Let’s talk ‘Lost’: Missed connections

Let's discuss "The Package," last night's episode of "Lost."

Curse you, school-vacation scheduling gods!

I took last week off (it was spring break week for my son's school), but still blogged about last week's "Lost" episode, because, well, how could I not!? I knew "Ab Aeterno" was a Richard Alpert episode and that Titus Welliver was going to guest star as the OG Smoke Monster, so I was fairly sure it was going to be epic, and it was. Yet I still got a few dirty looks from my otherwise saintly spouse as I sat on the computer into the wee small hours, feverishly writing about Richard and why he was on a horse. 

This week, I would have been fine with skipping the "Lost" blogging. Because it was an episode about Sun and Jin, who, for approximately 2 million years, have not found each other on the island(s). And by the end of the episode, they still had not found each other.

WIN!

Aiyeee.

Lost sun yunjin kimI'm not going to spend a ton of time on this recap. I say that every week, but this week I mean it. No, I didn't hate "The Package." This predictable outing didn't do much for me, however. It was middling at best, occasionally frustrating at worst.

Still, we've had a few really good episodes in a row, so I felt we were due for an episode that both moved the next series of pieces into place and dwelled on themes and ideas that I didn't find particularly compelling.

In any case, I don't hate Sun and Jin. They're OK in my book, but I don't have any particular abiding investment in their relationship. Still, even I grew tired of the fact that this episode kept them apart — I can't imagine that Sun-Jin partisans were all that entranced with the developments on the island. I mean, it's almost a running joke by this point that Sun and Jin are like ships (or submarines) passing in the night.

And just for extra fun, we had scenes of characters speaking to each other when they knew they could not be understood (Sun yelling at Richard in Korean, Keamy chatting to Jin and so on). Why did Sun yell at someone she knew could not understand her? I knew she was upset but usually she's more sensible than that.

And the bump on the head — was that just so the saintly Jack could restore her power of "speech" with his pen and paper? Sigh. In any case, I don't get the point of her being unable to speak English, but like so much else this season, I guess we're supposed to take it on faith that this development will make some kind of sense. Someday.

As if all that wasn't enough, just for extra ironical fun, they had Keamy saying, "Some people just aren't meant to be together." Har har har! Please, writers of "Lost," mock the fact that it's taking forever and a day to have Sun and Jin run toward each other on the beach as Michael Giacchino's score swells with heartfelt strings playing a melancholy-happy series of chords.

I seriously almost gnashed my teeth when I saw Widmore and Smockey meet and then … nothing really happened. Smockey tells Widmore it's war, and that's pretty much all we got of those two epic characters meeting. I would have loved a lot more of that, but no, we got a scene of Mikhail and Sun in a bank, realizing that Sun's dad was on to her affair with Jin. And we found out how Jin ended up in that walk-in fridge, a development that worked out exactly the way I thought it would once I saw Kevin Durand's name in the opening credits.

lost daniel dae kim What happened in the alternate timeline was… alternate. We saw that Jin and Sun had been having a secret affair for some time, and that Jin was quite rightly paranoid that Mr. Paik would find out. That's why he was so curt with her on the plane about that button — he was trying to cover up their affair by having them both act extra-proper.

Despite the subterfuge, they're happily having an affair and Sun's pregnant. But it certainly looks as though, in that timeline, she'll lose the baby. So why am I invested in that timeline? I still don't know how the Sideways world fits in, and why would I want to invest in that particular story line? Given Jin's reaction to the photos of his daughter, why would I want her to not exist? 

As for the island events, it just felt like there was an act or scenes missing near the end. The episode closed on what was probably supposed to be a big reveal — that Desmond was the "package" in Widmore's secret room on his sub. Er, didn't 87 percent of the Internet predict that Desmond would be in that room?

Like some viewers, Sun doesn't care about the epic battle between Smockey and Jacob, she just wants to be with Jin. I can relate. Sure, the epic showdowns and giant reveals and mythology can be extremely fun at times (as they were last week), but if this particular episode was supposed to reinforce how much the relationships between the characters matter, well, I'm not sure how necessary it was (except in a moving-pieces-into-position sense). I saw, once again, how much Sun and Jin love each other in both timelines. But it's not as though I was unclear on the depth of their bond. They've both been on a quest to find each other for some time now.

There were a few small snippets of other developments as the endgame among Widmore, Jacob and Smockey  began to take shape: Sayid can't feel anything; Smockey is OK with Claire doing whatever she wants to Kate once Kate helps Smockey round up the bodies he needs for his escape; and Smockey does not know that Jin is not a candidate. Also, Smockey thinks Kate is not a candidate (I think many "Lost" observers had thought that to be the case, but this was the first time I could recall the issue being definitively discussed. UPDATE: Alan Sepinwall notes in his post that there is some ambiguity regarding whether Kate is a candidate or not — she may be one.).

From what I can figure out, the candidate list consists of Sun, Jack, Hurley, Sawyer, Sayid and Locke (again, there's confusion about Kate, she may be on the list too). Sayid and Locke aren't exactly in a position to be the new guardians of the island, or so it would appear, but perhaps more information is required before we really know what's going on with that roster.

The biggest factoid of the episode may have been Widmore's explanation of what would happen if Smockey got off the island. Various people would just "cease to be," a phrase that is not exactly specific. Are the Sideways stories we're seeing the result of Smockey getting off the island? And if everyone decides to prevent Smockey from leaving, do those timelines simply go away? Food for thought, and I hope we learn more about those timelines and how they fit in soon.

As I've said before (and as others have written), the strength or weakness of the alt-universe timelines rests on how invested we are in the character being featured that week and whether the themes and storylines are intriguing enough to us as viewers. So it really depends, week to week, on the execution and the characters being spotlighted.

So, again, I have no particular problem with Sun and Jin, but I didn't need to be hit over the head with the idea that they still really want to be together. I was already under that impression. But Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim are two of the stronger actors on the show, so it's not like I spent the episode writhing in agony. But seriously, they're still not together on the island? Between that non-development and the non-shocking reveal of Desmond, the whole thing just felt anti-climactic.

Just a few paltry bullets in the hail of bullets:

  • Sawyer had a classic line: "Because that'd be ridiculous!"
  • Mikhail, who wore an eyepatch on the island, got shot in the eye. 
  • The stubborn tomato that just won't give up! Thank you for that anvil to my brain. Yes, I know, true love (and truly delicious tomatoes) never give up.
  • My husband contends that this week we got yet another version of an alternate universe on the island. "Jack is acting sane and nice and sensible," Mr. Watcher said. "That is clearly not the real Jack." Heh.
  • As part my coverage of the return of ABC's "V," I interviewed "Lost's" Elizabeth Mitchell. Check that out for her thoughts on Juliet and her new show (and yes, I get that the countdown in the corner of the screen during "Lost" was very annoying. We're all agreed there. Let's not go on about that endlessly in comments.)

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