The Lost Blog

Key Points from "...In Translation"

Season 1, Episode 17
Episode Air Date: 02/23/05

Point 1
Jin The watchword for this week is "melodrama." I suppose it was inevitable that relationships and touchy-feelyness would sneak into the proceedings, but I never thought it would emerge with such gusto in Jin's backstory. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the melodrama was wrong or misplaced. Rather, it was disarming.

But enough with my analysis. Here's what went down.

Way back in episode six ("House of the Rising Sun") we received a few tantalizing clues about Sun and Jin's stormy relationship. Most notable among those clues was a short scene showing Jin scrubbing blood from his hands. Where the blood came from and, more importantly, whose blood it might be were not revealed -- until now.

The blood belongs to a high-ranking Korean politician and yes, Jin is responsible for the blood flow. But here's the kicker: Jin actually saved the politician from a far more permanent fate.

So let's back up a bit and take this blood stuff from the top. As you probably surmised from the earlier episode, Jin was enlisted by Sun's powerful father to do a little dirty work. But it wasn't always this way. When Jin first asked Sun's father for permission to marry Sun, Jin was brought into the father's business as a legitimate factory manager. But after months of honest employment, Sun's father "promoted" Jin to special assistant status. Alas, being a special assistant has one big drawback: violence needs to be used early and often.

At first, Jin doesn't quite understand his new job. Sun's father orders Jin to deliver a "message" to the high-ranking Korean official. Jin, working under the assumption that messages are delivered verbally, visits the official at his home and tells him his boss is "displeased" with his policies (the policies in question have something to do with auto plants, but it's not really important to the plot). The Korean official is dumbfounded -- he was sure Jin was there to deliver a different type of message. To show his appreciation, he runs to his living room and lifts a purebred Shar-Pei puppy from his young daughter's lap (you should be having an ah-ha moment right about ... NOW). He runs back to Jin and plants the dog in his arms, insisting that he take it as a token of his gratitude. Jin accepts the dog and all is well, for the moment at least.

(Note: The ah-ha moment hinges on the dog. For those who may have missed "House of the Rising Sun," Jin gives the dog to Sun).

Unfortunately, Jin's interpretation of a message differs significantly from his boss' interpretation. Sometime later, Jin is summoned to the father's office where he's berated for his lack of action. To make up for his incompetence, Sun's father orders Jin back to the official's home -- and this time he'll be accompanied by an experienced henchmen who, presumably, will deliver a more persuasive message.

But Jin is a quick thinker and he swoops into action at the last possible second. The henchman prepares to enter the official's apartment with designs on popping him full of bullets, but Jin zips in and grabs the official by the collar. He rains blow and after blow onto the politician, bloodying his face. With the official fading into unconsciousness, Jin once again expresses his boss' disappointment with the official's political maneuvers -- and this time the message is a whole lot clearer. Jin leans into the man's face and says "I just saved your life." With that, he drops his victim and marches from the apartment. The henchman -- who was standing by the doorway during Jin's sparring session -- holsters his gun and follows Jin out.

And that's how Jin turned into Lady Macbeth. The blood-washing scene we witnessed in "House of the Rising Sun" is repeated in this episode, but now we know that Jin's mysterious behavior -- and his unresponsiveness to Sun's desperate pleas for answers -- was not nearly as nefarious as it once seemed. He resorted to violence to save a man. Unfortunately, he can't tell Sun any of this.

Why? Well, that's where the melodrama comes in. Overwhelmed by his actions, Jin returns to the small fishing village where he was raised. It's a place he hasn't visited in years; and he's even gone so far as to claim that his father (a simple fisherman) is dead. But this is "Lost" and we know that no one is ever, ever dead, including simple fishermen. So Jin visits his father and his father drops some down-home country wisdom on his wayward son. Jin believes he's bound to his responsibilities, despite knowing that his responsibilities are wrong. Moreover, he tells his father that he can't tell Sun about his transgressions because she cannot know the truth about her own evil daddy. Jin's father has none of this. He tells his son that his only true responsibility is to his wife. If he needs to take his wife and leave -- perhaps even go to America (?!?) -- he needs to make it happen. Judging by the look on Jin's face, it's clear he's not the only one who knows how to deliver a message.

And so now we have a clearer vision of Jin's story. Unlike "House of the Rising Sun," where Jin was portrayed as a domineering bastard, his actions and thousand-mile stare make a little more sense. A little. The business about his inability to tell Sun the truth -- or even allude to the truth -- is a bit much, especially since they're now deserted on a tropical island.

Speaking of the island ...

Point 2


Jin's backstory is (of course) directly connected to current events on the island. The beginning of this episode kicks off with Sun stepping into the surf wearing a two-piece bathing suit (it's one of those "reasonable" bathing suits -- not the kind of thing Shannon would prance around in). Jin takes exception to this. Remember, this is the guy who wigged out when Sun unbuttoned the top button of her blouse. So you can imagine how he feels about exposed legs, stomach, shoulders and ... gasp ... lower back. Jin rushes up the beach and tries to throw a blanket over Sun, but she protests. The two grapple a bit and, unfortunately, all of this transpires in front of other castaways. Most offer a disapproving glare and a few mumbles, but Michael sees what he perceives to be a Great Injustice and he rushes in to intervene. And of course, Michael and Jin get into a pissing match since neither is particularly fond of the other. But then things get interesting ... out of nowhere, Sun hauls off and smacks Michael on the cheek. The blow stuns both Michael and Jin (neither saw that one coming), and suddenly, anger is replaced by confusion. Michael retreats while Sun and Jin march away from the onlookers.

But this isn't over -- not by a longshot. See, Michael has continued to build his escape raft (he first concocted this wild idea in "Special"), and the boat is nearing completion. Now, Michael should know better because it's well established castaway doctrine that whenever an escape plan is becoming a reality, that is when the plan is in its most fragile and dangerous state. And wouldn't you know it, later that night the castaways rush to the beach to watch as Michael's carefully built raft goes up in flames. The arsonist is unknown, but Michael has a prime suspect in mind: his good buddy Jin.

The hot-headed personalities on the island (Sawyer, Charlie, Michael) pay no mind to calmer influences (Jack, Kate, Locke) and so a low-scale witch hunt ensues. Sawyer is the one who finds Jin and instead of diplomacy, Sawyer opts for a kick to the head. Sheriff Sawyer then parades Jin back to the beach where he's to stand trial in a kangaroo court. Michael acts as judge and jury, pounding Jin in the face with a series of right hooks. Jin doesn't fight back. His only response is to snarl something in Korean. And remember, there's no one on the island who can translate. I mean, if someone -- anyone -- could bridge the communication gap, perhaps all of this violence would give way to deeper understanding ... wait a minute ...

And this is exactly when Sun decides to divulge her Big Secret. As Michael prepares to land another massive blow to Jin's chin, Sun shouts "Stop it! Leave him alone! He didn't burn your raft!" And she shouts all of this in English, which successfully raises every single eyebrow of every single castaway -- including Jin, who is stunned by his wife's language skills.

Now, you'd think that a massive reveal like this one would cause everyone to take pause, but Michael's anger is slapped in fifth gear and it shows no signs of downshifting. But then Locke -- our Lord and Savior King Locke of the Blessed Former Paraplegics -- steps forward to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Jin isn't the culprit. In fact, the real evildoer might be one of the homicidal maniacs that has already infiltrated the camp, kidnapped a pregnant lady, and murdered a castaway. Locke wisely notes that everyone knows they're not alone on the island and, more importantly, Jin would have to be a stunning idiot to destroy their only chance for escape, so why, why in the name of CGI polar bears and mysterious island monsters, would the suspect list include any of the survivors?

And suddenly everyone calms down and disbands from the mob.

Shortly thereafter, Sun seeks out Jin. She knows there's some big-time explaining to do. Unfortunately, when she finds Jin he's not too keen on talking through their problems. In fact, he's not keen on talking at all. Sun pleads with Jin, asking him to simply respond to her. But Jin packs his bag and prepares to walk off. In a last-ditch effort, Sun screams at him -- in English -- "I was going to leave you! I was going to get away. But you made me change my mind. You made me think that you still loved me." Jin pauses. Sun continues, in Korean, begging him for a chance to go back to the beginning and start over. Jin is moved, but the softness quickly turns back to tight anger as he says (in Korean) "It's too late."

What?! After all the melodramatic talks with daddy (the Jin-Daddy flashback scenes were even spliced within this heartfelt interchange between Sun and Jin), Jin opts to forgo the obvious choice and instead hold on to his dated stern-faced woe-is-me-I-did-a-bad-thing bullshit!?

And with that the major developments come to an end. However, there were a few closing-moment elements that need to be noted because they're setting the scene for future plot threads:

  • Michael decides to rebuild his raft and out of nowhere, Jin emerges from the jungle with a bundle of cut sticks. He looks at Michael and says, in stilted english, "boat." The two share an understanding look and then dive into a ship-building collaboration. Nothing puts an old rivalry to rest like a woodworking project.

  • In the very next scene, Sun returns to the shore wearing the same bathing suit. She steps into the water and releases a blanket, revealing all the parts Jin wanted to cover. As the water strikes her shins a small smile crosses her face and she looks skyward. It's an obvious turning point -- she appears to have found her new beginning, but she found it without Jin (I told you melodrama was afoot!).
Point 3


So we already covered the raft incident and Michael's beat-down of Jin, but we didn't talk about Walt ... and that's a shame because Walt is very important in this episode.

Early on, Michael tells Walt about New York City and expresses his excitement to show Walt specific buildings. Walt responds like any 10-year-old would: with a shrug. At the time it seemed unimportant, but later on this shrug reveals a whole lot.

After the drama dies down and Sun makes her language revelation, Locke sidles up to Walt back in the cave camps. Michael is down by the beach and Walt is sitting alone playing with his backgammon board. Locke sits down to play and just as things seem cordial and nice and easy Locke asks: "Why did you burn the raft, Walt?"

Let's go over that again. Locke asks: "WHY DID YOU BURN THE RAFT, WALT?"

And then Walt pauses and ... and pauses again ... and then says he torched the raft because he doesn't want to move anymore (hence his reticence about visiting New York). He's been moving his whole life and he likes the island. Locke's face softens as he looks at Walt and says, "I like it here, too."

Uh, Michael? You might want to get back to camp. I think Locke just became Walt's daddy.

Before moving on, I have to voice some criticism. Walt's "reason" is weak. Now, I know he's 10 years old and it's asking a bit much for a pre-pubescent kid to have a legitimate reason, but not wanting to move is pretty lame. And Walt's liking of the island is incredibly lame. Just a few episodes ago, Walt was screaming for his life as a polar bear attacked him. And yet, besides the random polar bear incidents and the intense foreboding, Walt decides that the island is really quite nice. What?

Point 4

The Sayid-Shannon relationship hits a rough patch this week, but like all star-crossed couples, adversity only makes them stronger. I'll spare you the full details, but basically it goes like this. Out of courtesy, Sayid tells Boone that he and Shannon will be advancing their "friendship." Boone puts a scare into Sayid by revealing Shannon's history of latching onto older guys. Sayid then tells Shannon she might want to find someone else. Sensing foul play on her brother's part, Shannon rushes off to confront Boone but she finds Locke instead. Locke goes into Obi-Wan mode and says that everyone on the island "gets a new life," including her (Theme Alert!). This bolt of Lockian Wisdom shocks Shannon to the core as she suddenly realizes that she doesn't have to continue her cycle of hollow relationships. Later that night, Shannon approaches Sayid. Silhouetted against a roaring fire, Shannon plants a kiss on him. "What was that for?" Sayid asks. "Everyone gets a new life on this island," Shannon says. "I'd like to start now." Projectile vomiting commences.
Point 5
Hurley Did you see him? If you blinked you may have missed it, but Hurley was clearly visible in one of Jin's flashback sequences. It happens during Jin's first visit to the Korean official's home. The official's daughter is watching television -- it appears to be a newscast -- and Hurley can be seen getting into a car. A second shot shows Hurley attempting to block the camera from filming his face. That's the extent of it, but just as Sawyer was clearly visible in one of Boone's flashbacks, Hurley is intentionally inserted into this scene.

And in other Hurley news, the closing montage begins with Hurley putting on his headphones and firing up his CD player. And just as you're wondering how the batteries in Hurley's CD player could possibly be functioning, the music sputters and Hurley realizes that his battery cells have run dry. Kudos to the "Lost" crew for anticipating -- and exploiting -- one of those "oh, come on" moments.

That's it for now. Be sure to drop by our "Lost" Forum for stimulating conversation and conjecture.

Next Episode:
"Numbers" -- Hurley teams with an FBI agent and a math genius ... crap, wrong show. Hurley becomes obsessed with crazy Danielle Rousseau and spearheads a treacherous trip into the jungle. Airs: Wednesday, March 2, 8 p.m., ABC.

Review by Mac Slocum. All photos and episode descriptions © ABC Inc.


#1. Posted by: James at June 9, 2007 10:38 PM

Uh, Michael? You might want to get back to camp. I think Locke just became Walt's daddy.

#2. Posted by: James at June 9, 2007 10:40 PM

James - You obviously haven't been made aware of RULE #### 1


#3. Posted by: meg...MIF at April 3, 2008 2:37 PM