In an episode with both a flash-forward and a surprise flashback, Sun and Jin deal with her infidelity and the Island's pregnancy curse
”Lost” recap: The final six?
They never made it to Albuquerque in the flash-forward future (at least, not yet), but Jin and Sun landed somewhere deeper in last night’s moving, deviously tricky installment of Lost. Back on point after last week’s subpar Juliet-centric episode, ”Ji-Yeon” had me dabbing my eyes repeatedly. You’re always going to get me watery with a story about the sometimes perilous road of bringing new life into the world; it’s a personal thing, and Lost tapped it well enough, so there you go: I’m sold. Even better, I loved how this story, unexpectedly, dealt with resolving Sun’s sin against her husband — her infidelity with Jae — yet also completed Jin’s redemptive reconstruction into a husband worthy of his wife’s faithfulness. I’m not sure if Jin really is destined for death, as the final moments of the show seemed to suggest, but in many ways the episode felt like a valedictory for the character. Recognizing his own moral failure during his fishing-boat heart-to-heart with Bernard (a kinda corny but altogether effective scene), the former underworld strongman was able to forgive his Sun and recognize his role in pushing her away. But the beautiful moment came when he said he would follow her to Locke’s camp — this, from the man who just a couple months ago in Lost time demanded his wife obediently trot after him. The role reversal closed the circuit on Jin’s redemptive arc and had me searching for tissues anew. When he asked, with great vulnerability, if the baby was his, and Sun assured him that it was, I grabbed more. Well played by Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim, this was Jin and Sun’s finest hour since season 1.
But we’re going to rumble over that flashback fake-out, aren’t we?
As I write these words at 12:50 a.m. PDT, I’m already getting e-mails from readers irked by what could be seen as a pretty manipulative storytelling tactic. ”Ji-Yeon” seemed to contain a shared flash-forward that seemed to reveal that both Jin and Sun had made it off the Island. More, it appeared to tell the story of the birth of their child, a daughter named Ji-Yeon (which means either ”delay” or ”flower of wisdom”), and how Jin missed the blessed event because of a comic episode involving his frustrated quest to buy a giant stuffed panda. But then the show pulled the rug on us. Hard. Lost had given us an episode with both a flashback (that panda business was part of an errand Jin was running for his mobster boss, Sun’s father, Mr. Paik) and a flash-forward (we learned that Sun, a member of the Oceanic 6, got off the Island in time to successfully duck its anti-pregnant-lady curse and give birth). But I dig narrative gamesmanship, especially when it’s supported by a strong, compelling character idea. Jin’s flashback served as a touchstone that reminded him (or just us) of the morally flimsy man he used to be. He needed to feel that anew — and we needed to see that again — in order for him to be able to (very quickly) reach reconciliation with his wife in the Island present. So it worked for me. I look forward to reading your beg-to-differs on the boards below.
While you’re at it, debate this: Do you think Jin’s really dead in the flash-forward future?
NEXT: Grave issues
In the last scene, we saw Hurley travel to Seoul and join Sun in visiting Jin’s grave and introducing Ji-Yeon to her father, at least in spirit. But the marker indicated the date of death as 9/22/2004 — the day Oceanic 815 crashed. As the episode reminded us, wreckage of Oceanic 815 was found in the ocean, along with corpses of all the passengers. Some possibilities:
1. The marker was erected when Jin and all the other passengers were declared dead. But Jin really isn’t dead. He’s on the Island, or somewhere, for some reason. Hurley and Sun — who clearly have secrets to keep regarding the fate of their friends — merely went to Jin’s grave site for the sake of keeping up appearances. After all, they’re super-celebs in the future, their movements and choices are being tracked by the press — and, possibly, their enemies.
2. Nope: Jin’s dead. He’s gonna bite it in the unfolding Island story. So while the marker bears the wrong date, it’s all the same to Sun: Her husband is gone.
Oh, and I can’t finish my Jin-Sun riffing without noting how my jaw dropped when Juliet spilled the beans about Sun’s affair to Jin in order to prevent them from skipping off to Locke’s camp. The balls on Juliet! That was ice cold. Awesome!
The Love Boat, this is not
Not that he needs the money, but Charles Widmore should rent the Freighter out for Halloween parties, because man, is this boat one freaky place! We got roaches, suicidal crew members, and blood splatter on the walls. (I loved the deadpan doctor’s line: ”That shouldn’t be there.”) And we got a heartless Aussie captain named Gault who likes to tell spooky stories about people who should be dead and yet are very much alive. Finally deciding to grant Desmond and Sayid an audience, the gruff Gault brought out the black box of Oceanic 815, purchased, he explained, at great cost and through secret channels by his boss, Widmore. (The mention of his name caused Desmond’s peepers to pop out of his sockets in surprise.) Gault told the castaways that the world thinks all 324 passengers were found at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Clearly, this was staged — but how? ”Where exactly does one come across 324 bodies?” Gault asked. Then he put this conspiracy right at the feet of the man he and his freighter thugs had come to nab: Benjamin Linus. Our freighter questions mount: Why does Widmore have his ascot in a bunch over Ben? And what was that secret midnight mission Lapidus, a self-proclaimed castaway ally, went on?
NEXT: Don’t I know you from somewhere?
Three small things about the freighter before we get to the big fourth thing:
Is there any special significance to Captain Gault’s name? Glad you asked! Just so happens that there’s a John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, written by Lost-cited author Ayn Rand. In Shrugged, Galt is a mystery man who has invented a powerful new source of energy and has vanished off the face of the earth. Turns out he and some other ”captains of industry” (Wikipedia’s phrasing) have formed a secret society in Colorado. I’m not a Rand guy; never read the book. I’m certain that connections could be made here to Dharma and the Others, Ben and Widmore. Feel free to e-mail me your dissertation on the book’s significance to Lost and I’ll send you a Doc Jensen ”No Prize.”
Late addition: I just woke up from a nap after submitting this recap to my editor and received an e-mail from reader Tom, who points out that Captain Gault is also the name of a maritime adventure hero created by writer William Hope Hodgson. According to Wikipedia, Captain Gault is a ”captain for hire” who is ”highly placed in a secret society….In general, he reveals himself to have surprising reservoirs of specialized knowledge. Where he got all this knowledge is generally not revealed; we get only these tantalizing hints at the character’s past.” Says Tom, ”This last sentence seems to sum up all of Lost, doesn’t it?” Nice catch, dude! And this gives me a chance to make a connection I’ve always wanted to make: Hodgson also wrote stories about a spectral investigator named Carnacki (think: Miles Straum?), who lived at 472 Cheyne Walk, in London — just down the street from where Penelope Widmore lives!
What was the book that the troubled Regina was ”reading” upside down? It was Survivors of the Chancellor, by Jules Verne, an 1875 novel of psychological suspense about — get this — the castaways of a grounded ship who start killing themselves from madness and despair. Interestingly enough, the books that Verne published before and after Survivors of the Chancellor have some powerful Lost resonances: Mysterious Island (also 1875) is, of course, considered an essential text, but then there’s Michael Strogoff (1876), about a spy on a mission named…Michael. His lady love? A woman who shares the name of Sayid’s Iraqi sweetheart, Nadia.
Why did Regina kill herself? Because she was inconsolable over the death of her lover — the late, Locke-knifed Brit Naomi. Remember the inscription on her bracelet? ”N, I’ll always be with you, R.G.” Yep: I’m thinking Regina is ”R.G.”
And now, for that big fourth thing:
Hey — don’t I know you from someplace? Oh, yeah! You’re the guy who sold out my friends and killed those two Tailie girls just to get your weirdo psychic son back! I loved this scene. Doc Freighter was showing Sayid and Desmond to their bug-infested quarters when he summoned freighter janitor Kevin Johnson to scrub that brain paint off the wall. (Shades of Radzinsky, Kelvin’s former partner in the Hatch and originator of the blast-door map, who blew his brains out and left some stain on the Swan’s ceiling.) Pushing his mop bucket down the hall, K.J. emerged from the shadows and revealed himself to be Michael, looking both meeker and buffer than we last saw him at the end of season 2, sailing away from the Island with Walt. He and Sayid shared a tense moment (Pleasepleaseplease don’t bust me!) — and that was that for this episode. The promos for next week’s episode promise a major download of Michael intel.
1. Despite my theories explaining Michael’s return in yesterday’s Doc Jensen column, I’ve become quite taken by the suggestion offered by several readers that actor Harold Perrineau isn’t playing Michael but rather a grown-up version of Walt. I gotta tell you I really dig that idea.
2. I know many of you felt that Michael’s return was anticlimactic, the surprise spoiled by ABC’s promos and Perrineau’s presence in the credits in recent weeks. Yesterday’s Doc Jensen column addressed those complaints, but in an ironic turn of events, my coverage of those complaints wound up functioning as a spoiler for those of you who weren’t aware of Perrineau’s return. My apologies for my role in ruining the surprise; I should have been more careful.
The Oceanic 6 is set. Right? Right?
Sun’s flash-forward fake-out seemed to close out the first act of Lost‘s future-time story line: identifying the members of the Oceanic 6, the celebrity miracle survivors of Oceanic 815. To recap, they are Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Aaron, and Sun. Now, I know what some of you are saying: Aaron can’t be a member of the Oceanic 6 because he wasn’t born prior to the crash and therefore was not technically an Oceanic 815 passenger. To which I say, Please. Don’t be so literal. In the Lost world, the Oceanic 6 is clearly a media-coined term, pinned on these six souls by some clever headline writer or newscaster. And being in the business, I can tell you that tiny little facts like Aaron’s non-passenger status would never, ever get in the way of a easy, catchy piece of phrasing. We journalists are exactly that lazy. So let’s call it: The Oceanic 6 is settled. Now, let’s move on to the next act of their story, which I’m betting will cover two big points: the backstory behind Jack’s downward spiral into boozy, grizzly-bearded, we-gotta-go-back-to-the-Island mania, and more context for Ben and Sayid’s secret war with their list of mysterious off-Island foes.
Well, my deadline has come — and gone. So I turn the space over to you. What did you think of ”Ji-Yeon”? Did you like it as much as I did? Gimme your Michael and Jin theories, Lost nation! Go!