I’m a Desmond/Penny guy, let me state that up front. You Jaters, you Skaters, you Rosenards…sorry to disappoint. Everything about Des and Penny thrills me, and I just hope they are still involved in the events of Lost to come. Can’t see how they won’t be, but then again, I can’t see why Sam Adams refuses to sell its Octoberfest beer year-round, either. Life’s cruel on many fronts.
But that’s all beside the point. If for some reason I had to choose a new favorite couple (maybe a polar bear eats Des and/or Penny), I’d go with Sun and Jin after sitting an appropriate shiva. I’m not exactly sure how long that would be, in that I’m Roman Catholic, but eventually I’d latch onto this crazy Korean couple. Could be because I’m a hopeless romantic. Could be because I honestly can’t decide which one of them is prettier. Or it could be thanks to episodes like these that make me shed a tear or two for this ill-fated couple.
4) In Short
"Let me stand next to your fire…OK, maybe not THAT close."
8) On the Island
I spy Jin’s eye. He’s on the beach, alone, looking stoically at the coastline. Almost as if he’s remembering something vital.
His eye then catches his wife, and being an objective Lost blogger that subscribes to the highest levels of decent and objectivity, I won’t dare mention how smokin’ hot she is in that blue bikini. Jin makes a scene by covering her up in front of what looks to be every existing survivor of Oceanic 815. Guess it was field trip day for the Cavenauts. Michael tries to stop Jin from yelling at Sun, and gets slapped by Sun for his efforts. OH NO SHE DIDN’T. Michael gives a look that’s half, "What the…" and half "She touched me!!!"
Jin’s staring at the watch that caused all the controversy back in "House of the Rising Sun." He suspects something’s going on between his wife and the man she just slapped. She denies it. Later, she goes to Michael as he works on the semi-completed raft. She insists that she hit Michael for his own protection, because he doesn’t know what Jin is capable of. Michael insists that’s her problem, not his; his only concern is getting WAAAAAAALT off the Island.
Jin’s back at the Craphole Island Pitch ‘n’ Putt, whacking away as if the balls were Michael’s…um, legs. Legs, yeah. Hurley approaches him, and offers a better way to mellow out: two fishing poles. Jin keeps leg whacking.
Shannon’s tying knots on the raft, which surprises Sayid and the 15 million or so Lost fans that watched this episode. She explains she learned how to do from all the sailboat-owning boyfriends she used to have. "Ohhhhhhh," say 15 million and one people. The two then engage in flirtation based on rope innuendo, and really, this is a family site, so I’m moving onto the next paragraph now.
Michael’s singing New York’s praises to Walt, saying how much his son will love it there. Walt seems nonplussed, and wants to play with Vincent instead. Jack comes over, notes Michael’s progress, then reveals his true reason for coming. Turns out there’s been a lot of chatter about who gets to sail off into the sunset. Michael states it only holds four, and three spots are taken. Those three? Michael, Walt, and Sawyer, who earned a spot by trading in the cable from his makeshift cabana.
That night, Kate tells Sun she’s worried about the way Jin treats her. Sun gives the ol’ "he wasn’t always this way" chestnut. "What changed him"? Kate wonders. Before Sun can answer, they hear a noise, and see a light: the raft’s on fire. Michael has one suspect in mind. Sun finds said subject in the caves, tending to what looks like a burn wound.
Sayid approaches Boone, extending what he considers to be a "courtesy" but I consider a "not terribly veiled insinuation that he’s about to swap spit with Shannon." Boone warns Sayid about her psychological profile, omitting that tiny detail about what happened between Shannon and him before boarding Oceanic 815. Apparently Boone’s words work, as the following morning Sayid suggests she find another "friend" to help build her shelter. Sensing the work of a jealous step-brother, she goes off into the jungle to find Boone.
What she finds instead is Locke gutting an animal. And what she then gets is Locke’s Monologue of the Week Lite (just one calorie, not monologue-y enough), in which he suggests that her affection for Sayid could be the beginning of her new start on the Island. It’s both sensible advice and a way to keep Blondie’s nose of his work with Boone.
While trying to wash his wounds in a river in the jungle, Jin’s jumped and tied up by Sawyer, who leads him back to camp. He tells him it’s Lord of the Flies time now. By the time they get back to the beach, Michael wants blood, Jack wants peace, and everyone’s shouting. When Jin sees Sun, he adds his voice to the fray, which quiets everyone down. Michael takes Jin’s words as an insult, and punches him. Jack tries to stop everyone, but Sawyer and Sayid insist it’s their fight alone. If you couldn’t guess what would stop the fight, you’re just not paying attention: Sun’s plea to "Stop it!" in English brings the whole thing to a halt.
But not for long, as no one’s buying her insistence that Jin merely burned his hands trying to put out the fire, not set it himself. Everything’s about to go haywire when Locke unleashes his real, 100%, calorically-enhanced Monologue of the Week, which I’ll copy and paste from the transcripts since it’s so cool:
Okay, it’s personal, but why take it out on our best chance of getting off the island? Why would any one of us block an attempt to get home? We’re so intent on pointing the finger at one another that we’re ignoring the simple undeniable truth that the problem isn’t here, it’s there [in the jungle]. They’ve attacked us, sabotaged us, abducted us, murdered us. Maybe it’s time we stop blaming us and start worrying about them. We’re not the only people on this island and we all know it!
Michael storms off, and the fight’s off. He realizes nothing’s salvageable from the fire, but to Walt’s surprise, is ready to start over again, calling it a mere setback. Speaking of setbacks, Jin’s leaving the caves for the beach, unwilling to talk to his wife. It’s half in English, half in Korean, and all heartbreaking. The two actors play the HELL out of this scene. When he says, "It’s too late," it hurts. And not in a John Cougar way.
That night: Shannon and Sayid kiss. (Where’s a cop with anger management issues when you need her?) Also that night: Locke and Walt play backgammon for the first time since the pilot. The two make small talk until Locke reveals that he knows that Walt burned the raft. He wants to know the reason. Walt says he’s been moving his whole life, and that he likes it here. Locke shares the sentiment. Jesus, I miss scenes between these two.
OK, kids: it’s your final edition of Hurley’s Mix Tape Montage, as: Jin helps Michael with the boat, Shannon helps Sayid get the hair out of his face, and the wind helps Sun get that pesky shawl off her bikini’d body. And then? Bye bye, batteries.
15) Off the Island
Jin’s in Papa Paik’s office. I know that look in his eye. That’s the "oh crap I’m asking someone’s permission to marry their daughter" look. And my father-in-law isn’t even a powerful mobster! (I think.) Papa P wants to know why Jin wants to marry his daughter. Jin replies, "Dude, look at her! Hot-tastic!" OK, he’s a bit less direct and more respectful.
He tells Papa P of his ambition to own his own restaurant someday, as a sign that he can take care of Sun. Papa P wants to know what Jin’s fisherman father thinks of this marriage. Jin hesitantly tells his would-be father-in-law that his own father is dead. Papa P eventually offers him a place in his own company in exchange for permission.
Wedding day! Those are two terrifically pretty people. I feel suddenly inadequate. Sun’s pretty casual about her husband-to-be sneaking a moment before the wedding. Sun’s got worries about Jin working for her father, but Jin brushes those off, pulling his patented "everything’s OK, here’s a flower to distract you" technique that he’s all but mastered at this point.
At some point later, Jin runs up the stairs to Papa P’s office, apologizing profusely for an accident in one of Paik’s factories. Paik doesn’t fire him, but rather offers Jin a position as his "special assistant." Methinks this won’t end well. Slightly worse than it did for Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. First assignment? Delivering a message to the Secretary for Environmental Safety.
The Secretary is more or less scared to death upon hearing Paik’s name, and quickly invites Jin in, treating him like an honored guest. Jin’s fairly confused by the Secretary’s behavior, and doesn’t understand why he’s so nervous. When Jin delivers a verbal, and only verbal, warning, the Secretary is so overjoyed that he gives his daughter’s puppy to him as an apology. (Hey, that guy on TV looks familiar…)
Sun’s prepared a feast in their now extremely well-appointed condo. Dinner is interrupted by a barrage of phone calls. We quickly get the impression this happens a lot these days for the two. Turns out Jin didn’t deliver the exact message intended for the Secretary, and now one of Papa P’s plants is closed. He orders Jin to drive another associate back to the Secretary’s house in order for a real message to be delivered. And by "associate" I mean "assassin." Yep, this totally didn’t happen in Prada.
On the way over, the assassin calmly explains Jin’s role: wait outside, and then drive at normal speeds to a pre-determined point by the waterfront. But once there, Jin rushes out of the car, bursts into the house, and beats the holy hell out of the Secretary, whispering, "I just saved your life." He tells the assassin the message has been delivered.
What happens next is Jin’s perspective on the same flashback Sun had during "House of the Rising Sun," and remains one of my all-time favorite uses of the narrative device. What’s amazing is just how full formed Island Jin becomes with her slap, a facade that takes nearly all of Season 1 to fully crack. He’s Anakin Skywalker, he’s Dr. Horrible, he’s Jin-Soo Kwon, people. And by the end, he’s alone in the bathroom, crying at what he’s become.
Clad in his business suit, Jin walks down a fishing pier, and meets his father. But wait, he told everyone his father was….aaaah, I got it. The two hug, and discuss Jin while fishing together. Jin’s father’s taking this all pretty well, I have to say. Jin mentions how unhappy his job makes him, and that he has to deliver watches to Los Angeles to Papa Paik’s associates. Jin’s father suggests that this be the last thing he ever does for his father-in-law, in order to save his marriage. Well, he was right about that "last thing" at least.
16) The Mythology
None to speak of, really, except that it’s worth noting that both Walt and Locke sense just how special the Island is. Darlton: please, please, please let Walt "save" Locke, in whatever form such salvation may take. They are such oddly kindred spirits in Season 1 that it would be a shame to not give this storyline closure.
23) The Moment
"It’s too late." That’s just awful. Even knowing his motivation this time around, it’s a horrible scene to watch.
42) In Retrospect
- Well, we certainly know why Jin’s such a jealous type, given the events of "The Glass Ballerina." I will say that while Jin’s psychology holds up upon repeated viewings, Sun’s doesn’t quite hold up. Sure, we know she can keep a secret about her bilingual self, but the cold-hearted, even conniving Sun seen in Seasons 3 and 4 are not at ALL present in these Season 1 episodes. You could argue that ever character need not show every shade in every episode, but I do remember "Ballerina" being incredibly jarring, with the tonal shading of Sun’s character coming out of seemingly nowhere.
- I come not to bury Hurley’s Mix Tape Montage, but to praise Michael Giacchino. We should only ever hear his music on Lost, and thankfully, from here on in, we do.
108) In Summary
Like "Outlaws" before it, this episode sought to emphasize character development over mythology. Sure, The Others were hinted at by Locke during his monologue, but such threats would be meaningless if we didn’t care about the survivors. The show wisely spent a good chunk of the second half building up the relationships of those who would soon be put in harm’s way, with this episode as a stand-out example of that effort. The payoff for the Sun-Jin storyline in Season 1 is one of the show’s most beautiful moments, earned only because we knew so much about them by that point. And for that, we can thank episodes such as this.
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Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.