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TV Review: Lost Cause – “Sundown”

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"I want to talk to you. I want some answers."

Oh, we do. We do indeed. Did we get them in last night's episode of Lost?

Before we delve into this week's episode, which took a decidedly dark turn, let's linger, if you'll humor me, back at the "Lighthouse," a comparatively happy place where the only smashing that's done is to antique mirrors and rare nautical equipment and not to anyone's head.

We'll get to the bloodshed in a moment, but I'd like to share my favorite overheard Lost theory about the Lighthouse. We saw Jack throw a fit over Jacob's voyeurism and destroy the dials that apparently were windows on the Oceanic survivors' lives. I wish I could claim the following speculation for my own, it's brilliant and if it's not true, I think it should be: the Lighthouse does not belong to Jacob as Hurley and Jack assumed.

You'd think that after five years of this television show, they would have learned not to make assumptions about the island. You'd think we would have learned that as well. Anyway, the theory, you say to me, impatiently — the Lighthouse is not Jacob's. Jacob is not spying on the "candidates." He doesn't have to. He can apparently and quite magically leave the island whenever he wants to and go where and to what time period he wants to. No. The Lighthouse belongs to SchLocke – the Man in Black – trapped on the island.

Jacob gives the errand to Hurley without telling him exactly what he wants him to do (that's so like him!); after all, what would he say? "I want you to go to my Lighthouse and smash up everything inside?" No, Jacob trusts in Jack's heavy-handed ways and knows that Jack's temper will do the job "for free."

Jacob doesn't show up at the Lighthouse until after Jack has accomplished the mission — destroying Smokey's instruments. Like Man in Black not being able to enter the Temple — "if I could do it myself, I wouldn't be asking you, Claire" — Jacob cannot enter the Lighthouse and directs Hurley and Jack to do his dirty work for him. Like I said, I wish I had thought of this. Can't take credit. Just wanted to pass on the possibility.

And speaking of dirty work, let me quote you a terrific old '70s song that might just be rattling around in Jack's head and someday Sayid's as well:

"Like the castle in his corner in a medieval game, I foresee terrible trouble, but I stay here just the same. I'm a fool to do your dirty work."

This is from Steely Dan's 1972 album, their first, Can't Buy A Thrill. You could definitely pick up a thrill, dead cheap, in last night's episode "Sundown" which brings us to another great '70s song – from Lighthouse to Lightfoot:

"Sundown, you'd better take care if I find you've been creeping round my backstairs"… or down some tunnels or in the bottom of a well.

You'd better take care because we are heading for a showdown… at sundown… between the "recruits" and "the candidates."

As we have seen all this season of Lost, the episodes are single-character-centered, echoing the first season's structure. We've seen Kate, John Locke, Jack, and now it's Sayid's turn at a story, and because, to borrow Sawyer's description, Sayid is "an Iraqi torturer who shoots kids," "Sundown," directed by Bobby Roth, is no tea party. Even a political tea party. Like many Sayid storylines, this one was big on action, not so big on sense.

Unlike the other sideways storylines we've seen this season, Sayid is not better off in this other world. Both Locke and Jack seemed a little more at peace in their alternate lives, and each have someone they love who they have made a deep connection with. Kate, well, she might not be exactly better off, but she sure looked like she was having a good time this go-round at being a fugitive on the run. Sayid, in contrast, is as alone in his other life as he is on the island. We see him visiting his brother Omer who is married to … the love of his life, Nadia (or was the love of his life Shannon — that is to be determined).

Sayid has the staid job of translating oil contracts, but his history of violence persists. Omer makes some shady business deals, and Sayid is called upon to right things. Nadia figuratively hangs on his arm, insisting that violence isn't the answer, but Sayid sees no alternative even in the alternative world and knocks off Omer's problem – Martin Leamy, who appears to be as criminal in this storyline as he was on the island. Death toll in the kitchen – Martin and Omar and henchman – that's Omar with an "a." Bonus round in the game? Sayid discovers an injured Jin locked in a walk-through refrigerator.

The death toll on the island is significantly higher – beginning and not limited to Dogen and Lennon – another leader and his henchman dead at Sayid's hand. Give me a moment here. I've taken Dogen's death at Sayid's hand a little too much to heart.

Events leading up to Dogen's death: After an overlong martial arts contest between Dogen and Sayid, Dogen lets Sayid go because a baseball bounces by. It reminds him of the son he lost in a car accident. Dogen's son, he explains to Sayid, was a baseball player who was critically injured in a drunk driving accident, Dogen's drunk driving accident. This is clearly distinguished from the son we saw at the conservatory audition in last week's episode.

Later Sayid goes out to kill Smokey at Dogen's directive; it doesn't go as planned as you probably anticipated, but it made for an effective scene. I suspect the mission was a failure because, contrary to Dogen's instructions, Smokey got a chance to say "hey" — as in "you didn't have me at hello" — and Sayid's assassination attempt didn't work. Silver-tongued Smokey ("what if I told you…") then gets a chance to promise Sayid anything he wants, reminiscent of the devil during Jesus' 40 days in the desert, and one of many biblical allusions in the episode.

Tired of being a pawn in a medieval (or New Testament) game, Sayid seemingly fulfills Smokey's direction; he returns to the Temple and does Dogen in. It was an upsetting scene for fans of Dogen, as I am/was except for this – I'm thinking that Dogen knew what was in store for him and wished it to happen. Dogen wanted a release from the prison/temple he was in. As he indicated, Jacob drives a hard bargain – promising he would save Dogen's son if Dogen promised a life of servitude on the island. All this suggests that Jacob is not the benevolent antithesis to Smokey.

What we have seen onscreen so far is a lot of promising by Smokey and a lot of enigma from Jacob, but we are getting a glimpse now that Jacob too is doing a lot of contract work in gathering up his candidates, and it is happening off-island whereas poor Smokey, trapped on the island, can only recruit from where he stands.

I don't really mean to say poor Smokey. If the argument still continues over whether Smokey is truly evil incarnate, I wonder if it will rest now after the slaughter in the temple. After all, when Jesus raised holy hell in the temple, only a few tables were overturned.

Claire does Smokey's dirty work, enabling him to enter the temple, and chaos reigns. Those who won't "listen" are killed and the rest fall in behind Smokey. And despite Sideways Sayid's protestations, "if you think I'm going to hurt someone just because you made a bad business deal," island Sayid is in step with Smokey, on his way to hurt someone over Smokey's bad business deal.

As always, there's much, much more but our hour's up. A few questions before I let you go:

Dogen refers to the balance between good and evil. There's no reason to disbelieve Dogen. There needs to be a balance on the island. He has been one of the few plain speakers on the show even if it was in Japanese and needs to be interpreted. A nice nuance by the writers. So the question remains: Is the balance between Smokey and Jacob or is it actually occurring elsewhere? It may be that Jacob too is merely a pawn and that the true counterbalance to Smokey is off-island and soon to arrive.

What happened to the idea that Smokey was trapped in John Locke's body? He certainly set free in gruesome style.

I think we'll find out that Richard is in a similar situation as Dogen — brought to the island by Jacob as a captor to Smokey and brought by a promise by Jacob.

Could this be where Kate really shines now? Her confusion at leaving the Temple with the band of Smokies leaves a lot of room for hopeful interpretation. It's hard to imagine that she will follow in Sayid's footsteps. She is not "our you."

Sayid indicates that the only thing he ever wanted "died in his arms." Are we talking Nadia or Shannon here? And does anyone else want to warn Sayid to be careful what he wishes for? Hasn't he ever read Edgar Allan Poe?

Anyone else think of The Silence of the Lambs with Claire at the bottom of that well?

Till next time. Namaste. See you at "Dr. Linus!"

Research and contributions by Nora Kennon

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About Kate Shea Kennon

  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    Kate, this episode threw me at first. When I watched it again, I thought the same thing when Locke promised Sayid “anything.” That’s a BIG promise from the Smoke Man.

    What I am thinking now is that maybe we are going about this all wrong. Perhaps, this is not a battle between good and evil at all, but between two evil forces. I think that it could be that the island is a little bit of hell on Earth, and Jacob and Shlocke are competing for the title of top dog.

    Remember Milton’s Satan said, “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.” Indeed!!!

  • http://whatwouldmargochanningdo.blogspot.com/ Kate Shea Kennon

    Hi Victor: Thanks for reading and commenting! It was interesting that we don’t see Locke promise anything: he just asks “what if.” We actually haven’t seen Locke fulfill any of his promises (have we?) while we have seen Jacob fulfill his, as demanding as they were. It’s all very Miltonian, as you say!

    I’m not sure that Jacob is evil per se, but he can be a harsh partner in a deal – very Old Testament. I’ve been playing with the idea that he and Smokey are ego and id which would make them the same person, of course. This leaves superego, but there is someone (or plural as Jacob indicated) still coming to the island. So perhaps we have been looking at this all wrong – not a duality but a trinity. Too bad there’s nothing to write about in that motif. Thanks again!

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