Sunday, March 16, 2008

YOUR KARMA HIT MY DOGMA







Although we were promised a breakneck speed for this Incredibly Shrinking Season Four of Lost, the last two episodes have slowed to an almost meditative pace. Instead of racing through a steeplechase of hair-raising rescue adventures, we found ourselves this episode back at the strangely unchanged beach set.



In the blink of an eye, the corpses and burnt tents have been swept away and everyone is back to lazy chats over cereal and fruit salad while they wait ever so patiently for the highly suspicious helicopter that left three days ago to mosey on back...you know, any old day now.


It’s an eerily apathetic kind of rescue project they’ve got going on here.

Cap’n Jack hasn’t seen fit yet to inform any of them that the freighter folks don’t really have any interest in bringing them home, that they’re here instead to capture Big Ben dead or alive.


Kate is still amusing herself with passive aggressive games, spreading lies about how Juliet’s a liar, encouraging Sun to run off to Dr. Demento’s Yellow House Cult, while promising to only lie to Jack until it’s too late for Jack to do anything about it.


Just business as usual.

And Sun has decided to just put it out of her head that she's growing a teeny tiny kamikaze killer inside her. In fact, she hasn't gotten around yet to tell Jin that there just might be a glitch with this happy family fantasy he's enjoying.



You can see why she’d want to forget about that. It’s tempting to stay in a state of delusion. Where we aren’t constantly having to deal with this nasty fact of life where every damn thing that happens only ends up making some other damn thing happen. Or in the words of this week’s resident philosopher


“If good things you do, will things good to you come. If bad you do, to you come bad will.”

Actually, what Bernard was trying to say, in his bastardized Western definition of the word, was that all living things are bound by the ancient universal law of Karma. As digested and regurgitated by American pop culture, Karma sometimes seems like a kind of moral bank account, where you store up good things and get happy dividends ,


or store up bad things and get your ass kicked through life because of them.



But you know, it’s really not that simple. For one thing, this version of Karma presumes that good and bad are as easy to spot as black and white patterns on a giant stuffed panda bear.


When in fact, nothing in life is ever that clear.

There is comedy in tragedy.



Happiness in sadness.



Kindness in cruelty.



Hatred in love.



Life in death.



It’s easy to see the difficulties of segregating good and evil in a story like Lost.

Just as one example, we have a character on Lost who is known for his talents at torture, terrorism and murder.



And what Lost fan doesn’t love him to bits anyway?

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

We aren’t judgmental around here, or at least I hope not. Judgment only leads to all kinds of confusion. Perhaps by taking another look at the sad saga of Sun and Jin, we can see that Karma is not just another version of The Golden Rule.

Basically, Sun betrayed Jin. Her marital misstep


led to her needing to confide her paternity fears to Juliet


which led to Jin leaving her for the winsome charms of Bernard.



So far so good. Sun gives bad, gets bad. That works.



But what about the rest? Jin forgives Sun



which leads, through some road we haven’t gone down yet, to Sun’s survival



and the return of another soul to the eternal round of birth and death.



So Sun’s nookie with Jae led, by many a tangled hook and crook, to Ji Yeon being born



and to Jin being dead.



And this is fair how?

See, Karma isn’t about being fair. Good doesn’t bring reward while evil brings punishment. Otherwise, who could possibly explain Kate? Her actions cause this effect for others



but this effect



for Kate herself.

So we can see Bernard’s kind of Karma doesn’t even scratch the surface of its meaning. In fact, the exact English translation for Karma is the word “action”. It’s kind of like another way of stating Newton’s Third Law of Physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.


Boiled down to its most basic form, Karma is the Law of Consequence. Of cause and effect. Everything you do, good or evil or in between, causes something else to happen, and on and on and on, ad infinitum. It’s like the saying – Life’s a bitch and then you die.

Only with Karma, Life’s a bitch and then you die and then life’s a bitch again.


And you just can’t ever get the hell out of this eternal Round of Birth and Death, called Samsara(heads up here for two future Lost characters named Sam and Sara), until you free yourself from ignorance and attain Enlightenment.


Perhaps this explains how Michael,



last seen trying to take the E-Z path to Redemption, by murdering his way off the island with Walt, has somehow been returned through a circuit of the Karmic Wheel to a new - and infinitely more creepy - kind of captivity on The Little Ship of Horrors.


Kahana means “turning point”, but the boat Mr. Widmore has commissioned isn't turning out of these eerie doldrums it's trapped within. We knew the ship had a spy on board.


Now we find there is also a saboteur...who has disabled the motors. This can only cause bad things to happen.


Men in closed compartments on a canned bean diet – I think we all know what kind of effect that causes.

The painted ship is becalmed on its painted ocean, under the thrall of the Island’s mysterious insanity-inducing properties. The sailors do not react normally even to the most extreme actions of their shipmates.


When the upside down reading girl with the thousand mile stare calmly drapes herself in rusty chains and plunges to a watery grave…



this only causes the crew - including Kevin - to yawn and scratch their asses.




Apparently she wasn’t very popular.



Desmond and Sayid are not sufficiently enlightened to be able to understand this apathy about a young woman’s suicide. They’re entirely out of place on this ghostly Flying Dutchman


with its extra creepy doctor



its Suicide Suite



and its Overlook Hotel decor.



Captain Gault (whose first name may or may not start with "R", making him a candidate for Naomi's honey)


(another fine choice by the Man Candy Casting Gods, by the way)



made quite a show of escorting our boys into his private cabin to pull out the purported Black Box of Oceanic Flight 815. Why the Black Box is being carried on this vessel is one question, since one would think it might be rather more secure kept someplace like Widmore's safe.


Whether his story about the cover story is just another cover story is another question. Did Ben really procure 324 dead bodies and plant them in a shattered airplane at the bottom of the ocean? If he did that, why did he do it? To throw any search parties off the scent of the Island? And if Ben didn't plant the bodies, who did? And why are they blaming it on Ben?



The actions of one’s Karma enter the eternal stream of existence and we never can know where their reactions will surface. All past actions create future actions. Past, present and future are part of the same vicious circle. As we saw, Sun’s behavior has resulted in some great tragedy befalling Jin, but it has also given life to their daughter Ji Yeon. Although it must be said, Sun didn’t actually get to enjoy the experience. Unlike Kate, Sun got her baby the old fashioned way – she earned it!



Remind me never to have a baby on the hospital set of a Korean soap opera! First they tear your jewelry off.



Then you get this scary manga-faced doctor who you don’t know who pumps drugs into your veins without asking you and merrily assures you that your baby is in acute distress and wants to start slicing you open



even though seconds later



....out pops a perfectly healthy goop-covered baby girl. All that stress for nothing. And to think I always thought Asian doctors had perfected some kind of acupuncture pain free style of tranquil, easy childbirth. I guess not!

What's more, Sun had to go through that madness all alone, her perfect happiness corrupted with heartbreak.



Death is certain for anyone born,
and birth is certain for the dead;
since the cycle is inevitable
you have no cause to grieve.
- Bhagavad Gita

Perhaps reflecting how the Karmic wheel doesn’t distinguish between past and future, this episode was the first in the series where past, present and future all had a moment to sing at the same time.


If you happened to know that the Year of the Dragon last occurred in 2000 – or if you’re a connoisseur of cell phone evolution - you might have noticed early on that Jin’s otherwise pointless little comedy of errors was happening in the past, not the future.



If not, you fell prey to another one of this season’s rather repetitive GOTCHA! moments. You know, I'm starting to wonder if the writers haven't become a wee bit too addicted to the Gotcha! style of storytelling. Gotcha is kind of like hot sauce in a story, in my opinion. A little goes a long way. Too much and everything starts to taste the same.

Or perhaps you, like me, were just a little bit…um, bored by this week’s episode. It was nice enough.



Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim are certainly both very fine actors. But it all felt a bit too slow. A bit too aimless for this radically abbreviated season of Lost that we all waited so very many months for.I can’t be the only one who is a bit dismayed to find ourselves seven episodes in, and everyone just sitting on their thumbs on the beach blindly trusting in the rescuers who have already said they aren’t there to rescue anyone. Or sitting around with grenades in their mouths in little yellow houses.



Something’s missing. Action. Continuity. Momentum. Why are we wasting precious moments watching the writers giggle self referentially over their own past hilarious failures?



Let’s be blunt here. Some very important things have been missing lately, to the point it's totally starting to harsh our buzz.


You get my drift? We're being as patient as possible, but let’s get with the program already. Or at least give us a clue about what kind of program we're watching now. Remember that show about the plane crash survivors on the magical island? When did it morph into The World According to Benjamin Linus?



In the meantime, we're trying to play along. OK, we know the boat belongs to Widmore. A plane crash was staged to make it seem like everyone on 815 died. Maybe Ben staged it, maybe not. Either way, soon 6 survivors are going to return to the real world and someone's going to have some 'splainin' to do about why those 6 were included among the 324 corpses. Lots of lies are being told. Sun is crying to a tombstone that is printed with a big bold lie staring her right in her tearstained face.



Because whatever happened to Jin, he definitely didn't die on the date that is printed there.

We were told after this episode, that we would know who the Oceanic Six were.



Color me stupid, but I still only count Five. Who is Number Six?



Aaron?



Kevin Johnson?

We were also told that there would be a major death of a major character in this episode. So color me stupid some more, because I think I'm missing that one too. Now, since we've been discussing karma, it's elementary to understand that there is death in life and life in death.



In fact, the primary cause of death, when you get right down to it, is birth.



However, there was one big thing missing in the circle of birth and death in this episode - Jin's death. There's no way I'm taking that one at face value.



All we're getting of this story right now are the prologue and the epilogue. The most interesting part still remains untold. I hope they get around to telling it one of these weeks, but for now,all we're left with are our theories and our guesses.



By a house collapsed
A pear tree is blooming;
Here a battle was fought.
- Shiki

9 comments:

Surly said...

Dead. F'ing. On. Everything you said. Wake me when the action starts again.

Crystal said...

Excellent recap, Fish. I couldn't agree more.

Sawyer on the back of that milk carton had me in stitches! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Excellent, as always. You really are the voice of the crowd with this one, Fish. You bolded out everything that, I'm sure, bugs to various extents the majority of lost fans. Where's Sawyer, where's action, where's consistency and what's up with the supposed "light-speed" action this season.
Can't say I disliked this epi, it had it's moment, but it does add to the overall picture of slight disappointment a little.

And as always, pin-point, bright, smartest choice of the quotes.

Sassynails.

Anonymous said...

Fish, this review really did touch on what I believe a lot of us are feeling regarding S4. We're ready to move forward. Three years and nine month hiatus...the writers should be too. As much as I adore the Kim's/Kwon's storyline...as much as I heart Juliet, and search for understanding in Kate's character...those three episodes have no lived up to (in many aspects) with what the first three episodes of the season seemed to promise. There's been no use of Locke's rediscovered purpose by seeing Taller Ghost Walt. James dark mood after Cooper's and Tom's killing has not carried over in any significant way, and don't even get me started on the lack of grief and anger from Hurley and Claire. Tell me a good story, writers, that's all you need to do to keep me interested. These "Gotcha!" "Wasn't your mind blown?" moments are cheap and superficial, and I would like to think beneath such a talented group. Anyways, great review as always...

Darbi

pocket said...

Thanks for another great review. I couldn't agree more. The Sun/Jin story line has always left me a bit cold, and I think that with a season this short we need to move the action along already.

Bsti said...

While I agree with most of this synopsis, I felt that this episode's function was to put a cap on Jin/Sun's story arc so they CAN move along. Theirs is just above Rose/Bernard in terms of action, so to get it over with now seems to me a good move. All that's left for them is they mystery of Jin's place in Lost's future.
That said, do we NEED Rose/Bernard's arc tied up. I hope they do it in a way that doesn't require a centric episode for them, because to me, THAT would be boring.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent review Fishbiscuit Karma and the circle of life very appropriate. I liked Jin and Sun in this ep, DDK and YK did the best work with their characters. I feel a wee bit disappointed in Lost too however, maybe the buzz for this season made me expect too much. Although I still enjoy the show, it feels as if it's missing something now and I suspect seeing too little of the original characters and the lack of action promised are part of the reason why.

LOVE your manips as usual too, Yoda Bernard couldn't be more perfect and Sawyer's missing pic on the milk carton highlights an important feeling among many fans - more Sawyer is always only a good thing, he's very much a part of this show just as Kate, Locke, Ben etc are. Let's hope we see a lot more of him as the season continues or Lost definitely won't be the same without him!

~ Midnight

Anonymous said...

Fish I love you as always, You're great with your reviews, and is totally true I miss SAWYER!!!!!!!!!, I don't know what the hell is going on sometimes with these show, this season has been diferent and weird at the same time, and something is missing!

kimmerz23 said...

whatever happened to bubbleheads?!?!!?