Lost Wednesdays: There Will Be Blood

May 5, 2010
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We knew that there would be casualties. There’s no way that a show like Lost would make it to the end without the island demanding more sacrifices. And I fully expected that Smokey’s attempt to leave the island would result in blood spilled of characters not wearing red shirts. But I didn’t foresee tonight’s bloodbath, with four of our main characters, including three original Oceanic passengers, taken down at once.

I’m always excited when we don’t get a “previously on Lost” opening, as it means that there’s too much story to tell to waste time on a recap, although with last week’s hiatus, I did start out a bit confused as to who was where and aligned with whom on the island. But we fairly quickly got the gang back together, with a brief detour in the cages that was just enough of a taste to remind us of the unpleasant time spent there in season 3. I was glad that Sawyer finally briefed Kate on her crossed-out status in the cliffside cave, allowing her to realize that she’s simply an also-ran to Smokey. I do hope that there’s a payoff in the end about her  inconsistent presence on the lighthouse wheel vs. cave wall – my optimistic theory is that Smokey turns out to be mistakenly assuming that the candidate must be male, and thus can cross off women at will, but in the end his fatalistic misogyny (stemming from his mommy issues?) will be his undoing.

The rampage and shootout heading toward the sub was quite compelling in Lost action mode, with Kate’s shooting coming as quite a shock. I don’t wish any real ill will toward Kate despite her shortcomings as a character, but I really hope that wound proves fatal – a shot just above the heart followed by failed medical attention and a frantic underwater rescue stretches the limits of plausible survivability, even for Lost. And as this week’s episode makes perfectly clear, many of our heroes are going to have to die. But clearly my wish for sexist Smokey to be outplayed by Kate runs counter to my need for violence with consequences.

Sayid’s sacrifice came first, after a nice callback to Jack and Richard’s game of explosive chicken on the Black Rock. Jack’s faith first failed to convince Sawyer, and then failed to save them all, so it took Sayid to reassert his humanity, seemingly shaken back to the top of his consciousness by Desmond, and anoint Jack as the chosen one before running off with the bomb. Sayid doesn’t get the heartfelt death scene that most original cast members do, but he’d already died once during “LA X” and we’d long mourned for the old Sayid, so I thought it was an appropriate death for the noble torturer. And I don’t think it’s culturally unimportant to see a devout Muslim soldier blow himself up to save a band of mostly-white Americans – where else would you see that on TV?

Poor Frank Lapidus didn’t get enough screen time in life or death this season. Bonked by a piece of debris during the flood, Frank seems to have drowned with the parting words, “Aw hell.” This being Lost, he might not be dead, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he washes ashore next week clinging to a floaty piece of submarine. But if he does come back, he better get to do something besides offer cheesy one-liners, because otherwise it’s been a real waste of having Jeff Fahey in the main credits just to see him hanging around the crew.

And then there are the Kwons. We finally had a chance to see them together after three long years of story time (especially for time-traveling Jin) and two and a half years of screen time, and although their reunion was underwhelming (and Sun’s bout with aphasia looks even sillier now), I still have a soft spot for Lost‘s first effective romantic couple. So their death paid off their tragic romance, as Jin’s loyalty trumped his own survival in accepting the fact that he’ll never meet his daughter in order to keep his bilingual commitment to stand by Sun. The haunting love theme from Lost returns as they drown, evoking memories of Charlie’s season 3 demise.

However, their deaths lacked the finality and emotional punch of Charlie or other earlier deaths, as these characters live on in the sideways realm. Since we still don’t know how these two timelines connect, can we truly mourn Sun, Jin, or Sayid? (Frank’s absence in sideways-land is only slightly less noticeable than his presence on the island.) And depending on how the final episodes resolve, the sideways versions of these characters might live on in some way, in some timeline, or in some configuration. Maybe Ji Yeon can be adopted by the sideways Sun & Jin? The lingering uncertainty about the reality status of these timelines undermines the emotional impact of these deaths, as we know the characters will be back in some form or another. Although seeing Hurley breakdown on the beach was a masterful moment of driving home the emotional stakes, regardless of the larger temporal contexts.

This episode solidified Locke/Smokey’s role as Big Bad, as my own hesitation in accepting the seemingly simplistic take of good Jacob vs. bad Man in Black gave way to a clearer position of villainy. I’m still somewhat rooting for Locke though, as my allegiance to him as a character crosses his various incarnations – I hope in the end that somehow the Man in Black can be defeated by John Locke himself, as I don’t want to believe Smokey’s dismissive rants that Locke was just a deluded little man.

Speaking of Locke, my favorite moments were in the sideways realm, as we got great character beats between Locke, Jack, Claire, and Helen. The emotional payoff of Locke’s relationship with his father being based in guilt rather than anger was fabulous, with the wink of the plane crash quickly giving way to the sincerity and depth of Terry O’Quinn’s performance. Jack connecting with Claire and building a family out of the ruins left by his father was similarly satisfying, making the sideways realm enjoyable despite the persistent confusion of how the process of Desmond-inspired epiphany is playing out – did Locke see the island in his near-death experience? If not, why did Desmond run him over in the first place? And if so, wouldn’t he behave somewhat differently toward Jack? A lot is still up-in-the-air with only a few hours left to go.

Random favorite fanboy moment: Bernard’s appearance in the sideways world was a nice reminder of why I still want to see Rose & Bernard’s island fate, and his apparent awareness of Jack, Locke and Cooper suggests that he too has drunk Desmond’s kool-aid. Hopefully more to come from the good dentist…



10 Responses to “ Lost Wednesdays: There Will Be Blood ”

  1. enrique garcía on May 5, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Just a minor detail, I thought Hurley’s crying at the end was devastating.

  2. Elizabeth on May 5, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    Jack did throw in a line about the bullet going straight through. I think Kate’s in it til the end — remember the Island’s healing properties. (Though that wasn’t good enough for Sayid…)

    I have to say, something’s been off for me with the Kwon storyline since they started talking to each other in English. Their final scene especially — you’re dying and you’re speaking to each other in your second language?? After all we’ve stuck through at this point, it seems the producers could trust the viewers’ intelligence a little more and stick with the subtitles.

    • enrique garcía on May 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

      At least the last line was in Korean.

    • Jason Mittell on May 5, 2010 at 3:22 PM

      Yeah, the Kwons tendency toward English without explanation seemed like a move of convenience rather than realism. But I’ll forgive it among many other shortcuts along the way…

    • Myles McNutt on May 5, 2010 at 4:14 PM

      One caveat I’ll through out: Jin has been speaking English for over three years, and he wouldn’t have had anyone to speak Korean with. I agree it was still a cheat, but I can also see why the character might not fall entirely back into Korean in that instance.

      • Myles McNutt on May 5, 2010 at 4:22 PM

        “Through out” = epic fail. I meant “throw out.” And thought I typed throw out. My fingers do that sometimes.

    • LostnLost on May 5, 2010 at 7:20 PM

      Couldn’t agree with you more when it was obvious that Sun was going to die and Jin was not going to leave her…to say I love you in english…my mind was like…Ewwww. Korean is their native language and the one that would come most natural to them in that situation.

      On the other hand…I thought that entire scene got much too much screen time.

    • Kit Hughes on May 6, 2010 at 10:04 AM

      What a terrible tease: to non-fatally shoot Kate and then moments later kill off the Kwons.

      I thought this was a great scene (English notwithstanding), and it helped me get over their less-than-inspiring reunion in which 1) I was distracted by the killer fence that could surely go off and end them both at any moment and 2) the fact that they had already reunited via the sideways storyline took away some of the urgency of their meeting. As pointed out above, this tempering of the emotional urgency works both ways – while they are dead in the central storyline, they are still very much present in the LOST world, which makes it harder to mourn their characters. I think this is one of the more interesting effects of the side story and I’m interested to see where it leads.

      The other reason I thought this scene was pretty great is that it continues the mystery of the Kwon candidate. Either 1) we will never find out whom it was meant to be – a question I would welcome or 2) as I’ve been hoping against hope since the lighthouse scene, the Kwon in question is Ji-Yeon, who – perhaps with the island’s other miracle baby, Aaron – will play some role in the fate of the island. Surely this is the raving fantasy of someone who really wants LOST to be about something other than a power struggle between two white guys, but given the show’s other identity politics, I’m going to latch onto anything I can get.

  3. LostnLost on May 5, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    As for the entire episode (C+ maybe), I think I will have to watch it again. Perhaps when I have some distance and can be more objective it will make more sense or fit together as part of a finale better.

    But honestly, the whole Episode felt Rushed to me. As always there were some great character moments and exchanges but as a Whole…Rushed!

    I have been complaining about not getting enough answers and the story unfolding too slow. Last night felt like the writers just threw non-believable, to me, scenes together in hopes of quickly tugging at emotions and concluding storylines.

    As a stickler for story line and character development, without those two ingredients it is hard for me to believe or invest emotionally when I don’t believe the plot/story line(s).

    In no particular order here are some of the story lines that Tugged/bugged and made it hard for me to buy into the plot lasr night.

    –Lapidus, if this is how he was fated to die (and I am not saying he is dead, for sure…) what was the point of his character??? He was not a main character, and recently, other than a few comic lines his character has done nothing to move forward or clarify the plot in forever. Hit by a sub door and now your possibly dead…Please! The hope was his character had some higher purpose that none of us could figure out. Turns out, perhaps, Jeff just had a good agent.

    –Sun & Jin’s (enough already) overly long dramatic we are going to die together because our love is so strong, even though we have a young child that at least one of us should raise…??? I got enough of the reunion last week and again other than all the candidates being together the Kwon’s storyline did not seem to advance/clarify plot.

    And yes, inhindsight there maybe some overarching theme that said everything had to happen as it happen for the story to end as it will end. I’m still not buying that arguement. I know when we get to the end we will understand the snap shots we’ve been given better…but come on tell a coherent story. This death for Jin at least seemed pointless.

    –Kate is not a Candidate? Ok. LOL! Sawyer conveniently telling us her name WAS on MIB’s wall but it was cross off… And yeah, I know just because he said it does not mean she isn’t still a candidate.

    It just seemed artificially thrown in so Sawyer could justify giving up the gun to dough boy. If they wanted us to know or clarify/confuse us about Kate being or not being a candidate there were many opportunities before now to do that. And if Sawyer and group were going to be captured anyway, what is the point of the kate reveal, only to still be captured?

    –The whole on submarine action just entirely sucked for me. And I am not even going to majorly complain about how such a talented team of writers and producers and consistently come up with the Crappiest CGI and underwater graphic scenes ever…YUK!!!

    –But worse this week, were the improbably story lines. Sawyer taking over for Smokey and leading the team in the shootout didn’t ring true to me as it was happening. Smokey was pulling all the strings on when and how people would move out until here. But I will allow perhaps this was part of Smokey’s master plan to get all the candidates together so they can kill themselves.

    –Then the ease with which they took over the sub was stretching my ability to believe, but ok…we need that to happen. And I guess Widmore has been a bit Impotent since his days on the Island in terms of protecting anything or reclaiming anything but the blackrock auction items. Ok and recreating flt 815 wreckage. But how he can set up the sonic fence and somehow zombie Sayid can disarm it at will and easily free the candidates when Widmore knows Smokey was coming….ok maybe?

    –Sayid getting Illana-ed, although his blow up we could see coming, though not before he gave up the “..Desmond is Alive Reveal…” and “…Jack is the One…” again, like Saywer giving up Kate not being a candidate, Sayid’s last reveal felt rushed. And yeah, the bomb was going to go off and He was trying to save the crew and potentially redeem his soul…maybe plausible???

    –And speaking of Bomb going off. Why in the world would the group just let Sawyer make the choices for everyone. I understand after Jack’s last trust me speech and Juliette getting killed that Sawyer would not Trust Jack… But come on, if I am Sun/Jin/Hurley even Lapidus…I’m saying…Maybe Jack has a point?

    –I would have like to see that story line if they didn’t explode the bomb and we got unseen tangible evidence that Jack indeed is becoming intune with the Island. Then to see Smokey extra pissed off that is plan didn’t work and look forward to his plan B for keeping the Candidates on the island…I would have liked to see that story more than the string of Rushed Deaths.

    –So, for me, the fake, “…I can’t sit here and do nothing…” chain of events that lead to the 3 or 4 deaths just further strained my already strained sense of Believability.

    There are several more both on island and alt Universe examples where I think the writers were rushing to an end and straining story arch and character(s) crediblity.

    But again, as I said in the beginning maybe I was just in a Mood last night and am being even more critical than normal. Perhaps, when/if I see this episode again, I will find it rings true and I am just being an Ass.

    Despite all my ranting and even if it does not end in a manner I would hope or would call emotionally satisfying, this has been one of the most complex, intruiging and ground breaking in terms of how to tell a story Series perhaps ever on tv.

    So please do not take my rants and moans more than I was hoping for more. And I know I have to let the writers tell the story they want to tell, not the version I hope they tell.

    On the other hand, the beauty of Blogs is I can bitch and Moan, if to no one else but myself.

    And Strangely…Complaining does feel a bit satisfying :–)

    P.S. Are Linus, Miles & Richard ever going to come back? They left for the plane way before our favorite group of Smocke Cast Aways. And Richards sole and soul purpose now seems to be stopping Flockey. Yet no where do our merry group of “…Let’s stop Unlocke and Save the day…” secondary players show up. They missed Smokey on the plane, on the sub at their camp…Ok, I am just complaining again aren’t I.

    I’m sure in the next few episodes our merry men will have that show down with Unlocke and help Desmond seal the rift while watching Jack Ascend to Island Obie Wan. Who knows, it could happen??? *grinning*

  4. Jeff on May 6, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    As soon as it became obvious that the plane wasn’t going anywhere, I knew that Lapidus’s fate was sealed. Since we didn’t get a Lapidus-centric episode, I suspected that he would only remain on the show as long as a departure by plane was a possibility.