• Sayid’s brother has been beaten by the men who loaned him money, and while in the hospital, Sayid and Jack cross paths. There’s no indication of recognition.
• Sayid runs into Kate as he leaves the Temple, and I half-expected him to stab her. No stabbings for Kate, though. She makes it back to the Temple just in time for Smokey’s Sundown Throwdown.
• The moment before Anti-Locke appears to Sayid recalls the Season 1 moment in which Sayid was seen surrounded by the sound of the Whispers.
• Note that Sayid’s stabbing of Anti-Locke echoes Ben’s stabbing of Jacob in the Season 5 finale drawing yet-more parallels between these two characters. Sayid and Ben are both told things that aren’t necessarily true in order to goad them into knifing their respective targets. Jacob dies messily, like a human being. Anti-Locke slips that knife out like he’s Gumby all of a sudden, offering it back to Sayid as if giving a child back his pirate toys.
Can we assume that this is because his body is made up of the same material that Smokey is made of, but compacted? The earth of the Island itself? Volcanic ash? Play dough?
We’ve seen that on occasion when the Smoke Monster appears there’s a violent explosion – is that the result of erupting earth rising up to form a column of “smoke” made from the dirt of the Island?
• It sort of goes without saying that Anti-Locke’s offer to Sayid closely resembles the temptation of Christ, in which Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the earth for his service to satan. But I went ahead and said it anyway, because I like stating the obvious. I’d like to stress that this doesn’t mean that Anti-Locke is the “devil,” and Jacob is “god”/”Christ,” any more than the presence of Buddhist symbols and ideals on the Island mean that Jacob and Anti-Locke are supposed to represent Buddhist concepts. But I do think that these echoes are intentional, and that they hint at a kind of underlying mono-myth that’s subsequently influenced cultures and beliefs all over the world – something I’ve been suggesting for some time now (you can take a glimpse of this in one of my Too Much Information columns, in which I managed to correctly guess that what the Man in Black truly wanted was freedom, but also managed to incorrectly guess that he was a projection of the consciousness of the Island itself). The Island, in other words, is the birthplace of legends and stories, from Eden to Atlantis to Sheol to Mu to Shambala to Purgatory and beyond. Anti-Locke’s anger and righteousness in the face of Jacob’s “meddling” definitely recalls Lucifer Morningstar’s defiance of God – but whether this is an “evil” thing or a “good” thing depends on your view of Lucifer. Mr. Morningstar may be considered the embodiment of “evil incarnate” just as Dogen considers Anti-Locke to be, but other cultures and religions have cast him as a kind of “hero” – a proponent of free will and a rebel against tyranny. Think also of the legend of Prometheus, who defied the gods to bring fire to mankind.
• At some point between the time that Anti-Locke and Sayid speak, and Sayid’s act of shocking violence in the Temple, something shifts inside of our favorite Iraqi. What is it? He goes from being rightfully suspicious of Anti-Locke to killing for him. Is it the promise of Nadia returned to him? And if so, why does Sayid choose to believe Anti-Locke? Simply because Dogen lied? Or does the “infection” have something to do with this? It seems that way, given that we see Sayid slowly starting to smile after Anti-Locke asks “but what if you could?”
Sayid: “For the last twelve years I’ve been trying to wash my hands of all the horrible things I’ve done. I can’t be with you because I don’t deserve you.”
• Thanks to Anti-Locke’s maneuvering in this episode, it’s suddenly possible that the off-Island universe we’ve been watching all season is a result of Anti-Locke/Smokey’s successful escape from the Island – a dark “mirror image” of my Second Snake theory. That’s a fascinating idea, and I’ll be happy if it’s true. It’s also possible, however, that this is a red herring, and that this off-Island universe is a kind of karmic reward for the castaways – one that results from the successful implementation of whatever Jacob’s plan might be. What I really like about this idea, in either case, is that it offers only second chances, not happy endings. The off-Island Sayid is still a man who’s backed into violent action even when he doesn’t seek it out, and now he’s a man who has consciously denied himself happiness with the woman he loves. If the off-Island universe is an eventual “reward” that occurs because Jacob’s goals are fulfilled then Sayid’s position in this episode illustrates a reincarnation-themed cycle where Sayid is unable to escape his ‘demons’ and is condemned to repeat them since he could not fix himself. If it’s the result of Anti-Locke’s successful escape, then he’s a perfect illustration of the perils of deals with any ‘devil’ (figurative as this one appears). Sayid gets Nadia back – but that doesn’t mean he gets to be with her. It doesn’t mean he gets “happiness.” He’s still locked in that cycle of violence and denial because he’s never figured out how to fix himself.
Sayid: “You’re free.”
• Sayid apparently agrees to deliver Anti-Locke’s message to the Temple, and it results in a kind of mass panic. Sayid’s choice of words here “you’re free” is interesting. How does Jacob’s death free them? Were they bound to the Island by promises to Jacob also? Were they serving him out of fear and/or confused obediance? Was their “faith” in the Island’s God/Father too weak to sustain death? If we want to continue the Christ parallels, the abandoning of the Temple resembles the scattering of the Apostles and the denial of Christ. It’s also just, like, really typical human behavior.
Claire: “I’m not the one that needs to be rescued, Kate. He’s coming, Kate. He’s coming and they can’t stop him.”
• I guess that there are some folks who aren’t enjoying ZombieClaire this season, but I’m really digging her. Like Terry O’Quinn, Emily de Ravin gets to play a whole new spectrum in these episodes, and I think she acquits herself really well. The sight of smirking, creepy Claire, hanging out in “Jacob’s” cabin with Christian back in Season 4 suddenly makes a lot more sense now, and their back-and-forth in that scene heavily suggests that the Christian who told Locke to move the Island was the Man in Black, aka the Smoke Monster.
• “Catch a Falling Star” achieves new levels of eeriness thanks to this episode, and it makes me think about how Anti-Locke is slowly gathering his own “falling stars” and slipping them in his pocket, building his growing army of pissed off I-wanna-go-homers. Anti-Locke’s messianic drive to leave the Island serves to echo Jack’s same near-maniacal quest to depart.
• If Claire starts to believe Kate, will she begin to “wake up” from her dazed, spooky devotion to Anti-Locke, her “friend”? Is that even possible once you’ve been infected?
Lennon: “Hey! You’ve created a panic here – are people are leaving!”
Sayid: “I was asked to deliver a message, and that’s what I did. What your people do now is up to them.”
• It all comes down to choices, yet again. Anti-Locke offers them a choice, which isn’t any more of a fair choice than the one that Jacob has offered to Dogen. But regardless of the fairness involved, people are free to choose either way. Stay or go. And it looks as though these folks are opting to high-tail it out of there. I enjoyed watching as the majority of the Others dropped any pretense of faith and scrambled to save themselves. It felt nicely chaotic, and a little sad despite the ongoing general shiftiness of the Others, like the fall of a really trippy Buddhist Camelot.
• Is Cindy’s decision selfish? Or selfless? She opts to save herself, but also to save the two tail section children.
Miles: “So, are we getting out of here or what?”
Great Sayid Line II (draws dagger): “Not yet. I have to return this.”
• Martin Keamy makes his off-Island appearance, accompanied by his right-hand man Omar, who we last saw as a Widmore-approved mercenary, in a scene that recalls Sayid’s time as a captive held in the kitchen of a woman he might have tortured. Seeing Keamy’s character pop up again was a genuine treat and I enjoyed the slow-dawning realization that Keamy had no idea who Sayid was, or what he was capable of. And I agree with Chud’s commenters that Sayid should have eaten the dude’s eggs.
• As mentioned earlier, unlike the other flashbacks thus far, Sayid’s ends with a clear cliffhanger – Jin is found gagged and bound in the restaurant’s refrigerator, claiming not to be able to speak English. Obviously, Sayid’s off-Island story isn’t over yet, and so I find myself hoping that he might still achieve some kind of redemption in the end. Given how this episode ends, however, the very idea of personal redemption seems to lose it’s meaning to Sayid.
Sayid: “Jacob drives a hard bargain.”
• We learn Dogen’s backstory in a brief, poignant monologue, and we learn that he came to the Island in order to save his son. Jacob offers Dogen a deal that’s very similar to the one that offered to Sayid, but with a crucial twist. Where Anti-Locke promises to reunite Sayid and Nadia without apparent strings attached, Jacob promises to save Dogen’s son (who we saw in Lighthouse) but at the cost of never seeing him again. Dogen’s apparent “deal” with Jacob makes it clear that, as Sayid notes, the Island’s deceased-yet-perambulatory pseudo-deity drives a hard bargain. A much harder bargain, arguably, than Anti-Locke is offering.
But if there’s another distinction to be made between the “deals” being made by both Jacob and the MiB, I’d like to suggest that it may be a distinction between selfless and selfish action. Sayid and Claire join the MiB’s Murder Brigade to regain something that they’ve lost, and to regain it, they’re willing to raze the earth, and spill the blood of their fellow man. They sacrifice others (Others) to achieve what they want for themselves.
In sharp contrast, the sacrifices that people such as Dogen and Juliet have made involve self-sacrifice. Their choice allows the people that they live to have a second chance at life, and in return, they sacrifice their OWN lives in service to the Island and Jacob’s veiled plans.
On Chud’s message board, there’s a spirited and interesting debate going on about Jacob – Chud’s own Devin Faraci has declared that he hates Jacob, and a number of people have stated that the Island’s mysterious Director of Mysterious Operations has been manipulating and “pushing” the castaways in much the same way as the Man in Black described it in “The Substitute.” I don’t personally believe that to be the case, though I certainly respect the intelligence of those who are arguing the case. While I would not choose to argue that Jacob is totally benevolent, I would argue that his deals focus on personal self-sacrifice, and that his presence in the lives of the castaways as seen suggests that he isn’t really “pushing” them at all – but that he is presenting them with choices, be they fair or unfair. No one forced Sawyer to become a con man. He did that all by himself.
That’s just my opinion – please share your own thoughts on Jacob in the comments section. I will say this: I love that a network television show is spurring a debate about the meaning of “free will,” is raising interesting questions about “God’s” involvement (or lack thereof) in life, and in the process illustrating just how difficult these concepts really are – how slippery and ultimately NOT black and white things become when you examine them at close range.
Sayid: “I’d like to stay.”
• In a truly shocking moment, and after a truly heartwrenching story, Sayid straight-up murders Dogen by drowning him with the same casual malice that Robert, Rousseau’s baby-daddy, showed in attempting to shoot his pregnant lover. And that makes me wonder whether Charlie’s waking dreams (where he almost drowns Aaron in Season 2) and Robert’s botched assassination were both engineered by Anti-Locke in order to remove Aaron from the picture. Why would Anti-Locke do this? Could it be because Aaron is actually Jacob?
• And since we’re asking about motivations, why does Sayid drown Dogen and slit Lennon’s throat (other than the fact that it’s awesome)? Was that part of the “message” he was meant to deliver? Since Sayid knows that Dogen’s death will allow Smokey to enter the Temple, I’m guessing that it was. So again: why is Sayid trusting Anti-Locke? Because he’s promising him something concrete, while the Others seem to offer nothing but torture, lies and death, maybe?
• Like Sayid, Dogen dies in the waters of the polluted spring, and Sayid rises up from those waters in a kind of bloody baptism. He’s openly changed, even if we’re not entirely clear on whether or not there’s something literally “infecting” and transforming him. That change is awful, and watching Sayid succumb to the very things he’s fought against his whole life is tragic. It’s also fascinating. In a sense, Sayid has achieved a kind of “good being,” but it’s a dark, upsetting version of Aldous Huxley’s ideas on enlightenment. By realizing who he is not, Sayid is free to discover who he really is – and he’s frightening.
Will Dogen resurrect?
• Can we all agree that Smokey’s assault on the Temple was one of the best sequences this show has ever done?
• Ilana, Frank, Sun and Ben appear as if out of nowhere – where did these people come from?
• As Smokey races by over Kate and Claire’s heads inside of the Temple, you can clearly hear the sounds of screaming. That screaming fades once Smokey passes over (Passover?) their heads, and it calls to mind again my theory that the “souls” or “energy” of those who die on the Island are somehow made available to the Smoke Monster. It may even be that they’re trapped with him/within him (and that might explain the Whispers – are they the voices of the dead, past present and future, hoping for a release? Am I off my rocker?). This idea lends a sinister possible meaning to “Catch a falling star,” suggesting that Anti-Locke may have collected and stored the energy/”souls”/memories of those who’ve died on the Island.
Ben: “There’s still time.”
Sayid: “Not for me.”
• The brief scene between Ben Linus and Sayid may be my favorite in the episode. The look that Sayid wears on his face, and the way in which it seems to physically repel Ben backward, is a great, great moment for both actors.
Sun: “Jin was here and he’s alive?”
• I love it. Sun gets one line, and it functions solely to remind us of why she’s still hanging around with these people.
• Ilana and Co. slip into a secret room that’s accessed by pressing on the same symbol that Hurley was looking for last week. Can we assume, then, that they’re headed out through the secret passage and will run into Jack and Hurley shortly? My thanks to those of you who pointed out that the symbol on the wall is not an Omega symbol as I’d suggested last week, but is instead a shen ring, which is an Egyptian symbol for protection.
The fact that these symbols were carved so long ago, that the builders of the Temple saw fit to build a place to hide, or for protection, indicates to me that they’ve been worried about the Smoke Monster for a very long time.
• Sundown ends on what’s probably the spookiest, most unsettling note of any Lost episode to date. Having successfully annihilated the remaining Temple community, Claire and Sayid stroll through a courtyard strewn with the bodies of the dead with matching, glazed expressions that seem to teeter between empty and darkly satisfied. Kate’s right behind them, but they don’t acknowledge her in any way. They simply walk out of the door and rejoin Anti-Locke, who is surrounded by the Others who have opted to live. With a confidence that seems supernatural, Anti-Locke turns and leads them off into the night, torches blazing, to vanish into their own shadows.
• If you’re enjoying my ramblings, I encourage you to spread the word, tell a few friends, and inundate your enemies with my purpled prose. The closeted, power-mad megalomaniac in me must be appeased.
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