Don’t worry fellow LOST fans, we don’t have megalomaniacal show runners like Vince McMahon, a steroids scandal, or a double murder suicide to contend with. Yes, we have our Michelle Rodriguezes and Cynthia Watroses, but what family doesn’t have their screw ups and black sheeps? What we do have is quality writing, acting, and production that continually pushes the boundaries of the television entertainment genre. Sure, there are some missteps. No one is perfect. However, it’s nearly impossible to follow up an episode like The Constant, let alone with a Juliet episode and then a Sun and Jin episode. What were the producers thinking? They were thinking they had a 16 episode season and needed a lull before the halfway mark at eight. While I won’t be naïve enough to say they couldn’t anticipate the strike, I’m sure The Other Woman and Ji Yeon were intended to be the falling action in the story of the first half of the season. Episode eight would then be a conclusion of sorts followed by another eight episode arc featuring the characters ignored in the front end of the season. I’ll save my predictions for the final six episodes of the seasons (thanks to the strike) for the conclusion section though.
What’s important is that this episode was a good episode. Of course, I love almost every LOST episode up to and including SOS. About the only episodes I couldn’t take were Charlie episodes (except Greatest Hits). My likes and dislikes aren’t important though because you could be a huge Charlie fan and still be welcome in The Midside. The reason I mention the quality of the episode is to cut the naysayers off at the pass. LOST is still alive and kicking and will be in 2010, at least in The Midside it is.
FLASHBACK + FLASHFORWARD = FLASHFACKWARD aka THE PANDA
Ladies and Gentlemen, the writers of LOST have done it again. When the show started, we thought it was cool and unique the way they used flashbacks. Focus on a different character every episode and tell his unique story? That’s preposterous! Then, in Season 3, they pushed the form. Flashes Before Your Eyes came along and we were not only seeing a flashback, but Desmond was apparently reliving it. This new form of flashback continued in The Constant, further sharpening the question: Are we just witnessing these flashbacks or are the characters experiencing them without awareness that they’re re-experiencing the moments in their life. Now, in the middle of Season 4, the writers have pushed the boundaries again. We’ve had our first flashfackword.
A flashfackword is a story that is both a flashforward and a flashback at the same time. I don’t think it would be possible to have one scene to be a flashforward and flashback simulatenously (if it is possible, I await the day that smart person pulls off that story), so you have to alternate scenes, one forward, one back. The easiest way to do such an alternation is with two characters (especially if you’re trying to deceiver the viewer a la LOST), so it makes sense the writers would use Sun and Jin as the opportunity to tell such a story. What’s incredible is the fact that for the majority of the episode they were able to distract me enough to the point that I didn’t figure out the time differential.
One question transfixed me throughout the episode: What’s with the panda? If Sun is in the hospital about to give birth, why would Jin stop and buy a giant panda from a toy store? Then, why would somebody steal a giant panda? It’s a stuffed any for God’s sake! Although, it was sitting in a cab. The guy probably wanted the cab, and the cabbie ended up inheriting the giant bear. My mind began to race for answers. Maybe there are drugs in the bear. Maybe something happened on the way off the island that made a panda significant to Sun and Jin. The writers couldn’t possibly be making Jin into a putz and having him buy a giant stuffed animal for his new baby, could they? Could they even have messed up their stereotypes and had a Korean guy buy a panda? That’s
But then Jin lost the panda, so it couldn’t have been anything specific about that panda because he immediately went back and bought another one. It has to be something symbolic or metaphoric. And it has to be something ridiculously important because he’s flashing around (no pun intended) that Oceanic Six settlement money like there’s no tomorrow (also no pun intended). Finally, the big moment came and Sun yelled for Jin in her deliriousness. He didn’t come. No, there’s no way Jin has reverted back to neglecting his wife. But there he was delivering the panda to another woman who gave birth while his wife was giving birth. It makes too much sense. Jin works for Sun’s father again. He’s reverted back to his problems with way Jack becomes an alcoholic and Hurley gets committed again. No, say it ain’t so, Jin.
Then the meaning behind the panda was revealed. Jin was in the past. It was only two months after he married Sun. What? No way, that means he’s still neglecting his wife. There’s no way the new Jin would do that. There’s no way the new Jin would miss his child’s birth. That means there’s only one possibility left. It’s what I’ve feared since the Pilot.
Jin Kwon is dead.
I won’t hear any arguments to the contrary. Jin has always been near the top of my favorite characters list, but he has always lived on borrowed time. He has always been expendable. He has always been the tragic half of the tragic romance. Sun is the story of a strong woman overcoming the patriarchal society that dominated her, most symbolized by her husband, who has immersed himself so much in the culture that he himself is dominated by his wife’s father (and he ignored the wife he allowed himself to become dominated for). Thus, it is logical that Sun would outgrow Jin. I don’t mean outgrow Jin in the sense that she doesn’t love him anymore. No, she will always love Jin. That constant (ding ding) is the tragic part. What I mean is that she would always have to outgrow him in the sense that she would be a fully autonomous independent person. While I personally believe that it is extremely possible (important even) for people in a relationship to be independent and autonomous, storytelling wise, especially in a romantic drama such as the way Sun and Jin’s episodes are, it is difficult to demonstrate that independence. Plus, by killing one of the two people in the pair, it drives home the point, story wise and visually. These characters were always Sun and Jin. From the together, they were seen together. Now, they are Sun and Jin is dead. Think of how jarring it was to see Hurley standing there with Sun at Jin’s grave. Sure, the two have interacted, but it isn’t often, and it’s strange to see Sun standing there with a man that isn’t Jin. Yes, the writers have wiggle room to unkill Jin, but they won’t. The point of this episode is that Jin is dead. One of the great questions for the remainder series is now: When and how does Jin die?
This episode raises another interesting question that I expect to be answered soon (and that I think answers that question and another lingering one). According to his headstone, Jin died on
My bet is that the sixth person is Michael. I believe it is him more by eliminating everyone else than by figuring it’s him. I admit claiming him as a member of the Oceanic Six is a very tenuous position. What happens to Walt? I’m betting he stays on the island. Didn’t they already get off the island? Did he? The end to the LOST video game brings new considerations to that discussion, if I should even consider that ending important at all. You also figure that the last person to get off the island has to be the person in the coffin. Well, we know that the person in the coffin is American and no one really likes him (from Kate’s asking why she would go). Hurley would pretty much go to anyone’s funeral (he shows up for everything), even Sawyer’s, except Michael’s, because Michael Killed Libby. It stands to reason, to me, that Michael is the last member of the Oceanic Six and is in the coffin, especially considering they just reintroduced him.
THE REST OF THE TRIBE
There’s not much to say about the rest of the cast this week besides Juliet. Desmond and Sayid were sort of involved in this episode, but the point was more to reveal Michael than anything. Although, it is important to note that their story here represents the difficulty with LOST this season: everything seems to be written around the reveals and not the characters. In contrast, The Constant was all about Desmond. Are the writers better at asking questions then answering then? Well, that depends whether you The Constant answered or asked questions, so I’ll let you mull over that question.
In regards to Juliet, she has transitioned even more into the female version of Jack. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to defend her to myself. I understand why she did what she did, telling Jin about Sun’s affair, but, technically, Sun isn’t her patient. In a real world situation where laws apply, Juliet probably would have been able to exert some power over Sun. However, they live on a frickin’ island. Sun isn’t legally bound by anyone to protect herself or anyone else. Of course, here is where we get into a debate about government, and you start to understand my distrust of laws and government. They empower people like Jack and Juliet to exert their will on others. Yes, a person should probably follow his doctor’s advice, but shouldn’t we all also have the right to not follow our doctor’s advice if we want to? On the island, the characters have that right, so who is Juliet to run around revealing affairs? True, she didn’t do it out of any malice, but still, Sun’s an adult, let her go. Oh Juliet, you belong with Jack.
That concludes this week’s character’s section. I guess I can see why people would be disappointed. I’ve said it repeatedly though. It’s all about story now.
I think I’ve determined something very important about the initial plane crash and surviving on the island. Desmond revealed to us the importance of a constant. Did each original survivor live because they had a constant? Remember, back in season one, each character had some item or person they were attached to. Can a person’s consciousness not jump back and forth without a constant to hold onto? Sawyer had the letter and Mr. Sawyer. Sayid had the picture and Nadia. Kate had the toy plane (and noticed how she needed to get it so badly, was her sub conscious reaching for the plane to save her?). Charlie had the drugs (or arguably the music). Boone and Shannon had each other (whether
What if then, if a constant allows travel, if the constant is taken away? If Desmond had never flown off the island, he never would have needed a constant, right? So, if someone’s constant is taken away on the island, can they not leave it? Sayid, presumably, still has Nadia in his heart. Desmond has Penny. But, Locke’s Dad is dead. Can Locke and Sawyer not leave the island? Something, some people say the island, worked to get Charlie to drop the drugs. Could he have not left the island? I’m not sure, but I think I’m onto something here. It’s tough because I wish I could see the experiences of everyone ever on the island. Does Rousseau have flashbacks? Did Ben’s parents have flashbacks?
Also of note is the fact that the crew members of the Kahana (the freighter) are seemingly committing suicide. I say more than one because
We known thanks to the strike, we only have six episodes left, five of which will be following a month’s break. I’m not looking forward to the break. Here we are back into the swing of things and LOST is gone again. It’s disheartening. Regardless, we know that the next episode is called Meet Kevin Johnson, so it’s probably a Michael episode. But who has the rest of the episodes? I suspect the following might happen after the break:
-The first on island flash forward via Locke.
-A Sawyer on island flash forward.
-A Ben flashback.
-A Rousseau flashback.
-A Claire on island flash forward (possibly the season finale).
If the writers follow this plan, all the main characters will have centric episodes, and we’d be given a nice surprise of a Rousseau episode. Of course, only looking at these five episodes means that in the original 16 episode plans, the three episodes would have been repeated character centric episodes. Thus, I wouldn’t be surprised to see no Rousseau episode and another Jack episode (as he’s the “hero”, right?), another Hurley episode (as he had the season episode), or another Michael episode (because he’s newly returned). I also don’t expect Jin’s death to occur this season. Or maybe I’m just hoping he sticks around for the duration. Either way, if you disagree with any of my predictions, well then, I’m going to make like an ESPN analyst and say:
Shut up, you’re wrong.
Jayemel can be reached by email at email@example.com.