'Lost': Daniel Dae Kim says how fans view the ending will depend on how much they care
The "Lost" cast had been waiting for the massacre. Word had gotten out that, late in the final season, an event would take place and a few characters would die. But that's all Daniel Dae Kim knew until he received the telltale message from the production office in Burbank: Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse wanted to speak with him on the telephone.
"We knew that death was in the air and that there was going to be an event that caused a lot of deaths," Kim said during a phone interview from Baton Rouge, La., where he was filming "The Killing Game" with Samuel L. Jackson. "We just didn’t know what that event was going to be or who would be involved. But once you get the phone call that both of them want to speak with you at the same time, you know 90% of the time it’s not good news."
By now, the "Lost"-verse knows it was terrible news. Not only did Kim's heroic Jin die, but he also drowned in a final act of love with his wife, Sun (Yunjin Kim), minutes after viewers saw Sayid (Naveen Andrews) run off with an exploding bomb in an effort to save the rest of his castaway friends.
It was as emotionally draining as it was beautifully executed, so perhaps it's a good thing that Tuesday night's "Lost," titled "Across the Sea," breaks from the character drama and answers some island questions, giving Losties a chance to grieve and regroup.
"It's definitely a little change-of-pace episode," Kim said. "It spends a lot of time with the mythology of the island."
Kim, who filmed the CBS remake of "Hawaii Five-O" on Oahu with actor Alex O'Loughlin in March at the same time Jin's death scenes were being filmed, said he admired his "Lost" character.
"I think when I think of Jin’s greatest quality is the amount of love he was able to have for someone and what he would do for that love," Kim said. "I think that’s really admirable -- the degree to which he would go for that love, and that’s a quality in him that I aspire to."
Kim said he felt sad when he heard of Jin's death because he "had been such a survivor among survivors. He survived the raft, then the freighter and the tiger traps. There were many chances for him to have been killed off and he’d been left standing, so to come this far and see his demise only a few episodes before the finale was a little bit sad. At the same time, I think it’s a natural progression of his storyline and the way he ended, the way he chose to die, I felt, was really honorable and something I could be proud of him for as a character."
After the episode aired, an online debated raged about Jin's decision to die with his wife and leave their baby daughter an orphan. But Kim didn't think Jin had much of an option.
"Not only were the circumstances such that even if he chose to leave Sun at that moment, he would have had trouble," he said. "It would have been questionable if he would have made it to the surface. He had no oxygen, the sub was sinking quickly, and he could have easily drowned. But even more important than that is that he made a promise to Sun that he would never leave her again. And I think that’s the crucial factor in his decision-making. When he makes a promise, he keeps it."
Kim won't know until next week if CBS will order the buzzed-about "Hawaii Five-O" and give him a reason for he and his family to stay living on Oahu, but he's hoping so. Shooting another show on the island that is so closely identified with the ABC series took some getting used to, he said.
"I have such strong associations of Hawaii with 'Lost,' so every location we’d go or whenever I’d find myself on set, I kept looking for crew members that worked on 'Lost' and the cast members from 'Lost,' " Kim said. "It was a little bit of an adjustment for me. That said, everyone on 'Five-O' was fantastic, and I actually did see a lot of familiar faces on the 'Five-O' crew that came over from 'Lost.' "When all is said and done on May 23, Kim said he hoped fans would be as satisfied as he was with the finale.
"I think there’s an emotionally satisfying resolution to the character stories on this show," he said. "Will all the questions be answered? That I can’t guarantee because I, frankly, don’t even know all the questions that are out there at this point. But for me, personally, the final episode was satisfying. I think there will be a fair amount of people who find it emotionally resonant, but it really depends on how much you care and whether you feel like the finale hits the right notes."
What always appealed to him and stood out about "Lost" were the characters, Kim said.
"The sci-fi element to it was an interesting angle to the human drama, but I found that the human drama was more compelling," he said. "I wanted to know more about the characters, and I came to care for a lot of them. If you think about what Jin was like in the pilot, the fact that a lot of people actually cried for his death said so much about how much we’ve come to understand them."
Kim may be curious about what fans will think of the much-anticipated ending, but for now, he's got a bigger hurdle:
"I haven’t told my mom that my character dies, and she’s actually out of the country, so she hasn’t seen it yet," he said. "I have to prepare her when she comes back into the country before she turns on TV. It's very hard for her."
For all of us.
-- Maria Elena Fernandez (Follow me on Twitter @writerchica)
Video: Jin and Sun's death scene on the May 4 episode of "Lost." Credit: YouTube
Photo: Daniel Dae Kim. Credit: Bob D'Amico / ABC