Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost, "Ji Yeon": Baby daddy

Spoilers for "Ji Yeon," the latest episode of "Lost," coming up just as soon as I get a squeegee bucket...

How did I miss that? How did I miss that Jin was in a flashback while Sun was in a flashforward? I took mental note of his bulkier cell phone (Jack's sleek phone was the first giveaway for me in "Through the Looking Glass") and I also noted that the comic tone of his scenes with the stuffed panda was wildly at odds with what was going on with Sun, and yet I still didn't put 2 and 2 together until Jin invoked his old job with Sun's father's car company and then told the nurse he'd only been married for two months.

Now, I can't decide whether to be pleased or annoyed with the narrative shenanigans. On the one hand, there was no way to save the news of Jin's death(*) until the end of the episode without it, because an episode where the off-island scenes only feature Sun would have been a giveaway.

((*) And, yes, I believe that Jin is dead. I know the date on the tombstone was 9/22/04, the date of the crash, but remember: according to "Eggtown, the cover story is that all but eight passengers died in the crash, and two more died later. I don't know the reasoning behind that lie, but it would certainly cover Jin dying at any point pre-rescue. Sun's grief seemed too real -- not just a "We're separated by an ocean and I don't know if I'll ever see you again," but real, honest mourning -- for me to think anything else.)

On the other hand, by structuring the episode the way they did, the writers made the news of Jin's death feel almost gimmicky. I know that many of the show's best episodes featured some kind of big twist at the tail end of the flashback (Locke is paralyzed! Sawyer's the little boy in the story, not the con man!), and I know I was suitably impressed by "Hi, Aaron" only a few weeks ago, but here the stagecraft got in the way of the emotions.

Part of that, I think, is because the present-day island material with Jin and Sun was so moving that it made the twist seem more gimmicky than it would have when paired with a more plot-driven island story. As with the Sayid episode much earlier in the season, "Ji Yeon" was a reminder of how underused these two great actors and characters have been. Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim may not appear much anymore -- and Daniel Dae may not be appearing much longer, period -- but they have superb chemistry together, and the characters have come so far that Jin's devotion to his wife had real power. These two have been through so much together, done terrible things to each other and for each other, but there can be no doubt that there love is back and very strong.

(And good on the writers for using fellow married guy Bernard to bring Jin around and make him realize this was karma for the man he used to be, not the man he is now. Bernard rules -- between the fishing expedition and the Hurley cannonball scene, he's got the golden touch of late for classic "Lost" moments.)

Also gimmicky -- and not offset by any tear-jerking declarations of eternal love and devotion -- was the long-awaited introduction of Michael (aka former Phoenix Suns point guard Kevin Johnson) as Ben's man on the boat. If there's a "Lost" fan who hadn't guessed that it would be Michael -- and hadn't guessed that three or four episodes ago -- I'd be stunned. Now, Cuse and Lindelof brought this on themselves by announcing Harold Perrineau's return back at Comic-Con, but they've also had him in the opening titles for every episode this season, allegedly for contractual reasons, so this may be an instance where they wanted to keep things a surprise but knew they couldn't. In that case, though, they should have structured things differently -- should have known that their fans are smart and obsessive and found a way to re-introduce Michael several episodes ago, even if it was just a glimpse of him on the freighter moments after Ben discussed having a spy there. Trying to turn his intro into a shocking, full string orchestra-worthy moment didn't work, because we all knew it was coming.

Still, the freighter scenes were far from a total loss, given our introduction to the "surprisingly forthcoming" (especially for this show!) freighter captain. Of course, the captain (and the show) could afford to be forthcoming with information we already knew (notably that it's Penny's father's boat), but now Sayid and Desmond are in the loop, and there are more signs that something besides time travel sickness is amiss with this crew. (At first, I was annoyed that they brought in Zoe Bell for her to talk on the phone for several episodes and then jump in the ocean minutes after we first saw her, but I have to think we'll see her again whenever we get the inevitable Michael flashback about what he's been up to.)

So, to sum up before the bullet points, not as brilliant an all-around episode as "The Constant" or some of the season's earliest episodes, but some great performances and moving moments for two of the show's underrated players, and enough hints about the bigger picture to satisfy me. Moving on:
  • Hurley in a suit! Did not expect to see that. Very interesting that he would be the only one of the Six to show up to see the baby. Obviously, Kate can't leave the country, and we don't know how quickly post-rescue that Sayid became a globe-trotting assassin, but you would at least assume Jack could drag his annoying self across the Pacific to see the kid. Perhaps a rift between him and Sun?
  • Does this definitively establish Aaron as the last of the Six? The ads said the episode would tell us who the rest of the six were -- another way we were set up to believe Jin survived -- so I'm assuming the group is Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun and Aaron?
  • I loved how Sun refused to trust Juliet. We know that Juliet's absolutely telling the truth about this, but it's about time someone among the Lostaways finally got fed up with the constant obfuscation and half-truths coming from Jack's new squeeze.
  • Was the TV show that Sun turned off before feeling her labor pains supposed to be a dubbed-into-Korean version of that thing Nikki was on?
What did everybody else think?

80 comments:

Gabriel said...

Obviously, Kate can't leave the country, and we don't know how quickly post-rescue that Sayid became a globe-trotting assassin, but you would at least assume Jack could drag his annoying self across the Pacific to see the kid. Perhaps a rift between him and Sun?

Jack won't face Sun (and Ji) for the same reason he won't see Aaron - he screwed up, people died, and he can't deal with the people left behind.

Carmichael Harold said...

Any thoughts on whether the note not to trust the Captain is good advice or self-serving Ben via Walt advice?

If it's good advice, then the notion that Ben was responsible for the fake Oceanic 815 discovery seemed at least somewhat newsworthy.

jim treacher said...

I vote Annoyed. There was no "almost" about it, the ending was just straight up gimmicky. M. Night Shyamalan would have looked at that script and said, "I dunno, guys..." Maybe it would have worked if Jin's flashback had actually meant something? Guess we'll never know.

(I was kind of bewildered that so many people hated last week's episode. Guess now I know how they felt!)

It's too back they had to be dicks to us with that dumb "twist," because there was a lot to like about the episode. Bernard really does rule!

And yes, I was a dork and freeze-framed the show FutureSun was watching. Looked like Nikki's show Expose, or at least something that was supposed to be Expose.

Anonymous said...

All the buildup about this being THE episode with all the surprises (who's the spy, who are the Oceanic 6) had me anticipating every twist. I knew from the Season 3 finale not to take anything in the flashbacks/-forwards at face value, and immediately knew the reason Sun and Jin were not linked in any of them here. Add to that the fact that everyone knew Michael was the spy, and I was kind of let down by the episode. I guess I was more let down by the hype, but I also found the Bernard karma conversation a little heavy-handed, even for Lost. But like Alan said, gimmicks like BIG SHOCKS only work the first time (if that)--Lost should strive to be rewatchable.

That said, I'm loving the hints about the greater mythology, like everything on the freighter, and, correct me if I'm wrong, Jin's going to die some time before the Oceanic 6 leave, and they cover and say he died with the crash. Is that what I'm supposed to think about the Jin grave?

lungfish said...

They wouldn't have counted Sun's baby as the 6th, would they?

BTW, add Jin to the list of Lost cast members busted for DUI and written out of the show by dying.

Byron said...

Absolutely it was Expose. How about this for how to introduce Michael:

All the fans are assuming he's Ben's spy, and that Ben's spy opened the door and gave them the note saying to not trust the captain. But what if when they go see the captain, it's Michael? Suddenly, it's surprising, even though everyone knew he was coming back. And what better way for the writers to tell fans "Hey, you guys think you're so smart, but look at that--look how wrong you just were."

Lane said...

I was liveblogging the episode on my blog and made the same Kevin Johnson/Suns reference

GMTA

I knew Jin was not long from the beginning, his dialogue couldn't have been more foreshadowing... "I will NEVER leave you"... gives her the name to use for the baby, etc

I give this episode a B- on plot but A on acting

Anthony Foglia said...

Alan, you beat me by a few minutes. I didn't get that it was Jin's flashback until the scene at the cemetary. When Jin said he was only married a two months, I figured he must have gotten remarried. I was already expecting that throughout the show; I thought the twist would be Jin showing up at his new wife's delivery. That or the baby would have been stolen by Abaddon's people.

(It would also be an obvious obstacle for Future!Sun and Future!Jin to overcome, like Future!Jack's island homesickness, Future!Hugo's hunting by Abbadon, or Future!Sayid's working for Ben. That last was the worst telegraphed twist this season.)

Everyone's right that it's a trick that won't hold up on repeat viewings, but for the first time, it really worked.

Boy did Jin pick up English fast. Just a couple of weeks ago he knew nothing, and now, not only does he understands words like "cancer" and "murderer", but he expresses his most emotional thoughts--"Is it mine?"--in English as well.

Was that Sun's birthdate on the other side of the tombstone? I thought Sun was older than Jin. Wasn't her family concerned that she was getting too old to get married?

Interesting that the false wreckage had the correct number of bodies. When the Oceanic Six are rescued, how are the extra bodies going to be explained? And are we supposed to think the black box helped the ship find the island? I don't see how or why Ben would let that information slip.

J said...

Hated this one. The flashback/flashforward mix-up -- and I wasn't sure, was mostly distracted by Jin's hair -- was purely manipulative (as opposed to the Season 3 finale, which was both revelatory and opened up possibilities). The Jin flashbacks essentially burned off screen time while he chased after stuffed pandas. They might have had some weight had they been something a delirius Sun could have been poignantly recalling, but... no. Just an irrelevant trick.

The present day island stuff seemed inane, too. We're going to Locke's, oh no, wait, we're not. Seemed uncharacteristically cruel for Juliet to reveal the affair, and the show raced back to status quo ridiculously fast. Sun & Jin are once again Boring Couple, Sun's not even allowed to hate Juliet.

Re: the fishing scene, is "cancer" really one of the first words Sun would teach Jin? He reacted strongly to it.

The boat has promise, though "The Captain" seems a non-entity.

Catching the end of Pop-Up Lost, I wonder if the point of last week's episode was that Ben's feelings for Juliet will have a decisive role to play in the outcome.

Hope next week is 100% Michael ep. That should be interesting, if only to see how they deal with GIANT WALT.

Michael said...

It struck me at the time that Jin looked younger, but I chalked that up to him just looking better once he got off the island. But unless the Ambassador's daughter plays into future episodes, his flashback was a waste of time and purely to throw us off track regarding him and Sun.

If Sun was about 9 weeks along, then this episode takes place around July 2005.

What book was Regina (Zoe Bell) reading upside down? I forgot to freeze frame that.

KC said...

I also made note of the bulkier phone and out-of-synch tone of the panda thing and still missed it as well. I guess that ominous feeling they played up that Jin was being thwarted, Sun's new doctor, etc. threw me. I kept wanting to think Jin was still alive existing in some alt universe. For some reason I didn't find this gimmicky though and kind of like it.

I don't think aaron is the sixth, he hadn't been born before the crash so technically he's wouldn't be considered an original survivor, right?

I agree Jack is still beating himself for whatever happened during the rescue, but interesting that Hurley assumed others would be there. Obviously, they all don't keep much in touch.

The Michael return was a bit of let down. Not such a bad episode, a bit sad, wistful and some really nice scenes and good acting.

Joe Reid said...

I went into this episode with the idea that one of the two (probably Sun) would be Oceanic Six and one would not be, and watching the episode with that expectation in mind, Sun's scenes were touching and sad: calling for Jin, refusing to take her ring off, etc. The Jin scenes, yes, were essentially time-wasting misdirection, but viewed as some sort of classic daffy-expecting-father moment that would never be, and it's pretty touching and sad too.

I'm a sucker for Sun/Jin episodes, though, so maybe it's me. They're my Desmond/Penny.

Also, as lungfish said, behold the DUI Curse at work.

And the idea that Ben could have faked the Oceanic crash (raising questions of just what kind of resources Ben has access to off the island) is crazy intriguing.

Mark said...

I thought the flashforward/flashback sub-plots were a nice metaphor for how the two characters were often at cross-purposes with one another.

Christy said...

I started bawling when suited Hurley said, "Let's go see Jin," or some such thing. What can I say? It worked for me. Michael's return did nothing for me. 1st because it wasn't a surprise and 2nd because I was tired of the character long before he left way back when.

I hear what you say about rewatching big reveals, but I've seen The Sixth Sense at least 3 times with pleasure.

Teev said...

I went into it thinking they were only going to show one survivor (I think the promo monkeys said "the last of the Six is revealed" or something, yes?) so I figured the Jin/panda twist exactly as it played. But still when it was confirmed I was sad.

I liked that stuff moved forward on the freighter (good point carmichael about the trustworthiness of that note if it came from Michael).

This ep was kind of odd though in that it didn't give me any new questions, like most of them do. I figure the "cabin fever" is that time distortion thing Des had, and otherwise what new mystery? I guess what is Michael up to but since we all saw that coming weeks ago it doesn't feel like a new question. Well, maybe that's good, since we still have many unanswered.

BigTed said...

I also thought the whole Jin-Sun thing was a cheat. Jin's flashback was completely meaningless, and was there only to obfuscate what was going on. In a season during which they started really moving the story along, to go back to trying to keep us confused with what they show us, rather than with interesting things actually happening, seemed like a rip-off.

Also: If catching a fish is a reflection of karma, does that mean the fish did something bad in a past life?

jim treacher said...

Zoe's book was The Survivors of the Chancellor by Jules Verne. And no, I'd never heard of it either. I'm sure Lostpedia has a detailed entry on it by now.

anna-bo-banna said...

I think Michael is #6.

BigTed said...

"The Survivors of the Chancellor" is about the voyage of a British sailing ship wrought with disaster and madness. The ship is sabotaged and eventually sinks, and most of the passengers and crew die due to drowning, murder, suicide, and apparently cannibalism.

J said...

I'm a sucker for Sun/Jin episodes, though, so maybe it's me. They're my Desmond/Penny

I hear you on that. And I loved S&J early on. It's just that their romance is sort of Season One; introductory confusion, confounded expectation, everything got sorted out as the show oriented itself.

Desmond-Penny is the epic globetrotting fourth-dimensional story the show has become.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I didn’t get the flashback until he spoke to the guard, too.
I vote for annoying. I get that they had to fake us out, but there was way too much of that flashback for that purpose.
I agree, Sun’s mourning was real, jin’s dead. I hope it’s not his death next week.
Gabriel, I agree - Jack didn’t come because of guilt.
Byron – I had the same thought/wish that michael would be the captain! I must admit I hate that he’s back. One of the most annoying characters, ever. And you’re right, Alan, they should have done the reveal way back when it might have had a little impact.
I really liked the freighter scenes, tho. I;m betting the fake plane was ben’s doing, to keep search parties away.
I kept thinking there was gonna be something wrong with sun’s baby, or she’d die, or widmore would take it. Those hospital scenes were ominous.
Loved the Hurley and Sun scenes. Really nice moments. something so sweet about those two together.

Undercover Asian Man said...

Joe Reid:"And the idea that Ben could have faked the Oceanic crash (raising questions of just what kind of resources Ben has access to off the island) is crazy intriguing."

Yeah, Ben has enough resources to fake 815's crash, but not enough to automate entering the "magic Numbers" into that Hatch computer that kept his precious Island from being discovered - seemingly his biggest priority. Even though you use a FRIGGIN COMPUTER to enter the numbers, it would be beyond Ben's resources to automate that. Better to rely on a crazed, Dharma-related employee and his wacky recruit to do it, instead of taking that task over and ordering his followers to do it more reliably and keeping tightly under his control. After all, he ordered those two women to live isolated in an underwater Hatch just to watch over communications (and kill Charlie, I guess), so it's beyond reason to expect Ben to concern himself with taking the button away from Desmond and making damn sure it gets pushed by his own people.

All right, I will drop the demand for logic, it seems to offend Lost fans.

The best way for them to re-introduce Michael would be for him to walk up to Sayid, get right into his face, and have him scream "WAAAAAALLLLLTTTT!". That would have been funny.

Toby said...

Not being a cell-phone user, those clues are always going to fly over my head. But I was making mental notes to check out when the nearest year of the dragon could have been, but the reveal at the end made that basically unnecessary. The combination of flashback/flashforward worked; caught me off-guard. (The combination Jin/Sun episodes seem to have interesting variations on that device.)

When Jin entered the toy store, my first reaction was - he'll end up buying a stuffed polar bear!

Great to see Nikki again - well, I suspected it had to be "Expose" since 'Lost' is so self-referential, but I had to wait until I saw a freeze-frame to have it confirmed.

As upset as I still am about the loss of Naomi, at least she got a lot more screen time than some of these others from the freighter! Having seen Zoe Bell's name in the credits for weeks now (because of her radio responses), I was expecting a big storyline for her. Instead she's now the Jacob Marley of the Deep.

Oh, and going back to Naomi, I'm glad to finally hear it said plainly - Locke is a murderer.

Toby said...

"so it's beyond reason to expect Ben to concern himself with taking the button away from Desmond and making damn sure it gets pushed by his own people."

I always thought Ben never believed in the power of that button. He kept goading Locke into not pushing it.

I think he wanted something to happen to that hatch so that the fail-safe would have to be activated. Or else he thought it would just purge the survivors in the vicinity.

Matthew L said...

"The Survivors of the Chancellor" is about the voyage of a British sailing ship wrought with disaster and madness. The ship is sabotaged and eventually sinks, and most of the passengers and crew die due to drowning, murder, suicide, and apparently cannibalism.

So, that has nothing to do with the show, then.

So is this the first time we've had a date set for Sun and Jin's marriage? The last Year of the Dragon was 2000.

I'm a bit annoyed at Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof - in one of the recent Lost podcasts, (in response to a question suggesting that Sayid on the golf course happened after Sayid with the Economist's employee), they said that they play it straight with the flashbacks and flashforwards, and don't present the events out of order. Three episodes later, they do just that.

Still, I wasn't bothered. I thought it all worked well, and now adds a lot of tension to the show, since we now (probably) know Jin dies, probably sometime this season.

Sowey said...

Won't say a word about Lost (didn't saw the ep yet), and I will go Off Topic.
Alan, being the n°1 Cupid fan, what do you have to say about the "remake" news that hit the floor?

Anonymous said...

hey Sowey,

Welcome to October of 2007. There hasn't been a writer's strike. Hillary is the frontrunner for the Democrats. And news of "Cupid" being remade has just been announced.

Bruce Reid said...

Well, I won't say it was a great or momentous insight, but there was a point, sorta, to Jin's flashback: it confirmed Bernard's invocation of karma, because the universe kept hassling him as he tried to fulfill a mission for his underhanded boss. That's actually what kept me from figuring out the two time frames, as I was certain the cab thief and menacing motorcyclist would turn out to be some of Abaddon's agents. So if my reaction was intended, sly job, writers.

Though I have to agree with Joe Reid (no relation, so far as I'm aware) and j that Sun and Jin are my favorite characters on the show, and I've enjoyed all of their episodes so far. Hell, the moment that hooked me on the show wasn't the monster in the trees or Ghost Dad Shephard or even the reveal of Locke's paralysis, but Jin holding up the flower in the airport. So appropriate grains of salt and all that. (And j's right; the show's left behind many of the concerns they could explore best with the couple.)

The ship scenes clipped along just fine other than the reveal of Michael. I still can't entirely believe he's the spy; that solution is so obvious I was sure it was a red herring. But, it seems, no. And I agree with Alan, Bell (and Stevens) are clearly to be featured in some freighter-centered flashback episode(s?), so her quick exit didn't bother me much. Even made me chuckle a bit, in a "oh just stop screwing with us for once" kind of way.

Bobman said...

I'm a bit annoyed at Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof - in one of the recent Lost podcasts, (in response to a question suggesting that Sayid on the golf course happened after Sayid with the Economist's employee), they said that they play it straight with the flashbacks and flashforwards, and don't present the events out of order. Three episodes later, they do just that

Ah, Matthew L, you beat me by two comments. This was my first thought - they specifically said in a recent podcast that they wouldn't mix up flashbacks and flashforwards, because it was just gimmickry and they were confusing their audience enough. God that really annoyed me.

Still enjoyed the episode though.

Kristin said...

The one mistake the writers made was having Ben reveal he had a spy on the boat. If he hadn't said that one line, the Michael surprise would have been awesome. But the whole time we were anticipating who the spy could be, knew Michael was coming back, etc. We didn't need to know so early that Ben had a spy. That was a big error.

Too bad.

However, the twist at the end had be bawling for the last 5 minutes. Seriously. They got me good. And I love Sun & Jin, so to think he didn't make it and probably did something to sacrifice himself in order to save Sun and his unborn child...well, it got to me. Pretty badly.

As for Juliet being cruel by revealing Sun had an affair...Juliet is desperate to have Sun stay with her on the beach. She knows that she might be the only one who can save Sun & the baby. She doesn't want another dead mother/baby on her conscience. So, I could see her doing anything she thought would work to keep Jin from going with his wife. Cruel, but effective.

Why does everyone think Jin will now be gone from the show? Um, we still have to find out HOW he dies, people! And that could be up until the final few episodes a couple of years in the future. He might not be in any more flashforwards, but he certainly has reason to be included in the island shenanigans for awhile yet.

By the way, anyone know what "Ji Yeon" means in Korean??

Kristin said...

Oh, and someone refresh my memory...was the button pusher before Desmond arrived part of Ben's group? Remember when he ran around with a gas mask on? That would tell me that the original button pusher was afraid of Ben and what he might to do to him/everyone on the island. As if he were either part of the original group that got killed with that first blast o' gas or was someone who got to the island and was tasked with the button pushing for one reason or another.

I just don't remember if button pusher was ever shown in a flashback as part of the Dharma people pre-Ben killing spree or not...

Kristin said...

One more post, found an interesting article on the Entertainment Weekly site. Click on the link and read the section about 'Course Correction.' It confirms some theories about Desmond and his time-traveling episode "The Constant."

Article

Dan said...

The button pusher before Desmond was Dharma and the reason he wore the mask was because Ben gassed everyone else at Dharma. He wasn't working with Ben. Well, thats my take at least.

I love how everyone gets all riled up about the Jin/Sun flashback/flashfoward "trick". Just because they fooled you doesn't mean it was a bad plot point. I thought it was great. I knew something was off, but never really had the time to think about what it was. Nicely done.

Michael's reveal was terrible, though. They could have at least sprung him on us rather than show him from a distance when we all knew it was him even before he spoke. That could have been a cool moment...instead they were too concerned with the Sun/Jin reveal.

Alice said...

Anna Bo-Banana beat me to it. I think the last of the 6 is Michael.

Price said...

So who's the dude in the coffin, then? I always assumed that he was a member of the Oceanic 6, but apparently not. They're such celebrities that there's no way one of their deaths would have gone unnoticed, with no one showing up at the funeral home. Is he an Oceanic 815 survivor that made it off the island without the world at large knowing about it? Or someone else entirely?

Anonymous said...

I think the coffin dude could be Michael still under his "Kevin Johnson" alias. If he keeps that identity up, he's not one of the Oceanic Six or a celebrity, even if he does make it off the freighter and to dry land.

Anonymous said...

To those taking Damon and Carlton to task because the mix of the flashforwards and flashbacks in "Ji Yeon" seemed to contradict their prior statement about maintaining the order of the narratives, please note that each of the separate "flashes" in the episode proceeded in chronological order within their own context.

So I say they did not break their pledge in that regard.

Undercover Asian Man said...

Toby: "I always thought Ben never believed in the power of that button. He kept goading Locke into not pushing it."

Ben and his dad were a part of the Dharma group for all of Ben's early life - surely they were indoctrinated into believing in the button and caring for all the Hatches. Also, Ben is supposed to be THE knowledge source of everything ISLAND related. He talks to Jacob after all. And Ben seems to have a lot of interaction with the outside world - including spies in the camps of other Island seekers. Surely he knew that SOMETHING was preventing these seekers from finding the Island, and about something as important as a 'cloaking device' built into the Island was the cause.

Unless of course the writers hadn't decided yet what not pushing the button meant as they were writing it, but then realized the whole story was getting bogged down and boring once all the Main Characters were turned briefly into button-pushers for 3-4 episodes.

But now not pushing the button on time has led to all of Ben's current problems. Desmond missed pushing it on time once and it caused the crash of 815 (or at least we are led to believe it was cause-effect). So the Island got a ton of unexpected visitors that have been nothing but a huge pain in Ben's ass ever since (but thank god they were ready for this contingency with their brilliant "let's fool them for a few weeks in thinking we are primitive natives, and then drop the ruse totally because it is meaningless" plan - or was this another writers' "we're not sure what The Others mean quite yet" ploy?).

Not pushing the button permanently has led to a) Penny 's arctic crew sensing the Electromagnetic Pulse and detecting the location of the Island and b) most likely the arrival of the Freighter with the same location information now in hand. These Freighties have also been nothing but a huge pain in Ben's ass too.

So I guess you can say that Ben WANTED 815 to crash there, and WANTED the Freighties there now, and Ben is 18 steps ahead of everyone and is manipulating EVERYTHING like an omniscient, omnipotent god. OR - you can begin to think that the writers are trapped in a corner and the only way out is to have characters like Ben and Charles Widmore and Jacob - god like characters with unlimited, unimaginable powers that are playing a game beyond human reason and that only they can understand and appreciate. And if the plot runs into a logical loop, just say the Ben or Jacob or Charles WANTED it that way, and it is beyond your mere understanding.

There are so many hints of writers' inconsistency that I know which way I'm choosing. If you go to ABC's Lost website, you can watch EVERY episode from Season 1 to the present. Just select a few random ones from Season 1 and the inconsistencies and writers' stalling tactics become so obvious it is painful to watch now. Even the main characters themselves were never well defined at all - Locke has gone from a mysterious, caring figure to a mad, murdering one; Jack went from heroic leader to bumbling fool; Sawyer was a hard edged man - now he is a mild jokester; Sayid and Jin and Sun and Claire were once main characters, but are now B Story fill-ins. All the Tailies meant absolutely nothing.

The evidence is there - yet millions still want to choose blind belief over facts and logic. So maybe "Lost" is a brilliant commentary on Religion and it's place in society after all.

Kristin said...

I am a writer. So I think I have a *little* bit of understanding of the creative process. There are two kinds of writers, those who like to plot everything out and those who call themselves ''pantsters" (as in, 'writing by the seat of their pants).

I'm a pantster, however, I *do* have a general idea of the book I want to write, who the main characters are, and how it will end. As I write, I find that I create red herrings and new characters as I go, which all starts to fit into my story.

So, Undercover, I think you are very wrong. I think there was a general idea of what the island was and the forces that were acting upon it, who the good guys were, and who the bad guys were, and where the thing was going to 'end' to a certain degree. You would have to have those basic things in place to even begin thinking about writing a show this complex.

Have you never heard televisions writers talk about 'story arcs'? From what I understand, a pilot must have not only a good pilot in place, but some sort of outline to show the producers/networks that you do have a plan for the show.

This is true for novelists as well. Once you write that first book and sell it, you can start selling books on proposal...which is a short synopsis of the whole book and usually 3 sample chapters.

I also disagree with this statement:

"Locke has gone from a mysterious, caring figure to a mad, murdering one; Jack went from heroic leader to bumbling fool; Sawyer was a hard edged man - now he is a mild jokester"

Locke has never been truly caring. His whole past history was about his gullibility and how he ruined his life by making bad decisions. He has always been desperate for approval...even now. He is desperate for Ben's and the island's approval of everything he's been doing. This is NOT new. He's always been this way.

Jack has always had the appearance of being a hero, but showed from the very beginning episodes that he was a weak man. Making bad decisions. Stubbornly thinking he can fix everything and always has the solution. The flashforwards prove that he stays consistent in this flaw.

Sawyer is still hard-edged and cynical. Even more so after he killed the real Sawyer. He will always be damaged and convinced that everyone is only out for themselves.

StickUpKid said...

Alan, first off gotta say I love the blog. And I really dug the Wire stuff.
Lostwise however, I have a small theory if you will into the ending here at the gravesite.
Sun was calling out for Jin in the delivery room. Wouldn't it be possible that whatever weird magnetic, purple light or ray has fragged her mind about their escape from the island? Maybe I'm reaching here but A) these are 2 of the better actors on the show, why lose them, B) thats way too compelling of a story twist down the road. Can you imagine the sobfest that would be Sun reuniting with a long thought dead Jin? Man, get out the tissue would ya?
One last thing too, after having my wife (a part time Lost fan) call several plot twists ("Hello Aaron," Ben as Sayid's boss) I am pleased to say that I called the flashback/flashforward thing with Jin. Between the hair, the bulky phone I thought it was pretty obvious. I can't say I thought he would be dead though.
Let's all hope for an all-Michael episode next week.

ant said...

So is it a problem that Sun got pregnant after the crash? Do people think it's Jack or Hurley's baby? Or that Jin was part of the 8 and died after the crash? Because if Juliet could tell the baby was conceived after the crash, couldn't any other doctor figure that out as well? The pregnancy time frame is pretty strict. Even Ben can't manipulate that.

That said, I really enjoyed the episode. I got weepy at the end too. Byron I really liked your alternative Michael reveal. And my bf also made the Phoenix Suns reference.

Bobman said...

But now not pushing the button on time has led to all of Ben's current problems. Desmond missed pushing it on time once and it caused the crash of 815 (or at least we are led to believe it was cause-effect).

Uh, to be fair, Ben wouldn't be alive to have these problems if the plane hadn't crashed - you forget that Jack kind of removed a tumor that was threatening to kill Ben.

Siddhartha said...

A few things about the episode that I've been thinking about since last night:

1) Can any of our Korean-reading fellow Alan-ites tell us what Jin's marker said? There were 3 dates on that marker so I think it might be a marker commemorating both Sun's and Jin's supposed death on the crash.

2) I think that Regina kills herself because of Naomi's death. The R.G. on Naomi's bracelet could be Regina.

3) OK, so this one might be very far-fetched...what if it is NOT a Jin flashback. What if Jin does get off the island, has to go back to working for Mr. Paik (who I believe is related to the whole Widmore/Dharma thing somehow), and has married someone-else in 2012 (thus the 2 months comment). There's nothing absolutely stated that Jin has died - all Sun says is 'I miss you.'

treved said...

Bobman: true about Ben's tumor, but why not just have the guy who never ages just recruit Jack or some other spinal surgeon to the Island, like they did with Juliet? Why kill 200+ people in a plane crash to get a doctor to help him?

Re Kevin Johnson: I read Alan's reference to the Suns player, and then open up this week's Sports Illustrated, wherein it mentions former Suns player Kevin Johnson is running for mayor of Sacramento! Talk about timing!

jim treacher said...

To those taking Damon and Carlton to task because the mix of the flashforwards and flashbacks in "Ji Yeon" seemed to contradict their prior statement about maintaining the order of the narratives, please note that each of the separate "flashes" in the episode proceeded in chronological order within their own context.

Except they were depicted as being within the same context, right up until the end. The Constant worked because despite all the time-shifting, I knew where he was the whole time. It was an organic part of the story. This was just a cheap, crappy trick.

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Sepinwall said...

No talking about details of the next episode, please.

Anonymous said...

Except they were depicted as being within the same context, right up until the end. [...] This was just a cheap, crappy trick.

One man's trick is another man's creative writing exercise.

If the alternative was to give away at the beginning of the episode that Jin is (or may be) dead, then I am willing to be tricked.

YMMV.

special k said...

Yeah, it was a trick, but not a cheap or crappy one in my opinion. The episode worked for me. Loved Sayid and Desmond working together. Loved Sun smacking that smug bitch Juliet. Loved the final emotional scene that had me bawling like a baby.

I sure hope Jin isn't truly dead. I love him and his character arc.

Brendan said...

I think the biggest problem with the flashback is that it didn't do too much to reveal character or move the plot forward. It comes off as treading water. When Jin first says he's only beed married two months, I thought, "How interesting. Whatever these six did to get off the island traumatized them so much Jin can't even see Sun anymore." But then it immediately descends into melodrama. You can edit Jin's flashback out completely and still essentially have the same episode. So I think it comes off more as a "look what I can do!" technique than anything. Like Vonnegut says in his rules for writing, every scene, line and word should either push plot or dig deeper into character. The flashback did neither. It's Nikki and Paolo all over again.

And to Kristin the pantster:
I am also a writer and have experience similar things. Whether you're a planner or not, writing certainly relies on discovery, finding new roads along the way. But unless you're Joyce Carol Oates, you go back and revise. Most of the time, these new roads turn out to be dead ends that just seemed great at the time. You're supposed to catch things like, "Whoa wouldn't it be cool if we did a flashback and flashforward...AT THE SAME TIME?!"

Anonymous said...

I kind of knew something was up when the toy store clerk didn't recognize the newly famous Jin.

Timeline wise, when exactly was Ji conceived? They definately knew it was Jin's and it happened on the island, but after how many days? Is there enough of a time gap that the date won't match with the crash and Jin was one of the 8 the survived(per Jack), impregnated Sun and then died later on the island?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is there enough of a time gap that the date won't match with the crash and Jin was one of the 8 the survived(per Jack), impregnated Sun and then died later on the island?

Well, I guess it depends on when that tombstone was erected. If it was put up after the crash when everyone was presumed dead, then having the date of death as the date of the crash doesn't negate your potential scenario. But if it was put up later, than the death date would imply that, for whatever reason, Jin isn't one of the two people who allegedly survived the crash and died later.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I should also say, in defense of Undercover Asian Man, that most of what he's saying is stuff I was complaining about for much of season two and (especially) season three. I'm still skeptical about the idea of a master plan from day one, and I still think that not everything that happens in these final three seasons will reconcile completely with things from the first three.

I just think that the level of execution has, overall, been vastly better than it was for much of the previous two seasons. The character stuff is better, the action stuff is better, and until this week, the flashforwards were providing a level of value not seen since the original round of flashbacks back in season one.

I'll forgive a lot if the show is entertaining -- and for the most part this year, it's been damned entertaining.

jim treacher said...

What Brendan said.

I go back and forth on the "master plan" thing. It just seems like too much to expect them to know from the beginning how every single plot thread is going to pan out. Especially considering the show was, what, 9 months from pitch to air? Obviously they're making stuff up as they go along. And they didn't know at first which characters were going to take off with the viewers and which would end up being, well, Boone.

I don't think that's inconsistent with having a master plan: what the island is, what happens to people who go there, what it has to do with the rest of the world, etc. They can have an overall view of that, while still moving the pieces around as needed. Or in the case of this week's episode, throwing the pieces around the room and yelling, "Looka me, I'm a genius!"

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand why it’s so important to some that the writers have had every plot point planned since the inception of the show, and that they feel cheated at any sign that they didn’t.
Even a 2 hour movie involves script revisions, reshoots, and oftentimes alternate endings get written and shot. How can anyone expect that a six season story is not going to evolve as it is written, filmed, edited and responded to by viewers? And why does it matter?
Every creative process is kind of organic. What’s offensive about that?

jim treacher said...

The blogger and science fiction novelist John Scalzi had a very good post recently on just this very topic: Things I Don't Know About My Own Universe. (HINT: Pretty much everything that's not in his books. See, he makes it all up. He uses his creativity.)

Price said...

Why was Hurley so happy that nobody else showed up to see the baby? For a second I thought it was because it's really his baby. You can thank Mr. Treacher for inspiring me to go down that road.

Here's an idea that I don't really subscribe to, but stick with me here. Jin is still alive back on the island, and Sun was literally talking to him, sending him a message through some crazy one-way cameraworks embedded in the tombstone. No evidence for it, but hey, why not?

Eric said...

"How can anyone expect that a six season story is not going to evolve as it is written, filmed, edited and responded to by viewers? And why does it matter?
Every creative process is kind of organic. What’s offensive about that?"

This is a fair point except it doesn't quite hold true when the show very specifically sets up lots of mysterious elements from the beginning and then later developments either contradict those elements or at least require extensive mental gymnastics to reconcile them together. It's also frustrating when a show requires a lot of mental investment in things that the writers just wholesale abandon (like the significance of pushing a button). For some shows it might not matter, but for a show like Lost with an audience that has an amazing attention to detail (and things like Lostpedia to keep track of it all) it's annoying for them to be so inconsistent.

Take this criticism for example:
"thank god [the Others] were ready for this contingency with their brilliant "let's fool them for a few weeks in thinking we are primitive natives, and then drop the ruse totally because it is meaningless" plan - or was this another writers' "we're not sure what The Others mean quite yet" ploy?"

That's spot on as far as I'm concerned. It's fine if the writers didn't know exactly what the Others would be from day 1 (it's well documented that Michael Emerson was only supposed to be a bit part until they realized how awesomely creepy he was), but if they're going to pull these 180 degree shifts, they should at least be explained. It always struck me that the reason Tom stopped wearing the beard was because the actor himself complained that it was itchy. Because otherwise, there is no reasonable explanation for why he would have had a beard like that in the first place, only to take it off later.

Ginny said...

The first thing I thought was weird, was, why are Sun & Jin back in Korea? Why didn't they go to Albuquerque? And, yes, I noticed his hair. New,improved Jin would keep his new,improved hair, wouldn't he? But,of course,had Sun been in America then the fakeout wouldn't have worked. And from a female perspective, how 'bout that dopey doctor Sun had? You need an emergency c-section! Oh, wait. Here comes the baby now! Whoops! Agree that karma was pestering Jin's trip to the hospital. New Jin would have made it there fine...if only he wasn't dead. Now I have a headache.

Kim Cosmopolitan said...

Well, I guess it depends on when that tombstone was erected. If it was put up after the crash when everyone was presumed dead, then having the date of death as the date of the crash doesn't negate your potential scenario. But if it was put up later, than the death date would imply that, for whatever reason, Jin isn't one of the two people who allegedly survived the crash and died later.

It had to have been put up after the Oceanic Six were rescued, otherwse Sun's death date of 9-22-04 would have been on the tombstone as well

Michael said...

Also, Aaron being alive pretty much means that Claire had to have been one of the two "Oceanic 8" who "died" before being rescued.

Anonymous said...

Was Jin sent to the past?
Maybe then just think he's dead and his memory is erased right?

Anonymous said...

WHO'S IN THE COFFIN!?!?!?!?!
That must be the last Six or someone from jack's past... who knows.

Scott Henderson said...

Wow, I'm surprised by how harsh everyone is being on this episode which I thought was stunning. The Lost writers have an undeniable talent for delivering heart-wrenching emotional scenes and this episode was full of them.

We all knew that Charlie was going to die and they still managed to write his death – exactly as Desmond had told us – in a way that drew tears from even the coldest heart.

What also bothers me is constant complaints about the Michael reveal, some of which come in the same breath as a complaint about the flashback/forward twist being gimmicky. I suspect that the same people would be complaining that Michael being revealed in a more surprising fashion would have been another example of Lost writers manipulating the audience. Damned if they do, damned if they don't. The nature of the interest in the show meant that we were always going to know that Harold Perrineau was coming back and guessing in what form didn't bother me. Bottom line, I was more interested in seeing Sayid's reaction (how perfectly judged on the writer's part was that).

Anyway, I've said enough already. I just think sometimes people become overly critical of Lost because their expectations are so ridiculous that they don't see the wood for the trees. Amazing episode, brilliantly written and performed, but moan moan moan. Didn't you learn anything when you jumped ship to Heroes last year?

Anthony Foglia said...

@Ginny: "The first thing I thought was weird, was, why are Sun & Jin back in Korea?"

Sun wanted to stay in Korea. She said so to Jin earlier this season. He wanted to move to the US, but she didn't.

Struck me as odd though. You'd think they'd both want to get away from her dad.

Anthony Foglia said...

@Siddhartha: "1) Can any of our Korean-reading fellow Alan-ites tell us what Jin's marker said? There were 3 dates on that marker so I think it might be a marker commemorating both Sun's and Jin's supposed death on the crash."

An explanation/translation of Jin's tombstone. The leftmost date appears to be Sun's birthdate.

dez said...

I sure hope Jin isn't truly dead. I love him and his character arc.

I keep hoping the writers aren't married to this future, that something can happen on the island that will change it. Because I really, REALLY don't want Jin to be dead.

Damn this show!

(Oh, and damn my state for mandating Amber Alerts show up onscreen every 15 minutes while the alert is in effect, and damn my cable company for making them so big that they take up the entire screen.)

Anonymous said...

I think Jin is alive and still on the island.

Jenn J. said...

Has anyone ever thought that maybe Ben can time travel (like Des, but better) and that's why he knows everything that's going on about, well, everything? Just a theory....

Patrick said...

It never occurred to me that Jin's story was a flashback. I thought he was buying the panda for Sun, then when it turned out not to be for her, I thought "Oh, Jin's an asshole again." Then I thought "Oh, they broke up, and Jin's remarried." Finally, at the very end, I thought "Ooooh, Jin faked his death."

*sigh*

I'm not very good at this game.

Kristin said...

Maybe I'm just losing it, but I don't remember the Others just randomly abandoning the idea of playing "primitive" roles. From what I recall, they were 'found out' and just abandoned the whole idea because what would be the point?

Remember Kate telling beard guy that she had found their disguises? So, it wasn't just dropped by the writers...it was discovered by some of the Losties that the Others were faking it.

As for the button pushing...they missed pushing the button, but Desmond turned the key...which did something. We never did find out exactly what the key turning did/meant. So, there was no reason to worry about button pushing anymore. But, at the time, it *was* important. And Locke found out too late how important it was.

So I don't see how the writers have abandoned anything that existed in the first season or later. All of it seems pretty consistent to me. And since we have yet to get an explanation for everything, I think there is room to fill in the gaps in the next few seasons to make things fit together.

The writers are playing by some sort of ground rules. Probably some pretty loose rules, so that they can have a number of outcomes/plots.

CoolSid said...

Jin is alive on the island but Sun and the other members of thO6 believe he is dead.

Jeff said...

Alan wrote: "Well, I guess it depends on when that tombstone was erected. If it was put up after the crash when everyone was presumed dead, then having the date of death as the date of the crash doesn't negate your potential scenario. But if it was put up later, than the death date would imply that, for whatever reason, Jin isn't one of the two people who allegedly survived the crash and died later."

It seems to me it has to be put up post-crash, otherwise Sun's date-of-death would be on it too -- and if they did put a post-crash/pre-rescue headstone up, then Sun had it changed when she got back, and one has to wonder why she didn't change Jin's Date of Death then to something that allows him to have impregnated her...

I also think Jin is dead dead dead. Otherwise there's no reason for the charade of going to the gravesite if it was a fake... Sun could weep to Island Jin in the privacy of her own apartment....

Fran said...

Patrick, you made me laugh out loud. this is for you, from James
poniewozik's blog:
"I guessed quickly that Sun was in a flash-forward and Jin in a
flashback, but to be fair, it was one of several theories we were
shouting at the TV in the Tuned In household over the course
of the episode:
* Sun and Jin were both in flash-forwards, but Jin had left her, and
was bringing the panda to someone else's baby
* Sun and Jin were both in flashbacks, and had lost a baby, of which we were previously unaware
* Jin was in a flashback and had a secret baby with another woman--which was why he so quickly forgave Sun's infidelity
* Sun and Jin were together in the future, but someone--Dharma, Ben,
Widmore, etc.--was going to steal their newborn baby, through the
"substitute" doctor who was actually their agent
This is how paranoid Lost makes you."

Kenrick said...

Scott, I think people were harsh on this episode because Jin's flashback added nothing to the story. It didn't teach us anything new about him and it didn't reveal anything new. Its sole purpose was to trick us into thinking he got off the island, so they could surprise us with news of his death, and that's kinda cheap storytelling.

I can forgive them about the Michael reveal however - because really the reason why seem to all have expected it is because we spend so much effort looking up every little news tidbit and discuss so heavily about the show. Sure I guess the writers could have anticipated it and handled it differently, but for the people who don't obsess over the show, it may have been a nice surprise.

Mo Ryan said...

Late to the party (the party's over, but ...)

Cheap, crappy, manipulative trick. I'm sure it sounded cool in the writers room, but it absolutely left me feeling manipulated in the most inorganic way possible. Instead of feeling sad during the cemetery scene, I was complaining about the mechanical trickery that went into this plot.

And as Alan and others have pointed out -- they need not resort to such stunts. They can evoke emotion any number of real and interesting ways. To do so with such a gimmicky plot should be beneath Season 4 Lost, except, er, I guess it's not. Harumph.

I was annoyed from the word go because right from the start, Jin is telling secret stuff (that they're going to Locke's camp) to someone she does NOT trust! Duh! Why would she tell Juliet anything instead of booking the hell out of there? Because the plot requires her to tell Juliet. Not because it makes any damn sense for her to do so. Seriously - vitamins? They could not think of a better way for Juliet to gain that information? That's just lazy writing.

And I've never been on the Jin/Sun bandwagon, so all in all, aside from the good work those two actors did in their scenes together, I give this a rousing, irritated, nearly ornery "meh."

Lizbeth said...

I'm one of those who believes Jin is still alive on the island. I think that the Oceanic 6 basically sold their souls to the devil (aka Ben Linus) in order to get off the island, and are part of a huge cover-up.

Jin said he would do "anything" to protect Sun and the baby, and I believe the sacrifice he made was to stay on the island and let the rest of the world believe he is dead. So for all intents and purposes "he is dead" and Sun believes he will never see his baby girl. So her grief is very real.

I think as we move forward each of the Oceanic 6 is going to need a reason to want to go back to the island. If Jin were truly dead, Sun would have no reason to go back. And she certainly wouldn't risk her life or the baby's for anyone other than the man she loves.

I also felt that Hurley taking Sun to the grave felt staged. His tone seemed to indicate that they "should" go see Jin (as if people were watching to see what the Oceanic 6 widow would do).

jim treacher said...

If Jin's still alive, that would make what Mo very accurately described as a "cheap, crappy, manipulative trick" even more meaningless.

Mo Ryan said...

Er, I meant Sun in the first part of my post just above. The conversation between Sun and Juliet also annoyed me, in the sense of -- "Hey, why don't you tell your secret plans to the ONE PERSON who will definitely try to stop you!" That's snappy writing!

As for Jin still being alive, yeah, I agree, if that's true, than the graveyard scene is even more manipulative than it was at first glance.

The only reason I'm so hard on this ep is because I know -- look at other episode that just aired this season -- it can do SO much better, and give us time manipulations that lead to real emotional revelations that feel earned and moving.

This was just a jerrybuilt, tricksy plot. As Tim Gunn would say, "You can do better."

SJ said...

I know this post is nearly 2 years old, but I recently started watching Lost (like a month or so ago - just burning through the episodes through Netflix's on-demand service), and I almost screamed when I saw Michael. I have been avoiding all the spoilers (really hard to do), and I never notice the credits.