It's weird to think that last night's "Lost" -- "Sundown" -- is the sixth hour of the season, and there are only I think 18 total. That means that we're one-third through with the final season, and as a result, we get episodes full of twists and momentum like this week's. Most of the alternate timeline stuff was fun, but the real meat was (as expected) the action unfolding on the island at the Temple. Let's do this.
The Los Angeles Timeline
As with the other glimpses into the non-crash world, this one picks up right after Sayid leaves LAX. He takes a cab to a house and is greeted at the door by Nadia, though it's clear their relationship isn't what it is in the other world. She's got two kids and is married to Sayid's brother, Omer, which we learn through blocks of painful exposition that make their home on network melodramas. I mean, who actually thinks it's okay to have siblings talk like this? I don't (e.g.) say to my sister, "Good to see you, sister, even after all these years." It's just clunky. Ditto Omer's counter to Nadia later, who complains about his using the cell phone at the dinner table: "Dinner's over. This is business." No one says this. I know that "Lost" is a pop genre show that's going to, pretty much out of necessity, emphasize style over substance, which is fine most of the time; workhorse dialogue and a compelling story have brought us some great entertainment. But intimate family scenes demand a greater adherence to the real world than this.
Anyway, later that night Omer tells Sayid that to launch the latest branch of his dry cleaning business, he borrowed money from a criminal and paid it back only to have the guy claim to be owed interest for life. Sayid, wisely avoiding the lecture about honor among thieves, instead listens to his brother's plea for intervention. Omer, in case someone watching the episode has not seen any previous portion of "Lost" since 2004, reminds Sayid that Sayid was an interrogator for Iraq's Republican Guard, which is another awful moment of exposition. We all know that's what Sayid did, and more importantly, Sayid knows it and doesn't need to be reminded of it. That's why Omer's talking to him in the first place. Just: ugh. A dropped ball. Sayid declines the request.
The next day (or so), Sayid is sending Omer's kids off to school (and of course the daughter says how much Nadia likes having Sayid around, because why not these kids are psychic and we need to be reminded of Sayid's and Nadia's hidden love) when Nadia runs up and tells him they need to go to the hospital. There they learn that Omer's been badly mugged, and Sayid almost goes on the warpath right there until Nadia talks him out of it. That night, at home, they have a DTR about why he pushed her away, and he says that he's been trying to atone for his sins and doesn't deserve her.
The morning after that, Sayid's met outside by some Middle Eastern thugs in suits, who coerce him into their car and take him to their boss' hideout, which is the kitchen of a restaurant. The nationality of the henchmen was a viewer fakeout, though, because the boss turns out to be none other than Keamy, the same roided-out mercenary who made life hell for the castaways a couple seasons back. This is an awesome choice not only for the way it keeps the characters' universes all tangled up, but because Kevin Durand is an eerie actor with the ability to completely isolate his eyes from any emotional state he might be trying to create with his words. He does the typical posturing and threatening of a mob chief, even refusing to answer Sayid directly about being responsible for Omer's injuries, but Sayid is not about to play around. Like a boss, he knocks back the guard next to him and gets his gun while using him as a human shield and killing the only other guard in the room. In seconds, it's just Sayid and Keamy alone next to a plate of eggs, with Sayid's gun pointed straight at the man's head. Keamy tries to talk his way out of it, saying Omer's debt is forgiven, but to no avail: Sayid coldly shoots him and watches him drop to the ground and die.
And then, Sayid hears a tussle in the freezer and moves to investigate, finding someone inside, tied to a chair. He cautiously pulls the tape off the figure's mouth as the captive is revealed to be: Jin! Sayid asks what he's doing there, but all the beaten man can do is say "No English."
The Island Timeline
Jack and Hurley are presumably still out at the Lighthouse or on their way when Sayid confronts Dogen about the whole trying-to-kill-him-with-a-poison-pill thing. Dogen responds that the machine they used on Sayid revealed that his balance of good and evil, which everyone has, had "tipped the wrong way." Then they get into a big fight, the kind of physical knockdown I haven't seen since "Alias," and Dogen's about to finish Sayid off when a baseball rolls off the table and thuds to the floor, stopping the match. Dogen shakes it off and tells Sayid to leave and never return, which he happily agrees to do.
Out in the jungle, Claire and the Enemy are having a brief talk as she gets her marching orders, and she agrees to do his bidding if she gets Aaron back. Asked if he's really going to kill everyone inside, he replies, "Only the ones who don't listen." She marches off as the action shifts back inside the Temple grounds, where Sayid tells Miles he's been branded as evil and has to go. Miles counters that Sayid was dead for two whole hours, and claims that "whatever brought you back, it wasn't them." This is when Claire shows up, strolling in the front door like she's not a loony, and tells the Dogen he's wanted for a meeting with the Enemy. Dogen, knowing this is a stupid idea, pulls a 180 and asks Sayid to stay, and more than that, to take a special knife the Dogen gives him and kill the strange man in the jungle who's "evil incarnate." Dogen warns Sayid to do it before the creature, who will appear as someone Sayid knows and has died, can talk. For the second time in 10 minutes, Sayid agrees to the Dogen's orders.
Out in the jungle, Sayid passes Kate on his way out to do his duty, and she heads to the Temple to learn that Claire's there, somewhere. Meanwhile, Sayid stops for water when he hears the rattling sound marking the approach of the smoke monster, and he draws the knife as the Enemy steps from the bushes and calmly greets him. This counts as talking, but Sayid probably writes it off as small talk and not that relevant, so he lunges forward and runs the blade into the Enemy's chest. Puzzled and slightly miffed, the man pulls the knife out and asks, "What did you go and do that for?"
Undaunted, Sayid tells him about the mission and Dogen and the whole mess. I like this aspect of the show that lets Sayid (or anyone) have a real dialogue with this supernatural force that's trying to recruit them. The monster posing as Locke has been more forthcoming, but it's interesting to watch him make his case and recruit people. Real bad guys never think they're bad, they just have different priorities and a modified way of defining need. That's something the show understands, and in its better moments, it can brush up against some great ideas. (This is also thanks in no small part to Terry O'Quinn, who's fantastic.) The Enemy asks Sayid to deliver a message, though he's not keen on running errands, and when offered whatever he could imagine in the whole world, Sayid responds that the only thing he wants is dead and gone and that he can never see it again. With a grin of terrifying promise, the Enemy asks, "What if you could?"
Sayid returns to the Temple, his luscious man locks soaked by the rain, and announces to the assembled group that there's a man in the jungle who wants to leave, and who will take anyone who wants to go. Those who remain at the Temple past sundown will be killed. Inside the Temple, Lennon bumps into Kate, who grabs him and demands to see Claire. Lennon obliges and leads her to a room with a pit in it, and in the pit is Claire, singing "Catch a Falling Star" and rocking back and forth as only someone who's bid farewell to sanity can do. (This is the song Claire asked the unborn Aaron's prospective parents to sing to him, and we also see Kate sing it to Aaron when she visits Cassidy off-island.) Kate calls down to Claire, who recognizes her and starts to talk about Aaron, but Kate corrects her and says that she, Kate, is the one who took Aaron and raised him when Claire went missing. This news does not go over well. Rather than react or yell about her
bye-bye baby, though, Claire just laughs as Lennon's men pull Kate away after her two-minute visit is up. "He's coming," she says. "He's coming, and they can't stop him."
Outside, a bunch of people are getting ready to bail, and Sayid is unapologetic when Lennon complains about the panic he started. Sayid then heads inside and finds Dogen by the pool, who reveals that he was a big-shot banker in Osaka, Japan, when things went bad. He had developed a habit of drinking after work, and was plastered when one day he picked up his son from the boy's baseball game. (Hence the presence of the ball in Dogen's room.) He wrecked the car and survived without a scratch, but the boy was almost dead. At the hospital, he was approached by Jacob, who said that he'd be able to save the boy's life as long as Dogen agreed to go to the island and never see his son again. Sayid says that Jacob drives a hard bargain, to which Dogen replies that the man outside must've offered a similar one to Sayid. This is another key point: Jacob and the Enemy seem to work in similar ways, and to even give the appearance of the other. There's a nice aspect of free will and moral searching there. Sayid tells Dogen he wants to stay, but it's a feint to get his defenses down: Sayid grabs the man and plunges him into the pool, and after a brief struggle, Dogen drowns and floats away, the baseball in his hand bobbing to the surface.
That's just the beginning of the carnage, too: Lennon bursts in and shouts at Sayid that he's killed the one man who could protect them. "You just let it in," he says. Sayid grabs him and cuts his throat in a quick motion before kicking the corpse into the pool. "I know," he says. And with that, the smoke monster arrives, sweeping through the Temple like a biblical plague and slaughtering those who were brave or foolish enough to stay. Kate and Miles take off running but split up so Kate can rescue Claire (which is a dumb idea, but that's Kate). She gets to Claire, but Claire doesn't want to leave the pit, and she also advises Kate that the pit's the safest place to be. Kate flips down into the hole just as the smoke monster comes in and moves over it, gobbling up the other guys in the room. Kate looks up at the passing smoke arm with fear and trembling, but Claire regards it more with relief and satisfaction.
Miles winds up ducking into a side room and trying to block the door with his body as someone tries to kick it in, and he's eventually overpowered. But the intruder is a good one: It's Ilana, trailed by Frank, Sun, and Ben, who look like they've had their own little adventures getting there, too. Ben rushes off to find Sayid and discovers him at the pool, chilling on the steps and holding the bloody knife like that's not a weird thing to do. Ben takes in the view of the floating corpses but doesn't mention it, saying only that he knows a way out. "There's still time," Ben says. "Not for me," Sayid tells him. (Between his rampage in this world and the other timeline, I'm tempted to start referring to him as Dark Sayid, or, yes, Darksayid. Wordplay!) Ben, never one to draw things out, turns and runs, meeting up with Ilana et al. as they move through the Temple to find the secret passageway that Jack and Hurley used earlier. Miles tells Sun that Jin just left the Temple a while ago, and was alive last he saw. They find the hidden door and use it, and it swings to a close just as the smoke monster rounds a corner and barrels by.
Sayid, Kate, and Claire emerge to find the courtyard filled with dead bodies scattered among small fires. They do a slow-mo walkthrough as a creeped-out version of "Catch a Falling Star" plays over the scene, and soon enough they exit and find the Enemy and a handful of people waiting outside the gate. He gives Sayid and Claire looks of quiet encouragement at a job well done, but he's surprised to see Kate (now armed with a rifle she picked off a corpse) following behind them. The look he gives her knows she'll be trouble, but there's no time for that now. He cuts through the group and begins to lead them away from the Temple, into the night and onto the next step in the battle for the island.
And that's that. This episode's theme was Sayid Reluctantly Accepting Offers to Somehow Help Nadia, and it was a pretty good episode that pushed the ground plot forward after last week's movement with the broader mythology of the island. The show's never shied away from biblical parallels, not to make any religious point but because they have an air of the epic that a show about fate likes to have, and there were plenty in this episode, from the Passover imagery of the smoke monster's vengeance to the Enemy's promise to Sayid that he can have whatever he wants if he just does the Enemy a favor. Also, how the hell did Jin get in that freezer? Is his work for Mr. Paik tied to Keamy, or was that through something else? As for the island, now that the Temple has been destroyed, what's next for the Enemy? Is Charles Widmore on the way, or sending people? What about Desmond? Will Kate be able to do anything helpful? I'd thought last week that her role as an island protector was in play, but at the recent Paley Television Festival in Los Angeles, executive producer Carlton Cuse said that her name is indeed crossed out, but that they hadn't shot a good close-up or edited in the proper footage they needed to show this. Maybe she'll need that rifle after all.