Sunday, May 23, 2010



Killing the pilot in the pilot, that last frame 1.01

Locke watching the chair burn while the score swells and you realize that he's at last home. 1.04

"What if I told you everything happened for a reason?" Locke to Jack, 1.05

Ethan, that sick feeling in your stomach when Hurley says he's not on the manifest, but even more so the next week, that shot of him coming out of the rain to just whip Jack's ass, which of course we've all been waiting for but just had no idea it was coming from this direction 1.10 & 11

Shannon singing La Mer to Sayid, with MG's score 1.12

Musical montage endings in general but ARE YOU SURE? at the end of 1.05 and DELICATE at the end of 1.17 certainly jump out ahead of the pack

The numbers being on the hatch 1.18

Boone dying/Aaron's birth 1.20

Raft leaving 1.23

Meeting Desmond, though we don't see his face, making his own kind of music, which apparently involves lots of healthy eating and sweat and fitness 2.01

Jack and Locke watching the orientation tape 2.03

Ana shooting Shannon especially since the suspense lasted three weeks before finally finding out What Happened Next 2.06-.08, with a skip week in there, thanks so much

Eko recites the 23rd Psalm while burning the plane, and you just really don't see how the show can get any better 2.10

"This is not your island" 2.11 Bonus points for that long shot of them walking back, after

Introduction of Henry Gale 2.14

Jack vs. Locke over the Button, glyphs 2.14

On-Island flashback with Claire's missing two weeks 2.15

Every time Ethan shows up

Radzinsky's black light map 2.17

Michael kills Ana and Libby 2.20

Eko finds the Pearl/? underneath the plane 2.21

Triple cliffhanger of Season 2, followed by finally getting an off-Island scene so that we know that the world hasn't like ended while we've been running through the jungle 2.23

Opening scene of Season 3, Juliet and 815 breaking up in the sky, first glimpse of DHARMAville/New Otherton, so good they didn't really recover until coming back from the break after Christmas 3.01

SHAMBALA by Three Dog Night and Michael Giacchino, cued up for Hurley and Charlie and Sawyer and Jin by Roger Linus maybe fifteen years before they find his body and inadvertantly decapitate him 3.10

Um, is this Richard Alpert guy immortal? Ben flashback 3.20

Roger = Skeletor 3.20

"That's for taking the kid off the raft." Sawyer ending Tom 3.22

The revelation of Bearded Jack AKA "We have to go back!" 3.22

Sayid caps that guy on the golf course and walks off, doesn't give a damn about sprinklers 4.03

Desmond talks to Penny on Christmas Eve 2004, really that entire episode 4.05

Rousseau and Karl catch bullets the last scene before the writer's strike kicked in 4.08

Ben waking up in the Tunisian desert 4.09

Ben's face when Kimi shoots Alex 4.09

Ben on the donkey wheel/moving the Island 4.13

Jack waking up at the top of 316 5.06

Yeah, all of LAFLEUR, every single bit 5.08

Hurley writing EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, just the episode title, even 5.13

Juliet detonating the bomb, setting off eight months of crushing ? 5.16

The massacre at the Temple, just because it was so gratifying that the writers also knew that it was time to go 6.05

All of HAPPILY EVER AFTER, of course 6.10

Taking out Sayid and Sun & Jin in a single 8-minute segment 6.13

Making probably the last -centric a Jacob/Monster double-shot 6.14


MISTAKES (or just Wha?)

Charlie fucking shooting Ethan right when they had him and we might have gotten answers, man, I've never come closer to just walking

Making us wait all summer long to find out what's in the hatch (23.4-->15.8)

Making Locke a bitch, it turns out, nothing like the badass implied by the entirety of the first season

The whole Walt misfire. He was one of the most intriguing mysteries, then just had to go. Damn you, puberty! BONUS: "Waaaaaaaalt! That's my son!"

S.O.S. - the definition of filler

The 3.1 - 3.6 section. I understand what they were trying to do, but just telling the story of the cages wasn't enough, not even with sprinkling in a bit of Desmond the time traveler. Paolo & Nikki might have gone over better if they hadn't been dropped in, in the middle of this.

But, yeah, just Paolo & Nikki. EXPOSE about makes up for it, but I was howling along with everybody else before then. "Where the hell have these guys been?"

Eko's death. Clearly mandated by the actor. So forced and unnecessary. Biggest waste of the entire series. Would just love to see him one more time, but I'm pretty sure there's a reason they had Hurley playing chess with his ghost a couple years back.

Bringing Jin back after the freighter explosion. I wasn't just baying for his blood, but that was a pretty cheap, almost X-MEN-level resurrection. Not earned.

Faraday death/undoing the Comic-Con video, improvising that out of canon. The summer before Season Five aired, Lindelof & Cuse screened this video at Comic-Con. Over the course of writing the fifth season, they decided that their was no way that it could have happened and declared that it wasn't canon. I'm all for improvising and following the "Wouldn't it be cool . . ?" philosophy, but a huge chunk of fun the entire season was wondering how things were eventually going to line up with both that opening scene with Faraday down in the mine and this video. Just throwing one of those things out was cheating.

Juliet dying again. And again. And . . . I could buy it that she survived the fall. I mean, I can really hold the disbelief at bay. But there was simply no reason to bring her back for the final season premiere so that she could have yet another tear-soaked farewell with Sawyer. Wasn't feeling it. And, man, if I'm not feeling it, I promise you something's out of whack.

The strange entrance of Dogen & Lennon. What were they there for? Why did we need those characters? The entire Temple diversion seems a bit misconceived. No way I believed that they'd been around the entire time just, what, running things at the Temple while Ben and Tom and company marched around? It was too late to try to introduce major characters, and we all could tell.

Speaking of which, what was up with that undead Sayid arc? He was dead for two hours and came back filled with darkness that was supposed to consume him, which seemed to be the case for a while, before he was just all of a sudden okay and ready to sacrifice himself for the rest of them. Unfortunate non-resolution to the arc of one of the excellent ensembles best characters.

Ghost Claire. And I call her that because she DIED, man. Getting caught in that explosion and then the way Miles was looking at her the next week, followed by her just leaving Aaron out in the jungle like that. Since her return, there's been no attempt to explain that at all. I guess it's still possible we'll get something tonight. I need to go to sleep.

Cutting Christian Shephard for the final season/no -centric). I was just positive that the all-time greatest flashback character was going to eventually earn his own -centric, and, while I can let it go in the case of someone like Rousseau, it's really a shame to just toss this fine character and actor out for the entire final season. Again, still possible that he'll show up tonight, but it's going to be a pretty crowded situation.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


With the exception of Season Four, which was an incredible way to wrap things up, but simply didn't have enough of a jawdropping revelation to top the previous season's fun with Bearded Jack and flashforwards, each season finale always winds up being the best single episode to date, tying up the many loose ends of the season (well, let's be fair, enough of the loose ends) while catapulting the narrative into exciting new territory that we can't wait to explore (though then, of course, we get to wait eight months). So, it didn't seem fair to compare finales to "normal" weekly episodes when deciding which ones were the best of all time. Therefore, we have two lists, the first of which is ordered by airdate, the second by rank.

Terry O'Quinn didn't have to audition for the role of John Locke, J.J. Abrams just asked him if he wanted the part. They had worked together on ALIAS and knew each other's strengths. Abrams apparently told O'Quinn that there wasn't much to the character in the pilot, but that they were "hoping to develop the character." Well, they didn't drag that one out, at least. My passion for the show has certainly grown over the years and subsequent developments, but I'll never forget the way that episode ends, Locke's original, now overly-quoted "Don't tell me what I can't do! Ever!" over the Giacchino strings swelling and then the camera pulls back and shows him in the wheelchair, then cut to the survivors on the beach burning the wreckage and Locke looking at the chair, flashback to the first minutes of the series (I guess MATERNITY LEAVE wasn't the first on-Island flashback, after all, come to think of it) and appreciate the guy jumping up from the crash to help Jack from a totally different angle, those strings just pulling us along, then cut back to that tight shot of Locke, the look in his eyes, that smile that was just barely there, and it all made sense, this guy had never been happier, the crash was the best thing that had ever happened to him, he was finally in his element. At last, he was home. That is the moment that L O S T trapped me. We didn't have TiVo, but the next week, I started taping the episodes on VHS and watching them as soon as they finished airing, to fast-forward through the commericals, because I couldn't bear to wait.

Easily one of the more crushing single outings of the series, this is the one when Boone dies and Aaron is born. It's the second Jack-centric, the one when he can't write his vows and he and Christian drink vodka out of the bottle with their feet in the swimming pool. There is also unbearable tension throughout the episode, due to the fact that the final shot from last week was the Hatch light coming on for Locke, so we'd spent a week wondering if it opened a minute later or he'd been hypnotized or the aliens had finally decided to come out to play or what. So, of course, no Locke to be found anywhere, instead we rock the circle of life duality especially hard, Jack has to learn to let go, he can't fix everybody, while Kate shepherds Aaron into this world, which of course resonates in all kinds of ways a few seasons later. Giacchino's "Live Together, Die Alone" theme over that last scene, when everyone crowds around Baby Aaron while Jack spots Shannon & Sayid walking up the beach and runs over to tell her, words we never need to hear, just so so flattening. Not sure what it says about me, but the first minute I had my daughter to myself, still in the hospital when she was about 28 hours old, I threw this on to show her, seemed important to go ahead and get some of that in there right away.

For the opening scene. For Mama Cass, alone. The rest of the episode was incredbly frustrating when it aired, not really caring so much about how Jack and Sarah met, but years later, when you're not freaking out about What's In The Hatch, then you can really appreciate their performances, that last scene with the pen is pretty stunning. Plus, hey, "Let him go, or I'll blow his damn head off, Brothah!"

2.10 23rd PSALM
A strong, strong way to come back from Christmas break. Cool to tie Eko into the plane that killed Boone, even though it was hardly a shocking twist. It's always nice on this show when you can't wait to get to a character's -centric and then it winds up being almost the most best thing that's happened yet.
(which went down with Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, and Desmond, too, just off the top of my head)

2.21 ?
After a long season that tested the faith of many on both sides of the screen, it was wonderful to be reaffirmed by Eko's speech at the end of the episode. And to get another clip of old Marvin Candle. Why isn't he moving that arm? AND to find out what the ? at the center of Radzinksy's map was, just a month later. That's like an eyeblink on this show. Am also just remembering that that scene of Eko cleaning up Michael's carnage is at the top of this one, which, see his character entry below. Another classic. Plus, maybe the all-time defining episode title for this entire affair. And the perfect think to watch if you've just seen James Brown live for the first time and are pretty much already annihilated, from an emotional and sobrietal standpoint.

Oh, man, but then Brothah takes it to just a new level. Airing on Valentine's Day 2007, this is the first time a flashback formed the bulk of the episode's content with Island scenes only serving as bookends. It was also the first time that someone in a flashback remembered the future. Oh, the possibilites! Great touches like past Charlie singing Oasis lyrics that were relevant to his current Island situation, Finoula Flanagan's performance (looooong before even the writers knew she was Faraday's mother, I've no doubt), and the recurrence of Mama Cass not once but twice made this one for the ages, and made Desmond seem even cooler than ever, all before flipping it and passing Charlie's death sentence in the final scene.

Team flashback! The season premiere was all right, but had an opening scene that wasn't even close to as stunning as the three that preceded it. Why, then, didn't we open with this episode? Sure, it might have been a little strange, seeing Naomi's crew's flashbacks before they actually landed, but you can't convince me that opening with those underwater remote cameras finding Widmore's staged crash wouldn't have been a much better way to kick things back in. Plus, we get DHARMA polar bears in Tunisia, Lapidus as the original pilot of Oceanic 815 and Ben confessing that he's got a mole on the freighter. After getting beat up, of course. Ultimate Drew delivers, and we are back off to the races.

Hands down, one of the best episodes of the entire run. The seamless cut between flashes that editor Mark J. Goldman developed goes so far toward propelling the viewer all the way to the Christmas miracle at the end. One brilliant aspect is that we still don't know if Desmond changed things by talking to Faraday or if they were rocking Whatever Happened, Happened and Faraday just forgot after the experiments. Was the bit about Desmond being his constant in his notebook before the end of this episode, had it always been there or did it just appear? We don't need to know. Brilliant work here, the series at its best.

The first episode back after the Writers' Strike and here came the thunder. What was originally broken down for eight episodes got compressed into five, and man, you could tell, it was Time. We get to see what bastards Kimi and Ben really are and what a scared helpless girl Alex was in her last minutes, one of the most brutal scenes I've ever sat through. Said it before and will say it again, Emerson so so so deserved an Emmy for just his face looking out the window after that gunshot. Also, wild at the time, the way it made it look like the rest of the series was going to be Linus VS Widmore for the fate of the Island with our survivors and Desmond & Penny caught in the middle.

5.06 316
Just an absolutely shocking way to open the episode, the first scene redux, causing at least a few people watching it after the fact on their computers to stop and make sure they didn't accidentally order up the pilot. It seemed natural that the duration of Season Five would be spent getting the Oceanic Six back to the Island while catching up on the three years on-Island that they had missed, so to have a few but not all of them bump into Desmond and then walk into Faraday's mom's church, then the next week, them already being back, that was so psycho and brilliant. Talk about kick-starting the narrative. Maybe the best Jack-centric, too. I think he's in every single scene and just does not quit, nails every beat. Plus, I love the way Hurley freaks out when Ben boards the plane. Ooh, and Lapidus's face, "We're not going to Guam, are we?" An all-time classic.

And of course the Jeremy Bentham run was excellent, but then we get what amounts to a three-year flashforward starring Sawyer in the 70s. Which is as great as it sounds. The whole thing lives or dies through the chemistry between Sawyer & Juliet, which, even though it had been set up as early as the previous season finale, still seemed like something of a dicey endeavor. They both do nothing but slay it. Her standout moment is the way she clamps down on "It doesn't end well!" in the garage, and his best part is that infectious joy he can just barely contain right after she tells him that it's a healthy baby boy. Of course, we know they're totally doomed, but this one makes you believe in true love, for as long as it lasts.

Season Five was really quite strong. NAMASTE, too, just almost made the cut, but I had to go with this one for two reasons. Sayid on LSD is one of the greatest things ever, thinking about him just breaking down everything that's going to happen for the DHARMA guys, tothe DHARMA guys, is nothing short of riveting. I'm running out of fresh superlatives here, writing about this entire series all at once like this, but Naveen Andrews could not have delivered a better performance. That laugh about using just the right dosage. Second reason: the cliffhanger. Sayid shoots Ben and runs into the jungle, leaving us to spend a long week wondering if he didn't just break reality, or if this has in fact always happened and Ben has always known this, recasting quite a bit since 2.14 in a different light. Even though they welshed on both options, it doesn't make the cliffhanger any less shocking, and I feel bad for people who are just jamming the DVD and go right on to the next episode without even pausing to feel the shock and wonder.

Because of the scene in the bus with Hurley and Chang and Miles, which should have been three times as long. Because Hurley is writing THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK from memory. Because the title is one of the greatest things that has ever happened. Because Faraday comes back and, we, foolish people that we are who cannot learn a simple lesson, believe that next week we'll start getting some, by God, answers.

You knew the Faraday-centric was going to be amazing. It had a lot to live up to, coming on the heels of THE CONSTANT. The angle that they went with, the title, is so inspired. So cool to finally plug right back in to that opening scene from the season. I've already said that it seems ridiculous and needless the way that Faraday went out, particularly on the heels of the Lil' Ben bait-and-switch, but Davies delivers such an affecting performance (as, let's be honest, himself) that you can almost forgive it. Plus, "I'm gonna detonate a hydrogen bomb," is one of my all-time favorite moments, the look on Jack and Kate's faces.

We had been waiting and waiting, but it was still surprising when they went ahead and dropped The Secret Origin of Richard Alpert on us this early in the season. Also the first time we had seen Jacob and his brother since their first scene together last year on the beach, so, certainly worth the price of admission alone. Particularly notable for solving the mysteries of What Smashed the Statue? and How'd The Black Rock Get So Far Inland? in a single scene, my mind wouldn't let me believe it was happening. What would have happened if the Monster had drank that bottle instead of smashing it?

The 108th episode. Desmond firing on all cylinders, by way of Dr. Manhattan. Lindelof, Cuse, Bender, Chahlie, Minkowski, Penny, and the Widmores as a functioning nuclear family (no pun intended). Possibly Dom Monaghan's greatest single performance. Concluding with Desmond's decision to run as berserk course-correcting maniac for the duration of the series. From top to bottom, this one's perfect.


So yeah, that means that one gets left out. The aforementioned fourth season finale. As great as it was, though it didn't disappoint me in the slightest, ending up with the revelation that it was Locke in the coffin and that Jack & Ben had to gather the others up if they wanted to go back just had to fall short of all that had come before. Here's why.

The first season finale, a two-parter that was essentially a triple-length episode, tied up the inaugural season and set the standard for L O S T finales, resolving a great deal and giving answers while leaving us gasping for more. 23.4 million viewers tuned in, but about a third were so enraged at the way that it ended, revealing nothing more down the blackness of the Hatch than a few isolated rungs of a ladder, that only 15.8 came back four months later to make Brothah Hume's acquaintance. We got our first glimpse of the monster, which looked a lot like the black smoke billowing on the horizon, we found out that the Black Rock was a ship (more jungled than beached, I guess you'd say?), and we finally saw the Others, who appeared to be nothing more than kidnapping pirates. Was that Tania Raymonde on that ship, even back then? We also got to see everybody board the plane before take-off, which was much more fascinating than we might have thought. Oh, and we bumped into Ana-Lucia at the bar, who never seemed so carefree again, even when Jack brought her booze. Best of all, though, we got everybody pitching in to launch that raft, which is still just about my favorite moment of all time.

So, of course they had to up the game the following year. This was the long-awaited return of Desmond, who was also experimenting with alcohol. So much went down, a bird cawed out Hurley's name for the second year in a row (and what was up with THAT? honestly), we found out whoever wasn't Henry Gale was the leader of the Others and stood on the threshold of at last learning what their deal was as the romantic triangle was taken prisoner, Sayid and the Kwons saw the foot of a four-toed statue (interesting grouping, there), we found out what one snowman said to the other snowman and all of a sudden had Desmond/Locke VS Eko/Charlie for the fate of the Swan to determine once and for all what would happen if you didn't push the button. ANSWER: The show would get better than it already was, but it would have to take a little dip in the fall first before the serious business kicked in. Desmond, Locke, and of course Eko were my favorite three characters at the time and it was murder sweating out the summer and two. additional. weeks. to find out if they'd even survived the implosion.

Otherwise known as The Bridge. I don't think I really need to belabor the awesomeness of Bearded Jack or flashforwards anymore, it just keeps happening. This is simply the show at the top of its game, all of a sudden flipping it and rendering all-time series questions like Will They Get Off the Island? and Will Kate Choose Jack or Sawyer? utterly moot with answers so compelling, we were foaming at the mouth for eight months. Or, um, at least I was. Dude, I will abuse vodka with you at any time of the day. Now, write us out a scrip.

And this is how you climax a time-travel arc, dangle the entire paradox VS cyclical/self-perpetuating causality debate the entire time and then leave us hanging in that final flash of pure white. Zealot Jack almost rivals his bearded incarnation. The firefight in DHARMAville when Roger shoots Sayid is vintage. But the craziest thing in the entire episode has to be opening up on Jacob, after all this time, weaving his tapestry, catching some fish, and chowing down while watching another boat drift on in before his brother shows up to talk some more shit, like they've been doing all this time. To say nothing of him showing up in pivotal moments throughout our folks' lives. The damn angel hair pasta/counting scene. After all of this time. No, actually, the craziest thing was leaving us hanging, Juliet accomplishing the mission with one last Sawyer catchphrase, which seemed to leave us with two options. Either this was what always happened, Jack and Sawyer and Kate and Juliet were the Incident, and were now atomized in 1977, leaving the final season much more wide open than anyone would have imagined. Or the Incident was just about to happen and they averted it and, though they were annihilated, none of this really happened and they would go about leading their lives in a world in which they never crashed. Leave it to the writers to find a way to straddle that line in a way that would have driven Schrodinger insane. Or maybe made perfect sense to him, he was a pretty smart guy.


That's the list. I have total confidence, though, that everything is shifting down one place in just a few hours. Just this one last time, the best is yet to come.


All right, it might be premature to go ahead and drop all the full-series Best Of kind of posts, but I have a feeling that by the time I recover from the atom bomb that will be tomorrow and find myself in the middle of the week, that this kind of thing will be something that I've got nothing left for. So, without further ado, we present a series of wrap-up posts reflecting upon various aspects of the series, as a whole (always reserving the right to go back and fix something if the very last episode casts anything in a new light, which is certainly a possibility).

JOHN LOCKE - The character who is single-handedly responsible for more frustration and cursing the television than any other, at least on my part, John Locke still edges out such notables as Hurley and Juliet and Sun and Faraday pretty much based on his Season One work, alone. I mean, really, just cut all of those parables he dropped over the course of the season into a single twenty-minute reel and that footage stands up to just about any performance I can ever recall seeing. He draws you in, makes you wonder just what makes this character tick while enthralling you at the same time, making you want to follow him. Anticipating the long haul, back in 2005, when it seemed certain that we were eventually heading for a Jack VS Locke situation, it looked like we had another all-time classic villain on our hands, a Dr. Doom/Magneto/(and, it must be said)Lex Luthor-type who had the most important attribute of a great villain: belief that he was actually the hero of the story and total certainty that his actions were, in fact, in service of the greater good.

Of course, all that got tossed aside about the time his pupils dilated while watching Chang/Candle's orientation film. The great hunter-philosopher spent the better part of Season Two in thrall to the Swan's button before losing faith and causing one of the great cliffhangers in the show's history, then spent Season Three frustrating the hell out of Jack (and us, oh yes!) blowing up or throwing knives at every chance they had to get off the Island before eventually leaving himself, only to fail, fail, and fail again, not even able to kill himself after even tying the noose and everything. The John Locke whose journey ended in 5.07, the guy who got pushed out of a building by his daddy and ridiculed by the manager at his box company was nowhere near as cool as he seemed for the entire first season. It hurt to watch him fail at every turn, but that's because we were so captivated by him in the beginning.

KATE AUSTEN - No character better embodies a show that has so, so much running through the jungle than our very own Freckles. Hers is one of the more compelling character arcs of the series. When we meet her, she's literally been on the run for years, and that mindset serves her well on the Island, where being fleet on your feet is sometimes the only thing that makes a difference between getting banged to death against a tree or hitting that sweet music montage at the end of the episode. Of course, initially she's saddled with being the crucial XX vertex of the show's romantic triangle, but that all played out in a way that seemed as realistic as possible (given the fact that it's part of a story about time-traveling survivors on a mysterious island, etc; by "realistic," I guess I mean "true to life, messy, not resolved neatly"): she boned one of them, DIDN'T get pregnant off just that one time, even though that's what always happens in a situation like this (See: the unproduced four seasons of CARNIVALE, just no chance in hell that Hawkins didn't knock Sofie up that one time in the truck), then ran away to play House with the other guy until that house of cards came tumbling down and she decided that what she really was was a mother, even though the kid wasn't hers. Jacob delivering that line this week, "Because you became a mother," felt so true. She did and it changed her, those three years spent in one place with Aaron marked a huge turning point in her character and would have probably led to an actual happy ending, if Ben hadn't screwed it all up for them. She's the only one who boards Ajira 316 for totally selfless reasons, to bring back her little boy's actual mother, and, regardless of what's happened since or how it goes down tomorrow night, whether or not she makes it to the last shot, that's more than enough growth to make her one of the more interesting characters in a massive ensemble. Plus, she's so clean!

SAYID JARRAH - Ol' Sayid doesn't have to say a word, he can give it to you with just those eyes, the way his face trembles ever so minutely. A torturer who is himself forever wracked with the guilt of all the horrors that he has wrought upon others, there might not be a character who better embodies the show's theme of redemption. He certainly has enough to atone for. What makes him so compelling is how tender he comes across. And, I guess, how he just keeps soldiering on after the writers keep ripping his guts out. Start out with all the guilt over his past, let the Hulk id back out with Sawyer on the tree in 1.08, which makes him swear off the other folks forever (or for an episode), losing Shannon the day after they finally consummate the relationship, then losing the love of his life only nine months after being reunited with her. It is enough to turn you into Ben Linus's lapdog assassin. Still not quite sure what happened with him here in this last season, but the ride up until now has been more than enough to secure him a spot on this list.

BENJAMIN LINUS - Nothing less than a tour de force performance from Michael Emerson, who I hope has squirreled away enough money from this gig that he never HAS to work again. Because, on a show in which maybe two dozen actors seem to embody their characters even when off-set, this guy IS Ben Linus. Starting out stuck in Rousseau's trap and claiming to be Henry Gale, he sat in the armory reading Dostoevsky while playing Machiavelli until standing revealed as leader of the Others. And then things really got interesting, he turned out to be a loving foster father to Alex and eventually sacrificed his life on the Island to save it with the help of a frozen donkey wheel, even though that didn't take. Now, here in the final act, it looks like he IS a bad guy again, after all. Whereas the Monster in Black is portrayed sympathetically (hell, I'm just almost rooting for him), Ben's actions in the penultimate episode toss him over off to the dark side of the spectrum with about as little ambiguity as this show is capable of. Interestingly enough, his counterpart in the LA timeline seems to be the most disparate version from the guy we know and love to hate, by all indications on the verge of getting freaky with a non-deranged Rousseau and forming one of the most surprising combinations of nuclear families that this show could actually produce. Whichever version you like best, liar, leader, father, daughter-killer, scheming manipulator, or good ol Dr. Linus, there's no question that this character is one of the most memorable in a very crowded field.

JACK SHEPHARD - I really couldn't stand Jack for the first half of the series. He came off as way too Johnny America. The guy's domination by his much more interesting father made me dislike him, and I was definitely teeing up to side with Locke when the time inevitably came. But then came The Bridge and the advent of Bearded Jack. And all of a sudden he was the most interesting character of them all. It was a such a masterstroke, in one beat, revealing that, Yes, he made it off that island and turned into this guy, the most loveable maniac to ever pop pills and crank the Pixies while drinking vodka out of the bottle that lives in the kitchen sink that you ever saw. Going back and looking at those first seasons with greater empathy toward Jack, after Bearded Jack earns our love, he comes across as more complex and intriguing. Because, at the end of the day, he's Our Hero. Right? I mean, the pupil dilating and everything. And he does save people (though I believe we've settled on "fix" as the verb of choice, yes?). But, it's not from altruism. This guy was not raised by Kansas farmers. He grew up in LA, and the reason that he performs all these miraculous feats is not to help others, but to fill up the gaping hole inside of him carved out by his father (or by simply being his father's son, I can't decide). That's why the marriage fell apart. Because Jack's really as much of a junkie as Chahlie, when you get down to it, once the charge of fixing her wore off, he had to move on, leave her behind in search of new dural sacs to sew up. I guess he covers even more distance than Kate over the course of the series, spends the entire first three seasons trying to get off the Island before now, it looks like, voluntarily signing up to protect it for a very long time. I hope he gets the chance.

MR. EKO - After the most riveting season of television that I had ever witnessed, just when I thought I couldn't love it any more, our man from Nigeria strides up out of the woods and whacks the hell out of Sawyer, Jin & Michael while sporting the wildest eyes I think I've ever laid eyes on. Crazed, that is. No other character on the show better embodies its theme of duality, the dichotomy between this massive hulking form who can surely kill anyone on the Island with his bare hands and the gentle, soulful spirit whose faith holds even when Locke loses the courage to believe. It's really hard for me to even talk about, nail down and quantify with words what it is about this character that moves me so much. The eyes that bore right into you, the quiet way that he speaks, slowly enough that you know every word has been weighed and given full consideration before being uttered. Just the peace that he radiates. Those hands, the sight of those hands cleaning up Ana-Lucia and Libby's blood off the floor in the Swan. I can't really express what it is about these images that just cuts right into me, but all I can say is look for yourself and see if you don't feel the same way. I'm so so sorry that he never got to finish building his church.

SAWYER - Call him James, call him LaFleur, but he'll always be Sawyer. The self-serving rascal with the agenda of survival by any means necessary. Out of the gate, this guy was just the most fun to watch. For all the same reasons that everybody loves Han Solo. The scoundrels are just more riveting. The nicknames, the hoarding, his only redeeming characteristic seemed to be his weakness for one set of freckles in particular. But, over time, he grew into someone who was not always looking out for #1, ready to jump off a chopper or dive down a well without a second thought to save his friends. The linchpin of the character arrives, though, over the course of the lost three years (1974-77), during which time he builds an idyllic life with Juliet while playing house in DHARMAville. They certainly did it better than Jack & Kate back on the mainland thirty years later. Seeing the character reach that happy ending, even though of course it wasn't the end, but just appreciating how far he had come since lying about having Shannon's asthma medicine while tied to a tree so that Kate would kiss him, just filled me up with affection for the guy. I would love to sit with him in his living room with a couple of good books and some DHARMA beer and just let the time go by, that's some fine company to keep without ever saying a word.

DESMOND DAVID HUME - Oh, Brothah. What is it about this Scot that is so captivating and puts him at the top of this list? Maybe it's because he's the anti-filler. The show is never moving along with greater speed and fluidity than when he's on the screen. Consider: he first shows up as The Answer to the question that had been driving everyone insane for the better part of 2005: What's In The Hatch? Of course, in typical fashion, that answer led to another three questions, none of which were going to be answered soon, because after making us wait a week through 2.02 (the embodiment of filler), we got to see him for just a few scenes in a single episode before he took off for the duration of the season, only returning for the finale and his first -centric. The best part of that unfortunate 3.01-3.06 dip was the beginning of his precog arc. And from there on, he was well on his way to becoming the most pivotal character on the entire show, the only one who seemed to have even a glimpse of what this might all really be about. Maybe you didn't care for him as much if you don't like stories involving time travel, but those are my very favorite stories, so I could not have been more pumped when the character went in that direction from Season Three on.

And, of course, through all the bells and whistles and flashes, the guy had a simple hook. He was a coward, lost the girl of his dreams, and now wants to win her back. Executed with any degree of competency, that's going to do it for most folks. Of course, the fact that Seasons Four and Five ended with the pair being reunited certainly does not bode well for how things are going to at last resolve for him. But maybe my all-time favorite thing about this guy is the role that he plays in the LA timeline, the way that he's coalescing the ensemble at all costs, doing completely insane shit like running down Locke in the wheelchair or turning himself in to organize a jailbreak or just stopping off to beat the shit out of Ben one more time over here, just to make sure that happens at least once in this timeline. At this point, heading into the finale, the guy's got well over half of the narrative on the weight of his shoulders, the entire LA timeline's relevance and overall emotional impact is contingent upon his actions, and there's no telling what will go down with him and the Monster back in the X Island timeline. But, regardless of how it all turns out, he makes me want to run stairs and lift it up and hoist a few pints with my friends and get my honor back and make my own kind of music, and there's no one I'd rather have behind the wheel, steering us all, at long last, to the end.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Was just sure it was going to be Desmond Time, pt 1, so, quite thrown to open on Jack’s Eye, here and now. Am a fan of LA Jack’s mysteriously recurring bleeding (or misplaced stigmata, yah?), try not to think about David Lynch while watching those scenes and see how close it really is, the only difference is music.

Jack’s kid, David, I think, sells himself better in the first minute here than his entire first episode.

Desmond making that call is an insane way for the first scene to end. The Christian tease! What’s even the intent? Is that just madness or could there be actual follow-up?

Then cut to an inversion of Jack and Kate’s first scene, him sewing her up. Counting would have been too much, I like it right where it is all implicit and tucked away there.

Giacchino kills throughout this episode, that you’re even noticing the first time through lets you know how much he’s dropping.

So, Desmond even seemed to know that hitting Ben in something close to that same marina sequence would unlock him, as evidenced by his pre-slugfest “You want to know who I am?” They have done a fine fine job nailing down one of the best overall aspects of this show, Desmond as Puck, flashing back and forth between here and yon making mischief.

Hahah, Ben’s line about being ridiculous and the secret room behind the bookcase wins. Alpert’s lines force me to confront the fact that I’m not crazy about the way his character’s veered just this last season, the –centric was of course thunder, but I had hoped for more from this fellow at this point than Reckless Disillusioned Immortal.

Man, that whole Alex’s body sequence. Still during opening titles.

Speaking of, Sarnoff jumping on board the Kitsis/Horowitz Express was a surprise at this point, already wished them all well. They all kill it, of course, but something about all those names showing up here makes me shake my fist at Vaughan and Goddard for jumping islandship. Good on them for expanding their parameters and what not, but can’t you almost imagine how this season, maybe the dialogue IN THIS VERY EPISODE could have been better with those two whiz kids pounding away at their typewriters, making money for Lindelof/Cuse Enterprises?

Miles’s “secreter room” bit is great. The in-safe POV shot with Ben and Richard recalls the famous Jack & Locke Peering Down Upon Desmond & Mama Cass & The Inoculation By Torchlight shot that bridged the first and second seasons.

When Ben asks Charles what he’s doing, I want him to make a bigger deal out of, “I’m sitting here on My Island drinking TAP WATER OUT OF YOUR SINK, BOY!” After twenty years away, Widmore finally getting the Island underneath his legs isn’t given even like ten percent of the gravity that it deserves.

Insane how now the visual of Locke paddling up in a canoe is now analogous to the old rattling sound that would happen from time to time when folks ran through the jungle for whatever reason.

An incident in the parking lot, oh my goodness.

Ben & Locke cutting over to Desmond walking into Sawyer & Miles’s precinct makes it pretty clear which timeline is supposed to be our favorite, at the moment.

Brilliant writing, Desmond’s smile after Kate’s “Terrific,” uttered in these new cages, that exact smile is trying to break out on the face of everyone juxtaposing Charlie’s line before the first ever commercial break with shudders from the top of the third season, it’s all different over here but might just be bettah!

For the record, yeah, Sawyer did kill them. He certainly didn’t rig that C-4, but if he hadn’t told Jack that he wouldn’t believe in him and yanked out those pins, then the numbers would have elapsed without incident, and Sayid and Sun and Jin (and Lapidus?!?!?!? Doth yon hairy chest still rise and fall?) would not have blown up or drowned.

Yeah, don’t suppose I ever reckoned that Kid Jacob v. Hurley was going to be much of a matchup.

Oh, him saying, “We’re very close to the end, Hugo.” Was pulling for it this week as title if we were locked up with the finale and actually done, but since I don’t think that was the case, wouldn’t that be perfection for finale title? T H E E N D.

That scene with Ben & Charles is crazed, Miles hilariously calls out every established trope and then Ben’s delivery of, “Well, then I guess this is good-bye.” Stone cold.

The nonchalance with which Alpert got thrown is horrifying. Can this be the end of Richard Alpert?!?!? It would be a very hardcore and jarring way for them to go, but they certainly left the door open for a bit of Alpert Ex Machina Sunday night. We’ll see.

Ben & Locke on the porch is a much shorter but equally compelling inversion of that tour de force opening in Tarantino’s latest.

Ben Linus as Napoleon IS an excellent point. Rousseau as a well-adjusted single mom in LA is horrifying. Or shocking, I can’t decide. So bizarre, the chemistry between these two, here.

Then that shot of Ben and Locke walking into the secret room all in silhouette, prime slasher archetypal business right there, as perfect as I can recall.

A MEASURE OF LAST RESORT, Widmore quoting Ben from CABIN FEVER two years ago (my pick that week, by the way), how can you not latch onto this as penultimate title?

The Ben & Locke team-up seems in hindsight the most obvious thing in the world. Doom & Magneto. More Luthor & Braniac, actually.

Christian Shephard shows up! In a photograph, wine blasted at Thanksgiving! COULD THIS BE IT?!?!?

LA Locke drops a great performance breaking it all down for Jack. Was certainly looking for the Everything Happens For A Reason paraphrase, but Jack coming back with Eko’s old gem of not mistaking coincidence for fate was a nice little thrill, there.

You hope so, Jacob? You hope that they can kill your brother? Haven’t you been The Boss for the past couple millennia? Don’t you have any say in the matter?

Man, Giacchino. The swells are knocking me out.

AH, the light was just over the ridge from the opening shot. Seamless way to sew that in there, fair play.

Jack as Keeper of the Island is the least shocking choice amongst the candidates (I had my money on Hurley), but still really quite wild.

Desmond’s exchange with Kate and Sayid in the back of the cruiser, man, the guy never lets up. Just right now, I’ve decided. Favorite Character, overall. He just keeps showing up and doing it for me with more consistency than anyone else.

So, Hurley’s kiss with Libby completely woke him up and he’s down with parallel universe island shenanigans on a level comparable to Desmond? That wasn’t apparent, good to know. Ana-Lucia! She’s not ready yet? Ah, so many threads to dangle. Leave dangling.

Desmond & Kate at the pier, him telling her they’re going to a concert over those strident almost FRINGE strings, meaning these individuals are on a collision course with my man Marvin Candle Pierre Chang, Miles, Charlotte, and probably even Sawyer, such tantalizing sweet promise wrapped up in these very few beats.

And of course, should have thought about it, but what could the final cliffhanger be BUT Locke telling Ben that he’s going to destroy the Island? Eminently logical escalation, and again cutting back to 4.12. And back to talking about the ol Failsafe.

So, going into the finale blind, as ever, transcendent titles would be THE END (please), LET GO, or now FAILSAFE. Or anything else by George Harrison.

I had to buy old Doc Jensen’s big wrap-up issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY when I saw it at the grocery store today. I remember getting #815 in the mail back in Spring ‘05, being so crushed to see all those dudes on the cover with the caption LOST BOYS, the sudden weight of it all too much. I remember walking back from my mailbox the morning after Mr. Eko died and opening up the issue to an article that started on Page 42, and just the way that the idea had mutated, germinated outside its medium, the fact that I was nowhere near my television and suddenly confronted with that shot of that character, that person, with whom I had achieved total empathy, a stark and striking enough experience in and of itself, but then, coupled with the pagination, just almost more than I could bear.

Just talking around it. I’m so sad about this. Has to happen but I’m going to miss it so much. The thrill of what’s to come, all the possibilities blooming there full-formed but not yet crystallized just over the edge of the horizon, only we’re finally here, the mirage is just beginning to dissipate and there’s no water here, we have arrived and just Namaste Namaste Namaste, dear ones, I am now running on reserve battery power, but there’s enough to send this transmission out to you. The timer says (0:08). I hope that the Locke in Black doesn’t destroy the Island. And that Desmond calls someone Brothah at a crucial moment before making the ultimate sacrifice. I hope we get to see Eko’s face again and look into his eyes just for a second, and that Kate and Sawyer finally after all of this choose each other, if only for a few seconds, and that Miles comes running up out of the woods to save them all from Benjamin Linus, and that they move the Island again and we get to see more DHARMA coveralls and that there’s one last perfect montage though of course there really can’t be, not what I’m thinking about, everyone sitting around in firelight at the end of the day, that ship has sailed, most of all, just as hard as I can, I hope that it works out, we all find closure and contentment and permanent delight in the perfection with which this great yawning expanse that has thrilled and frustrated and delighted us down through the years ties itself up into a perfect circle in a way that’s profound and utterly crushing at first but completely obvious in hindsight, and most of all beautiful, all that we have to do is open ourselves up to it, let the final pieces slide into place and marvel at the elegant simplicity of the entire convoluted epic coming at last to a resolution that is both earned and devastating.

Open your eyes. It is of the utmost importance.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Thought for a second that it was Ilana floating there in the sea and was worried that all of a sudden we were going to be spending crucial time this close to the end getting to know a character who we’ve spent little time with and, let’s be honest, barely care about.

“Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.” Man, I guess that’s too long for an episode title, but that kind of sums it all up, doesn’t it?

But let’s try. They’re speaking Latin. That’s clearly why the Others still learn it, but what else does that tell us? This is taking place just on the other side of the BC/AD cutoff? And and, if you anagram that, you get c bad. See bad!!!! Moving on . . .

“It’s coming” reminds us of the whole “He’s coming” motif they’ve been using to talk about the Monster this entire season and certainly suggests that Lil’ Titus Welliver is on the way.

But “His name is Jacob” instead hearkens right back to Ben’s birth in 3.20, and in case we weren’t already right there and freaked out about it, again they got us with that same trick from the third season, when I was just so positive that the finale was going to be the Ben-centric that just blew the doors off everything, but instead they dropped that penpenultimate, so much crazier to get it sooner than expected/hoped for. Same thing this time, figured there was no way the finale wouldn’t be all about either Jacob or his brother (retroactively revised from “nemesis”), but of course that’s way too much story, I mean that’s as much Secret Origin of the Island as we’re going to get (which of course turns out more to be Secret Origin of This Particular Conflict But We’re Really Not Ever Going To Tell You Shit About Or Explicitly Lay It Out For Y’all About This Here Island, Because Really, How Could We? And Would You Want Us To?) and yikes, some parenthethicals really make a go of that center stage charge, thought expressed though, I think. This is like that time at the end of the third season. Back then, Bearded Jack shambled out of nowhere at us. Oh, let the finale be a Bearded Desmond-centric.

I always feel mild amusement during these kinds of episodes when the cast just gets abandoned (or ten-day vacations, your mileage may vary). Those names we know so well, more than a dozen season regulars going by. “Not going to see you this week. Or you. You take the night off. You be sure and call a cab if you go out drinking. Not you tonight. You sleep late . . .”

Unbelievable that we get The Reason in the first quarter of the episode. Un— I mean, I really can’t even let myself loose about it here at this moment, because we’d be three thousand words deep and it would be two in the morning and I would still need to write about most of the episode. Have to write about most of the episode.

She says that key phrase, and anyone who’s been on pins and needles since Locke first uttered those words back in October 2004 falls off the couch leaning forward, thinking surely that means we’ll get it by end of episode. But then they just go ahead and drop it all right there. Quite possibly as much of a reveal as we’re going to get. I think folks who are complaining that they burned one of these last episodes on folks who we barely know don’t realize that this was IT, like, as much of an answer about anything as we’re likely to get. There are a couple more incredible reveals tonight, but this is the big one, right here. The light underneath the island.

Part of Crazy Mother’s speech while she’s walking the boys out to the cave leading to the light (“they come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt, and it always ends the same”) even doped-up felons will recall that the Monster in Black quoted back at Jacob in their first scene together on the beach at the top of 5.16.

The kid actors do a pretty fantastic job showing up here and running with it. I mean, nothing against Allison Janey or that lady who played Claudia, they both killed it as well (ooh, especially phantom Madonna Claudia, that was the real deal), but it seems especially daunting to be like 13 and show up SO late in this particular situation and pretty much live up to seasons worth of viewer expectations. The Kid in Black is a little bit better than Jacob, though, seemed to me, definitely has a kind of Atreyu thing going on. Of course he’s got to say, “Follow me,” to Jacob when trying to get him to run away.

Jacob drops the RAGE, though, pretty much out of nowhere. So basically what’s been motivating the axis around which this entire narrative has rotated is basically little brother jealousy of the firstborn? Did not see that coming.

It wasn’t until the Kid in Black’s whole “We don’t belong here” bit that I realized that here at the end, at the foundation of the story, we discover an inversion of Season One’s big picture, in which the flashbacks revealed, one by one, that the survivors’ lives had carried them along to various crossroads whose common element was this sort of quiet desperate seething unhappiness, a discontentment with the status quo that they had established for themselves (or, maybe even more often, fallen into, looming ruts they had failed to dodge). But everyone gets a new life on this island. Everyone, despite their disparate pasts and languages and nationalities, after that first week or so, they just seemed to belong, you know? There. On the Island.

It’s a masterstroke here, right at the end, recasting the Monster as protagonist and making him the one person who doesn’t belong here, who wants to get away from this paradise and wallow around in the filth of civilization, even though he agrees that the people it spawns are, in fact, Bad. The thing is, I’m just about rooting for him. If he managed to take out all of these folks I’ve spent all this time caring about, loving damn it, as insane as that would be, there’s no way that I would cry foul. It would make perfect sense*.

We’ll double-check Saturday during the pilot rerun, but I could swear the way they frame that sunset shot, when Crazy Mama comes out to talk to Jacob sitting on the beach, that looks pretty close to that shot of Locke in the same position at the end of the titles, what’s on-screen for Abrams’s director credit.

The dagger that gets magnetized to the well in such dramatic fashion. That’s what kills Jacob, yeah?

EVERYTHING DIES was my pick for title of the week, just going by what I thought would make it, but when the Man in Black said “The light underneath the Island,” a couple of minutes later, that was certainly what I was pulling for. Upon fourth viewing, A WHEEL sounds about right. The thing about going with ACROSS THE SEA, if they’d just made it BEYOND instead of ACROSS, it would mean almost the same thing, but then we’d get to lock up with Shannon singing Bobby Darin in French to Sayid at the end of 1.12, which still kills me every time.

His reaction when she burns all the people up (recalling Uncle Owen & Aunt Beru) is all of a sudden the best acting we’ve seen from Welliver at any time in any role, the camera does that revolving thing it’s been doing ever since the third episode ended up on Locke and right before we go to break, his face embodies rage personified. Very well done and scary as hell.

Wow, but then we come back with Jacob saying, “Storm comin’.” Really?!?!? This was not the time to invoke Faulkner on the porch cliché. “Yup. I spect so.” I am stunned that this line made it through, so anachronistic, totally took me out of it. Which maybe is why it seemed beyond blatant that from the dialogue and the way they were looking at each other (those puppy-dog eyes, oh Jacob!), clearly no way those two were ever going to see each other again in this plane of existence.

That was a pretty unintentionally hilarious death, almost like a Southpark thing. “Thank you,” and croak.

I was so busy expecting her get taken out while holding the rocks that I completely forgot about that being an Adam & Eve trapdoor. So, while of course we all knew that Jacob was going to drag him over to the cave and throw him in and turn him into Our Monster in Black, maybe the most shocking thing about this entire episode was when it just cuts to the middle of 1.07, Jack and Kate just sitting there. I almost always can’t stand it when they circle back around like that, I mean, of course I appreciate the craft of the trick, but when a new episode starts with a scene from last week that I’ve already watched three or four times, it drives me nuts. This was not that. This was fascinating and in HD and I wanted it to go on and on.

That’s the thing about this Entertainment, it will take you around in circles. Every time, for all time. Here we are at the end, right on the verge of finale, and they trapdoor that little bit in and I think, Oh yes, keep going, let’s just follow this thread right down here for a little while. Did Charlie ask Locke for his dope a third time? What happened next, how was that first Sawyer flashback?

But we must dial back in to where we are. Stepping back from all the pixie dust wonder, I should point out that this final reveal (oh, and meant to at least mention how cool it is that the Man in Black built the wheels, makes perfect sense, locks up so well) doesn’t line up with one bit from 1.07, I’m positive that Jack said that, according to their clothes, Adam & Eve had been there around 50 years or so, which is of course way off by like 1950 years, give or take a couple of centuries. This can totally be No-Prized away, though, by saying that Jack was still out of his mind from the crash and first six and a half episodes (and, hey, who’s going to argue that he ever actually recovered?) and certainly not in the right frame of mind to be carbon-dating corpses’ articles of clothing with those dilating baby browns. Or that the Island just preserved the bodies to a remarkable degree. Not a continuity-shattering gaffe, but it does make me doubt the extent to which Lindelof and crew have been able to pin the tale on the donkey of these last beats, more than I have up until now. It’s well established that writing those corpses in the cave so early in the series was the equivalent of The Babe calling his shot, all this time, the Revelation of Adam & Eve was going to, in no uncertain terms, show that these guys have been in charge and on top of all this madness ever since J.J. and his new buddy Damon got together one weekend six years ago and charted this insanity out in the first place. In 2007, Lindelof was screaming this shit out at Comic-Con. I believe that he was intoxicated. And don’t get me wrong. I love that those bodies are who they are. But I find it hard to believe that, back in 2004, they were standing there behind the cameras, or really, across the Pacific, but the week that 1.07 aired and Locke dubbed those bodies Adam & Eve, it just seems unlikely that Lindelof even back then was like, “Adam is the Monster, Eve is the Monster’s Crazy Mama, and the triangle is rounded out by Jacob, who is protecting this Island and will ultimately be revealed as the force maneuvering the Others, with whom we’ll spend the next couple of seasons dancing.” And the reason I feel that way is because Jack gets that line about the bodies being only fifty years old. Maybe they were deliberately tricking us, just lying to us, knowing the truth even then, but maybe it got changed, maybe it used to be Jack and Kate back hanging out with Alpert’s crew in 1954, or Charles and Ellie. I don’t know.

I don’t want this to be over. Much more than I need it to be.

*Here, though, yeah, we might as fall in. The insane thing about the elasticity of this show is that there really are probably like eight ways that this could all piece together at the end and make perfect narrative sense. Just because this scattershot enthymemetic fractal way they’ve gone about it this entire time, well, there’re just a lot of holes, right? So many ways that it could all be brought together to make different shifts of sense. But how is going to end? What’s the last shot, you want to know? Well, I mean, it’s got to be Jack’s eye, right? The pupil dilating. If you want this to be a circle, which I do, or a series of recurring permutations, which you know, same thing, but, especially given all the apparent and professed love for King in general and DARK TOWER in particular, and STAR WARS too, The Circle Is Now Complete, the only way I can see this ending is back there, Jack in the forest, opening up those miraculous mirrors of his so that we can see the island, too. The question is which Jack? What are the circumstances? I mean, they already pulled this trick back in, what 5.06? >: 316. Kind of gave themselves an out, doing it then, it’s okay if we don’t actually wind up there now, but I just always thought this show would somehow end up with that eye. And you know, that’s what they showed after the credits of the fifth season finale, some title like ALL WILL BE REVEALED and that first shot of Jack’s eye. I want it to be Other Jack’s eye, LA Jack from over in the parallel stream**, but then of course, in that timeline, the Island is at the bottom of the ocean.

**And hey, too, how well is that settling now, the entire flash-sideways conceit of this season? If the argument is that those scenes are filler and don’t matter, then I will try not to attack the person making the argument, but instead calmly point out that it’s brilliant and the only trick that works, this doesn’t have to be some kind of linear thing all of a sudden, and what else were they going to do, talk about writing yourself into a corner, can’t do flashforwards now because it’s not like you can repeat that Season Four trick of showing who’s standing after the last shot, because it’s very possible, likely even, that none of them will be, and flashbacks at this point? Beyond anticlimactic. That cat or hamster that Kate or Hurley had in the third grade? Not really where we need to be right now. These flash-sideways matter because they define character on an even more objective level than if we were just staying on-Island, because we see how people with a set of characteristics that have been well established for us act and react in entirely different circumstances, and the truth bleeds through, some behave exactly as we expected, others veer off in the opposite direction, but I would never do that to you, Island Faithful, I bow to you, as always, and send you peace.


Oh, and meant to definitively call it: The series finale will be a Desmond-centric. Maybe just scattershot all hands on deck madness, but I'm pulling for Brothah.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Before we even get started, let all acknowledge and tremble before the decision to amalgamate what surely must be, we don’t want to tell ourselves these things but oh Christ unless it’s the line through the finale which of course wouldn’t be a problem but unless that then we’ve probably sat through the final Desmond episode, which is of course what nobody wants to really stare in the face and deal with right now or in the near future, but if you do the math on that, the end of the arc that first shot out into narrativespace with the second season finale, you realize that that means they, Lindelof & Cuse, made the decision to combine the last Jack- and Locke-centrics for the penpenpenultimate episode, and I was just screaming this tonight at my friend driving me home, but veiling it in the subtext of yelling about 3.22, the last episode he’s happened to have seen (also, oh dear Island Faithful, you will recall, one of Our Very Favorite Episodes Of All, the Bearded Jack Episode), but yes weren’t we trying to GET STARTED?

The Jack- & Locke-centrics definitely stand, throughout the run, as some of the series’ best (along with Desmond and Sawyer and of course Eko's trinity, but later for all that). Slamming them together, now, is about Too Much For Me, I feel pretty good about capitalizing.

So. The Episode.

The opening juxtaposition of the two of them hits a rhythm that sets a perfect surreal tone for the scene.

Certainly heading through the titles, “HE’S COMING” or “THE CANDIDATE” are contenders for episode title. But I don’t retain that information through the initial viewing of that episode. Or more get overrided by other contenders.

Bernard’s (!) “PRETTY WEIRD, HUH?” takes precedence though, one has to think (if Bernard future tense quoting U2 at Jack at the end there slides it in for you like it did for me and obscures the correct choice).

Locke Monster springing the whole I Want To Save Them bit on Jack clamps down on my noggin, a mousetrap with long sharp pointy teeth.

And Goodbye Elizabeth Sarnoff. And Jim, whoever you were. But then the unexpected and, as ever, crushing Bender directing credit. Thought we weren't going to see you in that chair until next week! Looks like we’re just going for it, sprinting for the finish line from here on out.

I HAVE YOUR RING also jumps out as an excellent title, at any point in any continuum.


What’s so great about the next scene, when the monsters break the other monsters out of the cages, is that it’s an, I guess wasn’t it? logical escalation on the original encounters in the first season. But, you know, just Monster Time again. Jack popping up though really cranked it up. Followed by “I’M WITH HIM” which just HAD to be the episode title at that point, I made the decision to stick with that one, no matter what.

Man, all of them drawing down on Sayid, dispelled by Jack hammering home the interchangeability of HE’S WITH ME and ONE OF US to far greater extents of perfection than I am comfortable with in this moment in May when the sky is always falling right over my shoulder, just out of sight.

But yeah, again and again and again, so meta-OLD SCHOOL, we’re all just now hoping Will Ferrell doesn’t come barreling out of the jungle naked. You can already tell that this last one, the entire season, is going to be a really interesting and much more dynamic thing to parse as a whole than even they usually are. I mean, my God.

Minute 19. Hell and come on, yeah.

The detective angle back in LA with Jack trying to figure the accident, not fulfilled because he hadn’t fixed Locke, with the music, there was at least a chapter’s worth of Chandler just in that scene that ended with the original Sawyer as vegetable, followed by the simple hilarity of the Locke Monster, still Terry O’Quinn, of course, but really, the layers of what’s going in to the execution and critical analysis and self-critical analysis, and where it all sets upon the overall definitive grand hypothetical list of archetypes

I think I’m just down here with Desmond in the well, actually. I’ve only now realized. Yammering to myself.

Now, see, though.

They lay it out for us so clear, might as well get slapped over the face. Locke Monster finds the wires, four bricks of C4 etc, explicitly confesses to all assembled what his master plan of the entire episode is, while attributing that plan to Widmore. Except they have to betray him to do it. Certainly making that pair of pre-season Last Supper promo pics much more resonant.

“Just get him in the water, I’ll take care of the rest.” I’m pretty curious about that rest, and who told Sawyer what about that, seems pretty random, here. Am I forgetting something he learned while palling around him with him at the top of the season?

WOW, and then at the exact halfway point of the episode, Locke says, “Push the button,” and “I wish you had believed me.” They are playing all the hits!

Jack likes his Apollo bars.

I love how he qualifies his apology to Claire for dickish behavior with dickish behavior. Oh, the nuances of Jack, Bearded or otherwise.

Man, the beats of this. Everything coming together, like it’s already over and nothing left to say, all’s done. This entire thing all of sudden has a pedal-to-the-floor GoTime vibe.

HAHA, we should have mentioned Giacchino a few more times by now, but the fact that he drops the Sub Theme in right as Sawyer dives down into the hatch, so perfect, and I swear if they ever make fractal maps of old television series, you know how that winners’ platform is going to look, why does that theme always suggest Verne to me? There is no explicit connection.

Which would be just a hell of an episode title? It's late.

So, it still seems to me to be slightly breaking the rules if you hand Jack the backpack with all four blocks of C4 in it. I mean, if you can’t directly kill him. Can you just hand him that shit, that you’ve got a four-minute timer on? (because how can you resist?) But even if you’re telling him the opposite of how it’s actually going to go, and manipulating and massaging the situations into correct alignment . . . I don’t know, this seems like breaking the rules. I think he’s doing enough to explicitly, directly kill them right here and now.

They make if feel like such a trick and coup, though, still, leaving Locke behind.

Kate shot. Then the bomb. And then. Okay. I didn’t get that. Made it to the fourth pass through this week before realizing that the trinity of deaths all occur after the 8:42 mark of airtime (because I came away from all three previous viewings thinking that Sayid took off like twenty minutes before all that business with the Kwons, what dilation between those emotional impacts)

Oh, man. And then Jack summing quite a bit up with the NOTHING’S GOING TO HAPPEN speech. You see how I immediately spotted the correct title and got distracted.

But then you’ve got to love the next just too improbable reach, Jack’s like, “Oh, there are RULES,” and correctly extrapolates that out of the Oahu sky, and tells Sawyer they’re being manipulated into killing each other, to which my man James replies with aggression and no small amount of foreshadowing.

And then of course, shocking when Sawyer just pulls the pins out at 1:31. Really? We’re not going to get to see-?

Oh, yes we are. Of course.

All three times, too, I’ve retained Sayid’s “Because it’s going to be you, Jack,” as “Because You’re the One, Jack,” which, I guess, is just me shifting back to what I know, archetypal revision.

Of course, TITANIC, now. Suddenly.

If Jack and the Kwons knew they were all saying goodbye to each other, which I think they did, I don’t think it would have been too much for one or all of them to say Goodbye or I love you. In hindsight. Just the swimming away like that, the looks between them, so sad.

Man, I made it until the last frame of the red light flashing, when she finally let him go. But then just how he drifted off.

Aw, but right back with Jin after the commercial break. Messing with us so bad, now. And we’ve already seem him do this, go into Sun’s room last week? Reeling through the years.

The Alternate Sunken Island Secret Origin of Locke! Still, even more, a failure. Rings so true. Not what I wanted.

LET IT GO is the title of this episode.

Or saving it for the finale would be fine.

Ah hahahahahah, can’t believe Jack quoted Locke’s suicide note at him in LA. For the climax of their fused-centric! GAAAAHHHH!

Oh, man, though, and I am not kidding, that is the best Jack Cry of the entire series in the surf there, and I used to be making fun but am really being serious now. Communicating the emotion, Boss.


Summing up, to escape, it appears as though the Locke Monster in Black has to kill Jack and Sawyer and Hurley and apparently not Kate, though she’s certainly a freckled wild card at #51, while Richard and Ben and Miles are still out there somewhere, presumably having rigged Ajira Flight 316 with C4, and also Widmore and his reduced security forces are scrambling around the periphery in whatever semblance of opposition they can muster.

Three to go.

There’s just no telling now, structure and –centric-wise. Obviously the finale will be b=Batshit. Maybe that will be the Jacob-centric. Are we going to get Widmore? Christian Shephard? I’ve always taken all these things for granted, and now I’d be elated to get just one. The Monster-centric.

Oh, the spaces in between, dammit and again, the yearning and delight in those spaces in between. I've been sad this entire week, the convergence between Only 3 To Go and INFINITE JEST.

Monday, May 03, 2010


We're set to roll with four final episodes airing on the next three Tuesdays, with the series finale airing five days later on Sunday, the 23rd of May.

They're rerunning the pilot Saturday night. That's too much. What an idea. Can't wait to see what numbers IT does.


Have just realized that on 3/6/05, four days after 1.18, that first Hurley NUMBERS episode aired (and, of course, four weeks before the next new episode, DEUS muthafucking EX MACHINA aired), I woke up that Sunday and jammed out the entire 23-page epilogue of the monstrosity that was the first draft of the Gringo manuscript, got up out the chair and had dinner with Catherine, obviously got bombed down to the roots, then watched the second season of DEADWOOD premiere, one of the all-time best series moments with that header off the balcony, followed by the next to next to next to last episode of CARNIVALE, which, of course, by then my God. Think that one was Jonesy having dinner with his new in-laws.

And the whole manuscript took right at eight months to write.

All those numbers clicking in from the Wednesday it aired, the 2nd. And all the way back to last September. In our heads all the time and just waited for the signal. Just like magic.

20 days left to go. I'm really feeling pretty blue right now.


Posting will now assume a more scattershot and deranged manner as we drift on in here to at last the end. Do stay with me.

I need you. I need your strength.


Thursday, April 29, 2010


Well, it had to happen.

And it's never a good time when it does. I recommend rewatching last week's installment or heading back on over to the Alpert-centric AB AETERNO. Which, I guess somebody in programming agrees, as they're rerunning the latter tonight in the time slot.

This is the last gap, though.