Gentlemen, I'm proud that you both got through your dispatches without calling anybody a zombie. After last night, I think we can say with certainty that there are no zombies on the island. There are only demon spawn.
What else are we to think of Sayid and Claire? They are, after all, following the orders of an "evil incarnate." Smokey Locke has them completely under his spell. And I do mean spell. In this episode, Smokey transformed into a genie. When he told Sayid he could make his wish come true, I half-expected Robin Williams to make a cameo.
That Sayid-Smokey encounter is ripe for overzealous interpretation. The key, I think, is what happened just before. Before Sayid left the temple, Dogen told him he had to kill the evil being he encountered before he spoke. This is Lost, of course, so Sayid stabbed Smokey only after he said hello. But note how Sayid went from puppy-eyed to vicious throat-slitter only after Locke engaged him in conversation. TV Club Theory No. 7! Being "claimed" by Smokey doesn't mean anything until Smokey actually talks to you. Until then you're a sleeper agent, waiting to get contact from the top dog—Cerberus in this case—before you start carrying out orders. I'm especially fond of this theory because it offers a parallel to the time Sayid spent infiltrating a sleeper cell in Sydney.
The rest of the episode's Sayid-centric storytelling was more or less par for the course. Lost is full of masochists, but our beloved Iraqi stands alone at the top of the heap. Even in the alternate timeline, he's fated for the same tortured existence—he's still in love with a woman he can't have, and he still can't help but kill people. The new timeline works best when it forces us to ruminate on what's fated and what's decided. Sayid's new timeline was so similar to what we've already seen that it appears his decisions are useless. The fates are in complete control of his life.
As you point out, Seth, that temple has always looked shoddy. On account of the cheapo construction, I wasn't surprised Smokey had such an easy time trashing the place. But the ending of the episode left me confused. First, where's Sawyer? Did Smokey send him on some sort of special mission? And why is Kate willing to follow Locke blindly into the jungle? Has her devotion to Claire stripped away what little common sense she had left?
Jack and Seth: Let us have a moment of silence for Dogen, he who gave us the most riddles this side of Mr. Eko. (This is assuming he's actually dead and doesn't become demon spawn himself.) To my mind, the best Lost characters are those who have a hidden agenda, but no interest in sharing it with other islanders. Many fans are struggling with the show this season because all the original hidden agendas—the Dharma Initiative's, Locke's, Ben's—have been laid bare. And the newer ones, namely Jacob's and Smokey's, are still too abstract to obsess over. Dogen's ambitions felt more tangible than those of the two island demigods. Now that he's gone, it's going to be hard for Losties to find anything concrete to latch onto.
Before he died, Dogen mentioned that all people have a scale of good and evil in their soul. He believed Sayid's scale had tipped the wrong way. His comments, of course, were supposed to make us think back to the scale in the cliff-cave, and Smokey and Locke's opposing sides. I'm ready for Lost to tell us whether the island itself is a living, breathing thing. Dogen's scale talk suggests it is. With Jacob dead, its scale is as out of balance as Claire and Sayid's.
Some final Dogen questions before we let him rest in peace. Why is it that he was the final line of defense against Smokey? Perhaps he was made of ash? And could Smokey not kill him for some reason, just like he couldn't kill Jacob? That would suggest that Dogen, too, was protected by the rules of the game, and vulnerable to similar loopholes.
And I suppose I should mention Ilana, Lapidus, and Co., though I confess I'd forgotten they were still on the show. The crazies on the Internet think it's important that she knew where the secret passageway was, but Jacob presumably told her about it just like he told Hurley. (This time, while he was alive.) That whole sequence at the end of the show seemed tossed-in, the only redeeming moment coming when Ben scampered away once he realized Sayid was auditioning for the Iraqi remake of American Psycho.
Seth, you asked how I felt about the re-emergence of Martin Keamy, a terrific bad-ass villain on a show that usually gives us only great schemers. I was tickled to see him, especially because his mouth wouldn't stop twitching. Maybe he dropped some meth into those fried eggs. That he has somehow captured Jin is also a nice touch. I presume Keamy had something to do with the watch Jin was tasked to deliver to Los Angeles. It's too early to tell without a Sun-and-Jin-centric episode, which will hopefully happen soon, if only so they can be reunited. I've been stockpiling the tissues since Season 4.
And, Jack, I'm happy you're no longer stabbing Lost in the chest without even saying hello. As Jacob would point out, this means we're making progress.