Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost Episode Review 6.06: "Sundown"

"For every man there is a scale. On one side - good, the other - evil. This machine tells us how the scale is balanced... Yours tipped the wrong way."

(Thanks to Dark UFO for all the screencaps).

Several years ago when Harrison Ford made "Air Force One," he went on David Letterman to promote the film and throughout the show Dave made a running gag about Ford being the "Kick-Ass President." So seeing Sayid as the "Kick-Ass Infected Candidate" this week made me laugh.

This was probably the most action LOST has ever packed into an episode. The last fifteen minutes with Smokey's rampage through the Temple and Jacob's intrepid band of rebels trying to save everyone was simply fabulous. So much happened in that short space of time, Infected Sayid goes completely over to the Dark Side, killing Dogan and Lennon in the process, Miles joins the rebels while Kate ends up with the evil recruits, Sun finds out Jin is alive somewhere and Ben discovers Sayid is lost to them. The chaos of the scene was very well done, I thought, and the aftereffects of everything look to be very, very interesting.

Lots to like this episode, including the Alt which is becoming very interesting. We're building to the climax now. I imagine things are only going to get crazier from here.

Five questions:

1) So what's Smokey's overall plan and what will happen to all his recruits?

Now that the Temple dwellers have either been recruited or killed, one would imagine that the only thing left for Smokey to do is to go home, wherever that is. But how simple is that going to be? I imagine there's probably only one way Smokey is allowed to leave and I strongly suspect it involves killing more people. Dogan said Smokey once killed every living thing on the Island which certainly doesn't bode well for his recruits and I'm sure he has no intention whatsoever in granting them "anything they ever wanted."

My guess is if there is a literal "magic box" on the Island, Smokey's going to want to use it to go home. But I also suspect that he can't use it directly - he needs one of his recruits to use it for him. Now this is a scenario where I can see Sawyer totally pulling the Long Con on him.

2) How did Dogan's presence in the Temple keep Smokey out? Wasn't that the ash ring's job?

So what exactly kept Smokey out of the Temple? In LA X, we saw the Temple dwellers pouring ash around the Temple perimeter, but Lennon said that Dogan himself was the only thing that was keeping Smokey out.

I really liked Dogan's backstory that he told to Evil Sayid (right before ES drowned him). I imagine the bargain Jacob made Dogan went something like this:
"I will save your son's life by taking him to a sacred place, a Temple, after which he will be returned to his life in Japan just as before. In return, you must agree to never leave the place where he is healed and, yes, this means you will never see your son again. By agreeing to this, you become the protector of the Temple - it is your presence and your presence alone that prevents evil from taking it over. As long as you are inside, evil cannot enter."
It explains why we've never seen Dogan before - he had to stay inside the Temple to keep Smokey out (Lennon probably just came along for the ride). The ash ring, easily broken by any of his followers, was probably just a second (ineffective) layer of protection. It's interesting that Jacob always seems to ask people to sacrifice something in return for something - you can't use the spring without being "changed," I'll heal your son but you have to help me in return. Smokey doesn't do that at all - it's follow me or be killed, but if you follow me I'll make your wildest dreams come true. Smokey's offer is probably more persuasive (if not seductive), but most Faustian deals are, right?

3) Is Dogan's "scale" the same one used in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony?

I've long thought that the Island's purpose was the ground for the Weighing of the Heart ceremony in Eygptian Mythology, with Jacob as Osiris, the Nemesis as Set and Smokey as Ammit. I discarded this theory after Smokey and the Nemesis were revealed to be one and the same, but Dogan's scale analogy makes me rethink this. The reason I discarded the theory is that Ammit really isn't on the same level as Osiris, more of a servant (or a pet) to the gods rather than a god himself. Take a look at this Wikipedia entry on Ammit and tell me if this sounds familiar:

In Egyptian mythology, Ammit (also spelt Ammut and Ahemait, meaning Devourer or Bone Eater) was a female demon with a body that was part lion, hippopotamus and crocodile. A funerary deity, her titles included “Devourer of the Dead,” “Eater of Hearts,” and “Great of Death.”

Ammit lived near the scales of justice in Duat, the Egyptian underworld. In the Hall of Two Truths, Anubis weighed the heart of a person against Ma'at, the goddess of truth, who was sometimes depicted symbolically as an ostrich feather. If the heart was judged to be not pure, Ammit would devour it, and the person undergoing judgement was not allowed to continue their voyage towards Osiris and immortality. Once Ammut swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever; this was called "to die a second time". Ammit was also sometimes said to stand by a lake of fire. In some traditions, the unworthy hearts were cast into the fiery lake to be destroyed. Some scholars believe Ammit and the lake represent the same concept of destruction.

Ammit was not worshipped, and was never regarded as a goddess; instead she embodied all that the Egyptians feared, threatening to bind them to eternal restlessness if they did not follow the principal of Ma'at.

Ammit has been linked with the goddess Tawaret, who has a similar physical appearance and, as a companion of Bes, also protected others from evil.
Didn't Dogan say that once Sayid's infection reaches his heart he will be gone? Perhaps the reason Smokey is trapped on the Island is that he's a servant of Jacob rather than a true rival. That's why he could be summoned to protect the Island and that's why he judged people - it was his job when Jacob was around. But now that Jacob's gone, he's free to devour all the hearts his little black heart desires. And I imagine in the Alt verse he's been feasting for decades.

4) Where the heck were Sawyer and Jin during all this?

Claire mentioned Sawyer and Jin before she went into the Temple, but where were they? Off on some super-secret Smokey mission? I'm looking forward to Kate's reaction when she sees Sawyer again, provided Sayid or Claire don't kill her first. Assuming she survives though, I do wonder if she'll pick up on the fact that Sawyer's probably conning Smokey and play along.

The fact Jin is with Smokey and Sun is with the rebels makes me think Smokey's going to eventually use him as leverage to recruit her. After all, you have to think Smokey will be taking out every potential candidate he can - would be a shame to have his jailbreak ruined by a Jacob resurrection, right?

5) Are all the Alt storylines starting to converge?

Given the cliffhanger for this week's Alt installment (Sayid finding Jin in his brother's restaurant's cold room), I have to imagine we'll be seeing some of the Alt storylines come together since I can't imagine they'd leave this one dangling. And if next week's episode is as Ben-centric as the preview suggested, I have to imagine we'll see some more of Alt Locke in his flashes.

But now it seems to me that outside of Flight 815, the lives of all the people on the flight would have been connected even if they hadn't crashed on the Island. Here's a list of the familiar faces we've seen in the Alt verse storylines so far:

Kate - Claire, Sawyer, Ethan
Locke - Jack, Hurley, Rose, Ben
Jack - Dogan, and likely Jack's mystery wife
Sayid - Jack (in a background cameo), Keamy, Jin

So should we have an Alt Jin episode, we'll probably get more of Alt Sayid. Alt Sawyer might bring more of Alt Kate, Alt Hurley might bring us more Alt Locke, etc. And the fact the lives of these people are so involved without Jacob's influcence makes me think that might be the reason he chose them - since they were all going to be linked anyway, why not just bring them all along? Regardless I'm greatly looking forward to next week - I just hope present day Ben doesn't die - we really haven't seen much of him this season and his absence is felt.


- When last we saw Sayid's brother, Omer, he was refusing to cut off the head of a chicken.

- Miles said Sayid was dead for two hours. Really? I don't remember that much time passing in the opener - seemed like he died then came back two minutes later.

- Speaking of Miles, he was great this episode. More please. Sayid's fight with Dogan was awesome too. Looks like it was probably fun to film. In fact, I imagine all the people playing infected characters are having a blast this season.

- Another theory on what the symbol on the Temple wall was, the one marking the secret door: Ouroboros. I don't quite see it personally, but we have seen Ouroboros in LOST before.

- From Matt, via e-mail: "That look between Smokey Locke and Claire augurs ill for Kate." Agreed. But was anyone else a little disappointed Claire didn't attack Kate right away? Seemed a bit out of place when she just kinda let it slide - I suppose she can savor it this way.

- Nice that Cindy, Zack and Emma went with Smokey. That way we get to see more of them this season.

- I LOVED how Claire's creepy lullaby was softly playing as we were shown the Smokey's carnage from the Temple. Also I loved the entire scene with Keamy - best cameo ever. "I make good eggs" was awesome.

- Sayid once again said he's "a good man." Not anymore. Also really like the parallels between the Alt verse and the present day verse this season. Thought Sayid's was very well done.

- Guess Jin still doesn't learn English in the Alt (unless he's pulling a Sun and faking it).

- I really, really hope Evil Sayid wishes for Nadia to be alive again, not Shannon.


Seems Act I of the final season is done. The Temple is destroyed and factions have been created. On one side, we have Smokey, Sayid, Claire and his recruits. On the other, we have Ilana, Frank, Miles, Sun and Ben. And then there are the wildcards: Kate and Sawyer with Team Evil and Jack, Hurley and Ghost Jacob for Team Good. I imagine Act II is going to involve Team Good trying to keep Smokey from escaping the Island. Loved this episode from start to finish - 4.5/5.0. Better than "The Substitute?" - if not, it comes really, really close. :)


Missie said...

Evil Sayid is still hot. I like that they kept his turning evil for a woman consistent. It was only after Nadia died and he sought revenge that he went to work for Ben as an assassin. However, both Nadia and Shannon died in his arms, so that is kind of vague. And Shannon's character is back at some point this season.

It makes sense that Alt Jin doesn't know English. Jin only learned English after crashing on the Island and hearing Sun speak it.

I'm guessing Jin didn't come along because of his bad leg and so he's kind of at the mercy of Smokey and Crazy Claire. But where is Sawyer indeed?

Jay said...

Yeah - there are a lot of questions I have about Alt Jin. And we can't guess the most important one since we couldn't see whether he was wearing a wedding ring or not. Of course, if he's still mixed up in some sort of mafia with Sun's dad, it does kinda suggest they're together (maybe she's the head of the company now and Jin's her head henchman). :)

Carly said...

I missed your post last week so I am just getting caught up with all of them :)
I enjoyed this Alt timeline more then last week's. It seems like the struggle between good and evil has always been inside Sayid, in both timelines.

I also think Alt Locke is just going to let Claire try and kill Kate so he didn't seem that concerned she was standing at the temple.
The last time we saw Jin and Sun in the Alt timeline they were stuck in customs at LAX after getting off the plane. He had all that undeclared cash with him, presumably doing something for Sun's dad in LA, which we can pretty much connect to the mob people Sayid's brother was involved with. Whether Sun is still with him or left him as she planned when he was being questioned by customs remains to be seen.
I've noticed some people are bothered by the fact that they are not answering everything right away and still leaving some mystery. But I think they have a clear direction that they want to go. Lost is still about the characters as much as it is the mysteries and so they are building on the characters in the Alt timeline. A good story is about the plot and the people in it and I for one am glad they are not sacrificing one for the other in the final season.

Jay said...

Oh duh. You're totally right, Carly. I forgot we saw Jin and Sun at LAX and that Jin had a lot of money with him. He told her to button her shirt too.

Does the money take the place of the watch or just go along with it here?

Missie said...

No, the customs guy is looking at the watch too, so Jin has a crapload of cash and a watch. If you recall, Sun had the chance to explain things to the customs officer to help Jin, but she played the "no English" card, leading us to believe she still intends to bail on Jin and her life in Japan.

I'm thinking that we'll get the Alt Jin/Sun story when we get the Island reunion.

mastaiti said...

I felt like this was a setup episode. I liked the action and Sayid killing Keamy was great but I felt like we did not make much progress questions wise. The Alt timeline has been a major plus for the season though.