After last week’s major mythological backstory, this week returns to the season 6 formula that is making many fans impatient. We fill in gaps in the sideways stories on Sun and Jin, confirming speculation that the couple is unmarried and that Sun has not learned English. We move pieces around the island, setting up a confrontation on Hydra Island between Teams Jacob, Smokey, Widmore (who now seems to be playing for Jacob), and Sawyer. We get the expected (yet satisfying) answer that Desmond was behind the padlocked door on the sub. And we still don’t know how all these things relate – nor did the episode confirm or deny my latest theory.
I still contend that these episodes will eventually be more satisfying once we know the larger context, and that the feeling that nothing is happening will be greatly reduced once we can burn through them on DVD without spending a week mulling on possible storylines. That was certainly my feeling when rewatching season 3, and I still have faith that the producers have earned our patience and trust. But for now, I can’t help feeling that episodes like “The Package” function more to confirm my story assumptions rather than offer great revelations or drama.
One of the elements of season 6 that I am finding more satisfying is how the show is offering a little guided tour through its past. Some commenter or blogger (the reference has escaped me, alas) pointed out that the way the show is revisiting old locations resembles the finale of Survivor, where we get forced reminiscences of people and events from the season. For a long-running series, these memories matter quite a bit to viewers, and any concluding series needs to address its past or frustrate its fans – I’m particularly fond of how The Wire gives us brief glimpses into characters who’ve left the show (if they survived) in season 5, reminding us that life goes on even when the story has moved on.
The conceit of the sideways stories allows Lost to revisit characters, regardless of their mortality, giving us a bit more time with a two-eyed but still menacing Mikhail this week. But I’m finding the island tour to be even more interesting, bringing our heroes to various locations long abandoned in the forward thrust of storytelling. These moments work the best when the places mean something to the characters, like Jack revisiting the caves or Sawyer remembering good times in the cages. Jin’s time in Room 23 felt a bit more forced to me, as he’d never had any relationship to that space and it raised more questions than it answered about the room’s role in DHARMA – wouldn’t Jin know it from his DHARMA days? And why did DHARMA have a comment about Jacob in the video? Perhaps the scene served to refresh our memories for forthcoming revelations, but on its own, it’s less than satisfying.
Speaking of unsatisfying, the “convenient aphasia” device of having Sun lose her English speech via head injury felt way too much like like a clichéd device, which would have only been worse had it been amnesia. Even though Miles voiced our disbelief, it still stretched credulity for no apparent reason – but again, the rationale might appear later in the story.
But no rationale can explain the annoying and narratively-damaging “bug” that appeared throughout the episode’s ABC airing counting down the return of V. While it did produce some amusing Twitter reactions – and an article about the Twitter reactions – it was particularly egregious in an episode dominated by subtitles and notecards, some of which were eclipsed by a big red V. As they say on The Twitter, #ABCfail.
Random favorite fanboy moment: Desmond’s expected but satisfying reveal as the “package,” along with bagpipe music in the teaser make me optimistic for next week. As does Damon Lindelof’s tweet: “in one week, the conversation is going to change.”