Wednesday, March 31, 2010

From the Archives: Lost's Last Call: Heart and Soul

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After the climactic “Ab Aeterno” last week, the Lost writers basically had to give viewers something a little more peaceful and static last night. Most of you likely knew going into “The Package” that a Jin and Sun episode never really provides the most eventful of story lines.
But last night’s episode did something different than any of the others so far: It showed us a variety of viewpoints in different locations on the island, not to mention the reemergence of the Sideways story line. That means the central characters, Jin and Sun, had to show a lot of emotion and get their points across in fewer words than usual. It just so happens that most of their words were in subtitles. And to most people, subtitles equals boring. God forbid they have to actually read something…
Jin and Sun have been apart for so long on this show that at times it’s hard to remember where they left things the last time they were together. Sun screamed at the top of her lungs in Lapidus’ helicopter when she thought Jin died in Michael’s freighter explosion. It was the most emotion she’d ever shown on Lost(and very well done by Yunjin Kim). Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) had promised that he was going to get her (and their unborn child) off the island. And he was true to his word. He just didn’t know she would ever try to go back.
We have to gooo backkkk!!!
Sorry, any time I think of the words “go back,” I get stuck in badly bearded Jack mode.
“The Package” was very much about promises — some believable and some not so believable. Despite all the promises these two have had hurled their way since their separation (and there sure have been a lot of them), the one thing that keeps them going is their promise to each other. Because, as the eternally wise (not really) Martin Keamy (Kevin Durand) says, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
Even though the Kwons have been separated for years, both characters have made it clear to everyone they encounter that their one goal in life is to be together. This is their island redemption story. The island has a kind of magic that breaks down all barriers, especially the ones placed on us by culture and gender roles. When Jin and Sun crashed in Flight 815, Sun had been on her way to L.A. so she could escape her restrictive marriage to Jin. She had secretly learned how to speak English, which she saw as her key to freedom. She had been cheating on Jin, knowing that Jin was not capable of conceiving. Sun was basically an excellent liar. But so was Jin. He was on the flight because he had to deliver a package for his boss, Sun’s father. He also wanted to be free of his restrictive life… he had been required to lie to Sun about what he did for a living (he had essentially become a hit man) if he wanted to stay with her. He was resentful that he had to kill people just so he could be with the woman he loved. And he had become a horrible person to be around, a trained assassin, much like Sayid used to be. And more like Zombie Sayid is now.
Once they were on the island, and free of their restrictions (which were really all external ones), they lost their resentments toward each other and were able to realize the love they felt when they first met. Life has a funny way of doing that… of tempting us with distractions, of making us forget why we are with the person we’re with, of making us more focused on what we’re getting out of relationships instead of what we’re giving.
Sun and Jin realized that only too late… and they’ve been trying for three years to get it back.
I think viewers really do love this couple, despite their tiring, never-ending (sometimes boring) search for each other. To watch them potentially reunite is to believe in the true power of love… that it is unselfish, it is what produces life — the opposite of the kind of chaos and destruction created by the cynical Man In Black.
And MIB, by the way, was all about reuniting people last night. It was strange for someone who’s usually such a smokey, loner-type killing machine.
The only people who seem capable of truly following MIB/Flocke are those who have lost their will to live, those who have become so focused on their own anger that they’ve forgotten how to be a real, live human being. Those who are spiritually dead.
And in case we needed a blatant example of this, in the opening scenes of “The Package,” just before Flocke leaves the camp to go find Sun, Sayid basically says, Hey, dude, what’s going on here? I don’t have any human emotions anymore! I can’t feel pain or anger! This is a bit unnerving!
Flocke’s response? “Maybe that’s best, Sayid. You’ll have to get through what’s coming.”
Just before Jin tries to make his escape from Camp Horror (and after he tells Sawyer that he can‘t listen to Flocke because of his love for his wife — “in love” equals “not spiritually dead”), he gets shot with a tranquilizer dart, as do the rest of the merry campers. And Widmore’s goons carry him off to the Hydra Station.
And I have to call them “goons” because they haven’t proven to be anything but that.
On the other side of the island, where people just wait to “figure out what to do next,” two of the biggest “goofs” on the show, Miles and Lapidus, pass the time with a game of cards. Miles holds nine cards in his hand, most of them hearts. He has pairs of hearts, even.
Pairs of hearts. Knowing he’ll win with all those pairs of hearts, Miles asks Lapidus to play his card.
Everything on this island revolves around a major game being played by Jacob and MIB. Now we know that if one side has a lot of heart, it’s likely to win, just like Miles will in his card game.
What did everyone think of Sun’s encounter with Flocke in her garden? Someone really needs to tell her to stop running off to that place alone. Only bad things happen there. She once got abducted by Charlie while chilling by herself in it. And I believe the garden was where Juliet kidnapped her and dragged her off to get a secret ultrasound.
MIB/Flocke approaches Sun at that one opportune moment because he recognizes how vulnerable she is. It’s the same thing he did to Richard in the Black Rock last week — he let him suffer and starve before he freed him. It’s the same thing he did to Sayid, who was angry at being exiled from the temple when MIB turned him to the “dark side.” It’s the same thing he tried to do to Sawyer — he visited him when he was grieving, listening to heavy metal, swilling whiskey and wearing the same underwear for God knows how many days… ugh, let’s not go back there.
MIB even tried to create a situation to break down Kate, to get her so weak and upset that she’d start following him, too. He turned Claire against her. Oh, and how can we forget the way he manipulated Claire? Is there anything more vulnerable than a woman who’s lost her baby?
Maybe a woman who’s lost her husband.
But because Sun has her friends on her side, back on the beach (especially Jack), she’s not capable of falling prey to MIB/Flocke’s charms in that garden scene. She knows he killed people ruthlessly in the temple. She knows he convinced Ben to kill Jacob. She watched him throat punch and then pummel Richard.
She knows enough to not follow this guy. And she has a sense of purpose — she’s been told that she’s one of Jacob’s candidates.
And on this episode, we finally saw that Jacob might in fact want both Kwons. How do we know that? Which characters check themselves out knowingly in mirrors in the Sideways story line? That’s right: both Sun and Jin.
Sun’s quite different in the Sideways story line and yet she’s very much the same. She’s still with Jin, whom she is apparently destined to be with, in any reality, but this time she is sneaking around with him, much like a rebellious teenager. She was to visit L.A. to go shopping on her daddy’s dime and bring Jin as her bodyguard. But Jin visits L.A. on a business trip. His money gets confiscated in LAX because he never declared it at the airport in Sydney. Instead of going to deliver his package to Keamy, he allows himself to be seduced by Sun, who begs him to run away with her.
I loved the scene where she opens her eyes in her hotel room, placed just after the scene of her running away from Flocke on the island. It made it very much like the island was in her dreams, that this Sideways world is her concrete reality and the island world is a distant memory, a part of her subconscious.
I’m still not buying into this popular notion that this Sideways reality is what happens to the people on the island who don’t follow Flocke. That they get better new lives because they “did the right thing” in the island reality. Even if that Room 23 video last night said “We create our own suffering,” I really just want to believe that this is the reboot, it’s because of Jack dropping Jughead into the Swan Station. But what do the rest of you think?
Back in Sun’s hotel room (they get two separate ones thanks to their unmarried status and Jin’s propriety), Sun reveals to Jin that she’s got a secret bank account they can use for running away. He seems very surprised that she has concocted such a plan. She also needs to tell him that she’s pregnant but doesn’t get a chance to until she’s been shot in the stomach, later in the episode.
This Sideways version of Sun is a person who keeps secret accounts, gets pregnant out of wedlock and strips down to her bra while drinking champagne in a hotel room with her “bodyguard.” This is a very different Sun, indeed.
This Sun also can’t speak English. When she tells Keamy she can’t speak it, she’s telling the truth. But then, Sideways Sun doesn’t need to learn English because, in this reality, Jin actually pays attention to what she’s saying. That wasn’t the case in their previous off-island life. English had represented her freedom from her relationship with Jin.
This might be why after getting a bump on the head, the island version of Sun strangely can no longer speak it. It might be Flocke’s doing, or it might be Jacob’s, but it’s pretty odd that all of a sudden she just can’t communicate anymore. As Miles says, “We’re supposed to buy this?” I think the writers chose to strip Sun of her English because it’s something that will unite her with Jin at the end of the season. Jin will be the only person who can understand what she’s saying. Plus, Jin will be speaking English, the language Sun had originally learned in order to escape from him.
They will finally both be speaking the same language. The language of love. Yeah, this is why people get bored with Jin and Sun.
How cool was that meeting of the two bald men on the beach? Widmore and Flocke recognize each other immediately, and although he tells his new “friends,” John McCain-style, that he “comes in peace,” Flocke declares war on Widmore. Then, because he can’t travel over or, conceivably, under water, Flocke sends his newly demonic minion, Sayid (who looks very much like a cold-blooded Rambo when he emerges from those murky depths) to do his bidding.
In a very opposite role from Sayid, the reborn Richard is now a crusading knight, as evidenced by his purposeful, shiny, golden-cross-wearing return to the castaways’ camp on the beach. He’s a deliberate parallel to what’s happening to Sayid. One’s eternally alive, one is spiritually dead. You can’t get more opposite than that.
Viewers have been describing Jack’s part in last night’s episode as a return to the old Jack, the one who doesn’t act like an impulsive baby all the time. It was refreshing to watch him reach out to Sun, an act the Man In Black probably never counts on. He relies on separatism, on suffering.
Jack emulates Jacob in his scene with Sun on the beach. Some of his words and actions are similar to MIB/Flocke’s methods. He promises to reunite Sun with Jin, when he doesn’t know for sure if that can happen. He reaches out his hand to Sun and asks her if she trusts him. When he approaches Sun at her seaside bonfire, she is in pain and alone, just like every person Flocke approaches. But it’s Jack’s sincerity, his positive energy… it’s what lies under the surface that makes his communication with Sun so different. He can get past her newly formed language barrier. He makes the effort to help her. They give each other a knowing glance and we have no reason to think that Jack has any ulterior motives.
This is the kind of situation that Jacob needs in order to find his replacement. And Jack is becoming probably the strongest candidate for that at this point.
This episode was filled with great, great, emotional performances by Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim. As I mentioned earlier, they have to get so much across in so few words, knowing that the audience is likely to miss some of those subtitles. While it was slightly annoying to see so much of Keamy’s Jack Nicholson grin again, the inclusion of Jin’s perspective on Keamy’s confrontation with Sayid was a great trick. Showing the other side of this, the view from that freezer, just makes this Sideways world even more like it’s truly reality. The framing makes it all the more real in a very metaphysical way.
The writers had a nice touch with bringing Mikhail Bakunin (Andrew Divoff) back to the show, that infamous Russian Other, as a translator for Keamy. In a Sideways wrap-up for Mikhail, he again loses his right eye and he gets killed in a way very similar to how he killed Charlie in the Looking Glass Station: by sneak attack.
Did you catch how the spot where Omar hits Jin on the head corresponds directly to where Sun gets hit? And as if the writers were mocking themselves, they even had Keamy say, “Omar’s loyal, but he has no attention to detail.” Because youhave to have attention to detail to follow this show!
And as if we didn’t see enough promise making from both Flocke and Jack, Widmore tries his hand with it when he brings Sun’s camera to Jin. Talk about manipulating someone’s emotions. Despite evidence to the contrary, though, I think Widmore might be one of the “good guys” here. Hopefully I won’t have to eat my words.
If Jin listens to him, it’s a pretty good sign that he’s not following the wrong side. And if Sun listens to Jack, she’s probably got a good sense of his true character. One of the exceptional things about Jin and Sun is that they’ve spent good portions of their lives perfecting their skills of deception. They’re not con artists like Sawyer is, but they are excellent at hiding their true emotions and motivations when a situation calls for it. It’s a result of their culture, their upbringing and their own personal situations. So they both know a liar when they see one.
This is a season filled with cross purposes and vague, slightly sneaky deities. It’s important to have guides when it comes to Lost, and who better than these two — people who don’t rely on only English to find true understanding?
As usual, please leave any and all comments, questions and, hopefully, answers below. Especially if you’re just as excited to see Desmond’s return to the island as I am — and if you predicted that it was him locked up in that submarine — that he is, in fact, the ideal package. (Just kidding. Okay, maybe not.)
By Laura Carney