"There's No Place Like Home (Part 2)"

DECEMBER 29, 2010

AIRED: MAY 22, 2008

They “moved the Island”. Seriously, they moved the fucking Island. I was perfectly OK with a mix of electromagnets and supernatural hooey preventing folks from finding it, but the fact that they can MOVE it is just plain stupid. Actually I forget if they physically move it or just move it through time, but both are equally idiotic. And that’s just one of the many groaners in “There’s No Place Like Home Part 2”, the first truly disappointing season finale and the nail in the coffin for a good chunk of Lost fans, many of whom gave up for good after this one.

And you can’t blame them really. In a two hour season finale, there’s not a single real emotional moment to be seen, except for Desmond and Penny’s reunion, which itself is marred by not even giving them a scene to actually talk. They kiss, and then it’s back to more mumbo jumbo. I guess Sawyer’s heroic act works too, but since we know he finds his true love once he gets back on the island, it’s less sad and more “Hey all right, now him and Juliet can start their relationship.”

Also, I NEVER bought that Jin was dead. It’s pretty much a universal law of movies/TV that if you don’t see someone die, they’re still alive (and on this show, even that barely counts for anything). Jin was on the deck of the ship that he knew was about to explode, and by cutting back to Michael, we know he had at least another 10-15 seconds to take about 4 steps to his left and jump. So as good as Yun-jin Kim is in the scene, screaming for her husband, it just never rang true for me. He’s OK.

Plus, I was too pissed off at the time that Michael died without half of the people even knowing he was there, let alone confronting him. Perhaps it was a writer’s strike casualty, but it seemed that bringing him back really didn’t have much of a payoff or even a point; a long way to tie up a loose end and nothing else.

It’s also an awkwardly paced show; I feel the stuff on Penny’s boat should have been part of the next season’s premiere, not a part of this episode that occurs after all of the action beats and cliffhanger-y events (the island moving, the boat exploding, etc) have passed. It’s almost like they realized that we know damn well that Jack and the others don’t let a helicopter crash keep them from getting home, and figured they had to show all that too instead of making some sort of cliffhanger about that too. On the other hand, it was a good idea on their part to have Desmond and Frank on the chopper with them – we know everyone else’s fate, but not theirs. I thought for sure Frank would be a goner the first time around, in fact.

The final scene also goes on too long, because there were really only two viable options as to the identity of “Jeremy Bentham”: Locke or Ben. I know they filmed Sawyer in the coffin, but it couldn’t be him – why would Kate not want to go to the wake (and why would Jack cry?). Admittedly, I was leaning more toward Ben, given the diminutive size of the coffin, but once he appeared at the funeral home, we knew it was Locke, but it takes 3-4 minutes to pan around and show us that. I’d argue that this actually ruins the scene – maybe if we 100% knew it was Locke that Jack was talking about, it would give his words a bit more weight.

Speaking of this scene, LEAD reader Joe “corrected” me about Jack listening to Nirvana in the S3 finale, saying it was the Pixies – he was thinking of this episode! Jack has “Gouge Away” on as he drives back to the funeral home.

Luckily it’s not a total loss; there’s a lot of great stuff here. As I mentioned yesterday, I love the fight between Sayid and Keamy. Not that there’s much dramatic impact to them coming to blows (they barely interacted before this), but it’s just a really kick-ass fight scene, better than some I’ve seen in feature films (including some with Kevin Durand! The fights in Wolverine mostly suck). I also love the stinger, with Ben just being like “OK, go ahead and leave, see ya!” Actually, the episode as a whole is good if you’re a “Ben should be good” fan; he dips into villainous mode at times (not caring about killing everyone on the boat), but he’s very respectful to Locke, doesn’t screw anyone over, and by moving the island, probably saved some lives. He’s kind of a villain again next season, but the seeds for his S6 redemption were definitely planted by now.

I also enjoy the rather casual manner in which a dozen or so survivors are killed when the boat explodes. I sometimes wonder if they always intended to kill everyone who wasn’t a main character, or if they just got sick of hiring extras and decided to kill them all in a few fell swoops (New Otherton exploding, the boat exploding, and the idiotic “Arrow Massacre” in the next season more or less killed them all). Sorry, socks.

Well, Season 4 is over. It’s sort of hard to judge overall since it’s barely half a full season, slightly screwed up by the strike to boot. The rushed pace didn’t allow for much filler, and in turn, as I’ve said 12 times now, the writers lost sight of the characters. I mean really, not a single scene of Claire crying about Charlie? Does Sayid even know that his friend Rousseau is dead? And in retrospect, that sort of stuff is even more annoying, because they DID spend time on things that had no payoff, like the sickness on the freighter or Ben yammering about “the rules”. Worse, it introduces the things I hate about S5 – the time travel and the fact that the Oceanic Six were constantly fighting amongst themselves. On the other hand, it did have “The Constant”. And it’s better than the following seasons. I dunno. What do you think, imaginary readers?

Speaking of which, since no one’s reading anyway, I’m going to take a few days off before starting Season 5. I’ll pick back up on January 3rd. Happy New Year!

Where are we?


"There's No Place Like Home (Part 1)"

DECEMBER 28, 2010

AIRED: MAY 15, 2008

It’s a good thing that “There’s No Place Like Home” was split in two, because it allows me to watch part 1 without being annoyed, since part 2 has the stuff I dislike. This is actually a pretty good episode, something that’s even more impressive when you consider that it doesn’t focus on one particular person, giving it a ‘loose’ feeling that recalls the series premiere. It doesn’t give all the characters something to do (Claire doesn’t even appear), but it’s a solid episode with a lot of good character moments.

Hurley’s birthday party is one example; Sayid’s reaction to the island theme is hilarious, as are Mr. Reyes’ nonsensical attempts to make small talk with them. And Jack’s eulogy is quite touching, but not as much as the fact that the other six (save Sun) came and sat in the front row, something that probably annoyed some of the folks who actually KNEW the guy. Basically, I liked seeing that they were still close once they got off the island (Sun, living in Korea, being the exception, though “Ji Yeon” showed she kept in touch with Hurley at least) – so much of this season kept everyone apart or constantly at odds with one another, it was just nice to see them sticking together and being a part of each other’s lives (especially since they’ll all have to spend eternity together).

The island stuff isn’t AS character-friendly, but it’s got a couple of good bits, such as Sawyer going against his better judgment in order to aid Jack (“You don’t get to ‘die alone’!” kills me), and then both of them realizing that they can’t just bail without getting Hurley first. In a season that killed off two of the biggest recurring characters (Alex and Rousseau) and took place immediately following the death of Charlie (easily the biggest main character to die yet), events that didn’t seem to bother anyone for more than about 12 seconds, it’s good to see these sort of bonds are still intact.

It’s also the rare time I get choked up at the BEGINNING of an episode. Usually reunions and sad moments are final act deals, but the episode more or less opens with Jack, Sun, and Hurley being reunited with their guest star parents (and Sayid with Nadia), which is quite touching, as is the moment where Hurley’s mom gives Sayid a big hug. “Thanks for constantly getting annoyed by but then ultimately helping my son on the island.” Sadly, no one comes to see Kate (Nathan Fillion, you dick!).

And they land in Hawaii! Kind of funny how the show filmed 99.9% of its scenes there, and constantly had its characters going around the globe (several US states, Australia, London, Iraq, Scotland) and this is actually the first time Hawaii was even mentioned I think, let alone allowed to play itself for once. Poor little state. My wife wants to go there next year for our 10 year (dating) anniversary; I agreed only on the condition that we spend a day in Oahu, where Lost was primarily shot, and partake in any Lost-related tours or whatever that are offered. Not a fan of spending a lot of money “to relax” – I can do that shit at home!

One thing nagged at me though, and it may have been answered in S5 or 6 – does Kate know Jack is Claire’s brother and thus, uncle to the kid she’s raising? Not HERE, I know she doesn’t because Jack just found out and made his Jack-face instead of turning to Kate and being like “Holy shit!” But does she know in the other episode? I know Jack says “You’re not even related to him!” but it’s unclear if he means “and I AM!” or if he’s just being an insensitive ass. It would have bugged me then, but for some reason I forgot that he learned about it so quickly after they got back home (since it’s at his dad’s funeral, which I assume didn’t take place too long after the O6 were ‘unveiled’).

Speaking of Kate, I haven’t mentioned her hilariously good tracking skills. I buy that she can tell someone has passed through and whether or not it was recent, but sometimes they’re just way too specific. There was a scene in S1 where she knew Sawyer was following Boone’s trail, and a few episodes back she could tell that one track was a half hour ahead of the other. What? Now she can not only tell that neither Jack or Sawyer made certain tracks, but also that the tracks have doubled back. Look, if they are actually footprints in the mud, then you don’t need someone who can track, and if they’re not footprints, how the hell can that be determined? A broken twig and some displaced grass is a broken twig and displaced grass, no? Guess you just have to be a tracker. I bet Kate would be just as perplexed how I can tell when some credits are a pixel lower than they should be on the credits for Law & Order, or that the kerning spacing is -50 instead of -25 as it should be. I’d be happy to show her though.

Tomorrow – a kick-ass Keamy vs Sayid fight almost makes up for Michael blowing up without half of the people he sold out ever even being aware he was ‘back’, let alone getting a chance to confront him. Almost.

Where are we?


"Cabin Fever"

DECEMBER 27, 2010

AIRED: MAY 8, 2008

Unfortunately, this episode is not about Jack, Kate, et al being besieged by a flesh eating virus and kids yelling “Pancakes!”. However, “Cabin Fever” is a damn fine episode, and ranks as one of the better “it’s the episode before the season finale so we have to stop dicking around, answer some questions, and get everything into place” hours of the show. Hell, it even features Richard, making his first appearance this season and showing genuine emotion for the first time.

He appears to a 5 year old Locke, as the episode is Locke-centric but not Terry O’Quinn-centric. In fact, there are four Lockes in the episode; we see him as a baby, a kid, a teen, and a balding guy (O’Quinn). The one playing teen Locke is an excellent find – he resembles O’Quinn and nails his inflection almost perfectly. They should have had him play Locke in Via Domus instead of the Old West FunTime actor they got. I wish they did this sort of thing with more of the characters; we never really got to see teenaged Jack or Kate.

It’s also a very interesting episode in retrospect, because at the time it aired, it seemed very likely that Locke would be Ben’s successor and take care of the island. There are hints sprinkled throughout that perhaps he’s not so special as we (and he) have (has) been led to believe, but at the time I just assumed it was conflict designed to have him prove himself – someday he WILL know which of Richard’s objects belongs to him! But now I see that they may have just been hinting that Locke wouldn’t be the guy after all. Also, it might just be coincidence, but when Ben is talking about destiny and being special, he suddenly looks off to the side as he talks – and when they cut to a wider angle, we can see that he is looking in the direction of Hurley. Hmm....

Some of the episode is worthless nonsense, however, such as when Locke encounters Horace in the forest, endlessly chopping down a tree and introducing himself (he’s a repeater!). Never cared much for the “ghosts” on this show - I can buy Christian or Locke as the smoke monster, but otherwise it just never gelled with the show for me. Speaking of Christian, once again seeing his name in the credits actually helped preserve some of the surprise of his appearance – I figured it would be him appearing to Claire as he once did for Jack, but nope – he’s actually Jacob! Or working with him. Or something.

Since no one is reading this website – here are some random words: Ham Poop Fish Sandwich Fatface Chicken Batman.

Another cool thing about the episode is that it solidifies Frank once and for all as a good guy. He’s been helping our guys in the other episodes, but that didn’t cancel out ulterior motives. But here, he’s openly defying Keamy, and it’s only when Keamy kills the doctor and threatens to kill more that he does what he says. He also risks exposure by sending as much of a warning as he can to Jack and the others on the beach. Good ol’ Frank, so happy he turned out to be a good guy. Then again, this isn’t 24 – it was more often that a villain turned out to be not so bad than a good guy turned out to be evil.

Also, again, since no one is reading this – in high school I once fantasized about my 60ish math teacher.

I also noticed that they barely bother with “Previously, on Lost” clips at the top of each episode anymore. I wonder what the main reason was – did they figure if you weren’t watching by now you would never pick it up, or did they just not want to waste that 30-90 seconds per episode? Or did they just realize it had gotten too convoluted to be of any use anyway? The mind bottles.

So tomorrow kicks off the 3 part season finale, which featured a really annoying, anticlimactic death, a painfully obvious fake one, and the answer to a question from the 3rd season finale’s cliffhanger (Jeremy Bentham). Oh, and blew the concept of time travel wide open and helped start to ruin the show. Fuck you, S4 finale.

Where are we?


"Something Nice Back Home"

DECEMBER 26, 2010

AIRED: MAY 1, 2008

(Note - I skipped Christmas. Happy Holidays!)

Sometimes I wonder why Lost’s creators were always so hell-bent on awkwardly withholding information from the audience for 30 seconds or so. “Something Nice Back Home”, Jack and Kate are now together, but they try to hide it from us for a few moments, even slightly disguising Kate’s voice when Jack talks to her in the shower. Why go to the trouble? It’s not as annoying as disguising Ben in “The Economist”, but it still seems like a giant waste of limited time.

The episode is actually pretty full of little moments that either delight or irk me. Perhaps it’s because I find the appendix subplot to be insanely pointless that I focus on the details on this one more than usual. For example, there’s a quick scene with Keamy and his men almost catching Sawyer, only for Frank to help ward them off. Good scene, but why are so many of Keamy’s men still alive? Didn’t the smoke monster take these guys out? Leaving Keamy alive is OK (and preferable), but the fact that there are like 3 other guys still up and about and one just injured makes the smoke monster seem incompetent.

I’m also somewhat confused by Jack’s behavior in the episode. Three episodes (so also, three days) ago he kissed Juliet quite passionately, yet here he’s 100% pro-Kate, demanding she be there during his surgery even though he has to know by now how worthless she is in such situations. It’s almost like his flash forwards are warping his mind in the present. “No, I want Kate there, because of the time we had hot sex after I read to Aaron.”

It’s also an episode that could very easily be the cause of a lot of folks’ confusion about “Lost Heaven”. There’s a scene in the flash forward where Hurley posits that they are all dead and in Heaven, because everything is too perfect. Now, that’s pretty much exactly what the flash sideways were about, but this scene really DID happen, as the flash sideways took place in some undetermined, metaphysical future where they were all dead (from old age or whatever). I recently discovered my wife thought all of the flash forwards were part of purgatory, and I’m sure she’s not the only one – this certainly didn’t help my explanation.

But it’s got some great moments too, like Jin’s awesome dressing down of Charlotte. It’s rare Jin got to display his badass side on the island, as it seemed to soften him, so this was a great way to let him be “dark” but still very much sympathetic and heroic. Also, not being a woman, I didn’t know that Daniel liked her either, so that was nice. Likewise, I enjoyed her little (possibly meta) line about “adding it to the list” when there’s a question we never got an answer to.

And since I always complain about the guest stars being spoiled by the credits, I have to admit that the listing of John Terry for a brief appearance near the end worked for once. Because it was a Jack episode (not Claire or whoever), it made sense that he’d be there somewhere, and it was fun trying to figure out how. I’m still not sure about the logistics – we know now he was seen on the island via the smoke monster, who couldn’t leave, so how did he appear to Jack? Guess Jack was just legit seeing things. But also, Claire walks off with “her dad”, which meant we’d be seeing him again soon. I always wished they would add him as a regular on the show. Love that guy.

Where are we?


"The Shape Of Things To Come"

DECEMBER 24, 2010

AIRED: APRIL 24, 2008

OK, so now I remember why "The Shape Of Things To Come" would have made for a more tantalizing mid season ender - Jack's ridiculous ailment! It's probably one of the most worthless subplots in the entire series, a 24-esque excuse to cause more problems for our heroes than something of any real narrative purpose, but at the time we didn't know that - it would have been fun to guess about it for the 5 weeks Lost was off the air due to the strike.

The final scene of the episode is also far more cliffhanger-y than the one in the previous episode, when Rousseau and Karl were killed. Alan Dale's performance in the scene is wonderfully menacing (he seems to be channeling Anthony Hopkins), and again, we didn't know that everything they were talking about amounted to jack shit. What the hell is Ben talking about with the "rules" and why can't he just kill Widmore? Never explained, but again, at the time it seemed cool.

It's also a damned funny episode, which may surprise some considering how grim it can be (multiple deaths on and off the island). Sawyer's brotherly protection of Hurley ("If you touch one hair on his curly head...") is so wonderful, and I love the look on Sawyer's face when Ben tosses him a shotgun early on. The scene where Daniel realizes he's been caught in his lie is also quite amusing, so much that I can overlook the rather odd notion that Jack knew Bernard knew Morse code, since the two of them have never had more than a passing conversation. And it's kind of sick, but the casual and inane manner in which they kill off three of the nameless plane survivors is kind of awesome in a Silent Night Deadly Night humor kind of way. I mean, they literally line up to get shot to death, all the while missing Sawyer (I like that they replayed the scene from "Kevin Johnson" to remind us what lousy shots the mercenary guys are).

But Sawyer's inability to get shot is nothing compared to Claire's ability to survive HER ENTIRE HOUSE EXPLODING. I mean, the thing seemingly disintegrates half of the house's contents, hence Sawyer's relative ease of finding her in the rubble (which mostly consists of clothes and small junk), yet Claire comes through with a scratch on her head and momentary amnesia ("Charlie?"). That's some Jack Bauer level resilience right there.

However, it is also a bit of a sad episode. It's pretty painful to hear that Nadia was killed just months later (something we could surmise from "The Economist"), and Sayid's grief is quite well played. But also, the death of Alex (aided with some top notch Giacchino music) is pretty depressing - the season had been making some effort to turn Ben into a more sympathetic character, and they finally hit that point here, especially when he stayed behind to say goodbye to her. Poor Ben. Villainous, crazy, kidnapping Ben.

Also, as an LA resident, I liked hearing a shoutout to a particular intersection, and that it made sense. While "La Brea and Santa Monica" is not 3 blocks from where Nadia was seen getting hit in the episode that showed it, it's at least similar to the type of area they depicted (and the location of the Best Buy where I bought Rock Band!). I remember seeing a slasher movie called New Year's Evil that had police responding to a distress at "Ventura and Laurel Canyon", which was depicted as an isolated suburban area, when in reality it's a very busy, brightly lit intersection. Also, when I was in Boston, an episode of Dawson's Creek had Joey get mugged at "Downtown Crossing", which looked like a ghetto instead of the highly commercialized shopping area that is actually is. So good on you, Lost (which fakes all of its LA areas in Hawaii).

Where are we?


"Meet Kevin Johnson"

DECEMBER 23, 2010

AIRED: MARCH 20, 2008

Maybe it's simply BECAUSE they are different, but I tend to really like the episodes of Lost that break the traditional structure of going back and forth between past and present (or present and future, or present and the weirdest version of purgatory ever). Like "The Other 48 Days" and "Flashes Before Your Eyes", the past part of the story in "Meet Kevin Johnson" is told in one long segment, depicting how Michael got to be on the freighter, as well as the fate of Walt.

Michael was never one of my favorite characters, but it's hard not to feel bad for the guy here - he did these horrible things just to save his son, only to end up losing him (it's not really made clear, but the idea is that he told Walt what he did and the kid stopped speaking to him). His mom seems to hate him too, and since it's Christmas that's even more tragic to me. And worse, the island won't even let him kill himself! But he's still a selfish jerk - there's a great moment where Ben (correctly) points out that he won't kill an innocent person, and Michael asks about Ana Lucia and Libby. He actually thinks that's Ben's fault? All he had to do was tell Ana Lucia to go outside while he "killed" Ben. Dumbass.

The scenario also allows us to see Tom again. I would have liked a better showdown between the two - he IS the one that took Walt, but I liked seeing him dress and act like a guy on an all expense paid business trip. M.C. Gainey clearly enjoyed the change of pace too - it's one of his most humorous and showy performances. Good ol' Tom.

The structure keeps the Island stuff to a minimum (neither Jack or Kate even appear - very rare for just one to skip an episode, let alone both). The episode begins with Locke gathering "everyone" to tell them the plan, and by everyone I mean the credited cast members. There are a half dozen or so other survivors who have joined their camp, but they apparently just sit in their houses and do nothing - Locke can't even be bothered to tell them that they're in danger, I guess. Kind of funny.

Most of this stuff focuses on Ben, which leads to my only real problem with the episode - Rousseau's death. Now, she's never been a main cast member, but she has been a presence on the show since early in the first season (she was the first "other" Island resident we met besides Ethan), and her role had been expanded so far this season, now that she was reunited with Alex (who looks exceptionally cute in this episode, I want to point out). So to gun her down so quickly, while a nice shock moment, seems a bit lame to me. Killing Karl like that was already enough of a shock for the scene, did they have to kill her so quickly too? She got shot in the right lower side of her torso, it seems to me she could have lived a few minutes, maybe drag it out to the next episode. And in keeping with the "tradition" of this season, no one ever seems to care she died either.

When this episode aired, it was as a sort of "cliffhanger" because of the writer's strike, which halted production, shortened the season by 2 episodes, and caused a break of about a month or so. I can't recall for sure (I will tomorrow!) but I seem to remember thinking that the NEXT episode would have been a better "mid-season finale", but the specifics why escape me for the moment. At any rate, the strike hurt a lot of shows (24 was off for the entire season as a result), and Lost seemed to be one of the few that weren't effected much for a while (besides the break), but the season finale felt very rushed, which I think is where the strike effect finally took hold. I'll talk about that more in that episode's review next week, but for now I'll just point out that they ended up getting extra episodes in the 5th and 6th seasons, so overall, it evened out. Barring actor availability, since they knew they had 16 episodes per season for 3 seasons (ended up being 14, 17, and 17), it seems to me that they cannot blame the strike for any shortcomings the show had on a narrative level.

Speaking of which, I just remembered/realized that Richard has been absent for this season - that was due to Nestor Carbonell taking a leading role on the show Cane, which was a victim of the strike - it finished up its first batch of episodes, and then the strike happened, CBS had some mid-season shows to launch, and it sort of got left in the dust despite decent ratings (not as good as Lost's however). If memory serves he does make an appearance or two at the end of the season though. Also, if you type out Nestor Carbonell on Google, "Nestor Carbonell Eyeliner" is the first thing that pops up under his name. Poor sod (it's not eyeliner, he just has dark ringed eyes).

Where are we?


"Ji Yeon"

DECEMBER 22, 2010

AIRED: MARCH 13, 2008

A common problem I have with movies that are built around twists is that I've seen so many, I can spot the "off" things that give the twist away, such as no one speaking to a certain character (Sixth Sense, though that one actually fooled me - it's just the one I can mention without giving away a largely unknown secret) or a certain vague quality to dialogue, indicating that the writer is trying to make you think they are talking about something different than they are. Well, I'm not sure what it was about "Ji Yeon", but I somehow knew after about 10 minutes or so that Jin and Sun were not in the same time period during the flashes.

There are certain hints - Jin's "antique" cell phone and the fact that no one was bugging him about being an Oceanic Six member, like everyone else's flash-forwards, but if that's what tipped me off, it must have been subconsciously, because I only really realized these things on a second viewing. I think it's more that they were separate for the whole episode - they ALWAYS had a scene together in their other episodes, even the one that took place before they met! Now, I'm not saying it's a bad twist, and it actually sort of foreshadowed a future element of the show (people existing in different time periods), but I suspect that some fans wouldn't have been as annoyed if they had seen it coming. Some folks don't like being tricked, and when they are, they just get angry (I myself just feel stupid for missing it).

Once again, though, the bulk of what makes the episode interesting is the stuff in the B story, i.e. the developments on the freighter. Zoe Bell popping up and committing suicide, the introduction of the captain, and of course, FINALLY, the "non-opening credits" reveal of who Ben's spy was on the boat, all make for perfectly satisfying, worthwhile Lost. I also like that Desmond really doesn't know who Michael is, something that a casual viewer probably didn't realize. Desmond took off while Michael was still with the Others, and returned when Michael was with Jack and company en route to "rescue Walt". I wish they had a scene of Sayid explaining who he was to Desmond though; after this the fact that they didn't know one another was never really addressed.

I also enjoy the flashes. Jin's story is goofy fun, because it puts one of the most volatile guys on the show in a situation out of a bad episode of some family sitcom, or the film Jingle All The Way. And Sun's is nice because it's good to know she had her baby and both were healthy. Also, as I mentioned yesterday, Hurley's response to the fact that no one else was coming ("Good!") was particularly odd - since when doesn't Hurley want to see the others? It was obviously before he went nuts again (since it couldn't be too far into the future if she was just having her baby), so this moment was and remains very awkward. But hilarious, because of Jorge Garcia's otherwise unending love of everyone.

But the island stuff is a bore. First of all - they build an episode around Sun and Jin possibly wanting to stay on the island, when we know they DON'T because the other half of the episode is about her living in the real world post-island! And I've already discussed my dislike of the "affair" subplot (and I find it rather stupid that Jin actually thinks it might not be his - unless she fucked the dude right before they got on the plane, how could it be? You've been there for over 3 months and she's not even showing yet), so Juliet using it to keep Sun around is fairly weak. I do like the scene of him and Bernard on the boat though, and I'm happy they didn't drag it out forever like their last big fight (in S1), but it's still a bland and forgettable story.

Which is a shame, because I've frequently complained about the lack of character moments in this season, and their stuff does keep the mythology nonsense largely off the table for this one (at least on the island), so that's actually a good thing. I just don't particularly care about this subplot of their history, and the introduction of the flash forwards and such renders a lot of it moot anyway.

Tomorrow - Harold Perrineau's season-long "starring" credit pays off when they give him an entire episode more or less to himself!

Where are we?


"The Other Woman"

DECEMBER 21, 2010

AIRED: MARCH 6, 2008

Granted, “The Constant” is a tough act to follow, but even factoring in a handicap, “The Other Woman” is kind of a lousy episode, since it features a flashback (I thought we were done with those!) about Juliet’s relationship with a dude who we know is dead, and just reinforces that Ben is obsessed with her, rendering most of it rather pointless. And the present day stuff is even weaker, detailing a baffling “mission” to shut off some gas that can kill everyone, which is dramatically inert because they seem hellbent on not making it clear who’s on who’s side and what the “right” thing to do is. Half the people are saying Ben’s trying to kill them and they need to do this to stop him, the other half are saying they need to stop Daniel and Charlotte because they are trying to kill them.

And, you know, who cares? We know not everyone’s going to die either way, so why build an entire episode around this sort of crap? Christ, there’s even a Mexican standoff with a ticking time clock! If you guys want to write this sort of thing, go over to 24. Fans of that show are far less discerning (obviously, or it wouldn’t have lasted 8 seasons, most of them awful). And back to the flashbacks – sure, Juliet got a shit deal on the island, but is depicting her affair with a married man the best way to earn our sympathy? If anything this episode made me like her less.

It’s got a few “saving” moments, however, such as Juliet’s response to Jack’s inquiry about having therapists (“It’s very stressful being an Other, Jack.”), and the tense moment when Goodwin enters the lab in order to grab a nooner with Juliet and ends up having to offer a sandwich. The present day stuff with Ben and Locke is also good; I love his reaction to Locke making rabbit for dinner, and the little callback to the Red Sox game. Again, the whole mystery about the “man on the boat” is rather anticlimactic thanks to the opening credits, but I guess if you’re illiterate you can appreciate the (minor) development in this plotline.

I also like the misdirection at the beginning, since we still don’t know who the 6th Oceanic Six person is, and there’s talk about Juliet being a celebrity and such. It’s the sort of “toying with the audience” approach that actually works, unlike Ben’s disguised voice in “The Economist”. Plus, it doesn’t exactly confirm that Juliet ISN’T one of the Oceanic Six, so it allows the suspense to continue. Granted, realistically she couldn’t be one of them, since she wasn’t an Oceanic flight member to begin with, but since Lost’s writers have already demonstrated their limited grasp on the legal system, I’m guessing that’s the sort of plot point they wouldn’t give a shit about.

Speaking of giving a shit, one thing I meant to bring up earlier but forgot: why isn’t anyone sad about Charlie? Neither Hurley or Claire seem particularly troubled in the slightest, which is odd considering their best friend/boyfriend (respectively) just died like 4 days ago. When Boone died, Shannon was pretty much bummed for the rest of the season - you’d think they’d at least have a moment or two showing their grief. Again though, that’s part of why the show started losing me – they became far more interested in the plot twists and mythology than the people involved with them.

On that note, it’s amusing/somewhat sad how often there are “Unanswered Questions” listed in the Lostpedia entries starting with this season. This episode in particular has four (mostly involving the Harper character, who went the way of Isabel and was never seen again), and many of the previous episodes this season had about as many, whereas most episodes in S1-3 have none at all. Which, of course, is even more maddening when you consider that this is the first season they’ve been able to plan out and execute knowing how many episodes they had left, yet it seems to have the most narrative holes. And you can’t even blame the Writer’s Strike for that – they ended up getting those episodes “back” via extra hours in the 5th and 6th seasons. Also, while it may not have been the ratings powerhouse it once was, I’m sure they could have gotten even more if they asked, because it was still one of ABC’s top rated shows. Bummer.

Tomorrow: the weirdest Hurley moment in the entire series!

Where are we?


"The Constant"

DECEMBER 20, 2010


As if the parts of “The Constant” that everyone remembers/loves weren’t good enough, I totally forgot that this is the episode that introduces Keamy, one of my all time favorite Lost villains (possibly because he’s one of the few that never turned out to be not so bad after all), played by the underrated Kevin Durand, who is often the best thing about bad movies (Legion, Wolverine). A shame he didn’t last longer, but he definitely helped add some much needed danger to this season, which was often too busy with everyone being vague and looking worried to include any actual menace.

But anyway, “The Constant”! Such a great episode. Not only does it finally make some goddamn sense out of “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, but it also provides one of the most emotionally charged moments of the entire series, when Desmond makes his phone call to Penny at the end. I’ve probably seen the episode 5 times now and I still tear up when, well, when they do. I like these two folks. And it’s underplayed, but I like that Sayid, for once, drops his “I need answers!” attitude long enough to let Desmond do something a little more personal. Dude knows from lost love.

I also like how they sort of help us share Desmond’s disorientation by surrounding him mostly with folks we don’t recognize either. With the obvious exceptions, we’re seeing all of the characters Desmond talks to in this episode (Dr. Ray, Mankowski, Keamy, his fellow soldiers) for the first time – he doesn’t know them, and neither do we. It’s a tough concept to get your head around, so little things like this help (sort of like how telling the story backwards was the only way to really make an audience understand the affliction Guy Pearce had in Memento).

It’s also a wonderfully edited episode, as each of Desmond’s flashes are perfectly jarring; you never get ‘used’ to it, and you feel his disorientation every time. After 4 years of hearing the “vrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooom” sound every time a flashback was about to start or end, it was sort of fun to have a little mystery for once. Of course, some of the flashes go a bit long to serve the plot (he takes a train to Oxford?), but I can forgive that.

Speaking of which, they never really capitalized on the whole “time doesn’t work the same way” element. Other than a back-door explanation for how folks’ hair always grew so long (what’s with Juliet’s 80s style this season, by the way?), they basically mention it and never really go back to it. Probably because they didn’t want to figure out the math involved (I’m still unsure how it works – so one day on the island is like two elsewhere? Or vice versa?).

Of course, as great as this episode is, it really blows the whole time travel element wide open, and that was, in my opinion, what hurt the show’s overall merit. Once everyone started traveling through time, the show became about a bunch of rules (and exceptions to those rules to smooth plot holes) instead of the characters, almost all of whom took to traveling through time fairly easily. Oh well. Doesn’t make the episode as a whole any less worthwhile – it’s still one of my top 5 episodes and easily the highlight of this season. Just goes to show you how much I can forgive when they put the characters first. Make me cry, I’ll forget all of the problems!

Where are we?



DECEMBER 19, 2010


I never realized how gloriously stupid Kate’s legal issues are depicted in “Eggtown” until this, my 3rd or 4th viewing. Apparently all of the stuff she did (bank robberies, beating up on US Marshals, etc) didn’t yield any other witnesses – the prosecution was resting their entire case on her mom testifying against her (after the defense called their own witnesses, for some further unknown reason). I was always a bit confused why the trial was in Los Angeles too – wasn’t the house she blew up in Kansas or something?

On the other hand, she looks great in a suit. I’m torn.

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, this episode lives on only as the one that stalls time until “The Constant”, but it’s not too bad if you try to forget about that (which is hard since half of it deals with Jack and Juliet getting really worried about the fate of the chopper – events explored in the other episode). I like the brief con that Sawyer and Kate pull on an increasingly hostile Locke, and any episode that features Myles heavily is worth a look. Plus, it’s nice that Kate gets revenge on Hurley for selling her out in the last episode by “Scooby Doo-ing” him here. The look she gives him when he asks her not to tell Locke is pretty priceless too.

I also enjoy Kate’s out-of-nowhere backhanding of Sawyer. Dude was being a total dick (not to mention the unfathomable sin of not being happy with cuddling/makeouts with Ms. Lilly!), and had it coming. But on the other hand, I loved the line that got him said backhander – pointing out that once she gets pissed at Jack she’ll come back to him. When you watch these things back to back, it’s a lot easier to tell why people got annoyed with her; she DOES flip-flop between the two of them in pretty rapid succession.

Speaking of which, Jack’s trial appearance is fairly ridiculous (he even botches their fake story!), and doesn’t quite jive with later episodes anyway. At the end, he’s refusing to see Aaron, but then the next time we see them in flash-forward, they are together and he’s being a perfectly good dad (technically uncle!) to the little guy. So, again, why do they build climaxes around these go-nowhere subplots or plot points? We never saw what led Jack to change his mind or how the two of them ended up living together.

In fact, apart from the minor Ben/Myles drama and the reason Kate returns to the beach, you can pretty much ignore this entire episode, because everyone else spends the next episode in the same predicament (“Where’s Sayid and Desmond?”). And as for the future, just assume Kate got off her charges because she was a hero or something, and that her and Jack got drunk at Hurley’s party, humped like rabbits in the backseat of his Camaro (which would be how Jack recognized it in “The Beginning Of The End”!), and moved in together. Everything else basically falls in place.

Where are we?


"The Economist"

DECEMBER 18, 2010


Thanks to Lost's constantly shifting timeslot, "The Economist" aired on Valentine's Day, much like last season's "Flashes Before Your Eyes". And while not as successful, it's also another 'romantic' episode, with Sayid wooing a woman in Germany, looking all suave and such. It's all quite lovely until they shoot each other - luckily for Naveed Andrews, Sayid is the better shot.

However, this was one of the cool things about the flashforwards - it allowed for suspense OFF the island for once. Few of the flashbacks ever put our characters in any sort of danger, because what would be the point? You know they live and don't have any major injuries (save Locke). But with the forwards (not to mention a fixed end date), these sort of things could very easily end in a character's death which wouldn't necessarily mean that person would be done with the show.

So now we have the identity of the 4th "Oceanic Six" member, and again we are reminded of their celebrity status and that they were apparently all made rich from it (an avenue not fully explored - did money-hating Hurley get this large settlement? Or was Sayid just lying?). But the episode otherwise plays out like a normal flashback, albeit a non-torture based one for Sayid. Hell, if not for the opening scene, where he talks about being one of the Six, they could have very easily tricked us into thinking this was a flashBACK until the final scene - perhaps Sayid became a spy for the Iraqi government at some point after leaving the torture game.

Speaking of that final scene, while it was fine for the phone calls, I really hated that they "disguised" Ben's voice for a while before finally revealing him. Not only was Michael Emerson's inflection unmistakable, but it's also just stupid - if we are being told the story from Sayid's point of view, why would it be disguised when he was sitting right next to the guy? I'm not a fan of things that only make sense for the audience's sake, and I thought the Lost folks were above this sort of thing. Was it worth making such a big deal out of something that was only 30 seconds away from being revealed? Especially when it wasn't too surprising anyway?

(On rewatching the episode, however, it gives Sayid's earlier line in the show: "The day I trust that man..." some added 'oomph')

The non Sayid stuff is pretty good, mainly because it gives more screen time to Lapidus, kicking off the bond between him and Jack. Jack asking him about the Sox is one of the rare moments in this season where Jack's previous life seemed to be on his mind; the rest of the time he was always in gung ho, "I'm trying to get us rescued!" mode. I also love the little moment with him and Kate, when she asks how it feels being left behind and he replies "That mean I should wait 20 minutes and go anyway?" (as she often does). Good stuff.

We also get one of the all time best Hurley lines, when Myles calls him "tubby" ("Oh good, the ship sent another Sawyer."). It's funny enough to make up for the rather silly subplot of Hurley betraying his friends. I get that he might have been afraid of the freighter folk, but I don't think he'd ever sell out Sayid or Kate (or anyone, really) as easily as he did. It also seems odd that he'd legitimately be afraid of Sayid. Again, Hurley works much better as the carefree guy who just sort of hangs out and keeps everyone relaxed - when they involve him too much into the various "faction" wars it doesn't quite work. Only thing more jarring was crazy Claire in Season 6.

It's also a good episode for composer Michael Giacchino. I quite like Sayid's theme, and the music that plays over the scene where Sawyer and Kate discuss the pros/cons of staying on the island is quite nice as well. Granted, I pay a little more attention to this show than most, but even factoring that in, I still think it has one of the greatest music components of any weekly TV show I've ever seen, and the best pieces ("Life and Death" for example) are better than the stuff I hear in most movies, especially nowadays when everything genre related seems to have that rapid fire "dun dun DUHH DUHH dun dun DUHH DUHH" type of music ripped off from the Bourne movies. Or is techno based. Ugh.

Tomorrow - we spend 42 minutes waiting to get to "The Constant"! It's the rare drawback in rewatching episodes; knowing a great one is coming up but you have to sit through an average one first. At least we get to see Kate all cleaned up.

Where are we?


"Confirmed Dead"

DECEMBER 17, 2010


All seasons of Lost play better in back to back viewings as opposed to spread out over 5-9 months, but S4 definitely benefits the most from this, because the whole Island part of the story takes place in a little over a week. Most episodes pick up directly where the previous one left off, and cover little time – it’s not like Season 1 where an episode could cover 3-4 days, or skip a few in between. “Confirmed Dead” is no different, picking up right where “Beginning Of The End” left off, as we meet Daniel Faraday for the first time.

I never shined to Charlotte, but otherwise I think the Freighter Folk were a terrific addition to the show, with Daniel, Lapidus, and Myles becoming some of my favorite characters. A big part of that was that they added humor to the show when everything and everyone was getting too caught up in the mythology to bother with such frivolities, but also they changed the dynamic in a good way. Unlike Nikki and Goddamn Paulo, who were forced upon us out of nowhere and never had much of a connection to anyone else, they arrived in a way that made sense to the show, but also managed to create interesting and likeable relationships with the existing characters.

Of course, it’s easier to like them in retrospect. At first I was a bit “who cares about these folks?”, because Lost had been away for a longer period (since 4-6 had shortened seasons, they didn’t premiere until January or February, which meant nearly 9 months had gone by since the previous season ended). Thus, I wanted to spend more time with the folks I missed, not these newcomers with their rather confusing flashbacks (I still don’t “get” Charlotte’s flashback).

It was also a bit frustrating at first because there was a lot of things we were being kept in the dark about. No answers were forthcoming, but more questions were being added – the man on the boat, what their “primary objective” was, etc. Again, in back to back viewings it’s fine, but when they aired, an episode like this was especially maddening, because it just dug the hole deeper without offering any answers to the previous episode’s questions. It’s no wonder the ratings steadily declined from the last episode on – it was just getting to be too much “work” for a week to week audience.

There are a few moments of the “old” Lost in this one though; such as a good ol’ fashioned Kate and Jack in peril moment (and a cute little argument about why she didn’t catch his “signal”), and even the return of Locke the weatherman, accurately predicting that a rainstorm was about to end. I also love the moment when he points out that if he had a kidney he’d be dead – it’s underplayed, but it’s probably one of the best “everything happens for a reason” lines in ages.

I was also tickled by Locke saying that Walt looked “the same, only taller”, which is of course a meta joke about the reason Malcolm David Kelley wasn’t on the show anymore. My advice for future serialized dramas that have child characters – hire an actor who has a lot of younger brothers that they could use to replace the older one if he got too big. If there was a Timmy David Kelley maybe this show wouldn’t have gotten so damn confusing and stupid at times.

Back to Lapidus – I wish they had given him a bit of a better “in” than simply recognizing that the dead pilot didn’t have a wedding ring on and thus couldn’t be his friend. Not a superpower like Myles, but maybe something more minute, like the way he had his shirt buttoned or something (his “power” is good attention to detail – hence his instant knowing that Juliet was not on the plane). A ring could have fallen off; plus, if the fake Norris had a ring himself, would he not have noticed? I also wish Lapidus had gotten his own episode; not only would it allow for far more Jeff Fahey (love that guy), but they could have come up with something cool and Lost-centric to explain why he wasn’t flying the plane (I can’t remember if he ever did explain why, but if so it couldn’t have been very interesting). His resigned “We’re not going to Guam, are we?” in S5 was my favorite scene in that entire season!

Tomorrow – Action Sayid!

Where are we?


"The Beginning Of The End"

DECEMBER 16, 2010


Right off the bat, I sensed something was amiss with Season 4 of Lost, when I realized that “The Beginning Of The End” was a Hurley episode and not a Jack-centric one, despite being a season premiere. Jack had been at the center of the two previous season premieres, and was one of the ones to get a flashback in the pilot – he’s our premiere guy, dammit! It might even have been helpful to use Matthew Fox’s weight loss (he slimmed down for a horrible, horrible movie in between seasons) in a flashback, since it’s kind of jarring to see him looking so different in an episode that takes place directly after the S3 finale.

Now, 4 as a whole isn’t too bad, and contains one of the all time best episodes, but it also set in motion a lot of things that would cripple the show for me, including the dividing (pretty much for good) of the two camps. Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, and Claire (plus some other survivors no one cares about) would head off to the barracks, six of the others would become the “Oceanic Six”, and the rest would pretty much just wander around on the island, dying or doing whatever the plot required them to. I understand the need to split folks apart, but it should be a temporary thing. Hell, I’m not sure if Desmond ever even sees some of these folks again after this one (since he was sidelined during most of S5 and 6).

But let’s not get too far ahead of myself. I liked the bulk of this episode, particularly the few emotional scenes involving their reaction to Charlie’s death. I tear up every time when Desmond tells Hurley, and everyone sort of stops in their place as they realize how caught up they were with the “story” that they didn’t even notice. I also love Sawyer’s attempts to be a shoulder for Hurley to cry on; it’s probably one of his most humane moments ever (at least, that didn’t involve someone he enjoyed sleeping with; then again, they WERE roommates despite having a whole empty city to themselves...).

I also liked some of the things they set up, such as Abbadon and the idea of the Oceanic Six. With the flashforward structure essentially spoiling the fact that some folks did escape the island, it was a terrific way to keep the suspense afloat – who made up the six? We know three of them now, but who are the other three? Why just them? Why do they have to go back? Etc. It particularly tickled me, because I was always one of those cynics saying that their various attempts at rescue (the raft, a message in a bird’s foot, etc) would never work because then there wouldn’t be a show – it was nice to be proven wrong in a way I never considered. Granted, it didn’t exactly turn out for the best in my opinion, but I still applaud the concept.

The magic cabin shit just annoys me even more now than it did when it first aired. Why does it move? Who is in it? I guess we can sort of figure out why Hurley seems to be able to see it, but there’s a lot of baffling nonsense surrounding it that was never explained, nor was it even particularly interesting – it’s just the sort of thing that kept driving folks away (according to Lostpedia, this was the highest rated episode of the final three seasons – even the big finale didn’t draw as many people back). And while it was a nice surprise that Hurley was the one to watch over the island, I preferred Hurley as the guy who was just there offering moral support and levity to the situations at hand, not as a major player. If HE starts getting mixed up with all this hooey, is there ever going to be another fun moment again on the show? He can’t very well be making golf courses and such if he has to go on a trek to find Jacob and blah blah blah...

One final criticism about this episode/season – spoiling the identity of the “man on the boat” for the entire season by re-adding Harold Perrineau into the cast list. It’s bad enough when they spoil a surprise appearance by John Terry or whoever, but why add a recognizable name back 7-8 episodes before he even appears? Sure, it wasn’t exactly the biggest mystery in the world (once it became clear that it WAS a mystery, who else could it be? No one else had left without dying), but it was still rather stupid to not even allow us to theorize.

Oh well, again, this is to be discussed later. This particular episode is pretty good.

Where are we?


"Through The Looking Glass"

DECEMBER 8, 2010

AIRED: MAY 23, 2007

"Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit...." - BC, May 23, 2007

After spending most of "Through The Looking Glass" trying to figure out where the "flashbacks" fit into Jack's narrative (and why John Terry wasn't around), it finally dawned on me when I saw the maps in Jack's apartment - this was a flash forward! Jack got off the island! And grew a Tom-esque fake beard!!!

One thing that's always bugged me about Stephen King's writing is that he's constantly "spoiling" things, ending chapters with things like "it would be the last time he had a soda, because he would die that day", several chapters before he actually died. But this potentially crippling revelation actually invigorated the show - we knew by this point that it would run for 3 more seasons, so obviously it wouldn't be as easy as getting on a helicopter and returning home. At the same time, knowing that at least two people made it (the other being Kate) bought them some goodwill - at least we knew there was some semblance of a happy rescue at some point.

Also, knowing it was a glimpse into Jack's future made it more intriguing. We knew he had problems in the past, but he never seemed suicidal, nor was he hooked on pills or driving around listening to lesser Nirvana tracks. I may have issues with Lindelof and Cuse's writing at times, but I got to hand it to them - I can't think of any other form of entertainment where telling you the 'end' halfway through actually made it more interesting.

And it's a good "present day" episode too! I never really believed Jin and the others were dead, but they did a good job of keeping us in suspense about it. Hurley's day-saving was incredible, and while I may not have liked to see Tom bite it so soon, Sawyer's "That's for taking the kid off the raft." is a pretty badass moment (and a totally justified one, if you consider the chain of events that followed).

Actually a lot of folks get some great kick-ass moments; Jack beating the shit out of Ben, Locke stabbing Naomi, Charlie saving Desmond, Sayid breaking that dude's neck... hell even Bernard gets to take out a few others (and Rose telling Jack she'll hit him if he says "Live Together, Die Alone" is friggin hilarious). I also love that Mikhail seemingly gets sick of people failing to kill him and just does the job himself.

Only drawback is that it really kicks off Lost's annoying habit of having its characters stay vague or refuse to answer simple questions in order to make the plot work. Why can't Ben just tell Jack about Widmore? Why can't Walt tell Locke what's going on? It even extends to the flash-forwards - why doesn't that other doctor ever point out to Jack that his father is dead? It would just get worse from here (that the temple, easily the worst concept in the show's run, gets its first mention here is quite fitting).

I also wish they could have structured Charlie's death better, since he very easily could have survived. Even if the water was already rushing in, his act (locking the door and thus keeping Desmond safe) still would have been a bit foolish, but doing it beforehand is just idiotic. Especially in hindsight, since Desmond's vision never came true anyway. Poor Charlie. Died for nothing and never got beyond first base with Claire. Also, lost his ring.

Well that wraps up Season 3. It had a few weak spots but overall I think it was an improvement on S2, mainly based on these last few episodes and a couple knockouts like "Flashes Before Your Eyes". It also wraps up the show's impressive use of its ensemble; from here on out, characters would be wasted, couples would be split apart more or less forever, and with a few exceptions ("The Constant" for one example), the writers would really lose sight of the emotional connections these folks had to one another (and the audience) in favor of excess mythology and sci-fi mumbo jumbo. On the other hand, we get Myles and Lapidus.

Where are we?


"Greatest Hits"

DECEMBER 7, 2010

AIRED: MAY 16, 2007

Pretty much every problem I had with Season 3 was eradicated by "Greatest Hits" and the following episode, since they brought in full force everything I loved about Lost, and delivered what may be the most satisfying cap of any season of the show (yes, even Season 1). I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but by killing off a major character that we've been with since the very first episode, it truly showed us how no one was safe, and that final scene pretty much broke every conventional rule of serialized dramas. Well played!

But that's "Looking Glass", let's talk "Greatest Hits". Frankly, if you don't tear up at least once during this episode, you pretty much have no soul. I'd argue that Charlie's reflections leading up to his death are sadder than his actual death, since we had been told so many times he would die over the course of the season, it was sort of anticlimactic. But reflecting on the best moments of his life prior to that? Oh man, I lost my shit the first time I saw it and still get teared up at parts, particularly Liam telling Charlie that he's the one that will grow up, get married and have a baby (oops), and of course declaring the moment he met Claire as the best in his life.

The real nose-blower, however, is his goodbye to Hurley. It's sad in so many ways - that he has to insult him to save his life, that Hurley doesn't realize he's never going to see what is essentially his best friend again, and their very bro-mantic "I love yous"... again, if you're not at least misty eyed here, you're some sort of goddamn robot.

Hell, the episode is so good I can even ignore two rather clunky bits of writing: 1. Charlie actually starts writing the list before Desmond tells him that this is it for him, and 2. Why does he write one at a time? Since he's going backwards, he obviously knows what #1 is, why does he delay? I think it would have made more sense if he had written it out at some previous time (especially when he actually stops rowing the boat in order to write down #1 - Desmond should have been like "You gonna help, brother?") and then they used the camera to REVEAL one at a time throughout the episode.

I also love how their usual multi-group plan for the end of a season worked together for a change. Instead of having folks off doing one thing and others doing something mostly unrelated, it was sort of like a three part attack, with Charlie and Desmond going off to shut off the signal so that Jack and the others could send a message from the radio tower area, where they would all be because Sayid, Jin, and Bernard (oh yeah, Bernard and Rose show up for the first time all season, and Vincent pops up too!) were waiting to ambush the Others. For the first time all season, everyone appears and has something to do. Well, Locke's in a ditch somewhere, but everyone ELSE has a goal and if they fail none of the other parts will work or will be in vain.

I also love when Carl tries to "out" Juliet by revealing she's a spy to the other survivors. "They know, but, thanks!" I love her. She'd get to be a lot funnier next season ("It's stressful being an Other, Jack."), and I truly think part of why S6 felt so underwhelming is due to her absence - she may have come on board late but she quickly became one of my favorite characters, and her stuff with Sawyer stood up with the best of the show's "couples".

Onward to the season finale!

Where are we?


"The Man Behind The Curtain"

DECEMBER 7, 2010

AIRED: MAY 9, 2007

We waited all season, perhaps even further back (into Season 2), for Lost to give us a Ben-centric episode, and “The Man Behind The Curtain” finally delivered. And while not without some minor issues, it was worth the wait, providing several answers big and small, opening up a huge new aspect of the mythology, and ending on the best shock since Michael shot Ana Lucia and Libby.

Let’s get the minor stuff out of the way. Since Ben is still our main villain, it’s kind of disappointing that a big part of his demeanor is due to the old “he wasn’t held enough as a child” excuse. I was hoping Lost’s writers could come up with something a little less clichéd, though I admit it’s nice to have that sort of “bond” between him and Locke, whose mother didn’t die, but still abandoned him (and, I never noticed, both of their mothers are named Emily) and his father was a royal pain in the ass. They were also both born premature, another thing I never really picked up on before.

I also still don’t get why Ben lied about being born on the island. Was it just to provide a beginning of the episode twist? It seems like one of those things that they actually changed and thus it became a useless lie (like Sun never cheating on Jin) more than something that was planned. “He’s gonna say he was born there, but he really wasn’t! You know, so... he uh... um... Yeah.”

Otherwise, it’s great stuff. I love how something that was the source of a very fun and lighthearted episode (“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”) had very grim origins. Not that I actually felt bad for Roger “Workman”, but it kind of takes the fun out of the earlier episode knowing that the skeleton was a guy who got gassed by his own kid when he was trying, for once, to be a father to the guy. Poor sod. And I don’t know, if my kid’s birth killed my wife I’d probably be a bit resentful too, so maybe some sympathy IS in order. He’s nice enough to Kate in Season 5.

The few scenes at the beach are also top notch, with a lot of tension and power struggles, plus the welcome revelation that Juliet doesn’t really plan to sell them out to her former neighbors. Ben’s plan seems a bit over the top ridiculous at this stage (again, why all the “bad guy” stuff? Why not just ask them if they want medical treatment if they’re pregnant, explaining that the Island will definitely kill them if not?), but I like the “triple agent” twist all the same.

It’s not hard to see why people hate Jack though, considering his attitude here. Even I, a big Jack supporter, want to smack him when he’s like “I hadn’t decided what to do about it yet.” Never quite decided if it was writer sloppiness or a character flaw, but sometimes Jack acts like a president, and other times a dictator. And I wish they could have spent a little more time on the folks who were potentially caught in the middle; Hurley is close to all three potential leaders (Sawyer, Sayid, and Jack) – who does HE side with in all of this? Or Charlie? And do folks like Desmond even care?

Tomorrow (or today!) – "Greatest Hits"! Good. I could use a good cry.

Where are we?


"The Brig"

DECEMBER 6, 2010

AIRED: MAY 2, 2007

As much as I love Lost, I never really got into the message board culture of the show, reading theories and what not. If I had, the big revelation in "The Brig" would have been "spoiled" long before, because apparently it was a pretty popular theory amongst fans. Even with the constant "Hey look, these folks all ran into one another before they even got on the plane!" stuff, I never made the connection that Locke's con man father could be the same con man that led to Sawyer's parents death. I think I figured it out when Richard told Locke to "keep reading", which is like what, 4 minutes before its revealed on the show? Nice detective work, BC.

Great episode. I usually enjoy Locke episodes, and this one's above average (somewhat due to the fact that since his flashbacks are all on-island, we are spared his goofy wig), as it encapsulates everything that makes him a fascinating character - he's special, but he's also weak. And it's great fun to see him caught in the middle of a very underplayed power struggle between Richard and Ben - not too many shows would reduce one of their main characters to a pawn in a war we don't yet understand (and in some ways never do).

I also like the scene at the end between Locke and Sawyer, where Sawyer asks him about his disability being real. At times, you can tell Sawyer really respects Locke, and here he seems like he's looking for a way to bond with him, realizing that both of their lives have been fucked up because of the same guy. But Locke is too busy on his "destiny" to take the opportunity, which is kind of a bummer.

And really, Cooper is one of the most detestable human beings I've ever seen in a show. The guy just doesn't have a single shred of humanity in him. You'd think being captured and brought somewhere would humble him enough to at least ACT civil toward his son, but no, he mocks and taunts Locke as if he's not currently tied up, and then does the same to Sawyer even when facing certain death. But Kevin Tighe is such a good actor, he never becomes cartoonish - I truly believe this guy is a real person, and a total asshole.

Also, these scenes take place on the Black Rock, which is home to my favorite Rousseau moment of all time. Locke is sitting outside while Sawyer beats on Cooper, and then Rousseau just strolls in looking for dynamite. It's funny enough, but the fact that she doesn't seem to care about the obvious violence occurring a few feet away makes it even funnier, almost like we're watching a crossover scene from an all Rousseau episode. Another funny bit is Cooper's theory that they are in hell, which even with my message board abstinence I knew was a popular theory. Sawyer's reaction pretty much works as a meta-response to the theory - no way (not til Season 6!).

Another funny moment occurs when Sayid and Hurley are playing with the satellite phone, where Hurley asks about the fact that 815 has been found with everyone dead, and Sayid replies "One thing at a time." I love that! Sayid doesn't have time for nonsense, he just tries to solve matters at hand. And his little power play concerning no one telling Jack about Naomi ("Good.") is also quite well played. In fact, I wish they had gone further with the idea of Sayid being a leader of the Survivors - it would have created an interesting dynamic and given Naveen Andrews more to do. Especially in retrospect; if there was any character completely ruined by the show's 6th season, it was him. At least if they had developed him as a leader in seasons 3 and 4, it wouldn't have been so bad.

Tomorrow - Ben flashbacks!

Where are we?