want to know who I am? My name is Sayid Jarrah, and I am a torturer.

From Episode 2.18, “Dave” :

SAYID [pulling a 20 dollar bill out his pocket]: You really should have checked his wallet before you did that. I assume Henry Gale did not have any paper on which to compose his thoughts, so he had to improvise. There wasn’t much space for that. [reading from the bill] “Jennifer, well you were right. Crossing the Pacific isn’t easy. I owe you a beer. I’m hiking to one of the beaches to start a signal fire. If you’re reading this I guess I didn’t make it. I’m sorry. I love you, Jenny. Always have; always will. Yours, Henry.” So tell me, how did Henry Gale write a note to his wife with a broken neck?

GALE [panicky]: It wasn’t me. I didn’t kill him. You don’t understand.

SAYID: How did you know his wife’s name? Did you interrogate him?

GALE: Please, just listen. I’m just a —

SAYID: How many of you are there?

GALE: If I told you about them — you have no idea what he’ll do.


ANA: You mean their leader — the guy with the beard.

GALE: Him? He’s no one. Nothing.

SAYID: Where are your people?

GALE: I can’t…

SAYID: How many of you are there?!

GALE: You don’t understand.

SAYID [pulling a gun]: Understand this —

ANA: Hey.

SAYID: You have 3 seconds to answer my question. How many of you are there? 1 —

GALE: He’ll kill me!

SAYID: I’ll kill you. [he pushes the slide back on the gun] 2…

ANA: Sayid!

GALE: You can’t do this! I am not a bad person!


[Ana pushes Sayid just as he pulls the trigger so that he misses Gale.]

From episode 4.03 “The Economist” :

[DANIELLE opens a door and SAYID enters. DANIELLE locks the door after him. BEN is tied to a chair inside.]

BEN: Well… I guess they’re running out of jail space.

[SAYID looks annoyed and rattles the metal grates on the windows. SAYID paces the room, looking for a way out.]

BEN: I lost a dollar, you know.

SAYID: How did you manage that?

BEN: I bet John that you wouldn’t be stupid enough to fall for your friend as bait.

SAYID: What do you know about friendship?

BEN: I know it’s no use having friends you can’t trust.

[A row of dog kennels is seen, with dogs yipping and barking. SAYID enters through a set of double doors, cradling his arm. SAYID stands in a doorway, sweaty, out of breath, and in obvious pain.]

MAN 2: Take your shirt off.

[SAYID removes his jacket. A procedure room is seen, with a light trained on a table covered in paper. SAYID takes his shirt off and sits. A man walks past him and trains the light on SAYID’s wounded shoulder.]

MAN 2: Is she dead?

SAYID: (crying) Yes.

MAN 2: Why didn’t she kill you?

[The man sticks a needle in SAYID’s wound. SAYID grimaces.]

SAYID: She was trying to get information from me.

MAN 2: What sort of information?

SAYID: She wanted to know who I worked for. She wanted to know about you.

MAN2: Of course she did.

[The MAN is revealed to be BEN.]

BEN: Why are you crying? Because it hurts? Or because you were stupid enough to care for her? These people don’t deserve our sympathies. Need I remind you what they did the last time you tought with your heart instead of your gun?

SAYID: You used that to recruit me into killing for you.

BEN: Do you want to protect your friends or not, Sayid? I have another name for you.

SAYID: But they know I’m after them now.

BEN: Good.

From Episode 4.09 “The Shape of Things to Come”

BAKIR: Who are you and why are you following me?

BEN: My name is Benjamin Linus.

[Recognition crosses Bakir’s face and his gun lowers slightly.]

BEN: And I need you to take a message to Mr. Widmore for me.

BAKIR: And what message is that?

[A sound-suppressed shot is heard and Bakir goes down. The camera shifts to the side to show Sayid standing there holding a gun with a silencer. After a shared glance between the two living men, Sayid walks towards the body on the ground and empties the chamber into the corpse. When the bullets are gone he continues pulling the trigger.]

BEN: That should do it.

[Sayid continues staring at Bakir while Ben turns to walk away.]

SAYID: Wait.

[Ben stops and faces Sayid.]

SAYID: Where do you think you’re going?

BEN: We’re finished here, Sayid. Turn around, walk away. Mourn your loss. Get on with your life.

[Ben moves to leave.]

SAYID: I have no life. They took it from me.

[Ben stops and faces Sayid again.]

BEN: Go home, Sayid. Once you let your grief become anger, it will never go away. (pause) I speak from experience. (pause) This is my war. It’s not yours.

[As Ben turns to leave once more, Sayid grabs him by the arm and pulls him close.]

SAYID: (softly) I spent the last eight years of my life searching for the woman I love. (pause) I finally found her and I married her. (pause) …and I buried her yesterday. So don’t tell me this is not my war. (pause) Benjamin, who’s next?

BEN: (eyeing Sayid) I’ll be in touch.

[Ben takes his leave, but as he does, shades of a manipulative smile can be seen on his face.]


One Response to “ben and sayid: a case study”

  1. Madeleine Says:

    hey! that’s ok ! thanks for that amazing long post with all transcriptions, it’s very helpful.

    so now some of my thoughts…

    i wonder why ben is not trying to change his past (i mean about sayid coming back to the island) because if the past can be changed (otherville discovered by sun and franck is different than the version we saw before), did Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid in the 70’s already happen or is it happening now?

    i was reading some of your old posts and loved that polly pocket theory. but then ben, who’s not born on the island, should move with jack, kate, etc?

    it seems like we can’t have an unified theory about this for now, maybe it’s completely different from what we think, and the exceptions (ben not moving in time or the past changed) will be explained in an other way…

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