1. parallel desmond
desmond meets penny while she is running a tour de stade. this is of course the location where we first met desmond on the show, as he was preparing for his race around the world to win widmore's favor, and eventually penny. i loved this reversal, and the photography was beautifully matched to the original scene. we've been to this stadium twice before - once in the season 2 premiere, where we see jack meet desmond, then again in the season 2 finale - when we see the scene that took place just before desmond began his run, where penny tearfully promised him 'with enough money and determination, you can find anyone.' the original penny/desmond scene at the stadium was their heartbreaking final goodbye. in the parallel, it's the beginning of their new lives.
henry ian cusick and sonya walger are so amazing together - their chemistry is undeniable. it just floors me every time they have a scene, how well they play first meetings and reunifications. it makes it shocking to see walger on 'flashforward,' where the writing isn't as strong and she and her husband played by joseph feinnes both have american accents and no chemistry whatsoever.
some analysts have taken this episode to mean that yes, the parallel is indeed a false existence for our heroes - it eschews 5 years of storytelling and audience investment in favor of sometimes too-easy resolutions. but i don't see that at all - we've been getting hints along the way that there is more going on here than just an alternate timeline - it's building up to something, and it's taking the time to give emotional resolutions to most of the featured characters. by the same token, those resolutions won't mean anything if the parallel is undone. the show has an incredibly difficult task ahead of it in putting these two timelines together without betraying the investment we've placed in either of them.
4. widmore's plan
desmond: can you get me the manifest for my flight from sydney, oceanic 815, just the names of the passengers?
written by: paul zbyszewski and graham roland. this pair also wrote this season's 'sundown,' which teased us via its title and season 1 centricity pattern into thinking that episode would be this season's sun/jin episode. the title was ominous - and apparently foreshadowed the dire events soon to befall sun in both the parallel and original timelines.
directed by: paul edwards. well, edwards has done some good episodes in the past (the variable), but he now has the distinction of directing the two episodes i'm most disappointed in this season - 'what kate does,' and this one. there are certainly aspects that i loved loved loved (most of the island story), but as an homage to the two most overlooked characters on the show, i feel it failed both on writing and directorial levels. it's hard to follow up the sweeping epic of 'ab aeterno,' but that episode really highlighted how flat the show had become, and it was unfortunate to see it return standard tv lighting and coverage.
cinematography by: john bartley. man, it felt kind of flat. a lot of standard interiors in the parallel, shot in standard tv ways. where is the cinematic inspiration? the island featured some nice shots - sun by her beachside campfire, and the shot of windmore's pylons stretching all the way across hydra island beach.
basically: this episode gave me a lot of what i wanted to see - in the island story. i even cried.. twice! once for sun and once for jin. the island side of the story also featured every single major character on the show for the first time since 'la x.' while it felt like old-school 'lost,' i'm puzzled and annoyed by the decision to take sun's english away from her. on top of that, the parallel story left me as cold as jin in that meat refrigerator. however, once i let go of my expectations and accepted the episode i got, there is still much to appreciate.
- a sun/jin retrospective
- parallel sun/jin
- the button
- zoe and widmore
- jack vs. locke
- great lines
i think it's really important to revisit sun and jin's backstory:
• in '..in translation,' we see the story from jin's perspective - sun's father has shifted him from a factory job to being his personal hit man. jin goes to visit his fisherman father, who tells him to do one last job for sun's father: deliver the watches to sydney and los angeles, and then run away together.
• in '..and found,' we learn how jin and sun met by chance, their paths finally coming together after sun was set up with jae lee, who would teach her english, and who she would have an affair with later. jin worked as a doorman at jae lee's hotel, and quit when the job required him to turn away a poorer man and his son from using the hotel bathroom.
• in 'the whole truth,' we learn that sun and jin are incapable of having a child. the doctor says that sun is infertile, then privately tells her that it is in fact jin who is the problem. the episode ends with sun discovering that she is pregnant on the island. she tells jin - then she tells him the truth about the doctor. and then she tells him that she's never been with anyone else. jin says that the baby is obviously a miracle. obviously..
• it's not until season 3's 'the glass ballerina' that we learn of sun's true deviousness. as a child she told a lie that got a maid fired, and she expressed no remorse. we learn that she did in fact have an affair with jae lee, who was teaching her english, and that her father discovered the affair, and asked jin to personally kill jae lee without telling him why. jin doesn't kill jae, but scares the crap out of him, causing jae to take a suicidal dive off his hotel balcony. on the island, sun shoots colleen in the stomach, an injury she dies from, and escalates the conflict between the others and the survivors. sun is all kinds of destructive here.
• in 'd.o.c.' we discover that the details of sun's affair and jin's infertility were all crucial information, since sun's date of conception will determine if her on-island pregnancy will kill her. the other crazy thing we learn is that when jin and sun were newlyweds (when jin was still working in the factory for her father), jin's prostitute mother attempted to blackmail sun. sun asked her father for the money with no questions asked. her father made a deal with her: he would give her the money but if she took it, it meant that jin would have to truly start working for him. which means that sun took the envelope of cash from her father's desk knowing full well that this action would transform her husband into a killer. wowzers.
• when sun becomes one of the oceanic 6, sun blames both ben and her father for jin's death - if the writing was more consistent, her father would have reminded her that she made the choice that turned jin into a hateful goon.
• 'ji yeon' established that getting off the island did indeed save sun from death by pregnancy. a flashback story about buying a stuffed bear served only to trick us into thinking jin was also a member of the oceanic 6, and to build some foundation for what sun might be willing to do to avenge his death.
• will sun's previous alliance with widmore assist her in getting off the island safely with jin?
the core of their original backstory was unraveling the circle of lies this couple built around each other. both actors play their scenes with such earnestness that each revelation was a genuine surprise - mostly because the actors played the lies as truth in each episode because at the time they had no reason to think they were lying. turns out they were being manipulated by the writers into becoming a pair of the best liars on television.
upon boarding flight 815, jin was planning for them both to escape sun's father once they reached los angeles, a plan that sun would be able to help facilitate since she'd learned english as part of her plan to escape jin. their backstory is so complicated, and we've spent so much time away from them as characters and as a couple, that i wish their parallel story wasn't so drastically different.
it appears that in the parallel, for some reason, sun and jin have made very different choices about how to pursue their relationship. one of the problems i had with the parallel is that this path was so different from the original, that it bordered on confusing. it raised too many questions about the alternate timeline that i didn't want to be asking while watching our first real sun/jin story in, what, two years?
so, in this timeline, sun and jin kept their relationship a secret from her father. sooo many questions:
- is jin still infertile?
- is sideways sun's pregnancy jin's or jae lee's? someone else's?
- how did jin get a job working for sun's father, when he's of such lower class? how would he ever get the job of being her 'bodyguard?'
- was an assassination attempt also awaiting sun and jin should they have arrived in los angeles in the original timeline?
the parallel works best when it contrasts the characters we know with who the characters could become - it also works best when it acts as an homage and emotional closure for each character. the juxtaposition for sun and jin is that in this universe, the couple that has been defined by their marriage for six seasons is now not married. it shows us a couple who attempted an alternate route to be together, and it's pretty much a toss-up as to whether the parallel is an improvement over the original timeline for them. while their relationship is happier (jin isn't controlling - in fact, she's totally in control), they must face equally difficult obstacles to remain together, and sun may perhaps even pay with her life, or lose the baby.
in any universe, sun and jin are about the tests a relationship must face - as keamy says, 'some people just weren't meant to be together.' i expected that sun and jin might get a happily ever after in the parallel, but face ultimate tragedy on the island. will we instead have the reverse? or will they face similar fates in the two worlds, regardless of the decisions they make?
• i would love to have seen a much simpler parallel story that focused more directly on the dynamic between them as a couple. in the original timeline, it took their experiences on the island to eventually trust each other again. i wanted a story that more simply expressed their emotional shift. my ideal jin/sun parallel story would have shown how each of them harbors a lie, but then shows how each reaches a new level of maturity by truly, finally, choosing to come clean with each other - because ultimately their love is unconditional. that to me is beautiful, and that's what jin and sun should be about. they may still be about that - it's just not what we got in this episode.
so i hope parallel sun's baby is actually jae lee's. i hope parallel sun is still a liar. i hope parallel jin has secrets too. they need a place to go emotionally. they can be about so much more than just separation.
4. the button
in the first scene we leared that jin still works for sun's father - then we quickly found out that they're not married, and jin seems insistent that they not be mistaken for married. are they divorced!????
my mind suddenly raced to wonderful places the episode could have gone. are sun and jin here on a business trip as co-workers? will they have a snappy irene dunne/cary grant divorce battle between them before finally realizing that they love each other, like in the awful truth? that could have been wonderful!! - give them the same scheming, somewhat unlikable character traits, but put them in a smaller scale setting, and then have the characters prove they love each other by making them fight. oh, i would have loved to have seen that.
but we learn that jin and sun are actually a secret couple - and sun seems to have ridiculously thought that booking a 'shopping trip' to the exact same place and on the exact same flight and in the seat next to an employee of her father's wouldn't raise any suspicions. parallel sun seems pretty naive. girl can't even hide a bank account.
it was fantastic setup. i was really excited to spend an entire episode with these people, finally! even the scene the next morning was great - sun is fast asleep, and jin is wide awake, worried - pretty much the girl in the relationship. inversion of traditional sexual roles - bravo parallel universe! but then that knock on the door and in comes the money plot and the hitman plot and a string of events that lead to sun being shot. will she die in the parallel? will juliet save her baby? will ethan come back into it? this time around, will juliet have to give sun 'bad news?' ugh, that would be heartbreaking. where are they going with this parallel world?
5. zoe and widmore
- at what point did widmore figure out that jin was alive?
- did widmore know that jin was still alive when sun went to him to form a pact to kill ben as retribution for jin's death?
- is widmore using desmond's foresight ability to form his plan of attack against smokey?
we learned that zoe is a geophysicist. which means that we are about to get a geophysical explanation for the island's properties - finally! is widmore's goal to sink the island? is zoe here to facilitate the sinking of the island? was this widmore's same goal in season 4?
in season 4, widmore sent the freighter specifically to capture ben linus, and purge the island of his followers. widmore's mission seems different now. as zoe sarcastically pointed out, he has not hired mercenaries this time, and his tactic for extraction is very different than it was three years prior. now he's using tranq darts and making non-lethal extraction. if he wanted to, he easily could have wiped out all of smokey's followers. why didn't he? what changed him? the deliberate shift in his motivations needs to be addressed.
7. jack vs. locke
this episode so clearly laid out that the season is building toward the reunification/rivalry between jack and locke. like sun and jin, the show is very deliberate about keeping them separate, and slowly lays groundwork to bring them back together again. let's look at the history between jack and locke:
- the two first butted heads after boone's death, and locke finally revealed that he had been secretly trying to get into the hatch for weeks.
- their next confrontation occurred near the start of season 2, when they feuded over whether or not to continue pushing the button in desmond's absence.
- tension between jack and locke really escalated in season 3, after locke blew up the submarine the day before jack was supposed to go home in it.
- locke devoted all energy to preventing rescue, throwing a knife into naomi's back
- at the cockpit, the survivors took sides over whether to join jack's group - who will meet the freighter rescue party, or whether to join locke's group - who would remain on the island, and begin living in the dharma barracks. jack puts a gun to locke's head and pulls the trigger. it doesn't work.
- the two do not see each other again until a week later, the day that ben pushed the frozen donkey wheel. locke asked jack to stay on the island - telling him that he has a destiny there. jack tells locke 'it's an island. it doesn't need protecting.' jack walks away, gets on the helicopter.
- jack watches the island vanish.
- three years later, jack's life has fallen apart. he's seeing the ghost of his father. he's on drugs.
- locke suddenly appears in jack's hospital. locke tells him, again, that jack needs to go back, that it's his destiny, then tells jack that his 'father says hi.' jack walks away, shaken. this is the last time jack saw locke alive.
- jack realizes locke was correct, and begins flying across the ocean, hoping the planes will crash, hoping to go back to the island. on one of these flights, jack learns that locke has killed himself.
- jack, believing his only way back to the island is gone, attempts suicide.
- he spirals, yells at kate 'we have to go back!'
- ben tells jack that he knows how to get them back to the island: jack must collect the oceanic 6.
- jack is told by mrs. hawking that he must use locke's body as a 'proxy' for the body of his father on the original flight 815.
- jack swallows all logic, chooses blind faith, and puts his father's shoes onto locke's dead feet. this is the last time jack saw locke.
once jack figures out that this same blind faith is the exact cause of locke's murder and avatar abuse - it must fall on jack to avenge the wrongs done to locke by jacob's nemesis. if jack can't defeat nemesis, then locke's entire tragic life was nothing more than an endless cycle of being used and taken advantage of because of his willingness to believe in something. if jack can't defeat nemesis, then both locke and jack's lives were meaningless.
this could be the genius of the endgame: locke will actually have saved the world by having converted jack into a man of faith; the same philosophy that subjected locke to so much abuse, and positioned him to become the vessel for evil. jack's purpose in returning to the island will be to ensure that locke did not die in vain.
jack will simultaneously be fighting against the false 'locke' in the name and spirit of the true 'locke,' in order to administer cosmic justice. post-island jack was willing to die for locke - i feel certain that he will show that same willingness again.
the reversal is fantastic: now it's nemesis (in locke's form) who says 'it's an island, it doesn't need protecting,' and it's jack who believes he's 'here for a reason.'
while sun and jin weren't given many choices in the parallel, they did have choices to make in the island story - locke approaches sun in her old garden, and says to her the same thing he said in '..and found' when he saw her rip it up, tearfully searching for her lost wedding ring: 'bad day?' that original scene is so great, it's worth examining:
will sun find jin as unexpectedly as she found her wedding ring? when she's not looking?locke: bad day? [he hands her a handkerchief] it's clean.sun: thank you.locke: you mind if i sit? [she motions for him to sit.]sun: did you see me?locke: rip apart your garden? no. [she laughs.] sometimes i wish i had a garden to tear apart.sun: i don't think i have ever seen you angry.locke: oh, i used to get angry all the time. frustrated too.sun: you are not frustrated anymore?locke: i'm not lost anymore.sun: how did you do that?locke: same way anything lost gets found -- i stopped looking.
this time around, locke comes to her offering the exact thing she's lost. he stretches out his hand for her to take. he is perhaps evil incarnate, but he also has jin.. that is one tough choice. fortunately, sun saw the carnage at the temple first-hand, and decides to run - everyone is asking 'why didn't locke just turn into smoke to catch up with her?' i think it's because locke makes a point of giving her a choice, the same way jacob does. he needs her to choose his side willfully, the same way sawyer chose it - she may or may not be a candidate, and her potential candidacy protects her from interference from him. unfortunately, her candidacy doesn't protect her from running straight into trees.
later, jack comes to sun with a curiosity about locke. jack doesn't know exactly what or who locke is yet (he didn't see the temple destruction), and it sounds like he's willing to give locke the benefit of the doubt. jack even seems surprised that sun didn't just up and run off with locke. jack has finally figured something out: other people can be right! after the failure of jughead, jack won't be playing leader again without some very clear direction of what needs to be done.
'hey, don't talk about bacon'
seamus: how much did you give him?zoe: obviously i gave him too much but we needed him knocked out for the trip. i'm not a nurse. come on, get him up.seamus: let's go mr. hume.(boom)
but here's what i'm expecting: answers. desmond became 'special,' and an 'exception to the rules' after he turned the failsafe key. it's time for the show to tell us exactly what happened when the key was turned - why did the sky turn purple? what exactly happened in that moment? what was going on before the purple sky, and what exactly changed after the purple sky? it's also time to answer basic questions about the failsafe itself: if you can just turn a failsafe to make everything ok, why did dharma go to such extreme trouble to keep the hatch operating, and the electromagnetic energy at bay? did the island become unstable after the failsafe? is it about to sink into the ocean on its own accord?
i do want to remember desmond's amazing story. here are his episodes:
- his introduction in the season 2 premiere, as button pusher, who also once met jack while training for a race around the world.
- the season 2 finale, in which the failsafe key was turned, and his love for penny was revealed.
- 'flashes before your eyes' which revealed his consciousness time-traveled after turning the failsafe. he met eloise hawking, who told him that he must not change his path - he must go to the island and push the button.
- 'catch-22' in which he has a vision of penny arriving by parachute. instead, it is naomi.
- 'the constant,' where desmond finally makes contact with penny again.
- 'jughead,' in which desmond suddenly 'remembers' that faraday visited him years ago when he was manning the hatch. at faraday's request, he goes in search of eloise hawking. faraday didn't realize that eloise had already been working her whole life to prevent the terrible things that would happen.
- in '316' eloise told desmond 'the island isn't through with you yet.' which apparently means 'my old boyfriend is going to kidnap you.'