Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Now, Why'd You Go and Do That?"

Sundown threw me for a bit of a loop. Not entirely - I pretty much figured that Smokey was headed for the Temple and that something disastrous would be going down at sundown. But given the placement of the episode in comparison to season one and the fact that the Kwons nearly always have punny titles for their centric episodes, I assumed this one would focus on Sun. But no, it was Sayid. And when I realized that this was a Sayid episode, the probability that it would be depressing increased exponentially. Can Sayid ever get a happy episode? Such horrible things are always happening to him, and he’s always dishing them out. How many people did he kill tonight, in both timelines? Too many. Dreadful. Oh, and no Gordon Lightfoot (am I surprised?) but Sayid seems summed up rather well in the lines "Sometimes, I think it's a sin when I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin' again."

In Sideways World, Sayid seems like a decent enough fellow. His brother has gone from delegating chicken-killing to delegating mobster-killing; he seems a bit of a putz, though certainly not deserving of what happens to him. Sayid still loves Nadia deeply, but now she’s definitely off-limits, and it’s his fault. (The yellow roses were a nice touch, foreshadowing that theirs is now a relationship of friendship rather than romance.) He says he doesn’t deserve her, and after tonight, I’m rather inclined to agree with him. She’s such a sweet spirit, and Sayid... Well, I love Sayid. But he troubles me.

I must say, though, that he makes an awesome uncle. And that I appreciate his struggles in Sideways World to overcome the brutality of his past. Which was why I really, really hoped that he wouldn't kill anybody, even if those loan sharks totally had it coming. The only thing that might save him there? It was Keamy, for cryin’ out loud. Keamy, who, as I said in my comment in response to Doc Jensen’s initial musings on the episode, “tops the list of characters I never wanted to see again. Actually, he pretty much is the list.” Yes, I want to give Ben Linus a big ol’ hug, but Keamy is the one character in the history of the show who I uncomplicatedly despise. Well, him and maybe Anthony Cooper, but after The Substitute I might be willing to take a chance on the ultimate Bad Dad.

So yes, I saw Martin Keamy in the kitchen with that hideous grin on his face and I kinda wanted Sayid to whap him with his own frying pan, eggs and all. And presumably his thugs were pretty rotten too. And Sayid’s Sideways concluded with him evidently rescuing Jin; was the watch being delivered to Keamy? Anyway, because I consider Keamy Evil Incarnate, moreso even than Smokey, I’m not yet sure if Sayid killing him and his lackeys in self-defense is conclusive proof that he himself is evil, especially since he went on to liberate Jin. So there may still be hope for him. But what a mess he’s becoming on the Island! If things are going to start looking up for Sayid, he’s got a long way to go.

I loved Nadia in this episode, along with her adorable children, and how Sayid so sweetly interacted with them. I was hoping to see Essam; can we assume he didn’t kill himself (or anyone else) in this reality? Oh, I hope so. But if we didn’t see any confirmation of that in this episode, I wonder if we will... I also wonder if Nadia and Sayid have a future together. Even the children almost seem to want it to happen. But that means rooting for poor Omer (who, on a random note, shares a name with my favorite character in American Idol spoof-fest American Dreamz) to either kick the bucket or get a heaping dose of betrayal. And that doesn’t seem quite fair. I always thought of Sayid and Nadia as having an epic love story. But maybe it was never really meant to be. And maybe Shannon is waiting in the wings. I could never really get on board with that relationship before because it felt like he was cheating on Nadia, and after he got his friend killed for her too. But they might be able to sell me on it. Oh - and Jack was in Sayid’s Sideways flash for about two seconds, passing him in the hospital...

Back on the Island... Sometimes a baseball isn’t just a baseball. So much for that line cracking me up. Now it shall always make me sad, because the baseball was the reminder of Dogen’s lowest moment, the death of his son. A death that, troublingly enough, seems to have been orchestrated by Jacob. How many catastrophes has Jacob caused in order to put his chess pieces in their proper positions? Dogen spares Sayid... why? To stick it to Jacob? Because, burdened with his guilt over unintentionally taking this life that meant so much to him, he wants to make amends by showing mercy to someone whose life is in his hands? (When Dogen banished Sayid, incidentally, I found myself hearing Scar’s voice in my head, growling, “Run away, Sayid, and never return...”)

The baseball scene was beautiful. I really am a very big Dogen fan, but they had to go and kill him. By the way, that fight between him and Sayid was epic. Like Saruman and Gandalf, or Inigo and Westley (but without the comic undertones). It was a beautifully choreographed fight. But it was the little chat toward the end that I really loved, up until Sayid went loco on him. By the way, I predicted that Dogen’s main thought in sending Sayid out there was that Smokey would kill him, and I seem to have been thinking along the right lines there. But why can’t Sayid kill Smokey? If Ben can stab Jacob to death, why is Mr. Evil so indestructible? Or does it depend on who is holding the weapon? Just as in his chat with Jack, Dogen reminded me of Tom trying to to convince Michael to atone for his previous murders with yet another murder. Doesn't really seem like all that good of an idea to me.

What’s the count now of parents who have killed their children or children who have killed their parents? Ben was indirectly responsible for his mother’s and adopted daughter’s deaths and murdered his father. Kate killed her father. Jack helped drive his father into a spiral of despair that ended in his death. John used Sawyer as a weapon to kill his father, who, if my reading of that scene in The Incident is correct, killed John. Of course, Eloise ripped my heart in two by gunning down her darling Daniel. And now Dogen. It’s all one great big Oedipal mess. I'm starting to suspect that Jacob himself has major issues with parent-child relationships. But is it as a father or a son? My guess is the latter.

I think we’ve definitely moved into Rubedo now. A lot less water imagery this time - and Sideways Sayid never looked in the mirror, did he? We got another shot of Dogen by the rain-soaked reflecting pool. Late in the game, the spring came into play as Sayid drowned Dogen. And from then on in, it was simply a bloodbath. First Dogen, then poor hapless Lennon (who seems like a more annoying version of Horace; how frustrating was it when he yanked Kate away from that hole?). Gross. (Though I wonder if their being killed in a resurrection pool might have interesting repercussions.) And then Smokey barreling through to wipe out as many folks as possible.

There were a couple of fake-outs, I thought. I couldn’t remember whether Sayid knew that John was dead, and given the lack of specificity in Dogen’s instructions, I thought he might try to kill Kate when he saw her, believing her to be Smokey. I also thought for a fleeting moment he might kill off Miles when he showed off his big ol’ ceremonial knife. We’re getting far too little of Miles this season. At least he had a couple of good lines tonight, particularly his bit about Sawyer sending Kate packing. And a hint at his unique insight - that Sayid was definitely dead. What else might Miles know that he’s not sharing, in part because nobody is bothering to ask?

No Jack and Hurley busting in to save the day. Is that because they were simply too far away at that point to get back in time, or is Hurley zennishly chillin’ by the lighthouse, calmly heeding Jacob’s advice to sit tight and not cluing Jack in on the situation? Because if Jack knew what was happening back at the Temple, I’m pretty sure he’d want to go charging back there with guns a-blazin’. I think he would want to fix things. Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to get the scoop on those two.

Next week. Episode title? Dr. Linus. Promo promises that “the man who brought death to so many will face his own demise.” Clip of Ben begging for forgiveness. My first thought: It’s a Ben-centric episode, and it’s time for him to go out in a blaze of glory. Seems a little early in the season for him to be out of the Island picture, but I would totally forgive them for killing off one of my favorite characters if they did so in such a way that all my defenses of Ben will seem a little more justified. My thought was that Ben was begging Jacob for forgiveness, and that an opportunity to die heroically would present itself and he would take it.

Problems with this theory... They like to fake us out. This week they did it with the episode title. Sundown seemed at least partly a play on Sun, but that wasn’t what it was all about. Maybe, then, the title Dr. Linus is largely meant to throw us off. Or maybe it refers to Sideways Ben. But is he the doctor, or is it his father or maybe mother? Or perhaps even his wife? Might we finally meet Annie after all this time? Oh, goodness, I hope so. If Ben is the man referred to in the deliberately ambiguous promo, then I predict we will finally get Annie’s story in the upcoming episode. And maybe more Richard, who I figured we’d see this week; I was very disappointed in his absence. Also, might we have a scene in which Hurley acts as intermediary between Ben and Jacob? I do so long to see Hurley and Ben have another scene together, to say nothing of Jacob and Ben.

Who else could the “the man” refer to? Well, Smokey, but I’m pretty sure it’s too early for him to be facing his own demise. Sayid? Maybe. Or almost any other guy on the Island at this point. Sawyer. Jack. Richard. And the “forgive me” might be directed not at Jacob but at Ben’s latest victim. Or it could also be directed at John, or Alex, or maybe Annie, or some other dead/absent person. I really hope it’s Jacob, though. I have a feeling I will love next week’s episode, and that if I don’t, I will despise it. I’m pullin’ for ya, Ben...

After the refreshing glory of The Substitute and Lighthouse, this episode was so bleakly The Shape of Things to Come. Definitely my least favorite of the season thus far, which isn’t to say that it was poorly done. Just dead depressing. I did grin at Smokey’s bemused reaction to Sayid’s stabbing: “Now, why'd you go and do that?” Claire snapping at Dogen to speak English. Miles describing Loco Claire as “hot”. Claire seeming to have slight moral qualms about her "friend's" plan. Kate slamming Lennon into submission. Claire singing Catch a Falling Star at the end - well, that was supremely creepy, but definitely made an impact. Kate tagging along with Claire even though the latter wants to kill her (though I'm not sure Kate knows that yet). And that look of pure freaked-outness on Ben’s face as he surveyed the situation and realized that Sayid had definitively joined Team Smokey. Back away slowly, Ben. Atta boy.

I still feel like my Sideways = Future hypothesis holds water - especially since Darlton evidently dropped a hint that the word to remember as a key to the end of the series is “water” - as in the Island is underwater. And as in a nod to baptismal purification, with all of these characters emerging with quite literal new lives in Sideways World, where they can pursue their better natures. Well, most of them. Alas, poor Keamy; he doesn’t seem to have a decent bone in his body, though apparently he makes a mean egg. But everything seems to be falling into place for our castaways back in the “real world”. They’ll continue to screw up but then take steps in the right direction.

Except Hurley, I think. I suspect he’ll get the last centric episode of the season - maybe even the last episode period. I think we’ll find that while some of the castaways have been getting deja-vu flashes - not Sayid, though, which I suspect is a clue that he meets his death on the Island - Hurley actually completely remembers his Island experience, because Hurley is the New Jacob, or perhaps the resolution of Jacob and Smokey. And I think we’ll find that “protecting the Island” wasn’t so much Jacob’s main objective. It was always more about the people he brought to the Island, and humanity in general. And all of the heartache and collateral damage will be rendered undone in the end - "everything sad will come untrue," to borrow from Tolkien - so we don’t have to be bitter about the terrible things that sometimes happened because of Jacob’s little nudges. And though the Island will be submerged, and we may catch Hurley shedding a tear like Lucy at the end of The Last Battle, perhaps we can say that the Island is merely sleeping, as it were. And that one day, it will rise again, and all those who once reigned as Candidates there will return, this time for good. In the meantime, they will have to learn how to get along in the everyday world. And Hurley will help them.

Or something like that. I’ve never been much of a theorizer because I don’t have anything like the smarts of a Doc Jensen or somebody like that. But the series is coming to a close, and I can’t stop myself from speculating. And my speculation is that what we’re headed for is glorious indeed.

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