Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Midside: LOST S6E10 The Package

Before I rewatched this episode, I didn’t really remember what happened. The basics were on recall. It was a Jin and Sun episode. They weren’t married. Keamy made another appearance. There was some violence. There was Widmore. But as for the greater place in LOST mythos, as for the significance of the events in the S6 arc, I had little to no clue. I’m sure my understanding of the episode is partially due to my general dislike of Jin and Sun episodes. Yes, they’re still part of the best show on television ever, and, of course, they’re better than Charlie episodes (except “Greatest Hits”). They’re like the worst of the best. They’re like the Rams of the 2009 NFL season, not going to make the playoffs, but not as bad as the Lions. My understanding of the episode is also partially due to the hectic week I had. Yes, LOST wasn’t the number one thing on my mind like it almost always has been since the “Pilot.” Despite all these things though, I think the main reason for my lack of understanding of the episode was its content.

To put it simply, there wasn’t much in this episode. It was a rehash of everything that had happened up to this point in the season. In fact, it was the first episode of this kind that we’ve seen. Every other episode seemed to show us some new side of Jacob & the MiB and the parallel universe. This episode, however, seemed to drive home all we already knew. The same things happened: Jin and Sun were slightly different, they seemed happier, but their new life was but in peril, and an open ended, um, ending left us wondering if the parallel universe is indeed the better one. Likewise, in the original universe, the MiB did things that seemed good but could be interpreted as bad (or vice versa depending on your perspective), the characters squabbled about who to follow, and we were given a cliffhanger that promises to provide us with all these answers. It was all so…routine, which is my main critique of Jin and Sun episodes.

Fear not, loyal reader, for I did rewatch and have some (sort of) important things to say. Jin and Sun were different in the two universes. There was some interesting character development in the original universe, mainly concerning Jack who may have once again put himself in an impossible situation, and Widmore’s importance may have grown. Follow along as we journey into The Midside and sort it out (and kind of not think Sun is a bitch for the first time ever).


Per usual, this week’s flashsideways can be boiled down to two quotes:
Keamy P: "Just bring me the money and we could all live happily ever after, right?"
Sun O: "I came here to find my husband so I could bring him home, not so I could save the damn world."
Both of these quotes point to the broader themes of the season and the show. The first brings up the idea of agenda and ends. Can everyone reach happiness by operating on one person’s terms? Who sets the terms? Who decides what happiness is? The second quote points to more precise elements of the show and character definition. It once again elucidates the dichotomy of selflessness and selfishness. It reminds us that the Korean flashes are Sun’s world, and Jin is just living in it. (Not that Jin doesn’t have a character of his own; it’s just that his very nature puts him at Sun’s mercy.)

Keamy’s quote refers to the basic struggle that has been Sun’s life, no matter the universe. She is living according to her father’s agenda. This story is mainly a commentary of male dominated societies and specifically the culture of Korea. It’s also the reason Sun became who she is: A liar and deceiver. No matter the universe, that very nature cannot be denied. The difference is that in the parallel universe she seems to utilize that, shall we say, ability, for more positive ends. Sun O lies to her father about a glass ballerina and gets the maid fired. She lies to Jin O about being happy in their marriage. She has an affair and tries to run away. She learns English without telling anyone. She has a mysterious relationship with Charles Widmore. Sun P carries on an “involvement” with Jin P behind her father’s back. She opens up a bank account without anyone knowing. She plans on staying in America with Jin P, without even telling Jin P.

Sun P’s similar preference for lying reveals the ultimate root of her deceptive personality. She believes it’s impossible to live life by her own agenda. The reason she believes so is because her life has always been guided by someone else’s agenda: Her father’s. This condition is true in any universe. As I mentioned above, Sun O’s lying started when she was child when she lied about the glass ballerina. She does so as a protection of herself against other people. She believes that she cannot necessarily put forward her own agenda without being put down or harmed by other people, most notably her father. Notice how Sun P reacted to Keamy P’s threat as explicated in the first quote. Rather than telling him what he was doing was wrong, she agreed to pay him. She could have even pretended to go along with his plan and then rebelled, but she went to the bank to get the money and allowed Jin P to be, essentially, kidnapped. Likewise, Jin, P or O, has lived his entire life by abiding by other people’s agendas.

In the original universe, Jin found himself at the mercy of rich people. He was so ingrained with the culture that he was raised in that he refused to try and break free of what he saw as morally wrong. We saw him break free from this a bit when he quit his job at the hotel, but that action didn’t seem to be intended as any sort of statement of independence, but rather as a mere statement of momentary defiance. Even more to the point, when he fell in love with Sun O, he lived at the mercy of her father. As Mr. Paik O’s bodyguard/hitman, he had to do anything Mr. Paik thought of, up to and including killing someone. Jin P sported the same problem, telling Sun, “I don't ask your father questions. I do what he tells me.” It’s a secondhandedness that reminds us of Alpert’s loyalty to Jacob as I discussed last week.

Rather than living on his own, Jin P found himself living by Mr. Paik P and Sun P. Like his counterpart in the original timeline, he was sent to Los Angeles for a business deal. Unlike his counterpart, the deal was his own murder, although we now must call into question the pretenses under which Jin O was sent there. Also unlike his counterpart, he seemed to live more by what Sun P wanted than what anyone else wanted, which is especially ironic considering that the parallel universe is the one where they aren’t married. And, while we’re comparing the two universes, Jin P and Sun P seem to be better off than Jin O and Sun O.

Yes, Sun P was shot in the stomach while pregnant, possibly with Ji Yeon (which brings into light the importance of children and babies on LOST, a major theme in the series). Yes, they weren’t married. However, they were in a better place in their relationship at the time of flight 815 in the parallel universe than they were in their relationship at the time of flight 815 in the original universe. Sun P was still planning to run away, but she had included Jin P in those plans. She definitely didn’t seem to hate him. That difference brings into light another Keamy quote that helps us understand the quote I’ve already referenced, “I'm sorry. Some people just aren't meant to be together.”

Said to Jin P as he is locked up in the refrigerator, Keamy P’s comment carries with it the idea of determinism, making us wonder if the parallel universe will end up the same as the original universe. The “happily ever after” is in a clear reference to the name of next week’s Desmond episode, probably the end of his story. Desmond’s episodes are always about his relationship with Penny. They are truly the soul mates of LOST (sorry, people who are shippers of other pairs). These two lines by Keamy seemingly contrast Jin and Sun with Desmond and Penny forcing us to consider if the longest running romance in the series will end negatively and what that means for the show.

The end point of the Kwons relationship leads us perfectly into Sun’s quote. In any universe, she is only concerned with one thing: Starting a family with Jin. In the original universe, that purpose carries much more weight, as it has seemingly been placed in opposition to Jacob’s plan. At least it has been placed so morally.

If Jacob’s stated purpose of keeping the island protected and bottling up evil is true, then being a candidate and possibly the next Jacob is an honor. Also, as I have previously mentioned, it’s a selfless role. You must give up all your other desires and possessions in order to take up residence on the island and protect it. Sun, on the other hand, only wants to reunite her family, a completely selfish interest. Jack even asks her about being a candidate and she replies, “What about it?” I personally have no issues with her statement, as I believe in rational self-interest, but it does contradict Jacob’s morality. Under his moral umbrella, Sun is acting immorally. Ironically, though she ran from him, her actions are much more in line with the MiB, who professed to reunite her with Jin. Throw in the fact that she denied the MiB’s open hand and accepted Jack’s and matters are confused even further.

The questions we’re left with are as follows: Was Sun P pregnant with Ji Yeon P and thus the child will never be born? Does that possibility make Ji Yeon O important? Is Sun O’s deal with Widmore the reason he kidnapped Jin O? And finally, is Jack O going to become the new Jacob and then let people leave the island?


The most striking character development for me in this episode was Jack. While he’s still putting himself in difficult positions (How can he stop the MiB and let people leave the island?), he seems to be more accepting of the idea that Jacob has a reason for all of them coming to the island. The problem is he has just traded one father figure for the other.

Rather than stop living for his father and start living for himself, Jack has started living for Jacob. He has truly made the transition from man of science to man of faith. For my money, that change probably makes him worse. His desire to fix things hasn’t diminished, he just now believes he has a higher purpose in doing so and can discover that higher purpose by communing with a dead guy. (Whoops, I didn’t just mean to describe Christianity.) This idea is further concretized by the reemergence of Alpert from the woods, which surely mirrored some religious parable. Alpert’s return is probably what spurred on Jack’s change in this episode, as it acted as the final confirmation of his faith.

I mean, really, when Jack handed the tomato to Sun, was it supposed to be a metaphor for himself or her? Couldn’t he have just referenced “The Little Engine that Could”? No, because the key word in that story is “think.” “I think I can.” Remember: Sawyer thinks, Jack reacts.

In other news, Sayid can’t feel anything, sadness, happiness, pain, nothing. The MiB thinks that may be a good thing for what’s coming. What’s coming? War, as the MiB quoted Widmore to Widmore. (BTW, one of my life goals is now to have someone random quote something awesome I said back to me.) The MiB seems to think Sayid’s lack of feeling is a gift, but it raises another issue to me.

Is Sayid human anymore? Does the ability to feel make someone human? If so, Sayid is no longer human. From a Star Trek interpretation, mainly TOS, where the Vulcans are purely logical, the answer would be yes, as continually it is said what separates humans from Vulcans is emotions. Hmm, interesting that I capitalize Vulcans and not humans. Anyway, I’m not sure if Sayid is human or not anymore. My initial thought is no, but then I wonder if someone with a disorder that blocks certain chemical receptors would still be human or not. Plus, what is unique to humans is their ability to reason, not their emotions. Maybe Sayid is just a sociopath now, like that woman on a recent episode of House

(That ellipses means you should go find that episode of “House” and watch it now.)


The major mythological moment of this episode was an exchange between Sun and the MiB:
Sun: “You killed those people at the temple.”

MiB: “Those people were confused. They were lied to. I didn't want to hurt them. Any one of them could have chosen to come with me. And I'm giving you that choice, Sun, right now. I would never make you do anything against your will. I'm asking you, please, come with me. Jin is waiting.”
This riff is the same one the MiB has been playing all season. “It’s kill or be killed. They’ve been indoctrinated. I offered them a choice. If they chose against me, I have to be threatened.” This repetition is why I sort of found the episode stagnant. It also points to an idea that my friend recently reminded me of, by a conversation he had with a random Christian girl.

Though we don’t know which is which, Jacob and the MiB might be the anti-Christ and Christ. As I’ve discussed over previous weeks, there is lots of evidence either way. Thus, there is only one important piece of evidence I want to present. In Christian mythology, the anti-Christ will appear to be Christ-like. Of the MiB and Jacob, Jacob has appeared to be the most Christ like so far. Chew on that one for awhile.

In reference to the parallel universe, I wonder if Keamy P and crew work for Widmore P. I can’t think of any other way they were all brought together. I thought of this idea this week because of the appearance of Mikhail P. His involvement with Keamy P and Omar P is pretty suspicious, especially considering his involvement with DHARMA. Remember, when Keamy O read the “secondary protocol” in “Cabin Fever” there is an Orchid logo on the cover…


Random fact: This column was my hardest to write to date. I’ve had a crazy week, up to and including today.

Epic Win of the week: The Philadelphia Eagles finally unburdened themselves of Donovan McNabb and proved Rush Limbaugh correct by trading the quarterback to the Washington Redskins for a couple of draft picks. Also, the Washington Redskins are awarded the Epic Fail of the week.

Yeah, I don’t really have a witty lead in, so just do like the new catchphrase says:

Think about it

No comments: