Scene of the Week 3: Mikhail & the Sonic Fence - Par Avion
Mikhail Gets Cooked at The Sonic Fence
SAYID: "The more I learn about your people, the more I suspect you're not as omniscient as you'd have us believe. Don't speak to us as if you know us."
MIKHAIL: "Of course I don't know you, Sayid Jarrah. How could I? And you, Kate Austen, are a complete stranger to me. But you John Locke, you I might have a fleeting memory of, but I must be confused, because the John Locke I know was paral-"
ROUSSEAU: "Hey! Look at this! Over here..."
The sonic fence was wickedly ominious and totally cool. Between the time the A-Team stumbled across it and Locke used Mikhail as a guinea pig to set it off, it's still not certain just who schooled who by the end of this scene.
Mikhail Bakunin was one of the most significant additions to the season three storyline. He was an Other like no other: one with a big mouth who talked openly about a great many things. In the short time we spent with him, Mikhail gave us a lot of answers to a lot of big questions. And although ostracized from the rest of The Others, he somehow still maintained a fierce and undying loyalty to his people... or at least, to their ultimate agenda.
KATE: "What is it?"
SAYID: "Don't touch it! Don't even go near it! What are these pylons?"
MIKHAIL: "What do you think they are?"
It's pretty interesting that Mikhail asks Sayid's opinion here. Instead of remaining silent or refusing to give answers, Mikhail smugly puts this question to Sayid as if challenging his captor to figure things out. He's taunting Sayid, yet at the same time it almost seems like he's fishing for him to come up with a specific answer... an answer that might help Mikhail accomplish the same exact goal he had by the end of last week's episode: getting himself killed off.
SAYID: "A security perimeter. Those sensors on the side would be triggered if anyone passed between them. It's an alarm system, or a trap. Either way, we'd be safer going around it."
By the time this scene plays out, we already know Mikhail's not going to be cooperative. He's already killed one of his own people, Ms. Klugh, in order to keep the Flight 815 survivors from learning anything valuable. After Locke's destruction of the Flame Station, Mikhail has also asked to be killed himself, demonstrating a willingness to go down with his ship.
Sayid realizes this, and is ready to take anything out of Mikhail's mouth as a lie. But even one play ahead of that, Mikhail knows just how much Sayid doesn't trust him. Which may be why he actually tells Sayid the truth.
MIKHAIL: "You're right, it was a security perimeter. But like everything else on this island, it hasn't functioned in years."
SAYID: "Of course it hasn't."
One of two things just happened here. The first possibility is outright deception: Mikhail just used reverse psychology to make Sayid believe the fence is turned on. From here until the end of the scene, Sayid and the rest of his A-Team believe the fence to be live - and this is exactly what Mikhail wanted them to think.
The other explanation is a lot more figurative, mysterious, and completely LOST-ish: the fence wasn't working at all. Up until Sayid believed it was turned on, it was nothing more than a broken down relic from 70's Dharma. Mikhail's wry, smirking duplicity has his captors so convinced that the fence is live that it actually becomes operational - at least in their eyes.
Think about it this way: on the island, seeing isn't believing... believing is seeing. This theme is repeated over and over throughout LOST, scene after scene, in every single season. Case in point - think back to Abandoned, when Shannon first began seeing Walt. Remember how Sayid couldn't see Walt until he actually believed in Shannon. The very moment he did, Sayid turned around... and there Walt was.
MIKHAIL: "If you wish to waste your time, be my guest. The pylons encircle the entire Barracks. There is no going around them. If you don't believe me, look at your map."
Either way, the map is the final nail in the coffin for Sayid. It reinforces Mikhail's story enough for him to know they can't get around the fence. To continue, they'll have to press on.
This is more than enough justification for John Locke - he kicks Mikhail into the field between pylons. And just like the rest of the A-Team, Locke is fully expecting to see some fireworks.
MIKHAIL: "Thank you."
Grinning smugly, Mikhail now has exactly what he wants: a release from captivity through death. We watch him writhe in pain, spit foam from his mouth, and stream blood from his ears. As his neck and chin turn red, Mikhail falls to the ground and dies. Or at least, it sure looks that way.
But was this an actual, physical death? Or in watching Mikhail appear to die, are we only seeing what the 815 survivors expected to see?
Later on we'll learn that Mikhail is very much alive. In The Man Behind The Curtain, he shows up at The Other's encampment to report back to Ben. When he does, it's interesting to note there's not a speck of blood on Mikhail's ears, face, or the shoulders of his jumpsuit. For someone who just got brain-roasted by high-tech 70's sonic weaponry, he seems pretty legit. In fact, Mikhail is fresh as a daisy.
His conversation with Ben is even more interesting.
BEN: "I thought you were dead."
MIKHAIL: "I'm fortunate the pylons were not set to a lethal level."
Before Mikhail says this line, he pointedly looks over his shoulder at the gathering crowd of Others. This line was for their benefit, not for Ben's. If he didn't have one eye, Mikhail would've winked at Ben for effect.
The point here is that Benjamin Linus knew Mikhail was alive... just as Mikhail knew he'd live through his ordeal at the fence. As far as the chain of command goes, Mikhail is pretty high up there. He knows stuff. He's familiar with how the island works. Right now in this scene, he and Ben are appeasing the confused masses who've already heard of the Ukrainian's death. This is nothing more than a bullshit tale of sonic survival, woven between captains to keep the rest of the grunts in the dark.
If you ask me, something much deeper happened here.