We’re back with our weekly round table discussion featuring bloggers Theresa DeLucci, Rajan Khanna, and Bridget McGovern. Fair warning: spoilers AND evil incarnate lurk below the fold. Also: Kung Fu Fighting. Let’s discuss…
Raj: This episode was an improvement over last week’s for me, both because we got a bit more action and explanation and because we got badass Sayid back. Sayid has been a perplexing character for me. He started out as one of my favorite characters, but over the last few seasons it seems as if the writers didn’t know what to do with him. After the reform started to settle into the reformed torturer, his story arc has meandered. There was that almost embarrassingly cute hookup with Shannon that ended abruptly and tragically and then was promptly forgotten (seriously, has Sayid mentioned her since?). Then there were some unmemorable moments (seriously—I can’t remember what he did afterward) before he eventually re-emerged as badass, James-Bond-on-a-leash for Ben. But then that ended and Sayid has felt like he’s been in limbo with some acting from Naveen Andrews that frankly looked like he was bored. I don’t know that I’m happy to see Sayid go over to the dark side, but in a way, I’m glad that someone has and this does work for the character.
I also liked Earth-2 Sayid’s storyline. It was almost hard-boiled, the way that this formerly violent man is on the path of redemption and people keep trying to tempt him back, only for him to refuse, only for him to be forced back into it. Hell, it’s almost the plot of Unforgiven. The addition of Jin into this storyline was interesting, too. I’m getting the sense that rather than separate slices of life, there is something grander behind the puzzle pieces.
I was actually sad to see Dogen and Lennon go. I prefer them to the gun-toting Ilyana. But I was happy to get Dogen’s backstory. But what was the power that kept Smocke out of the temple? I thought it was the ash but apparently it was something in Dogen. And interesting that both Jacob and Smocke use similar tactics.
That being said, I don’t think we can avoid the conclusion now that Smocke is Evil and Jacob is Good. Smocke has killed too many people, despite giving them a chance. And the deal he offered Sayid was a classic deal with the devil.
Will Sayid have a Vader moment in the end? Where are Jin and Sawyer? These are a few questions I have. I’m sure I’ll think of more.
Theresa: I’m with you, Raj. I think Sayid is the character most likely to appear in a comic book. I don’t think the show always knows what to do with him, beyond being the muscle. Or getting tortured. So it’s nice to see the character get something to do. Evil Sayid sounds even hotter than regular ass-kicking Sayid, so I’m all for it. I love a good fight scene. I was a little disappointed in Dogen’s backstory. I was hoping that he was on the Black Rock or something more exciting than a salaryman. But I’m sad to see such a great actor go. Lennon, I didn’t like as much, but that was a nasty death. However, Sayid is still not as scary as the screaming, murderous smoke monster.
I enjoyed Sayid’s Earth-2 adventure. I usually think of Naveen Andrews as a dramatic actor or a romantic lead and I think his talents come through more in those small scenes than in expository lumps of Island insanity. But my favorite part of Earth-2 was Keamy doing his best Walken impersonation. What kind of mob boss employs Keamy, some Iraqis, and has ties to South Korea? I mean, I’m guessing that Sun’s dad has something to do with Jin being in the freezer. Still doing my best to be patient and learn how this puzzle comes together.
My one nitpick: Kate. Ugh. It’s not just Kate, but her exchange with Claire is just a perfect example of WTF is wrong with these people? Is it so impossible to just tell someone the truth directly? Like Kate should’ve just said, “Look, you went missing and there was a chance to get rescued from very dangerous people, so I took Aaron off the Island for safekeeping and he’s with your mom now. I came back to rescue you, too, so you can be together.” The way Kate said she “raised” him sent up a flag for me, like it was just an inappropriate way to tell the story. Especially to a clearly distressed woman singing nursery rhymes to herself at the bottom of a pit. Knowing what we know about Claire, maybe some of Claire’s anger could’ve been diffused if Kate explained things tactfully. Now, who knows?
But otherwise, a highly enjoyable episode. I missed the slo-mo ending montages! The nursery rhyme was a nice, creepy touch. Now, can we have a moment of silence for all the red shirts who died in this episode?
Bridget: Yeah, sorry, red shirts—but at least things are moving forward again: Smoke attacks! Stabbings! A samurai-assassin-ninja throwdown! Dudes menacing each other with eggs! What’s not to love? All the action aside, though, I find the sideways flashes much more intriguing when they are grounded in familiar characters and storylines—Sayid’s relationship with Nadia (or Locke’s with Helen) are far more interesting to me than, say, Jack’s sullen tween offspring, for relatively obvious reasons. As Raj points out, integrating Jin into Sayid’s plotline was an interesting move, and I appreciated both the glimpse of Jack at the hospital and special guest villain Martin Keamy serving up eggs à la Frank White.
Not only did the parallel plotlines reflect and compliment one another, but Sayid is a perfect vehicle for bringing some of the show’s larger themes into focus, given his recurring role as a reluctant killer, torturer, soldier, etc. The constant and extreme moral dilemmas that seem to punctuate every turn of his existence play perfectly into all the amorphous concepts swirling around the central conflict between Jacob and his adversary: good vs. evil, order vs. chaos, autonomy vs. coercion, free will vs. determinism. His whole existence sometimes feels like an ethical Choose Your Own Adventure game that he can never win; the question is, how much actual choice was involved when he decided to join up with Smocke? Has he actually “turned evil,” through some mysterious sickness or possession? Is Claire evil, or just crazy?
I’ll never hear “Catch A Falling Star” again without flashing back to that final scene of smirky, creepy Team Smocke setting off into the jungle. Poor Perry Como: ruined forever by the awesomeness of Lost. I wonder how Kate will make out among the Death Eaters as Theresa points out, for someone who’s supposed to be a pretty wily character, Kate has been pathetically slow on the uptake lately.
I also want to know where Sawyer is—I’m assuming Jin might be stuck back at Crazy Claire’s Insanity Shack, babysitting the Skullbaby. I hope we pick up with Ilanna, Sun, Lapidus, Miles and Ben in the secret Omega Room next week—it would be nice to get some backstory on Ilanna, since she’s still rampaging around barking orders for some reason. Finally, is anyone else paranoid that Shannon’s about to show up again? I mean, clearly, we’re supposed to think that the love of Sayid’s life who “died in his arms” is Nadia, but I’m suspicious. Shannon was mentioned in last week’s episode, and bringing back the dead is clearly Smocke’s favorite party trick I really think it’s a distinct possibility.
Next week’s episode will focus on Ben Linus: European History teacher, so I’m unspeakably excited; in the meantime, enjoy some geeky bonus links, and please let us know what you think in the comments…
Smocke? Fake Locke? Smokey? Take the Character-Formerly-Known-As-Locke nickname poll (via The Watcher)
Excellent new wallpaper featuring the Springfield Punx versions of the Losties, complete with Simpsons-style couch ruins. Awesome.
Ben Linus (well, Michael Emerson) appears in a prison training video from 1992. Weirdness. (via Gawker.TV)
Hurley throws a party in the U.S.A.: pure, goofy YouTube magic results.
Theresa DeLucci is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in Chizine. She is fully supportive of a Miles/Hurley spinoff show.
Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and his fiction has appeared in Shimmer Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn with his two cats, Chloe and Muppet.
Bridget McGovern is a lit nerd, a film geek, and a complete pop culture junkie. She enjoys David Bowie, roller coasters, and Mr. Christopher Walken more than anyone probably should.