THINGS I NOTICED - SUNDOWN
In stark contrast to last week's calm journey, this episode brought down the hammer and smashed much of what was built over the last six episodes into oblivion. Sundown also saw the demise of one of the most popular and awesome of all characters: Sayid. But hey, don't get too emotional. Week by week the sun is setting on LOST, and in order to have some finality we need to see the explosive end of certain things: the styrofoam temple included. Things I Noticed:
Yellow Roses? C'mon... You NEVER Buy a Chick Yellow Roses!
What could possibly be Sayid's last centric episode started, predictibly enough, with a Nadia reunion. This time around however, we find out that as a couple, Sayid and Nadia just weren't meant to be. Yellow roses, unanswered letters, and nauseating amounts of self-sacrifice have pushed goody-two-shoes Sayid so far away that not even a love forged in the smoldering cauldron of an Iraqi torture chamber could bring them back together again.
Take a good look at Sayid's reflection in the glass as he waits for Nadia to answer the door. Half his face is visible, but the other half falls into the darkness of a different reflection. This light/dark imagry is a direct reference to the growing darkness that is right now consuming Sayid on the island. Although we've seen flashes of memory or apparent recollections from various LAX characters, this is the first time we've seen a direct parallel to island events actually affecting the off-island timeline. More on that later, when Keamy makes some awesome eggs.
Go Into My Bag, Just Past the Automatic Pistol and Cyanide Capsules...
The boomeraangs that Sayid gives to his niece and nephew are perfect metaphors for LOST itself: each throw following the same path and returning to the point of origin. At least in theory, anyway. Every time I've ever thrown a boomeraang it's ended up 50 yards away stuck in the ground.
Sayid and Dogen Bust Up the Bonsai Shop
While the fight between Dogen and Sayid was pretty epic, I was a little disappointed when Sayid didn't win. Then again, by this time we weren't watching 100% Sayid either. Small flashes of a darker, more sinister version of Sayid kept pushing their way through - something that Dogen immediately recognized during their brief conversation.
"I think it would be best if you were dead" was Dogen's way of testing Sayid, to see if he really had his friends' best interests at heart. Old Sayid would've recognized himself as a danger to everyone and walked away from the temple. In fact, Sayid did this exact thing back in season one during Solitary after torturing Sawyer and declaring himself a hazard to the beach camp. New Sayid however does the opposite - he ignores Dogens words and still wants to hang around.
"You think you know me but you don't" is once again something Sayid has said many times before... but then he slips up by telling Dogen "I'm a good man". At this point in his life, the real Sayid would never try to convince someone that he's a good man - especially after confessing to Hurley on his deathbed about how he's done so many terrible things. This is where Dogen smirks; Sayid's words are indicitive of him being corrupted, and he knows he has to act quickly before the Iraqi is fully claimed. Next stop? A swift rabbit punch to the solar plexus.
As per the rules however, Dogen can't kill Sayid. Instead, the fight was initiated as a way to scare him off or get him out of the temple. Maybe Dogen was trying to put him to sleep with that Vulcan neck pinch, I don't really know. But as he finally does get the upper hand, the baseball rolling off that table was Jacob's subtle way of reminding Dogen of his promise, and that harming a candidate was out of the question.
Evil Incarnate Never Lies
Claire seems a little apprehensive about going into the temple, but presses on after receiving Flocke's solemn promise that he'll get Aaron back for her. This might be the MIB's first mistake, because I can definitely see Claire going axe-crazy once she finds out that her baby's not even on the island at all. Maybe.
"I always do what I say"... these words seemed pretty genuine, even coming from the man in black. Through all the deception he used to get Ben to kill Jacob, there was also a sort of direct honesty to Flocke's character all last season. He told Richard exactly where they were going, and he told Ben who was going to kill Jacob even before he got there. Maybe on some level he's honor-bound, but more likely the dark man is still following some version of the rules. Either way, his promise to deliver Claire's baby to her had me thinking that maybe he can keep his word. If Aaron is exactly where he's "supposed to be", maybe the MIB tucked him away safely at smoke monster day care before the Oceanic Six ever left the island in that chopper with FAaron.
The LAX Timeline... Turning Over a New Leaf Since 2010
Sayid is trying to be a good man in the new timeline. His brother using Nadia as leverage to solve his financial problems outright disgusts him, and Sayid flat out refuses to kick his normal quota of ass this episode. "I'm not that man anymore", he tells his brother, and this time Sayid really, really means it.
As I mentioned last week, the alternate timeline seems to be a place for correction. It's a realm where our characters can break their cycles of bad behavior and move forward with hope a different outcome. Here, halfway through this episode, it would appear as if LAX_Sayid is following the same pattern as LAX Kate, Locke, and Jack. We see Sayid turning over a new leaf... at least up until later on, when Keamy places Sayid at gunpoint and fries himself a nice pair of sunny-side up.
Three Years In The Jungle With No Soap or Deodorant... But Miles Would Still Hit That
In one of Sayid's 'good' moments, Miles informs him of the manner of his death. This gets Sayid to reexamine the situation, and he begins to realize that Dogen may be right. If he's already on the road to darkness, the good part of Sayid knows it would be dangerous for everyone if he stuck around any longer. Yet before he can leave, Claire's arrival results in a second meeting with Dogen.
Claire was much cooler this episode than she was during Lighthouse. She seemed more evil and less kooky. I loved the way she demanded that Dogen speak English, and got him to immediately comply. And once more, the opportunity to finally name the man in black is provided... but Claire refers to him only as "you know who". Check the end of the podcast I did last week with The ODI and Jeff Jensen for a really cool theory on why we haven't learned the MIB's name yet, and probably never will.
That's Not a Knife... Now That's a Knife
Dogen's ancient blade of death rocked the bonsai shop, and for a minute I thought Sayid might have a chance against the MIB. As he handed it over, it also occured to me that this is probably the 2,473rd time somebody has asked Sayid to kill someone.
"He will come to you as someone you know... someone who has died." WOW. This kind of information would've been pretty fucking useful last season, no? Dogen's intel on the dark man's operation is a thousand times better than Ben or Richard's. You'd think if they're sharing personnel with the barracks crew that Dogen could somehow educate his allies against what looks to be the island's greatest potential enemy. Instead, he keeps that knowledge to himself and hides ancient mystic weaponry in the soil of common houseplants. Not a smart move.
Dogen appeals to the last remaining good within Sayid, sending him on an unlikely suicide mission. Is he just trying to get Sayid to willingly leave the temple? Sure, but I also got the impression that if Sayid had struck John Locke before he had the chance to speak, Dogen's plan would've probably worked. In other words, I don't think Dogen was sending Sayid off to get killed here. Not without a shot at redemption, anyway.
Another important exchange occurs when Dogen tells Sayid that the dark man was imprisoned for several years. This suggests that the MIB was most likely the person Locke and Ben saw in Jacob's cabin, and that this person was trapped by the ash instead of protected. Stuck in the cabin, maybe the MIB/smoke monster was still able to operate but his powers had limitations... explaining why we didn't see so much of him at first. Once the ash was broken perhaps those restrictions were lifted, because that's when things got a little more nuts.
Nadia... Cute Iraqi Chick or Secret Agent of Free Will?
Nadia's necklace this episode consisted of a circle within a circle. It struck me that maybe this represented the alternate timeline being a subset of the larger story we've been watching for these past five years. Each would be without a beginning or an end, which of course would be very LOST-ish.
More references to the season one episode Solitary sprang up here, as Nadia tells Sayid: "Whatever you're thinking of doing... don't do it". LAX_Nadia wants Sayid to stay pure in this timeline, almost as if she somehow knows he's about to be corrupted. Actually, she's one of the first people to try and steer Sayid on the right path. Back in season one, when he first got his job/promotion to torturer, Nadia went out of her way to let Sayid know he was "pretending" and that this new person wasn't who he really was. All throughout LOST we've seen Sayid struggle against his role of assassin and killer, trying not to play this particularly bad role but always getting sucked back into it.
Now Why'd You Go And Do That?
Don't ignore the fact that Smokey/MIB's arrival is preceded by Sayid stopping, drinking some water, and then splashing more water on the back of his neck. Not gonna beat on the dead water horse here, but I'm just sayin'.
The faces Terry O'Quinn comes up with for these MIB scenes are absolutely incredible. He goes from looking automaton-ish (when stabbed) to confused (seeing the knife), disgusted (when Sayid repeats Dogen's words about him being 'evil incarnate'), and finally gives Sayid a look of persuasive wonderment while promising him "anything you want". It's easy to see that the MIB doesn't see himself as evil or wrong, but more along the lines of being constantly misconstrued. In his eyes, he's gotten a bad reputation from Jacob's people - one that's completely unfounded and unwarranted.
Flocke offers Sayid's knife back to him, an offer that Sayid accepts. I'm not sure if this sealed the deal for Sayid, but it definitely lined him up for the dark man's sales pitch. He expertly turns the Dogen situation around, easily convincing a half-dark Sayid that this is the 2nd time Dogen has tried to kill him. He ices the cake nicely with a "shame on you" before putting the cherry on top: Sayid can have whatever it is that his little heart desires. Yes, even Nadia. 'Dead' is rapidly losing credibility around here.
In all likelihood, the dark man is referring to the island's "magic box". We've seen anything and everything appear on the island, from pregnancy tests to dynamite... from Anthony Cooper to Amira's cat. Taking the MIB at his word, maybe he can provide some sort of holodeck fantasy for Sayid by Xeroxing a nice juicy copy of Nadia for him. Or maybe he's just bullshitting Sayid into delivering his message and emptying the temple. Or maybe you guys still don't believe there's a magic box at all. Pick one.
Gimmie Evil Claire Over Crazy Claire Any Day Of The Week
Few things in LOST will be remembered as creepier than Claire's haunting rendition of "catch a falling star" here at the Silence of the Lambs pit. Even better were her final words to Kate: "He's coming Kate... He's coming and you can't stop him!" Simply awesome.
Kate's reunion with Aaron's true mother didn't go exactly as she planned, and it doesn't appear as if she'll be getting any babysitting money. The point of this scene was to set up Claire's venomous "Katred" for the woman who took her baby away, a crazed loathing that will undoubtedly dominate any future Claire scenes to come. Do you smell a catfight? Hell yeah you do.
We Had An Unfortunate Incident Involving a Boomerrang
In lots of ways, this pretty much explains the sum total of LOST. (Cue moment of silence). Okay, let's continue.
You Can't Make an Omelette Without Emptying a Clip Into Someone's Chest
Hell yeah, it was great to see Keamy again. "I make good eggs!" has to go down as one of the best out-of-left-field LOST lines since Fake Henry Gale asked "You guys got any milk?"
The kitchen where Keamy is cooking up such a fantastic breakfast instantly reminded me of Miles meeting Naomi in a similar kitchen in Some Like It Hoth. I've looked at some screencaps and it's difficult to tell, so maybe someone else can verify or discredit the similarity.
LAX_Martin Keamy is every bit the same awesome character he was on the island during season four. Omar is every bit his lackey, too. These are the constants, at least in this alternate version of events. The variable here however, is Sayid.
As I said earlier, we've seen characters like LAX Jack and Kate 'remember' or somewhat be affected by what may have happened on the island. Here though, we see the opposite: LAX_Sayid is directly affected by what's going on in the island timeline... namely, his metamorphisis from good to evil.
Alternate Sayid is the nice guy, the pacifist, the man who wants to solve his brother's crisis diplomatically. Without thinking his reflexes take over, and he's forced to shoot Keamy's men. Letting Keamy go would've been easy at this point, especially considering what Sayid has told Nadia (and his brother) about being an entirely different person. Yet on the island, Sayid's internal pendulum is swinging over into darker, more evil territory. This rubs off on LAX_Sayid, causing him to shoot Keamy in cold blood.
And so right here and now, Sayid breaks our 3-episode long tradition of people being able to change. He's still the assassin, and he gets claimed by the MIB both on the island and off. Sayid is unable break the circle of violence that causes him to kill and destroy - he gives in to who he "really" is, and is not able to shatter the mold.
What all this means is uncertain. Up until now, our LAX characters have all been setting up some happy endings, which is why people have theorized that this new timeline might be the true "end" one. Yet here we have a much darker version of off-island Sayid - one with an itchy trigger finger and a soul mate who married his brother a decade ago. I'm not sure how that can play out to a happy ending, but then again, Sayid was never really lucky in love.
I have absolutely NO CLUE what Jin's doing in Keamy's meat locker, but I will say this: this is the second time we've seen Jin in a walk-in fridge (Everyone Hates Hugo). Actually, this is the second time we've seen Sayid in one too (Enter 77). If anyone has any walk-in fridge theories, I'm open to them.
Jacob The Imaginary Guy We've Never Seen Before Is DEAD? Screw It, I'm Going Home
Similar to when Jack stared into it last episode, Dogen's reflecting pool is distorted by droplets of rain. His plans for protection have rapidly failed. The candidates have walked in and out of the place like a college frathouse, and his temple is emptying faster than a Mariah Carey concert. Thanks to Sayid's speech, shit has hit the fan.
Flocke has finally tricked Dogen's people into leaving him. He's done this by stating simple fact (that Jacob is dead), and then allowing each of the temple-dwellers to make their own choice. He promised Claire to hurt only the ones who defied him, and the dark man keeps this promise. By using Claire and Sayid as emissaries, Flocke has hamstrung Dogen's army and finally conquered the Other's one last stronghold - all without firing a single shot.
The coup de grâce involves Sayid putting Dogen out of his misery, and as we can all see, it certainly was misery. What happened to get Dogen to the island is one of the saddest tales in all of LOST, and it made me look at Jacob in an all new light. After all, promising to save one's son but then telling that person they can never see their child again is pretty much stretching the limits of cruelty.
Jacob's offer is exactly the same as Ben's promise back in season three. Made ironically enough under the pretense of "Jacob's word", Ben promised to cure Juliet's sister's cancer if she herself were to stay on the island. Stuck there, unable to leave, Juliet was miserable from that point forward... just as Dogen was miserable throughout his duty as stoic temple leader. His baseball was the only thing he had left to remember his son, and his only tie to the off-island life he once led.
Jacob's ability to make things right in the 'real world' via miracles which couldn't happen on island seems more than a bit fishy to me. What's real and unreal may be nothing more than a blind promise you can never check up on, or a 2-minute video showing your sister pushing your nephew on a swing. Jacob's method of recruiting people is the basest form of blackmail, almost like making a deal with the devil. As Fayid (sadly by this point he's no longer our Sayid) says, speaking through the MIB's mouth: "Jacob drives a hard bargain".
The fact that Dogen is drowned in the brown Jacob-water... does this mean he'll come back like Sayid did? If so, will he be 'claimed' immediately or will he have moments of clarity first where he'll be able to help team Jacob before being converted? These things are hard to say. But for poor Lennon who can now smile using his neck, it's safe to assume it's pretty much the end.
Into The Garbage Chute, Fly Boy!
I've finally figured out Illana's role: she's Princess Leia. Lapidus is Han Solo, Ben is Luke Skywalker, and I guess that makes Sun Chewbacca. The secret passage is the garbage chute, and the smoke monster represents the ineffective group of stormtroopers mystified by the David Blaine-like disappearance of three people and a giant wookie from a narrow hallway.
Illana knows stuff. She hasn't shared much with us, but apparently she's important. Hopefully her role will get fleshed out pretty soon, because it's getting harder and harder for me to care about her - especially after the pitiful display of ineptitude Bram & company put on back at the four-toed foot.
And I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting sick of the Others trying to fight off the smoke monster with guns. You'd think if they stayed at the temple in fear of him all their lives, they might have some idea on how to battle him more effectively. Any idea at all would be nice, rather than standing around with rifles and getting dragged all over the place by smoke tendrils.
I'm also getting pissed about Sun. "Jin was here? He's alive?" Since the freighter blew up, her role has been reduced to something very small and insignificant. She's fallen by the wayside, and it's hard to keep watching her included in each episode only by definition of her obligatory one-liners. She was once a pretty great character, and hopefully finding Jin will help her return to that role.
Although it seems like I did nothing but complain in this section, I have to say these are all fairly minor issues. The overall storyline still rocks, and (especially after this episode) season six is moving along at an accelerated pace. It just seems like all the big characters have been separated from the little ones, and the little ones have banded together to form their own dysfunctional group that gets 5-minutes of airtime each episode. "You wanna live, you'd better move your ass!"
Sayid Jarrah May Be Gone... But I'm Betting The Ass-Kicking Will Live On
Ben's scene with Sayid was for our own benefit, not his. It was the last glimpse we'd get of the old Sayid - the loveable yet deadly guy we've been good buddies with since S1E1. Sayid even seems to say goodbye to himself, using the last shred of his old persona to deny Ben's assertion that there's "still time" for him. "Not for me", he says sadly, embracing his fate.
Behold - The Army of Darkness... Plus Kate
We haven't had a really good slow montage in a long while, and Sundown helped out with that. Watching Locke's army march forward from the ruined temple, accompanied by that really creepy music, totally gave the impression that the sun had finally set on Jacob and his people. Not since Dead is Dead have we seen gloom like this.
Sayid emerges from the temple fully 'claimed' and converted, and John Locke smiles at him. He knows that Sayid has done exactly what he set him out to do, and he's converted yet another one of Jacob's all-important candidates.
The dark man's attention turns next to Claire, and he nods approvingly at her for a job well done. Maybe either of both of them still feel that father-daughter bond that John Locke and Claire developed during season two, when he made a cradle for Aaron on her birthday.
But then Flocke's brow furrows slightly, as he sees Kate come out next. He cocks his head to the side, as if to say Really? You, Kate? Although the MIB considers her a little more carefully then everyone else, he still accepts her into his army. He does this because Kate could prove useful in converting other candidates... and because simply, he believes he can kill her at the first sign of trouble.
Prediction: this will end up biting the MIB right in the ass - HARD. Recruiting Kate into his army will be one of the dark man's biggest mistakes, because even though Austen-51 may not be one of Jacob's favorite six numbers, Kate is definitely still a candidate. As mentioned a few episodes back, Kate is Jacob's dirty little secret. Now that secret has infiltrated Flocke's own dark army, and placed herself in a position of power.
Kate is the one recruit who hasn't made a deal with the man in black, taken anything from him, or chosen to join him of her own free will. This will be big. Crossing Kate's name out on his lighthouse wheel might've been Jacob's own little power-play, especially if the MIB had access to the ultimate list of people Jacob deemed important.
Sundown was awesome. I'm glad the temple storyline didn't drag on longer than a half-dozen episodes. As Jacob and the dark man choose up sides, it's time to ramp up the action and built up momentum for the second half of the season. Let's see how fast the ride goes.
THINGS I NOTICED - SUNDOWN