Sayid used to be one of my favorite characters on Lost, but he took a few too many random turns — even before he shot a kid. Now it seems like even Sayid doesn't like Sayid any more. Spoilers ahead...
First of all, was I the only one desperately hoping that Sayid would stab Kate in the chest when he ran into her in the jungle? And then say, "Oops. Right. Dogen said the evil force would appear to me as someone I already knew, who had already died. Forgot that part." So. Close. Anyway, moving on.
Last night's Lost was great, but also sort of frustrating. You keep thinking Sayid is going to assert his independence and free will, but he never quite does. You just set him up and he goes the direction you want to go him in, until he runs into an obstacle. Even L.A. Sayid, who keeps refusing to unleash the dirty justice his brother wants him to, winds up doing it anyway. It felt like one of those fatalistic old gunfighter movies, where a gunslinger can't escape his nature, no matter how he tries.
I think Sayid lost me, as a character, when he became an assassin for Ben a couple years back. I never quite understood why he did that — sure, Ben told him that Widmore killed Nadia, but why would Sayid believe him? And then when Ben tells Sayid that he's finished, and he's killed everyone who needs killing, why is Sayid pissed instead of relieved? Why is he pissed at Ben for not wanting him to kill any more people? So pissed, in fact, that he shoots Ben as a little kid? It never quite made sense to me, and felt like the writers just wanted those things to happen, without thinking them through.
In any case, Sayid is fully a pawn this time around. Dogen tells him to leave, so he's leaving. Except that now Dogen wants him to stab Smokey, so he does that instead. Smokey doesn't die, and instead he wants Sayid to go deliver a message to Dogen. So Sayid does that. Sayid doesn't seem evil, just easily led. At least, like I said, we see L.A. Sayid struggle against doing what his brother wants him to do, until Gangsta Keamy (!) forces his hand.
Of course, the island portions of last night's episode can be seen as Dogen struggling against his destiny — to be snuffed by Sayid. It seems like Dogen has known for a long time that he's doomed to be killed by this tainted candidate, and he's been trying strategem after futile stratagem to get out of it. First he tried to get Jack to poison him, and now he maneuvers Sayid into getting whacked by Smokey. He even takes a crack at killing Sayid himself — but he can't, because (say it with me) it's against the rules.
Actually, I think last night's episode gave us a huge, enormous clue to the nature of the "flash sideways" universe. Jacob told Dogen that if he went and lived on the island, his dead son would be alive again, but there's one catch — Dogen would never be able to see him again. (At least, not this Dogen.) We already saw last week that Dogen's son is alive and well in the L.A.-verse — what if that's what Jacob was referring to? And ditto, when Smokey tells Sayid that Nadia can be alive and well again, what if that's what he means?
In fact, I'm wondering if the L.A.-verse is the "real world" everywhere except for on the island. We haven't seen anyone leave the island or arrive from the outside world yet this season, and I'm wondering if there is an outside world any more, apart from the one where Flight 815 never crashed. If you did manage to leave the island, maybe you'd find yourself in the world where the other Sayid is hanging out with his beloved Nadia, except that the guilt-ridden ex-torturer talked her into marrying his brother?
It's just a theory, but it does seem like the alternate universe is the linchpin of the bargains that Dogen and Sayid made — except that opens up the question, how did their sacrifices help to enable the existence of this other world? (Obviously, Sayid did help to create the L.A.-verse through his actions, but that doesn't include ganking Dogen.)
In the B-plot, Claire is Smokey's other pawn, and she marches into Dogen's camp on Smokey's instructions. She's gone from frantic to eerily calm, even after Kate comes and tells her that she took Aaron off the island. Claire is definitely still looking wrong, and you're left wondering how much of that is because of Smokey's influence, and how much is due to losing her kid? (And just how special is Aaron after all?)
This was one of those episodes where you feel as though all the really significant stuff is happening just out of frame. Like, where did Sawyer go? He was hanging out with Smokey the last time we saw him, and now he's missing. Also, Ilana, Frank, Sun and Ben randomly show up at the temple just as the shit hits the fan, and they start hustling people out of there. Meanwhile, in the L.A.-verse, we find Jin tied up in Gangsta Keamy's meat locker, which must be a result of his failure to get all those wads of cash through customs in the season opener.
All in all, it was a bit of a slow episode, partly because the show foreshadowed so heavily that Sayid would wind up joining the Smokey army, we were just waiting for it to happen. And then it did happen. Sayid can't fight his destiny, in either universe, and watching him try is surprisingly unfulfilling.