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Lost, Season 1, Episode 17: … In Translation

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode Title:… In Translation

Overall Rating: B

In truth, this is the episode that begins the Season 1 endgame. Why? Because the raft moves from being a thing that Michael and background cast guy work on to being a major part of the plot. That’s not to say this episode is about the raft–it is completely and thoroughly about Sun and Jin–but the raft figures. By now you get the feeling that the season finale was already written.

As stated, most of the show is devoted to showing Jin’s side of the story of the only married couple on the Island. As we learned early in the season in “House of the Rising Sun,” the couple’s marriage in Korea is a rocket… a rocket built by their rivals in North Korea, that is. Jin is moody and works for her father, coming home late at night with blood on his clothes. Sun, who has learned English unbeknownst to Jin, is planning to leave him in Sydney… but doesn’t. In this flashback we learn more. We learn just how bad a guy Sun’s father is–in truth, he would have made a fine Big Bad for the show, in addition to or instead of Charles Widmore (but why do you need to know about him now?). We learn that Jin works for him only reluctantly, to keep Sun. But in doing so he loses his soul, and learns to intimidate, beat… kill?

In a couple of intense scenes, he twice visits the home of a government environmental official. Once he “delivers a message” in the literal sense. The official is so relieved he gives Jin his daughter’s prize Shar-pei (which becomes Sun’s beloved pet Bpo-Bpo). On the second visit, instead of letting another enforcer kill the man, he beats him bloody in front of the same daughter. “I just saved your life,” he whispers. It’s an excellent scene. Later he visits his poor fisherman of a father (whom he has told everyone, including Sun, is dead), who tells him to take Sun to America and run away, which Jin was presumably going to do once they landed in L.A.

On-Island, things are coming to a head between the two. Jin is convinced that something is up between Sun and Michael, and when the raft goes up in flames and Jin shows up with a scalded arm, there is no other suspect. Things escalate until Sun is forced to reveal to everyone that she knows English to exonerate Jin (who did not burn the raft, but was trying to put out the fire). Jin will not speak to Sun, who begs forgiveness and asks for a chance to start completely over. Instead he wordlessly walks to the beach… and begins to help Michael rebuild the raft.

Quickly about Sun and Jin: Knowing their full story arc–and perhaps having learned a thing or two about marriage over the last eight years–I appreciate their storyline more and more. Married people are tough to write on dramas, and it’s a credit to the producers and especially Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim that both of these characters are sympathetic despite their obvious flaws and mistreatment of one another. But aren’t all marriages like that?

Other bits from this episode:

— The fight on the beach between Michael and Jin is the impetus for Locke’s best moment of the season, the scene where he admonishes the castaways for being so focused on one another that they forget there are others on the Island.

” 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!”

This YouTube video picks up on my favorite part of the scene–Locke’s “hand chop” during the middle of the speech. Take a look.

Tour de force acting from a guy who hasn’t been allowed to yell for almost an entire season.

— The raft burning incident provides the series first real whodunit? So, whodiddoit? You probably won’t see it coming, but it’s revealed quite well at the end of the episode.

— Raft politics take hold. There are four spots, Michael says. He and Walt have two. Sawyer bought another. Who has the fourth? By the end of the episode we have to believe it’s Jin. This particular “who’s going” issue will return.

— They’re setting up a real romance for Sayid and Shannon. They show flashes of chemistry while talking about her proficiency in tying knots. (“Maybe we should get some rope; spend a Saturday night alone together, and see what happens.”) There’s a little side plot with Boone. And still we don’t care.

— The Life and Death of Hurley’s CD Player. Gone for a good half-dozen episodes, the producers brought back Hurley’s episode-ending song for one last go round. As we see a newly liberated Sun drop her sarong and stand in the surf in a bikini, Damien Rice’s “Delicate” swells in volume. Then the CD skips and fizzles out. Hurley looks at the display. “Son of a bitch.”

Hilarious.

“They can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man: No time to talk.”

Episode: “… In Translation”

Director: Tucker Gates

Best Scene: The entire bloody confrontation between Michael and Jin that leads to Sun’s revelation. Everyone seems genuinely shocked, and the scene has the desired effect. That’s before Locke’s 40 seconds of half-chop awesomeness.

Best Scene II: The one where Jin visits his dad. His dad is played by one of those Asian actors that just ooze kindness and wisdom.

Worst Scene: The Sayid-Shannon stuff. I get it. The Shannon-Boone stuff has to be resolved, and soon, but it’s just distracting no matter where you put it.

Best Line: Charlie: “You speak English?” Hurley: “Didn’t see that comin’.” It’s all in the delivery. Special mention for Sawyer’s “It’s Lord of the Flies time now” when he catches Jin treating his burned arm in the jungle.

Best Throwaway Moment: During Jin’s first visit to the Korean official’s home, his daughter can be seen in the background watching TV. On the TV? Hurley, getting into a car. Why? Check back in the next recap.

Revelations: Jin is a surly ass because Sun’s dad made him that way; Jin was going to flee in America with Sun; XXXX burned the raft because he doesn’t want to leave; Shannon makes her move; Jin is going to help Michael rebuild the raft.

Next Episode: “Numbers”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com

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Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV

Lost, Season 1, Episode 16: Outlaws

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode title:Outlaws

Overall Rating: B+

Lost, in its finest seasons (that would be 4 and 5), was never a long-form show. The arcs were powerful but abbreviated, punctuated by “oh s**t*” moments that had a lot of power, but not a ton of buildup. Not so with Season 1. Pre-Dharma, pre-Ben, pre-freighter, pre-apocalyptic battle, there was still time to sit around letting the characters get tipsy and talkative.

And “Outlaws” features two of the finest pieces of one-on-one dialogue the show managed to muster in 120-plus episodes.

The two scenes elevate this episode from forgettable to indispensable all by themselves. I’ll focus on them for the purposes of this review:

1. The famous “I Never” scene between Kate and Sawyer. As annoying as Kate-Jack dynamic is early in the series, the Kate-Sawyer relationship is much more palatable, which probably says more about Josh Holloway and Matthew Fox and their characters than it does about everyone’s favorite punching bag, Evangeline Lilly. This scene is pitch-perfect. Camped out alone because they’re chasing a board that is seemingly terrorizing Sawyer, they sip on airline bottles of booze and play “I Never,” that sorority house favorite that allows you to get to know the person you want to sleep with and get drunk, all at the same time. The writers use the game to get us intimate with both Sawyer–who is the focus of this episode–and Kate, who is not, but we still learn a lot about her. I won’t analyze it verbatim, but I encourage you to watch it on YouTube, here. It is funny, poignant, sad and enlightening. One of my very favorite scenes in the entire show.

2. The other scene is a similar, if more depressing, bit of soul-bearing. We learn that, in Sydney, Sawyer met a drunk-off-his-ass Christian Shepherd at a dumpy bar. They talk. We learn that Christian holds no ill will for Jack, who prompted the fatal bender when he turned him in for operating under the influence. In fact, Christian admires Jack, but lacks the strength to call him and tell him so. His other revelation is less productive: He convinced Sawyer that, whatever it is he is in Sydney to do, he should do it if it will ease his pain. Unfortunately, this means killing a man who owns a shrimp truck, who Sawyer mistakenly believes is the man who conned his folks, leading to his the murder-suicide that took both his parents (recalled in the show’s horrific cold-open flashback). This scene is embeddable, fortunately:

That Sawyer is the focus of both of those scenes speaks to Josh Holloway’s embodiment of this character and the obviously well-mapped arc the producers had for him from the get-go (reportedly both Matthew Fox and Dominic Monaghan auditioned for the role of Sawyer, but male-model Holloway landed it). The episode was also directed by series consigliere Jack Bender.

The rest of the episode doesn’t live up to these scenes, though we wouldn’t expect that. Sawyer’s flashback not only reveals the moment of his parents deaths, but also the series of events that led him to Sydney and killing an innocent (at least to him) man. The guy’s dying words of “It’ll come back around” stayed with me the remainder of the series, wondering when Sawyer’s comeuppance for this mistake would hit. It’s debatable whether it ever did, though it’s my strong opinion that Sawyer’s anemic Season 6 story arc was among the biggest mistakes the series ever made.

The theme of the episode seems to be “Do you have what it takes to kill?” Or, as my good friend Maria Villalobos would say: “What does it feel like to kill a man?” (Click here, go to the 1:58 mark). We learn that answer about Sawyer, though we still have our doubts about just how smart of a killer he is. The side plot involves Charlie dealing with PTSD (or maybe just a case of the quiets) after killing Ethan in the previous episode. Hurley’s worried about him; Sayid tries to connect. Eventually Charlie goes for a walk with Claire and seems to be at peace. Whatever.

Watch the two scenes above–there are no spoilers to speak of–and enjoy Lost at its finest.

“I never… smiled in an episode of Lost before.”

Episode: “Outlaws”

Director: Jack Bender

Best Scene: Game of “I never,” linked above.

Worst Scene: Nothing bad here, though some of the boar-tracking on the island with Sawyer and Kate is a little silly. You don’t need the analogy, really; we know Sawyer is a reluctant killer.

Best Line: “I only made out with him because torturing him didn’t work.” Kate to Jack when he’s mad she’s going boar-hunting with Sawyer.

Best Throwaway Moment: Two Sayid moments: One, when he’s reveling in Sawyer’s frustration at his tent getting ransacked by the boar. The other comes when Hurley asks him if he had that “Gulf War Syndrome” (meaning to say PTSD), and ex-Iraqi army member Sayid looks sheepish and says “No, that was the other side.”

Revelations: Sawyer murdered a man in Australia; he met Jack’s father at a bar; Kate has also killed someone (and was married!); Ethan is actually dead, for good; Sawyer becomes the second castaway to hear “The Whispers,” after Sayid.

Next Episode: “… In Translation”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV

Lost, Season 1, Episode 15: Homecoming

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode Title: “Homecoming”

Overall Grade: B

In an effort to keep this coherent: Ten Things I Liked About This Episode (and a few I didn’t).

Aside: Interestingly, according to the Lostpedia entry (click the episode title above), producer Damon Lindelof lists this as his least favorite episode of Lost’s six-season run. I find that hard to believe. There’s a little cheesiness here, and maybe the backroom plotting came way off the rails, but I think this is a pretty solid hour of TV. I hear Lindelof liked Cop Rock, so whatever.

1. Based on the end of the last episode, you think it’s going to be Claire-centric, but it turns out to be Charlie-centric. Indeed, it’s one of the better flashbacks for Charlie, who will soon slip into semi-relevance for about two and a half seasons. Claire is the impetus for Charlie’s actions, which adds some much-needed connection between Island Action and back story.

2. Wet William Mapother. Ethan gets quite a bit of play, first threatening Charlie after smacking Jin with a slingshot. “If you do not bring her here, I’ll kill one of them.” Alas, it’s the last we’ll see of the muscled, chisel-jawed Ethan Rom, at least in this life brotha. Which leads me to…

3. The first REAL A-Team Mission. Jack. Sawyer. Locke. Sayid. Kate. Five guns.No Hurley. No Boone. No Charlie (well…). They’re using Claire as bait to trap Ethan. And it’s raining. Again, why do all of the good Lost fights happen in the rain? Jack gets his payback on Ethan and the team has seemingly taken Ethan alive. But then… (wait for No. 10).

4. Characters are fleshing out. Sun and Jin briefly discuss Claire’s baby, and you can sense sadness. By this time I suspect Lost was breathing easy for the rest of the season, if not season two, so little moments like that were tolerated.

5. Boone’s uselessness catches up with him. As the Men of the Camp stand guard overnight, Boone falls asleep. They wake in the morning to find the trap nearest him tripped and a castaway dead. Boone also falls when he things he’s caught the assailant, which turns out to be Vincent.

6. The payoff of the Scott/Steve joke. It’s a bit of Lost production lore that cast members, writers… no one could keep background characters Scott and Steve straight, so it became a part of the world. Scott (or was it Steve) was Ethan’s unlucky victim, but even at the funeral Hurley had to apologize for using the wrong name.

7. Another great Locke-Jack scene. Jack fesses up about the suitcase of guns, and Locke–as only Terry O’Quinn can express–was amused. “Why doctor, you’ve been holding out on us.” Jack asks him if he knows how to use a gun. Locke dismantles it and puts it back together in about three seconds. Jack looks scared, and Locke smiles his cockeyed grin.

8. Sawyer. Jacke beats Ethan up but it’s Sawyer who finally pins him down with a 9mm. Sawyer, holding the gun sideways with this hair all wet and hanging in his face. It almost makes you want to write fan fiction.

9. Charlie’s backstory (specifics): During Drive Shaft’s hiatus and the depths of his heroin problem, Charlie takes a job to con a rich man’s daughter and steal a valuable artifact from her home. But Charlie starts to like her–even takes a job–which make his employer angry. He’s cut off from a fix for 72 hours, and when he starts work he’s a mess. He steals the artifact, pukes in the copier during his presentation, and is chastised by his would-be lover: “You’ll never take care of anyone…” Zoom to Island times…

10. Charlie comes from the bushes, picks up Jack’s gun from the ground, and blows Ethan away with six rounds to the back. Hard. Core. Brit. The A-Team is dismayed. But Charlie is oddly pragmatic: “Do you really think he would have told us anything?” He was looking out for Claire, making sure she didn’t get kidnapped again, and because of a pertinent flashback, we think maybe we know why he did it. THAT’S GOOD TV!

Unfortunately there was a little of Season 1’s ham-handedness here, too. I didn’t like:

1. Charlie and Claire’s one-on-one dynamic is still off. Hitting on a girl with amnesia? That’s awkward.

2. Shannon found some spangly earrings. She never struck me as the kind of girl who shopped at The Icing.

3. Well, I can’t really think of anything else. This was a pretty nice episode.

“C’mon! You would have done Lord of the Rings if they’d asked you, too!”

Episode: “Homecoming”

Director: Kevin Hooks

Best Scene: The final showdown between the castaways and Ethan is pretty excellent all the way around. I like how it takes them all a whole minute or so to see how Claire is, even though she was just chased through the jungle at 9.5 months pregnant. Jack throws punches, Sawyer goes gangster, and Charlie unloads. Pretty cool. Bonus points for the askew camerawork and sad humor in Charlie’s flashback to his first (and last) day as a copier salesman.

Worst Scene: The Claire stuff. She’s confused and paranoid. Why talk to Shannon about it?

Best Line: “Nuh-uh, Jungle Boy. Not even for one second.” Sawyer in aforementioned fanfic-worthy fight scene.

Best Throwaway Moment: After Ethan’s attack, Sawyer says “So Steve drew the short straw, huh?” Hurley: “Dude, that was Scott.” Thankfully this meme disappears after this episode.

Revelations: Ethan is mortal after all; everyone’s (Jack’s, Sawyer’s) guns are on the table; Claire remembers nothing about her time away–is in fact blank all the way back to the crash.

Next Episode: “Outlaws,” which includes my single favorite conversation of Season 1.

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV

Lost, Season 1, Episode 14: Special

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode 13: “Special”

Overall Episode Grade: C+

Tired of paragraph after paragraph of rehashing, so I’m going to recap this episode in double dactyl. I hope you like.

*Note: May not be PERFECT double dactyl, since six-syllable words are tough to come up with.

Higgledy Piggledy
Walt is so “Special” he
makes Scarlet Ibus-ies
fly into walls.

Michael’s his estranged dad
charactaristically
jealous of Locke who has
held Walt in thrall.

Hankey Pankity
Flashback to NYC
Circa 1-9-9-6
Walt’s ma knocked up.

Mike is an artist who
egocentric-al-ly
Buys a sweet crib for his
yet unborn pup.

Hibbery Jibbery
Mom moves to Amsterdam
“It’s best for the baby,”
Spirits away.

Michael (still not working)
Quite unabashedly
Yells on a payphone
Hey bitch, no way!

Yappidy Slappidy
One second later Mike’s
Hit by a gold sedan
(He is okay.)

But Walter’s gone for good,
Australian citizen,
Lawyer ma, stepdad are
All work, no play.

Higgledy Piggledy
Knock at the door one night,
stepdad’s a douche who can’t
keep Walt… Mom’s dead.

Mike goes to pick him up,
Steals retriever Vincent,
paternally, he is
over his head.

Higgledy Piggledy
Back on the Island now
Claire is still missing but
Everyone’s chill.

Mike wants to build a raft,
Walt isn’t buying it
So pre-pubescently
Being a pill.

Higgledy Piggledy
Mike and Locke come to blows.
Boone, he’s Locke’s new henchman,
Bloodies his nose.

Walt has run off again,
after his dog Vincent,
independently
Sulking he goes.

Hicketty Picketty
Trapped by a polar bear
First one we’ve seen since the
First episode.

Despite the bad CGI
Locke and Michael decide
To bury the hatchet,
Toss Walt a rope.

Higgledy Piggledy
Rest of the episode?
Not much more exciting
Than the main plot.

Kate learns Sun knows English
While they work the garden

Sustainability–
Veggies. No pot.

Bippity Dippity
Charlie reads Claire’s journal
Juvenile tendencies
Coming to bear.

Boone and Locke still hang out
Alone in dark jungle.
Rustling in the dark…
Who’s that? It’s Claire!

Episode: “Special”

Director: David Yaitanes

Best Scene: I rather like the entire flashback in the episode. You get a good, reasonable explanation for why Michael and Walt are such strangers, though you would think (even in Australia) that it would be a little more difficult for an adoptive stepdad to give up a kid. The fact that Michael tried to write Walt but his wife hides the letters makes Michael much more sympathetic as a father than he was before. The scene where he tells Walt they’re moving (and Michael Shanghai’s Vincent) is quite good.

Worst Scene: That polar bear. TERRIBLE CGI. Makes the Dharma Shark from S6 seem like James Cameron stuff.

Best Line: “He’s different… as long as we’re here I think Walt should be allowed to realize his potential.” Locke to Michael when they’re arguing about Walt working at throwing knives. All of the Walt-Locke “destiny” and “visualize the knife” work is well done.

Best Throwaway Moment: Michael complains to Jack about Walt’s disobedience. “Didn’t you listen to your old man?” Jack: “Yeah, maybe a little too well.”

Revelations: Walt is “Special” and makes things happen (like making the exact bird he’s reading about fly into a window when he’s angry); Walt’s mom took Walt away from Michael; the stepdad was freaked out by Walt, gave him back to Michael after the mom died; Kate knows Sun speaks English; from her diary, Charlie learns Claire has been dreaming of a place called “The Black Rock” (also that she likes him); whuddya know? Claire’s back!

Next Episode: “Homecoming”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV