Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Wow, you guys have some real trust issues, don't you?": LOST, season 2, episode 16

"The Whole Truth"
Synopsis: Jin has grown overprotective of Sun following her near-abduction. Sun thinks she is pregnant. In flashback, we learn that Sun was learning English from her former "fiancee" while married to Jin, and that Jin is impotent. Meanwhile, in the present, Locke asks Ana Lucia to interrogate Henry Gale in hopes of finding out if he is an "Other".

Great, another Elizabeth Sarnoff-written episode. Or co-written, I should say. I have fond memories of her work on Deadwood, where she wrote "Amalgamations and Capital" and "Here Was a Man" (among others), in addition to co-producing the entire second season (the strongest season, I'd say).

And her work on "Abandoned" was quite good, finally giving Shannon (Maggie Grace's character) some interesting backstory that wasn't predicated around Boone's obsession with her or another character's tragedy. Of course, that was also the episode that killed off Shannon. So, plot-wise, a bit of a draw.

This season she also wrote "The Hunting Party", which was also good, though not quite as much of a stand-out. It was notable for giving us a Christian Shepard who was right and not responsible for what went wrong.

And now "The Whole Truth". This is an episode obsessed with the way people lie to others and deceive themselves and the difficulties they face in setting things right. Sometimes it can be funny, such as when Hurley gets caught with his private food stash while Sun is trying to covertly take a pregnancy test. Both fail to catch the other's suspicious actions as they try to conceal their own.

But it has much more serious consequences both individually and in the group. Our title for the recap comes from Henry Gale, but it echoes the comment that Libby said to Michael a couple episodes back about Ana Lucia and the rest of the Tailies. If Ana Lucia was complaining earlier about the camp being too trusting, they're now reversing courses, to their detriment.

Everyone's own lies and self-deceptions seem poised to endanger at least three of the survivors by the end. Jin and Sun's story resolves somewhat happily, with Jin accepting both that Sun is pregnant and that she has been faithful to him, whispering in awe that it is a miracle. And the Island is a place for miracles, it's true. On the other hand, that wonderful shot of Sun's lengthening expression as Jin holds her suggests this might just be another lie.

And as for dealing with Henry Gale, we get perhaps the most concrete expression of his possible malignity in this episode, but he is only as effective as he is because everyone else helps him.

Locke and Jack are now locked in mind games with each other. Locke brings Ana Lucia in to interrogate Henry, it seems, as much out of a desire to annoy Jack as to figure this out. And we're not sure if Jack is concerned for what Ana Lucia will do to Henry or what Henry will do to Ana Lucia.

For her part, Ana Lucia decides to resolve this simply, by just getting Henry to draw a map of where the balloon is. She sets out without telling Jack or Locke, presumably so she has an extra bargaining chip to draw Henry out with, or maybe just because she's afraid of Jack & Locke jumping to conclusions.

It makes less sense to me that Ana Lucia's group ends up being Sayid and Charlie. They are all united by their hatred of the Others. But needless to say, Ana Lucia and Sayid have plenty of reasons to distrust each other, while Ana Lucia seems a likely candidate to expose Charlie as the false Other attacker. When she stares at Charlie's profile, I worried that she might recognize the fabric of Charlie's clothes matching that of the cloth used to bind Sun. Instead, she just notices that Charlie's got a gun. Which, given the events of the previous few episodes and the current AWOL status of the gun cache, must certainly bring up some troubling questions for Sayid and Ana Lucia. But they don't get asked yet.

The problem doesn't end up being with the group, though. Because [SPOILER ALERT!] in a really nice final scene, when Locke and Jack decide to be nice to Henry by letting him out for breakfast, he reveals that he drew a map for Ana Lucia and speculates that, if he were one of the Others, he'd just draw a map to a place where the Others would be sure to ambush the survivors and trade for him. And then he asks for milk. FADE OUT.

This episode had a well-balanced mix of character moments and plot advancement. Jin and Sun were really the emotional heart of the episode, but I especially applaud the less-common character combinations that rubbed up against each other in awkward or tense ways. It is really easy to build chemistry or drama out of the same love triangles or friendships. But everyone is still living in the same small space and they have to work together on everything from picnic tables to exploration.

Episode Grade: A-

Other Thoughts
  • I really like the way they establish Jin's own difficulty in, even at this point, understanding what everyone is saying: they blur the English into gibberish. This episode, he basically admits that everyone except Sun is an "other". It's suggested that he's holding onto Sun in part because she's the only one who understands him. What a scary thought, for him and her.
  • I love the way that final moment is shot. It totally eschews the now cliche "look at what the other character is looking at, audience" shot that LOST uses way too much for commercial breaks, opening credits and cliffhangers. Just a brightly-lit, cheery room that we know isn't going to stay cheery for long.
  • Sayid doesn't even want to admit the possibility that Henry is who he says he is. And even Ana Lucia is put off by that. That's not a good sign.
  • It's a nice touch that Bernard and Rose, after being reunited, still have arguments. I'm glad they weren't tempted to let them be boring perfect people and write them out.
  • Geronimo Jackson sighting: Locke looks at their album cover and record while talking with Jack.
  • Speaking of Deadwood, good alternate title for this episode would be "A Lie Agreed Upon".
-"Locke and Jack are only thinking about Jack and Locke." - Ana Lucia
-Sun: [in Korean] "I love you."
Jin: [in English] "I love you."
- "Breakfast is ready! We've got papaya, papaya and papaya." - Charlie