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Monday, March 17, 2008

Lost 4x07: Ji Yeon

Well played, Lost, well played. You’ve given us flashbacks, and flash forwards, and now you’ve given us both in one episode. You had me going, thinking Jin was frantically trying to get to Sun’s delivery, determined to show up with a specific present so that everything would be perfect. You win this round.

Some may feel it was a bit underhanded, manipulating the audiences’ expectations and assumptions based on a previously well-established structure just to make a last minute reveal all the more shocking. I wouldn’t even say those people are all that wrong. They’ve done it before, most noticeably when introducing the flash forward concept at the end of last season. Just as that episode introduced a new narrative structure we’ve since learned to look for, after this episode we’ll now have to be on the lookout for multiple structures occurring simultaneously in one episode. The difference, of course, as Dr. Bitz pointed out, is that this time the nature of the flashback was concealed solely to make the ending surprising, and served no other narrative purpose.

This episode, obviously, was about the death of Jin, in more than one way. After Jin emphasizes to Sun that the controlling, angry Jin of the past is dead, we learn that the new Jin, the one we’ve come to know and love, is also apparently destined to die. The Jin that was born on the island is destined to die there. Obviously, the notion that island-Jin is a much better person than flashback-Jin is nothing new to the audience; however, his proclamation to Sun is significant because it comes after he discovers Sun’s affair. It seemed clear that Sun feared above all that the revelation would bring flashback-Jin roaring back. That it didn’t, that island-Jin prevailed when faced with his biggest challenge, confirmed not only how much he’s changed, but that he will stay that way, all the way to his now-fated demise.

We also got some more adventures on the increasingly spooky and effed up freighter. People reading books upside down and drowning themselves, mysterious kitchen problems, enigmatic saboteurs, hard-to-scrub blood-splatters on the walls (Dr. Bitz was thinking someone in that room was watching Lost and literally had their mind blown) and ominous pipe-banging, all attributed to some kind of mass dementia “cabin fever” created an eerie haunted-house feeling. Frank, before leaving on an errand, continued to seem out of place and downright normal compared to everyone else on board, including that creepy ass doctor and his odd response to Sayid’s observation that the boat wasn’t moving (“If you say so”). And why was the doctor leading around Sayid and Desmond? Where is this boat’s Commander Riker (if he’s anything like the real Commander Riker, probably off schtupping a native).

The meeting with Captain Gault was illuminating and confusing, in true Lost fashion. He implied that Widmore salvaged the fake 815 wreckage, but that Ben or someone Ben’s connected to faked it. Of course, this meeting was preceded by Sayid and Desmond receiving a note telling them not to trust the captain, so we must question everything he said (and, of course, also question whether we can trust the note or its mysterious author). I also wonder if Widmore knew the wreckage was faked before the freighter made contact with the Losties, and if so, and Widmore did lead the salvage operation, did he know it was faked before it was recovered or as a result of its recovery?

Of course, the big “reveal” was Michael’s presence on the boat, but despite the obviousness of it, questions remain: how did he come to be working on the ship under an alias? There are some potential timing questions involving when Michael and Walt departed at the end of season two and when the boat would have arrived at its current location (which could possibly be answered by the time anomaly). Was Michael picked up on his way off the island (as the freighter approached it)? If so, where’s Walt? And why the alias? He was introduced as Kevin Johnson, so perhaps he lost his memory, and only knows himself as Kevin Johnson (for some reason)? It’s assumed that he is Ben’s man on the boat and was the one opening doors and passing notes to Sayid and Desmond, but was he?

Basically, there are three people of concern abroad that ship: Michael, someone who is helping Sayid and Desmond, and Ben’s spy. Most likely, all three are the same person-Michael-but that may not be the case.


I almost didn’t recognize Michael, what with him not frantically yelling “Waaaalt!!”

Highlight
The two married men bonding on the boat; one of the few scenes we've ever had between two people just sharing information, not plot exposition.

Did You Notice?
Jin’s tombstone listed his date of death as 9-22-2004, the day of the crash.


I didn’t notice it the first time through, but in hindsight, Jin’s cell phone in the flashback was just slightly out-of-date in the same way Jack’s cell phone in the “Through the Looking Glass” flash forward was slightly too modern.

Between seasons three and four, Daniel Dae Kim received a DUI, just like the actors that played Ana-Lucia, Libby and Eko, thus consigning his character to the same fate as theirs.

The book Regina was reading upside down was Jules Verne’s Survivors of the Chancellor, a novel in the form of a diary written by one of the passengers of a doomed British sailing vessel.

It seems the Oceanic Six will be leaving the island between now and the next three weeks, since Sun and baby make it off the island healthy, and that’s how long Juliet gave her.

Questions
Is Jin really dead? I don’t believe Sun said anything at his grave that specifically referenced his death; perhaps the “funeral” was simply Sun mourning Jin’s absence (because he couldn’t leave the island for some reason). Or perhaps, as Dr. Bitz suggested, I’m overthinking things, and Jin is dead. He did get a DUI, after all.

Who staged the wreckage and who recovered the fake Oceanic 815? If we trust the captain, Widmore recovered it and Ben staged it, but can we trust the captain?

What does Ji Yeon mean in Korean?

What, specifically about proximity to the island, is causing the “cabin fever” aboard the ship? Is it the same thing that afflicted Danielle’s crew?

Where’d Frank go? What kind of errand can he be running? And what were he and the hired goon about to do at the beginning of the episode?

Why didn’t anyone else come to see Sun and Ji Yeon, besides Hurley?

When does Sun’s flash forward fit into the timeline? Most likely before all the others, I’d think.

2 comments:

  1. I've been operating on the strict belief that the flash forwards are part of an alternate future - and the goal of the present (unbeknownst to everyone) is to avoid that future.

    So to me - everything that happens in the flash forwards are what will happen if they continue on their path - and the "island", working through locke and jacob, maybe ben etc, is working towards changing that outcome.

    I too wondered if Jin is dead, or if that's the cover story the 6 are sticking with - based on what ghost charlie said to hurley and the kate trial, i was of the impression that they left everyone else on the island and agreed to say everyone died - but it does bring up the question, did Jin get off the island with them, and later died? If that were true, wouldn't they be known as the Oceanic 7?

    WAAAAAALLLLLLTTT!

    -S

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  2. Well, the question of whether Jin got off the island or not and then died depends on who the Oceanic 6 are-it seems we're supposed to assume that Giant Aaron is #6 and the only reason the producers didn't confirm it before was to maintain the surprise this episode that Jin had a flashback.

    So they six are Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun and Giant Aaron. If Giant Aaron isn't one of the six (as he shouldn't be) THEN Jin may have died off the island and been counted as one of the six. But I don't think that's the case, for a variety of reason.

    I think Giant Aaron is one of the six. As asinine as I find that, someone pointed out that the "Oceanic Six" moniker is likely a media creation, and the media isn't likely to care that Giant Aaron wasn't on the manifest; they'll just see six people who survived a crash in which everyone was presumed dead, have their graphics department whip up an "Oceanic Six" graphic and soak up the ratings.

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