Tuned In

Lostwatch: Around the World, and a Balloon

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SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses last night’s Lost. So scram.

Last night’s Lost devoted another flashback to the lovely Yunjin Kim as Sun (who, Mrs. Tuned In observed, has gorgeous nails for someone who’s been stuck on an island for over a month). In it we learn that she’s pregnant, which is apparently another island medical miracle (because, we learned, husband Jin was discovered to be infertile) or not (because, we also learned, Sun was taking English lessons, or perhaps "English lessons," from her mystery-man crush shortly before she planned to abscond for America).

Who knows, but the storyline is an excuse to note how casually diverse the show is. Not just in the sense we usually mean "diverse" in America, racially–though it is rare to see an attractive and rounded Asian couple on TV. I mean diverse in terms of recognizing that the world is full of people besides Americans.

It’s staggering, when you watch one of the flashbacks involving Sun and Jin, to realize: This is one of the most popular shows in the United States of America, and a good quarter of it is in subtitles. In the theaters, Americans have been resistant to read subtitles to movies in which no one is crucified; on TV, they’re accustomed to subtitles mainly to render the slurred speech of drunk reality-show contestants.

On Lost, though, long conversations in Korean are second nature. When that Oceanic Airlines flight crashed, it left a mini United Nations beached on the island: the Koreans, an English rocker, a Nigerian and an Iraqi for starters. OK, granted, there is the fact that on a flight from Sydney to L.A. there was apparently only one Australian. (That, or the other 30-odd survivors are Aussies, and are too busy surfing to get involved in the plot.) But throw in the Frenchwoman roaming the jungle, the Euro-Scandinavian conspiracy behind the Dharma project and miscellaneous others (or Others) of indeterminate origin, and you have an unusually internationalist show (something hinted at in creator J. J. Abrams’ previous show, the globe-trotting Alias).

Granted, it was probably inevitable that in the first season the show would reveal that Sun knew English, so that she and Jin didn’t have to spend the whole show in verbal limbo. But at least Lost didn’t give miraculously give Jin a vast English vocabulary overnight too, allowing for a poignantly ironic turn toward the end of last night’s show: when he, learning Sun was pregnant, cupped her face and used his broken English to say "I love you"–in the same language she had planned to use to flee him. 

On an unrelated note: has there been an episode of any show lately that ended both as creepily and hilariously as last night’s? Captive Henry Gale, the alleged balloonist and suspected Other, slipped a map to Ana Lucia that he said would prove his innocence by leading her to his crashed balloon. As Locke and Jack fed him cereal in his hatch prison, he casually noted that, if he were one of the Others, he supposed what he might have done is to give her a fake map, leading her to an ambush, to give his compatriots hostages to trade for him. "Guess it’s a good thing I’m not one of them, huh?" he said cheerfully, as Jack and Locke looked on in horror. "You guys got any milk?"

I did, but I just shot it out my nose laughing.