March 17, 2008 | Comments ()

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | March 17, 2008 |


I yelled at the TV on no fewer than three separate occasions while watching “Ji Yeon,” the seventh and latest episode of Season Four of “Lost.” After a dip into more conventional flashbacks that provided character color but lacked the bombshell revelations of the rest of the season, “Lost” just came roaring back with a fantastic episode that once again showed just how compelling, jaw-dropping, and downright amazing this show can be. “Ji Yeon” played like a grand-scale soap opera, complete with the requisite startling revelations and unexpected reveals, but it was also wonderful in the way it used the series’ flashforwards to heartbreaking effect. As if the first few episodes of the season weren’t enough, “Ji Yeon” adds to the pile of evidence that the show’s fourth season just might be as good as its first.

The episode opens with Frank strolling along the deck of the freighter when he’s confronted by Keamy, who flexes his muscles and asks Frank if he’s “ready” before warning him not to be late. Maybe they’re gonna execute someone. Frank keeps walking and eventually makes his way below deck, where he meets Regina. I recognized Regina as Zoe Bell, a stuntwoman/actress whose roles include Death Proof, so I figured that her life would probably take a turn for the worse before the episode ended. (I was right.) Frank points out that the book she’s reading — Jules Verne’s The Survivors of the Chancellor — is upside down. Frank heads into the sickbay where Desmond and Sayid are still being quartered against their will and gives them a few cans of lima beans for sustenance. Frank says the captain is still pissed that Sayid and Desmond busted into the communications room, and when Sayid responds that they’d assumed Frank was the friendly helper who left the door open and enabled their escape, Frank denies any involvement. Then again, we know it’s Ben’s man on the boat who left the door open, and the smart money is on Michael being that man. Frank says the sat phone is busted and that no one’s been in touch with the castaways on the island. Sayid repeats his desire to speak with the captain, but Frank just gives him a creepy look and says, “No you don’t.” Back on Hell Island, Sun and Jin are talking baby names next to the campfire. Sun says it’s bad luck to talk about it, but Jin says he likes the name Ji Yeon and is confident they’re having a daughter. Sun likes the name but doesn’t want to talk about it until they get home.

First flashforward: Sun is packing a travel bag and watching “Expose” (featuring the now-dead Nikki, who bit it last season in a really underrated episode) when she feels a pain in her abdomen and buckles a little. She calls for an ambulance and manages to say, “I’m pregnant, and I think something’s wrong,” before clutching her belly. Meanwhile, Jin is running through town before he pops into a gift shop to buy a large panda. He tells the clerk he’s in a hurry to get to the maternity ward, then answers his cell phone and says he’s on his way before ducking back out onto the street.

Out on the ship, Desmond wakes up to find Sayid tucking in half-heartedly to a can of lima beans before tossing it away in disgust. Someone slips a mash note through the vent in the door that reads, “Don’t trust the captain.” Sayid tells Desmond about Ben’s claim to have a spy on the boat, which is met with an understandably worried silence. On the island, Sun wakes up Jin and anxiously explains that Kate and Jack have returned. They go visit Kate, who tells them all about the poison gas plant and Charlotte being a pain in the ass. Sun asks if the people on the freighter will actually help, to which Kate replies, “In all the time they’ve been here, they’ve talked about a lot of things, and none involve rescuing us.” Way to keep up morale, freckles. Sun hikes over to Daniel, who’s playing with something electronic, and introduces herself before laying it all out on the table. “I’m two months pregnant,” she says. “So, are you here to rescue us?” Daniel just kinda shuffles his feet, so Sun asks him again, and Daniel says it’s not up his call before running out of info. Sun thanks him coldly and walks off. Over at the breakfast nook — seriously, the absence of a hope for rescue really motivated the castaways to get building — Jin tries out some more English with Jack, though he says he understands it better than he can speak it, which is an awesome set-up that is paid back later on. He also says that Sun and Sawyer have been helping with his English, admitting that Sun is a better teacher, though I’m dying to know what kinds of elementary school insults Sawyer has been teaching Jin. Sun comes over and gives Jack a medical update on her pregnancy before instructing Jin in Korean to pack food for two days and get ready to leave: They’re going to Locke’s camp. It’s not clear yet why Sun thinks they’ll be safer farther inland, what with the smoke monster and Locke being generally unstable, but whatever.

To prepare for the trip, Sun roots around in Juliet’s tent, looking for more of the prenatal vitamins she’d been prescribed. Juliet is rightly suspicious of Sun’s sneaking about, and asks what happened to the rest of the pills, since Sun should have 20 or so left. “You planning a trip?” Juliet asks. Sun reveals that she’s going to Locke’s camp, which makes Juliet more upset than anything else she’s ever heard. Juliet repeats her warning that pregnant women die on the island, but Sun doesn’t believe her, using Claire’s successful birth as evidence that Juliet is lying. But come on, Sun, don’t forget that Juliet is talking about women who get pregnant on the island, not ones who show up that way. You know this. You learned this when you and Juliet hiked through the jungle to find the medical equipment to determine the health of your baby and the date of conception, since if the kid was a result of the affair you had then it would survive but serve as a reminder of your infidelity, whereas if it’s Jin’s child, it will (somehow) reinforce your renewed bonds of marriage but also ensure the child’s certain doom. You cried when you learned all this. I have the DVDs if you want to watch. Anyway, Juliet’s apparently pretty forgetful, because she lets Sun get away.

Second flashfoward: Sun is wheeled into the hospital, breathing hard and beginning to panic. The nurse wheeling her in confirms to another that Sun is indeed a member of the Oceanic Six (the roster of which will definitely be discussed later). Once Sun is taken to her room and placed in a bed, the nurse begins to remove her jewelry, but Sun protests about having her wedding ring removed. The doctor comes in — a fill-in for Sun’s regular doctor, who’s unavailable at a conference, though whether this will ever mean anything is not clear — and checks on Sun. He says that the baby is in distress but that he will do everything he can to fix the problem. He asks Sun if she wants to contact anyone, and she mutters, “Just get Jin,” after which her medication and stress overwhelm her and she starts to pass out. Out in the city somewhere, Jin answers his cell phone and says once more that he’s on his way. While he’s talking, a guy cuts him off and hops in the cab Jin had hailed, where he’d tossed the stuffed panda before answering his phone. To top it off, Jin drops the phone in the confusion, which is then run over by a motorcycle. He rains some curses down on the cab before returning to the gift shop to buy another panda. The only one left is behind the counter, reserved for another customer, so the manager tries to sell Jin a dragon instead, since it’s the Year of the Dragon. (Hello, clue.) But Jin forks over enough cash to buy the panda, taking it in anger and leaving.

Back on the island, Kate is showing Jin and Sun a decent little map she’s drawn that will guide them to Locke’s camp at the Barracks; apparently there was notebook paper and a supply of Bic pens in the Swan station. Kate tells them she’ll have to tell Jack about their relocation or defection or whatever it would be called, though she says she’ll give them a good head start. They hug, and it looks like the episode is going to be mainly about Sun and Jin’s journey and realignment when Juliet comes striding up looking for trouble. Sun tells Juliet to take a flying leap, but Juliet just looks at Jin and asks, “Do you understand your wife’s medical condition right now?” She tells Sun to translate, and Sun refuses, but you can tell from the wary look in Jin’s eye (and composer Michael Giacchino’s cues) that he does indeed understand the language better than he can speak it. Juliet tells Jin that Sun will die unless she leaves the island in three weeks, but Sun just leads Jin away. Juliet follows them and warns Jin of the danger Sun is in, but he simply says, “Wherever Sun go, I go.” They’re almost free, almost away, but Juliet is nothing if not determined to have this thing go her way, and she drops the first of the episode’s multiple bombshells when she tells Jin that Sun had an affair. It’s a moment that’s awesome and terrifying for the sheer unpredictability it adds to the episode, and all the air seems to go out of the room. Juliet tells Jin that Sun thought her baby was another man’s, and Sun walks up and slaps Juliet right across the face. Hard. Sun and Jin share a horrible look of mutual devastation, and Jin walks away. And like that, the story takes an abrupt left turn.

Sun catches up to Jin on the beach. She tries to explain herself and starts crying, but Jin just gathers up his fishing gear and walks away. At this point, Bernard, who has just zero social skills, or at any rate isn’t paying enough attention to notice that Sun is in tears until it’s too late, comes up and asks with a grin, “Going fishing?” Bernard eventually figures things out and tries to apologize and excuse himself, but Jin just tells him to grab a pole and come along. Out on the outrigger, the two men sit quietly, Jin lost in an emotional hell, Principal DewittBernard wondering what to do. He strikes up a conversation about married life, and about how every decision now takes twice as because “you gotta talk them into it.” Bernard tells Jin about Rose’s cancer and how the island has apparently cured her, which is why he figured she’d want to stay with Locke and the other permanent islanders. When Jin asks why they sided with Jack, Bernard doesn’t miss a beat before responding, “Because it was the right thing to do. Locke is a murderer.” He then goes into a discussion of karma that’s somewhere between Oprah’s praise for The Secret and some freshman’s half-assed notes from a survey in world religion and philosophy, but the real meat of the scene is the implied nature of the society that’s taken root and divided the survivors in a little more than three months on the island. Staying with Jack, going with Locke; these aren’t just ways to kill time but statements about what kind of people they want to be.

Out on the ship, Desmond and Sayid are still imprisoned in the sickbay, listening to a repeated banging on the pipes. Sayid says the sound isn’t mechanical, but whether it’s somebody banging in Morse code or just hammering away out of boredom or insanity isn’t revealed. The doctor, Ray, walks in and tells Sayid and Desmond that the captain would like to see them. They head topside and find the chopper gone. Sayid asks where it is, and Ray just says that Frank is “running an errand,” though he doesn’t specify. Maybe Frank had to go drop the body he helped sacrifice earlier into the ocean. Sayid asks Ray what Frank is doing on the island, and while Ray keeps stonewalling, Desmond sees Regina walk by one level up, covered in heavy chains. She climbs the wall of the ship and jumps off, plunging to a certain death. (Told you.) Desmond shouts for help and everyone runs to the side of the ship to peer over, including a black guy with a hoodie obscuring part of his face. (Told you.) Desmond and Sayid shout for rope, but the captain appears and says, “It’s over. She’s gone.” He orders everyone back to their posts as he strolls down to meet Desmond and Sayid. “I’m Captain Gault. I suppose you two have a few questions.”

Sayid asks what the hell’s going on and why Gault didn’t help Regina, who’s currently drowning. Gault gets right back in his face and says he didn’t order anyone to help because he “didn’t want to lose any more people.” Gault tells the men that his crew has been experiencing “heightened cabin fever” brought on by the ship’s proximity to the island, adding that he can’t turn around because there’s a saboteur on board who’s screwed with the engines. Once the ship is repaired, Gault’s orders aren’t to rescue the castaways but to move to safer waters. Sayid says, “I don’t suppose you’ll tell us who gave you those orders.” But in another great little moment, Gault just shrugs and says, “Sure I will. Charles Widmore.” Desmond is blown away, but the episode director Stephen Semel is smart enough not to play the moment as a big reveal for everyone, just for Desmond. After all, “The Constant” and “The Other Woman” spelled out that Widmore was the one giving the orders, so to act as if Gault’s admission was big news would be out of sync with the viewer’s knowledge. Desmond tries to wrap his brain around the fact that his girlfriend’s dad owns the boat while Gault leads the men to his cabin. He shows them a flight data recorder — a black box — that he says comes from Oceanic Flight 815 and was recovered from the ocean floor by a salvage vessel and bought with Widmore’s considerable wealth. Gault also says that the wreckage was staged, which again is something we’ve known for a while but which is just now entering the reality of the castaways. Gault says the black box, the wreckage, and the bodies of all 324 passengers have been found, and asks Desmond and Sayid to imagine the kind of motives and resources that would enable such a cover-up, as well as where to find 324 dead bodies for personal use, before concluding (pretty damn abruptly), “And that, Mr. Jarrah, Mr. Hume, is just one of the many reasons we want Benjamin Linus.” Um, OK.

Back on the beach, Juliet and Sun have an uncomfortable talk. Juliet apologizes for what happened, and Sun says that it wasn’t Juliet’s place to stop them from leaving. Juliet tells Sun that she needs to get off the island, whether she believes it or not, and then proceeds to describe the sickness and eventual death that will take hold of Sun if she doesn’t make it home soon. Juliet reminds Sun that her death is the baby’s death, which makes Sun’s decisions Juliet’s responsibility, since Sun is Juliet’s patient. Why Juliet didn’t just make the argument on the grounds of human decency instead of the Hippocratic oath is beyond me, but it seems to work.

Third flashfoward: Sun is in labor and breathing hard. The doctor says that a C-section will be necessary, but Sun refuses. The doctor tells her that the medication makes a natural birth difficult, but Sun says she doesn’t want the baby to arrive until Jin shows up. She sees a man in a suit walk by in the hall and calls out to him, but it’s not Jin. Before the doctor can resume his argument, the nurse reports that the baby is crowning, so after a few seconds of pushing, Sun gives birth to a daughter. The doctor places the baby in Sun’s arms as she begins to cry.

Back to the freighter: Ray escorts Desmond and Sayid to the new quarters they’ve been given. Sayid says the captain was “surprisingly forthcoming,” and Ray says, “Yeah, he tells it like it is. Just don’t piss him off.” Awesome bedside manner, Ray. Ray opens the doors to a horrible, dingy little room that’s lit by a prison light that makes the roaches scatter. Plus, there are huge bloodstains on the wall from where someone either committed suicide or was executed. Sayid and Desmond don’t say anything, but if I had a choice between being locked in a sickbay with a couple of cots or sleeping in a crime scene still splattered with DNA, I’d go with the sickbay. Ray gets pissed when he sees the stains — not surprised, just pissed — and mutters, “That shouldn’t still be there. Damn it.” Desmond and Sayid are officially having a bad day. Ray turns to see the black guy with the hoodie down the hall and he calls out to him: “Johnson, is that you? Mop this up.” Johnson pushes his mop away from everyone and says, “Sorry, I gotta go up on deck,” only he says it in that weird tone of voice where you’re trying to speak lower than you do in real life. (cf. Ben’s meta misdirection for the camera at the end of “The Economist.”) Ray shouts at Johnson to get down there and mop up the huge bloodstains, and Johnson turns and walks toward Sayid and Desmond, entering the light with a slow-moving inevitability that underscores just how awesome the moment is, even if it was somewhat logically predictable: Johnson is actually Michael, and he does not look well. So now we know that Michael — who hasn’t been seen since “Live Together, Die Alone,” the Season Two finale — is indeed the man on the boat, and this brings up a whole load of interesting new questions: When Ben let Michael and Walt go, did he immediately dispatch someone to re-apprehend them, or did the island’s natural ability to screw with time and space make it impossible for Michael to escape? And what happened to Walt? Was he psychically manifesting an image of himself when he appeared to Locke, or was he actually appearing and disappearing again as, apparently, Harper did to Juliet? Why isn’t Michael yelling like a madman and shooting people? What kind of leverage does Ben have on Michael to force him to be his spy? Anyway: Sayid stumbles a bit when he sees Michael but doesn’t give up the game, introducing himself as if they’d never met, probably because Sayid has seen Glengarry Glen Ross and knows you never open your mouth until you know what the shot is.

Back on the island, Sun is in her tent when Jin walks in with the fish he caught. “I made dinner,” he says in slow but steady English, and they begin a reconciliation that’s one of the strongest of the show so far. Sun asks to explain what she did, but Jin says it doesn’t matter because she did what she did to the man he used to be, who “withheld his affections” and whose actions, or lack thereof, enabled the affair. Jin forgives her and says he will go to Locke’s camp if Sun still wants to go. Sun says she doesn’t want to go any more because Juliet was “very convincing” about what will happen is Sun stays on the island for much longer. Jin asks Sun for one more favor: The truth about the baby’s paternity. She tells him it is as they embrace and break down. “I thought I had lost you,” she says. “You will never lose me,” he tells her.

Final flashforward: Jin bursts into the hospital with the panda and is directed to the maternity ward, where he stops at one of the rooms to find a man in a suit standing outside. Jin says he represents Paik Automotive and has come to present a gift because he heard the ambassador has just become a grandfather. The guard tells Jin that the baby is a boy before retreating into the room to fetch the ambassador. In his absence, Jin grabs a blue ribbon from nearby flowers and ties it around the panda’s neck before the ambassador emerges. Jin hands the ambassador the panda and says that the stuffed animal is a “symbol of Mr. Paik’s eagerness to do business with the great country of China.” The ambassador replies a thanks, and Jin turns and leaves. A nurse asks why he’s leaving so soon, and Jin says, “It wasn’t my baby.” She tells him he might be a father some day, and Jin grins and says, “Don’t rush me. I’ve only been married two months.” Before the shoe can fully drop, the action cuts to Sun, back in her apartment, putting on the wedding ring that was removed by hospital staff. The doorbell rings, and Sun opens the door to see Hurley clad in a dark suit and smiling. They hug at the door as she lets him in, saying she can’t believe how far he came. Hurley asks if anyone else is coming, and when Sun says no, Hurley replies, “Good. So, where is she?” Sun takes him into the nursery to see the baby and hands her to Hurley. “Wow,” he says, “she looks just like Jin.” Sun’s face breaks a little at this as she agrees, and the pieces now lock into place even as I wish them apart. Not like this; this one hurts. “I guess we should go see him,” Hurley says. The action shifts to a cemetery, Hurley walking next to Sun, who’s carrying her daughter. They approach a tombstone, and Sun sinks to her knees. She looks into her daughter’s face and smiles, but begins to weep as soon as she looks up and addresses the headstone. “Jin,” she says, “you were right, it’s a girl.” She tells him that the delivery was hard, and that the doctor said she had called out for Jin. She holds up her daughter, Ji Yeon, saying, “I named her just like you wanted. I miss you so much. I miss you so much.”

The scene plays out with a just gravity even as the heady mix of the episode begins to replay: This is the first time the show has mixed a flashback and flashforward, structuring the off-island plots so that the reveal wouldn’t happen until the end. They even had a nice head-fake by referencing the fact that Sun is one of the Oceanic Six as she was admitted to the hospital, which would almost make it seem like she and Jin made it home together. Jin’s tombstone is dated September 22, 2004, the day of the crash, which leaves two options: (a) Jin dies on the island but is listed as being killed in the crash because the Oceanic Six make it home and spread the lie that they are the only survivors, or (b) Jin is still alive on the island but is listed as dead because of the Oceanic Six’s cover story. I’m hoping for the latter, but I’m worried it’s the former. Furthermore, since we know now that Sun is one of the Oceanic Six, does that mean every member of the group has been revealed? The confirmed adults are Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, and Sun, but the six would be rounded out if Aaron is being counted. Do you think he counts as a member of the Oceanic Six, or is there one more face left to be revealed? Regardless: The return of Michael, the deepening of Jin and Sun’s relationship even as it’s revealed that it could very well end in tragedy, and the growing disturbance on the freighter all made for a fantastic episode. Well played, “Lost.” Well played.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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And Now the Time Has Come, So My Love, I Must Go

"Lost: Ji Yeon" (S4/E7) Recap / Daniel Carlson

Lost Recaps | March 17, 2008 | Comments ()




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