Friday, March 24, 2006

A pregnant pause; this week’s episode of LOST

By now, it’s becoming old hat. LOST airs a new episode, and then I proceed to rant and rave about all the plot holes, the lagging pace the show has taken, and the illogicalness of it all. I lament about the drop of quality between the first season and that of the current second season. Remember those early fan boy theories last year about the characters were really in purgatory? Well unlikely as it might seem, it’s certainly what it FEELS like to me these days.

And then I had a change of heart. I realized what the cure might be for my LOST blues, and though I may be speaking to soon, I think my whining and complaining might diminish to a dull roar. You see, if I race to the TiVo every week expecting the best show on Television to give me my fix, then I will be sorely disappointed. BUT, in turn, if I take it off its pedestal, and it simply becomes another show on my season pass roster, then the monumental expectation dwindles and I watch it with the same sort of apathy that I might watch a show on the food network. Sometimes they’ll make a dish I like, sometimes they won’t, but either way it was a decent bit of entertainment.

I will now attempt to write an even-handed, not fanatical review of this week’s episode. Ready? Here goes:

This week’s episode, of LOST, titled “The Whole Truth”, was a matter of fifty-fifty for me. There were two major storylines in the episode. The primary storyline focused on Sun and Jin, who were on the outs most of the episode. Concerned about leaving Sun alone after her kidnapping, Jin forces Sun to stop tending her garden and return with him to the beach. When she refuses, he pitches a fit and rips up her garden. Sun is angered and upset by his behavior, and as she walks along the beach she begins to feel faint. She discovers she is pregnant but is hesitant to tell Jin, because, as she tells Jack, it’s complicated. Turns out that back in Korea the couple tried to concieve consistently, but were unable to get Sun pregnant. After going to a fertility specialist, Sun is told that she is infertile and it is impossible for her to have children. Of course it turns out that the doctor was just lying to save face with Jin in the office, and he later confides to Sun that Jin is the one who will never be able to have children. We also learn that Sun had learned how to speak English from the handsome hotel heir who led her to Jin in the first place. There is some romantic tension between the two of them, but it is ambiguous as to whether or not Sun and Hotel boy actually had an affair. While there were some poignant moments in this storyline, I ultimately thought it was fairly inconsequentail to both the characters and the overall storyline. We’ve already known that Sun and Jin had big problems in the past, and that she was ready to leave him. Both these facts were only reiterated by the episode last night. Rehashing personal issues which were revealed in previous episodes seems to be the new calling card of this season. The fact that Sun is pregnant is supposed to create a conundrum because while Jin could not “technically” be the father, she swears that she has not been with another man. This means one of two things. Either Sun is lying, or the island is working some sort of “magic” on her. Well, correction, there are three possible truths I suppose, the last being that Jin really is the biological father, and it is a miracle. Any way you slice it, I don’t really care what the answer is, and I don’t see how or why the audience should. As one faithful reader of mine pointed out a while ago, at the rate that the show is going, there would need to be about twleve more seasons for us to actually see the baby be born. Secondly, even if she was cheating on Jin, it’s not that huge of a reveal, because we knew she already had every intention of leaving him before the plane crash. I’m not exactly sure what getting pregnant does for her character. She didn’t seem particularly passionate about having a child one way or the other before the crash. As for the possibility of the island voodoo, if it is some sort of magic virus baby, I just hope it pays off before a decade passes. I did, however, think there were some good moments for Jin’s character in this episode. His rage in Jin’s garden, and his subsequent replanting and repairing of it, gave him two good counterpoints for his feelings for Sun, and the way he operates. It gave some emotional vibrancy to a character, who is not exactly a man of many words. My favorite scene for him, was actually the moment when he reminds Sun that he can not understand what anyone says on the island, and that he has no friends. I liked that little segment where he was listening to Bernard and Sawyer speak and all he heard was jibberish. As an english speaking viewer, I think it is easy to forget what the entire island experience must be like for Jin, and how frustrated and isolated he must feel at times. I liked that this episode reminded us of that.

In regards to the episode’s flashback, I did think it was a little sloppy that the flashback was directly related to the action on the island, when the writers on the show have become famous for the indirect connections between flashback and current story. Juxtaposing Locke’s struggle with the relationship with his father in the past, with Locke relationship with Boone and struggle with the island is brilliant, because the connection is not overt, but emotional, and the thematic underpinnings are quite moving. Watching Sun try to get pregnant, and then get pregnant, is well, linear and somewhat boring storytelling, considering this is a woman who seems indifferent to the matter.

The second piece of the episode relayed the continuing issue of the balloonist Mr. Henry Gale (of OZ???), as Jack and Locke try to determine if he is a goodie or a baddie. We watched Locke seek out the interrogation expertise of Ana Lucia, who in turn, spent some time with Mr. Gale in the locked cell trying to figure out just what he was about. There’s something about the scenes between Henry Gale and the other survivors that I really like. I find myself looking at the scenario from all the different perspectives. Say Henry Gale is innocent, and his balloon really did crash in the jungle. He must think the survivors are a bunch of savages, and hold his breath every time the door opens. What kind of freak will enter this time? A former soldier with a propensity for torture? A priest ready to confess his sins? An ex-cop telling him to fess up or die? Yet it’s only natural that the survivors are cautious. Henry Gale could be bad news. He could be an infiltrator, another Ethan. There’s a power dynamic between Gale and the survivors that’s delicate and curious. On the one hand the survivors have all the power, because they hold him in captivity, allowing him food and water when they deem appropriate. But on the other hand, Henry Gale holds the power of his truth over them. He holds the power of suggestion, or insinuation. He can slip all sorts of thoughts into their heads which may sit and reverberate off the walls of their minds late into the night.

Be it through the power of her feminine charms, or from just “asking nicely” Ana Lucia gets Gale to draw a tentative map of where he thinks the balloon is. Covertly, (though I’m not entirely sure why they keep it so secret), Sayid, Charlie, and Ana go in search of the balloon. As they tromp through the jungle, they have petty arguments about who should hold the gun, and how thoroughly they should search, etc. I liked this particular selection of characters, because in many ways it was a group of some of the more miserable, outcasts types on the island. The others on the island don’t view Sayid as an outcast, but his emotional state of grief probably makes him feel like one; the death of his lover having rendered day to day activity futile and grating. Charlie is still a bit of a pariah from his stunt with the baby a couple days (weeks) ago and since she’s been on the island, Ana Lucia accidentally caused the death of two people, so she’s not feeling too popular either. It’s an interesting mix of folk, and a nice change from the constant John and Locke show. There was a certain disgruntled tone and attitude about those scenes, a grim moodiness that I thought was all too fitting. I think at times the show’s tone can slip into a humanity inspired giddiness, and while I understand that all folks wouldn’t be depressed ALL of the time, the grumpiness is, I think, considering the circumstances, to be expected.

I liked the line from Ana Lucia, where she says “Jack and Locke are too worried about Locke and Jack,” and I do like the slow burn that continues to grow between these two men, though their behavior towards each other can border on erratic. I also really like the last scene where Henry Gale sits with them having cereal and theorizes about what he would do IF he was an “other.” He’s certainly screwing with their minds, and I think that it might be even more interesting if he wasn’t an “other,” but was just a sick, crazy guy, possibly trying to vie for power himself.

So all in all, terrific episode? No. I liked some parts more than others, but it was good enough for just an ordinary TV show.

See that was pretty non-dogmactic, right?


Blogger Mike said...

Perhaps Sun was somehow impregnated by the Others when she was kidnapped? Or the same healing power that worked on Locke is working on Jin?

12:17 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

But Sun wasn't kidnapped by the Others. She was almost kidnapped by Charlie pretending to be an Other. Could be about the healing power thing though.

4:12 PM  
Blogger DoorFrame said...

When did Sun get kidnapped by Charlie? Why don't I remember that happening? I think I've seen them all.

Oh well, did you notice the typo in the subtitling? When Sun is taling to the doctor he says "You're husband..." meaning "Your husband..." I paused it and looked at it for a minute trying to figure out what the Lost-style trick was... how it was a clue. It took me about a minute to realize that there was no clue, it was just a typo.

I'm not sure if I'm more embarrassed for me or for them.

I like Henry Gale. I wonder why he's from Minnesota... was making him from Kansas just too over the top with the Oz stuff? I like him being who he says he is and just someone who messes with people's minds.

But do you know who I miss most of all? Arzt.

And then of course there's this piece of information that showed up online a few weeks ago. If real, it's a spoiler, so don't like if you're not interested. I don't think it's real for reasons that I can't state without giving away the spoiler. But, you know, there you go.

10:32 PM  
Blogger jeremybgg said...

whatever happened to the "Lost book" that was going to get published?

also, i miss arzt as well -- but more than that, i miss the IDEA of arzt. they need to throw in some more funny self-referential "oh yeah, there's 40 people here" shit.

also, don't you remember "The Long Con" when Sawyer took back all the guns? charlie helped him by "kidnapping" sun, which made jack want to get the guns, which made sawyer warn locke, which made him hastily move them, which made him vulnerable to not noticing charlie following him.

yeah, it was that silly.

12:48 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

They were going to do a tie-in book? Amazing!

4:25 PM  

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