Critical Myth

Television has become the medium of today's modern mythology, delivering the exploits of icons and archetypes to the masses. Names like Mulder, Scully, Kirk, Spock, and Buffy have become legend. This blog is a compilation of the reviews written about the tales of our modern day heroes.

Location: NJ

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lost 3.18: "D.O.C."

Written by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis
Directed by Frederick Toye

In which Sun becomes aware of the problems for pregnant women on the island, and takes Juliet up on her offer to help, while Desmond makes an unusual choice to save the new arrival…

Status Report

It has become popular among critics and former fans to portray “Lost” as a series without a plan or purpose, tossing out mysteries with no intention of resolution. Most recently, a critic for Entertainment Weekly even went so far as to insult the remaining fans for “making excuses”, pointing to the ratings as proof that the emperor has no clothes.

Of course, ever since “One of Us”, the season has been ripping through one of the best resolution phases in recent memory, answering long-term and short-term questions while giving the “Lost” world better definition. Just in this episode alone, several items are clarified and resolved, and the writers are operating on a first-season level. Interpreting these episodes as “too little, too late” sounds more like petulance than objectivity.

Usually the Jin/Sun episodes are something of a break in the action, a chance to pause and reflect on some of the less prominent characters. This was likely by design. Looking back on the series as a whole, Jin and Sun have had several flashback episodes. This particular episode puts their entire history into context, and reveals a long-term strategy on the part of the writers. Sun’s pregnancy wasn’t an example of “reaching for straws”; it was crucial setup of an important step in the show’s progression.

This is one of the inherent strengths of “Lost”. The writers take the time to build up information and context over time, so when the payoff comes, it makes sense and feels genuine. Sun’s pregnancy and the circumstances thereof would have had little impact without the initial knowledge of what the couple had overcome on the island. That took some time to develop. Now that minor plot thread intersects with the larger issue of the Others and the plans they have for the survivors.

Not to mention, of course, the connections to the unusual properties of the island itself. Mikhail’s reappearance will, no doubt, be labeled a “jump the shark” moment by those who believe themselves clever by using the term. However, it pertains directly to the amount of damage that a human being can experience on the island, yet survive. Mikhail states it clearly: healing is enhanced on the island, and they’ve all experienced it.

On the one hand, this is a clever way to get around situations where a character is wounded. Given the slow progression of time, characters would be out of commission for a season or more (think Locke after “Lockdown”). This gives the writers a chance to get the characters back in action sooner rather than later. The genius comes in making that convenience a direct plot point, something vital to the Others and the island itself.

Juliet now reveals that the island makes men super-virile, and most likely, it makes women super-fertile. This enhances the possibility of reproduction, which would be useful for an island with a relatively low population. If there was an indigenous population dating back thousands of years, replenished by vessels lured to the island by unusual means, then the hyper-reproductive qualities would keep the culture viable.

However, this also underscores the fact that something on the island has changed. Ben was able to get a life-threatening tumor, which shouldn’t have happened. Women have been dying, but only if the child is conceived on the island (something that eliminates Claire and Danielle from the list). The operative question is why the island would foster fertility, yet affect a fetus in a way that kills mother and child. And that points back to the relationship between the Others and the Dharma Initiative.

It also explains, rather elegantly, Ben’s decision to bring Kate and Sawyer along with Jack at the end of the second season. On the one hand, they were manipulated into a relationship that would push Jack into compliance. But much of what they experienced themselves was about pushing them closer, driving them towards a relationship. Ben was monitoring them, right down to the moment of consummation. Now, in retrospect, the reasons make perfect sense: they wanted pregnant women for their fertility research, without the risk to their own people.

If this is the case, then it’s in the Others’ best interests to stage another attack on the JackLocke tribe to take possession of the pregnant women (and probably Aaron). Other members of the tribe might be pregnant as well. Whatever the case, Ben must see this as the pragmatic solution to their problem, much as the abduction of the children serves a rational purpose.

So many issues are clarified by Sun’s plot thread that it could have dominated the hour. Instead, the subplot involving the lovely Naomi, the parachutist from the previous episode, delivers something even more shocking. Apparently the world believes that Oceanic 815 crashed in the middle of the ocean with no survivors, based on physical evidence.

This revives the theory that the crash was a planned event. Even if Ben honestly didn’t know about his medical condition, it doesn’t preclude the possibility that he was ready to bring in new blood. With the right kind of resources (say, the Hanso Foundation and the Widmores), a plane crash could have been faked. This one piece of information suggests that there was a reason why the plane was off-course by 1000 miles, something not explained by the “chance” mishap with the Swan Station.

Within the density of the episode, it’s easy to miss the little things. Sun follows up on Sayid’s scene in “One of Us” by hitting Juliet with several important questions, and Juliet’s reaction is priceless. In fact, Juliet shines in this episode, because her motivations remain complex and conflicted. The dynamic between Desmond and Charlie is also noteworthy, because it reveals how far Charlie still has to go. After all, he’s no longer trusting the one person who has repeatedly risked his own life to save his.

Yunjin Kim is always beautiful, but her range in this episode is astonishing. It’s easy to see why the producers wanted to give her a prominent role. Andrew Divoff adds his usual perfect shading to Mikhail. Even Hurley’s scenes have an intriguing context. The complexity and depth is the key to “Lost”, and this season, it has definitively returned.

Final Analysis

Overall, this episode is another success for the resurgent third season. Several mysteries are clarified and connected in this installment, defying the popular stance that the series is adrift. The resulting character turns are more than worth the time, and the writers are building a solid case for the season finale.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

(Season Average: 7.6)


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