First off, it was not, despite the title, a Sun-centric episode, but was instead a Sayid-centric one.
The first words out of Sayid's mouth in the Island timeline were, "I want to talk to you, I want some answers." Yet ironically (a favorite literary device in the LOST world) we get very few answers in this episode of LOST.
With only 10 episodes to go until the show is over (I'll wait while you shed some tears, it's totally understandable, I had to do the same thing right after writing that) I figured that each episode would be heavier on the answer end, and there have definitely been some move towards that in the last few episodes, this one, on the other hand, was pretty light on the answers, I'm not going to lie.
We did get some answers on who Dogen was and why he came to the Island. The story, of course, is very reminiscent of how Juliet was convinced to stay on the Island. His memory of causing the life-threatening injuries to his son kept him from being able to kill Sayid when he had the chance despite his belief that a darkness had infected Sayid and that when it reached his heart would make him so different that "everything [Sayid] once was will be gone".
Instead he tried to manipulate Sayid into dying at the hands of Esau the Locke-less (Smoke) Monster, which just played into Esau's hands allowing him his way into the Temple, formally the only safe place left on the Island.
Throughout the history of the show, manipulation has played a large role in getting things done, especially since the introduction of Ben. But Jacob has done many of the same things as now too has Esau.
Dogen describes Esau as Evil Incarnate, but thus far it hasn't been 100% clear who exactly is good and who is evil as all of them seem to trade in the same manipulation and often outright lies. (Although we have yet to catch Jacob in an outright lie) We do know that Ben has lied and often, and Esau has lied at least to Claire, since we know that Aaron is not with the Others like she has been told. It also seems to me that Esau can't really deliver to Sayid what he has promised either.
Sayid has been manipulated perhaps more than anyone else throughout the history of the show. I am reminded of his work for Ben, culminating in the 10th episode of season 5, He's Our You. Ben knew all the right buttons to push to get Sayid to do what he wanted. Of course for Ben to be able to push those buttons, Sayid had to be alone, Nadia had to be dead, and Jacob was there when that happened, the implication being that Jacob allowed for her to die. This death, allowed by Jacob, allowed Ben to push Sayid's buttons, which caused his return to the Island.
Then, in tonight's episode in the Island timeline, Sayid is manipulated by Dogan into trying to kill Esau and by Esau into killing Dogan and Lennon and allowing Esau's way into the Temple.
The question is whether or not Sayid really had any chance at killing Esau or if Dogen really hoped that this would cause Esau to kill Sayid.
I'm not sure on the answer to that, after all Dogen told Sayid that if he allowed Esau to say anything it would be too late. When Sayid sees Esau he waits until after "Hello Sayid" to stab him. Perhaps allowing him even that much was enough to take away Sayid's opportunity to kill him.
Sayid is also being manipulated in the LA X timeline. His brother wants Sayid to clean up his mess with a loan shark (hello Krazy Keamy). After Omer is beaten up, Sayid wants to go and avenge his brother, and Nadia convinces him to leave it alone, that Omer should have to clean up his own messes. Then, Krazy Keamy presses the issue, putting Sayid into a position where he feels he has no choice but to react violently. (And a difference in the two timelines is revealed, it seems in this timeline unlike the Island one, Krazy Keamy isn't that hard to kill).
Sayid is always being manipulated, so it shouldn't seem too much of a surprise that this episode had a lot of manipulation, highlighting the manipulation that we've seen throughout the history of the show.
Before I get to the other main difference in the timelines revealed in this episode, we see that by the end of the episode that the looks on Claire and especially Sayid seem to mean that what Dogen fears has come to pass, the Darkness has reached their hearts. Sayid at the end of the episode looks completely evil. Despite the evil that Sayid has done throughout the history of the show we have never seen that level of an evil look from him before. It was very scary, and nothing like the Sayid we knew before, as if everything our friend once was is gone. From the moment that Ben tries to get Sayid to go, saying that there is still time, to which Sayid answers, "Not for me" every time we see Sayid's face, it is with an expression of evil very unlike the Sayid we have always known.
And speaking of expressions, the one that Esau has when he sees Kate emerge with evil Claire and evil Sayid seems to be one of momentary dismay. I don't think that he wanted her to join them. Worth keeping an eye on.
Okay, on to LA X before we close this out. The big difference in the timelines for Sayid is that Nadia is married to Sayid's brother, and not single as she was in the original timeline. We learn that it was Sayid who pushed her towards his brother because he didn't feel worthy of her.
While the same was true in the other timeline, there was a time when Sayid felt that he was unworthy of Nadia, he never pushed her towards his brother, and when getting on Flight 815, he was on his way to find her in order to be with her.
Speaking as we were earlier of the episode He's Our You, the beginning of that episode has a moment with Sayid and his brother Omer as boys. Their father tells Omer, the older brother, that it is time for him to become a man and to do so he must kill a chicken. He is unable to do this and Sayid does it for him. This is reminiscent of the scene from Eko's childhood when Eko's younger brother was told to kill a man and in order to protect him Eko shot the man in his brother's place. There are of course differences in the two scenes. Eko killed the man to protect his younger brother, Sayid killed the chicken to help his older one. I feel like Sayid lost respect for his older brother that day as their father basically told Omer that he would never never be a man. Perhaps in the LA X timeline, instead of losing respect for his brother there, he, like Eko, believed his brother to be the better man and more deserving of happiness, hence his pushing his happiness (Nadia) towards his brother.
Until Next Time, while it wasn't the Sun episode we were anticipating, there was the moment where Sun found out Jin is still alive and back on the Island in her time, which is nice, and there was the moment in the LA X timeline where we discover (along with Sayid) a tied up Jin, which begs the question, instead of working for Widmore (as Krazy Keamy did in the original timeline) is Krazy Keamy working for Paik? Now I really want a Sun or Jin centric episode, but am okay with waiting for a little while since next week's appears to be a Ben-centric, and those never disappoint.