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Saturday, July 04, 2009

LOST Rewatch: S1E17 "...In Translation"

Here are some of my thoughts after rewatching episode 17 of the first season of LOST, as part of my contribution to The LOST Rewatch (see my previous rewatch posts). When I get a chance, I'll post my rewatch commentaries in the podcast feed as well.

Season 1 Episode 17 - "...In Translation"

The episode begins on Jin's eye, and it focuses on his perspective as he deals with the frustration of not being able to communicate with any survivors other than his wife (hence the episode title, LOST "...In Translation").

We find out in a flashback how Jin became such an unpleasant person: the deal he made to work for Sun's father, Mr. Paik, turned out to be not at all what Jin expected. Mr. Paik "promotes" Jin to be his new special assistant to personally deliver messages of Mr. Paik's displeasure. When Jin simply delivers a verbal message to the man at his home, apparently the recipient doesn't take the hint, and Mr. Paik later tells Jin that another associate will show Jin how to deliver a message. As Jin drives back to the house, the associate puts on gloves and pulls out a gun with a silencer on it. Upon arriving, Jin rushes past the associate into the house, violently beating the man with whom Mr. Paik is displeased—right in front of the man's wife and children. Jin says quietly to the man, "I just saved your life." Thus Jin begins "saving people's lives" from assassination by Sun's father's thugs.

Incidentally, the first time Jin went to the man's home, Hurley was on the television in the background, so this evidently took place sometime after Hurley won the lottery.

On the beach, Jin sees Sun wearing a bikini and rushes over to cover her with a blanket. They get into a small scuffle, and Michael runs up to stop Jin from mistreating Sun. When Michael pushes Jin, Sun slaps Michael's face, and Sun and Jin walk away. Shortly thereafter, Jin asks Sun, "What's going on between you and him?" Sun denies that there is any connection between her and Michael. She later explains privately to Michael that slapping him was her way of protecting him from Jin, saying, "You don't know what he's capable of."

Michael's raft gets set on fire during the night and everyone wonders who did it and why. Michael and some of the other survivors blame Jin. When Sun sees that Jin's hands are burned, she accuses him, and Jin leaves angrily.

Sawyer, who was one of the 4 people who would have been on the raft, finds Jin, attacks him, and ties him up. He tells Jin, "Folks down on the beach might have been doctors and accountants a month ago, but it's Lord of the Flies time now."

I hadn't given it much thought previously, but the book Lord of the Flies (Wikipedia, Amazon) has a number of striking parallels with LOST. In the book, a plane crashes on a deserted island with no adult survivors, leaving a group of boys completely on their own. Two factions arise, one of which is led by Ralph, whose group is concerned with keeping the signal fire lit, and the other group is led by Jack, whose group is concerned with hunting pigs and protecting each other from a monster that they believe to be on the island. Eventually only Jack's group remains, and Jack becomes a true savage, setting the entire island on fire—at the risk of destroying their only sources of food—just to murder the evasive Ralph. An adult navy officer sees the blazing island and comes to rescue the boys. In spite of being rescued, Ralph is deeply troubled, having witnessed the darkness that can come to possess a human soul. The transition from civilized to barbaric behavior is precisely what Sawyer was referencing when talking to Jin. Sawyer's remark leads us to perhaps the most stunning connection between the two tales: Ralph's discovery of man's potential for darkness is a direct correlation with Jacob's enemy's views about the wickedness of human nature. In the opening scene of the Season 5 finale, Jacob and his enemy watch as a ship (presumably the Black Rock) approaches the Island. Jacob's enemy says, "You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren't you?" Jacob replies, "You are wrong," and his enemy comes back with "Am I? They come, fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same." Jacob's enemy (who badly wants to kill Jacob) seems to think that man will always degenerate to a savage state because it's their nature, while Jacob seems to be trying to prove that human nature is not inherently evil.

After Sawyer brings Jin back to the camp, Michael begins beating Jin, and Jin keeps standing up and voluntarily taking punches without fighting back. To prevent her husband from getting badly injured, Sun blurts out in English, "Stop it! Leave him alone!" Everyone, including Jin, stares at her in shock. Only Michael and Kate knew her secret, and now everyone knew it. Obviously, Jin would be upset that Sun had lied to him so many times on the Island about not knowing what was going on, and for never telling him that she spoke English. Sun defends her husband, explaining that "Your raft was already on fire when he arrived. He burned his hands trying to put it out." After Locke steps in and reminds everyone that there are others on the Island who have attacked them before, everyone walks away, leaving Sun and Jin standing there. Sun approaches Jin, and feeling betrayed because she had lied to him about not understanding English, he walks away from her, and later he refuses to speak to her at all.

Jin's treatment of Sun may have been a bit harsh since she wasn't the only one who had lied in their relationship. Ashamed of his heritage, Jin had tried to make Sun believe that his father was dead, as early as before they were married. In this episode's final flashback, Jin goes to visit his father, who is still very much alive. Jin tells his father that he's married, and that he doesn't speak to Sun anymore because he doesn't want her to know about the horrible things her father does. Jin's father encourages him to do the one last job that Mr. Paik asked of him—deliver watches to his associates in Sydney and Los Angeles—and then to run away and live together in the United States. Jin was planning to follow his father's advice to try to save his marriage, but the crash interrupted his plans.

Michael tells Walt that he's going to rebuild the raft and make it even better, and Walt offers to help. Later, Walt is sitting in front of a backgammon board, and he tells Locke that Hurley now owes him $83,000—a lot more than the $20,000 he owed him just six episodes earlier. Walt asks if Locke's dad is cool, and John says, "No. No, he's not." We'll learn a bit about why Anthony Cooper isn't "cool" two episodes later in "Deus Ex Machina". Locke asks Walt why he burned the raft, which indicates that Locke's earlier speech about there being other people on the Island was purely out of a desire to support Sun's statements and protect Jin from being attacked when Walt was the secret arsonist. Walt confesses to the crime, saying that he doesn't want to move anymore and "I like it here." John confesses, "I like it here, too."

After telling Sun that "it's too late" to start their relationship over again, he brings Michael some bamboo and says "boat" in English, indicating that he brought the bamboo to help Michael rebuild his raft.

Hurley's CD player finally dies on the 34th day on the Island.

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