"We're not the only people on this island and we all know it."
LOST, Season One, Episode 17, ...In Translation as in, of course, LOST In Translation, an homage to director Sophia Coppolla's film of the same name, Lost In Translation, with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, ironically speaks to the focus of this entry, Jin-Soo Kwon, easily one of the most misunderstood of the Oceanic Flight 815 survivors. He simply doesn't translate well to the others, but like Sawyer and Locke is easily as complex as they come.
Additionally the episode's title speaks volumes about communication between the survivors or a lack thereof. More often than not there is distrust, suspicion, subterfuge or just a general lack of understanding or communication between one another. People are blaming each other and getting hurt as a result. As the title suggests much seems to be lost in translation.
The flashback of Jin alone tells the tale, yet again, we are not always what we seem, as Jin is not the monster he appears. Working out of family obligation to his wife's father, Jin actually takes steps, despite violence, to save a life from the Yakuza crime family he has reluctantly entered into contract as a result of marrying the crime boss' daughter.
This would be the first official flashback for Jin though the Sun flashback in House Of The Rising Sun involved and was pertinent to Jin, this episode places aspects of those events in a new context.
Additionally Sawyer, as he has done on several occasions including Outlaws, cannot make the right call on guilt or innocence as he gets it wrong here again.
Finally worth noting, Sun's actions in protecting Michael from Jin parallel Jin's actions in protecting a man from the Yakuza.
Highlight: As the relationship between Sun and Jin appears in crisis, Sun desperately attempts to communicate and reach Jin out of love. Does the stoic Jin listen?
Sun begs the question can they go back to the beginning? Can they start over? Again, the idea of the tabula rasa or blank slate comes into play. Can the two wash away the sins of the past and get back to what made them fall in love in the first place before Jin became swept up in a criminal dynasty?
"I wish I could start over," wishes Jin to his father. Jin often hid his own past and his own family story, one steeped in hard work in ethics. Jin previously ashamed of his father (he originally disowned him and referred to him as deceased), a village fisherman, but of himself, his actions and what he has become. Jin, out of protection for Sun, has become someone untrue to himself. Through action and language barriers, Jin is in effect lost in translation to everyone around him including himself.
In the end Jin stubbornly holds to the belief of protecting Sun's memory of her father to the detriment of their relationship.
The episode's highlight may be the exchange between Sun and Jin in the final moving minutes. This along with, of course, his re-connection with his father and the realization for Jin and for us he has been denying his true self.
But who wouldn't pick the moment between Locke and Walt at the very end for the money shot of the episode? Wow! It absolutely nailed the episode down with everything that transpired before it from the burning raft to the tumultuous relationships.
The final shot of Hurly's music is not just diegetic and emanating from an onscreen source but works as a soundtrack for the final shots until the battery litteraly runs out, "son of a bitch," and the episode ends. Now that approach is refreshing, original stuff. Perfect!
What may never feel quite right is the dynamic between Shannon and Sayid, but who am I to argue with two island bound starry-eyed lovers?
This would be the fourth writing credit (of five for Season One) for Javier Grillo-Marxuach. This would be Leonard Dick's first writing credit (of six throughout the series). Meanwhile, Tucker Gates is a prolific director (The X-Files, Bates Motel, Homeland, Carnivale) and this would be his second credit of seven throughout the series.
Not everything makes sense on the island, but again, in a jungle of mystery many things just get plain LOST ...In Translation. Why not?
Flashback: Jin-Soo Kwon.
Writer: Javier Grillo-Marxuach / Leonard Dick (The Good Wife, House).
Director: Tucker Gates (LOST's Confidence Man).