'Lost': Sayid chooses a side and The Man in Black makes his move at 'Sundown'

hiroyuki-sanada-naveen-andrews-lost-sundown-320.jpgWith "Sundown," " Lost" closed the chapter on many things: The Temple, The Others, and perhaps any hope that Sayid is anything other than a killer. I hope I'm wrong about the latter, because that depresses me to no end. I think I'm wrong, as I'll get to later in the recap. But for the second-straight season, "Lost" gave us a Sayid-centric episode in which an amazing last act covered up a rather middle-of-the-road episode in which we learned that Sayid Jarrah, no matter his positive qualities, is at his heart no more than a murderer. If that's your cup of tea, then you drank briskly tonight. The rest of us just tepidly sipped and hoped for stronger stuff.

4) In Short

The killer in me is the killer in you
Send this smile over to you
"Disarm," Smashing Pumpkins


8) Sideways Timeline

Sayid gets out of a waiting cab and knocks on the door of an unfamiliar house. Inside? Nadia! Oh joy! And two kids. Hooray! Who call him..."Uncle Sayid!" Ruh row. And who's that in the background? Nadia's husband, also known as Sayid's brother, Omer. Omer's not exactly pleased that Sayid has brought Nadia flowers. Well, I'm not exactly pleased that Nadia and Sayid aren't married. So apparently no one is happy.

Over dinner that night, we learn that Sayid travels the world translating oil contracts. For his part, Omer runs a few dry cleaning stores, having just opened up his second one recently. A cell phone call hastily takes Omer away from the table. "Did you get my letters?" Nadia asks Sayid once they are alone. Sayid says that he has, leading Nadia to wonder why he never replied. Just then, her children come back into the room: one brandishing a boomerang that Sayid brought as a present, and the other brandishing a picture of Nadia from Sayid's backpack. Soon after, Omer appears in the far doorway, brandishing a newly soiled pair of pants.

Late that night, Omer wakes Sayid up from his slumber on the couch. He tells Sayid that in order to secure funding for the second laundromat, he borrowed money from a loan shark. Even though he paid the loan back in full, the lender insists that Omer will also owe monthly interest for the life of the loan. He wants his ex-interrogator brother to talk a little sense into them. "I know what kind of man you are," he says. Sayid's not interested in reliving his past. Omer finally appeals to Sayid via Nadia, essentially saying, "Look, I know you wanna hit that, so please, do it for her sake, if not mine." You stay classy, Omer!

(Did we step into "He's Our You" without me knowing? It's another "Sayid's only a killer and that's all he is" episode, isn't it? Sigh.)

Sayid takes his niece and nephew across the street to get picked up for school. Evil Me hopes that Juliet's ex-husband has kids in this sideways neighborhood just so he can get pancaked by another bus. Alas, it's not to be, and the kids go to school safely. Unfortunately for Nadia and Sayid, a call from the hospital has alerted them that Omer didn't make it to work so safely. After passing Jack Shephard in the hallways of St. Sebastian (with barely a flicker of recognition between the two men), the pair meets another doctor who informs them of an apparent mugging. Neither Nadia not Sayid believe it was so simple an act. Nadia begs Sayid not to exact revenge. He convinces her that he will, though his look into the distance after she buries her head in his chest belies another thoughts.

At Nadia's house that night, Sayid tries to fix a broken vase. "We had an unfortunate incident with a boomerang," he confesses, meaning that boomerang did more damage than another Incident that involved a hydrogen bomb. But I digress. The two discuss Omer's recovery (he's in rough, but stable, condition), but talk soon turns to them. More specifically, what could have been between them. Nadia asks Sayid why she pushed him towards his brother, given their feelings for each other. He replies that he's spent the last 12 years atoning for his actions during the war. "I can't be with you," he says. "Because I don't deserve you."

The following day, Sayid goes to the bus stop to pick up the kids from school. A van pulls up to the house, and out steps...Omar, former Kahana mercenary, last seen getting a grenade kicked to his feet in a fight with the Others. He wants Sayid to come with him to meet his boss. Where there's an Omar, there must be...a Keamy! Hot damn, good to see, you psychotic piece of pectoral muscle. He's cooking up some breakfast in a large kitchen. Does Sayid want any? "I make good eggs!" he says, in a way that makes me giggle tremendously. He soon gets down to business, bringing up Omer's attack obliquely in order to get Sayid off his game and secure further, continual payment on the loan.

But there's no getting Sayid off his game: he elbows Omar, uses him as a shield, shoots the third man, and soon has Keamy at gunpoint. Keamy quickly backs down, claiming the debt paid in full. "Just forget about it," he pleads. "I can't," Sayid replies, and guns him down. I liked it a lot better when they fought for 15 minutes on the Island. Much more satisfying. Oh well. After shooting Keamy, Sayid hears grunting from the meat locker. He opens up the door, and inside? A bloody, tied-up, gagged Jin. Guess this has something to do with all that cash in his bag in LAX, hmmm?

15) Island Timeline

Sayid walks on down the hall to Dogen's office. He wants some answers. Why? Because it's a Sayid-centric ep, that's why! He asks Dogen the purpose of the "tests" conducted in "What Kate Does." "For every man there is a scale," Dogen replies. "On one side of the scale there is good. On the other side, peanut butter." (OK, he said "evil." You caught me.) He tells Sayid that his scale tipped the wrong way during his test. "I think it would be best if you were dead," Dogen spits out. "You think you know me, but you don't. I'm a good man," replies Sayid.

He tries to say more, but it's ON, PEOPLE. Everybody was kung-fu fighting up in Dogen's lab, with Sayid at one point fighting off a machete-wielding Dogen with a broken broomstick. Just like they do in curling. Just as Dogen gains the upper hand upon his desk, the ubiquitous and all-important baseball falls off his desk. This gives Dogen pause. He tells Sayid to leave the Temple, and never return. His eyes leave Sayid and stay focused on the baseball.

Outside the gray ash circle surrounding the Temple, Claire and Smocke gaze upon the edifice. She's curious why he doesn't have Sawyer or Jin do the mysterious task she wants him to do. Heck, why doesn't he do it himself? She's infected, but hesitant. Hmm. Smocke insists it has to be her. She wants assurances that he'll do what he promised: namely, to reunite her with Aaron. "I always do what I promise," he replies. "Are you going to hurt them?" she asks. "Only the ones who won't listen," he responds. Well, that's reasonable.

Just outside the Temple, Sayid informs Miles that he's been banished. "Apparently, I'm evil," he says. Heh. Sayid finds it ironic that the people who saved him now want to kill him. Miles sets the record straight, noting that Sayid was actually dead for two hours. Whoever saved him, Miles insists, wasn't The Others. Just at that moment, Crazy Claire saunters into the courtyard and tells Dogen, "He wants to see you." Who? The Bachelor, that's who! Oops, I mean Smocke. Dogen says, "I'm not a fool. If I step outside the Temple, he'll kill me."

Claire calmly suggests he send someone Smocke won't kill, and starts to walk away. Dogen orders a few Others to take her to the "hole," where apparently she'll spend the rest of the episode with Andy Dufresne. He then orders Lennon to bring Jack and Hurley to him immediately. Oops, they're kind of at this lighthouse, Dogen. Look, it's a long story.

More flustered than ever, Dogen orders Sayid to follow him. Apparently, the tribe has spoken again, and now he's unbanished. Back in Dogen's office, he pulls an ornate box from one of his botanical pots. Sayid's mighty curious as to why Claire just strolled into the Temple; Dogen calls her, "a confused girl under the influence of an angry man." Hey, sounds like a few of my ex-girlfriends. Dogen describes the man as formerly trapped, but now free: a man who will not rest until every living thing on the Island is dead. (Sounds eerily like the description of Widmore's crew on the Kahana, which I'm not sure is intentional or not, given Keamy's presence in the Mirrorverse.)

Dogen then pulls a large dagger from the box, and tells him to plunge into the heart of a man who will take the guise of someone who has already died. It's interesting that Dogen knows the basic rules, but not Smocke's specific appearance. If Sayid lets the man speak, Dogen insists, it's too late. So, he's Saruman. Got it. Sayid wonders why he would help a man that has already tried to kill him twice since he arrived at The Temple. "You said that there is still good in your soul," Dogen replies. "Then prove it." I guess a bake sale is out of the question at this point.

As Sayid walks out with The Magical Dagger of Dogen, he runs into Kate, whose apparent role this season is to run into people in the jungle at random intervals. She asks him if he's leaving, and he simply tells her to get her 411 from Miles. Kate then enters The Temple, even though she told Jack and Hurley last week she had no intention of going there. I guess...she got bored. "Sawyer sent you packing?" asks a curious Miles, probably relieved he's not the only non-Other left in the Temple. He then tells her about Claire's presence there, which naturally thrills a shocked Kate to no end. "She just strolled in here, a few hours ago, acting weird. Still hot, though." I vote Miles to be the next host for "Celebrity Rehab."

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Sayid stabs tonight. Well, not yet. For now, he drops his pack to get a sip of water. As he does, the entire jungle goes quiet, which is freakin' creepy. The familiar sounds of the monster fill the air, and finally, Smocke walks into view. "Hello, Sayid," he says, and gets greeted with chestful of Dogen's Magical Dagger. Which does absolutely nothing but annoy Smocke. OK, so we've added "daggers" to the growing list of weapons that simply irk The Artist Formerly Known as The Man in Black.

Sayid stands, aghast at the sight before him. Smocke walks up slowly, and...hands the dagger back to Sayid. "What are you?" Sayid asks. Smocke notes that he must have SOME idea, what with the stabby greeting and all. He tells Sayid that he feels sorry for him, noting that Dogen merely sent Sayid out in the hopes that Smocke would kill him. "Shame on you for being talked into it so easily," he admonishes. Smocke's big on sending people into shame spirals: first he tells all of The Others at the statue that he's disappointed in them, and now this. Not exactly "Up with People," is he?

What does Smocke want? For Sayid to deliver a message, a message that would have a lot more meaning coming from Sayid than Claire. He promises Sayid that if he does this for him, he'll give him anything he wants. Anything at all. That seems to break Sayid a bit: "I would tell you that the only thing I ever wanted died in my arms. And I'll never see it again." Smocke sizes up his potential recruit and says, "What if you could?" (Say, in a sideways timeline. Would THAT interest you?)

Rain falls as Sayid returns to The Temple. Uh oh, that's never good. He delivers Smocke's message to the gathered group: "He wants you to know that Jacob is dead. And because he's gone, none of you have to stay here any longer. You're free." He gives them two options: join him by sundown and leave the Island forever, or stay and die.

Inside the Temple, Lennon's happy to see Kate back inside safe ground, but she's on a mission to find Claire. He grudgingly takes her to the aforementioned "hole," down in which Claire is singing the familiar lullabye "Lost" fans haven't heard in years. Don't worry, you'll hear it again in a little while. Claire's fairly happy to see Kate, until her former friend confirms what Jin said last week: that she took Aaron and raised him in Claire's absence. The infected Aussie's rage-filled eyes barely registers Kate's stated goal to rescue Claire and reunite her with Aaron. "I'm not the one that needs to be rescued," Claire coldly states as Kate gets dragged away by The Others. "He's coming, Kate!" Claire intones from the hole, "He's coming and they can't stop him!"

Outside the Temple, Lennon tries to stem the tide of Others jumping ship. Boy, a fickle bunch, those Others. Die or join their sworn enemy? Looks like there's a lot of swearing going on before sundown. Lennon blames Sayid for this exodus, although Sayid calmly notes that all he did was deliver a message, nothing more. Lennon insists that The Man in Black can't come in, although he never states WHY they can't come in, and given what's about to go down, that's a mighty annoying piece of intel to keep to himself. As the crowd leaves, Miles asks Sayid if they should leave as well. "Not yet," says Sayid, as he unsheathes the dagger, "I have to return this."

Sayid confronts Dogen at the Deep Fryer of Doom, as The Chicago Tribune's Mo Ryan has dubbed it in our weekly podcasts. Sayid asks why Dogen hasn't tried to kill him himself. Dogen gives us the Charlotte Staples Lewis Backstory, named for the last character that downloaded her life story just before death. Once upon a time, Dogen was a successful businessman. But after a big promotion, he drank too much, and killed his son in a car crash on the way home from baseball practice. In the hospital, Jacob visited him and offered to save his son's life in exchange for a new job in the Temple. The caveat? He could never see his son again.

"Jacob drives a hard bargain," says Sayid. (If you only knew, man.) "I take it the man outside offered you a similar deal," Dogen says. Sayid confirms this. "It is sundown," Dogen notes. "Will you choose to stay or go?" Sayid elects to stay, a choice that surprises Dogen. Sayid uses Dogen's surprise to drown him under the waters in which he once tried to save Sayid. A horrified Lennon rushes in and says, "Do you realize what you just did? He was the only thing keeping it out!" Apparently, THAT was Dogen's new job. Sayid seems to have known this, and cuts Lennon's throat as the familiar howl of the monster is heard in the distance.

evangeline-lilly-ken-leung-lost-sundown-320.jpgAt Sayid's signal, Smokey unleashes hell, ransacking the Temple, killing Others left and right, and generally redefining shock and awe. It's pretty damn sweet, in a gory sort of way. Kate heads towards Claire to save her, still unaware that there's an axe with her name on it. "You'll be much safer here," Claire calmly notes, which prompts Kate to hurl herself into the hole as Smokey flies past her overhead. Damn. Cool. Shot. Elsewhere, Miles tries to barricade himself inside the Temple, only to greet Ilana and Co. (aka, the weirdest damn calvary I've ever seen). Ben offers to fetch Sayid from the pool room. Bad idea, Ben! He tells Sayid to come with them; after all, "There's still time." "Not for me," Sayid says in a tone half mournfully, half psychotic. Ben slowly backs away, figuring this new creature before him can only sense quick movement.

Ilana then leads Miles and Lapidus into the hallway where Jacob directed Hurley last week. Sun is also there, shocked to learn that Jin is alive, on the Island, and in the same decade as her. It's been a while since all three things were true for her. Ilana finds Jacob's hieroglyph, presses it, and reveals a hidden door. The four walk inside just before Smokey shoots down the hall.

Outside, Sayid walks amongst the carnage left in Smokey's wake. A calm Claire and a horrified Kate meet up with Smocke and The Others (newly infected?) that left before sundown, as Michael Giacchino's score melds with "Catch a Falling Star" and sends me to heaven by way of hell with its beauty and terror. Smocke's recruits walk into the jungle as rain falls around them, as Kate looks more confused than the time she saw Tom Friendly throw a girly pass to Jack in New Otherton.

16) The Moment

Keamy's culinary exploits delighted. Smokey flying overhead while Kate dangled from the top of the hole thrilled. I call it a "pick 'em" this week.

23) The Mythology

Three big things to discuss this time around.

We got a new interpretation of the sideways timeline! I'm not sure this is in any way authoritative, but it's certainly a wrinkle I hadn't thought of before tonight. Many people have looked at the sideways timeline as a "mirror" to the Island one, in which energy/events/memories can transfer from one side to the other in order to form a more perfect union. (That's me.) Many others view the sideways timeline as an epilogue: the summation of events that have yet to occur on the Island that provides a new timeline for our Lostaways to exist. (That's not me.) Tonight's episode offered us the possibility that BOTH are simultaneously true. But that combination yields a third, intriguing possibility.

Here's the gist, as I got it tonight: Smocke offers Sayid and Claire something they both want: a chance to reconnect with loved ones lost. He doesn't specify HOW he'll do it, he just promises that he can. In other words: leaving the Island might create this timeline at some point in the Island's future, which creates the timeline that we first glimpsed in "LA X." "Aha!" cries the epilogue crowd. Alternatively, a similar scenario could have been pre-emptively created at the moment of Jughead's detonation. Either can be true and the outcome is the same. "You were wrong and we were right! It's not a mirrorverse after all! Cry uncle!" But I won't cry uncle. We were ALL wrong. Here's why.

The sideways timeline shows us a world in which things should nominally be good for everyone involved: after all, shouldn't the plane landing in Los Angeles be better than crashing on the Island? That's the tempting offer that Smocke could sell. This could be a world that Smocke creates by leaving the Island, either consciously or inadvertantly. But we've seen glimpses in each of the sideways flashes of the past stubbornly popping up, or even transferring its energy BACK to the Island. This reminds me of the familiar theoretical experiment often used to describe the existence of the sideways timeline in general: Schrödinger's cat.

What we're seeing, in these flash sideways, may be the hypothetical scenarios proposed by Smocke playing out as he intends (ie, Sayid does see Nadia again) and yet in ways he could not POSSIBLY have predicted (Sayid states that he can never be with her because he doesn't deserve her). I bring up Schrödinger's cat because we might be seeing the situation play itself out...without it actually playing itself out. It both exists and DOESN'T exist simultaneously. Both scenarios are equally true in this thought experiment, and therefore equally valid, and therefore equally meaningful.

The long and short of it: Sayid is both on the Island and in Los Angeles. Nothing new here. He's both a loving uncle and an infected recruit. Again: been there, done that. As in all episodes of "Lost" this season, we see two scenarios for our beloved characters existing side by side. But in this episode, we get the sense that although some characters fall under the sway of The Man in Black on the Island, their other, equally real, equally vital selves in the sideways timeline might just be able to save them before all is said and done. The important word that Schrödinger derived from his experiment? " Entanglement." Seems about as good a way to describe the relationship of the two timelines as any at this point. Again, this theory is a work-in-progress doled out 2 hours after "Sundown" aired, so I'll undoubtedly have a lot more to say over on the "Lost" blog in the coming days. Apologues in advance if my attempts at explanation here just made your nose bleed.

Malkin's one hell of a psychic! In Season 1's "Raised by Another," Richard Malkin has this to say to a skeptical Claire Littleton: "It can't be another. You mustn't allow another to raise your baby." It's easy to see him grasping Claire's hands and seeing a future in which she's at the bottom of a hole with major bedhead chirping like an insane woman, no? For people that claim "Lost" didn't know what it was doing, that it just made things up as it went along...well, the Claire/Aaron storyline sure seems to have been well-paced, no?

The Others are easily swayed! Now, maybe it's not fair to judge a people that looked death in the face and decided they weren't ready to meet their Maker, what with the Maker apparently dead and gone. But as I watched The Others flee for the dark side as Lennon helplessly looked on, I couldn't help but think of Bonnie's words at the bottom of the ocean in "Through the Looking Glass." Mikhail asked her in that episode why she never questioned Ben's orders to stay hidden in the station: "Because I trust him. And I trust Jacob. And the minute I start questioning orders, this whole thing, everything that we're doing here falls apart." I think tonight we saw the whole thing they were doing there fall apart.

But how many Others were in fact like Dogen: normal people, broken in some fashion, offered the chance for salvation, only to follow inscrutable tasks from a faceless leader that nearly never explained himself? We've never gleaned insight into what brought them to the Island, a mixture of Lostaway ignorance and perhaps our own. What does it say about how the Losties view the Others when we know so little about them? With only a mixture of fear and love for that man keeping them together, is it any wonder they splintered off in search of another man-god to tell them what to do with their confused, leaderless lives? (Also? We need a new name for this group now. The Others as we knew them? Gone. What should they be called now? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!)

42) Random Notes

I'm trying to decide which fight is the greatest in "Lost" history: Sayid/Keamy in "There's No Place Like Home," Sayid/Dogen in "Sundown," or Bai Ling/acting in "Stranger in a Strange Land."

I'm super sick of "Lost" constantly declaring Sayid to be a killing killer that kills. We learned all about this in "He's Our You," and didn't need another episode that reminded us of this. My one and only hope is that when Sayid finally breaks this cycle of violence and self-definition, that it marks a huge turning point for both the character and the show as a whole.

Last week's piano recital scene with Dogen and his son sure takes on a lot more poignancy after tonight, no?

Sayid in the sideways timeline feels he's not worthy of Nadia, that his life and the choices he made him unqualified to be with her. Do you think Jacob felt the same way when he let her out into traffic?

I wanted to try and explain in "Mythology" how Dogen's life force powered up the ash circle and made it work, but honestly, I'm baffled by the mechanism by which the two were connected. I suppose it's a combination of ceremonial ash and superpowered Osaka businessman that provided a double-dose of Smokey protection, but everything's completely theoretical at this point.

I realize that it made the ending more dramatic to learn that Dogan's life kept Smocke out, but in that case, wouldn't you immediately put Dogan in a titanium-steel box and just wait Smocke out? I realize I shouldn't be applying realism to this situation, but between The Others losing nearly every candidate and unwilling to desperately protect their greatest defense against their nearly invincible opponent, I'm not going to shed a tear over them all getting wiped out.

Jacob's deal with Dogen's son makes me want to look back on Juliet's sister (Rachel) and her miraculous healing after Juliet came to the Island. Are the two related? Ben certainly insisted that Jacob healed Rachel. If so, what does it say about the sacrifice of one life for another? And which characters left will make a similar sacrifice before all is done?

I'd thought that Smocke needed only a candidate or a few candidates in order to leave the Island. Turns out, he either wants or needs to bring everyone willing to leave with him. I say "willing" since the desire to leave seems to be paramount for Smocke's plan to succeed. Since I figured the Temple to be the way off the Island, I confess a complete lack of understanding of Smocke's current agenda. I suppose next up: locating Hurley and Jack. Dude.

108) In Conclusion
 
These things are all relative, but I found this episode to be the worst of the season. (Yes, before you ask: even worse than "What Kate Does," which honestly is a much better episode that people give it credit for.) While it had some of the show's best action in a while, it lacked an interesting sideways flash and hinged its on-Island action upon a late twist that only happened...well, because the episode needed a slam-bang finale. Was it unwatchable? Certainly not, but I rarely felt compelled by what I saw onscreen. Even more so than last week, this episode put pieces into place, getting various parties together in order to form sides for the war that's about to erupt over the final 12 hours.

On the upside, it looks like The Temple is no more. On the downside, it's unclear that we actually had to go there at all to accomplish what needed to get done. We learned that once upon a time it had a healing fountain, and Jack learned a few lessons about unwanted leadership roles from Dogen. Other than that? Nothing that needed six hours to download. Had everyone spent as much time there as Ilana and Co. did, I'm not sure I would have minded.

Luckily, it looks like next week should pick things up nicely. Again: it's not like I hated this episode: it just didn't live up to this season's greatness to date. Luckily, the implications inherent in Smocke's wish-fulfillment fantasies alone should sustain us through next week's episode. So while I'm not thrilled with this installment, I'm hardly bitter. Hopefully, further viewings will prove me wrong. But for now, I can only go on what I'm feeling at this moment.

What about you? What are you feeling at this moment? Elation? Depression? Infection? Leave your thoughts and comments below!



Ryan writes about "Lost" over at Zap2it's Guide to Lost. He invites you to join the hundreds already in Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to subscribe to the Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed and Zap2it's main feed for all the latest TV, movie and celebrity news.

Photo credit: ABC

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