Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LOST: "Lighthouse" Reflections

Again, spoilers abound, so don't read if you've not seen the episode!

I find it interesting that Claire knows people left the island. Sure she was around when Jack was talking about it, but she was gone with Christian before anyone actually left. Maybe Christian told her? And while we're on this subject, I would like to know why she thinks Aaron is with the Others. So Smokey and her dad told her. Right... but she did just leave Aaron in the woods. Was her memory of this wiped? If she doesn't have her son it's sort of her own fault. It would also appear that Smokey is manipulating Claire so that she will war against the Others with this false information. It makes me wonder if that's one reason that Danielle was left alone; the Others DID have her baby, so she was at the ready to catch and kill them. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, something like that?

We also know conclusively what some of has have already been saying: the Christian Shepherd apparition and the Smokey Locke are not the same being. Claire referred to "my dad and my friend" as two separate individuals. They do seem to be in cahoots though.

I like that Hurley compares Jacob to Obi-Wan Kenobi, a pretty accurate description at this point.

They found Shannon's inhaler! That's a nice callback to an episode that never had a resolution. But wait, they found the inhaler in the dirt by the caves. So unless someone moved it, wouldn't this mean that the inhaler was RIGHT THERE the whole time? Shannon's there dying in the cave and her inhaler is ten feet away! And if it wasn't always there, then when and how did it get there?

I have to say, it was GREAT to see the caves again. I've wondered for the longest time why that place was never seen again. I know there was the hatch and all, but it just seemed like the caves were abandoned for no good reason way back. I think we may get an explanation about the bodies there this season (yay!), and that's why they put that scene there, specifically pointing out the skeletons.

I'm also left wondering why Christian led Jack to the caves? Was "the island" leading Jack, or was Smokey leading Jack? If Christian is working with the MiB, then he's likely no good, and if he's no good, why did he do that? Was it just to split up the Losties?

I'd also like to point out that Hurley brings up the "what if the skeletons are us?" question regarding time travel. I follow this basic rule with Lost: if a fan theory is mentioned on the show, then it isn't true. Just like when Sun thought they were all in hell, or Juliet joked about aliens, or Dave said it was all in Hurley's head. So I believe that since Hurley brought it up on the show, that's conclusive proof that the skeletons are NOT the bones of time-traveled Losties like Rose and Bernard, and we will learn their identities later.

I was just starting to write "why have we never seen the Lighthouse before" when Jack said it for me. Thanks Jack! I think it's a lame explanation, but then, they did the same thing to us when the pulled the "second island" twist. Where is the lighthouse in relation to everything else?

Jin tells Claire that Kate took Aaron and has been raising him for three years, so she shouldn't kill the Other guy. But wait, how does Jin know? Once again, they give Jin knowledge he really shouldn't have. Jin was on the freighter trying to keep the bomb from going off. At that time, Sun had Aaron, and that should be all Jin knows. Then the helicopter takes off with Sun, and the freighter explodes, throwing Jin into the sea. He washes up on the island later, and doesn't see any of them for three years. So how does he know Kate has been raising the baby? Did she work that into conversation at some point in the week they were in Dharmaville? I suppose it's possible, and less of a stretch than Jin knowing where the radio tower is, but it still frustrates me.

Why would Claire kill Kate? She should be happy that Aaron wasn't with the Others? Maybe it has to do with that "raised by another" thing?

I wonder why the lighthouse was being set at 108º. Besides that it's the only other number, of course. Who is at 108º who could be coming to the island? It's apparently something good, since Jacob wants them there. (Yes, I still believe Jacob is good.) I wonder if it's the Losties in the sideways timeline.

The lighthouse mirrors are a nice spin on the "magic mirror" motif in fairy stories. Jacob has a magic mirror to watch people in! It's sort of like Ozma's magic picture in the latter Oz books.

Oh look, lots MORE crossed out names for fans to spend hours trying to read!

I really like the moment with Jacob and Hurley where he says sometimes you can just get in a cab and tell someone to go, and sometimes you have to let them stare at the ocean. I found the scene profound.

Why does Jin lie to Claire? Is he just doing it to protect Kate? What good is it to tell her something that is completely untrue about Aaron?

Claire knows that this Locke is not Locke. I'm curious how she knows right away, and what he looked like to her before he took Locke's appearance.

The opening was a parallel to the opening of "Something Nice Back Home" when Jack was living with Kate. I was wondering if we'd get to see the appendectomy scar, and we do! There's another sign of disorientation as Jack doesn't remember when he had his appendix removed. His mother tells him it was when he was seven, and he vaguely remembers, but it seems he has some other memory.

Jack's got a son in this timeline. But apparently he and Sarah are still separated. Sarah WAS pregnant at some point in flashbacks in our timeline, so maybe that was his baby? Maybe he has a son in our timeline too and just doesn't know it? Anyway, so this Jack has a son named David. Did Jack and Sarah split up recently, or was it some time ago? I wonder if there's any Biblical significance to the name David Shepherd (you know, since David was a shepherd).

They did a GREAT casting job of that kid! He looks just like Matthew Fox.

I keep saying Sarah is David's mother, but I should point out that the episode never said so, and it may be a totally different woman. Anyway, the key to Sarah's house is guarded by a white rabbit figurine. Is that more Alice symbolism? I like that David is reading Alice, and it's the Annotated Alice, which is excellent.

The story of the father just making it in time for their kids' recital is cliche, but this episode at least twists on that by making it an audition. Interesting that Dogan (the Japanese guy) is there too.

This sideways story ties into Jack's line in the other timeline that he'd be a terrible father. I wonder what has led him to that point. He was doing alright with Aaron. This Jack seems to get things on track in the end.

I do hope that soon there becomes more relevance to the flash-sideways because the lure of them as a curiosity is wearing off.

Favorite line: "I just lied to a samurai!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Great American Myth? Part 1

Most major nations or people groups have a core myth, fairy story or epic narrative that defines who they are as a people, or at least contributes significantly to that identity. The English have the Arthurian legend, Beowulf, and in more recent years, the works of Tolkien. The Jews have the Old Testament and an assortment of folk tales derived from these characters and events. The Norse have the Edda, the Finns have the Kelavala. The Babylonians had Utnapishtim. The Tlingits have the Raven stories. Yet, in pondering these facts I've been inclined to wonder if America has such a narrative, and if so what is it?

America is a modern culture; a pastiche of other cultures melded into something different. We don't have stories that go back millennia; we don't even span five centuries. And yet it cannot be denied that there is a distinct American identity. Americans have contributed quite a volume of written, aural and filmed work that may not all pass into the halls of greatness but surely contains something uniquely "American". One of the old jokes in this country is that of the man setting out to write "the great American novel"; Phillip Roth even went so far as to use the phrase as the title of one of his books. The notion is that there is something there that expresses what it means to be American, yet maybe it exists only in the ether.

Well, I would argue that there is in fact SOME pop cultural work that we all are familiar with that represents America in the same way that The Iliad becomes synonymous with Greece. But what exactly is this one American work? I've thought about it for some time, and come up with a number of different candidates. Over the course of several future essays I endeavor to explore each; the merits and pitfalls of looking at this book or film or story through such a lens, and what each says about this people and our ideals.

to be continued in "The Great American Myth?" part 2: Superman

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

LOST: "The Substitute" Reflections

Here we have yet another fascinating episode. And we're starting to get, if not answers, at least some more major tie-ins to threads from season one.

I like how we got to see stuff in "Smokey-cam" perspective! We could even see his smokey shadow against Sawyer's house.

I very much want to know who that boy is that Flocke (that's Fake-Locke) saw. It seems that he was a real boy because Sawyer saw him too. Was it Zack? I don't remember him very well, so I don't know. Why did Flocke see an apparition of him all bloody? Is that kid somehow special like Walt was? At least this is proof that not all apparitions are Smokey. This seems to indicate that Christian is definitely not Smokey.

When Locke's body was lying there in the sand and Lapidus said he was getting ripe, a spider was on his head. I wonder if that was a Medusa spider. You think?

You've gotta love it: when the kid tells him something he doesn't like, even FAKE Locke yells, "Don't tell me what I can't do!" I wonder if there's a bit of Locke fused to the Man in Black now...

There were a lot of great lines in this episode, like Sawyer saying he doesn't care if Locke is the ghost of Christmas past. I like his observation right away that this isn't Locke because Locke was always afraid.

What was with that series of ladders on the cliffside? One or two wouldn't suffice? Honestly, it looked to me like a video game level. You know, like in Super Mario Bros. 2 when you'd have to climb up this ladder, then that ladder, etc.

In the cave, there was a white stone and a black stone in balance on a scale. This recalls the white and black rocks found on Adam and Eve at the caves way back in season one. Glad they're finally following up on that. Locke takes the white stone away. I'm assuming that represents Jacob. What will that mean? Also, does this imply that the bodies found in the cave had each been candidates at one time?

"Jacob's lists" are starting to make a bit more sense now, as he's got his own master list on the cave wall. I wonder why it's in this cave down here and not in the foot or in the cabin where Jacob supposedly was. And the numbers!! There's finally a bit more sense to the numbers!! Now, I don't know why the numbers were being broadcast from the island radio, or why they seem to be cursed, or why they were stamped on the Swan hatch door. Or why they were chosen as code to push the button (I mean really, why even bother with number entry? Why not just make it one button to push?) Coincidence? But at least there's SOME significance. But wait, one of those numbers was missing! Here's what we saw:
4 - Locke
8 - Reyes
15 - Ford
16 - Kwon (at least I think it was 16)
23 - Shephard
This leaves 42. Who is 42? My guess is that whoever is 42 will be the key to everything in the end. In fact, number 42 may be "he who will save us all". ...Unless that's number 108, which I guess is possible. I think there are several possibilities. I think Sun is number 16, and not Jin, which may be why she didn't go back in time. Or it could be the team of Sun and Jin together, or even little Ji Yeon (wouldn't THAT shake things up?!). Could 42 be Claire? Possible, though seeing that she seems to have been stolen away by Christian, this may not be. Is Christian an emanation of Jacob?? 42 might be Kate. I don't recall seeing her name up there. But right now I'm leaning VERY heavily to number 42 being Walt. We don't know if Jacob ever met Walt, but we can assume he probably did. And this would bring Walt's importance back into the forefront.

EDIT: I realize now that I left Sayid out. Sayid is number 16 and Kwon is 42. This possibly ruins my whole above paragraph, unless Walt is number 108. Fingers crossed...

When Locke fell on the lawn and the sprinklers came on, it perversely reminded me of when he would predict the rain on the island.

And he's living with Helen! My oh my, there's a story behind that I'm sure. The Locke we know was unable to keep Helen because of his ties to his evil father. This Helen has no such problems, and is with Locke even in the wheelchair. And yet they haven't gotten married yet. I wonder how long they've been engaged, and when they met. She mentions inviting John's father to the wedding. This strongly suggests that Cooper in this universe is not the sadistic con artist we know. It may even be that Locke's paralysis is no longer due to being thrown out of a window. I wonder, then, how it happened.

I've suddenly begun wondering... is there a Jacob in this universe, and has he been visiting people off-island too?

Helen says "What are the odds of just running into a spinal surgeon?" That's very similar to what Ben said about one just falling out of the sky. Will Locke give it a try, and can Jack fix him?

Thinking about Jack the miracle worker, I wonder if he's married to Sarah in this world.

We learn that he in fact did NOT get to go on his walkabout; it played out just like the first time. I'm a little disappointed by that. Curiously though, in this version Locke doesn't go to Australia because he has vacation time and he's been planning it for months. Here, he was sent by the company to go to a conference and he skipped out. Never mind the seeming nonsense to this; I mean, why does a box company need to send a guy to Australia to hear some seminar? It's good to see Randy again, and hear Locke referred to as Colonel again.

Look at Hurley saving the day! And he's introducing himself as Hugo. Does he never gain his nickname in this universe? ...And why IS he called Hurley anyway?? Nice of him to try to hook Locke up with a job. And I'm glad some things are still the same. Hurley still owns the box company and Rose still has cancer. Was she in Australia to see Isaac the healer?

This Locke is not a believer. He's a frustrated man, like the other one was, but he is not a man of faith. Was this Locke visited by Richard as a kid?? I really need to know whether this timeline split off when the bomb detonated, or if it was always running parallel.

Locke becomes a substitute teacher, which actually seems a decent fit. And the best reveal is to learn Ben is there teaching! Did he leave the island? Was he ever ON the island? I like that he wears glasses here. He also gets to be broader and funny, which is something Michael Emerson is very good at but rarely gets to play on television. I hope we see more funny Ben.

So in the end, who is the substitute of the title? Is it John Locke, who becomes a substitute teacher in the flash-sidways? Or is it Sawyer, who has been recruited by the Man in Black as a substitute for Jacob, or perhaps someone else?

Favorite line: "Richard, I'm sorry I hit you in the throat and dragged you off the beach."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Crazy Heart: real country music

I've just seen the movie Crazy Heart. I like Jeff Bridges, and expected a small "indie movie" feel with some songs. I got that. And I really enjoyed it. One of the things I really liked about it was that the music was good. I'm not a big country fan, but I appreciate the older tradition of country music, the good stuff. Not the Garth Brooks-era country music where it's all just bad pop songs with fiddles and yodels. And excuse me, but how exactly is Taylor Swift a country artist? I like the good country music: Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson. Female country singers don't generally do much for me. But that's country music. What Dylan once referred to as "songs about drinkin' and sleepin' around. That's my kind of country music." What I liked in the film is that a distinction was made between real country music that Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) plays, and what they call country music that is coming out of Nashville these days.

In the film, Blake is being overshadowed by his protege named Tommy Sweet. For the first 20 or 30 minutes, we are teased with the name Tommy Sweet, but Blake doesn't want to talk about him. If you know anything about movies at all, you'll realize this is all set-up for the big reveal of Tommy Sweet later in the film. So I was curious as to who this Tommy Sweet would be. When a character like this is kept in name only, it often means a famous cameo. I've been on the fence about whether or not to divulge this information, since it may be better to see the film unspoiled. If you don't want to be spoiled about the identity of Tommy Sweet, STOP READING NOW!! I mean it! Spoilers ahead!! So for those who don't care about being spoiled, imagine my surprise when Tommy Sweet is played by none other than Colin Farrell! He does a very good American accent in the film, and has a nice singing voice. Bridges sings well too, in a smokey voice that fits the style perfectly. As is the nature of a story where one character plays his hits in different gigs, we hear a few of the same songs over and over, and I never minded. I felt like a fan in the audience squealing with delight at hearing this song again. And these were songs I'd only first heard ten minutes ago! The "big hit song" called "Falling and Flying" really does have the feel of a hit song. While "The Weary Kind" is sort of a theme for the film, and thus the Academy has nominated it for best original song, I think "Falling and Flying" is maybe a better song. But then, they are different types of songs serving different purposes. Too bad they weren't both nominated.

As with Coraline, this was a movie that I came out of just needing to buy the soundtrack album. If you like the older tradition of music, I recommend Crazy Heart. The songs will stick in your head. Just listen to Bridges and Farrell sing!

Friday, February 12, 2010

She Blinded Me With... Nutrition?

I was watching Arthur just now and something about it bothered me. No, not the Dudley Moore movie with the lovable drunk, the kids' cartoon series on PBS. (Yeah, I watch Arthur! And so what if I like to come home from work, eat Spagghetti-O's and watch iCarly? What's it to you?!)
Anyway, this was something that bothered me the first time it aired, and still does; to the point where I start shouting at the TV. The episode in question is called "Desert Island Dish".

This was around the time that the series started getting preachy. They had already done the episode about how Arthur was fat so he had to exercise to not be fat. They even gave all the kids in the class pedometers to wear (it's a third grade class. come on.). This episode focuses on nutrition, at least that's the idea. Mr. Ratburn gives the class an assignment to choose one food to live on indefinitely on a desert island. Each of the kids picks something ridiculous, and Ratburn says they can't live on just that. "Man cannot live on yellow dye number 5 alone!" This is all well and good, as it leads to a discussion of healthy food and ultimately variety. And that's where the episode falls apart.

The story ends with the kids realizing that no one food gives them the benefit of all the food groups, so they had to combine their efforts. The message of the episode is you cannot live solely on one food. And it is there that I cry "Shenanigans!" There most certainly is one single food that combines all of these things: pizza.

It frustrates me to no end that not a single kid in that class suggested pizza. You want carbohydrates? Pizza crust. Dairy? Cheese. Fruits/vegetables? Tomato sauce and any topping you like. Protein? Again, any meaty topping you like. It seems to me that pizza was conspicuously absent from the discussion precisely because it so obviously fulfills the assignment, thus negating the episode's message. With an endless variety of pizzas, you could truly survive indefinitely on a desert island.

What bothers me most about this scenario is that simple logic is thrown away to blind kids with a lesson in the third iteration of the food pyramid. Remember when there were just four food groups? And that worked fine, and we had no national obesity emergency. Then somewhere along the line during my elementary school days they came out with the first food pyramid. Then a few years later they shuffled it around a bit. It used to be built from the base-up; your diet was built on a foundation of carbohydrates, and capped with a cherry of fats. But then all the fad diets started kicking in. "Carbs are good! Eat only carbs!" "No! Carbs are bad! Never eat carbs!" "Eat some carbs in moderation, but eat not a trans-fat, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die!" Because of all this, it seems, the food pyramid was revised yet AGAIN, this time with catgories in columns, so no food was perceived as "foundational". At this point, I don't see why we even stuck with the pyramid structure. Just call it the food pie chart, that would be more accurate. Anyway, the whole episode was to essentially teach this food pyramid because there's this idea that if we just drill that into kids' heads they will be healthy.

Look, I agree that for the most part your diet should be varied. That's just common sense. But the assignment wasn't to have a varied diet. It was to eat one thing forever. Essentially, Ratburn gave an impossible assignment; it was a trick! Can you imagine if you went home from school when you were nine and spent a week of homework trying to come up with an answer, then came back to school and were told it was a trick? Wouldn't that annoy you? Besides which, again, there WAS an answer to the riddle! You just eat pizza. If you become so slavish to the idea of separate food groups intake, you may be blinded to combinations of food. Each of the kids ended up bringing separate dishes, and that's fine. But so much more of this can be taken care of when foods are combined. Banana pancakes take down two food groups. Throw on some butter and syrup and you cover your dairy and sugars. You see? And that's one food! Has any of this supposed education helped our children? Please tell me, Michelle Obama, are our children any healthier??

My old friend Katie ended up becoming a nutritionist (at least she was when last I saw her). Now, I'm kind of fat, and no poster child for nutrition. I generally don't eat anything green. I wonder what Katie would say of all this. I think she'd have to agree that pizza is the answer. Yes, children, you should eat a variety of foods. Yes, children, eating nothing but cocoa puffs is unhealthy. And yes, children, even pizza if eaten in excess would get you fat and constipated. But there's a lot more nutrition found in a well-made healthy pizza than in a box of cracker jacks. Pizza is often considered "junk food" around small children, in the same league as thickly buttered popcorn and Coca-Cola. This is a stigma we must remove! Eat your pizza children! Enjoy your pizza! Eat in moderation, of course, but should you ever be stuck with it on a desert island, eat like your life depended on it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LOST: "What Kate Does" Reflections

Tonight's episode firmly established that there will be a lot more winks and nods to events from earlier seasons of Lost throughout season 6; a point made by the title, a reference to the season 2 episode "What Kate Did".

Which Kate does the title refer to? Or does it refer to both of them? The present Kate runs off after Sawyer, purporting to be searching for Claire, though it seems she's also just trying to be with Sawyer alone. The alt-2004 Kate starts running, only to show a tender side and help Claire.

There were a lot of funny lines in this episode. I particularly liked Miles' point about how Hurley is now the leader.

It seemed to me that Sawyer was regressing in this episode back to the guy he was in season one. He is going off on his own, and doesn't care about what anyone else does. And yet, he is a changed man. The scene on the dock makes clear how much of his life was tied to Juliet now and that he has lost that. I worried that he was hardening again, and maybe he is. But that scene was great. Will Josh Holloway get any Emmy recognition this year? Yet when Sawyer says some people are meant to be alone, isn't that just another way of saying "a tiger can't change its stripes"?

The scene of torturous diagnosis is a direct parallel to the scenes in "Solitary" when Sayid was tortured by Rousseau. She also used electrocution, and the thrust of her interrogation was to learn who he was and if he was sick. Similarly here, the Others torture Sayid in order to learn if he is "infected".

I like the reappearance of Aldo, the guard Kate smacked with her rifle. I like that he's so snotty to her. But maybe he should lighten up and be glad she only knocked him out and didn't shoot out his knees like she said she would.

We are told that Sayid is "infected"; that a darkness is claiming him. This must be the same sickness that infected Rousseau's team. I would very much like to know where this infection came from. Does it come from the passageway? Does it come from Smokey? Was he sick before he died in the pool or after? I'm glad that they have finally returned to the sickness issue. It's so far pretty consistent with "This Place is Death", though that was not exactly consistent with "Solitary". It may be that Rousseau simply assumed the Others were "carriers". But I do not understand the connection (if any) to the sickness that Desmond feared. Why was the Swan hatch (and the Arrow hatch!) marked Quarantine, why was he injecting himself with vaccine? Where did this vaccine come from? Did the Dharma guys invent it? Was Ethan trying to keep Aaron from being "claimed"? This seems unlikely since the Japanese guy's only course of action is to poison Sayid, not inject him. Maybe it doesn't work if the subject is already infected. While it doesn't all quite connect for me, I'm at least glad that this major thread from the first two seasons if finally being properly explored.

I really thought that Jack would make Sayid take the pill. It got to the point where I noted that tempting Jack with the promise of redemption always seems to work! Feel bad about crashing? Get 'em off the island! Feel bad about leaving? Get 'em back on the island! Feel bad about that too? Blow up a hydrogen bomb! Still feel bad? Give your friend this mystery pill!

When the discussion of the pill turned to faith and trust I was sure that the pill was going to be the new "button to push". Thankfully, Jack just blew up the computer as it were and tried to swallow the pill. Way to be proactive, Jack!

The guy's desk with the baseball on it reminded me so much of Sisko's office in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And when he started talking about how he keeps the interpreter as a means of separation and control, he reminded me of Gul Dukat when he occupied the station during the Dominion War.

What does he mean Claire was claimed? Who is doing the claiming? Was she claimed when Christian took her in the jungle that night, or did it happen some time in the three years on the island?

The big reveal of the episode was that, in keeping with the cyclical themes, Claire has now become Rousseau! She sets traps! She has a rifle! She even wears her hair differently. The only difference is this Claire is supposedly infected, while Rousseau was able to remain uninfected.

Back to the "flash-sideways" story. I noticed that the little bit of recap of Kate getting into the cab from last episode was different here. I always hate discontinuity between episodes like that.

Arzt does his best with a little Midnight Cowboy moment!

In the other timeline, Claire concluded that there never was a couple in Los Angeles to adopt her baby; the psychic had just told her that to get her on the plane so it would crash and she would raise the baby. (By the way, is any of the crap going on with the island related to Claire not raising Aaron? Was Kate right that if they got back together maybe it would stop?) In this universe, there was a couple, but they broke up and didn't take the baby. This leads me to wonder if there was also a psychic who set it up for Claire, or if it happened differently.

They go to the hospital and... it's ETHAN?! I like that he says his name is Goodspeed. This would make him likely the son of Horace Goodspeed, as he was in the other universe. Of course, we've never learned why he was called Ethan Rom in season one. Was this an alias, or was he simply not told about his real parentage? Anyway, this Ethan seems to know his father. When did they leave the island? It must have been before it sank. We must assume that this timeline diverged at the atomic detonation, so it follows this is an Ethan who was born on the island. It's funny the parallel of him working on Claire. But this Ethan is nice. I especially like when he says "I don't want to stick you with needles if I don't have to". This is SO different from the other Ethan, who snuck into the Losties' camp JUST to stick her with needles!

Doesn't it strain credibility that Kate felt bad and just happened to know where to find Claire after she kicked her out of the cab? Did she troll the streets looking for her?

I like that Kate used the alias "Joan Hart", just like she did back in season one's "Born to Run".

I wonder what is going to happen with this Claire. Will she keep the baby? It's funny to me that Claire has been in two episodes in this universe and it wasn't a big deal to me, but when she appeared in the jungle in the other universe I thought, "Oh wow! Claire's back!"

Favorite line: "As you can see, Hugo here has assumed the leadership position, which is great."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl aftermath

Firstly, yea Saints! I totally knew they would win!

I enjoyed The Who (or what's left of The Who) and their half-time performance. Poor Pete Townsend just can't screech out those bridges and harmonies like he used to, but he can still rock a guitar like nobody else! I love when he embellishes on songs that we all know so well. As a harmonica player, I have appreciated that Roger always plays the familiar violin playout at the end of "Baba O'Riley" on mouth organ. Of course, that's getting a little hard for Roger to blast out too, but he still did a great job. His voice has dropped a bit, and he still rocks if in a slightly lower register on the newer stuff. Why do we never hear "Mike Post Theme"? Don't get me wrong, I liked the selection. But when you know it's the Who in a 10 minute slot, you can easily plot out what they'll be singing. "Baba O'Riley", "Who Are You", "Won't Get Fooled Again" (probably also a nice plug for CBS's CSI series that use these songs) are all expected. I was pleasantly surprised to hear snippets from Tommy; I did not expect them to open with "Pinball Wizard". I half expected "My Generation", but maybe they chose not to since it was used in one of the ads. By the way, that was one of my favorite ads, featuring television footage spanning 50 years. Though I don't much like or the Black Eyed Peas, I thought the overall effect really spectacular, and was amazed by how much history and pop culture they crammed into one minute.

I always dread the national anthem, and was let down yet again. When Queen Latifah started, I thought, "Well, she's not the worst choice." But then she sung an "America the Beautiful" medley, and I said, "You guys know this isn't the national anthem, right?" And then they revealed Carrie Underwood. UGH! I was pleading to bring back Latifah! I've never liked Underwood, not from her American Idol days. The less said about the nonsense that is "Jesus Take the Wheel" the better. And she proved tonight why she's overrated. She was dressed in an odd white jumpsuit-looking outfit making her look like Padme's stunt double for Attack of the Clones. And she oversang every note of that song. I know it's not a great anthem. But she belted it badly, going quite flat on the big final note. For a Grammy-winning sensation, it was an embarrassment. No one has ever performed the song with as much class and patriotic simplicity as Billy Joel did a few years back.

Finally, I noted that the controversial "choose life" commercial never ran. Unless it ran in the ten minutes I was sleeping (nothing happens in the first quarter anyway), CBS didn't air it.[EDIT: yes it did. It ran in that first quarter when I wasn't paying attention. However, the following rant is mostly still relevant, so I'm leaving it as is.] Look, I understand there's a difference between abortion as law and abortion as a moral issue. I get really annoyed with radical pro-lifers who refer to anyone born since 1973 as "survivors of Roe v. Wade", as if it were some genocidal edict akin to Pharoah drowning Hebrew children. I even support the "morning after" pill, though many of my Christian and pro-life peers do not. But what's wrong with promoting life? As I understand it, the ad was something to the effect of how good it is that this woman didn't abort her son because now he's a great football player. Might it offend some people? I suppose that's possible. But I have a hard time thinking this is not okay to air when multiple times every year a similar tale is aired on TV: it's called It's a Wonderful Life.

The whole narrative point of It's a Wonderful Life is that it is so much better that George Bailey was born than that he wasn't. He's shown that his world is terrible if he is never born; because he was born, he brought meaning to others around him. The movie runs over and over around Christmas, and no one ever complains about it's blatant pro-life message. Why? Because it's couched in Christmas? Because it's a classic? The message to me is that life isn't the worst option. Even if it's hard, your life may be worthwhile. And here this was George Bailey himself arguing he shouldn't have been born; why should it be different if it were his mother? George doesn't have a right to jump off a bridge, but his mother has the right to have him "surgically removed"? This is a rhetorical question. I only point it out because this smacks of hypocrisy to me. Nobody is saying you have to espouse the point of view presented by the commercial any more than you have to agree with It's a Wonderful Life. But to censor one while holding fondly to the other seems a double standard to me. And I know that the Capra film usually airs on NBC, not CBS. That's not the point. The point is that there was an outcry about an ad even airing when there is nary a complaint about the movie which promotes similar ideals.

Do I have anything else to say? Hmm... oh yeah, good game.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I saw The Book of Eli yesterday. Pretty good movie. Yes, there's a big reveal toward the end that makes some of what preceded it seem ridiculous. But I don't think it negates EVERYTHING as some have said. I like how the action sequences are not all chopped up into quick cuts; that drives me crazy. Here, they are mostly handled in long takes. I especially like some of the really cool "oners" in the house battle, which I'm sure were assisted with CG, but that doesn't make them any less spectacular.

Anyway, this post is not about any of that. It's about a sign I saw in the movie. The film centers around the Bible. In an early scene, when Eli is confronted by some thugs on the road, there's a sign on an overpass above him with the numbers 14 and 6. Two bolts in the sign make a colon between them. Knowing the biblical content, I figured this had to be an intentional placement in the film. Was it a reference to some scripture? My problem then became what book is this a reference to? So I've searched through the Bible for all possible 14:6 verses. Not all of them make sense, but a number of them are interesting. All scriptures are given from the King James, as that's the version in the film.

First the ones that don't have any apparent relevance to the film:
GENESIS 14:6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.

EXODUS 14:6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him

LEVITICUS 14:6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water

DEUTERONOMY 14:6 And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.

1 KINGS 14:6 And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.

1 CHRONICLES 14:6 And Nogah, and Nepheg, and Japhia,

2 CHRONICLES 14:6 And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.

HOSEA 14:6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

MATTHEW 14:6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

MARK 14:6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

ACTS 14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about

ROMANS 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

These are some of the interesting ones:
NUMBERS 14:6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes

JOSHUA 14:6 Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.

1 SAMUEL 14:6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.

2 SAMUEL 14:6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.

JEREMIAH 14:6 And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.

EZEKIEL 14:6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

1 CORINTHIANS 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

And here are the verses I think most relevant to the film, or that scene particuarly:
JUDGES 14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hands: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

2 KINGS 14:6 But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

JOB 14:6 Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.

PSALM 14:6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge.

PROVERBS 14:6 A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.

ISAIAH 14:6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continua stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and non hindereth.

ZECHARIAH 14:6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark

LUKE 14:6 And they could not answer him again to these things.

JOHN 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

REVELATION 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people

I think the most likely the film is referring to is John 14:6, as that's probably the most well-known of these verses. I like the Isaiah verse, which in the NIV reads "which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression". I think that encapuslates the scene pretty well, as Eli takes on five guys with relentless aggression. But that verse is taken quite out of context in that application. I would very much like to know which verse the Hughes Brothers intended, or if it was intentional at all. What do you think, readers?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

LOST: LA X Reflections

At last a new season begins and it begins... at the beginning? When the white flash fades, we are in the same scene with Jack on the plane that we saw in the pilot. We've flashed back to the very first flashback! I was wondering when it would change or how long it would be verbatim and they did a good job with that transition. There was turbulence, and then nothing. When we came back from the commercial break it became clear that this was an alternate universe or timeline or whatever. Clearly Damon's involvement in the recent Star Trek movie has colored the writing. I will deal with this alternate universe later in this post.

When Kate was all deaf in the tree (and we still hadn't seen Jack) I was reminded of when the hatch imploded and Charlie couldn't hear. I actually thought for a little while that Jack alone had crossed universes and was on the plane (like Des going back in time). But then they found Jack.

I do not understand the point of Juliet even being in this episode. It was a big chunk of screen time for seemingly no reason. Everyone believed she was dead, and Sawyer was really mad about. Then they find she's not dead, she's buried in the imploded hatch. So they dig her out, only to have her die and Sawyer's really mad about it. Um... what? This all seems like it exists solely so Miles can hear her ghost say "it worked". And of course that opens a whole can of worms because how does this Juliet know it worked? I do like that Sawyer kept Miles behind specifically to talk to her. That was a nice moment.

It seemed to become clear that the only reason Hurley could see Jacob is because Hurley sees dead people. At first I wondered if Jacob was an apparition like Christian.

I'm glad that the guitar case ended up being important and not just "because Charlie had a guitar case". I wonder why Hurley had it ready in the van, though. Didn't they come to the island like four days ago? And he just left it in the van?

I love the look on Ben's face when he sees the dead John Locke.

Jacob's nemesis seems to now be officially referred to as The Man in Black. Firstly, this reminds me of other character names on X-Files like Red-Haired Man, Well-Manicured Man, Cigarette-Smoking Man. But secondly, I really wonder if this is a blatant homage to Stephen King's The Dark Tower which we now the writers are fans of.

And we got one other mystery sort of answered: apparently the Man in Black IS the Smoke Monster! Knowing it is a being who has a physical form makes a certain amount of sense as to why it appears as other forms. It also clears something up for me that's bothered me for three seasons. It was always presented that the monster and the island were one and the same (i.e. Locke saying he looked the island in the eye and what he saw was beautiful). But in "Further Instructions", the island gives John a vision that he has to save Eko, then shortly after the monster kills Eko. This made no sense to me, but if Jacob is the island and the Man in Black is the monster, this DOES make sense. They are warring parties. ...Of course, none of this explains why the monster seems to emanate from underground vents near the temple, nor why it makes that clanging sound like a subway train. Furthermore, doesn't this mean we were lied to way back in season one, and it's not a security system?

Jin takes Hurley to the hole so that they can bring Sayid to the Temple. When they get there, we can clearly see this wall and everything, which at least in "This Place is Death" was a little more camouflaged. I'm sorry, this is completely wrong. That is absolutely NOT where Montand lost his arm. If it were, then everyone back in season one would have gone "dude, look at the wall!" Montand lost his arm in the "dark territory". I am glad though they put the arm down the hole (I guess it was knocked there over the years), explaining why it wasn't there in season one.

I like the Japanese Other. I also wonder if these guys are always at the Temple. Aren't these the Others you always expected, given their clothing and all? It makes me wonder now why the show ever went with putting the Others in clean clothes in fancy houses in the middle of the island when we still ultimately get shabby Others living in a Temple.

The moment where the guy slices his hand reminds me of a number of Klingon rituals.

Jack doing CPR and Kate trying to stop him mirrors a very similar moment when Jack saved Charlie after he was hanged by Ethan.

I'm glad we saw Cindy, Zack and Emma again. But those poor kids, having to be Others for three years! THEY should have been on the helicopter!

Alright, now that we've established Man in Black as Jacob's nemesis and Smoke Monster, there are a number of things I'm concerned about. The circle of ash is a protective barrier, yes? But wasn't there one around the cabin? Oh, that was broken. Never mind. So it was the Man in Black posing as Jacob in the cabin? Does that make any sense? And if so, why did he say "Help Me"? Was he just trying to mess with John?

There's a moment when the Man in Black mentions Richard had been in chains. This seriously makes me wonder if Richard was on the Black Rock.

I must say, I'm glad Sayid is alive, though I expected it. After the fake-out with Juliet, I knew they wouldn't kill two like that in one episode. It was only a matter of time.

Alternate 2004
Okay, back to the alternate universe where the plane doesn't crash. I like Bernard's line when he comes back from the bathroom: "I almost died back there". There are a few similar moments of winking to the audience, like when Charlie says "I was supposed to die". And then we got the big reveal: in this universe, the island is underwater! Okay, why is that? Should we be concerned?

I was taken aback when I saw Desmond on the plane. I suppose it makes some sense, since the race around the world was three years ago, and he never crashed on the island. Does this mean he's back with Penny? Did he win the race? What was he doing in Australia?

This is very picky of me, but Sawyer's hair is far too long on the plane from what we saw in the pilot.

This timeline is an interesting look at what everyone's lives might have been like. It's especially curious to see Hurley always having good luck, since the numbers are no longer cursed. ...but wait... He still won the lottery? The only reason he won was because he played the numbers, but if there were no numbers, then he never hears Leonard say them and he never plays them. Or is his win not connected to the numbers at all? It also makes me wonder why he was even in Australia now, but I think his phone conversation implied it was a business deal. "No dude, Outback's just a name. ...You mean it's like the whole outback? That's crazy."

Isn't Charlie in the wrong bathroom on the plane? Wasn't he in a bathroom at the front of the plane in the pilot?

It seems Charlie intentionally tried to choke himself. Why would he do that? Was he just really depressed that DriveShaft were over? At first I hoped he had just OD'd, but that wasn't what happened. And then he was led away in cuffs for having drugs on the plane! Poor Charlie! Good to see Dom again though.

The moment when Jack was asking for a pen to save Charlie was of course reminiscent of the pilot. I wanted Boone to come in with a pen.

And speaking of Boone, it was funny to have him say that if they plane goes down he's sticking with Locke. Remember season one when everyone wanted to stick with Locke?

Locke DID get to go on his walkabout in the wheelchair? I'm sorry, at first I thought this universe was just what would happen with no island. But that had nothing to do with the island. In fact, the only reason he went on the walkabout was because of Abaddon! So what's up with that?

Likewise, I do not understand why Christian's body was not on the plane. Is the body missing, or the whole coffin? We know that it was on the plane the first time. This would mean something happened at the airport. Again, that has nothing to do with crashing on the island. Unless maybe the underwater island stole Christian's body out of the plane. ...Along with Locke's knives. Is that where this is going?

Where did Desmond disappear to on the plane?

I like Jack telling Locke that "nothing's irreversible". That certainly seems to be the theme of the episode, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Totally Snubbed

The great travesty of the Oscar nominations is that there was one glaring omission; a film missing from every single category. It was one of the most highly anticipated films, one of the most debated films, and I believe will be one of the most enduring films. That movie was Where the Wild Things Are. Where was it? Even with 1o films in the category it couldn't secure a best picture nomination? Over The Blind Side? No screenplay nomination. No music nomination. No directing nomination. And one of the greatest travesties, no acting nominations at all. Now, I understand that most of the beings are people in suits, CG-enhanced. But Catherine Keener gives a lovely supporting performance in her limited screen time. And let us not forget the towering achievement from Max Records, who carries this movie. It is an absolute farce that Max, one of the most moving and real performances of the year, gets totally forgotten. His name should be remembered among the great child performances, so many of which got nominations. Mickey Rooney, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Anna Paquin, Haley Joel Osment, Tatum O'Neal, that girl from The Goodbye Girl. If the Academy is smart, they will rectify this by giving him an honorary Oscar and reinstate the juvenile award.

I'm glad so many films I liked got recognition, but I am thorougly disappointed that one of the best films of the year and one which I truly believe will outlast half of the films on that list was shut out of every category. This is one of the worst snubs in Oscar history.

and the nominees are...

Oscar nominees have just been announced (and I slept just long enough to miss it :( ). Here are my brash reflections on the lists.

original screenplay: Good for The Messenger getting in there. Other than that, it's all pretty expected. Tarantino is back to being the critical darling he was with Pulp Fiction, but I have issues with the Inglorious Basterds script.

adapted screenplay: Interesting that the British comedy In the Loop was recognized, a film that many have never heard of. I need to pick up the DVD and check it out.

visual effects: no real surprises here. Star Trek gets the franchise's first effects nod since The Voyage Home, and District 9 was very well done. But it's clear that those nominations are honor enough because Avatar will win.

sound mixing: sad to think that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen should be nominated in any category. I think the sound mix was too loud and distracting.

sound editing: All pretty obvious. Again, nice seeing Star Trek up in all these categories. I don't think that the film was all that different in these regards from previous ones, so why does it have so many more Oscar nominations? And Up because you have to put up animated films in this category since they depend on sound effects. After Wall-e shamefully lost this category last year, I don't expect or want Up to win it.

short film: don't know any of them. Pixar didn't get into the animated category again.

original song: good to see Disney staying strong in this category with two good songs from Princess and the Frog. Neither of them will win, however. All the impetus will probably go to the song from Crazy Heart especially if that's one of the few awards the film gets. Nice to know that Nine was not forgotten in this category. For all everyone's praise of "Cinema Italiano", which I found passable, the Academy passed it over and nominated "Take it All" instead. I find that a brave choice since I really liked "Take it All", and thought it worked much better dramatically. This is not the place to argue whether it's better than "Be On Your Own"; it's still a good song in its own right. I hope Marion Cotillard performs it on Oscar night (striptease and all?). I have no idea what the other song is since I haven't seen Paris 36. Though with the Academy's weird recent history in this category, this one could even win. Remember the spanish-language song from Motorcycle Diaries (and that year half the nominated songs were non-english) and "Jai Ho"?

original score: I'm sorry, Coraline was totally robbed. This is one of the best things about Coraline and it was ignored. It was easily one of the most interesting scores I've heard all year. Just listen to this lovely piece:
And juxtapose that with the otherworldy creepiness of the main theme
And that's not even including the really creepy end credits. The Academy should be ashamed. Up was okay, but Michael Giacchino has done much better work, such as his Incredibles score. Glad Mr. Fox got in for it's bluegrassy sound, but did these others have better score than Coraline? And The Hurt Locker?? Excuse me, that movie barely even HAD a musical score! That's one of the things I liked about it, but don't give them an award for THAT! At least the sting of Coraline's absence is tempered by the nomination of Hans Zimmer's great Sherlock Holmes score.

makeup: same dichotomy there always is in this category -- period piece making people look old/pretty and fantasy piece making people look alien. Will Star Trek finally win in this category, a category it lost back in 1996?

foreign language film: I haven't seen any of these and am unfamiliar with most. The White Ribbon is getting a lot of attention these days, so it's a good guess, but in this category that doesn't mean anything. Remember when Pan's Labyrinth lost? And Amelie lost?

film editing: all good choices here. This will be a tough category to predict, but might it be Tarantino's year?

documentary: as usual, I know nothing of the short category. The one about GM looks interesting. It will be hard to call in the feature category. I am surprised that all of the public display of affection didn't get Michael Jackson's This is It in this category.

directing: How nice for Jason Reitman to be back up in this category! But really this will be a contest between Bigelow and Cameron and I can't wait to see who emerges victorious.

costume design: period pieces/costume dramas are ho hum in this category. Nine had pretty good costumes, but erred too much on the side of standard "this is sexy" costuming (garters and boots). My hopes are behind Doctor Parnassus. It was good to see this get some recognition, and there are so many differing looks to this movie. The costumer really deserves an award.

cinematography: Ooh, Harry Potter's here! I really did enjoy the cinematography in Half-Blood Prince more than in the past few Potter films. This category may be tough to call. And The White Ribbon, being black and white, has the advantage of being different, but may also ostracize it. It makes me miss the days when there were enough films that they could have separate black and white and color categories. Personally I find Avatar too digitally enhanced and The Hurt Locker a little too down and gritty, so it woudn't surprise me if Inglorious Basterds took this category.

art direction: All pretty good choices. Nine seems a bit out of place here, sadly. Hooray for Sherlock Holmes!

animated feature: All the buzz this year has been towards Up, but I'm really hoping for Coraline to take a surprise win. Given Up's other nominations that doesn't seem likely though. Even Mr. Fox would please me. They've surprised me before (Happy Feet? Really?). And what is this Secret of Kells movie? It hasn't even gotten a wide US release yet, but the snuck it into LA to qualify it here. I wish they had waited a year so that slot could go to Miyazki's beautiful but forgotten Ponyo. While Kells does look interesting, it also bothers me because it seems to be yet another movie done in Flash on a computer, and I hate that. To me, it cheapens the artistry. Every other animated TV show is done in Flash now; must our features be as well?

supporting actress: Penelope Cruz made it in. She was all right, but I wasn't entirely blown away by her performance. The others are pretty expected. It will probably go to Mo'nique, but I'd like to see it go to Anna Kendrick. And in this category, surprises are possible.

supporting actor: Congrats to Matt Damon (and to Eastwood for getting something for Invictus) and to Woody Harrelson. All the nominations are a formality since Christoph Waltz will be waltzing away with an Oscar.

actress: I don't get all the Sandra Bullock love. Helen Mirren again? Meryl Streep again? Is anyone else tired of Meryl Streep? How nice for Gaboure Sidibe from Precious to be nominated, and Carey Mulligan as well. Still, if anyone was going to get a Nine nomination, and as long as it's just a who's who of past winners, WHY did Marion Cotillard get skipped over??

actor: This category will be much tougher to call. Clooney's won before so he's out. Freeman's a legend but the movie didn't have enough attention. It's really a contest between Jeff Bridges, without whom there is no Crazy Heart, and Jeremy Renner who gives a great performance in The Hurt Locker.

picture: It's great to see District 9 in this category. For some reason people though Up would end up in either this category or the animated one. I never could see why it couldn't be both. Up is now the second film in Oscar history to have a best picture nomination. Many of these were expected, and while expanding the category back to ten did allow a pleasant surprise like An Education to get in, I have to ask The Blind Side? Really? Was it THAT good, or was it just nominated because the unwashed masses all went to see it? I'm very happy to see that A Serious Man was not forgotten. If Hurt Locker loses, I hope it wins.

Monday, February 1, 2010

10 Worst "Lost" episodes EVER...

Tonight is the premiere of Lost's final season. I've done my "most overrated episodes" list, and thought there should be a worst episode list as well. Some of these were hard to pick, and I chose them just to fill out 10 slots. These are mostly subject to debate, of course, but number one is not to be argued. It is a fact.

10.The Economist -- My biggest objection to this episode is that it's a bit dull and confusing to me. Remember, this was early in the season and we were just beginning to get Oceanic 6 flash forwards. Yes, we learn Sayid is one of them. Fine. The revelation that he was working for Ben was a bit of a shocker (especially since that meant Ben got off-island too). But for me when these types of episodes air with everyone double-crossing everyone and working for secret organizations I have a hard time following it. Sawyer episodes used to confuse me the first 2 or 3 times. And it's Sayid once more being a killer even after he claims he'll never do that again. That thread really becomes tiresome. At least in "He's Our You" he comes to acknowledge this fact. The episode isn't awful or anything, but looking back on it, it's pretty slight and confusing. So it's not the best. Not even the decent middle for me.

9. Hearts and Minds -- Also not too bad, but it sticks out as one of the lesser season one episodes. So much of that first season is really strong and this one basically stands alone as a curiosity having almost no connection to the rest of the season. We finally got our Boone and Shannon flashback, and yet again it was a confusion of con games. The brother/sister relationship was weird. We had the first real death on the show only to learn it was a fake. With so much of the episode being hallucinated, why do I even care? And Locke's tactic of leaving Boone tied up in the woods to "save himself" was ripped straight out of What About Bob?

8. Further Instructions -- I liked Locke's vision quest. The episode started out strong, even though it was very confusing for us to know what day this was supposed to be. Mute Locke was interesting. The imagery of the quest and the return of Ian Somerholder were good, but then the show devolved into saving Mr. Eko from polar bears. To make matters worse, Eko would be unconscious all next episode, and die after that. So why did the island need Locke to save him when the island would just end up killing him? Why not just let the polar bears get him?

7. Adrift -- Not terrible, but it suffers middle-chapter syndrome. Season 2's opening was very much a three episode structure, and this middle chapter slows things down. Time on the island jumps backwards a bit. The raft story is kind of boring. It's just two guys stuck in the ocean. Even a shark doesn't add drama. The flashback isn't too bad, but it doesn't add anything to the Michael story really. And this episode foisted upon the viewing audience the first of what would be many shouts of "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!!"

6. This Place is Death -- We do finally see what happened to Rousseau's team. Unfortunately, it now has to be done to serve the narrative structure rather than the flashback. So all of the events are compressed leaving what we see here to conflict with established statements of Rousseau's. The timeline is wrong, the distances seem far too short. The idea of the "sickness" from season one was finally brought back, but here it's clearly a different concept. Before, the Others were seen as carriers and they would Whisper. But here the "sickness" is that the Smoke Monster makes you an evil clone or something. Of all the time-jumping episodes last season, this is the most painful as there is so much jumping crammed into it. Mysteries answered, but it would have been stronger in flashback... flashbacks we should have gotten two years ago.

5. Stranger in a Strange Land -- A flashback that seems to exist solely to connect two points: Jack's statement he had been to Thailand, and the origin of his tattoos. The flashback story is a bit weak and Jack is even less likable in it. The present day story is just some ideas thrown together. Juliet is judged. Jack feels bad. Cindy and the kids are trucked out solely so the audience can be assured there's still a Cindy and kids. They serve no narrative function here.

4. Left Behind -- I never saw this when it was first run, and I didn't miss much. Kate's flashback isn't too bad, if a bit "been there, done that". But the rest of the episode has no reason for being. It's all just a foundation of lies that results in Kate and Juliet mud wrestling. Ho hum.

3. Meet Kevin Johnson -- It was great to find out what happened to Michael. The episode excludes almost everything else in order to tell this story. And that's fine. But it also hinges dramatically on Tom, and that created a significant believability problem. Because Tom had been on the second island the whole time, and then we see him playing football with Jack, there's really only about a week this could happen. And that's a shame because there was time otherwise to have stretched it out and given Michael a believable recovery period in hospital, not to mention a real space of time to spiral down enough to kill himself. What we're left with is a lot of necessary information, but a timeline far too compressed. I also find the idea that the island won't let you die to be laughable when everyone ON the island is supposedly going to die.

2. What Kate Did -- This episode has become infamous. For a year and a half we all wondered what Kate had done. Then finally we had an episode who's title proclaimed we'd find out. And when we did, it was kind of an "eh" moment, which it shouldn't have been. I think the problem with this episode is that it puts that event at the start of the episode, so the story has nowhere to go. Instead of being about what she did, it's about the events after she did it when she first started running, which is really just more of the same stuff we've seen from other Kate episodes. And the whole bit with the horse is almost a joke at this point. Kate seems a bit out of character in this episode, and the line between reality and fantasy is crossed too frequently.

1. Exposé -- Easily the worst episode ever. It centers around random people suddenly thrown on the show that no one knew or cared about. And they aren't likable people anway; we learn they are whiny jewel thieves! Besides Billy Dee Williams there's almost no reason to even watch the episode. The idea of placing them in the significant events of the show really backfired to me because so often they were there before anyone else. This "revelation" cheapened these events significantly. Why did Eko and Locke have to force the Pearl hatch open when Nikki and Paolo opened it easily? The long gaps in time also lead to ridiculous continuity issues I won't recount here. Major plot points are muddied. The rescue of Jack from the Others is delayed. The beach gang play Scooby-Doo. It's all just lame, and encapsulates all that was wrong with season three.