Sunday, August 14, 2011

LOST Redux: S3E18 D.O.C.

(At the request of a reader, I will be reposting old editions of my LOST column as they no longer appear on the internet. I will not be making any edits to them, so please be aware that they represent a moment and time--my thoughts and analysis after watching an episode's initial airing.)

Calm down. I know. The ending to this week’s episode was crazy. I assure you though, they’re not dead. The island is real. They haven’t traveled backwards or forwards in time. They’re not in a parallel universe. The last line of the episode was simple an example of the amazing writing on this show.

I’ll admit it. I flipped out when the Rescuer said that line to Hurley. My first reaction was to scream “NO!” and bemoan the fact that the Purgatory theorists would remerge with a more intensified vigor. Hours later, when my west coast friend finished watching the show, I received a text message that read “Whoa” I simply replied “Whoa indeed”.

After thinking about the episode for a few minutes, listening to a smart theory from a friend, and sleeping on it, it has become apparent to me that the writers used one shocking twist to create the perception of another, when really there is not one. It’s similar to how on 24 that the writers need to make every important happen at the top of every hour. In reality, they only need to create the perception that important things are happening at the end of every hour so the viewer will tune into the next episode. Then, when the next episode begins, something simple can happens that explains it away. For instance, if Jack Bauer were captured at the end of the episode, he would escape quickly at the beginning of the next. Now consider how often in 24 Jack Bauer does something daring and ridiculous. The magnitude of the current escape seems less, no?

The writers had the Rescuer say that line at the end of the episode because it would be emphasized for several reasons. First, events at the end of episode are always emphasized, especially with the LOST sound effect. Second, the actual shocking twist of the Russian being alive naturally, but illogically, leads us to believe that the Survivors (named changed from 815ers due to peer critique) too died and were brought back to life, but who is to say the Russian ever died? I will return to death on the island later in this column. Finally, the understood setup of a Jin and Sun episode is very slow and dramatic. I don’t believe there has ever been a huge mythological revelation in any of their episodes. In fact, all we ever seem to learn is that Sun’s a lair. Those comments are for the flashback section though, so let’s not waste anymore time and jump into The Midside…


I don’t know what it is about Jin and Sun episodes. I certainly wouldn’t call it bad writing. I certainly wouldn’t claim that they aren’t entertaining. But, I always feel some sort of a disconnect with them, most notably with the flashbacks. The most obvious explanation is that they’re speaking Korean and the translations are in subtitles. That immediate understanding of the action isn’t there. My perception is filtered through someone else’s perception. Let’s not delve into communication theory though. It’s interesting that the writers would choose to have such characters and make them more and more prominent as the series progresses. It provides a unique challenge to make the audience invest in the characters. Of course, every character has been a unique challenge, some of which have succeeded wonderfully (Locke), some of which have failed miserably (Charlie). And if you don’t think Sun is hugely important after last night’s episode then, wow.

Much of the time, I pride myself on being able to see twists and shifts in the narrative coming. I can usually read into why the writers are showing us certain scenes or why they wrote a certain line in a certain manner. After this episode, I feel like a blockhead. As Sun was talking to Jin’s father, I found myself thinking “Is she going to seek out Jin’s mother now?” It never occurred to me that the lady demanding the money was Jin’s mother. It should have been inherently obvious. How else would she know about who Jin’s mother was besides if she was Jin’s mother (especially considering there wasn’t some huge scandal about it)? I don’t know why I didn’t figure it out. Maybe it has to do with the disconnect I was noting. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Jin and Sun flashbacks tend to be overshadowed by the action in the episodes and thus I don’t invest in them as much. Maybe the former factor influences the latter factor. Or maybe I can stop making excuses and simply applaud the talent of the writers.

(Soap Box: I don’t buy the “I gave birth to him, I’m not his mother” babble. Giving birth to someone is the definition of being their mother. A mother is not simply a mother who raises you. That distinction is why terms such as “Foster Mother” were created. Jin’s mother simply wanted to make herself feel better for disowning her son.)

I’m not really sure what the point of the flashbacks was besides to provide reasoning as to Sun’s reaction when she found out the Date of Conception (D.O.C.) of her child. We learned two things. First, Sun loves Jin madly. Notice how they had her say it about three times and Jin even asked her if she loved him madly one time. This “revelation” made it believable that she would cry tears of joy at finding out the baby was Jin’s. Although, I would argue that the tears were more from relief. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t cheat and you won’t face this problem (unless, of course, you’re on a primetime drama and it’ll make the story more interesting). I put the word revelation in quotes because I’m not so sure we didn’t already know that she loved her husband that much. Although, admittedly, they probably felt the need to remind us after all the action surround the Golden Child. I do have to admit I’m kind of disappointed though. I’ll never get to write about the Golden Grandchild now.

Second, we learned that Sun is a liar…again. Heck, she’s one hundred thousand whatever-the-name-of-Korean-currency-is a liar. Like it or not, paying someone off to conceal the truth is a form of lying. It’s a sort of twisted sense of morality to believe that concealing the truth from your husband proves that you really love him. Of course, maybe I’m just crazy, but I would always rather know the truth, especially to keep myself out of debt, especially to keep myself out of the kind of debt that turns you into a hit man. Think of how happy and pleasant Jin’s life was before he was promoted to Mafioso member by Sun’s father. Then, the series of events unfolded until he was stranded on a mysterious island apparently in the middle of nowhere. Is Sun really the best thing that ever happened to him? Would he still believe she was if he knew everything we knew? Probably. He would spout some line about how she is worth all the pain in the world ever, ever. Oh, cheesy over-the-top romance, how do I love you? Not all that much, actually. And it would be so easy for me to make so many derogatory remarks here, from comments about whipped guys to women to spoiled rich girls to Koreans, so I’m just going to shut my mouth because it’s obviously way too easy for someone of my intellectual prowess (or powerless).


Something must have happened to me. Maybe I got hit in the head and don’t remember it. Maybe I’m on drugs now and don’t realize it. Somehow, I am beginning to appreciate Charlie. He had the balls last night to stand up to Desmond. Of course, after standing up, he promptly sat down, but at least he did something. Of course, Jin was more of a badass, running through the jungle twice and beating the crap out of the Russian once. Did you see that kick? Why wouldn’t Jin know karate? He’s Asian!

I’m also not so sure I agree with Desmond’s assessment of the situation. “By my count, you’ve killed more of them than they’ve killed of you.” First off, his use of the word “you” obviously refers to the general, so he was referring to all of the Survivors. Second off, his words show a complete lack of understanding of the context. Yes, the Survivors have killed five of The Others (Ethan, Goodwin, Colleen, and two nameless and faceless ones). Yes, their actions also led to the ultimate demise of two of them (Ms. Klug and Pickett). Then there’s the Russian who we just can’t classify at this point anymore. On the flip side, The Others have technically only killed one of the Survivors (Scott or Steve), but they spent spies into camp, kidnapped children, kidnapped Claire, tried to hang Charlie, kidnapped Jack, Kate, and Sawyer and treated them like animals, and sent Michael off the deep end. Their actions also resulted in the deaths of Nathan, Ana Lucia, and Libby. If someone walks up to me and tries to kill me and I shoot him, am I the immoral person because I hurt him more than he hurt me? No, he is the aggressor. His bullet wound was brought about by his actions. Likewise, the casualties The Others have suffered were brought about by their own actions. If you defend yourself against someone else’s aggression, you are not taking immoral action.

You know what’s crazy, we had an entire episode without Jack, Sawyer, Sayid, or Locke. Furthemore, Kate was a minor character in the episode, only participating in one scene. Episodes like this annoy me when people make claims like “the women on LOST on weak.” Yeah, they’re so weak that they go on treks through the jungle on their own and build relationships without the guys that will have a direct influence on the outcome of the series. When Sun marched across the beach and demanded answers from Juliet, that action was so weak too, right? The other common response is that the women all do stereotypical female things like get pregnant. Last I checked, it isn’t a stereotypical thing because only women get pregnant. Why is pregnancy such a big thing on LOST? Because this series is slowly becoming about the continued existence of the human race. The human race continues to exist through children. Children are born through pregnancy. Pregnancy occurs in women. It is a tragedy and undesirable for the women to all die, hence why The Others brought in a fertility doctor.

Oh, Juliet, now that I have transitioned to you, you have spent way too much time with Jack. That “I hate you” after the tape recorder stopped recording was so passive aggressive and childish. It is exactly the way Jack acts towards his father. It also reminds me of when Cartman said, “God, I hate you guys” on South Park. What does Ben have on her that she continues to comply with his orders? Is being with The Others that much of an advantage to being a regular old Survivor on the island? I don’t understand why she doesn’t just tell him to get bent and move on with her life. Is she pregnant by Goodwin and needs to stay with The Others to use their equipment to hopefully heal herself? She can’t possibly be because Flight 815 crashed over 90 days ago and she would be showing by now, wouldn’t she?

(Side Note: If impregnated women take the morning after pill or have a really early abortion, would it save their lives? I’m not advocating abortion, just wondering about the exact “science” of the deaths of these pregnant women.)


The main thing that intrigues me about this episode is the notion of death. When Locked shoved the Russian into the electric fence (Don’t whiz on the electric fence!), we assumed he was dead. The most obvious answer to this entire quandary is to simply say that our assumption was wrong. The Russian somehow faked his own death. However, we do know that the electric fence did something. Juliet turned it on in Left Behind. Since she turned it on in that episode, it may have been off in the previous ones. We have no way of really knowing (besides being shown in a future flashback). There are some other subtleties that make it possible he actually died and came back to life. Either way, I don’t really care. I really like the Russian’s character and am glad he is back.

First, I’d like to note how Ms. Klugh told the Russian to kill her. Now, I believed that this demand was just the writers’ way of demonstrating how committed to the cause The Others are. However, what if she knew she wouldn’t actually be dead for that long and thus him killing her wasn’t a big deal? Is that why he also asked to be killed so quickly, he knew he would be coming back? There are lots of interesting implications to this idea, not the least of which being that Jack’s Dad and Yemi aren’t dead.

Remember how the writers said Nikki and Paulo would become iconic characters? Remember how I said Expose was a microcosm of the show? Nikki and Paulo were literally buried alive. Well, what if that was symbolic of how the writers always make a point of showing us that the dead are buried by the Survivors? What if they didn’t bury them, they would come back to life? The symbolism of Nikki and Paulo has grown.

Likewise, a quote from Expose stands out even more. Locke said that things on the island don’t stay buried. Are all the dead going to come back at some point? Is LOST going to have the largest ensemble cast in the history of ensemble casts? How pissed off would Ana Lucia be when she came back? It would make so much sense if Libby came back after dropping her storyline like it was hot. It would also be the single greatest smokescreen in television, all this crap about Ana Lucia, Libby, and Eko being killed off for off screen reasons would be a lie. You want another quote? Remember when Hurley and Charlie were burying Ethan in S1? Hurley said he thought Ethan was going to pop back to life…

What about the symbolism of the eye opening? Is that the characters literally coming back to life? In the Pilot, Sayid said it would have been impossible for anyone to survive such a plane crash. I, and many others, always assumed that to mean that the plane crash was a controlled situation or was planned. What if it means that they DID died and the island reanimated them? The eye opening is them being reanimated! Is there a list somewhere of all the characters that have opened their eyes at the beginning of episodes? It would be interesting to read.

The reason I picture the eye opening in this way is in the Highlander whenever an Immortal is “brought back to life”, their eyes open suddenly. It is the symbolic gesture that represents the essence of life still enduring in the character because if you’ve ever looked into the eyes of a dead person (at a wake or otherwise) they just seem empty, especially if you knew them well. That’s it! I’ve solved LOST! The island is The Source from Highlander. I smell an extremely lucrative crossover. Maybe that’s why the new Highlander movie (appropriately title Highlander: The Source) keeps getting pushed back. If Adrian Paul shows up on the island, I’m flipping out…


I’m expecting big things out of next week’s episode. I’ll admit to watching the previews and it’s so obvious that Locke hasn’t kidnapped Ben or abandoned The Others. Rather, he has his Dad and is going to test Sawyer to see if Sawyer will kill him. In other words, it’s going to be a ridiculous Sawyer episode. I’m betting they’ve had a confrontation before and that is what the flashback will be as well. Although, I hope the episode doesn’t end in Sawyer dying because he gets over his problems…

I’m so sad, the season is almost over. And if you think I shouldn’t be sad, I’ve only got one thing to say:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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