Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Star Trek: Scifi Goodness for the Masses June 2, 2009

After weeks of anticipation, I finally managed to see Star Trek yesterday. It was well worth the wait! What a fun, exciting, satisfying movie! I have never been a fan of the Star Trek multiverse of movies, tv shows, conventions, etc. It was always a little too geeky, cheesy, and out there for my taste. The funny looking blue or green-faced aliens, some with tubes coming out of their heads… All the terminology that I didn’t understand… Maybe my sheer love for Battlestar Galactica has softened my viewpoint of Star Trek, or maybe J.J. Abrams really did reinvent this classic scifi icon for the masses. It’s probably a little of both. Whatever the case, I simply loved this movie, and here are ten reasons why:

  1. The Music – How strange, that in an action movie, the music would impress me more than anything else. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since Michael Giacchino composed the original score. He has supplied music to many of my favorite shows, including Lost, Alias, and Fringe (all J.J. Abrams shows – I guess he knows how to hold on to a good composer), as well as to several movies, including Ratatouille, Mission Impossible: III, and Land of the Lost . One of my favorite musical moments was the operatic piece during the movie’s climax. It made for an epic conclusion.
  2. The Sound – So this is kind of related to the music, but expands to all the sound effects, from explosions, to racing cars, to gun fights. The sound was simply amazing! It helped that I was in a theater with the best Dolby Digital surround sound I had ever experienced. I felt like I was taking off with the Starfleet on the maiden voyage of the Enterprise, as the sounds of the engines filled up the theater and made my insides shake. And when Kirk and his comrades were parachuting at lightning fast speed onto a drilling platform, I could almost feel the wind whooshing past my face. And when the soaring music would enter a scene, I was transported into that world of space travel, the Starfleet academy, or even young Kirk going for a joyride in his stepdad’s car to the high octane strains of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”.
  3. Spock – Zachary Quinto has totally redeemed himself from his over the top portrayal of Sylar on Heroes (probably more the writers’ fault than his). He was fascinating as Spock (has Spock always been such a complex character?). He did a great job of showing Spock’s inner turmoil over his mixed ancestry, and his struggle between remaining completely logical, or allowing his human emotion to be a part of who he is. The interesting development of his character alone made me want to go back and watch some other Star Trek movies or episodes.
  4. Scotty’s bizarre little alien sidekick – When Kirk meets Montgomery Scott (played by the perfectly cast Simon Pegg) for the first time, the audience had the added entertainment of Scott’s short-statured alien friend, who didn’t say much, but who had an annoying tendency to sit in the wrong place – right in the middle of where Scotty needed to be working. This unusual comic duo made us laugh out loud several times during their scenes. It always feels good to laugh during an action movie to relieve some of the tension from all the intensity. There was plenty of opportunity to laugh during this one!
  5. Captain Kirk – Chris Pine had some big shoes to fill, playing the role of James T. Kirk, a name that immediately makes everyone think of the larger than life William Shatner. And I have never seen any of the other movies or tv shows he has appeared in. The casting department must have known what they were doing when they hired him, though, because he was perfect. He had a nice balance of rugged good looks, fearlessness, cockiness, loyalty, and leadership. Often characters like this annoy me and are very off-putting, but I really liked him. One of my favorite scenes of him is when he wakes up on that icy planet and unwittingly involves himself in a chase with two terrifying creatures. It was funny and frightening at the same time, and he played both very well.
  6. Familiar actors in unrecognizable/atypical roles – I thought I spied Winona Ryder under that aging makeup, and sure enough, it was she who played Spock’s human mother. I wonder why they cast a relatively young actress (she is in her late 30s) to play a woman who must have been at least in her mid-40s. I do see a similarity between Quinto and Ryder’s facial structure and eyes, so perhaps physical resemblance won out over age appropriateness. I kept thinking that main villain Nero looked familiar, but I was shocked when I found out it was Eric Bana. He usually plays clean cut leading men, not tattooed, psychotic warlords. (I look forward to seeing him in The Time Traveler’s Wife later this summer.) It was nice to see Jennifer Morrison (from House) as Kirk’s mother. I wish they would have found some room to include her beyond the initial scenes involving Kirk’s birth. Surely his mother would have been influential in his life, and it would have been nice for the writer’s to touch on that.
  7. The special effects – With a big budget and seemingly limitless possibilities that come with technology, it’s no surprise that the special effects were impressive. A couple of scenes that stand out in my mind: the parachute dive onto the Romulan drill, and the scenes involving the black hole. The “beam me up” effects could have been more realistic. Perhaps that was a throwback to the old school look of the original tv series.
  8. The story – I was relieved to discover that I didn’t need to understand the complex mythology of Star Trek to follow this story. Even for people who don’t like scifi, there are characters and developments to enjoy: a rebellious young man (Kirk) tries to live up to his father’s legacy as a leader, a stoic Vulcan struggles with questions of human nature and how they apply to him, a Starfleet tries to prevent history from repeating itself and tries to save its home planet, etc. The story was relatively easy to follow (save for some of the time travel aspects), but it wasn’t oversimplified either.
  9. The experience/the hype – I had heard so much about this movie from my friends and acquaintances, some of whom have seen it two or three times. Sometimes an overhyped movie results in a letdown at the theater, but in this case it actually added to my enjoyment, since the movie really was that good! Just the experience of sitting in the theater and being transported via the big screen and the surround sound, to this world of space ships and aliens and good guys and bad guys, was quite memorable.
  10. J.J. Abrams’ special brand of awesomeness – In my opinion, J.J. can do no wrong (well, except for maybe Six Degrees and What about Brian). He must be totally in tune with my generation, because sometimes I feel like he is making these movies and tv shows just for me. I love everything about Lost, Fringe, Alias, Felicity, and now his movies, too (MI:3, Cloverfield, Star Trek). I realize he’s had different involvement with these projects, ranging from producing to directing to writing, and even to composing, but I see many common threads running through them. His successful formula includes well-developed characters, riveting action, music perfectly suited to the scene, bizarre revelations, and satisfying plot twists. Some may see his near-obsession with time travel as a flaw, but I think his fascination with the subject makes his shows/movies more interesting (especially Lost and Star Trek). The creature on the ice planet reminded me of the monster in Cloverfield, and the red matter reminded me of the giant red ball in season one of Alias. My favorite characteristic of J.J. Abrams’ work, however, is his special ability to incorporate music and character development to draw viewers into a scene or story. I had tears in my eyes in the opening minutes of Star Trek. We had only a few minutes to get to know Kirk’s father and mother, but their heartfelt exchange after his birth, and the circumstances surrounding it, were very emotionally engaging for me. Abram’s blend of music/character/dialogue/direction is what had me engaged in this summer action movie from beginning to end. So, thank you, J.J., for another unforgettable moviegoing experience.


Lost: Season Two Revisited May 22, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

Upon my second viewing of Lost’s second season, I came away with a similar opinion to the first time around: it wasn’t as all-around amazing as the first season, but it introduced some interesting new twists. Knowing all that we know now, the developments of season two don’t seem as earth shattering. That being said, there was still a lot to enjoy.

The Characters

  • The Original Cast – We didn’t spend as much time with Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the other “cool kids” (and the writers continued poking fun at the fact that everyone acted like the other survivors didn’t exist or matter). We continued to piece together their back stories: the dissolution of Jack’s marriage, the truth about Kate’s criminal past (she murdered her “step” father), the stranglehold that Locke’s despicable father had on his life and relationship, the not so innocent side of Sun, the softer side of Sawyer’s nature, the crazy side of Hurley, etc. Over the course of the season, we saw Sayid mourn and recover from Shannon’s sudden death, Kate and Sawyer develop more of an attraction for each other, Jack and Locke clash over leadership direction, Sun and Jin celebrate over the news that she is pregnant, etc.
  • The Newbies – Ah, the now infamous tail section survivors of Flight 815: Ana Lucia, Mr. Eko, Libby, Bernard, and that other chick who got taken by the Others before we got to know her. Ana Lucia was always super annoying, but she didn’t bother me as much this time around – probably because I felt sorry for the gruesome death for which she was headed. Mr. Eko was actually more annoying this time. He was always speaking in cryptic, mysterious ways, and wandering around looking creepy. I’m still bugged that we never got all of Libby’s back story before she died. The fact that three of these survivors died within a season of first appearing makes them feel like an after thought, or like filler until the writers could get to the good stuff. Sure, initially it was fascinating to think that there were other survivors, and it was heartwarming to see Rose and Bernard’s reunion. But introducing this group didn’t give us any clues about the mysteries of the island.
  • Desmond – With a skipping record player, we met the beloved Desmond. In the beginning he was a bit loopy from being closed up in the hatch by himself for so long. And then he disappeared for the whole season! The writers redeemed themselves by centering the season finale around him and his back story. We learned that he arrived on the island during a boat race around the world. He had embarked on that race to regain his honor (after being dishonorably discharged from the Queen’s army), and to win back Penny. Instead, he ended up stuck in a hatch pushing a button every 108 minutes to, presumably, save the world. He is one of the more fascinating characters on the show, and we saw a lot more of him in season three.
  • Henry Gale/Benjamin Linus – We didn’t learn his real name until, I believe, the beginning of season three. But from the very beginning, he was uber creepy! The scene where he is eating cereal at the table with Locke, and laughingly talks about what he would do if he were an Other (lead them to a secluded spot, have my people ambush them…), perfectly demonstrated Ben’s manipulative, disturbing personality.

The Mythology

  • The Hatch – We learned that the Hatch was one of many stations set up by the Dharma Initiative, a group who lived on the island and performed scientific and sociological experiments. I liked how we were introduced to Dharma via the warbled, unsettling Orientation film strips. All season we wondered along with Locke and the rest whether or not it was really necessary to push the button. We found out it was in the season finale, when the electromagnetism went berserk when Locke didn’t push the button and destroyed the computer. Thankfully, Desmond seemed to save the day by turning a failsafe key – but we had to wait until the next season to find out what happened to the Hatch and everyone in it. The Hatch’s main purpose was to set up Locke’s struggle between reason and faith. After his temporary skepticism, the incident at the Hatch made him a believer once more.
  • The Others – We only saw them lurking around the jungle, barefoot, wearing ragged clothing. And then we saw them living in huts on the beach. But, we also had some hints that they were pretending to be savages: the medical station where they treated Claire, the fake beard and stage makeup in the locker, and the civilized people (Ethan, Goodwin, and Ben) who infiltrated the survivors’ camps. We didn’t know how long they had lived on the island, but we pieced together that they thought of themselves as Good, and they were taking the Good people from the flight survivors and leaving the Bad ones behind.
  • The Dharma Initiative – At this point we weren’t sure if the Dharma people and the Others were different groups, although it seemed to be so. We did know that they were studying the electromagnetic qualities of the island, as well as sociological experiments on the people living in the Hatch.

Random Observations and Questions:

  • Visions of Dead People – By the end of season two, Jack had seen his dead father, Mr. Eko had talked to his dead brother and the just deceased Ana Lucia, Kate had been spoken to by her dead step father (who had, it seemed, momentarily possessed Sawyer), etc. These instances, except maybe for the Sawyer/Kate’s step dad one, are like the more recent visitations (Alex telling Ben to do what Locke says, Jack’s father guiding Locke, Hurley’s conversations and chess matches with his deceased friends). But what about Shannon’s visions of Walt, and Hurley’s conversations with his imaginary friend Dave from the mental hospital? We knew that Walt had telekinetic abilities, so that probably explains why Shannon and Sayid saw him. And Hurley was going through some major stress related to his overeating and his crush on Libby, so his hallucinations of Dave were probably not island related as much as in his head. The vision that doesn’t make sense to me is from season four, when Kate saw Claire in Aaron’s bedroom, and Claire told her not to bring Aaron back. We don’t know if Claire is dead or alive, but since they didn’t show her die, I have to believe that she is alive on the island. One of the latest theories is that not-Locke (aka Jacob’s nemesis) has the ability to appear as anyone who has visited the island and who is dead: Jack’s father, Mr. Eko’s brother, and more recently Locke. So Kate’s vision of Claire could mean that Claire is dead and that was actually not-Locke in Aaron’s room. Or, it could be some other force at work, regardless of whether Claire is alive or dead. That’s a head scratcher.
  • Why did the Others dress in ragged clothes and pretend to be savages, when they were really living in a civilized community? And why did they abduct the “good” survivors? How did they determine who was good and who was bad? The answer to the good/bad part of this question seems to lie with Jacob. He chooses people for a list, based on how worthy they are to remain on the island as an Other. And I guess the Others could maintain more control over the island visitors by creating a sense of mystery about themselves. Had the Flight 815 passengers known that the Others lived on a commune and had book clubs, they would have been less likely to cooperate. But still, it seemed like an awful roundabout way to distract.
  • “What Kate Did” – This episode answered the burning question of what Kate did, but it also raised a couple of lingering questions for me. What was with the black horse? Can not-Locke appear as animals, too? The appearance of the horse doesn’t fit with the rest of the mythology. Another question: Why did someone cut part of the Dharma film out and hide it in a book? Who did that? Was this question ever answered?
  • “Maternity Leave” – Claire, Rousseau, and Kate discovered the truth about Claire’s abduction. She was held captive and sedated, and was told that her baby needed a continued treatment of a vaccine to prevent him from getting sick. This could have just been a ruse, to convince Claire to let the Others keep Aaron, just as Desmond injected himself with the vaccine and stayed inside the Hatch to avoid “the sickness.” However, Rousseau thinks Aaron has the same sickness that infected her crew. In season five we saw her crew turn on one another from whatever sickness they contracted. I wonder now if their sickness is related to Not-Locke. Something else in this episode that reminds me of Not-Locke is when Ben, then known as Henry and being held captive in the Hatch, asked John whether he’s the genius or the guy living in the shadow of the genius (a comparison at the time between Locke and Jack, and Hemingway and Dostoevsky). If Ben has been involved in not-Locke’s plan all along, then perhaps he was already planting seeds of desire for leadership in Locke’s mind, to position him to a place where Not-Locke could get to him. I mean, think of all the times Ben tried to kill Locke. Maybe he was always following orders of not-Locke!
  • In “Two for the Road,” Locke asks “Henry” why he tried to kill Ana Lucia but not him. Henry/Ben answers that the man in charge (Jacob, we now know) is a brilliant man, but not a forgiving one, and he wouldn’t be too happy that Ben failed in his mission (when Rousseau caught him), which he claims was to bring Locke back to their camp. I wonder if Jacob really wanted Ben to bring Locke back to the camp. Probably not. This was more likely Ben’s way of manipulating Locke, either for his own purposes or perhaps for not-Locke.

  • Season finale: “Live Together, Die Alone” – Desmond’s backstory. We see that his Hatch partner, Kelvin, was the man who asked Sayid to torture his commanding officer. Then, we learn that Radzinsky was Kelvin’s partner. He’s the one who came after Sayer, Juliet, etc. We saw many connections like this in season two. When Desmond turned the failsafe key, what happened to the hatch (did the electromagnetism reset, did destroying the Hatch negate the effects of the magnetism, etc.)? Why did the sky turn bright white like during the time flashes? And why did this flash seem to only affect Desmond, who ended up going on a journey through time? I don’t have any good answers to these questions.
  • I liked how the finale developed Desmond’s character more and introduced us to his relationship with Penny. Their love story is so much more epic and touching than the Jack/Kate/Sawyer stuff, which has always seemed juvenile.

Best Episodes

  • “Man of Science, Man of Faith” – This episode had the single greatest opening scene of any season, and perhaps of any show! We didn’t know who this man was who was going about his morning routine. Our first assumption was that it was one of the crash survivors, and we were seeing a flashback. But then, with a skipping record and a loud “BOOM,” we realized this man was living in the Hatch! The rest of the episode introduced us to Desmond, to the Hatch, and to Jack’s struggle between science and faith.

  • “The Other 48 Days” – Despite all my complaining about the addition of the tail section survivors in season two, I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating episode that showed what was happening at their camp while Jack and company were creating a near tropical paradise on their side of the island. The question remains, why did the tail section folks have such a horrific time of it in their first 48 days, while the other group survived relatively unscathed? For one thing, they must have had more “good” people in their camp, since the majority of them were taken, whereas only a couple were taken from Jack’s group. Whatever the case, this episode, which consisted entirely of chronological flashbacks starting with the crash of Flight 815, gave us yet another new perspective of the island and its inhabitants.

  • “Lockdown” – This episode was the first one in which Michael Emerson was really given a chance to be super creepy, plus show off his acting abilities, as Henry Gale. It was fascinating, especially the second time around, to watch him manipulate Locke and bide his time, rather than escaping when he had a clear shot. This episode also gave us clues about the greater scope of the Dharma Initiative, when Locke discovered the mural when the hatch doors closed. Psychologically gripping, plus plenty of exciting plot development, this was a great episode.
  • “S.O.S.” – I really enjoyed this episode, which finally gave us a Rose and Bernard flashback. Their backstory was very touching, from the way they met when Bernard helped Rose get her car unstuck from the snow, to his romantic proposal at Niagara Falls that turned into Rose tearfully telling him she had terminal cancer. I’ve wondered over the years why these characters weren’t given more screen time. My guess is that they both have either family obligations, or other television or theater work, that prevents them from having more active roles on Lost. Whatever the case, their episode was probably my favorite in terms of the flashbacks of season two.
  • “Live Together, Die Alone” – Two hours of Desmond flashbacks! How great is that? He disappeared for most of the season, so I was thrilled when he showed up on his boat. I just said that Rose and Bernard’s flashback was my favorite of the season, but Desmond’s was great as well. But, I liked the parts of his flashback on the island more than the off-island parts. It was interesting to see how he came to be on the island, and how he ended up pushing the button in the hatch for three years. Meanwhile, the current events on the island were interesting as well. It was tense watching Michael lead Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley into a trap, and wondering what was going to happen when Locke didn’t enter the numbers and push the button. And we got our first glimpse of the giant four-toed statue that was so pivotal in this season’s finale. How strange that we didn’t hear anything else about it for three years.

I’ve now moved on to season three, but I’m slowing my pace a bit. I need to make these episodes last awhile, since I have to wait so long for season six!


Lost 5.16: The Incident May 14, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 2:53 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Jacob is Paul (Mark Pellegrino), Rita’s ex-husband from Dexter! He visited all the Losties at some point in their lives, thus weaving them into his grand island tapestry! Locke isn’t Locke?! Real Locke is dead in the cargo box, and not-Locke is manipulating Ben into stabbing Jacob?! Jack drops the bomb, but it doesn’t detonate. But wait, Juliet falls to her death at the Swan. But wait. She’s still alive and detonates the bomb herself! These were only some of the developments on the crazy good, fast-paced, fully loaded Lost season finale.

Making Sense of the Madness – I’ve divided my post into sections, based on the various threads of the finale’s plot: the flashbacks, the events of 1979, and the events thirty years later. For each section, I’ve tried to establish what we already knew, what we learned, and questions we still have.

In the beginning – In classic Lost fashion, the finale opened by taking us back to the beginning, at least the beginning of what we know about the Island. As the Black Rock approaches from a distance, we meet the mysterious Jacob, who seems to be an ordinary guy who likes to eat fish and weave fabric on a loom. He has a cryptic conversation with some guy in sackcloth about how he keeps bringing people to the island in the hope that one day things will end differently than with “they come, fight, destroy, and corrupt.” Jacob says that “if it only ends once, anything that happens before that is just progress.” At that point the other man turns to him and says, “Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?” Jacob says he does. The other man continues, “One of these days, sooner or later, I’m going to find a loophole, my friend.” Jacob responds, “Well when you do, I’ll be right here.” The camera then pans up to reveal the four-toed statue in all its alligator snout, cat-eared glory. The exchange between Jacob and this man set up the theme of this whole episode, and gave a larger perspective to the series as a whole. Come. Fight. Destroy. Corrupt. That’s kind of what has happened over and over again, and now everyone is coming to some end point at which the cycle can either continue or be broken.

  • What we already knew: Jacob is in charge of the island. The Black Rock is a ship that wrecked on the island, which has been referred to at various times during the five seasons of the show.
  • What we learned: Jacob is real, not an apparition, and he apparently has the same anti-aging solution as Richard. Jacob “brought” the Black Rock to the island, as part of his plan. He weaves together the fabric of the island and its inhabitants just as he weaves his baskets and wall hangings. Not everyone loves Jacob – this unnamed man wants to kill him. And the giant statue was still standing when the Black Rock arrived.
  • Questions we still have: Where did Jacob come from, and why is he conducting this social experiment? Who is the unnamed man, and why does he want to kill Jacob? How did such a huge statue get demolished?

The Flashbacks – This week’s flashbacks took us back to earlier times in the Losties’ lives, at the moments they encountered Jacob. I loved the shout outs to previous seasons in these scenes: Patsy Cline playing during Kate’s failed attempt to shoplift a NKOTB lunchbox, a young Sawyer writing his vengeful letter to the man who destroyed his life, Jack freaking out while performing the surgery he talked about in the pilot, Locke being pushed out of the window by his father.

  • What we already knew: We already knew the circumstances in which we saw the characters – we just saw them from a different perspective.
  • What we learned: It wasn’t just “fate” that led these people to the island – it was Jacob himself. Apparently, by visiting each of them at some point in their lives, and touching them, he made them part of his grand plan, and from that moment on they were attached to the island, and being woven into its tapestry. It was suggested that Jacob healed Locke by touching him, after Locke fell to an almost certain death. We finally learned how Hurley ended up on Ajeera Flight 316 – Jacob told him to get on it, if he wanted to. Jacob is all about free will and giving people choices. Not all of Jacob’s visits were friendly. He orchestrated Nadia’s death, and it’s horrible to know that Sayid witnessed her being hit by a car, when moments before they were happily discussing their anniversary.
  • Questions we still have: Why did Jacob cause Nadia’s death? Was that the only way to get Sayid to return to the island? And what made each of these people so special that he wanted to draw them to the island?

Thirty Years Later – Locke leads Richard, Ben, and the Others on his quest to see Jacob, but only Ben knows that he plans to kill him. We should have known something wasn’t right when Locke lied to Richard, saying he only wanted to thank Jacob for bringing him back to life, when he had already told Ben that he wanted to kill him. Another clue that something was amiss was when Richard said he’s seen a lot of things on the island, but had never seen someone brought back to life. Add this to Benjamin’s statement from a previous episode that “dead is dead; there’s no coming back from that,” and we had major signposts that all was not what it seemed to be. Despite all of that, I was completely shocked when we learned what was in the cargo box!! But we had to wait until the end of the episode to learn that a very dead Locke was in the box. Leading up to that moment, we got some more hints about Ilana, Bram, and the other Ajeera passengers that were also on a mission to visit Jacob.

  • What we already knew: Jacob is in charge of the island, and there’s a constant rotation of island leaders who answer to him, through Richard. These leaders have included Widmore, Eloise Hawking, Ben, and Locke. Until now, as far as we know, only Richard has interacted with Jacob, so not-Locke is bucking the trend by meeting Jacob face to face, and by bringing Ben with him.
  • What we learned: The biggest revelation of the whole episode is that born again Locke isn’t Locke at all. He’s the man who was talking to Jacob at the beginning of the episode. Apparently he found a loophole and was able to return to the island, or at least jump into Locke’s body, so he could challenge Jacob’s position as island head honcho. Not-Locke made it into the foot of the statue, and easily convinced Ben to kill Jacob. Meanwhile, Ilana and the gang looked for Jacob at the cabin and determined that he hadn’t lived there for some time, and then continued on to the site of the statue. They called themselves the “good guys” and brought Frank along because he might be a “candidate.” Speaking of Ilana and her friends, it seems clear that they weren’t on Flight 316 by accident. Jacob probably told them to get on it. I suppose they aren’t crazy after all – they are just on a mission. We saw a brief flashback of Ilana, her face bruised and bandaged, and Jacob paying her a visit asking for her help. We’ll have to wait until next season to learn more about this newest group.
  • Questions we still have: This part of the episode was interesting to me and suggested a few things. One, if Jacob hasn’t lived in the cabin for several years, who or what did Locke and Ben encounter on their visit there, when things were flying through the air and a disembodied voice cried out “help me”? Two, when Ilana arrived on the beach where the Others were camped out, she asked to speak to Ricardos. When she asks him what lies in the shadow of the statue, he responds in Latin, saying “He who will protect/save us all.” I still believe that Richard arrived on the island via the Black Rock. I am still hoping for a Richard-centric episode next season. Bram told Frank that what they (the Others) are up against is something a lot scarier than Locke’s dead body. So then, who is not-Locke, and why is he so scary? When not-Locke’s group came across the old Losties’ campsite, Sun found Aaron’s crib, and Charlie’s ring inside it. This reference to our favorite family trio suggests that Claire and Aaron will play a role next season, and that perhaps that Charlie’s death wasn’t pointless.

Back in 1979 – Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate easily made their way off the sub and back to the island, while Jack and Sayid transported the bomb through the Dharma village (with the ultimate goal of detonating it at the Swan, to change the future), but ran into some gunfire before they could make it into the jungle. Sayid got shot, but Hurley, Miles, and Jin showed up in a blue VW van to save the day. Several frantic moments later, Jack and Sawyer faced off and had a fist fight in the jungle. They were interrupted by Juliet, who changed her mind and decided rather than try to stop Jack, they should help him. Why? Because he was right. But I think more than saving the lives of hundreds of people in the future, Juliet was trying to save herself the pain of the rejection she believed she would receive from Sawyer eventually. I thought it was a pretty weak explanation, for her to say that she knew what they had wouldn’t last, just because of how Sawyer looked at Kate on the sub. But, I suppose the flashback about her parents splitting up was an okay explanation for her way of thinking.

  • What we already knew: We knew that some sort of incident took place at the Swan around this time – we’ve known that since Season One, when Dr. Chang basically said as much on the Dharma Orientation video. We also knew that Daniel came back to the island to try to prevent this incident from happening, and that Jack wanted to continue his plan after Eloise shot and killed Daniel.
  • What we learned: Thank you, writers, for finally letting us know what became of Rose and Bernard (and Vincent). It turns out they decided to “retire,” and they’ve been living happily in a hut just off the beach for three years, since the day that Sawyer’s crew fled the flaming arrows to join the Dharma Initiative. I liked their outlook – that their would always be something to worry about, so they just chose to let it go and be thankful that they were together. If only Sawyer and Juliet had shared their philosophy and taken that sub off the island… Instead, the electromagnetism pulled Juliet down into the hatch, where she survived long enough to detonate the bomb. (What a horribly sad scene it was when she let go of Sawyer’s hand.)
  • Questions we still have: What happened when Juliet detonated the bomb?! The writers cruelly will make us wait until next January or February to find out. It seems clear that it killed Juliet, but did Jack, Kate, and Sawyer have time to get out of the blast radius? What about Hurley, Miles, and Jin? What will be the implications of the bomb? Is it going to change the future, or was the bomb the incident in the first place?

The Big Questions

  • Not-Locke and Ben vs. Ilana, Bram, and the Others: Not-Locke promises Ben that things are going to change after Jacob is gone. The question is, how will they change? A more interesting question related to this one is, who is or will be on whose side in this battle?
    • Ben – What if Ben was in on the plan to bring not-Locke back as Locke all along? Maybe that’s why he killed Locke. He reemphasized this week that he’s a liar, that that’s what he does. So it’s strange that he would suddenly be this naive, broken man. That being said, his speech to Jacob about his years of service to the island, was quite touching. Who can blame him, that when Jacob’s only response to his question, “What about me?” was “What about you?” he wasted no time stabbing him. Even so, I don’t think we can ever trust Ben, so maybe making a deal with not-Locke is his final power play after all the failed moves that came before. I’m not sure how his encounter with Alex and the smoke monster would fit into this equation, but it’s something to keep in mind.
    • Richard – Richard is the advisor to the island leader, but since not-Locke isn’t technically Locke (who is the current rightful leader), and since Locke is dead in a box, who will Richard side with? Will he work with Ilana and Bram, will he support not-Locke, or will he branch out in his own direction?
    • Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking – They have both spoken of the coming war. We can now assume they were referring to the war between not-Locke and Ilana’s group. So which side are they on? I need to go back and watch this season and last to refresh my memory on who told who to go back to the island, and why. That may give us some clues about the two sides.
  • What happened after Juliet detonated the bomb? – Miles made a good point that perhaps by detonating the bomb, they would simply be causing “the incident” they were trying to prevent. However, they chose to ignore his advice that “maybe the best thing to do is nothing.” What does this mean for the final season? Here are a couple of scenarios:
    • The bomb demagnetizes the Swan, but doesn’t cause a time flash – In this scenario, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the others who are stuck in the ’70s stay stuck in the ’70s. This doesn’t seem likely. I think the whole “stuck in the ’70s” story has been played out.
    • The bomb caused the incident that led them to the island in the future – If this is true (that the detonation of the bomb was the incident), then Flight 815 would still land on the island, in which case perhaps when the bomb went off, they were time flashed back to the present, where they will meet up with not-Locke, Richard, Ilana, and everyone else about to go to war by the four-toed statue. I kind of like this scenario, and I think it’s the most likely.
    • The bomb changes the future, and Flight 815 never crashes on the island – This scenario gets too complicated. Why? Because some of the Flight 815ers are still on the island in 2000-whatever. Surely the writers are going to show us how all of that resolves. It would be anti-climactic if we just saw Flight 815 land in L.A. and all the passengers go on their merry way. I mean, there are still 16 episodes left? The only way this scenario would make sense is if they had some memory of their past experiences, and were drawn back to the island. But if Flight 815 never crashed, then that makes most of what happened over the past five seasons pointless, which would be sad. Charlie’s sacrifice, Sawyer and Juliet’s relationship, Miles reuniting with his father, etc.

  • How and when did not-Locke jump into Locke’s body? – This question could drive me crazy. I tried to think about it last night, but I got confused thinking about present Locke, time jumping Locke, etc. One thing that I think I understand is this: not-Locke had Richard tell real Locke that he had to die to save the island. We saw that scene again last week, where Locke was shot by Ethan, and then flashed into the future, where Richard came over and doctored his wound, and told him that he had to die. So, not-Locke orchestrated the circumstances of Locke’s death. What I can’t figure out is how there can be two bodies that look like Locke. Someone needs to explain this to me next season!

That’s all I have for now. Any thoughts, theories, disappointments, etc. that you’d like to share?

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Lost 5.15: Follow the Leader May 8, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 12:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Why did Kate have to show up on the sub and mess up Sawyer and Juliet’s happily-ever-after? How annoying! Sorry, I just had to start with that because of all the developments in this week’s episode, that was the one that stuck with me the most. This will be a scattered post because I don’t have the benefit of my Tivo to review the episode (I’m in a DVR-less hotel room in Los Angeles).

This episode’s dominant theme was leadership, thus the title “Follow the Leader.” The question is, who is the rightful leader, and who’s leading who? We have Locke as the new leader of the Others, with Ben as his sidekick and Richard as his advisor. Then there’s Jack unofficially declaring himself leader of the 1970s gang, while Sawyer throws in the towel to run off into the sunset with Juliet. There is also tension between Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore in the ’70s, as they argue over what’s best for their people. And perhaps most intriguing, Locke has positioned himself to challenge the ultimate island leader: Jacob.

A Role Reversal:

  • In the past, it has always been Jack who made rational decisions and seemed to act in the best interest of everyone on the island, while Locke was the one putting too much trust in the Island’s mystical forces, relying on faith rather than reality to guide him. In this episode, however, their leadership roles are shifting. Kate even told Jack that he was beginning to sound like Locke, when he told her his plan to detonate the bomb to change the timeline of island events. Has life really been so miserable for Jack that he’s willing to risk everything to reverse all the events they’ve been through? I must say that I agreed with Kate when she said it hasn’t all been bad. Regardless of his motivation, Jack is now looking crazy-eyed, as he swims through underwater tunnels to what appears to be the same subterranean passages in which Ben was confronted by the Smoke Monster. Eloise said that the bomb was located right under the Dharma camp, so I’m guessing that the pool of water under Ben’s house drains to that area.

  • While Jack is talking crazy and hypothetically, Locke is suddenly Mr. Straightforward. He somehow knows exactly when to lead Richard to the old crashed plane (from season one – the one that was Boone’s deathtrap), so that Richard can treat other Locke’s gunshot wound and tell him that he has to die to save everyone. (I was glad they explained that encounter that we only had half the story of before now – interesting that it was in the future). Then he demands that Richard take him to Jacob without delay. Not only that, but he takes the entire camp of Others with him, and tells Ben that he plans to kill Jacob! Some of this is crazy talk, but Locke is certainly taking matters into his own hands and seems more grounded in reality than in the past.

I Wash My Hands of It:

  • I thought it was realistic that Sawyer was ready to be rid of the island, when it became a choice of protecting the whereabouts of Jack, Kate, and Daniel, or preventing Radzinsky from torturing Juliet. He made a reasonable decision to tell Radzinsky what he wanted to know so that he and Juliet could go back to living a life of domestic bliss. After all, he has nothing to go back to in 2009, but has a woman who loves and respects him in their 1970s present. It seems like Juliet would want to make it back “home” to see her sister and her sister’s child, but perhaps at this point she cares more about just getting off the island.
  • Of course, all of these plans for happiness and freedom are moot, since Kate shows up just before the sub leaves the island. Boo! Based on the preview for the season finale, it looks like she’ll convince Sawyer and Juliet to go back to the island to rescue everyone from Jack’s crazy plan.

A Happy Answer to a Lifelong Question:

  • One bright spot in this episode was Miles’ semi-resolution with his father. Dr. Chang basically interrogates Hurley about current events until he caves and admits they are, indeed, from the future. This frees up Miles to admit to Chang that he’s his son. And then later on, in an even better moment, he watches from afar as Chang verbally assaults (in a display of impressive theatrics)Miles’ mother as she waits to board the sub. Miles realizes at that moment that Dr. Chang wasn’t really a deadbeat, uncaring dad. He cared for Miles and his mother so much that he did what was necessary to make her leave the island, so she wouldn’t be in danger. It’s really sad that she lived the rest of her life thinking that Chang didn’t love her and didn’t want to be a part of their family, but at least now Miles knows that the truth is more complicated, and that Chang was a decent man.

Crossing Over to the Dark Side:

  • Sayid made his first appearance (that I can remember) since shooting Ben. It is appropriate that he is dressed in black, as he seems to have resumed his remorseless, amoral attitude. He has no qualms about killing two of the Others (albeit to protect Kate), and he sounds similar to Jack in his belief that he has already changed things by (as far as he knows) killing Ben. Kate broke the news to him that he didn’t succeed. So now Sayid is willing to ally himself with Jack, most likely for another chance to reunite with Nadia, no matter how small the likelihood of success is. I can’t blame Sayid for his willingness to destroy the island. It’s been nothing but bad news for him, as I discussed in my review of this season’s episode “He’s Our You.”

The Mysterious Mr. Alpert:

  • When the episode opened with Richard working on a model of a ship, I was momentarily excited, thinking that maybe we would finally get a Richard-centric episode! I am dying to know his back story. We got a couple more hints in this episode. One is the fact that he has a ship in a bottle that resembles the Black Rock. This reminds me of the episode a couple seasons ago when young Ben encountered Richard in the jungle. At that time, Richard looked very old school, with longer hair and a ruffly Pirate-esque shirt (reminsicent of Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, actually). Could it be that Richard arrived on the island via the Black Rock, when it wrecked years ago? Ben did say that Richard has had the role of island advisor for a very long time. Hmmm…

Collision Course:

  • There seem to be four paths headed toward one another as we come to the season finale: Jack and the Others who are trying to detonate the bomb, Radzinsky and the Dharma-ites who are trying to apprehend them, Locke and the modern Others who are going to confront Jacob, and newcomers Ilana and Bram (with Frank as their captive) who are seeking what lies in the shadow of the statue. The variables in this recipe for trouble are Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet; Hurley, Miles, and Jin; and to a certain extent, Ben, since he probably wants to do anything in his power to prevent Locke from gaining even more power. Will Rose and Bernard play a role somehow? And will Claire reappear? So many questions, so little time for answers!

I look forward to next week’s season finale, but at the same time I know that it will leave me with tons of questions that I’ll have to wait months and months to have answered! Thank goodness I have five seasons to enjoy rewatching until next January.

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Lost: Season One Revisited May 5, 2009

Filed under: Hulu,Lost,Television — Emily @ 7:54 am
Tags: , , , ,

Plane crash. Mysterious island. Smoke monster. Life. Death. Survival.

That’s what season one of Lost boils down to. I’ve been loving the show so much this season that I decided to rewatch from the beginning. So over the past two weeks, I made my way through all 24 episodes of season one. If only there were eight more episodes this season – I’m sad that there are only two left! Season one was far less complicated than this season has been. There was only one known camp of people on the island – our Oceanic Flight 815 survivors – plus that crazy lady Rousseau and creepy Ethan. Time travel hadn’t even crossed most fans’ minds yet, the Others were only mentioned in passing, and the fateful connections among the survivors had only been hinted at. All the elements I just listed have become integral to the show over the past two seasons, so in their absence, what was season one all about? Well, the characters. To borrow from Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” So what were our favorite (and not so favorite) characters all about in the beginning of this fantastic show?

The Characters

  • Jack – Jack had a lot of screen time, and more flashbacks than anyone else, as far as I can tell, with Kate running a close second. (I always find myself feeling disappointed when I learn that it’s a Kate or Jack episode, even though some of those are really good.) We learned about Jack’s troubled relationship with his father, about his hero complex (which led him to marry the girl he managed to “fix” after her car accident), and about his refusal to accept failure as an option.
  • Kate – We quickly learned that Kate was being transported by a U.S. marshall and that she had been a fugitive. We had to wait awhile longer to learn exactly why she was in trouble with the law. The writers portrayed Kate as someone who fears commitment, preferring a nomadic existence over settling down and dealing with sometimes difficult circumstances (she wandered back and forth between the beach and the caves, and flirted with both Jack and Sawyer). She also appeared somewhat devious and untrustworthy, traits that the writers have put on the back burner since season one. You’d hardly know now that she was a fugitive and a murderer.
  • Sawyer – He has probably changed more than any other character on the show. The first several episodes he was the stereotypical bad boy, hoarding food, stealing stuff off of dead bodies, and using his stash as bargaining tools to get more things that he wanted. But before long, we saw the softer side of Sawyer, and he has continued to transform over the past five seasons. He was plagued by guilt over becoming a con man, when his original goal had simply been to exact revenge on the con man who destroyed his family. The episode in which Kate discovered and read the letter he had written to Mr. Sawyer was heartbreaking. Once we learned why Sawyer was the way he was, we cared much more about him. One of the stand-out moments of the entire series for me is from the episode”Exodus: Part I,” where Sawyer finally tells Jack about his encounter with his dad in Sydney. That’s the moment that Sawyer really started to become a good guy. He had nothing to gain from telling Jack that his father was proud of him and loved him, but he did it anyway. In addition to giving us insight into both characters, and developing their relationship into something more than a rivalry, it was simply a very well done, powerful scene.
  • Locke – I think Locke has the best back story on the show. We had to wait so long to find out the whole story! His first flashback episode revealed that he had been paralyzed before the plane crashed, which explained why he was so excited about being there. The contrast between his job at a box company and his adventureous spirit on the island was so drastic. It was as if the island not only took away his physical paralysis, but also his emotional/psychological paralysis. On the island, his tendency to be passive and ineffective was replaced by an almost super human ability to solve any problem, hunt any animal, and face any fear. He was also kooky sometimes, with all his talk about “the island will tell us what to do” and “it’s a sacrifice that the island demands.” In season two the writers would develop Locke as a man of faith even more, in contrast to Jack’s man of science. The back story about his father conning him into giving him a kidney was so horrible (horrible for him, but fascinating to watch). No wonder this man has issues.
  • Sun – It’s weird how mysterious the writers made Sun and Jin out to be in the early episodes. I guess that’s how the others would have perceived them, since they couldn’t communicate with them. What a surprising twist it was that she could speak near perfect English! Sun and Jin’s imperfect, yet loving relationship was one of my favorite things about season one. Seeing the flashbacks about their courtship, followed by the struggles that came along with Jin’s job for her father, and finally their separation and reunion on the island, were all so emotionally engaging.
  • Jin – Like Sawyer, Jin has come a long way since the first season. In the beginning, he came across as a stern, insensitive man who ruled over Sun with an iron fist. Over time, though, the experiences on the island softened him, and he loosened up a lot. The episode where he pummels Michael over the misunderstanding about the watch was effective in revealing what made him tick (pun intended – sorry). We’ve had to wonder about his fate several times over the seasons, and the first time came in the season one finale, when he went overboard from the raft during our survivors’ first encounter with the creepy Others. Thank goodness he is still with us, not to mention speaking perfect English now!
  • Charlie – Of all the people who have died or disappeared, it is saddest to see Charlie, knowing what eventually happens to him. He was so laid back and fun loving, a breath of fresh air in a group of so many Debbie Downers. It was hard to watch him go through the ups and downs of his heroin addiction, but was sweet to see his relationship with Claire and Aaron develop. He always tried his hardest to protect them, but didn’t always succeed. One of the most heart wrenching scenes of the series was when Jack and Kate discovered Charlie hanging from a tree, and it seemed that all efforts to revive him would fail. We really thought he was dead that time, and just when we were starting to mourn the loss of this great character, Jack beat on his chest one more time, and with a great gasp, Charlie breathed again! Those pesky writers, playing with our emotions!
  • Hurley – I was surprised during my rewatch that Hurley only had one flashback episode in season one. In that episode, we learned that he won the lottery using numbers that he heard a guy repeat over and over again at the mental institution he stayed in for awhile. We didn’t know why he was there, though. Hurley was mostly comic relief, and still is, but his discman also provided a great soundtrack during most of the first season. I guess ipods weren’t popular yet.
  • Sayid – Sayid’s season one flashback episodes weren’t my favorite, even though I really like his character. I always had trouble believing that he would be attracted to, much less get involved with, Shannon, especially since at the time of the plane crash he was so focused on reunited with his true love, Nadia. The writers played up the tortured soul angle in season one. Here was a man who strived to do what was right and good, and to play by the rules, but whose training as an interrogation specialist would lead him down dark paths from time to time. I am still hoping Sayid can have something go his way before the show ends, because so far he always seems to get the bad end of the deal.
  • Claire – Claire was a sweet character – probably the only female character that I would describe as such. Here she was, a young woman, on the brink of becoming a mom to a baby she was about to give up for adoption, and now she was stuck on an island, with a recovering heroin addict as her new closest friend, and with plenty of time to sit and ponder the warnings that the psychic gave her that it was imperative that only she raise her child. I miss her presence on the show now (although I’m sure she will resurface at some point), because I think her kind, softer personality would balance out some of the more abrasive, dominating female personalities that still remain.
  • Michael and Walt – I haven’t missed these two very much, but their season one back story was sad. I felt sorry for Michael, over how Walt’s mom manipulated him into giving up his parental rights. It was ridiculous how controlling she was, and I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want Walt to know his father. We got some hints that Walt had some psychic abilities, and Michael’s temper led to some run-ins between him and other survivors. It was sad to see these two again, knowing what Michael was willing to do later on to get his son back.
  • Shannon and Boone – I’ll lump these two together, since that’s what the writers always did with their flashback episodes. They always kind of grossed me out. Boone was in love with his step sister, and Shannon used this to her advantage time and time again. Neither of them was as annoying after they developed a healthy distance from each other, when Shannon started hanging out with Sayid and Boone became Locke’s apprentice. As much as these characters didn’t interest me, Boone’s death was so tragic and sudden, that those episodes left their mark. Watching them for a second time, they were just as devastating. I always liked Shannon more after Boone died.
  • Rose – As held true in the following seasons, Rose only made an appearance a handful of times in season one. This has always been a frustrating aspect of the show, but I always enjoy seeing her. In the early episodes, we thought she was in denial about Bernard’s fate. Surely he died in the crash! But then we started getting clues that maybe he and some others in the tail section had managed to survive, clues that turned into huge revelations in season two. We didn’t have a Rose-centric episode until season two, so we didn’t know much about her until then. But one particular episode, Rose reached out to Charlie, who was hurting over his failure to protect Claire from Ethan. This came across as a “pay it forward” gesture, since Jack had approached her in a similar way shortly after the plane crash.

Wow. There are a lot of characters on this show! Thank goodness the writers chose to devote individual episodes to developing each person, rather than try to cram information about everyone into every episode. That would have gotten way out of hand. Like I said before, the primary focus of the first season was on developing the characters’ back stories and their role on the island. But we did get a taste of the island mythology that we know and love. It’s hard to believe that we didn’t meet Ben until well into season two, and that Juliet and Richard didn’t appear until season three. It was a totally different show back in season one!

The Mythology

  • The Smoke Monster – I had forgotten that Rousseau referred to it as the island’s “security system” later in the season. Thinking of it as something designed to patrol the island takes away some of the creepiness of it, but there’s still something unsettling about the humming, clicking, and crashing noises that it makes.

  • The Black Rock – This ship supplied the gang with the dynamite they needed to blow open the Hatch. But it also suggested that it wasn’t a coincidence that planes were crashing on the island. First this slave ship wrecked there, then Rousseau’s crew met the same fate, and finally Flight 815 crashed on the beach. Something must have been drawing these vessels to the island. We would get confirmation of this in season two.
  • Strange Visions – Our first hint that this island was inhabited by a supernatural force is when Jack’s father (who was supposed to be dead and in a coffin) started appearing and leading him into the jungle. By the way, I’m not clear on one thing. When Jack discovered his father’s coffin at the caves, his body wasn’t in it. Are we to believe that he actually came back to life, or was the absence of his body just meant to frustrate Jack – since if his father’s body had been in there, he could have shrugged off his visions as just “seeing things”? The next time I recall someone having a vision is when Shannon saw Walt appear in the jungle, shaking, wet, and telling her to be quiet, when the audience knew that he had just been taken by the Others from the raft. As I recall, I think that vision foreshadowed Shannon’s tragic fate in season two.
  • The Others – We had no clue that these people had an organized civilization with book clubs, full kitchens, and indoor plumbing! Our first glimpse of them was via Ethan, when we learned that he wasn’t on the flight manifest, and he tried to abduct pregnant Claire (presumably because he wanted the baby). And then came the big introduction to the Others, in the season finale: “the thing is, we’re gonna have to take the boy.” What?! That has to be the most famous line from this show. I was so creeped out the first time I heard it. One moment Walt, Michael, Sawyer, and Jin were celebrating, thinking they had been rescued, and the next, they were encountering these strange people, dressed in tattered clothing, and speaking so matter-of-factly about abducting a child. At the time we also associated them with the plume of black smoke. They seemed very primitive, violent, and super creepy! And they always went around whispering in the jungle.
  • The Hatch – For most of the season, the hatch was little more than a mysterious door in the ground. The only question we had was what, or who, is in there?! We had to wait an entire summer break to find out, but it was totally worth the wait. (The opening of season two is the best opening sequence of the series!) Our heads were spinning as season one came to a close, with Locke staring down into the freshly opened hatch. Were the Others down there? Was there really a reason that it didn’t have a door on the outside? Would it provide safety or danger? By climbing into the hatch, Kate, Locke, and Jack ushered the show into its first of many shifts in direction.
  • Glimpses of things to come – In the episode “The Numbers,” Sawyer was reading Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, which is a book about travel through time and space. I had forgotten about this little hint of things to come, if I ever noticed it in the first place. Another major clue came when Boone made contact with someone on the Nigerian plane’s communication system just before it fell down the cliff. When he said “We’re survivors of Oceanic Flight 815,” the voice on the other end answered, “We’re survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.” Between that exchange, Rose’s belief that Bernard was alive, and Jack’s airport bar encounter with Ana Lucia, we had some pretty big indications that there were other survivors on the island.

Best Episodes

  • “Pilot” – I was blown away by the pilot the first time, and I’ve enjoyed it just as much every time I’ve watched it. I’d never seen anything like it on tv, and its recurring use of flashbacks added so much insight into the characters. We didn’t have any idea where the show was going, and it’s hard to believe it has taken us so far now (Dharma Initiative? 1970s?…)

  • “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” – Jack’s daddy issues made for good tv in this episode. He sets out with a search party looking for Charlies and Claire, who had been abducted by Ethan. Jack’s discovery of Charlie’s seemingly lifeless body, and his subsequent refusal to give up on saving Charlie, is brutal to watch. (At least it ended well.) Meanwhile, we were also introduced to the hatch.
  • “Do No Harm” – This episode, where Boone dies and Aaron is born, is one of the best of season one in terms of drama and emotion. It still made me cry all this time later. The contrast between Boone’s life draining away, and Claire’s struggle to give birth to Aaron, followed by the celebration of the survivors over Aaron’s arrival, while in the background Jack broke the bad news to Shannon that Boone had died, was all so well done and moving.
  • “Exodus” – The season finale brought us full circle, showing us flashbacks of all the survivors on the fateful day they boarded Flight 815. The plot also progressed quickly, as one group set sail on the raft in hope of rescue, while another group sought a place to hide from the Others, and while Locke and his gang worked to finally open the hatch. The only unnecessary part of this episode was Dr. Arzt’s ramblings about dynamite, followed by his explosive death, and Hurley’s off the cuff remark to Jack, “You have some Arzt on you.” I suppose this was all meant to provide comic relief, but I found it distracting from the otherwise intense happenings.

It was hard to compose all my thoughts on season one into one post. Did I skip over any of your favorite moments or forget to mention a key character or plot point?


Lost 5.13: Some Like It Hoth April 16, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 2:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

What does lie in the shadow of the statue?! Why is Dr. Dan returning to the Island on a sub? Why is the Circle of Trust so secretive about the building of the Hatch?! These are the intriguing questions that came out of this week’s Miles-centric, Star Wars-tinged episode.

Quick Recap: Miles dealt with his daddy issues with Dr. Pierre “Marvin Candle” Chang while driving around a dead guy and listening to Hurley talk about recreating the Empire Strikes Back screenplay to save George Lucas some time. Meanwhile, Kate’s heart being in the right place makes Roger Workman very suspicious, and Sawyer resorts to knocking out and tying up Grumpy-faced Dharma man after he is confronted about the surveillance tape that shows Sawyer and Kate leaving the perimeter with kidnapped little Ben. In the flashbacks, we learn more about why Miles is a jerk, how he communicates with the dead, and how he ended up working for Charles Widmore. Finally, back on the Island, Miles and his dad go to pick up a group of visiting scientists, and one of them turns out to be Daniel.

Getting to Know Miles: I’ve always thought of Miles as nothing more than a self-centered jerk who talks to dead people. It was nice to get some insight into his motivations and personality. He is bitter because the one person who loved him, his mother, died of cancer, and his father wanted nothing to do with him. All he was left with was an ability to “feel” the final thoughts and experiences of dead people. (How creepy was the scene where he stumbled upon the body in Apt. 7?) Since coming to the Island, and being transported back in time, Miles has softened up a bit. He has learned to be more of a team player, working with Sawyer and Hurley in particular. And he’s finally starting to deal with his bitterness toward his father, thanks to a little encouragement from Hurley. And I’m loving the comic relief provided by those two. The Star Wars discussion was hilarious. So, after this episode I like Miles more than I did before, but I still think he lacks certain noble qualities. And shame on him for leaving that surveillance tape right where anyone could find it!

Meet, Bram, leader of the Shadow of the Statue cult: How sneaky of the writers. We figured this guy was just another extra to take up space on the Island, when we saw him last week hanging out with Ilana. Turns out, he intended to go to the Island all along (as opposed to being an innocent passenger on Flight 316). Bram is played by Brad Henke, who most recently played a desperate hostage taker on Life on Mars, but who I mainly recognize as Tony Tucci, the amputee survivor of the Ice Truck killer on season one of Dexter. Henke has the sort of face that looks kind and gentle at first glance, but upon closer inspection looks slightly devious or troubled, and that’s the type of character he is playing now. We don’t know much about Bram yet, other than that he was a passenger on Flight 316, he belongs to a group (or is it a cult?) who claims to know what lies in the shadow of the statue, and he tried to convince Miles not to take the job of going to the Island for Widmore.

Trouble Brewing at the Hatch: So apparently the Hatch’s electromagnetic properties caused problems even before it was built. How else can you explain Alvarez’s tooth filling dislodging and flying out through his brain? What a weird way to go. It was also eerie to watch “The Numbers” being etched into the hatch door. Hurley hadn’t had to think about them in a long time.

The Circle of Trust: Horace, Sawyer, Radzinsky, Dr. Chang, and now Miles and Hurley are in the so-called Circle of Trust. Why the secretiveness? Are they trying to cover up that people are dying during the construction of the Hatch, or are the trying to cover up the fact that they are infringing upon Other territory? My guess is more for the second possibility. It’s interesting to think that if the Dharma-ites hadn’t built the Hatch, and had stayed in their territory, all these planes and ships might not have crashed on the Island. Richard and his people would have lived in relative obscurity and had a much easier time of protecting the Island.

The Return of Daniel: Er? I was so confused when Daniel hopped out of that submarine. I’ve been wondering where he was. I guess Sawyer (or whoever it was) was telling the truth when he said Daniel was “gone.” Perhaps in the season opener, when we saw Daniel lurking around the Time Wheel in the Orchid, he was actually plotting his escape from the Island. Or, maybe he left the Island on a sub with Charlotte and her mom, then decided to return to continue his research and to help his friends. Regardless of how he left in the first place, the real question is, what has he been doing? I’m ready for a Daniel backstory now.

What Lies in the Shadow of the Statue?: We don’t have an answer to this question yet, but I’m picking up a cultish, religious vibe. We had another hint of an Egyptian this week, when Jack was wiping off the chalkboard in one of the Dharma classrooms. The notes he was erasing related to various phases of Egyptian culture and language. My guess is still that the Temple lies in the shadow of the statue. But I’m wondering how Bram and his other cult members know about the Island’s secrets. Bram seems to think whatever lies in the shadow of the statue can fill the empty hole inside Miles, and he claims to have the answers to Miles’ questions about his gift and his father. In addition, Bram claims to be playing for the right team, the one that’s going to win. How many teams are we dealing with here? Widmore’s, Richard’s… Are we to think that Bram is aligned with Ben or with Richard and the Others? Or is his group completely separate? This show is highly skilled at driving us crazy with questions, and at slowly spoon-feeding us snippets of information that both answer small questions and create bigger ones.

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Lost 5.12: Dead is Dead April 9, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 11:53 am
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A young adult Ben with bad hair, unexpected shootings, potentially crazy castaways, and that mysterious smoke monster were at the heart of this week’s episode. We took a break from the Dharma era, and instead focused on the modern era happenings on the Island, as well as some glimpses into Ben’s past as Alex’s father and Charles Widmore’s adversary. Based on the new information we have about Ben and the Island, there are some interesting ideas to discuss.

Plot Synopsis

  • In Ben’s flashbacks, we see him as a young adult (with the aforementioned bad hair, and not looking young at all – why couldn’t they cast a younger actor who resembles Ben?). He and Ethan sneak up on Rousseau’s tent, hold her at gun point, and take her baby, Alex. Ben tells Rousseau that if she wants her child to live, she’ll never try to find them, and she’ll run the other way whenever she hears whispers. Back at the Others’ camp, we learn that Widmore had ordered Ben to kill Rousseau, so he isn’t pleased that Ben not only let Rousseau live, but that he brought a baby back with him. Charles wanted Ben to kill it, but Ben adamantly refused, saying that it was a child, not an it. Perhaps Ben and Charles’ main conflict with one another stems from this moment. If Ben’s one decent trait is his love for children, then he would despise Charles for suggesting such a thing as exterminating a child. Perhaps the entire Others’ camp lost respect for Charles in that moment, since they have always shown a reverence for children.
  • Ben tries to regain Locke’s trust – a difficult task since he killed him – by agreeing to go face the potential wrath of the Smoke Monster with him. As a show of good faith, he shoots and kills leader wannabe Ceasar. (Didn’t see that coming!) Once they arrive at Ben’s old house on the main island, they run into Frank and Sun, who are surprised to learn that Locke is alive again. Frank opts to return to the other island, while Locke, Ben, and Sun go in search of the Others’ Temple. When they get there, Locke and Ben crawl into a series of tunnels that run beneath the Temple, so that Ben can be judged by the Smoke Monster. And so he is judged. His life with Alex flashes before his eyes, including the horrible moment when he chose to let her die rather than leave the Island. Because of his genuine remorse, Smoky forgives him, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the hook. Alex appears to him, and she’s not too happy. She warns him not to kill Locke again, but instead to do everything that Locke says. It looks like the Island has put Locke in charge now and made Ben one of his minions.
  • Meanwhile, Frank returns to the other Island and finds that things are spiraling out of control. Ilana and some other guys found a stash of guns and are obsessed with the question “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” They knock Frank out as they decide to take him with them, wherever they are going.

Ben’s Quest for Power

  • In a flashback, we saw Charles and Ben meet for the first time, when Ben was a child recovering from whatever healed him in the Others’ Temple. He told Charles he didn’t want to go back to the Dharma Initiative. Charles tells him, “Just because you’re living with them, doesn’t mean you can’t be one of us.” We can assume that Ben returned to the Dharma camp shortly after this, and stayed there until the time came for the purge. This flashback showed us that Charles was never happy about Ben becoming an Other. He protested to Richard, even though he knows “the Island chooses who it chooses.” So from the beginning, Ben and Charles were at odds with one another. This flashback also reminded us that Ben always wanted to be with the more powerful Others, rather than with the Dharmaites. Somewhere along the way, this desire to belong to a mysterious group evolved into a consuming lust for power.
  • Ben finally attained his position of power with the Others when Charles is banished, presumably for “leaving the island regularly,” “having a daughter with an outsider” (that answers the question of whether or not Penny ever lived on the Island), breaking the rules, and being selfish. Doesn’t sound like the kind of leader the Island would want. Then again, most of those things describe Ben as we know him. Ben claims he “would do anything to protect this Island.” Charles points out that Ben wasn’t willing to kill Alex to protect the Island. So as Charles leaves, Ben is left with the looming question of whether or not the Island wanted Ben to kill her, or if it was Charles that wanted her dead. Charles’ prediction actually does come true: that if the Island wanted her dead, then one day she will be dead, and Ben will be the one being banished. “You cannot fight the inevitable.” Of course, it’s easy to see why Ben blames Charles for Alex’s death. He could easily believe that Charles sent the commandos to the Island to finally follow through on the order to kill Alex, which would be a case of Charles manipulating Ben. And so it comes back to a power struggle between these two men. Charles, still embittered over his banishment, forces Ben to leave the Island, which leaves them both in a situation where they are clamoring to be the first one back to reclaim their position. Looks like it won’t matter now, though, since Locke is the new king of the castle.
  • Ben’s constant manipulation of those around him is all part of his quest to maintain control, and to attain, keep, or regain his position as someone who has power over the Island’s inhabitants and who can speak for the Island. We have seen this power struggle time and again. Ben vs. his father, Ben vs. Charles, Ben vs. Jack, Ben vs. Locke. In this week’s episode, Ben told Locke what he thought he needed to hear, that he returned to the Island “to be judged,” and that he killed him because he knew that he would come back alive on the Island. He was lying in at least two ways in that conversation: 1) He didn’t want to be judged for killing Locke; he wanted to be judged for causing Alex’s death. 2) He didn’t consider that the Island would actually bring Locke back to life. He later tells Sun that he’s scared to death that Locke is alive because he didn’t know the Island was capable of resurrection. That leads me to believe that a dead Locke was simply his ticket back to the Island.
  • It was disturbing to see Ben manipulate Ceasar, making him think that Locke was no more than a crazy man who was already on the Island when they arrived. And then, he handily eliminated this marginal threat to his leadership by stealing Caesar’s gun and killing him, right in front of everyone. That was unexpected and jolting. Never has Ben been so obvious with his evil deeds. Usually he acts in secrecy.

Ben’s Weakness: A Fatherly Love for Children

  • Ben may be evil, and he may have an obsession with obtaining power, but his one soft spot is his love for his adopted child, Alex. Perhaps because of his own troubled childhood, he feels a need to protect and nurture other children. When he confronted Rousseau in her tent and saw the baby, all thoughts of completing his mission to kill her vanished, and his focus turned to Alex, and claiming her as his own daughter. Based on what we know of their relationship, it seems that he raised her in a loving home, kept her safe, and genuinely loved her. Everything was just peachy until Ben’s two worlds collided: Island leader and doting father. When forced to choose between saving his daughter’s life and leaving his position of power on the Island forever, he made the regretable decision to let her die. Now he feels great remorse for that decision, and it cost him everything: he lost his daughter – the one person he truly cared about other than himself, and he lost his place of importance on the Island.
  • Ben’s paternal feelings for children also prevented him from carrying out his threat to kill Penny, out of revenge for Alex’s death. He makes a cruel phone call to Charles, telling him that he’s about to kill Penny, and then has no qualms about shooting Desmond, who is unloading groceries from a car. But, when he has Penny trapped, he hesitates because little Charlie comes out on deck. That was a tense moment, but thankfully Ben’s soft spot for kids won out over his desire for revenge over his adversary. That moment of hesitation was enough time for Desmond to tackle Ben, break his arm, pummel him with his full strength, and throw him like a sack of potatoes into the water. Hooray, Desmond! (It’s no wonder Ben asked Sun to deliver a message to Desmond that he is sorry. How horrible that he was about to kill Penny right in front of him.) It’s interesting that Ben felt justified in his attempt to kill Penny because, as he told her, “Your father is a really terrible human being.” In his mind, Charles is a worse person than he is because he entertains the thought of killing children. In the end, Ben can’t pull the trigger (even if Desmond hadn’t attacked him) because in doing so, he would become just the sort of heartless monster he sees Charles as.
  • In the end, it was Ben’s remorse for the trauma he caused Desmond and Penny, and for his responsibility for Alex’s death, that made the Smoke Monster spare his life.

The Smoke Monster

  • Our first clue that Ben had lost his status as a powerful Island leader was when he failed to summon the Smoke Monster. Apparently all it used to take was draining the pool of murky water in the secret passageway beneath his house and muttering, “I’ll be outside.” Didn’t work this time. Instead, Locke suggested that they go to the Smoke Monster.
  • Ben’s journey into the bowels of the Temple brought him to an ancient wall painting that showed a wolf-person kneeling before the Smoke Monster. He catches on and kneels before a grate, from which the Smoke Monster emerges and treats him to a “This is your life” montage. He experiences the excruciating pain of his choice to let Alex die. Amidst his tears, the Smoke Monster dissipates, leaving him with his guilt, and a visit from Alex.
  • It seems clear that this isn’t actually Alex paying a visit from the Great Beyond, but the Smoke Monster appearing in a form that Ben will most respond to. This is similar to when it appeared to Mr. Eko as his brother. So it is Smoky who warns Ben that it already knows he’s planning to kill Locke again, and says that if he so much as touches him, “I will hunt you down and destroy you.” Smoky’s not messing around! In addition, Ben is instructed to listen to every word John Locke says and follow his leadership.
  • So in one way, Ben came out of his encounter in a positive way – “It let me live.” On the other hand, he has failed in his quest to regain a place of importance on the Island, and he’ll have to continue living with his guilt over Alex’s death.

Locke – The New Leader

  • It seems like death made Locke wise up. He doesn’t believe anything that Ben says, but has instead started telling him what’s going to happen.
  • Locke also tells Sun that he has some ideas for how to find Jin. Might he pay Jacob a visit, or go turn the wheel again?
  • Now that Locke is calling the shots, we’ll get to watch Ben squirm.

The Crazies from Flight 316

  • “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” – Um, excuse me?
  • Ilana seems to be the new queen of crazy, taking over Rousseau’s old position. Apparently, she is leading the other castaways on some mission to discover whatever lies in the shadow of the statue. I’m guessing she’s talking about the big foot, which is all that remains of the Egyptian looking statue that once stood tall over the Island? Could the answer to that question be “The Temple?” If she is leading a group to the Temple, perhaps it will play a pivotal role in the reunion of the 1970s castaways and the modern-day ones. Or, maybe Ilana and her comrades have been inflicted with the same sickness as Rousseau’s team, in which case Frank is in trouble, since the next phase would involve them killing each other off.

The Temple

  • Whether or not Ilana is headed for the Temple, it seems clear that it will eventually play a crucial role, just as the Hatch did in season two.
  • All signs point to the origin of the Others as an ancient civilization, or maybe even something extraterrestrial. Whatever the case, the Temple is a source of healing, as it is where Richard took young Ben to be healed. It also seems to be where someone can “become” an Other. Maybe the Smoke Monster does some hocus pocus to mark you for life.
  • I know all this Temple, ancient civilization, smoke monster stuff is too weird for some people, but I’m still loving every minute!

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