by Ryland Walker Knight
Well, cool. There were some risks taken, some serious crazy, and some killings. Brutal fucking murders, even. A ruthless episode that started slow and crescendoed somewhere beyond Apocalypse Now with this new Kurtz I'm calling Dark Locke not a raving nobody stuck in his temple of doom but heading out into the jungle, ready, smiling at his good fortune to gather a crowd and, it seems, pull the wool a little over a lot of eyes. That is, this week was a big step forward towards real consequence and conclusion. Not only that, we got to see the end of that goofy odd couple, Dogen and Lennon, and we didn't have to really deal with Jack. Bonus: Kate's looking a fool, and useless, a sheep forever and hardly clothed wolf-like.
But Locke's that reversed, and easy, or more: not just a wolf wrapped in a smile but a smoke monster aching to wreak havoc. And, like a good chess player, he parried and fell back and then struck from a new angle to topple the other side. Of course he chose the arrival of darkness as his deadline.
This was the first week since the opener that the sideways, 2004-prime story-line held much interest for me, even if it was later in the episode as things lead to a different (and decidedly smaller) execution. Sayid's new story seems the most like his old one, which sets him apart again, though to be fair we haven't had much of Jin and Sun in 2004 yet—and you just know they'll play a major role in the pathetic appeal of the finale. (A finale, the promos remind us, only 10 episodes away. Time flies indeed. Not that I'm really counting down things.) After all, when Sun appeared by surprise late in the episode, it was easy to get a jolt of "almost!" when she asked Kate if Jin was present at the temple. I'm ready for this reunion to be cornball but I also wouldn't be surprised if, like with Sayid, it to turn on dark histories.
Most of the show was about Sayid trying and failing to prove his worth as "good" in situations set up by "evil" men. His whole storyline hinges on that declaration to his lost love, who is now his brother's wife, that he spends his days trying to wash his hands of his past actions. Of course, when he's asked to forget some wrong doing, he answers, "But I can't," and kills the man who asked. (Funny to see the tables turned on that smarmy Martin Keamy who, in his time before on the show, was just as ruthless.) On the island, Sayid flips his relationship with Dogen around, no longer at his mercy; after allowing Hiroyuki Sanada a monologue about his not-fateful arrival on the island (Jacob beckoned him, too, after a tragedy he caused), Sayid says he elects to stay in the temple, which we clearly see wasn't in Dogen's mind. Further, it suggests all good is gone, as predicted, and Dark Locke has recruited another all-too-willing bruised soul.
Lost has always loved its dichotomies. But what's fun is that the show always fudges those lines. Nothing's so arbitrary as a strict either/or on the show. Somebody's transgressing something, making "sides" look closer (or more mirrored) than they appear. Also, it's clearer all the time just how little agency's afforded in this show. Most people are manipulable; especially our "Losties." In fact, when was there a time when one of these dudes acted completely on his or her own? Has it happened? Or was Dark Locke right in that cave? Has everything been orchestrated until now? Was Charlie supposed to die by making that choice? His hand sure seemed forced if he was to protect the girl and the baby he loved. And look where that got them. The baby's an orphan, practically, though he's living with some relative, and the girl (the mom) is a lunatic hell bent on killing anybody who may or may not have had a hand in disappearing her baby boy.
I'll say this: Emilie de Ravin was much better this episode. She ate the walls around her, but at least she looked like she was having fun hamming it up as Cooky Claire. Maybe acting opposite Terry O'Quinn opened her up a bit. She's only got about one move, or maybe two, but she really went for the one note of nutso this week. The way she looks up at Kate says "calculation" as much as "sheer enmity." And that was followed up by "cookoo" when she beckoned Kate with a promise of safety away from the onrush of the smoke monster's hurtling trail of electric clicks and, well, slaughter.
It's amazing how much of the show has been setting up massacres, building an association only to rob you of it so you leave it, lost. (Yep.) Everybody's blanched now. I dig it.