This article is about the episode. For the character referenced in the episode, see Economist.

"The Economist" is the third episode of Season 4 of Lost, and the seventy-fifth produced hour of the series as a whole. It was originally broadcast on February 14, 2008. Locke’s hostage may be the key to getting off the Island, so Sayid and Kate go in search of their fellow castaways in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful deal.


Previously on Lost

On the Island

Sayid is praying near the helicopter while Jack and Miles argue about what to do about Ben and Charlotte. Miles wants to retrieve them, but Jack is more cautious. Sayid goes to Naomi's body, closes her eyes and covers her with a blanket. He finds a metal bracelet she wears and takes it off of her wrist and reads an inscription on it: "N, I'll always be with you. R.G."

Sayid holding Naomi's bracelet.

Meanwhile, Locke and his group are trekking through the jungle. Sawyer suggests torturing Ben to find out who is Ben's spy on the freighter, but Locke thinks it would be pointless. When they arrive at the place where Jacob's cabin used to be, Locke finds the ash on the ground that was there on his first visit, but there is no trace of the cabin. Hurley awkwardly expresses his disagreement over Locke's plan to keep Charlotte as a hostage, but Locke admonishes him and makes it clear that he is making the decisions. They head on to the Barracks.

At the helicopter, Sayid offers to go and retrieve Charlotte from Locke. He believes that he can do it safely without violence while Jack will only cause violence. He gets Frank to promise that if he brings Charlotte back, Frank will take Sayid to the freighter. Miles and Sayid prepare to go retrieve Charlotte. Jack suggests to Kate she should go with them because he doesn't trust Locke, and the three set off to the Barracks. Sayid has Naomi's bracelet.

Hurley is found in the closet.

Daniel takes the opportunity to perform an experiment. He sets up a tripod with a beacon and a clock on it, then asks Frank for his phone so he can call Regina. Frank hands it over on the condition that he hang up if Minkowski answers. Daniel agrees and phones the freighter, getting Regina. He asks her to send a payload (a small rocket) to his beacon. Regina does so and begins counting down the arrival of the payload in rapid 5-kilometer-steps, starting with 40 km. But when she reaches zero the rocket has not arrived. Regina claims that is "weird," while Daniel responds that it is "far more than weird." Some time later. to Daniel's surprise, the rocket finally arrives. Daniel compares the time on a digital clock from the rocket with the one from the tripod and sees that they are different by 31 minutes and 18 (00:31:18) seconds. Concerned, he says to himself "Oh no, this is not good."

Sayid, Kate, and Miles reach the Barracks and find it deserted. They sneak around the settlement and hear muffled banging, which leads them to Hurley tied up in a closet. Hurley tells them that he was left behind by Locke. He says that he tried to talk Locke out of threatening Charlotte and that Locke tied Hurley up in the closet. Hurley says that he doesn't know where the rest of Locke's group went, but that they were going to stop at Ben's house before they left.

One of Ben's fake passports.

Sayid, Miles, and Kate head to Ben's house and begin to search it. While Kate searches the bedroom, Sayid finds a hidden walk-in closet off the living room. In the closet are sets of nice clothing and several bureaus. Opening drawers, Sayid finds bundles of banknotes different countries and several passports also from different nationalities, presumably all Ben's. The Swiss passport Sayid opens lists his name as "Dean Moriarty".

Desmond confronts Frank about the photo.

In the bedroom, Kate is searching under Ben's bed when she sees a pair of feet enter the room. When she stands up she sees Sawyer. He motions for her to be quiet, but Kate yells for Sayid. When Sayid runs out of the closet he finds Locke pointing a gun at him. In the kitchen, Rousseau has a gun pointed at Miles. As the three of them are herded together, Hurley appears and apologizes for lying.

Locke takes Sayid to the Others' game room, where Kate had been imprisoned before. There Sayid finds Ben. Meanwhile, Kate and Sawyer talk about why they decided to go with Jack and Locke, respectively. When Kate explains she went with Jack because she believes the freighter can get them off the Island, Sawyer asks her why she's so anxious to go back to prison, adds that he has nothing to go back to himself and implies that they could live a better life together in the barracks. Kate responds by asking how long they would be able to "play house". Sawyer responds "why don't we find out?"

Locke offering Sayid iced tea.

Locke apologizes to Sayid for the ruse, saying it was all to find whether or not the three of them were alone. Sayid indicates that he does not trust Miles and his people either, and suggests that he can find out more if he takes Charlotte and goes to the freighter. Locke says he won't turn over Charlotte for nothing, Sayid hints at a deal. At the helicopter, Desmond has arrived back with Juliet. He confronts Frank about the picture Naomi had of him and Penelope. Frank refuses to answer. Desmond gets angry and demands that Frank take him to the freighter on the next flight; Frank agrees. As they finish talking, Sayid and Charlotte coming over the hill. Kate and Miles are nowhere to be seen. When Jack asks what happened to Kate, Sayid tells him that she decided to stay with Locke.

The helicopter takes off.

Sayid says that he traded Miles for Charlotte. Frank accuses him of being dishonest about their deal, but nonetheless agrees to take Sayid to the freighter because Miles was "nothin' but a pain in my ass" anyway. Frank offers to take a third person, but both Charlotte and Daniel want to remain on the Island for now. Sayid insists that they take Naomi's body.

As Sayid and Desmond load Naomi into the chopper, Daniel takes Frank aside and tells him that no matter what happens, they must fly on the exact same bearing they used to get to the Island. Frank agrees to do as Daniel says and lifts off, piloting the chopper off of the Island.


Sayid leaves a dead Mr. Avellino on the golf course.

Sayid is playing golf in the Seychelles. A man approaches on a golf cart and begins a conversation. Sayid seems reluctant to converse with him, saying that they have paid a premium for privacy at the Club. The man asks Sayid what he does for a living; Sayid replies that he lives off of a substantial settlement he received from Oceanic Airlines, revealing that he is one of the Oceanic Six. On hearing this, the man becomes nervous but they play out their shots for a €100 wager which the man wins. When the man goes to leave Sayid calls him by his name, Mr. Avellino, and shoots him dead. Sayid calmly walks away.

Sayid and Elsa decide on a location for their date.

At some other time Sayid walks into a swank cafe in Berlin, Germany during the winter. The only empty seat is at a table where a blonde woman is working on her laptop. Sayid asks her for directions to Potsdamer Platz. She gives them to him in North American English and introduces herself as Elsa. When Sayid asks her what she does, she tells him that she works as a personal assistant for an "economist". She carries a pager which he uses to alert her when he's in Germany and needs her services - which is only a few times a year. She asks Sayid what he does, he tells her that he's a corporate headhunter and will only be in town for one week. She remarks that Sayid seems familiar to her somehow. He offers to take her to dinner that night. After leaving the cafe, Sayid calls someone on a cellphone, saying that he has "made contact", and then throws the phone in the trash.

Sayid and Elsa kiss as they get ready to leave for the opera.

On their fifth date, Sayid and Elsa get ready to leave her place to go to the opera; they seem affectionate, and Elsa impulsively decides to leave her pager at home, saying that she'd rather just spend the evening with Sayid and doesn't care if her boss calls that night. Sayid offers to carry the pager for her, saying that he wouldn't want her to be fired on his account. When Elsa asks why he's still in Berlin - presumably it's been longer than a week - Sayid tells her that his job is taking longer than expected. She wistfully tells him that she wishes that she was the reason he was staying.

Sayid shoots Elsa after she has shot him.

Later that evening, Sayid and Elsa lie in bed after sex. Elsa tells Sayid that she's growing tired of not knowing anything about his job or background; she loves him and that they shouldn't have secrets. Sayid agrees and says he will tell her everything, but her pager goes off. She scrambles to dress and go to her boss. Sayid asks where she's going, and she tells him the name of a hotel. Sayid tells her that she must leave Berlin, and that people will be asking questions about "what happened to [her] boss." At this point, Elsa realizes that their meeting was not about her, but a way for Sayid to get to her boss and asks whether he is going to kill him. Sayid says "he is not an economist." Upset, she retreats into the bathroom. Still on the bed Sayid tries to talk to her, she turns around with a gun in her hand and shoots him.

As Sayid lies bleeding on the bed, Elsa, still in the bathroom, calls someone and reports that she hasn't killed Sayid and that now he will not tell her the name of his employer. As she talks, Sayid grabs something and throws it against the mirror near the bathroom door which she was using to watch Sayid. When she rushes out of bathroom, he lunges for his gun and shoots her. He struggles over to her body and weeps. As he holds her, he notices a bracelet (similar to Naomi's bracelet).

Ben is satisfied that "they" know Sayid is coming.

Later, Sayid stumbles into a dimly lit veterinarian's office. He proceeds into the surgery, where a voice tells him to take off his jacket. Sayid sits down, and the person begins treating the wound and questioning him about what Elsa's objective had been. Sayid tells him that she had been trying to find out his and his employer's identity. Benjamin Linus's face is impassive as he works on Sayid's shoulder. When Sayid brokenly expresses remorse for having killed Elsa, Ben tells him "these people don't deserve our sympathies," asking Sayid if he remembers what "they" did the "last time you followed your heart instead of your gun?" Sayid indicates that it was through this event that Ben recruited him. Ben reminds him that the work they are doing is to protect Sayid's "friends." He says that he has another target for Sayid's list. Sayid observes that "they" now know he is coming, to which Ben replies, "Good."


  • This is the first flash-forward episode in which Jack does not have a flash-forward.
  • The timers are off by approximately 31 minutes and 18 seconds (1878 seconds or 31.3 minutes).
  • Elsa, Sayid's target, has several similarities with another woman in his life, Shannon. She is also tall and fair, with light blond hair, and she also dies from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
    • Both women die shortly after sleeping with Sayid.
  • On Sayid's map, Elsa circles the intersection of Planckstrasse and Georgenstrasse, in the section of Berlin known as Mitte. In this area, the two restaurants most likely to be the site of their first date would be either the Deponie No. 3, which serves traditional German fare, or the 12 Apostel Mitte ("The 12 Apostles"), a restaurant specializing in pizza. The background tower visible in the street scenes is the Fernsehturm am Alexanderplatz, usually considered to be the geographic center of Berlin.
  • Among Ben's foreign banknotes is an original Series E £20 note issued by the Bank of England, withdrawn in 2001. The design incorporates the face of Michael Faraday.
  • The New Zealand passport shown briefly from the drawer is a diplomatic passport. Standard issue New Zealand passports are blue, while the one shown in the episode was red.
  • The passport that Sayid picked up to inspect was from Switzerland.
    • The date of birth on this passport is March 3, 1962. It was issued on April 2, 2003 and expires on April 1, 2013. This would make the identity Ben assumes 42 years of age (1962-2004).
  • Many fans speculated that the scene in this episode on the golf course took place after the final scene with Ben and that the man Sayid killed, Mr. Avellino, was in fact the next person on the list. This was debunked by the producers. [source needed]
  • Sayid is confirmed as the third member of the Oceanic Six.
  • This episode is rated TV-14-V.

Production notes

Bloopers and continuity errors

The menu in the German restaurant.

  • Sayid inquires of Frank Lapidus if the helicopter will fly, but in the previous episode "Confirmed Dead" Sayid answered "absolutely" when Jack asked him if the helicopter still worked.
  • Daniel asks for Frank's phone, which he gives to Daniel so he can contact the Kahana. However, in the previous episode, Frank's phone had been damaged when he landed on the island.
  • When Sayid shoots Mr. Avellino in the golf course, objects around the area are casting shadows. At the next overhead shot, all the shadows are gone.
  • The blackboard menu in the restaurant where Sayid meets Elsa has spelling errors: "Tages Menu" ("menu of the day"; "Tageskarte" would be correct. "Tagesmenü" would be a table d'hôte of the day); "Grilltes Huhnerfilet mit Gemüse" ("grilled chicken filet with vegetables"; should be "Gegrilltes Hühnerfilet mit Gemüse"); "Steak mit Knobloch Kartoffen" ("steak with garlic potatoes"; should be "Steak mit Knoblauchkartoffeln"); and "Gulash mit Bratkartoffen" ("goulash with roast potatoes"; should be "Gulasch mit Bratkartoffeln").
  • The triangular traffic sign warning about pedestrians crossing the road is typically used on country roads rather than the city. The additional sign "Mo-Fr 16-24 h Sa u. So 9-24 h Bewohner mit Parkausweis für Zone 29 frei" limits the warning to the given times and excludes residents with "Zone 29" parking permit completely. Also, the sign is of a different design than German traffic signs and the text would have been split to two additional signs.
  • There are no yellow stripes on sidewalks in Germany.
  • Several odd store names: "Weinlese Teppich" translates as "grape harvest carpets", so unless the store owner goes by the highly unusual name "Weinlese," this appears to be a mistranslation of "vintage carpet." There is also a flower shop using the awfully generic name "Blumen Laden" ("flower shop"); although the correct German spelling would be as a single word ("Blumenladen"), this is a common error actually made by many German store owners these days.
  • The green Brazilian passport found in Ben's drawer has three mistakes. An authentic Brazilian passport would read "Brasil," "Passaporte" and "República" rather than the English "Brazil," "Passport" and "Republica" that are seen in the episode. Similar mistakes were made on Paulo's passport in "Exposé"
  • A shop seen in the episode, "Art und Weise" [3], is indeed real, but is not located on a street where the Alexanderplatz TV-tower is as visible as it is in the episode.
  • The amount of iced tea in Locke's cup changes from full to half full a number of times without him taking any sips.


The Season 4 soundtrack includes the track "Lost Away - Or Is It?" from this episode.


Recurring themes

  • The Numbers 16 and 23 appear on the rocket's digital clock that Daniel Faraday is holding during his experiment. (The Numbers)
  • In the cafe where Sayid and Elsa met for the first time there's a picture on the wall showing a beer commercial "1516 Rein." The German purity law for beer (Reinheitsgebot) was declared on 4/23/1516. (The Numbers)
  • Elsa tells Sayid to meet her at the restaurant at 8:00. (The Numbers)
  • Sayid plays golf. (Games)
  • Sayid prays toward Mecca on the island. (Religion)
  • Although on the Island Sayid states that "...the day I start trusting him [Ben] is the day I will have sold my soul", he later winds up working for Ben as a hit man. (Fate versus free will)
  • Ben is waiting for Sayid at a vet's office. (Animals)
  • Hurley tricks Sayid, Kate, and Miles into being captured by Locke by pretending to have been left behind. (Deceptions and cons)
  • After leaving the Island, Sayid is working as an international hit man for Ben. (Redemption)  (Death)
  • Daniel's experiment shows an apparent inconsistency between time on the Island and off it. (Time)
  • Sayid says he has to kill the economist because he is on a list. (Lists)
  • Sayid does a deal with Frank for a seat on the helicopter if he brings Charlotte back but he gives up Miles to get her. (Deceptions and cons)
  • Sayid closes Naomi's eyes. (Eyes)
  • Sayid closes Elsa's eyes after killing her. (Eyes)
  • Sayid breaks a mirror in order to attract Elsa's attention and to make time to grab his gun. (Deceptions and cons)
  • Elsa and Sayid have been dating, but both with ulterior motives. (Secrets)  (Deceptions and cons)
  • Elsa is killed. (Death)
  • In his house Ben keeps a hidden room filled with clothing, cash from around the world and passports. (Secrets)
  • While playing golf at the Seychelles, Sayid wore a white glove, while Mr. Avellino wore a black one. (Black and white)
  • Hurley is called "Tubby" by Miles. Ben is called "Gizmo" by Sawyer (Nicknames)

Cultural references

  • On The Road: Sayid finds a passport of Ben's with the alias Dean Moriarty, a central character in this novel by Jack Kerouac, who also wrote Dharma Bums. Kerouac's Moriarty is based on Neal Cassady, who is also depicted in The Electric Koolaid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, often repeatedly tossing a sledgehammer up in the air and catching it. (Literary works)
  • Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty is also the name of Sherlock Holmes' arch-nemesis, often considered literature's first super-villain. (Literary works)
  • Holy Qu'ran: A copy of the Holy Qur'an is on the bookshelf in front of Ben's hidden room. (Religion and ideologies)  (Literary works)
  • Break Dancing: Hugo refers to Sayid's lethal leg movement in "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" as such. (Pop culture)
  • Gremlins: Sawyer calls Ben "Gizmo", referring to his bug eyes. Gizmo is one of the main characters in the films Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. (Movies and TV)
  • Berlin Wall: The café in which Sayid and Elsa meet is called "Die Mauer" (the wall), a reference to the Berlin Wall. (History)
  • Sudoku: Elsa is seen holding a book with "More Easy Sudoku Puzzles" written on the back. (Games)
  • Baseball: Jack asks Frank if the Red Sox really did win the World Series, and comments that it has been 100 days since he has seen a game. (Games)
  • "If You Stayed Over": This song by British musician Bonobo (featuring Fink) is playing in Elsa's room while she and Sayid are in bed together. (Music)
  • Time dilation experiments: Daniel performed a time dilation experiment to see how the Island affects time. (Science)
  • "Playing House": Playing 'house,' a game in which children pretend to be a family (with at least a husband and wife, often children and pets), is a common childhood activity. Sawyer tells Kate they can stay at the Barracks comfortably, and that there is nothing left for them in the "real" world. Kate asks Sawyer how long they could play house for. (Games)
  • Cast Away: The main character in this movie is stranded on an island in the South Pacific after a plane crash. He places a clock in a "payload" to see how long it takes to arrive at a specified destination. (Movies and TV)
  • Strauss: Sayid remarks "Let's go, Strauss awaits." This could be a reference to either Richard Strauss (1864-1949) or Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899). Both composers penned many operas that remain popular in Germany. (Music)
  • Back to the Future: The scene when Daniel holds the two digital clocks side by side is reminiscent of the first film in the Back to the Future trilogy, when Doc Brown performs his experiment with his dog Einstein. The dog is sent to the future and, one minute later, Doc is seen on screen comparing side by side a stopwatch that time-traveled and one that stayed put. (Movies and TV)

Literary techniques

  • Sayid says "...the day I start trusting him [Ben] is the day I will have sold my soul" on the Island, but ends up working for Ben in the future. (Irony)  (Foreshadowing)
  • On the Island, Sayid uses diplomacy and tries to honor a dead woman's body. Off the Island, he is a pragmatic assassin. (Irony)
  • When Sayid and Kate find Hurley in the closet, he says that he was "left behind" just as Juliet did. (Regularly spoken phrases)
    • However, like Juliet, Hurley was not actually left behind. It was simply a ruse to allow him to infiltrate the "opposing" side. (Juxtaposition)
  • Locke brings Sayid and Ben iced tea. Mikhail brought Sayid and Kate iced tea. (Juxtaposition)
  • Sayid finds items behind a bookcase, including hidden money, as did Miles in "Confirmed Dead". (Juxtaposition)
  • The scene where Kate sees Sawyer's shoes walk through the door, from under the bed, mirrors Sawyer's back-story in Season 1 where a young Sawyer sees his father's shoes from under the bed, before his parents' deaths. (Juxtaposition)
  • Sayid says to Jack: "You're not the best candidate for this kind of mission," just as Naomi told Abaddon that "these are the wrong people for a mission like this" in "Confirmed Dead". (Regularly spoken phrases)
  • Charlotte says to Frank that she has "work to do." (Regularly spoken phrases)
  • Sayid says the job he's on is proving harder than he first thought. Elsa says she hoped he was staying in Berlin because of her, which in fact he is. (Plot twist)  (Irony)
  • The episode title is "The Economist" and the plot in the flash-forward revolves around him, but we never see or know who he is. (Unseen character)
  • Sayid tells Elsa he is a head-hunter, meaning a corporate recruiter, while he kills people for Ben - so he is literally a head-hunter. (Foreshadowing)
  • The delay between the freighter and the Island is 31 minutes. Elsa was paged by her boss "half an hour early." (Juxtaposition)
  • Sayid and Kate are captured moments after arriving at the Barracks, just as they were in "The Man from Tallahassee". (Juxtaposition)
  • When Kate asks Sawyer why he wants to stay on the Island he says that there's nothing waiting for him out there. Kate had asked him why he wanted to leave in "Born to Run", to which he answered: "there ain't anything on this island worth staying for." (Juxtaposition)

Storyline analysis

  • "The Economist" indicates Sayid was an intended target as well as his intended victim. He makes some extremely pragmatic cost/benefit-decisions, and barters Miles for Charlotte. (Economics)
  • Locke says, "Right now, Hugo, I'm making the decisions." (Leadership)
  • Sayid is intentionally in a fake relationship with the counter-spy he had to keep an eye on and ends up killing her. (Relationships)  (Rivalries)
  • Sayid leads Miles and Kate to try and sort out the issue with Charlotte, leaving the regular leader behind. (Leadership)  (Irony)
  • Sayid, Miles and Kate go to retrieve Charlotte from Locke's group. (A-Mission)
  • Daniel carries out an experiment with a payload. (F-Mission)

Episode connections

Episode references

Episode allusions

  • When Kate sees nothing but Sawyer's shoes under the bed when he enters the room, it is similar to when he saw his father's feet enter the room as a kid. ("Outlaws")
  • Sawyer doesn't want to leave the Island because he doesn't have anything back there for him. When he wanted to leave on the raft, it was because there wasn't anything on the Island worth staying for. ("Born to Run")
  • Jack asks Frank if the Boston Red Sox really did win the Series. ("The Glass Ballerina")
  • Mr. Avellino recommends that Sayid use a 5-iron on the course, the same club Paulo told Desmond to use in constructing his lightning rod. ("Every Man for Himself")

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Economist/Theories

External links