Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thoughts on The Package...

BIGMOUTH: First things first, because I have to get this off my chest.  What was ABC thinking with that "V THEY RETURN" countdown clock, which was emblazoned onscreen like a scarlet letter for much of the show?  It was so obnoxiously obtrusive that I assured my friend it would definitely disappear after the teaser.  (Note to self: never bet against the greed of network executives.)  But like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie (not to mention Mikhail) the countdown clock refused to die.  Every time I thought it was gone for good, it reappeared to distract me.  Even more unforgivably, the graphic obscured some subtitles, as well as Sun's written response to Jack.


I was so annoyed that I actually considered boycotting V, a show I can frankly take or leave.  I may yet delete my recording and download the torrent just to spite ABC.  I appreciate the need for unconventional advertising in the age of DVRs.  I have no problem with watermarking or product placement, as long as it's subtle.  As I say, however, the V countdown clock was anything but.  It raised the specter of permanent ad space in the corner of the screen.  And before you say it won't happen, consider those annoying tickers that now crawl ceaselessly across the bottom of cable news shows and television sports.  If you share my annoyance, be sure to let ABC know.

/RANT.  As for the episode itself, I thought "The Package" was solid and gave it an 8/10 on the Sickness Scale (4 for character, 4 for mythology).  I have a soft spot for Kwon-centrics.  Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim have always done a great job of making me believe that Jin and Sun really love each other.  The former's Korean has improved noticeably over the course of the show, and the latter looked as sexy as ever unbuttoning for her jagiya.  My main complaint was with Sun's aphasia, which seemed like a silly plot twist straight out of 24.  Some of you suggested this was actually a sign the two realities are bleeding together.  Maybe, but I fully expected a mountain lion to appear and terrorize Sun.

A mountain lion menaces Kim Bauer on 24

Do you know who I am?  One important revelation this week was that Charles Widmore and the Man in Black had never met before in any form.  Indeed, Charles admitted that everything he knew about the Monster was "a combination of myth, ghost stories, and jungle noises in the night."  So much for my theory that the Man in Black made Widmore the same offer of Island leadership that he did to Ben.  But I'm still not completely convinced that Charles is a good guy, mainly because of Bram's insistence that Miles was "playing for the wrong team" by working for Widmore.  From a continuity perspective, it would make more sense if Charles turned out to be selfishly motivated, and a reluctant servant of Jacob's plan.

That island's mine, Benjamin. It always was. It will be again.

Everyone we know and love would simply cease to be.  Equally important was Widmore's confirmation that the world would end if "that thing" ever got off the Island.  His comments generally echoed Jacob's warning about the spread of evil.  But Widmore went further, implying their whole reality would be wiped from existence.  His words may have been hyperbole, but they fit my belief the Island is a keystone for both Crash and Mirror realities, much like the Dark Tower anchors the many worlds in Stephen King's fictional multiverse.  It reminded me of when Pimli Prentiss imagines holding an egg that contains a billion universes, including his own, and realizes he would "cease to exist" if the egg broke. 

Some people just aren't meant to be together.  For me, however, the key line of the episode was Keamy's dramatically ironic claim that Jin and Sun weren't destined to be a couple.  I continue to believe the Mirror reality is what our Losties' fates would be absent the effect of Jacob's touches.  In Jin and Sun's case, I've argued their improbable union -- and the resulting birth of Ji-Yeon -- would never have occurred without Jacob's intervention.  This point was driven home by the heartbreaking juxtaposition of pregnant Sun's shooting in the Mirror reality with Jin's first glimpses of his daughter in the Crash reality.  Even if Sun survives, I'm guessing Ji-Yeon will never be born in the Mirror Universe.

Nomo nomo yeppuda!

I promise.  Jack's offer of his hand to Sun evoked Jacob's touch, as well as fake Locke's almost identical gesture to her earlier in the episode.  By taking Jack's hand, Sun sided with Jacob in his battle with the Man in Black, further reinforcing Jack's status as Jacob's proxy in this fight.  As we've discussed, I believe the show has been building since Season 1 to a final showdown between Jack and Locke.  But is this what Jacob always wanted, or was his plan originally for those two to replace himself and the Man in Black without bloodshed?  I'm even starting to wonder if Jacob was controlling Smokey when it tried to take Locke back in Season 1, while the Man in Black's spirit was still trapped in the Cabin. 

Did Kate unwittingly explode Jacob's plan?

It's not a what, it's a who.  Props to those who correctly guessed that Desmond was the Package!  The question now becomes what Widmore intends to do with him.  Judging by Desmond's drugging and imprisonment, Charles had him shanghaied.  Whatever Widmore has in store, therefore, it probably won't be pleasant.  I think he means to expose Desmond to one last blast of energy from one of the three electromagnetic pockets depicted on the DHARMA survey map Zoe showed Jin.  The goal is to unstick Desmond in spacetime, sending his consciousness into the past of the Crash reality or the Mirror reality's present.  Whether to save the world or secure the Island, Widmore seeks to exploit the Desmond Exception

That's one stubborn tomato.  I suspect that Jacob is depending on this Exception, too, which is why he finally allowed Widmore to return.  Jack's discovery of one stubborn tomato still living in Sun's dead garden was a metaphor for the miraculous.  The signs point to Jack's being the last Candidate standing and the one who finally takes over for Jacob.  But I sense misdirection.  My gut tells me that all of them, including Jack, are going to die like the vegetables Sun's garden.  Jacob needs Desmond because he's exempt from not just the rules of time travel, but also the rules of the Island.  As a result, Des will somehow be the key to Jacob's substitution of Aaron and Ji Yeon as the Shephard and Kwon Candidates. 

Jacob's miracle

That's the real stubborn tomato.  Over to you, Wayne...

* * *

WAYNE: I give "The Package" an 8 on the Sickness Scale, 5 for characterization, 3 for mythology.

As maddening as the Mirror reality has been -- for me, at least -- we seem finally to be on the verge of some answers. Unfortunately, in a show where "everything happens for a reason," I'm not entirely certain what questions I need to ask anymore. When I think I might have the Man in Black's scheme figured out, or which two sides will be fighting in the war (with a third group looking on: remember that game of Risk!), I come to conclusions so predictable and trivial that I want to bang my head against a mirror. Yes, I'd rather do that than stare at the reflective surface and search for hidden meanings. There was one very promising aspect to this episode -- hence my giving the characterization a 5 out of 5 -- we got to see every major character interact, something not seen since the finale of the third season.

The Secret Garden. Ilana says they should wait for Richard, and assures them that Hurley will bring him back. But with not much going on at beach camp, Sun gets fed up with everyone's inaction, stabs a table, then leaves. She heads to the remains of the garden she started back in Season 1. Jack follows and mentions how it seems like it's been a hundred years since she  started growing vegetables in the now-dead earth.  But Sun wants none of it, so Jack leaves, leaving her to cry. She knows her husband is alive, but she wasn't so sure back in Season 2, when she buried the message bottle that had been brought on the raft with Jin, Sawyer, Michael, and Walt. The Others blew up the raft and the bottle containing scraps of paper with messages from the other crash survivors washed back up at beach camp.

In burying the bottle, Sun also temporarily lost her wedding ring. In the Mirror reality, Sun is't married to Jin, but they are sleeping together, which creates problems later in the episode. The surprise reveal of their Mirror relationship comes when Jin enters Sun's hotel room and she taunts him with a slow striptease that involves the unbuttoning of her familiar pea-green blouse. This in contrast to her...well, moving on. Actually, this scene was a perfect example of metatext, of breaking the fourth wall. When Sun taunts Jin about his wanting her to button up her blouse on the plane, he replies that they were around strangers. Here in the hotel, of course, they're among friends -- i.e., we the viewers who have watched their lives evolve for the better since the original button scene right after the crash. Wink, wink, we get the reference. But who's to say another side of it wasn't to show that there's a further "Meta" reality even beyond Crash and Mirror. And if there is a third reality, why not more? I'll revisit this all in a future recap.

I'm talkin' here, I'm talkin' here. The Man in Black approaches Sun, and, like the other candidates, she refuses to take his hand when he offers it to her. Instead, Sun runs off and cracks her head against a tree limb, the end result being that she can now only speak in Korean. Jin, of course, speaks English well after his three-year stint with DHARMA, creating a mirror opposite of Season 1, when he spoke nothing but Korean, and Sun was the English speaker.  How funny would it be if there was a scene where the two converse in Korean thinking they won't be understood by their respective "teams," when who shows up but Patchy, back from the dead and working for Widmore.

Ben finds Sun and tries to convince Ilana he had nothing to do with her accident. Ben: Why don't you believe me? Ilana: Because you are talking. This mirrors the two instances in which Sayid and Richard were sent to kill the Man in Black and Jacob, respectively, with orders not let either one speak. As this season progresses, the Man in Black's lies are more apparent, and it's not so much his being the smooth-talking Lucifer as much as a guy with Locke's memories taking lessons from Ben, the man who can find a way to exploit anybody, particularly...John Locke.  Of note: when the Man in Black is talking with Claire, he mentions that Kate must bring three people back from the beach camp, as all the candidates whose names have not been crossed out must be on the Ajira plane. A few episodes back, Ilana told Sun that there were only six candidates left, knowing that Locke was dead. The numbers don't add up, suggesting there may be an unknown candidate.

This episode has finally offered up at least a smidgen of the science aspect of the show with Jin being held prisoner in DHARMA's Room 23 and Zoe's map of the pockets of electro-magnetic energy. Let me go back to that conversation Charlotte was having with Faraday in "This Place is Death," right before she mentioned Carthage. "You know what my mum would say about you marrying an American," she declared in an authoritative tone. What if the person she was "talking" to was Theresa, the woman who might have married 'ol Twitchy but instead had her brain turned to Minkowski-mush? In the Mirror reality, will we see Faraday as a married man, carrying around his DHARMA notebook? Will Eloise be far behind?

Continuing the subject of talking, Miles's ability to hear the "last words" of the dead has me mulling over a bizarre idea. In the past, I've speculated that the Man in Black's loophole was not his taking on the identity of John Locke, but rather the creation of the Mirror reality. Which brings us to the Swan and Juliet. The Man in Black is now stuck in Locke's form, but what if he was able to mess with Miles's understanding of Juliet's final thoughts? What if she was referring to the opening of the Mirror reality loophole when she said "it worked"? The Man in Black tried his damnedest to muddle up what might have been a warning from dying Juliet, resulting in a confused message to Miles from the grave.

Space Oddity. The evidence points to the Man in Black's wanting to escape the Island -- and, as I mentioned last week, the electrical storm barrier -- using the Ajira plane. Each of the candidates will be on the plane as insurance against the possibility Widmore will shoot it to bits.  Presumably, those whose names are on the Lighthouse wheel must not die. This is a crazy thought, but what if the individuals in the Mirror reality are interchangeable with those in the Crash reality? A way for the Man in Black to cheat, a dead Mirror Sun replaced by a newly-widowed Crash Sun, and so forth? 

I infer that Jacob's touch in the Crash reality caused Jin to become sterile.  If he's responsible for magical Ji-Yeon's conception, then he's a cheater, too. Will Sun lose her baby in the Mirror reality? Will Claire have a miscarriage? Does the Man in Black simply want to go to the one of an infinite number of realities where there isn't a Ji-Yeon or an Aaron? The Man in Black told Widmore near the portable sonic fence that the war had now started. And with those words, I believe we're finally going to get the answers we've been wanting, as each player's agenda is revealed.
blog comments powered by Disqus