"Everybody Loves Hugo"

JANUARY 30, 2011

AIRED: APRIL 13, 2010

One of the final (maybe even THE) final traditional “centric” episodes of Lost, “Everybody Loves Hugo” is also one of the more depressing ones to re-watch once you know (spoiler – I forget if I need to point that out) that none of the flash sideways stuff ever actually happened. The opening scene depicts Hugo Reyes as an extraordinarily generous man, opening schools and hospitals and related facilities and generally being an enormous benefit to society and possibly the world. And none of it’s true. Hugo’s just a rich dude who likes chicken.

But he’s also (again, spoiler) the future protector of the island, and again we see him really stepping up in this episode, dictating their next moves and even getting Jack to open up about his failures as a leader. I mentioned before that the first time Hurley got involved with this sort of stuff it felt awkward, and it still kind of does – he spent so much of the series just being a comic relief sort of “B” character, it’s a bit odd to see him barking orders and such. Some have suggested that by making Hurley the protector, it was the writers’ way of saying that the show now completely belongs to us (as Hurley was often our voicebox, saying aloud the things that the writers got in fan feedback), and perhaps that’s true, but if it was part of their plan all along I think they were afraid of tipping their hat too early or something, because his stepped up role really does come abruptly.

Luckily, it’s Hurley, who everyone loves, and thus it’s OK. If Claire had suddenly become the leader, it would be atrocious – she’s a dull, largely pointless character. But Hurley? We can get behind that. His goodwill even extends to those he has to share scenes with; if anyone else had delivered the “I feel like we’re on the date we never had” line besides Libby, I think folks would be throwing their remotes through their TV screens. But you feel for the big lug, and so it’s easier to let such glaringly on-the-nose writing pass. To be fair, there are some good lines in this one – I particularly like “How do you break the ice with a smoke monster?”, as well as his description of the way ghosts communicate with him (“the people who come back and yell at me after they die”).

One thing I noticed – Flash Sideways Hurley doesn’t seem to care about the numbers as much. Not only did he never mention the “coincidence” of it being flight 815, or baggage carousel 4, or Desmond’s chicken number being 42, these things didn’t even seem to register on him. I guess he was just as sick of them forcing them down our throats all the time too.

And I like that this episode opens up the idea of Desmond being some sort of puppet master for them to all get back together. He goes into a greasy chicken place while dressed in a nice suit just to convince Hurley to find Libby, and then he apparently follows them to make sure their date occurs. And from there he drives to a school and runs over Locke (AWESOME scene by the way), because he knows somehow that it will bring him together with Jack. Good way to make up for basically leaving the guy out of the show for the past season and a half.

I had forgotten about Ilana’s Arzt-like death in this one. Again I’m not sure if this was an actor availability thing or what, because two episodes prior they had introduced the idea that she was badly injured at some point – why bother working that in if they planned to kill her off two episodes later? But it’s a good shock death all the same, raising the stakes a little and evening the sides out a bit (Ilana was pretty much the only badass on Team Jacob; Team MIB boasts Sayid, Sawyer, (possibly) Kate, axe-wielding Claire, and the goddamn smoke monster). Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it – Zuleikha Robinson is quite lovely to look at, particularly her stunning eyes. Someone get her on another show.

Five episodes to go! So many deaths and afterlife reunions that would have made me cry the first time around if I knew what the hell was going on...

Where are we?


"Happily Ever After"

JANUARY 29, 2011

AIRED: APRIL 6, 2010

After making a brief, almost unrecognizable appearance (due to the low light and being roughed up), Desmond finally makes a true return in "Happily Ever After", after being M.I.A. since the season premiere. According to his IMDb, Henry Ian Cusick has not made any feature films since Hitman, which was made 3-4 years prior, so I am baffled by his lengthy absence. But nothing I can do about it, and at least he returns in a good episode.

As usual with Desmond, the flashes are presented atypically; instead of cutting back and forth between the sideways world and the island throughout the episode, the flashes are presented all in one group. And it's one of the better sideways adventures, because it gets the "ohhhh, neat!" moment out of the way early (Desmond happily working for Charles Widmore and being told he's worthy of his MacCutcheon, a total reversal of the real world), and then gets to the meat of the tale: starting to explain the sideways world! The Eloise scene makes a lot more sense now, and is even somewhat touching - she doesn't want her family members to "move on", so she's perfectly fine with Desmond losing Charlie (I'd argue that if she wanted to prevent our heroes from meeting up she wouldn't have arranged for DriveShaft to come in the first place, but whatever).

And you can never go wrong with a Desmond and Penny scene. Why she has to be running a tour de stade, I'm not entirely sure, but it's a nice scene all the same. Plus, once again Desmond gets to "conscious travel", seemingly waking back up on the island with memories of the sideways world, and is thus now willing to help Widmore (and then Sayid) without any resistance, because he knows in the afterlife he'll be with Penny, which is all he cares about. Again, this only makes sense NOW, but that was one of the main reasons I wanted to do this - re-evaluate Season 6 in quick succession with the other seasons, but also with the answers at my disposal (at least, the ones I still remember), so I'm not watching it in confusion the entire time.

Then again it does raise other questions. Since Daniel is apparently the first one to sort of understand what is happening to him, how come he doesn't get to go to Lost Heaven with the others and be happy forever with Charlotte? Both actors were in the final episode, so it's not like Eko, who didn't get to come because his actor was demanding too much money. I toyed with it being only 815ers who got to go (Miles and Frank don't get to come either, I guess), but Juliet and Penny ARE there, and they weren't on the plane (hell Penny never even went on the island). I really don't get the mentality of whoever made the guest list for this place.

Bad Los Angeles geography also makes a comeback in this one, at least based on my assumption. I assumed that the stadium was near Jack's hospital since he came still wearing his scrubs, and Jack's hospital is in West Los Angeles. But Penny and Desmond arrange to meet nearby at the coffee shop at Sweetzer and Melrose. First of all there is no coffee shop there, but it's also a good 15 minute drive away - there has to be closer locations. I wouldn't care, but the show's production offices were in LA (Burbank, actually), so it always tickled me how bad they were with the geography. However, once they get there and realize there's no coffee shop, maybe they'll decide to go to a movie, and thus end up at the New Bev, which is only a mile or so from there. If George the limo driver "knows all the hot spots" he should know about it.

Well, only 6 to go! 5 if you discount that one thing. I'm so excited about getting 90 minutes or so of my day back!

Where are we?


"The Package"

JANUARY 28, 2011

AIRED: MARCH 30, 2010

It’s hard to believe that there are only seven episodes left of Lost and yet the writers STILL haven’t reunited Jin and Sun. While “The Package” seems to be leaning toward making this happen, at the end they’re still separated, and another hour closer to their grand exit. They ALMOST make up for it by finally bringing back Desmond at the end of the episode after being absent for the entire season, but still – bring the Kwons back together, you monsters!

There are two huge problems with their lengthy separation. One is that the chemistry between the two actors has always been one of the most successful pairings on the show, and by keeping them apart they’ve denied us one of the stronger emotional ties folks had to the characters. While they constantly repeat their wish to find the other, it’s nothing like the bond they have when they’re actually together. Plus, they’ve been separated before (in season 2), and it was a wonderful, teary moment when they reunited after 7-8 episodes – it’s not like keeping them apart longer is somehow going to make it “better” drama; keeping these two apart for even ONE episode is enough. It’s like having the mentality that someone staying in a shower for two hours will somehow be wetter than someone who was in it for 5 minutes. Wet is wet, man.

The other problem is that the flash sideways rob us of that emotion anyway. It’s kind of hard to feel sad about them being “apart” when half the episode has them side by side, including a very sweet foreplay scene that recalls Jin’s anger about Sun’s unbuttoned blouse albeit in a completely different context. Even knowing what these scenes really mean doesn’t diminish the fact that they robbed the storyline of its intended emotional impact, at least for me.

Thus, the most emotionally charged and sweet moment in the episode has little to do with Jin, but Jack earning Sun’s trust back once and for all. She was pretty pissed at him in S5, and their once close bond had deteriorated before that anyway due to Juliet, Jin’s “death”, etc. But the scene where he finds a way for her to communicate and holds out his hand for her – awww. Good stuff, and it also features the return of Jack the charming, noble hero from S1, who had been sort of M.I.A. what with all of the yelling and Other-hating.

As for the sideways stuff, well you know how I feel about any sort of violence in the “waiting room”, so I’m not going to go into that again. However I will say that I absolutely loved Kevin Durand’s performance here. He’s an actor I really dig anyway, but his sideways Keamy is very different from his real world Keamy; he’s sort of channeling John Malkovich at times, and also a little bit of Alan Rickman from Die Hard – the charming/scummy villain.

I could definitely do without the scenes of Sawyer and Kate yapping. Kate looks amazing (something about her hair), so that’s fine, but even the first time around I didn’t care much for Sawyer’s little Yojimbo-esque maneuvers, so they’re even more dull the second time around. And unless it’s with me, and me only, I don’t want to see Kate just sitting around doing nothing except drinking. Come on guys, there’s only 7 hours left (subtracting “Across The Sea”) – DO SOMETHING.

And what’s with Sayid saying he can’t feel anything anymore? I guess we can surmise that his soul is what has been “claimed” and in its place is the “darkness” or “virus” or whatever, but it doesn’t seem to affect him much in a few episodes, does it? Of all the subplots they’ve dropped over the years that annoyed me, I actually would have been perfectly OK with them just forgetting about Sayid’s Temple adventures (which they more or less DID, but they should have done it before this new, never explained development).

Oh well. At least tomorrow has a lot of Desmond.

Where are we?


"Ab Aeterno"

JANUARY 27, 2011

MARCH 23, 2010

Of the two "alt" episodes a lot of fans hate from S6, "Ab Aeterno" is definitely the better. In fact I don't really mind it at all - it tells a good story, fills in the details of one of the more mysterious characters on the show, provides a lot of answers, and (retrospectively) features Hurley taking on an important role in the Island's "story" outside of talking to Jacob, which will of course pay off in the finale.

And it occurs halfway through the season, not during the crucial final hours the way "Across The Sea" did. Not much exciting is going on, and the episode still has a few minutes with our heroes to keep the ongoing storylines from being abandoned for a week (unlike "Sea", in which we spent the entire episode with Jacob and the Man in Black, 2000 years ago). Ben finally address the plot hole about not remembering Sayid (seems he doesn't remember being shot at all), Sun gets to explain something to Jack for once, and I particularly love Ben's reaction to Jack finding out that Locke isn't actually Locke. It's obviously not the meat of the episode, but it's a good segment all the same.

Plus, I genuinely enjoyed the Richard story. I liked the character, but I never found him particularly sympathetic (nor did they give us a reason to) - something that they change and then some in the first few minutes. It's bad enough his wife dies, but he also accidentally kills a guy, gets last rites from the shittiest priest in the world, is bought as a slave, and ends up being chained to the wall of a wrecked ship for a couple days (weeks?) only to be freed by the bad guy. Christ, this dude is just not having a good week.

(And this part explains why the statue is broken AND how the Black Rock ended up in the middle of the jungle in one shot! Impressive.)

Then we get MiB and Jacob sort of laying out their case to Richard as they each try to get him on their team. Obviously we know how it ends up (since this isn't 24, Richard doesn't suddenly reveal in this episode that he's been on the bad guy's side for the entire time, which would be stupid), but it's an interesting tug-of-war all the same. Also, I don't think anyone was expecting this episode to reveal the nature of the Island, which turned out to be fairly interesting. Whether it actually ties in with what we've learned about it thus far would take too much mental work (I am sort of baffled that an island that houses all of the "bad" in the world would have magical healing powers though - does that mean Rose is evil too?), but it's certainly better than most fan theories I read ("It's the set of a reality show!").

And what's wrong with giving Nestor Carbonell his own episode? Dude's been on the show for 3-4 years now, and never given much to do beyond say a few cryptic things and make the audience wonder why he didn't seem to age - I think he's earned his own 45 minutes, don't you? And they make up for it - he gets to ride a horse, kill a dude, run around, cry, speak another language... they don't waste his abilities, that's for sure.

Only two things kind of bug me. One is the Ilana flashback, because she's all burned and already close with Jacob, two things that are never explained. Without this scene, we would have only had one unexplained mystery, now there's two. The other was the explanation for Richard's immortality. I guess the idea is he was so afraid of going to hell that he'd simply rather never die, but it comes off more like he just can't think of anything else to ask for. Given the tragedy of his request, I wish they had let him think for a moment and really milk the moment. It wasn't even until this second time around that it dawned on me why he would ask for it.

Otherwise, I don't really get why folks hate on this one. I get that people want to spend time with our heroes, but at this point, Richard IS one of our heroes, and while they maybe should have done this sooner, it's better than doing it in the penultimate regular episode like "Across The Sea". In fact, it might even be one of the better episodes of the season.

Tomorrow - the writers introduce a character named Desmond, who was apparently a major character in previous seasons? I don't recall him! (/end sarcasm)

Where are we?



JANUARY 26, 2011

AIRED: MARCH 16, 2010

It’s not particularly terrible, but “Recon” is the weakest episode of the season thus far (audiences seemingly agreed – it was the 2nd lowest rated episode of all time), due to a rather dull flash sideways tale, yet another annoying new character (Zoe, who I had completely forgotten about), and way too much dilly-dally. We’re 10 hours away from the end of the entire show – why are we spending an entire episode on Sawyer wandering back and forth, playing folks against each other?

Worse, why is his flash sideways all about him hiding a secret that we already know about? Apart from the fact that he got the name “Anthony Cooper” this time around (which they DON’T keep secret), his back-story is exactly the same – mom killed, dad suicide, con man named Cooper, wants to kill him, blah blah blah. Perhaps if in this timeline Anthony Cooper was someone who had tried to save his mother’s life or something, it could be valid, but the structure of this tale is bizarrely front-loaded with the changes – we know right away that Sawyer’s a cop in this timeline, and that Miles is his partner, etc – making it less and less interesting as it went.

And what the hell is the point of having him hook up with Charlotte? And don't make any "heaven" jokes. Wouldn’t Ana Lucia have made a lot more sense? “Hey, there’s this cop in the 18th precinct...” The two have lousy chemistry and no history in the real timeline, rendering this one of the more baffling “connections” in the sideways world. It’s more like they realized Charlotte wasn’t an interesting character but already booked Rebecca Mader to come back for a guest spot and couldn’t think of anything else. Zzzzz...

The episode also seems geared toward trying to make you sympathize with Locke/MIB and perhaps make their struggle not so (sigh) black and white, which is ridiculous because, well, they dress in black and white, making it fairly easy for the audience to peg which one’s the hero and which one’s the villain. He compliments Sawyer, protects Kate, etc – plus he seems to want to stop Widmore, who has been seen only as a villain up until this point. Again, there’s only 10 hours left in this tale (and you have to cut that number in half due to the flash sideways) – we don’t have time for perspective shifts anymore. Explain things and move directly toward the final confrontation.

Somewhere in this episode, the other passengers on the Ajira flight are killed. It’s actually kind of hilarious how casually this bit of information is revealed – Sawyer just finds a big pile of their bodies. He asks who killed them, and doesn’t get an answer... and that’s pretty much the last we ever hear about them. Between these saps, the various freighter personnel, the Others, the Dharma folk, and the original Oceanic anonymous survivors, Lost must have racked up a higher body count than any “Disney” show in history. And it’s almost sort of macabre and upsetting how no one else on the show seems to care. These are LIVES, people!

Tomorrow – the history of Richard!

Where are we?


"Dr. Linus"

JANUARY 25, 2011

AIRED: MARCH 9, 2010

If I had any time, I’d string together all of the major Ben episodes (not just his “centric” ones, but his introduction, the reveal he’s an Other, etc) and marvel at the change he made over the course of the five seasons he was on the show. Ben (and Michael Emerson’s performance) were such an integral and enjoyable part of the series, it was almost odd to go back to S1, when he wasn’t even mentioned let alone present. And with perhaps the exception of Jack, he made the biggest change as a character, which came more or less to its conclusion in “Dr. Linus”, which cemented him once and for all as a good guy.

Of course, the writers had been leading him in that direction for a while now, but he was still showing his manipulative side here, lying about how Jacob died, only for Miles to use his superpower to expose him. But by the episode’s end, he had made amends, apologized to Ilana (who claims Jacob was like a father to her, and we’ll just have to take her word for it I guess), and had been seemingly accepted by the group for once – Sun even lets him help her put the tarp on her little tent. I guess they could have had Jack and/or Hurley shake hands or hug him when they returned to the beach and went through the familiar “reunion” routine, but I suppose that would be pushing it.

Especially since, despite being a mostly good episode, the writing gets painfully on the nose more than once, with Ben discussing both on the island and in the flash sideways how different life would have been had this happened or not happened, as if we didn’t get it yet. Having Ben and Jack hug it out might have killed all of the episode’s goodwill, which in retrospect would be even MORE upsetting since this is an other instance of the “waiting room” having a strong emotional story that in many ways serves as a character redeeming themselves for their biggest failing in life, in this case Ben’s failure to save Alex. As I mentioned yesterday, these sort of stories were far more logical and meaningful than Sayid’s typically action heavy tale, and validates the whole “Lost Heaven” idea, especially when you know that’s what it is.

The Jack and Richard stuff is also quite good, as we finally learn a bit about Richard’s agelessness (love Hurley asking him if he’s either a cyborg or a vampire), and their faceoff in the Black Rock is pretty sweet too. I almost sort of wish that Richard panicked and put the fuse out himself, just to maybe put some doubt into Jack’s mind again (he’s pretty much a firm believer now, or, fittingly, a “Man of Faith”), but you can’t deny it’s a pretty awesome scene. It’s also the rare time Richard ever really talked to anyone besides Locke or Ben; it’s a shame that he was finally added to the main cast this season but never really got integrated with the rest of the characters.

This episode also has one of the more annoying instances of the sudden rain that has plagued the show from the very beginning. It rains all the time in Hawaii, and being a TV show set almost entirely outside, they can’t very well just go to a cover set or delay filming. So you’ll often see it raining in a scene even though it wasn’t raining in the scenes before or after, and there’s not much they/you can do about it. But here, it’s actually raining pretty strongly in HALF of a scene! Jack and Hurley are chatting, and on Hurley’s shot it’s clear, but on Jack’s it’s pouring, and you can’t even HEAR it, rendering the scene very distracting and fake. If it were up to me (and nothing ever should be), I would have digitally added rain on Hurley’s coverage and added in the appropriate sound effect, so it would at least be consistent for the scene.

Also, while I could certainly live with never hearing their names again, I love the sort of “epilogue” to the Nikki and Goddamn Paulo story, with Miles bringing up their diamonds very casually as a funny shoutout, and then seemingly robbing their graves at some point to get the diamonds for himself, which should more than take care of his 3.2 million dollar wish. Lucky bastard. I need to have the power to talk to the dead! All I want is like 50 grand to pay off my debt and buy a new car, jeesh.

Final note - according to the Lostpedia, the role of the principal was written specifically for William Atherton. Way to creatively cast, Lost writers – have William Atherton playing an asshole. Too bad they couldn’t work in Reginald VelJohnson as a cop or maybe Michael Cera as a socially awkward annoyance.

Where are we?



JANUARY 24, 2011

AIRED: MARCH 2, 2010

I probably should have made this clear when S6 started, but I’ve only seen the season once, as opposed to 3-4 times for the other seasons. Thus, given my poor memory, overload of Lost lore from rewatching S1-5 yet again, and the fact that my brain is constantly being bombarded with horror movie shit, I am having trouble remembering a lot of stuff from this season. Thus, episodes like “Sundown” are just confusing me all over again, because I can remember how Sayid went out (saving his friends), but not how he stopped being the evil bastard we see here.

Granted, he did think Dogen was trying to kill him again, and perhaps he was (Dogen may have figured either way one of his enemies would be dead), but he didn’t follow the guy’s instructions either – Locke/MIB totally spoke before Sayid stabbed him, which was the only condition Dogen told him to follow. It’s not like he said he had to do it at the stroke of midnight while standing on salted earth and wearing a muumuu, he just had to stab the guy before he said anything. So what does Sayid do? Sits there like a moron while Locke walks up to him, then AFTER he says “Hello Sayid”, he stabs. Christ, man, speed up!

So he goes back to Dogen, and after the guy finally starts revealing his human side, Sayid tackles him (in pretty spectacular fashion I must say), kills him, and then kills Lennon for good measure. And while I love the idea of these two being dead and thus not annoying me anymore (albeit without ever explaining who the fuck they were or why they were important), I hate that it comes at the hands of one of the show’s most noble characters. Ben? Sure. Sawyer? Hell, why not? But Sayid killing two guys in cold blood because of some unexplained “darkness” inside him – it’s a decent shock, sure, but it’s such a terrible way to start the final chapter of a great character.

And unlike Nikki and Paulo, this was part of their plan! The season was too “fresh” for this to be the result of fan backlash against these characters (indeed, footage from this episode appeared in the S6 teaser that began airing prior to the season premiere), and according to John Hawkes they only wanted him for 3-4 episodes, so again – there is nothing to suggest that this was some sort of premature conclusion to their storyline that had to occur due to factors beyond their control. Their plan was to introduce two new, mysterious characters and kill them off before they ever got any real development (in Lennon’s case, he was never even identified!). Whatever.

This episode also has my favorite example of why the “waiting room” was such a clumsily implemented story – Sayid KILLS people in it, and finds Jin tied up and beaten. Again, this is some sort of pre-afterlife, why is it so violent!? I understand the need to provide drama and maybe even give them some sort of challenge to overcome before they move on, but it should have played out more like Kate and Jack’s episodes (personal demons being expunged – i.e. Kate’s guilt about taking Aaron away from Claire), not with shootouts and appearances from villains. I mean, I’m happy to see Keamy again (I would have taken the offer for eggs, for the record), but not at the expense of logic.

One thing the episode sort of foreshadowed was that Nadia was not meant to be with Sayid, I guess. In the afterlife, she’s married to his brother, and although he still wants to smash her rotten (he even carries a picture around with him – Jesus Christ dude, TACT), his real soul mate will eventually be revealed to be Shannon. So this episode at least set us up for that horrible outcome. Thanks, “Sundown”.

Oh, I like the completely random team of Ben, Frank, Ilana, Sun, and Miles, by the way. It’s funny how many characters never really met before (I think this is the first time Miles has met Ilana and Sun), or were paired in odd ways – Miles and Kate were running together for a while; the previous episode had Jin and Claire talking for I think the first time since the first season, etc. Season 6 is all about bringing everyone together, on and off the island!

Where are we?



JANUARY 23, 2011


Oooh, spooky – the 108th hour of Lost aired on the 23rd of the month. They DID plan this whole show out! I shouldn’t joke though, as “Lighthouse” is actually a really good episode, focusing on pretty much the last bit of Jack’s resistance to the idea that they were on the island for a reason being washed away due to a magic lighthouse. Lost being the only show that could get away with introducing a magic lighthouse, I quite liked this concept, with each bearing on the lighthouse wheel corresponding to a Candidate’s house (which seems kind of worthless though - what if they go to work?).

I also liked that it was a rare team-up between Jack and Hurley. In 6 years, I am pretty sure this was their only island adventure together without anyone else around, despite what Hurley claims is a return to “old times”. They make for a good pair, and I wish it wasn’t so rare that they got to play off of each other. It’s cute that Hurley thinks he’d be a good dad too.

And it’s a fitting line, since the flash sideways deals with Jack’s son. Whaaa? While the other changes in the sideways world were largely “well since the island isn’t there, this person is now on the mainland” based, with the basics still the same – Claire still an unfit mother, Kate on the run, Locke in a wheelchair, etc. But where the hell did Jack’s son come from? How did the lack of an island have THIS much of a change in his life? We don’t see the mother in this episode, and we find out later who it is, which makes more sense out of it (another “they didn’t have an Island to be on” explanation). Thus, knowing what all these scenes mean, Hurley’s comment takes on a new meaning – perhaps this comment was fresh in Jack’s mind as he was dying (which occurs in, what, a few days?), and part of his “letting go” process was accepting that he was never going to be a father, which is kind of depressing. Poor Jack.

But this subplot also kind of annoys me once you realize that it wasn’t real, since it was one of the few genuine moments of emotion that we got in the season prior to the big finale. Jack talking to his mom, realizing that his kid might be afraid of him the same way he was of his own father; the big teary moment after the concert, etc – these are all terrific character moments. And they’re not real. What IS real? Claire killing a guy with an axe and a guy named Dogen trying to stop Hurley from pressing magic stones.

Oh, and a reminder of Adam and Eve, with Hurley even helpfully offering a popular fan theory, that the skeletons were those of some Oceanic survivors (Rose and Bernard or Kate and Sawyer being the most popular theories, if memory serves), as the result of time travel. Of course, that wasn’t true, but just the fact that it was brought up really awkwardly was a pretty big clue that it would be one mystery they didn’t plan to leave unanswered. You know, like the one about Christian’s body. I had actually forgotten about it until Jack explained about the coffin (I guess no one mentioned it when they were LIVING there?) – why did Christian’s body disappear? If it was “taken” by the Man in Black so he could appear as Christian at various points throughout the seasons, why was Locke’s body left intact? One way is “wrong”, no matter how you slice it, and this is an instance of a time they should have just kept ignoring it, rather than remind the audience about their sloppy writing.

I also don’t get why they brought up Jack’s appendix. They went to the trouble of applying the scar makeup to Matthew Fox, but never made any sense out of it. His mom tells us that he had it out when he was 7, so there’s an explanation – but one that doesn’t make any sense when you consider the true nature of these scenes. Why does his dying “fantasy” include elaborate explanations for things that happened to him on the island? I mean, I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I don’t mind the concept of this being their “waiting room” before moving on in the afterlife, I just hate how needlessly confusing and inconsistent it is.

For no real reason I’d like to point out that I also (re-)watched the movie Let Me In today, and the kid who played Jack’s son also played the bully in that film, so it was kind of funny to see him playing a total jerk who picked on the type of kid he himself was playing here (especially when you consider Jack himself was bullied as a kid). LEVELS, man.

Where are we?


"The Substitute"

JANUARY 22, 2011


I can't recall how long they kept it up for, but one of the things I liked about S6 was that it was following the "order" of the first season with regards to which character it focused on. So like "Walkabout" was the 4th hour (3rd airing) of the first season, following a Kate episode, "The Substitute" is the 4th hour of Season Six, following yesterday's "What Kate Does". The episodes aren't as GOOD, sadly, but it's a nice little reference of sorts for people who can remember such things.

One thing I noticed about the "flash sideways" version of Locke this time around - he's got more of a sense of humor about his condition. When he falls out of the chair early on, and then the sprinkler system turns on, he almost laughs at the absurdity - the old Locke would have started screaming or hitting shit. Power of Katey Sagal I guess, who returns after a lengthy absence. It's also one of those things that sort of makes me wonder if they knew that these flashes were indeed part of the afterlife, because again - how complicated is this "waiting room"? And besides, wouldn't Locke consider Helen (who doesn't go to Lost Heaven, for the record) a more important part of his life than fucking around on the Island? Just doesn't add up.

The episode is also Dogen/Lennon free, making it the least annoying episode of the season thus far. I particularly love how drunken Sawyer instantly recognizes what no one else has been able to for the past week or so (how long was S5 in Lost-time? Lostpedia stopped keeping track) - that Locke isn't Locke. In fact Sawyer himself didn't pick up on it during their brief encounters last season, so maybe Dharma whiskey has some sort of vitamins in it that improves your perception? Or it's just another example of a character completely changing his demeanor once the audience knows what he technically should have known all along. I'm currently being bugged by this sort of nonsense on Supernatural too (spoilers!), where we learn that Sam no longer has a soul, and then he began acting like Chip from Not Quite Human, failing to understand basic sarcasm and such.

The highlight of the episode is of course the big reveal, that Jacob had pegged six of our heroes as possible replacements some time ago (and of course Jack would be #23, though Hurley would have made more sense - and it would have made Dave's joke about Leonard from "Dave" even funnier). I wish they had dwelled on a few of the crossed out names a bit more, however - we see a ton of names but none of them are really legible. I would have applauded seeing "Arzt" up there. They could have worked in a good Scott/Steve joke too. But as goofy as it is, I like the idea that it really was pre-determined that all of these people would end up on the Island, and perhaps it was just coincidence or an amazing stroke of luck that they ended up arriving at the same time; if Desmond or any of the Freighter Folk were candidates, the concept would be less hard to swallow I think, but we don't get to see any of the other names.

The episode also offers one of the best one-two laughs in the show's history, when Ben gives his wonderfully awful eulogy: "John Locke was a believer, he was a man of faith, he was a much better man than I will ever be. And I'm very sorry I murdered him", followed by Frank's response ("Weirdest damn funeral I've ever been to."). Good ol' Frank. It's weird that Jeff Fahey was finally added to the main cast (the other freighter folks were added right away) for the 6th season when he barely had any screentime or anything of significance to do until the very end of it, but at least it was a sort of "guarantee" that he would be around for a while.

Where are we?


"What Kate Does"

JANUARY 21, 2011


While it still has too much Lennon and Dogen for my tastes (ANY Lennon and Dogen is too much for my tastes, admittedly), "What Kate Does" is an improvement over the 2nd half of "LAX", proving once again that the show works better when focusing on a character on and off the island and working in the other folks as necessary. And, as anyone who has read this site for the whole run knows by now, focusing on Kate is always a good thing for me (she also ties Jack's record for centric episodes with this one, by my count).

When I started I said I would try to look at her role more objectively, to see if I could agree with the many folks who hated her - and I still don't get it. I fail to see how she's somehow an "annoying" character; she's tough, her "gray area" that a lot of the characters possess is fairly compelling, and she's one of the few who can be counted on to protect her fellow castaways, even the ones she's not particularly close to. Hell she even helped rescue BEN in Season 4 - that's a heroic act! And she gets a great "Flash Sideways" story here, realizing that Claire was pregnant and risking getting caught by going back to the airport area to help her. Yeah, what a jerk. Her breakdown after realizing Sawyer's misery is partly her fault is also quite moving, and Ms. Lilly really makes you feel the weight of everything that's happened to her over the past few years.

The episode also opens up more of the mystery of the sideways world, when Ethan appears at Claire's hospital. The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around was that everything from 1977 on would have been different, not just from the moment that their plane would have crashed, so at first (ironically) I was thinking "Well this can't be real, he should be on the island!". Now, knowing that it WASN'T real, I realized my error - if the bomb went off in 1977, his parents would have escaped, returned to the mainland, and had him there. Ditto for Desmond being on the plane - it's perfectly logical (in a Lost sort of way) that he could have been on a trip, as there would be no island for him to be stuck on.

However, on the other hand, Ethan's presence (as well as Keamy and other folks who'd appear along the way) just confuses me - is the entire world in this waiting area? Where do they go? I think we should have gotten a glimpse of "Lost Hell". Plus, maybe I'm wrong, but wasn't Michael not allowed in the flash-world because of his Island crimes? Wouldn't Ethan be under the same restriction? He killed one of the random castaways, beat the piss out of Jack, nearly killed Charlie... Just seems inconsistent to me.

I didn't mention the "Sayid dies" story yesterday, because here is where it got really annoying so I figured I'd save it. Part of why I hate the Lennon and Dogen characters is because all they do is create more questions (that are never answered) when we should be getting answers to the existing ones, and this is a perfectly good example. What do they mean by "infected" or "claimed"? Why poison him - if they wanted him dead they can just shoot him or Dogen could use some of his badass martial arts skills. HOW did he become infected? What the hell is up with the water turning color? WHO THE FUCK ARE THESE TWO ASSCLOWNS? Etc. And it just continues the complete destruction of Sayid's character - he gets to redeem himself a bit when they're on the sub later in the season, but "Evil Sayid" is easily one of the dumbest decisions they made this season (and there are plenty of them).

To be fair, there is one scene with Dogen that I like, when him and Jack talk (in English). There's nothing particularly exciting about it, but I like seeing Jack talk calmly to someone he is at odds with, instead of just mocking him the entire time like he did with Locke pretty much every time they met over the past 3 seasons. And Dogen's explanation of why he doesn't speak English was pretty good, especially since he's saying it to Jack, a guy who knows from saying shit no one wants to hear.

Oh, and Claire returns, saving Jin by shooting that asshole Other who made me long for the old Jin, who would have beat the guy senseless after two seconds of his bitching. Kate casually drinking water while he explained why he hated her so much (and then hitting him again) was hilarious though, so I guess that's better than a Jin beatdown. Still, Daniel Dae Kim hasn't gotten any good action in a while, and he hasn't had sex for at least three years - gotta be a lot of pent up aggression there (Jin, I mean, not Mr. Kim). Speaking of which, another thing about the three years they spent in Dharma-ville - what did Jin do all that time? Did he just give up trying to get back together with Sun? She thought he was dead, so she had an excuse, but he knew she was OK. Kind of lazy.

Tomorrow - the return of Helen! All hail the hiatus from Sons of Anarchy!

Where are we?



JANUARY 20, 2011


Usually I liked the idea of a two hour Lost (in its prime I could have watched it all day), but in the case of “LAX”, they should have split it in half and let me (and presumably others) enjoy the good first half on its own, then return to get disappointed by the 2nd half a week later. A wise man once pointed out why the ending of a movie is so important to get right – it’s what the audience remembers most about the overall experience. A lackluster movie with a great ending – you can come out feeling positive. On the other hand, a movie can be great for a while, but a terrible ending mars the experience and results in a lot of negative feelings (see: A.I.).

“LAX” is a case of the latter – the whole 2nd half, with the temple shit, is borderline awful, almost nearing “Fire + Water” territory with its inane, out of nowhere character actions and utterly horrid new plot developments. Honestly, I couldn’t care less if we ever got any explanation for the “temple” or where Zach and Emma went (or even Cindy, for that matter), and with 16 hours to go, I don’t want new characters! Hell, I LOVE John Hawkes, but both his character (Lennon – ugh) and Dogen are sub-Nikki and Paulo as far as I’m concerned. Apparently Hawkes didn’t think much of it either, so I feel a little less guilty about dismissing his appearance here, but it’s still pretty telling that the sight of a favorite character actor in subsequent episodes would cause me to groan instead of cheer.

One thing about re-watching this episode knowing what the flash sideways are all about – it’s a lot less confusing (i.e. Desmond on the plane), but I was expecting that. However, I had forgotten how many examples there were of what was my main problem with the ultimate answer (spoiler!) – if this was some sort of waiting room for Heaven, why is it so violent and confusing? Why does Kate’s idea of the afterlife involve fighting once again with the Marshal (p.s. him giving in to her bathroom request when she calls him “Edward” just adds to the “have these two fucked?” suspicion I’ve had for years) and holding cabbies at gunpoint? Why would Boone’s involve being in the coach section without his sister, who he probably would be trying to get to join the mile high club with him? It just added to the confusion a lot of people felt when the finale aired. “All this shit was heaven? Who gets shot at in heaven?”

But the island stuff, pre-Temple, is quite good. The fact that Juliet was still alive was a nice surprise (so Sawyer, Richard, Kate, and everyone else on that plane in the finale – they never get a death scene or any sort of wrap-up, but Juliet gets to die twice?), and Sawyer’s total hatred of Jack was terrifying and even sort of understandable. Most of the time they fight, I’m on Jack’s side, but Sawyer’s got the upper hand here – it really is his fault Juliet’s dead. Speaking of their rivalry, I love the moment where Kate wakes up and sees them both unconscious, and she has to “choose” who to help first (and my boy wins!).

The full on reveal of “Locke is the smoke monster is the Man In Black” is great too. Again I wish they had used it in the S5 finale, but it doesn’t make it any less significant here – it’s great that something legitimately shocks Ben for once. There’s some muddled storytelling in this section (why is the Man in Black “disappointed” with the Others? They didn’t work for him), and I don’t get why he smacks Richard around, but it gives Terry O’Quinn a renewed bit of energy, and I like how Smokey figures out a way to get around Bram’s little protective circle too.

And even though they’re not “real”, the flash sideways do allow for some nice character moments. The scene between Jack and Locke is quite nice (first time they’ve been civil to each other since what, Season 2?), and it’s always nice to see Arzt again. And good call on leaving out the tail section people (except for Cindy, never quite got how she was in the back of the plane since she walked further toward the front after giving Jack his drink and the plane crashed 30 seconds later), since they probably couldn’t have gotten them all back anyway – just don’t show the tail section! Problem solved. It’s a shame Eko never came back though – the promotional art for the 6th season showed EVERYONE, dead or not (even Vincent!), including our favorite drug dealing priest, but he never appeared.

Speaking of Eko – I wonder if his “church”, when finished, would have resembled the one they all ended up in at the end of the series before “moving on”. I always assumed that he would be building a Catholic church (the one he “owed” Yemi), but perhaps if he was around for a while it could have been modified to be multi-denominational. If so, I’m guessing the final scene wouldn’t have been so annoying to some, as it would have tied into something from the show. Oh well. Over the years, Cuse and Lindelof have never really spilled too many details on things that “could have been”, so I doubt we’ll ever know.

Where are we?


"The Incident"

JANUARY 18, 2011

AIRED: MAY 13, 2009

It’s over! “The Incident” is a decent finale for a mediocre season, though it sadly suffers from some of the same problems (no Desmond? Still no Claire?) and doesn’t really have any big reveals – apart from explaining why “Marvin Candle” doesn’t have a hand, the big mystery solved is... John Locke is dead. For two years in a row, the finale ends with a camera panning around and revealing Terry O’Quinn in a suit and trying hard not to breathe.

Of course, in the S6 premiere we get the physical/visual reveal that Locke was Smokey, so at least they didn’t drag it out for too long, but still, Jacob’s line about “finding the loophole” made a pretty weak reveal – they should have ended things on the “Sorry you had to see me like that” scene from the next episode (which aired 8 months later) – THAT would be a good cliffhanger. Especially since Ben (who gets a rare good line at Richard’s expense when he questions whether he’s making shit up as he goes along – usually it’s Richard who gets the good lines!) still doesn’t seem to know what’s really going on – it’s a reveal to the audience but not to any of the characters. At the time it aired, it was pretty frustrating, and rather lackluster to boot. And if you missed the opening scene it wouldn’t even have made any sense.

On the other hand, that opening scene is much more enjoyable now that we know more about Jacob and the Man In Black. I always liked seeing Titus Welliver pop up, but knowing their history makes their rather casual conversation quite amusing to me. I also enjoyed knowing that Richard was on the Black Rock, which adds another layer to MiB’s accusation that Jacob “brought it there”. Obviously I’ll talk about it more when the time comes, but I didn’t hate “Across The Sea” – I hated its placement in the season. I would have preferred their story got dished out in little standalone scenes like this one, because it didn’t bother me then and I enjoy the scene even more now.

The highlight of the episode is easily the big Jack/Sawyer fight. While the two have gotten along for the most part over the past 2-3 seasons, the time they spent at each others throats in S1 and 2 never really resulted in a full blown fight like this one; I mean – HOLY SHIT. Sawyer even kicks him in the balls! Even Ben never looked as mangled as Jack does at the end of their brawl. Since Jack only fights Locke’s body, this is pretty much the alpha and omega of “long time coming” fights on the show.

The big climax at the exploding Hatch site is good too. Sucks that established continuity kept us from getting to see Radzinsky suffer (another reason why it was a bad idea to make him such a villain), but at least we get to see Phil, who was even more annoying, meet the business end of some metal rods. Plus I just like seeing shit fly around. Also, both in this and the fight scene, Jack shows remarkable recovery skills. Sawyer’s beating leaves him bloody but running at full capacity (even the kick to the babymakers didn’t seem to phase him), and then he takes a full toolbox to the back of the head, which could kill a man easily, but Jack recovers from it without even a noticeable wound.

Speaking of Jack’s skills, his flashback was one of the best, as we got to see Christian (as Christian!) for the first time in a while, and it showed the “Count to 5” story that we heard in the pilot. It’s odd that it was his father that had to tell him to do this, but I guess he just left that part out in order to sound more awesome to the hot girl cleaning his wound. Some of the other flashbacks aren’t as successful – it seems like he actually caused Nadia to die, which sets off the chain that led to Sayid being brought back to the island – not exactly a heroic thing to do. Seems like there could have been an easier way to do it too. Also, unless Ben was lying, the guy who ran her over meant to do so, so wouldn’t she have gotten killed anyway?

And Jack also manages to shoot a guy this time! It’s kind of weird that Jack would be killing people, but I guess if he figured nothing he was doing that day would ever really happen then it would be OK. However, this produces a plot hole/time travel gaffe thingie in his logic – he sets off the bomb which keeps the plane from crashing, but it was only the result of him crashing on the island that would allow him to bring the bomb there, right? So the bomb wouldn’t go off unless he crashed, which he wouldn’t- ah fuck it. Kate sure is pretty, huh?

Actually, they do answer one other question – where Bernard and Rose (I just noticed that their name makes Bernard Rose, the director of Candyman) have been all this time. As it turns out, they just decided to ignore everyone else and live on the island peacefully (with Vincent!), having grown tired of their nonsense. I love that! Kate tells them Jack has a bomb and Rose replies “Who cares?” So good. I also love “We traveled 30 years through time and you’re still finding ways to shoot each other?” Hahahaha, I love these two. Their little coda with Juliet is also kind of sad, almost like they knew she’d be the one that wouldn’t come back from their adventure.

Oh man, that part. This makes the 3rd time I’ve seen it and I still tear up. As I mentioned a few recaps ago, Sawyer and Juliet made for the most realistic couple that the island “created” (meaning not counting Rose/Bernard, Jin/Sun, Desmond/Penny), and I think their reunion in Lost Heaven was the only one I cried at in the series finale, as well. And to this day I don’t know if she wanted to leave to be on V, or if they decided to kill her off and she booked V to keep on working, but either way it’s the rare death that didn’t seem like the result of something besides their plans for the story (i.e. having to kill Eko off early because the actor wanted to leave, or killing Nikki and Paulo because everyone fucking hated them).

So that’s it for Season 5. It’s an odd season in that the middle episodes were better than the opening/closing ones, and it’s also the one riddled with the most plot holes and unanswered questions, making it the weakest (assuming I don’t like S6 less this time around), but it’s still valid entertainment. And while I didn’t like some of the decisions they made along the way, I appreciate the insular nature of the season as a whole – there were no attempts to make it accessible for newcomers (many episodes didn’t even bother with “Previously...” recaps), or shoehorn in some new characters that would look good on a poster or TV spot (guessing no one wrote up any Phil/Radzinsky slashfic). It was a fans-only affair that some fans didn’t like.

I’m taking tomorrow off, so S6 will start up on Thursday. We’re almost done!

Where are we?


"Follow The Leader"

JANUARY 17, 2011

AIRED: MAY 6, 2009

It’s about time, a Richard episode! While “Follow The Leader” doesn’t really explain anything about his past, and involves folks doing stuff that doesn’t really concern him directly, he’s the linchpin of the episode, and gets some of the best lines (his response to Jack asking him about carrying the bomb is priceless). So it’s his episode, dammit. And unlike his REAL flashback tale, it doesn’t annoy fans at a crucial period in the storyline by leaving all the main characters on the sideline for a week.

On the contrary, this one has a lot of good moments for our heroes. I particularly enjoy Kate having to point out to Jack that he is starting to sound like Locke, and their conversation re: “misery” is truly heartbreaking – he totally wants to Eternal Sunshine her! That’s some cold shit, especially since now that Sawyer has Juliet, he has her all to himself again. And speaking of those two, I liked their scene in the sub – like Desmond and Penny in the previous episode, it could almost be a good finale for the characters (by this time it was already known that Elizabeth Mitchell would be leaving the show). If not for Kate’s surprise appearance, the sub could have gone off into the sunset and it would be more or less an acceptable conclusion for their characters.

And Hurley’s “faceoff” with Chang! Oh man. Again, they actually pay off a funny throwaway line, where Hurley worries someone will ask him who the president is in 1977, in order to advance the character arcs a bit (as it leads to Chang believing that Miles is indeed his son). But it looks like the actor playing Chang is having fun too, which just makes the scene all the more hilarious. “You’re 46?” And the cutaway to Jin when Hurley says that there was no Korean War is just brilliant. God I miss that dumb, lovable bastard.

Sayid also got to show a bit of his old self again, which was much appreciated. As the character most ruined by the final season, and largely under used this one, it was nice to see him have another strategy discussion with Jack (when this had originally aired, I had long since forgotten that he used to be sort of like Jack’s right hand man – a fact that was easier to recall when watching back to back). I also like how Jack didn’t bother to give Eloise a hand when she surfaced from the pool, but ran over to help Sayid when he popped up a few minutes later. Bros before son-killing hos.

As for the Locke part of the storyline, again it makes a lot more sense now that you know he’s the smoke monster. Richard even mentions that there’s something different about him, which I had originally pegged as sloppy inconsistent writing on the writers’ part. Not sure why he’d still go off and kill boar and such, but for the most part it’s one of those things where I almost feel kind of stupid for not even considering that he might be Smokey.

Richard’s line about watching all of the Dharma folk all die doesn’t make any sense though. By now he should be sort of familiar with Jack and Kate, who never died in any iteration of the story (at least, not yet in Jack’s case), so why does he say that? He couldn’t be referring to the bomb going off, or he would have died too (as far as we know, he’s ageless but not invincible). If there was some scenario where they’d be gunned down by Radzinsky or something, we should have seen it, somehow. My guess is that they had nothing better to go to commercial on so they just threw that in there.

Also I’m getting sick of Sun and Jin repeating that “if there’s a chance my husband (wife) are on this island...” Yeah, we get it. Y’all want to get back together. Take it up with the writers who insanely decided to keep you apart for two seasons and stop torturing us and making me stop liking you.

Tomorrow – the S5 finale! All will be HUH?

Where are we?


"The Variable"

JANUARY 16, 2011

AIRED: APRIL 29, 2009

Congrats, Lost! You made it to 100 episodes, which was something increasingly rare for a show to do in the age of Tivo and Hulu and all this other shit that puts my job at risk. But given the serial nature of the show, they couldn't really do much to celebrate the occasion in-show, as say Friends or something would do (big guest stars or something). Instead, "The Variable" is definitely a die-hard fans only affair, focusing on one of its strangest characters (one we haven't seen in several episodes to boot) and featuring the clumsiest shootout in action/adventure show history.

Seriously, Jack seemingly can't hit the broad side of a barn when the Dharma assholes start shooting at him (mostly due to Daniel's idiotic decision to carry a gun in his hand like it was a notebook or something that DOESN'T CAUSE PANIC). Now, one could argue that Jack, being a doctor and all, didn't want to just shoot people, but it hasn't stopped Juliet. Plus he seems to be taking his job as a janitor very seriously, and most janitors I've known are never more than a spilled soda or puke puddle away from opening fire. And apart from Dan, the "bad guys" obviously can't hit any of our guys, so we basically have a 2-3 minute shootout of no consequence (that no one else comes to help either side shows how ineffective it was - I like to picture someone looking out the window, seeing these yahoos shoot up everything BUT each other, and figure they had better things to do).

Later, Daniel has one of his best ever scenes, where he explains that none of them were safe since for them it was their "present" (something I hadn't thought of), and then explains what he plans to do - stop the energy from ever being released, which would kick off the chain of events that led to their plane crashing in the first place (something I HAD thought of). It's a bit vague, but we're led to believe that it was his studies at Ann Arbor that allowed him to realize that they COULD change things in the past, unlike what he thought before. This is part of the problem with time travel in rushed TV shows - it took a while for me to wrap my head around the fact that he'd been gone for three years, let alone that it was the time he needed to figure out that he was wrong. So it's clumsy, but I stand corrected: it wasn't inconsistent writing on their part with regards to the "Whatever happened, happened" concept - it was just vague writing for what was kind of an important change in a character's beliefs.

This could have been remedied if they had scenes of him at Ann Arbor in the flashbacks, instead of nonsense about his mom disapproving of his girlfriend (or, since it was the 100th episode, they could have pushed for an extra 10 minutes or something). They also needn't have bothered with the "reveal" that Widmore was his father (hey, that means his "constant" is also his brother-in-law!), because it's not important and just seems like "fan-wanking". We never know why him and Eloise split up (maybe because she shot their time-traveling son?), and until that moment I never even considered that Daniel's father was unknown. You know, I don't know who Sawyer or Charlotte's dads are either, I'm surprised they didn't make up some nonsense for that too. WE DON'T NEED TO KNOW ALL OF THEIR FATHERS.

I quite liked the first scene, of Daniel playing the piano and frustratingly declaring his desire to "make time". As someone whose time is stretched dangerously thin (having an unhealthy obsession with earning Xbox Achievements doesn't help), I really sympathized with him here, and it made me kind of sad that Daniel died at the end of the episode, as I was sort of hoping he would figure it out.

Yesterday I mentioned that this was a "sequel" of sorts to "The Constant", because it dealt with the other side of the equation, but when I said that I had forgotten that this episode had what almost seemed like a send-off for ("Constant" stars) Desmond and Penny. He reiterates his love for her and that he would never leave her again, and we find out that his injuries are not life-threatening. And Ben has apologized and no longer plans to kill Penny (though they don't know that), so it could very easily and acceptably be the last time we see these two (indeed it WAS in season 5), as all of their issues have been resolved and there are no major unanswered questions about them, provided we accept "he was exposed to radiation" as the reason for Desmond's unique time traveling skills. Which we should, since they never explain it any further.

Tomorrow - a Richard episode! That's three "first time" centric episodes in a row!

Where are we?


"Some Like It Hoth"

JANUARY 15, 2011

APRIL 15, 2009

It's a shame that Miles (I'm spelling it right now) wasn't introduced earlier in the show, because his chemistry with Jorge Garcia makes for one of the best pairs the show has - I'd go far enough to say they were more amusing than even Hurley and Charlie. Also, if they had more time, perhaps we could get an episode explaining why he had like 39 facial piercings at one point in "Some Like It Hoth", seemingly before he made a living charging folks to tell them what their dead relatives were saying.

The apex of this humor is in this episode, when Miles gets frustrated with Hurley and snatches what he thinks is his journal, but turns out to be his "improved" script for Empire Strikes Back, which is three years away from existing. It's a genius throwaway gag, because it's the sort of shit I'd do (wait, I just called myself a genius. Sorry), though I'd probably write a better Halloween II. When Miles reads some of it aloud I nearly shit myself the first time (especially his pronunciation of "ROARRR"), and I always love the references to Hurley's poor spelling (Jesus Christ dude, BOUNTY HUNTER?).

But what makes the episode work is that it's not just a throwaway bit of humor - Hurley actually uses the film as an example later on, convincing Miles (or at least planting the idea in his head) that talking to his dad might not be such a bad idea. Hurley gets his facts screwed up (says Luke got his hand cut off as a result of freaking out after learning Vader was his father - he got his hand cut off first!), but the point is valid, and I liked that they were able to make something a little more meaningful out of what was a damn funny scene. Also, without that earlier scene, it would have been just another lameass Star Wars reference in the middle of another geek property, so it wasn't annoying either. Well done!

And this is the "Jack does chores" episode I've been waiting for! See, when characters on TV shows are doing something kind of odd, I like to think about the (unseen) process that got them there. Like there's an episode of The Simpsons where Bart finds Homer propping his car up with a wicker basket in order to change the oil - I like to think of Homer realizing he has no jack, figuring out something that was the right size, carrying the basket outside, etc. For some reason it just makes it funnier to me. Likewise, I enjoyed the mental image of Jack waking up in the Dharma Initiative in 1977, getting breakfast, and then figuring he'd do Roger a solid by walking around and cleaning up Dharma classrooms for the guy. Honestly, it probably would have made more sense for Roger to be doing his work normally (while drunk) and then Jack, under the guise of wanting to help, found him and pretended to be his pal but really just trying to figure out what Roger suspected about Kate. Too bad Jack wasn't assigned cleaning up the polar bear poop - we could see how far he'd go to keep up the ruse.

Speaking of the classroom, I never noticed that Dharma uses a different grading system than I'm used to - an A is not anything from 90-100, but 93-100 (and a B is 92-85, a C 84-77, etc). So what would be a B in my school (84) is now a C+? Harsh! I know different countries have different systems, but you'd figure they'd just use the standard North American system since it's a North American show (I suspected it was a Danish system, since Alvar Hanso is from Denmark, but their system is some baffling nonsense that includes negative numbers and the like). So I think it's just a sort of minor "Easter Egg" for careful viewers that alludes to their tougher education system. Kind of funny.

Back to thinking about characters doing stuff we don't see - when did Hurley ever watch the videos to know that Pierre Chang had a "stage name" of Marvin Candle? Was this a mistake? Or did Hurley get bored one day while on button duty in the Hatch and watch them? Speaking of the Hatch, I liked seeing its "origin", but the whole thing about putting numbers on the door by hand was just stupid. Why would a bunch of construction guys give a shit about banging a serial number into an emergency exit door? The whole "the number is smudged" bit was painful too, there only to give Hurley a chance to say the last number. Sometimes their obsession with the numbers got to be a bit too on the nose for my tastes; Hurley could have just as easily spotted them stenciling QUARANTINE on the door (which would have made the reveal a lot more eye-catching, I think - I had actually forgotten that the numbers were on the door and I just watched it 2 months ago! This aired 4 years later!).

One other nitpick/question - what's with folks needing corpses on this show? In "LaFleur", Richard said they needed the body of the Dharma guy that was killed, and in this one Chang has a corpse delivered halfway across the island. It's never explained, and unlike other unexplained nonsense (like Ben's "list" of people that he had Sayid kill), it seemed like there could have been something interesting behind it. Plus I have no logical guesses for it - Ben's list could have just been some associates of Widmore or former "Others" who, like Widmore, had been banished and may be looking to return to the island. But the corpse stuff? I got nothing. Y'all Unitologists?

And Daniel finally returned! Which means tomorrow is the underwhelming "sequel" to "The Constant"!

Where are we?


"Dead Is Dead"

JANUARY 14, 2011

AIRED: APRIL 8, 2009

Apparently, "Dead Is Dead" is the lowest-rated episode of Lost ever (per Nielsen ratings), attracting barely more than a third of the audience that tuned in for its highest rated ("Man of Science, Man Of Faith"). That's kind of depressing, but what surprises me is that it suggest there were a lot of folks who watched the show casually. With a show this mythology and character heavy, I would think the ratings would consistently stay even or slide, not go up and down like they do for CSI or Law & Order (shows with little to no continuity - I know for a fact that L&O's three series don't even air episodes in order). Who the hell was like "Maybe I'll watch Lost this week..."?

Anyway, it doesn't deserve its fate, since it's a pretty good episode, especially in retrospect as it deals heavily with the "monster", whom we now know was embodied by Locke. The scene where Locke disappears after Ben falls through the ground in the cave, at first glance, seem to just be bad (convenient) timing on his part - watching for the first time I was probably thinking "Aw shit, if he hadn't gone off he could have seen the monster too!". Now I realize he had to go "change", and it's another strong bit of evidence suggesting that, as rather idiotic as it was, the idea to make Locke the monster was indeed decided long before it was revealed in S6.

There's also another scene where he mysteriously disappears, when Ben "calls" it by, well, whatever it is he does (looks like he's flushing a toilet made out of a hole in the ground). Perhaps Locke just took off in case Ben's actions caused a reaction in his "persona"? Or maybe he went to Alex's grave to get whatever he needed to turn into her later? I forget the specifics, but he can't just shapeshift into whoever he likes, right? Doesn't he need to touch the body or something? Ah, who cares - it's obvious just from Terry O'Quinn's change in how he plays the character that something is amiss, so while I really hated the decision, I'd have to defend it against anyone claiming it was made up in the episode it was revealed.

I also liked how Lost's casting folks once again found a young actor that could pass for the older actor whose role he was inhabiting for a flashback, in this case Widmore. He's way better than the guy we saw in "Jughead", for starters, and he could very easily be a young Alan Dale. Since they have the worst luck in the world when it comes to making its actors look younger (Ben looks completely ridiculous with his longer black hair), it's a good thing Lost has this uncanny knack for finding (presumably local Hawaiian) actors that we can instantly recognize as the younger version of someone we know.

I haven't talked about the music for a while. One thing I've noticed with this marathon "re-viewing" is that I can recognize the various themes for certain characters, Sayid's and Ben's in particular. I mean, I'd recognize the cues in the past, but this is the first time I noticed how they were tied to certain characters (i.e. you never hear those sad strings for Jack or Locke; they BELONG to Sayid). It would be cool if Michael Giacchino released a CD with just the themes for each character, I think. And I say again, few television shows have ever had such consistently great and memorable music, and I hope he continues to have such an impressive career.

Another good thing about this episode is that we finally see Desmond! Not for long; he doesn't even have any real lines beyond things like "Hey!", but it's good to see him all the same - he's been absent for like five episodes. And we finally learn why Ben was all beat up when he got on the Ajira plane - it was from the vicious beating Desmond gave him after he tried to kill him and Penny (but paused when he realized they had a kid - or was just momentarily distracted trying to figure out if "Charlie" was named after Pace or Widmore). And thus Desmond gets to join the club of folks who have smacked Ben around. Let's see, there's Jack, Sayid, Locke, Sawyer, Ana Lucia, Sun, Rousseau (butted him with her gun), Alex roughs him up a bit at the end of this one... hell, even Hurley threw a Hot Pocket at him. Dude's spent 75% of the show with bruise/cut makeup on.

So basically, it's a shame that more people saw "Fire + Water" than this, is what I'm saying.

Where are we?