The Whole Truth (S2, ep. 16)

Ben: “Wow. You guys have some real trust issues, don’t you.”

Now we’re cooking with gas. The Whole Truth concerns itself with the secrets we keep and the lies we tell each other. It emphasizes, maybe more so than any other episode so far, just how fractured the castaway group has become in the wake of the overall-unifying first season. There’s a palpable sense of the beach camp souring – splintering into sub-factions that don’t trust one another much at all.

The episode also keeps pregnancy/conception at the forefront of both our minds and the minds of the characters as Sun discovers that she’s going to be a mommy. Her reaction is not what we might expect. 

Thoughts:

• Sun and Jin take the flashback stage again, and while I found their back stories less thrilling/interesting than others when they first aired, I’m finding myself much more invested in them on re-watch. I’m not overly concerned with which characters will live or die in the final season, but I’m hopeful that this couple makes it through, alive and reunited. That’s not too much to ask, is it Lost?

Jin: “I have blood on my hands because of your father- because of what he makes me do.”

This isn’t true in the strictest sense. Jin has blood on his hands because of what he chooses to do. Yes, Mr. Paik is a forceful, frightening figure. But the choices Jin makes are his own.

• Back on the Island Jin is getting pushy and demanding with Sun again, regressing back to the Jin of Season 1. His motive for this is understandable – he doesn’t want his wife to be attacked again – but the motive doesn’t matter. What matters is the lack of respect he gives to Sun, pushing her around physically in his concern for her safety. Sun isn’t the shrinking violet she can appear to be, and treating her that way is a surefire recipe for friction.

LOCKE: We’ve got a serious problem, Ana Lucia — all of us. I’m taking the necessary steps to solve it. I don’t need Jack’s permission to talk with you because right now there’s a man sitting in a room in my hatch and I want him out.

Look at that – its Locke’s hatch now. Huh.

One of the most entertaining/interesting elements of this episode is the Alpha-dog pissing contest that Jack and Locke begin to engage in. Thanks to Ben’s casual observations about their power dynamic in “Maternity Leave,” Locke begins asserting his primacy and the way that these two characters beat their chests at one another, one-upping each other as the episode progresses, makes for amusingly combustible television.

• Rose and Bernard, so tearfully and emotionally reunited just a few episodes ago, are already bickering like the old married couple that they are. Bernard has ‘forgotten’ Rose’s birthday, a mistake he justifies by pointing out that he doesn’t even know what day it is. Rose’s rebuke (“It’s Saturday”) is hilarious, partly because of how much she reminds me of my own wife in that moment. In fact, if the two of us were ever to crash on an Island, I’m positive that a near carbon copy of this exchange would eventually take place. I should start traveling with a spare pearl in my pocket, just in case.

• We discover just how it is that Sun has been learning English – the hotel heir last seen dining with Sun in “…And Found” is teaching her. I love the way in which the episode shows us the obvious attraction between them, but doesn’t go any further than that, leaving us to draw our own conclusions about the look on Sun’s face in the closing moments.

• Locke takes a shave while Jack’s in the shower – pushing into Jack’s figurative territory, letting him know that he’s already spoken to Ana Lucia about Ben and that our favorite homicidal police officer is already in the gun-closet, questioning him; all without telling Jack beforehand, of course. Because no one tells Locke what he can or can’t do. Grrr!

• It’s an absolute pleasure watching Michael Emerson chew his dialogue like a juicy steak.


• Sawyer’s a fast reader. He’s already blown through Walker Percy’s “Lancelot” and is working his way through “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” when Sun goes to him for a pregnancy test. The fact that he’s reading this is amusing, but there may be a deeper potential meaning at play here. Many people associate Judy Bloom’s classic young-adult novel with its oh-god-I’m-going-through-puberty aspects, but the book also focuses heavily on questions of faith. Margaret feels the need to choose between Christianity and Judaism – between two forms of belief. Her internal conflict over this, and the way in which her grandparents serve to externalize that conflict, metaphorically echoes the same sorts of struggles that the castaways are dealing with. Two sides…

By the way – did you know that “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” is on the list of the 100 most-challenged books in the United States according to the American Library Association? I think it’s interesting that Bloom’s book about a female coming of age has been so frequently objected to, but that (to my knowledge) her male-centric book on the same themes, “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t,” has not. At any rate, any book’s inclusion on that list makes it twice as worthy of reading as far as I’m concerned.

• Locke checks out Geronimo Jackson’s album cover as he and Jack sit outside the gun-closet during Ana Lucia’s questioning session. Will Geronimo Jackson come to have more significance to Lost’s story (I’ve theorized that due to time travel/alternate reality shenanigans, Charlie may be a member of the fictitious group)? Or is it just a nifty detail in a show full of nifty details?

Ben: “You people have been looking for someone to punish for everything that’s happened to you — someone to blame — and now you’ve got him. It doesn’t matter what I do, I’m dead already.”

We’ll see later in the episode that Sayid desperately wants Ben to be an Other so that he can exact some form of vengeance for what happened to Shannon. But what happened to Shannon wasn’t Ben’s fault any more than what happens to Nadia in Season 5 is Sayid’s fault. Sayid’s palpable anger in this episode makes his behavior in Season 5 even clearer. In a sense he’s been waiting for a chance to kill Ben from the moment they met.

And hey, have you noticed Michael Emerson’s Lemurface?

• Hurley and Sun run into one another in the jungle, both harboring their respective secrets. Is there anyone on this Island who isn’t hiding something from their fellow castaways?

• The home pregnancy kit that Sun gets is manufactured by Widmore Labs, another wonderful instance of foreshadowing. Next episode will bring an even bigger, better example of this and provide the first hint regarding the war between the Peter Pan-like Benjamin and the Hook-ish Widmore. I like that the product advertises itself as ‘confident.’ What does that even mean?

• In flashback Sun and Jin’s fertility doctor informs them that Sun is unable to have children. This news rocks Jin, and brings out the violence in both of them – physical for Jin, emotional for Sun. It’s a tough scene to watch. It’s even tougher when, towards the end of the episode, the doctor tracks Sun down to tell her that its Jin who is the ‘problem,’ and that the doctor’s fear of both Jin and Mr. Paik compelled him to lie. Talk about devastating.

Ana Lucia: “Jack and Locke are a little too busy worrying about Locke and Jack.”

Ana Lucia gets Ben to draw her a map to where his balloon allegedly crashed – something Jack and Locke were unable to persuade him to do. Does this have anything to do with Goodwin’s yet-to-come assertion that Ana Lucia could become a ‘good person’?

Instead of telling either of them that she succeeded, she approaches Sayid with the information. It’s a way of apologizing, something that she’ll do again more overtly later on in the episode, and it’s another instance of a character one-upping the others.

• I love Charlie’s presence here and in this episode generally. It’s damn good to see him with his hoodie down. I also love the way he feigns giving his gun to Ana Lucia, only to slowly swing it back to Sayid with a mile-wide smirk on his face.

• Kate again serves as a mother’s confidante, this time to Sun. There’s a shortage of understanding ladies on the Island, and Kate has little to do in this episode, so I’m guessing she was the more convenient choice for this conversation. Their chat is notable if only for the fact that we learn Kate’s taken a pregnancy test before – something we’ll see firsthand in Season 3’s “I Do.”

• Jack gives Sun some really good advice in this episode, and he’s appropriately humble about it, too. I miss this Jack. Pissy Jack’s been around too much this season.

Ana Lucia: People don’t like me. I tried to get them to most of my life. I guess I just gave up a while back. I mean, I am what I am. But you — you’ve got a good reason to hate me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I did.

I’m going to throw this out there because I’ve come to believe it: viewers didn’t take to Ana Lucia, not because she’s ‘unlikable’ or a ‘bad character.’ They didn’t take to her because she’s a tough woman, and because she’s largely unapologetic about it.

I’m not typically the kind of person to cry sexism over things (except when I am – see above), but I can’t help thinking that all of Lost’s male characters have behaved (and will behave) in ways far worse than Ana Lucia does. Michelle Rodriguez may not have an epic range as an actress, but she does admirable work grounding her character generally, and in this episode specifically. She comes across very sympathetically here, and I cannot shake the notion that it was the dissonance between her take-no-guff attitude and the fact of her being a female that irritated so many. I hope more folks come to realize the strong work Rodriguez was doing here. She deserves it. Her scene with Sayid is just as moving as the scene between Ben and Eko in “Maternity Leave.”

She and Sayid bond a little bit – some degree of forgiveness is given. And Sayid makes it very clear that (1) he believes Ben is one of the Others and (2) he wants Ben to be an Other.

This becomes even clearer when they reach the clearing on Ben’s map. Sayid glances around and basically shrugs, ready to turn right back around and do him some Other-killing. Interestingly it’s Ana who stops him, insisting that they make sure. She’s the voice of reason for the time being.

Great Charlie Line: “Morning! Who wants breakfast? I have papayas and papayas.”

Bernard’s and Jin’s interactions are cute, and Sawyer’s new attempt at comradery is sweet in its way.  He’s doing a ‘good’ thing here, being open, genuine and congratulatory to a man that’s obviously becoming more than a stranger/mark to him. Jin’s perspective on all of this is illuminating – to Jin, Bernard and Sawyer sound as though they’re talking backward, a nice way to illustrate the gulf in understanding between Jin and the rest of the group. Plus, it reminds me of Twin Peaks: I’ve got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style!

Jin (in halting English): “I love you.”

Jin’s joy in learning that Sun is pregnant, his momentary shock at the news that he was the problem, and his subsequent declaration that the baby is a miracle are all nicely realized in Daniel Dae Kim’s performance. His brief, successful attempt at English is moving as heck to me. And Sun’s obvious deceit in that moment is terrible and yet, in its way, understandable.

Ben (reading from ‘Karamazov’): “Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those whom they have slain.” (Now speaking to Jack) “So what’s the difference between a martyr and a prophet?”
JACK: “Either way, it sounds like you end up dead.”
GALE: “That’s the spirit.”

That’s a great exchange, one that’s deep(ish) generally and certainly applicable to the show’s later seasons. It’s true of life, and it’s true of Lost.

• Ben speaks for himself and for the audience as he notes just how incurious the castaways are, how little they seem to care about the myriad of questions that surround them in the Swan station.

• In an episode full of constant one-upmanship it’s Ben who scores the final points. He’s invited to breakfast by Jack without Locke’s knowledge – clearly an attempt by Jack to reassert his own power over the situation. But as Ben settles in for a bowl of Dharma-brand cereal, his remarks upend the power balance entirely with just the right touch of feigned innocence and smug satisfaction. Ordinarily I’d attempt to sum it all up, but it deserves to be reproduced in its entirety:

Ben: Of course, if I was one of them — these people that you seem to think are your enemies — what would I do? Well, there’d be no balloon, so I’d draw a map to a real secluded place like a cave or some underbrush — good place for a trap — an ambush. And when your friends got there a bunch of my people would be waiting for them. Then they’d use them to trade for me. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not one of them, huh? You guys got any milk?

You can view the complete archived Rewatch at Back To The Island.

You can also visit the Lost: Rewatch thread here at Chud, where a phenomenal group of people dissects and expands upon these rambling thoughts in a fun and enlightening way every day.

Missed a column? Catch up here:

• Maternity Leave (S2 ep. 15)
One of Them (S2 ep. 14)
The Long Con (S2 ep. 13)
Fire + Water (S2 ep. 12)
The Hunting Party (S2 ep 11)
The 23rd Psalm (S2, ep. 10)
What Kate Did (S2, ep. 9)
Collision (S2, ep. 8)
The Other 48 Days (S2, ep. 7)