Another indepth review of D.O.C by the always interesting J.Wood.
Mikhail Bakunin revolted against everything, even death itself.
"D.O.C.," the eighteenth episode of season three, can be read as a clear extension of "Catch-22." Desmond faced his own lose-lose situation, and now it's Sun's turn. This was foreshadowed in the opening scenes, which recalled "The Long Con" when Charlie bonked her on the head in her garden. Sun's dilemma is every bit as much a catch-22 as Desmond's; if she conceived off the island, then she'll live, but the baby isn't Jin's and she'll bring him shame. If she conceived on the island, the baby is Jin's, but she'll die like all the other mothers who conceived on the island (which is the case). When it comes to romantic relationships, both Desmond and Sun face nothing but bad news. And like Charlie, Sun is for all intents and purposes now living under a death sentence. This is the basis for the mirror-twinning occurring in this episode. As mentioned last week, Joseph Heller originally wanted to call his book Catch-18; Heller was Jewish, and the number 18 symbolizes life in Judaism. In Hebrew, each letter has a numerical equivalent, and the word for life, chai — think l'chaim — has the numerical equivalent of 18. (Heller's publisher made him change the title because of another book being published with a 18 in the title). It's ironically fitting that the shadow of Catch-22, with the idea of a missed symbol for life and the inability to escape death, hovers all over the 18th episode.
The mirror-twinned experiences between Sun, Desmond and Charlie are just two of a number of twinned instances in this episode's narrative: Sun's front story and flashback both deal with the theme of saving Jin from shame, yet approach them from very different angles. The identity of Jin's father, like Sun's baby up until this episode, is an open question because like Sun, Jin's mother slept with other men. Mr. Kwon raised Jin as if he were the father, not unlike Charlie does for Aaron. This also raises the question of who is Jin's real father; if you want to get morbid and go wild with the theories, check out Korean director Park Chan-Wook's film Oldboy.
Jin's mother menacingly appears out of nowhere, almost like Mrs. Hawking or the the Hawaiian shirt man in the airport restroom from "Exodus." She shakes down Sun into protecting Jin's (and the Paik family's) dignity by not revealing that Jin's mother was a prostitute. Sun — again like Jin's mother — blackmails Mr. Paik to get the blackmail money. We also find out that Jin, like Desmond, had military training; there was a photo of Jin in uniform on Mr. Kwon's wall. And if there was any doubt about Jin's fighting prowess (as if there should be), not only was there a martial arts trophy on Mr. Kwon's shrine to Jin, but Jin takes Mikhail hand-to-hand and subdues him in a rear-naked choke. Finally, Jin's assumption that Sun's pregnancy was a miracle turns out to be something quite different. Just as Catch-22 works to present multiple perspectives on the same theme, so are the episodes "Catch-22" and "D.O.C."
Speaking of miracles, we also have a walking, talking Mikhail Bakunin to deal with again. He defied the law of nature and wouldn't stay dead. Presumably, the Others' communication man was running toward the flare Hurley accidentally set off; was Bakunin expecting Naomi? Why was he running to the flare? And how dead was he in "Enter 77?" In his book God and the State, the burly anarchic philosopher states that man "obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual." It's fitting that, with a bit of help from the island, the Other Bakunin has refused to recognize the laws of death (which also suggests that Klugh is still alive).
When Bakunin takes care of Naomi's lung, he says that she will heal in a about a day, so it'll be at least one more episode before we get to hear what she has to say. He mentions that wounds are different on the island, which we've already seen, but we've also seen Charlie take a while to recover from Ethan's beat-down, Sawyer nearly die from a gunshot would gone septic, and Ben developed a tumor. Bakunin knows something the Lostaways don't, but we know something Bakunin doesn't.
But the satellite phone is our Chekhov's gun; it's obviously of interest, and may be something Bakunin's mirror-twin communications officer Sayid can get working. When Jin catches Bakunin stealing the phone, he tells Charlie, "How could you respect me if I didn't try?" Why is Bakunin at all concerned about gaining any of the Lostaways' respect? Again, we have an echo of the anarchist, who had a near hip-hop obsession with respect. He disrespected all political and theological authority, but in his paper "Rousseau's Theory of the State," Bakunin wrote that "even in the midst of the most violent and bitter, even mortal, combat [...] I must respect [my adversary's] human character. My own dignity as a man depends on it." For the philosopher, revolt against control was a natural human tendency, and an individual's humanity demanded respect, lest you lose some of your own humanity. An adversary's humanity, "no matter how monstrous his deviations might be, nonetheless really exists," and it is his "lifelong potential capacity to rise to the awareness of his humanity." Bakunin takes the phone because it is his natural tendency to revolt against control, and he would not be living up to his potential if he did not attempt to reassert control over the situation. He addresses his comment to Charlie, the most monstrous of the four Lostaways, and as suggested last week, Charlie is the one character who seems limited in realizing his "potential capacities" — hence the throat troubles, where the growth chakra resides.
As a sidenote on disrespecting theological authority, the philosopher Bakunin also mocked the idea of miracles as vestigial remnants of discarded religion; whereas David Hume and George Campbell might have some interesting things to say about Mikhail's resurrection, Bakunin would look only to the scientific answer.
The Mikhail discussion finally brings us back around to Naomi, who seems to have gone to the Berlitz Language Jump School. She speaks English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Portuguese in this episode, demonstrating that she's either very well educated or has a savant knack for languages (as does apparently Bakunin). The Portuguese-speaking audience picked up that she did not tell Bakunin thank you for helping her, as he claims, but that she was not alone. Her biblical namesake appears in the Book of Ruth, the main theme of which is redemption — and as Hurley suggests, there is a specter of their being saved hovering around her arrival. However, she also tells them that Flight 815 was found, and there were no survivors. In the Book of Ruth, after Naomi's husband dies, she changes her name to Mara, meaning bitterness, and the news that the passengers of Flight 815 are dead is bitter at best.
This raises a conundrum: The passengers obviously aren't dead, and Darlton Cuselof have already declared that no, they're not in purgatory. Who is Naomi, who is she with, and what's this noise about there being no survivors? Recently, I suggested that each time Des saves Charlie, he's not only changing the future, but also the past and the present. After the implosion, Des experienced a Doctor Manhattan-like transformation that is allowing him to experience multiple versions of time, and his actions are possibly change other timelines. The island is somehow immune from the historical fluctuations, which may have something to do with its geologically-unique electromagnetism. Perhaps in one of his heroic moments, he altered history off-island, and Flight 815 crashed in some other way. If that's the case, what would their rescue mean? If the 18th episode is to be symbolic of life — and indeed both Naomi and Mikhail live — the mirror-twin narrative move is that they're all already dead.
Finally, we also know that Juliet is playing some other game, and in a very un-Bakunin-like fashion, is seemingly allowing herself to be controlled. Perhaps this is for some future benefit, but she lets Ben know in her message that she hates him. But some in the online have recently found one of the more interesting easter eggs about Juliet's mark: The episode where we saw the symbol raised again, "One of Us," aired during the week of Easter. The symbol also appears on Cadbury Eggs, which really only come out at Easter. How's that for an easter egg?
Like Mr. Paik says to Sun, "We do not live in a world where there are no questions asked." Keep asking those questions, when next week we're apparently getting no flashbacks whatsoever.
Recap by J.Wood