Saturday, March 15, 2008

LOST Season 4 episode 6

In this episode Juliet stops Sun from going to Locke's camp -- and thus putting her life in danger because pregnant women on the island die -- by telling Jin about Sun's affair. On the boat Sayid and Desmond find Michael undercover as a Janitor. In a flash-forward Sun, the final revealed member of the Oceanic Six has the baby. In what appears to be a sub-plot to the flash-forward Jin tries to get a present for the new baby and get to the hospital to meet Sun -- but it turns out to be an unrelated flashback. In the future Jin is dead.

The reveal of Michael was anti-climatic because I knew from the opening credits that the actor has been on call all season. That is partly my fault for reading about Lost before the season started, but it is partly the creator's fault because I think I would like to count the credits as part of the episode, and thus claim that they telegraphed their surprise. Desmond and Sayid get caught up on the whole Charles Widmore sent the boat thing, and the faked wreckage of flight 815, but we already knew that, so not so exciting.

Sun having the baby was Ok, maybe not the most exciting thing in the world. My favorite part was when Hurley showed up in a suit, and when he found out no one else would be there said "goooood." Something obviously happened that made all these folks not want to stay together, but you really like him for showing up -- and looking so sharp -- for Sun's baby. Also nice was that he is the guy who wants to see Jin's grave, he is the one who cares, who remembers the dead. He is very much the moral center.

The contentious thing about the episode was the fact that it mixed a flashback with a flash-forward for the first time, and did so in such a way that you thought the flash-back was a sub-plot to the flash-forward. Certainly there is evidence early on that Jin is not in the flash-forward -- Sun is the 6th and final member of the Oceanic survivors, the shopkeeper says it is the year of the dragon which is either 2001 or 2012 and it is not 2012, his haircut is the old one, he uses an old cell phone, no one recognizes him as they recognize other members of the Oceanic 6 and so on. But a lot of people still felt it was a cheap manipulation. Sun calling for Jin felt particularly cheap.

My first instinct was to blame the form as well -- I thought for a minute that they broke their own rules to get this effect, but they broke the form for the season 3 finale and that was awesome. The problem is that in order to make it really satisfying, it needs further justification than the emotional realization that this is a flashback and that he he dead. The flashback needed some significance. As it is it was the worst kind of season 3 style flashback -- thematic rather than narrative -- a problem highlighted by juxtaposing it with LOST's new kind of substantial flash-forward in which the story is advanced. (The flash-forwards have now finished creating a new Act One for the show, introducing the main characters that will now gather and do something like return to the island -- or maybe the new Act One will be done when the 6 are gathered again).

On the positive side, this makes me feel good about the post-strike plan to condense the last eight season four episodes into five. This one and the last one had material that I think could have been excised nicely. I think the final five might be the most exciting episodes of LOST yet.

Random thing: Jin's grave said he died Sept 22, 2004, the day of the plane crash. So his gravestone is part of whatever story the survivors have been telling about only 8 people surviving the initial crash. I do not necessarily know what to make of that, but there it is.


Jeff said...

You can't blame the creators for Michael being in the opening credits. They're contractually obligated to do so. This has come up on other shows with similar surprises in casting.

neilshyminsky said...

This would make sense if they only showed his name in the credits of the episode he appeared in (I remember this kind of 'spoiler' happening on shows like Deep Space Nine) - but they show his name in every episode. Or do you mean that they must show the names of everyone in the "cast"? In which case, how do you define "cast member", and how you do you call someone a "cast member" when they haven't appeared in the show in over 25 episodes and were only scheduled to appear in about half this season? Seems strange to me.

Erik Schark said...

So, hold on, how is Sun the final member of the Oceanic Six? I count her as the fifth: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, and now Sun. I know Ben has been shown, but I have to suspect that he's under the radar, especially since he wasn't a passenger on the flight anyway. Or are you counting Aaron, who I suppose would make six. I guess I was only thinking about the adults.

Yeah, okay, I guess that does make sense. Carry on.

Andrew said...

I actually didn't find the flashback/forward a cheap trick because it produced an emotional reaction where I probably wouldn't have had one and highlighted for me a fact I hadn't considered. The reason I probably wouldn't have had an emotional reaction otherwise is because I've been operating under the assumption (because the six are lying about so much) that the other survivors are not dead. But Sun's going to the grave with only Hurley (that is alone) and actually grieving has changed my mind about the other survivors and opened up new possibilities for what's going to happen on the island.

Geoff Klock said...

Jeff -- that is fair

Neil -- seems strange to me too but contract rules are often weird.

Andrew -- fair point