And so we get to one of my favorite dysfunctional couples on TV, Jin and Sun.  This episode continues the eye-opening Motif, but this time with Sun opening her eye in close up as she looks on at her husband fishing for their daily meal.  But then, what’s that?  She looks off to the right at Jack and Kate who are preparing to hike up to the caves….  Sun seems to understand them?  But how is that possible, and why would she hide her English skills?  This is a truly eye-opening moment for the audience.

I’d like to take a moment and point out that the production team (Writers, Directors, Producers) were extremely daring to have two characters like Jin and Sun as primary protagonists on a mainstream show, not because of their nationality, but because they spoke their characters’ native tongue on the show.  American TV is too often close-minded to the fact that there are many nationalities besides Californian (Which is a tall, toned, tanned, US West Coast creature) and Lost strove to explore diversity even as it cut its characters off from the rest of the world.  Bravo!

This was a transitional episode.  A lot happens, but it is really sort of fragmented.  We get a part of Michael’s NYC attitude, a splash of Jin’s frustration, some Jack and Kate flirtations, and a Charley revelation.  While the Jin/ Sun flashback storyline is integral to their development, the on-island story was really just filling in a few blanks, wrapping up a few loose ends from the last few episodes, and planting a few new ideas.

The subtleties are one of the things I love about this show.  There was a teeny tiny moment which was very telling about Jin’s character during a flashback.  It was when he exits Sun’s home after asking for her hand.  He very naturally misleads her for a moment, making her believe that the meeting went poorly.  This masking of himself will become invaluable as he slowly becomes swallowed by the dark and dirty deeds that Sun’s Father will have him performing.  Like a superhero, Jin has assumed an alter-ego.  This alternate persona will work for Sun’s father and do what needs to be done to earn her hand and love.  The problem is that this new Jin, created out of necessity, will encroach upon the nice sweet boy persona that Sun fell in love with.  Sun, taking a cue from her husband, will create an alter ego for herself.  She will create a person full of hope and new beginnings who learns English in secret.  This person will plan to run away from her father and the man she on occasion loves but simultaneously grows to fear.

There was a wonderful use of a Hitchcockian plot device in this episode, known as a MacGuffin  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin).  A MacGuffin is plot element that drives a work forward, but loses importance as the story continues.  It can really be anything.  It simply has to be something that the characters desire, causes conflict, reveals character and motivations.  It is simply a story catalyst.  To name a few MacGuffins in Hitchcock’s films:

The stolen money in Psycho

The Secret Plans in the 39 Steps

The Microfilm in North by Northwest

A few more modern MacGuffins:

The rug in The Big Lebowski

The briefcase in Pulp Fiction

The Rimbaldi artifacts on the show Alias.

In this episode of Lost, the MacGuffin is the Rolex.  The watch serves as the catalyst that sets all the episode’s conflicts in motion, but loses importance in favor of the character developments and their interpersonal relationships.

Please enjoy this humorous Hitchcock explanation to Francois Truffaut of what a MacGuffin is:

It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin”. The first one asks “What’s a MacGuffin?”. “Well”, the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands”. The first man says “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands”, and the other one answers “Well, then that’s no MacGuffin!”. So you see, a MacGuffin is nothing at all. – From Hitchcock/ Truffaut

And here is a great clip from an interview where Hitch explains how to handle actors, editing, suspense, and suitcase bombs.  Enjoy!

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I’m on the same page as Jimmy Kimmel. Why show an episode about Jacob and MIB in the last three episodes? They really don’t matter in the grand scheme of the show. They are the MacGuffin(s). They are the unimportant catalyst that set all of our characters, conflicts, and resolutions in motion. I would have loved to see a Rose and Bernard centric episode before “The End” but I suppose that is just not in the cards.

“Across the Sea” was the equivalent of Hans Gruber in Die Hard stopping for a half-hour towards the end of the film to tell us in a expositional fashion, why his life brought him to this moment in Nakotomi Plaza on Christmas Eve. He would go into the socio-economic climate in which he was raised. He might talk about the first girl to break his heart, high school embarrassments, college drug experimentation. The scene could go on and on, and would be entirely unnecessary, not unlike this episode…

Interviewed in 1966 by François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock illustrated the term “MacGuffin” with this story[i]

It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers “Oh that’s a McGuffin”. The first one asks “What’s a McGuffin?”. “Well”, the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands”. The first man says “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands”, and the other one answers “Well, then that’s no McGuffin!”. So you see, a McGuffin is nothing at all.

A MacGuffin is a plot device that draws the audience in and often times makes them feel like they are a part of the story even as it initiates the forward momentum of the film or show or story.

From Wiki: “Sometimes, the specific nature of the MacGuffin is unimportant to the plot, and the MacGuffin can sometimes be ambiguous, completely undefined, generic or left open to interpretation.”

Examples of MacGuffins:

The Secret Government Plans in the 39 Steps

The briefcase in Pulp Fiction

The Maltese Falcon in The Maltese Falcon

It's an Automated Kitchen!

The Greatest Object in the universe in Time Bandits

The $40,000.00 Marion steals in Psycho

On the positive side, (because I do love this show)  I have to admit it was a fun episode. There were a few great moments that were really just the producers twisting the knife in an audience that are already writhing in anticipation of the looming END. The whole “Don’t ask anymore questions, as they’ll just lead to more questions” made me sort of “Yelp” with laughter. It was a great moment for the producers to slyly warn us that they will not be explaining everything. Which is fine by me.

Allison Janney as Jacob’s predecessor was fantastic. Her ability to emote with just a glance is amazing. I would go to a movie that had her and Morgan Freeman simply staring at each other for an hour and a half.

Story-wise, it was interesting that MIB became Smokey because of Jacob’s crime of passion.

Or did he?….

Smokey is a shape shifter. He/ it can become whoever he/ it wants. We saw MIB’s body. He was dead, and ‘Dead id Dead,’ right? Not really anymore though. I would like to offer one of my final theories before the end. Smokey is the island’s equivalent of Cerberus guarding the gates to Hades. Cerberus is bound to his post. He serves a purpose that is not complicated. He simply guards. When Jacob sent MIB’s body down the river into the light, a dying MIB touched Smokey. Smokey at that moment learned an unfortunate lesson. He/ It learned what it is to be human, and he/it liked it. Smokey embraced all of the pettiness that comes along with the free will of being a human. In addition, Smokey said to himself/ itself “Screw this job! I want off this island!” and that has been his focus ever since.

Before it is all over, the ghost of MIB will come to Hurley and tell him how to end it all, how to win, and how to fix what they have broken.

Thanks for reading!

And, don’t forget about the Lil’ Ben Contest! Tell me briefly how you think Lost will end and YOU can appear in a Lil’ Ben comic discussing your theory!


[i] Gottlieb, Sidney (2002). Framing Hitchcock: Selected essays from the Hitchcock annual. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 48