“Two players. Two sides. One is light, one is dark.” – John Locke
I’d be really hard-pressed to tell you about the last time Lost was legitimately frightening. Locke’s vision of Boone drenched in blood comes to mind, as does Eko listening to the not-quite-dead Charlotte Malkin’s autopsy tape. But the closing moments of “Sundown”, a slow mo surveying of Monster-inspired carnage with the dulcet tones of “Catch a Falling Star” giving way to a downright dastardly Impostor Locke leading his minions into the jungle, vault right to the top of the list.
The lines have certainly been drawn. It seems fitting that the Island’s resident badass, Sayid, would be the one to evidently kick off this cataclysmic “war” we’ve heard so much of . The show’s coda was so jarring that I fear it may have bordered on overshadowing the rest of the hour, which was about as good as Lost gets.
I’m very partial to Sayid adventures on the show because they always play very heavily on the show’s theme of redemption. This pretty ironic when you consider that Sayid’s actions in this episode put him about as far from from redemption as he has been in quite some time. But, again, we’re getting off track.
A Tale of Two Sayids
What immediately struck me about “Sundown” was that it was the first episode wherein the flash-sideways story did not serve to merely provide some off-island levity for whomever was in focus. Rather, Sayid’s parallel existence seemed just as turbulent as his primary one. For starters, I had no complaints about seeing him share another scene with Keamy, seeing as the two of them were the combatants in what is, to date, Lost‘s best and most visceral donnybrook. Except this time around, Keamy was a little bit more of a pushover, despite having Sayid’s brother over a barrel with a steep debt. But this off-island adventure ended on a cliffhanger, with a downright puzzling reveal of Jin in a meat locker. If you remember, we last saw him getting hauled off by customs officials at LAX for having not checked a rather sizable amount of cash.
I’ll leave the significance of that for you all to discuss, as I’d like to move on to the relationship between the two Sayids we saw last night. The Sayid we’ve always known is man wracked with guilt over his past, but has also taken active steps to atone for it. Sideways Sayid convinced himself that the things he had done left him destined to be alone for all time, telling Nadia (now his brother’s wife) that he ignored her advances because she is far too good to deal with a tortured soul such as himself.
On The Island, Sayid reminded us that just when it seemed that he had finally put the darkness in his life to rest, Nadia was taken away from him, leading him down the dark, twisted path of offing people in the employ of Ben Linus in an effort to avenge her. All this killing inevitably led him to death’s door on the very same Island where the whole crazy mess began.
Once again, Sayid was being used as instrument of destruction. First by Dogen, who sent him to kill the demon inhabiting Locke (Though it could be argued he was actually sending him on a death march) and then again by that same Locke, this time as a veritable turnkey, offing Dogen and leaving the Temple susceptible to attack. Though I still have lingering questions about what was actually keeping the Monster out: The ash or Dogen. Possibly one enabling the other?
Anyhow, if there was any doubt as to whether or not Sayid had been “turned”, I would imagine it’s all but gone after “Sundown”. And I will say, that if this conflict comes to direct fisticuffs, I’d have to favor a team with Sayid, Sawyer and a suddenly much more menacing (but still pretty hot, thanks Miles) Claire.
Sayid is now sporting a dark side swagger menacing enough to send Ben himself slinking out of the Temple like a scared deer. What sold him on Team Locke? Locke’s promise that he could have Nadia in his life again, even if Sayid considered that an impossibility. Which brings me to…
A method to the madness?
This is my first somewhat lucid postulation about what may be going on with these damn flash-sideways glimpses. What if this parallel existence is the loose fulfillment of the Monster’s promises. In plain English, think of the Monster as a devious genie, manipulating the survivors to his side by promising them what they’ve always wanted. We did see Sayid reunited with Nadia, though certainly not on the terms he would like, we’ve seen Kate somewhat set free, even though she is still on the lam. This is just a thought, but it doesn’t do much for those still not entrenched in Locke’s camp (Jack, the real Locke, etc).
- For the first time, I was completely sold on Hiroyuki Sanada’s work as Dogen. He revealed himself to be, like Sayid, a man wracked with guilt over sins in his past. His story about killing his son in a drunk driving incident gave his character some true gravitas and meaning. Of course, in true Lost fashion, this got him promptly offed.
- I was also pleased to see the Ben, Sun, Ilana, Lapidus contingent arrive at the Temple in such a timely manner, even if all the important people (Jack, Hurley, Jin, Sawyer) had already split by then.
- Mea Culpa time for me to Emilie de Ravin. I shredded her pretty good last week for what I thought was a distractingly bad performance in “Lighthouse”. But, as I surmised in that same review, she seems to have grown into this new iteration of Claire. She was much better in every scene this week, with her menacing glares at Kate from that Jamie Gumb-esque pit taking precedence. My fears have been put to rest for now.
- Terry O’Quinn continues to bring the noise. He’s clearly having a boatload of fun playing the walking form of the Monster, and I, for one, am having almost as much fun watching him.
- We appear to be in store for a Ben episode next week. Business is about to pick up.
So, that’s where I’m at. Were as floored by “Sundown” as I was? What do you think of Sayid at this point? What is Jin doing in that freezer? You know the drill.