Lost With “Lost”

Because nothing says 'castaway on a deserted island' like a strappy metallic dress and a tailored suit...

Spoiler Alert! This post is about last night’s episode of “Lost”. If you haven’t seen it, you live under a very big rock with no electricity. If you plan on not being a pop culture dweeb and actually catching this episode before you catch a bad case of spoiler, do not read on.

You have been warned.

Has “Lost” jumped the shark?

Okay, perhaps this is an over-reaction from a devoted fan who has followed the show from the beginning, but last night’s episode may have finally convinced me that Lost has lost all appeal.

For those of you who need a refresher of what happened last night (or, I guess, for those of you who just would rather read a spoiler than watch the show), three of the main characters of Lostwere offed last night: Sayid, Sun and Jin.

That’s right, three.

That’s 75% of the Asian American actors on Lost who just found themselves written out of the main storyline. And all of them were killed in a single episode. Ken Leung has got to be downing multiple shots of tequila for making it out of Lost‘s little Asian American massacre last night.

Now, obviously, I’m upset primarily because Sun and Jin were, by far, my favourite characters on the show. I rooted for Sun and Jin through three seasons of emotional turbulence, when these two star-crossed lovers were separated by geography, time, and the apparently sadistic nature of the show’s writers.

But last week, we were treated to a touching (if somewhat melodramatic) reunion between Sun and Jin. Finding one another moments before being captured by Charles Whidmore, Sun and Jin hugged, kissed, cried, and inexplicably chose to communicate with one another in stilted English. Fans of Sun and Jin were delighted — we had been tortured by the prolonged separation of these two characters, and we believed that they would get to enjoy their “togetherness” for at least an episode. Perhaps one (if not both) might even make it off the island to care for their child, Ji-Yeon.

But, no. Lost just doesn’t work like that.

Having been reunited for only about twenty minutes of on-screen time (and about half a day or so of Losttime), Sun and Jin are brutally killed in the episode’s big reveal: Fake Locke’s smoke monster (i.e. “Locke Monster”) devised an elaborate plot to murder all six of the candidates at once by luring them into the submarine and blowing it up with some C4 set on a timer. With nowhere to run, the candidates were sure to die in the resulting explosion, leaving Locke Monster free to leave the island.

Now, Sayid’s death I actually have no problem with. His angsty “maybe I’m evil — no, wait, I’m not — err, than again, maybe I am” character arc was a wee bit annoying, so I wasn’t too sad to see him go. This wasn’t made any better by Naveen Andrews’ patented “evil intensevacant stare” that he was using to convey his character’s general badness. Furthermore, in both the main universe and in the Sideways universe, Sayid is a sociopath, which hardly makes him lovable. While I’m unconvinced that his final actions truly redeem his character as good, it was nice to see Sayid cut the puppet strings for the final few minutes of his life and try to run the bomb away from the other Losties. Sayid’s character was a statement regarding the influence of individual choice when it comes to morality; despite having taken orders all his life (and adapting his moral code to not conflict with those orders), Sayid’s final sacrifice is a conscious choice fueled by his personal moral code. To that end, Sayid’s death shows the final evolution of his character — he goes from an unquestioning torturer with emaciated personal morality to a self-sacrificing (anti-)hero who dies for something he believes in.

But Sun and Jin’s death? Now, we’re just talking bloodlust when it comes to Lost‘s writers.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lost producers said that Sun and Jin died because they felt the need to establish, without a shadow of a doubt, the evil-ness of Locke Monster. “There is no ambiguity,” says [Lost executive producer Carlton] Cuse. “He is evil and he has to be stopped.”

But, after having watched last night’s episode, that excuse seems a little thin. I was pretty convinced that Locke Monster was downright evil when we realized that he had trapped all six candidates in an underwater metal cigar tube with four bricks of C4. Whether everyone had died, or only Lapidus (talk about an underwhelming death scene, by the way — it’s only a shade better than Ilana’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it death), the insidiousness of Locke Monster’s plan was inescapable.

And so, we’re left with Sun, trapped in a sinking submarine and pinned down by debris following Sayid’s self-sacrifice. Jin tries desperately to free Sun with his bare hands (if ever a man needed a class in introductory physics — use a lever, dude) while Jack is forced to abandon the couple to save an unconscious Sawyer. Sun urges Jin to leave and save himself, Jin tells Sun that he will not leave her again, and then they drown.

Boo.

I’m sure the show’s producers weren’t thinking about the image conjured by killing all three prominent Asian American actors on Lostin a single 60-minute episode. I’m sure they weren’t considering the fact that, by offing Sayid, Sun and Jin, Asian Americans lost three of only thirteen primetime TV regulars portrayed by APIA actors (that’s roughly 25%, folks) — all in one night. And, I’m sure Lost producers weren’t deliberately giving the bird to all the fans who were skeptical of Sun and Jin in the first season — when Asian American activists worried that Jin was abusive and Sun lacked any hint of a feminist backbone. And, yes, it is nice to see an Asian couple on American primetime television serve as the symbolic Romeo and Juliet.

But, still! Just ‘cuz Shakespeare killed his star-crossed lovers in a symbolic (if ultimately empty) gesture, doesn’t mean that Sun and Jin had to suffer the same fate.

I’m going to watch this Lostthing through, but what’s going to keep me tuned in without Daniel Dae Kim’s love-hate relationship with clothing?!?

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