Hello fellow Losties. This week's episode was titled, "Sundown," and I couldn't have been more wrong in thinking it was going to be a Sun and Jin episode. Oh no. Not even close. What we did get was a kick-ass Sayid episode, and one that may have been the darkest in the series' run. Cook yourself some eggs (where is that poacher), and let's dive into "Sundown."
*Man, they completely fooled me. I thought Sayid was going to be with Nadia in the Sideways timeline. I should have known something was off when we saw Sayid's reflection in the door glass. There has been a theme running so far this season in the Sideways timelines where the character has looked at their reflection, contemplating some bit of "memory" from the 2007 timeline. These contemplations seemed to reflect (no pun intended) the character's subconscious realization that while things aren't perfect, they are better than they could be. In essence, they have learned something from their 2007 life. (More on this below.) Anyway, Sayid was not looking at his reflection; his view was skewed. He couldn't see himself. Specifically, he couldn't see what he learned in the 2007 timeline. This should have been a clue that Sayid has not been redeemed in the Sideways world (as much as any of the characters have), at least not yet.
*As far as the rest of the Sideways story went, I thought it was great. Sayid hasn't changed. He's still a killer, and he's still pursuing Nadia, perhaps to his detriment. I loved seeing Keamy again. Kevin Durand is pretty excellent, and the chance to see him do his thing was awesome. Sayid's whole life on the Island can be summed up in two lines of dialogue when Sayid has Keamy at gun point. KEAMY: "The debt is forgiven. Relax, forget about it." SAYID: "I can't." Exactly. Sayid, can't forget about it, with "it" being the atrocities he has committed against others. He can never be redeemed as long as he can't come to terms with what he has done. Oh, and what the heck was with Jin in the freezer? I mean, I assume the money that was confiscated from Jin at the airport was supposed to go to Keamy, but why bother throwing this in to this episode. I guess it did serve as a reminder that Jin is being held captive by Claire.
*Speaking of Claire, how much fun is Emile de Ravin having? To me, it looks like a whole lot. She seems to be relishing the opportunity to play evil, feral Claire the way she dug into her scene with Dogen and her death-stare at Kate when Kate told her she raised Aaron. I think she is playing a perfect blend of totally nut-bar crazy, with a hint of understanding that maybe she is being played by Smokey. Her hesitation in entering the Temple ("Why not get Jin or Sawyer to do it?") spoke volumes to me. And her creepy singing of "Catch a Falling Star?" Holy schinkies!! I haven't been that creeped out in a while. I think in the end, however, she will be "saved" and pulled back from the dark side. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but she has to be "good" before she can get Aaron back, right?
*On the flip side, I think we may have lost Sayid forever. Unlike Claire, who was desperately crazy to find/protect Aaron, or Sawyer who was grief-stricken and drunk, when they were approached by Smokey to follow him, Sayid made a clear choice to follow the evil guy. Yes, Sayid is sad that Nadia is dead, but at the moment he chose his path, he was clear-headed ("darkness" growing inside him , notwithstanding). He has now come to grips with who he is and always has been: a killer, and more importantly, a tool. Think about it. Sayid has never done anything of his own volition. He killed the chicken to protect his brother when they were children. He was a torturer for the Republican Guard. He was used by the CIA to infiltrate the terrorist cell. He was manipulated by Ben to kill Widmore's associates. Sayid is nothing more than a machine to be used for other people's nefarious designs. It seems that he has (finally) come to understand this, and has fallen in line with perhaps the greatest manipulator of all.
*Oh, Dogen. We hardly knew ye. You tried to use Sayid as a tool for his own demise, but met your end. To be honest, I'm going to miss Dogen. He became an intriguing character, especially from what we heard about how he ended up on the Island. After this story, I began to really question Jacob's motives; he may not be as good as we are supposed to believe. It appears that Dogen, after mortally wounding his son in a drunk driving accident, was trapped on the Island in exchange for Jacob saving his son's life. If Jacob is benevolent, why trap Dogen? Why not at least bring his son to the Island too? Moreover, what power was bestowed on to Dogen so that he was what was actually keeping Smokey out of the Temple? I hope this gets explained, although it will have to be in a flashback of some sort, as Sayid brutally drowned the Temple-master. I'm sad to see him go. Lennon? Not so much. I mean, I love John Hawkes, but his character was grating, so good riddance, hippie!
*The other interesting thing about Dogen's demise, was his exchange with Sayid about Jacob driving a hard bargain, and Smokey making Sayid a similarly hard bargain. It furthers the idea that the mysterious puppet-masters have similar powers/abilities. When Smokey offered Sayid whatever Sayid wanted in exchange for killing Dogen (there's Sayid being a tool again), it got me thinking that perhaps Smokey is some kind of...malevolent is the wrong word...let's say, twisted genie. Each character wants something for their off-Island life, and Smokey (or Jacob, I guess) can grant that wish. The results are the Sideways stories. I call Smokey a "twisted" genie, because the fulfilled wishes have catches. Kate wants to reunite Claire and Aaron, but she's still a fugitive. Locke wants to know love (from Helen, his father, and the world), but he's still paralyzed. Jack wants to know that he "has what it takes," but his father is still dead and they can't reconcile. Sayid wants Nadia to be alive, but she's married to his brother. These all seem to fall into the category of not being able to have your cake and eat it too. I am forever the optimist, however, so I am assuming that the end result for these characters' lives will actually put them in places better than what we have seen in the Sideways flashes.
*How great was that fight scene between Dogen and Sayid. I actually can't remember the last time the show had such a long, technical, even-handed fight. Hopefully on the DVD's there will be a behind-the-scenes piece on it. I'd love to know how much was the actors and how much stuntmen.
*Some great direction from Bobby Roth, who also directed "Whatever Happened, Happened" and "There's No Place Like Home." The aforementioned fight scene, the slo-mo, creepy closing scene with "Catch a Falling Star" playing over it, and Sayid's meeting with Smokey in the jungle were all beautifully shot. The tone of the episode and the performances were pitch-perfect, as well. Good work.
*Ahhhh, the Smokey rampage. How awesome was that? I love me a good smoke monster rampage. Poor red shirts. You should have chosen to leave!
*Did you catch Smokey's look upon seeing Kate emerge from the Temple? He is at first surprised to see her, but then quickly sizes her up, wary of the fact that she may not be true to the cause. Wonderful work, as usual, by Terry O'Quinn. And why did Kate join Smokey? Self-preservation (it's better than being smashed against a stone wall), or just to protect Claire?
*Smokey seems to have a pretty big army. Who does Jacob have? Ilana, Lapidus, Sun, Ben, Miles, Jack, and Hurley. Doesn't seem like much, does it?
*Speaking of looks, I loved Ben's expression to Sayid 's retort that there is no more time for him. It said, "OK, you crazy! Even crazier than me!" Then he just slowly backed out. Great stuff.
*Yunjin! She got two lines of dialogue! WOO-HOO!!
Alright, that's what I've got for "Sundown." This may have been the best episode of the season, so far, with great acting from Naveen Andrews, and fantastic pacing and action provided by Bobby Roth. The next episode is titled "Dr. Linus." I think I can predict who this one will focus on. I'll be back tomorrow morning with some thoughts on what I expect to see in the episode.