Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LOST: "The Package" Reflections

I liked that they began the episode in night vision. That way, the ambush by Widmore's men wasn't a sudden intrusion, it was a mystery. The show has done a lot of sudden attacks over the years, especially the flaming arrow thing last season. With more baddies shooting darts, it was good to make it a question first, and not play the same beats we've already seen.

I was glad Sun finally had something do to in this episode, even if it was just to be frustrated. For almost a whole season she's been dragged around by people being told "Don't worry Sun, we'll find Jin" and finally she just snaps. Good for her! There were a lot of callbacks to season one Sun in this episode. Once again an angry Sun rips up her garden. DId it seem to anyone else like this was a completely different location for it? Has the island's topography changed that much in three years?

Sun running into Smokey in the garden was similar to when Charlie attacked her there back in season 2. Both times she was found unconscious some ways away. Good for her not trusting Smokey, though funnily enough this time he really did have Jin (or thought he did).

I really wonder what Smokey wants with Claire. Why does he need her? She makes a valid point that she's not on the cave wall and he probably doesn't need her. So why is he keeping her around? Even to the point of promising she can kill Kate. Is this whole thing the reason Aaron could not be raised by another? I'm still wondering what the deal was with the "baby's in danger" baptism stuff.

It's Room 23 again! Zoe (the Tina Fey-looking one) says that this was where Dharma were doing subliminal message tests. I have to assume that the Others have been messing with it since then, because I cannot think up a scenario where the Dharma Initiative would say "God loves you as he loves Jacob".

Sawyer asks a valid question regarding the smoke monster: why can't he just fly to the other island as smoke? I get that it makes no sense if he could just do that, since then there's nothing keeping him on the island. Funny that he can still get there by boat. I still wonder if the two islands were one at some point. The scene also gets to the best line of the night, when Sawyer says "No, guess that'd be ridiculous!"

Another first season callback is Sun's aphasia resulting in her inability to speak English. I like her stuck speaking Korean. In the first season, it was a choice, but now she's trapped. It's like she has become Jin. I've been a little saddened by the fact that Jin's English is so good now that we don't hear so much Korean. And now we do! Sun gets to have the same frustration Jin used to feel when he couldn't express himself to anyone. I love when Sun flips out at Richard and he has no idea what she says.

Widmore's men on Hydra Island setting up the pylons led me to a major question: who built the original pylons on the island? The Others all know about them and how they work. Smokey even suggests they were built to keep him out. The Dharma Initiative might have built them (that would make some sense), but did they know about the monster? Their video said it was to keep out "wildlife", but that is suspect. Maybe they did build it to keep him out, but I wonder what led to that and how they arrived at the sonic weapon fence idea. I guess it has to have been the Dharma guys because the Hostiles didn't have the resources to do that.

We get a little more about Widmore here. He knows Locke is not Locke, and says he knows of the Man in Black mostly through myth. Which means he's never met him personally. I still wonder what exactly brought him to the island in the first place, since he doesn't seem to have come to confront Smokey, if he wasn't sure such a thing existed.

It was nice for Ji Yeon to come back into the picture. Widmore showing Jin the pictures of the daughter he's never seen was a nice moment. I hope they do reunite because I hate when children are casualties of plot points.

Once it was hinted that "the package" was a person, my mind leapt to two possibilities. Personally I was hoping it would be Michael. Not just for the nice symmetry of that, but because I want him to be alive. But the other obvious choice was Desmond. With his connection to Widmore and Eloise's statement last year that the island would get him somehow, it was pretty clear that it would be Desmond. So that big reveal at the end was no surprise at all. The whole situation also bears a striking similarity to "The Man From Tallahassee", what with the person kept locked in a closet and all.

We return to Jin and Sun at the airport, and learn that once again he was transporting a watch for Mr. Paik. I was happy to see this might actually be a good flash-sideways where we could learn who it was he was supposed to give the watch to all those years ago. But then the story went off in its own weird direction again. In this universe, Jin and Sun are not married. I wonder how Jin got the job for Mr. Paik in this universe.

In the original timeline, Sun was going to America with Jin in hopes to abandon him at the airport and run away without him. Here, it's twisted so that Sun is planning to run away WITH Jin. And maybe I'm misremembering, but wasn't there a hint of that in the other timeline too? Didn't Jin plan to stay in America with Sun and not return to Korea? So in that sense, the same scenario plays out.

I like the button scene. First, it's a nice callback to season one, and it shows that Sun is not the submissive woman we might have thought she was in the first season. That Sun had had an affair. There's a hint of that in this Sun, who's something of a naughty little minx. You can see why maybe Mr. Paik is concerned about her. In this universe, JIn is the secret lover. And apparently she's pregnant here too, which means that neither of them is infertile. ...Unless she's naughtier than I think and HAS been seeing Jae on the side in this universe.

The recipient of the watch turned out to be Keamy. That got me wondering who the original recipient was; might it also have been Keamy? I mean, we never heard or saw, but we don't know what he was doing before he was on the freighter. That's a month or so for him to have possibly taken a job on the side for Paik. Then again, unless he was planning on killing Jin in that universe too, I'm not sure Paik would need to hire a mercenary like Keamy.

As soon as they said Mikhail, I knew we would see him with two eyes. This means that either this Mikhail has never been to the island, or that Mikhail lost his eye on the island. ...And then at the end, when Jin pulled the gun on him, I knew that it would result in him losing the eye. And it did. Jin shot him Godfather-style.

What will become of Sun? Is she going to die? I'm not exactly sure why I should care in this universe, but I wonder. And where did Sayid go after he found Jin? He seemed so disinterested; more like "claimed" Sayid than the Sayid of this universe.

In the end, I was pretty happy with this episode. The sideways story began as a pleasant "what-if" but quickly became more a story of intrique. Some of the bland "slice of life" sideways stories haven't done much for me. This one had a life-or-death plot involved, and a kind of cliffhanger. I was also surprised that Jin and Sun didn't end up reunited in this episode. I'm a little worried about Jack promising Sun he would get Jin and they'd get on that plane. Richard wants to blow it up, so that's going to lead to a confrontation. And has Sun ever gotten anything she was promised?

In my area, there's been a lot of rain and a blurb came up on the bottom of the screen during the episode about rain warnings or whatever. This was very frustrating, because it made it very difficult to read the Korean subtitles. Similarly, that stupid V logo at the bottom corner cut into the visibility of Sun's notes to Jack at the end of the episode. I also never saw a preview for next week because another weather alert came up. So I don't know what next week's is, but I look forward to it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LOST: "Ab Aeterno" Reflections

This was a very good episode. I enjoyed finally getting major answers, even if some of it was stuff we'd long suspected. It was also good to get a break from the sideways universe.

I liked seeing a little bit more of Jacob's meeting with Ilana that we saw in "The Incident". I still want to know why she's all injured, and when this meeting takes place.

When Richard threw his little fit and said they were all dead, I was so annoyed. I really couldn't believe they were going to play the "we're all in hell" card AGAIN. This would make probably the 4th time it had been said. If it weren't for all of the off-island flash forward stuff I might even have believed it. But I knew it couldn't be so. ...Especially since I doubt anyone can die once they're in hell, and there are a LOT of dead on the island.

This is more of a curiosity to me, but why are there four credited editors on this episode? I don't remember there being so many editors on previous shows.

We are given an onscreen date of 1867 for Richard's enslavement and all. This date seems a little problematic to me. We know that the Black Rock left England to trade with Siam in 1845. We also know that the first mate's journal was found in Madagascar in 1852. This would mean that after being attacked by pirates and losing at least the first mate's log, if not the first mate, the ship sailed around for over 10 years before crashing on the island. One could argue they returned to England, but the heavy implications in "The Constant" were that it mysteriously never returned. So the 1867 date just seems a little late to me.

Richard (Ricardo?) sure does have a rough time, doesn't he? The doctor's a jerk and won't go out in the rain, then there's a murder and his wife dies! I have to say, I very much knew his wife would be dead when he returned home. That sequence played out very much like a short story. The irony of having the medicine only to find it useless upon his return home. Plus it was almost like his wife died in answer to his accidental killing of the doctor; he took a life so a life was taken from him. I'm not saying that's actually what happened, but in a sort of short story world, those are the themes that play.

I know the Catholic Church believes in mortal sin, but come on, NO absolution for Richard? If they knew their Bibles they would know God does have procedures regarding accidental murder. And that priest was a jerk.

I'd like to take a moment to look at the open Bible that Richard had. Whene we were shown it, the page was open to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4. This is the portion where Jesus says "Physician, heal thyself". The text that is seen on the screen is of when he says that a prophet is never welcome in his own country. Then the crowd takes him out to a cliff to throw him off, but he escapes by walking through them. I don't know if this portion is supposed to have relevance to the episode or to Richard or Jacob. But it's rare something is shown in closeup that's not relevant.

What do you know, Richard was a slave on the Black Rock as we'd long suspected. I wonder why they are sailing to the New World (and were they still calling it that in 1867?). Were they going to the US? The Caribbean? South America? Were they planning on selling slaves, because both the American and English slave trade had been abolished by that point, right?

We see the Black Rock arrive to the island at night in the middle of a storm. How does this gel with the scene at the start of "The Incident", when we could see the ship in the distance on a calm clear day and Jacob was cooking fish? Did nobody see the island until nightfall? That seems fishy to me.

My, that is a HIGH tide to bring the boat into the head of the statue. On one hand, I'm glad we have an explanation for the breaking of the statue and the ship being in the jungle. But on the other, does ANYONE buy that a 19th Century wooden sailing vessel would be able to do ANY damage to 100 foot monument of stone?? That ship would have splintered to pieces! And yet, it has very little damage; the ship is basically intact in the jungle. Did Jacob do something to it? I think I buy the crashing waves having more effect than the ship. And if the water comes in THAT high to the island, don't you think we'd have seen that? Or was this Jacob manipulating things again?

When the guy first started killing all the slaves I thought perhaps he had been "claimed". But that wasn't the case.

When we first saw Isabella again on the island I was confused. The only times we'd seen dead people on the island was in a dream, as the black smoke, or a body that had been co-opted. Isabella wasn't a dream and she seemed self aware like Anthony Cooper. I thought she had to be the smoke, but it seemed different from other times we'd seen the smoke. However, as the episode went on it became clearer that the Man in Black was in fact just trying to play Richard, to tempt him with something in order to help him leave. This is also the only time though that we've seen or heard an apparition of the dead at the same time as the smoke. We heard Isabella scream even while we heard the Smoky sounds. That's part of what threw me.

I just have to ask since the whole episode seems to hinge on it... Does anyone actually think you can escape from hell? This is not Dante (who hide a guided tour anyway, so that's different). The whole point of hell is you can't get out. So Richard must be kind of dumb to trust the Man in Black.

Who expected that hand in the ship to be Jacob? I bet the "Jacob isn't good" people were really hanging onto the Man in Black's every word for much of this episode! He's sneaky, isn't he? He gives a little bit of truth ("I'm the smoke") amid a big lie. But he also said that Jacob had stolen his body. I wonder if there is any truth to this statement.

The rules for killing are given the same way here. The Man in Black says you have to stab Jacob quickly before he speaks. This implies that Jacob and the Man in Black are similar somehow. We know that Locke didn't die when he was stabbed. Because he had already spoken? It's good to see Jacob can fight! Also, Jacob was killed by Ben after a conversation. So did the rules not really apply? Or is he perhaps more vulnerable inside the statue foot?

I'd also like to know, if Jacob lived in the foot in the 1860s, and Jacob is living in the foot now, why would he ever have lived in the cabin?

I like the explanation of the island as a cork in a bottle. But we still don't exactly know why Jacob bothers bringing people to the island. Just as a test? A game? It seems he's trying to prove a point to the Man in Black. In this way, everyone who's ever come to the island is like Job, being toyed with beyond his control to see how he responds.

I like Jacob's smashing of Richard into the water to convince him he's not dead. In a way, this is a kind of baptism. Richard went in "dead" and came out "alive".

Richard is given the task to be a kind of spokesman for Jacob, who can lead people away from the Man in Black. In a way, he's a sort of Christ-figure. But then, Jacob is sort of a Christ figure too, so it's not exactly allegory, but there are connections there.

Even though we know Richard came from the Black Rock, he seemed to be the only survivor. This means 1) that he was on the island alone for a long time and 2) we still don't know where the rest of the Others came from!

Ah, so Richard is immortal because he asked to be. And why? To escape the damnation he feared he deserved. That's an interesting wrinkle.

I like the moment with Hurley and Richard talking to Isabella. Was Hurley translating the whole time and they just ignored it for us, or did Richard begin to hear Isabella? Likely the former. It's also good to use Hurley's spanish, since that's a part of him that's mostly ignored.

I really liked that last image of the bottle being smashed.

Looking forward to next week!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

LOST: "Recon" Reflections

Locke is a deceiver. "The Black Smoke killed them." Yeah, never mind that you ARE the Black Smoke. Interesting that he told Sawyer that.

As I suspected, Locke is concerned about the other Ajira passengers on Hydra island. Though I suspected he simply wanted to recruit more people, he is more concerned with whether Jacob has other agents there.

It's interesting that Locke plans to use the plane to escape. I wonder if the building of the runway was his idea way back when.

Wait, the dress Kate wore is still in the bear cage?

The scene with Kate and Claire was fascinating. First the exchange with Sayid. "Sayid, Are you all right?" and the way he says "No." Then Claire suddenly pulls a knife on Kate; she really does want to kill her. And Sayid doesn't do anything to stop it, which is totally out of character for him. But the kicker was the way Claire's "friend" Locke treats her. Throwing her off Kate and smacking her good. "This is inappropriate. I'll deal with you later." If he's been treating Claire this way for the past three years, it's no wonder she's messed up. Not that she didn't deserve it that time.

Whoa, who's been killing all the Ajira passengers? Was it Widmore's people? That Tina Fey-looking woman? And if so, why exactly?

Kate was really shaken up by the Claire incident. I wonder why it troubled her so much; it's not as if she's never had her life threatened. Locke was quite persuasive, wasn't he? The way he subtley said "Have you ever had someone you needed to hate?" He really does know how to push people's buttons doesn't he?

Apparently it's not just daddy issues; the Man in Black had mommy issues! It's possible he was talking about Locke's mom, since she was crazy, but the way he was talking really seemed to me more like it was the Man in Black's mother, not Locke's.

Sawyer's going to deliver Locke to Widmore so that Widmore can kill him? How do we know Widmore isn't working for Locke? And if he's not what is he doing here? I do not understand Widmore's motivations.

Aha, Sawyer's playing both sides again! He wants to take Widmore's submarine? Well, it's a good idea I suppose, but what about the contents of the locked room? What could it be? Is it dangerous?

It's been a long time since we saw Sawyer pull that con. And the girl pulling the gun on him! That was hilarious! That whole scene was very interesting, playing out as a back and forth of each sizing up the story of the other one. I rather like that Sawyer's a cop in this universe. I wonder when and how he went legit, or was he always this way in this world? He would still have written the Sawyer letter.

Incidentally, I realize that James Ford doesn't go by "Sawyer" in this universe, but I'm just going to call him Sawyer throughout.
Good to see Miles. I wonder what got him into police work.

It's interesting that Sawyer became a detective and uses that to search for Anthony Cooper. Sawyer's dynamic with Miles is also very interesting. I like that Sawyer still keeps to himself; he's the same guy, but ultimately confides in Miles.

Oh look, Charlotte's here. I wonder if she knows Faraday in this universe. ...Then again, I wonder if there even IS a Faraday in this universe. Maybe after the Incident he was never born.

Nice touch that he still reads Watership Down.

It's Liam!! Does this mean DriveShaft are still together? That Liam wasn't living in Australia? Or did he just hop on a plane to spring his brother out of jail?

Sawyer's still watching Little House. And I remember that episode for some reason. He also shows up at Charlotte's door with a sunflower just like he did for Juliet back in the Dharma days. Of course, things ended differently this time.

Was there even a question that it was going to be Kate that ran into Sawyer's car?

Of all the flash-sideways so far, I think I like Sawyer's the best. It's a very neat sort of reversal from the Sawyer we know, yet it isn't. The dynamics worked a lot better for me than some of the other ones. I'm not usually a fan of Sawyer episodes. But this one I liked.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stupid Daylight Savings Time

Before I get into the reflections for this episode I just have to say... Daylight Savings Time does it to me again! Two years ago, I set my VCR to tape Lost, but because DST had moved ahead I never thought to change the VCR clock, and thus I got only 30 seconds of Lost. I never got to see that episode until the DVD came out 8 months later. I very much resented it as I tape every episode and had this gap there. Well, now it's done it to me again! I'm not home on Tuesday nights right now, so I have to tape Lost and then watch it when I get home. My VCR's been eating tapes so I also set it on my DVD recorder. Anyway, I have these two machines all set up and BOTH of them gave me an hour of Flash Forward because of Daylight Savings Time. At least I can watch Lost online now, but I still find it terribly aggravating.

Over the years I've had several VCR related mishaps with Lost. During season 4, I had to go out to Missouri for my sister's wedding and couldn't watch the show. I set the VCR back home, but when I got home I found that the machine was terribly messed up. It recorded the show, but not the sound. So I had to watch the entire episode with the captions on. The following week, the VCR ate the tape and didn't properly record. I had to watch that one online.

I now cannot watch Lost until tomorrow because the full episode isn't up yet on What a pain in the neck. Stupid Daylight Savings Time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

LOST: "Dr. Linus" Reflections

Well, we're back to our lovable, hatable Ben in this episode.

Ben meets back up with Ilana and the group, telling them that Sayid is gone to the dark side. I guess Ilana realizes he's no longer a candidate. As we will learn in a later scene, she was sent specifically to protect the remaining six. But then, she still tells Sun that it is six, that would include Sayid. Maybe she's on the fence about him?

I like that Ilana has brought the ashen remains of Jacob and has Miles do his little ghostbuster thing with him. What I don't understand is that Miles says he has to be in proximity to remains for it to work. While this has been implied it previous episodes, it is only now explicitly said. This is a major departure from the first time we saw Miles in "Confirmed Dead". In that episode, he spoke to the ghost of some dead black kid in his bedroom that was haunting his grandmother's house. There was no body in sight there; just some drugs in a closet. It would also seem that he was not faking. So was the body somewhere in the house (ew), were there different rules then?

I love it how Miles throws Ben's own words back in his face: "Well, he was holding a bloody knife over his body, so..."

We still do not know if the candidate is Jin or Sun or some combination of the two, but since no one mentioned Ji Yeon it seems unlikely it's her. Unfortunately, Ji Yeon is looking more and more like a plot casualty. I hate when TV shows use children to move stories along and then drop them. The poor kid is still in Los Angeles, right?

I like the callback to Nikki and Paolo. Though I don't think the graves that the camera cut to were theirs; they seemed to far up from the beach. It seems Miles had nothing better to do so he dug up the diamonds. That was a neat little way to tie up the 3.2 million dollars thing and pay off the fact that Nikki and Paolo had diamonds buried with them. I guess that the diamonds at least did not stay buried forever. But... we still do not know why Miles wants the money. Is it just because he's opportunistic? Is he planning to do something big with his millions of dollars?

Years of suspicion seem to have been confirmed tonight; it was heavily implied that Richard was indeed from the Black Rock.

Richard said that he was immortal because Jacob gave him a gift. He also said that when Jacob touches you, it is a gift. Are the two one and the same? Jack didn't die with the dynamite, and he reasoned it was because Jacob had a purpose for him. Does this go back to Jacob touching him with the candy bar? Does Jacob's touch really have healing powers? If so, does this mean that Locke is NOT dead? Thus Locke survived the fall from the building as well as being shot in the gut by Ben? Though I would point out that immortality and aging are not exactly the same thing. Maybe Richard as an ageless decrepit old man would have been of no use to Jacob.

This episode touches on an old stand-by of mythical storytelling: the curse of immortality. Richard has lived for hundreds of years on the island and all he wants is to die, the one thing he can't do.

Jack and the dynamite is essentially Jack's "we're not going to push the button anymore" moment. He's starting to become like Locke, but in his own Jackish way. Similarly, Richard is becoming like Locke in his despair that he thought there was a plan but now his whole life was a waste. But unlike the end of "Live Together, Die Alone", Jack is right and they do not die.

This is the first episode where Jacob and his nemesis seem to have real magical powers (beyond healing touches and the power to become killer smoke). Smokey Locke magically unfetters Ben, and some Jacob-force blows out the dynamite fuse. I wonder how much of the island's properties are island and how much are Jacob. Like when the Losties flashed back to 1977 from the plane, was that the island or Jacob or something else?

Smokey Locke appeals to Ben's need for power by offering him control of the whole island. I was glad it didn't exactly work. In fact, it seems the only main reason that Ben was still with Locke is that Locke pretended to be Alex and that Alex told Ben to do what Locke said. It was this guilt of Ben's that ultimately led him to pour his guts out to Ilana. He wanted to go with Locke only because "no one else will have me". Some might see this as the neutering of Ben, but I really liked that moment. I still don't exactly get the rules of the island though. Ben said whoever moved the island couldn't come back. Then he came back. He came back claiming he did so to be judged. And he was "judged" by the Black Smoke who essentially used him to kill Jacob. ...Okay. Let's analyze this. Smokey judged Ben to get Ben to kill Jacob. Why did Ben feel the need to go back to the island? Was it because Locke told him they had to go back? If so, this was only because Smokey told Locke (through Richard) that he had to get them back. So who told Ben to move the island in the first place?? The show implies it was Christian, and implies Christian is in cahoots with Smokey. But Christian wanted Locke, not Ben, to move the island. So let's recap: essentially Smokey tells Ben to leave the island just to get him to come back to the island and kill Jacob. I'm confused. Was Ben's initial moving of the island ordained by Jacob or by Smokey? The more things go on, the more I think the whole flash-forward-leaving-the-island-and-its-time-travel-aftermath was a complete waste of time.

I must still err on the side that Jacob is good. Note: Locke is black and white, killing those who get in his way. Ilana is forgiving of Ben. This tells me that Jacob is forgiving as well. If Jacob forgives, but the Man in Black does not forgive, score another one for Jacob being good.

And in the end... there's a submarine. And it's Widmore! How did he find the island? Is this the party Jacob was talking about? If so, why does Jacob want Widmore on the island? I also wonder about who Widmore works for. He was banished from the island long ago; was that Jacob's doing? Widmore had been leaving the island and it was because of that that he was banished. Jacob it seems has been trapping people on the island, in the same way Ben was. Was Widmore recruited by the Man in Black somewhere along the way? I hope we learn more about Widmore's end of things soon.

The flash-sideways centers on history teacher Ben. I like another "island" fake-out, this time being Elba where Napoleon died. It's actually a rather significant little lecture. Ben says Napoleon was stuck on Elba with the title of Emperor, but that title was meaningless since he had no real power. Ben is essentially Napoleon, trapped on the island with an illusion of power. Smokey-Locke's offer to let him run things is like offering him the title of Emperor; it's really meaningless.

We learn that he is a doctor of Modern European history and runs a history club, which has only five members. This reminds me of when I was in high school and we had a writers club of about four of us that didn't last very long. I'm just glad it's not geography club... (For those not in the know, there's a teen novel from about 7 years ago where gay students meet in their own after-school club, but disguise it by calling it "geography club".)

How interesting the scene where Locke manipulates Ben into seeking the principal's job! This scene mirrors the moment where Smokey Locke tries to recruit Ben, but in a much better way nicely reflects season two. In the hatch, Ben was always taunting Locke about why Jack's in charge and not him. Well, here it's a similar circumstance with the roles reversed. I love when Lost does that stuff!

They did a great make-up job on Roger Linus. At first, I couldn't tell it was the same guy. We also have it confirmed that they did indeed go to the island in this universe, which means they left at some point after the incident. I wonder why.

Alex is in the history club. Yes, it's nice to see her again, and yes the dynamic with Ben is interesting, but I find her presence here to be a monumental stretch. I can excuse most of the others being in Los Angeles. But I just do not see that this girl would have a normal life in LA knowing that her parents are FRENCH and scientists. Is she adopted in this universe? She mentioned her mother, but it was sort of oblique. Still, she uses the last name Rousseau. I just don't see what would bring her French parents to Los Angeles to settle and raise a daughter like this.

It's interesting Ben's little play for principal. The principal calls his plan "Machiavellian", but I have a hard time seeing it that way. Indeed, the principal is much more, um, unprincipled. He threatens to base Alex's recommendation on Ben's actions. He has no qualms about doing whatever. He doesn't mind ruining her life as a bargaining chip to save his own skin. In this scenario, the principal is Ben at the window saying "go ahead and do it". Also, Ben's little blackmail scheme does feed his ego, but it also is borne out of real concern that the principal's actions are unethical. He doesn't seek to oust him arbitrarily; the ethical violation is what gives him the in. I also do not understand what exactly happened in the end. The principal DOES give a rave recommendation for Alex. Ben no longer has to cover detention. It is implied that he extorted the principal into covering detention. So now I'm confused. Ben was going to blackmail the principal unless he gave up his job. The principal countered by saying if he did that, he would ruin Alex's college career. Ben doesn't reveal the affair, but still gets something of what he wants. Did he offer a compromise? Did he just ask for his club back and somehow get it? It seems to me that the principal had all the bargaining power at that point, so I don't get how the end result was arrived at. Nice of Ben to give Arzt his parking space, though.

And how fun is it that Ben works with Arzt!

One of the most curious conversations is when Roger tells Ben maybe they should have stayed on the island. Think what our lives would have been like. Funny thing is, Ben is much better off having left; he has a doctorate, he has people who care about him, he hasn't murdered anyone. Yes, it may seem a waste being among vapid teenagers. But isn't it better they have educated teachers? What else do you do with a degree in modern European history?

If this Ben Linus indeed is the future of the one on the island, and that timeline is the same up until the Incident, is this Ben "changed"? Remember Richard said when they healed him he would be different? We saw that statement as explanation for his evil nature. Is his nature the same here? Is he really "a killer" as Arzt says? In the end, he seems to avoid the temptation of power. Is that Ben still waiting beneath the surface?

Oh, and now that Alex has her recommendation, couldn't Ben still release the e-mails?

Favorite line: "If you change your mind, I'll be like a mile away."

Friday, March 5, 2010

What did George Bailey say?

I've just finished watching It's a Wonderful Life. But, you may ask, it's not Christmas! Well, who ever said it was a Christmas movie? Just because George runs down the street shouting "Merry Christmas, movie house!"? Yes, the finale is set around Christmas, but that setting has very little, if anything to do with the movie's climax. In fact, the vast majority of the film doesn't feature Christmas in any way. Maybe because there's an angel in it and people associate it with Christmas angels? The angel stuff is the weakest part of the film anyway. Not the alternate universe thing, but the silly angel stuff where Clarence does something magical and we hear "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" music. ...But I'm rambling now. I watched the film because I've just rewatched all the Oscar nominees for 1946, and this film was one of them. It lost to The Best Years of Our Lives, another very good, though troubled, movie. It would be funny to see a mash-up of the two, where Harry Bailey comes back a war hero but can't get a job, so he has to hang out in Martini's bar with a guy with no hands.

I've rambled again. None of that has anything to do with this post. This is about the movie I just finished watching. Now, I'm living in my own little George Bailey world right now, only in my world the movie ends with Mr. Potter winning, George goes to jail, and the rest of the town doesn't barge into the house to sing songs and deliver money. But putting real life aside, let's look at the ending Capra gave us. The movie would have pretty well worked anyway for George even if he had gone to jail at the end. But no, '40s America demands a happy ending.

The first thing that struck me was that George runs home to find the bank examiner there with a reporter, his cameraman, and a policeman with a warrant for George's arrest. Then the kids show up at the top of the stairs and we learn that Mary has been out with Uncle Billy looking for George. ...Wait, what? This is supposed to be the good universe, right? What kind of mother runs out of the house and leaves her four children in the care of the men who are going to arrest her husband? My oh my, the 1940s WERE more innocent times!

That's not even what I wanted to say, that's just a sidenote. The main thrust of this post (as the title suggests) is the question "What did George Bailey say?" There's a point in that final scene, after that blonde woman decides she's not leaving town after all that it cuts to George and he mouths something. Surely he didn't say what I think he did, I think. Let me show you what I'm talking about, it's about the one minute mark:

Did you catch that? Now, I don't think it takes the best lip-reader in the world to figure that out, right? So let me just come out and say it, forgive the language readers: Did George Bailey just say "fuck me"? And with little ZuZu right there too! At first I thought maybe I'd got it wrong and he said something like "Well, I'll be!" but thought that's the sentiment, it clearly isn't the verbiage.

My case is further supported by precedent. In other films of this era, sound is often dropped out or masked when a profanity is used, so the audience gets it, but the censors don't. For example, there's a point in the Fred Astaire movie Swing Time that a character says "son of a bitch", and a car horn honks over the word. So it wouldn't surprise me if Capra intentionally dropped out the sound. Or maybe it was always meant to be silent. Maybe it was a Steward ad lib?

What troubles me most about this is that I notice it when I watch it, but no one ever seems to talk about it! And you'd think I could find something on the internet. I mean, with all those "a munchkin is seen hanging in The Wizard of Oz" or "Aladdin tells Jasmine to take off her clothes" rumors, you would think that someone would mention it. Because unlike those examples, this is actually true! It's right there onscreen! I'm amazed nobody talks about it! There's nothing on IMDb about it, even in the message boards, nothing on wikipedia, nothing even in YouTube comments. Is everyone just so misty-eyed by the message that it completely passes them by?

Considering how often this is watched every year, the silence on this subject is deafening. Do they cut that out when they air it on TV, or are the network censors just as oblivious? Anyway, that's all I really wanted to say. I thought somebody out here ought to point it out. Right now, I think it's M*A*S*H that holds the distinction of being the first American film to use the "F" word. We may have to challenge that distinction, or at least give honorable mention to a prior American classic: It's a Wonderful Life, a masterpiece of sentimental Americana, and the first bemused use of the naughtiest of words.

Tell me I'm wrong, dear readers. And if I am, I challenge you to tell me what George Bailey really said.

UPDATE!: All right, I've watched this again and again, and I think I've got it figured out. It is possible that George is simply stating the blonde woman's name, Violet Bick. If you put those words in his mouth, it looks like that might be what he's saying, and it certainly makes sense. However, since there's no sound, it's still a very risque lip-read, even if it's probably innocent.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

LOST: "Sundown" Reflections

Dogen tells Sayid that inside each of us is a scale; on one side is good and the other is evil. This must also refer to the literal scale we saw in "The Substitute" with the two rocks on it. Apparently their little machine measures this imbalance somehow.

I don't think Claire is exactly evil, at least not in the way Sayid seems to be. She may not be "claimed" via infection, but rather through association with the Man in Black. She is just deceived by him. Under the glassy eyes I see a woman who is being manipulated.

The whole plot line about stabbing Locke quickly before he kills us all reminded me of The Omen. I was glad Sayid DID stab him, but it had no effect. Dogen said that if he speaks it is already too late. But Sayid didn't stab until after he said "Hello, Sayid". So, if he'd stabbed him before, would it have killed him? It's hard to imagine being able to so easily kill an undead smoke being. But it was right around here I got nervous about Sayid. I had been hoping he would choose to be good. But when you stab a guy in the chest and he barely reacts to it, do you normally hear what he has to say all calmly? Sayid was already beginning to turn.

Dogen refers to unLocke as "evil incarnate". This whole thing seems to be more pillaging from Stephen King, making the Man in Black analagous to Randall Flagg (who I would also add was "the man in black" in the Dark Tower series -- which I haven't finished, so don't spoil it!).

Locke tells Sayid that he can bring Nadia back. This must be a lie, right? But Sayid seems to fall for it. Didn't Locke's speech remind you of the "magic box" thing that Ben used? Makes me wonder if there really is a magic box of sorts on the island that's more than just a metaphor. And the Man in Black's ability to exchange a favor for the giving of life mirror's Jacob's similar deal with Dogen. Do they have the same power? Or is the Man in Black's a lie, while we know Jacob's was real?

When Kate is taken to see Claire in the whole, she is given two minutes. Funny, usually on Lost these scenes are given three minutes.

It's a shame: Sayid really is evil. Our Sayid is gone. Even Ben was freaked out! I wonder how much Ben knew about Dogen's backstory. Is it true that Dogen was the only thing protecting the temple? Would everyone have survived if he had lived? I feel conflicted about Cindy and the kids. On the one hand, I'm glad they aren't dead, but I don't trust them with Locke. And there's something else going on, because if he could just leave the island, why would he waste his time going to the temple and killing everyone?

Dogen tells a sort of "sold my soul to the devil" story, only in this case the devil is Jacob. Jacob saves his son (so Jacob DOES have healing powers), but in exchange Dogen can never see him again. This makes Jacob sound sinister. But is it? In the end, wasn't it Dogen's choice? What exactly is Dogen's role in the temple, and what did Jacob do before there was a Dogen? I'm still believing Jacob is good.

When the Smoke Monster kills everyone in the temple, we essentially have an anti-Passover, with the evil being killing all who have not separated themselves out. He even literally passes over Kate, when she's hanging over the pit with Claire.

It was good to see Ilana and Lapidus again and finally link up these two stories, but Sun still doesn't get any lines. I hope she reunites with Jin soon. Speaking of which, where is Jin? Is he still in Claire's tent?

Everyone seems to be looking for Jack and Hurley. What makes them so important? Locke tells Sayid that Dogen only sent him to be killed. But the implication was he was going to send Jack and Hurley originally. I don't think he wanted them killed. So what was really going on there? It seems he wasn't tricking Sayid. So now Sayid has believed the lies of the Smoke Monster and is now more evil than Charlie ever was. I guess he was right last season; he IS a killer. That's just what he is.

Most of the flash-sideways this week was pretty blah to me. The cab driver who dropped Sayid off sounded like Steve Buscemi to me. Not saying it was, but he reminded me of him.

Sayid is not with Nadia, but his brother is. While there a couple nice "uncle Sayid" moments, I don't really get why this is. What led Sayid to distance himself from Nadia? The question is asked, but never really explained. He was just so ashamed of his actions in the war that he couldn't marry the woman he loved? I wonder what happened to Sayid's brother in our timeline.

Nadia also doesn't seem to have the greatest loyalty to her husband. When he's attacked, she begs Sayid NOT to avenge him. She knows of the debt, and tells Sayid NOT to give them money because it's his mess. What's going on here? Is she just hoping he dies so she can marry Sayid?

The cameo of the day award goes to: Martin Keamy. It's totally believable that this guy would be a thug like this. I wonder if he's still an ex-marine in this timeline. ...And why do these confrontations so often happen in kitchens?

Anyway, the whole story seemed pretty standard and uninteresting to me. "I'm Sayid, I love a woman I can't have. Now I must call upon the skills that I hate to kill for those I care about. Ho hum, praise Allah." The only thing that sparked my interest was when Jin was discovered in the closet. Now I'm wondering why he's there and what will Sayid do with him. THAT's interesting. I hope they follow up on this!