Friday, December 14, 2007

The Ikea in Burbank (Or Hell 2.0)

Patton Oswalt is a genius. The latest proof of this fact is a list he's written of the "5 Angriest Parking Lots in Los Angeles"

5. Bally's Gym & Fitness on El Centro
4. The Ross/7-11/various other stores at La Brea and Sunset
3. The entire Century City facility
2. The Starbucks at the corner of Overland and Washington
1. The Ikea in Burbank

This is a solid list, as any Angelino would note. But his pick for number one is pure genius.

The fucking Ikea in Burbank.

That place fills my heart and brain with a burning hate and rage that no quantity of puppies or ice cream could ever hope to cure.

My friend who lives in Burbank put it best when he said, in Instant Message poetry:
Kyle: parking AT ikea, or the parking FOR ikea?
the parking lot across from Ikea?
or the parking lot where you load your stuff from?
hmm, i guess I just answered the question
he probably means both
just from the sheer act of there even being both


That place is like the tenth circle of hell, a circle so shitty and depressing that Dante didn't include it in "The Inferno" because he didn't want to bum out his readers. And that's a book where people are buried in excrement just because they were "flatterers."

The steps for parking at the Burbank Ikea are as follows:
1: Find parking in a stupid, usually filled lot across from the Ikea.
2: Go through the annoying process of fighting your way through Ikea and buying your shit (an activity infuriating enough that it warrants its own post)
3: Have a friend or loved one who accompanied you on your odyssey wait with your shit right outside the Ikea.
3.5: Failing that, if you have no friends who like you enough to go to Ikea with you (don't feel bad if they say no; they'd better like you a whole fucking lot, considering that you're asking them to go to the fucking Ikea in Burbank) leave your giant boxes of crappy furniture with cutesy Swedish names outside the store unaccompanied and pray it isn't stolen as you...
4: Run back to your parked car, fight your way out of the overfilled, tiny parking lot.
5: Turn right out of the parking lot (because there is no left turn,) then drive to the end of the street, and either turn left or make an illegal U-Turn because you're not allowed to turn into the fucking Ikea lot when you exit the parking lot.
6: Park in the temporary lot in front of the Ikea and load your heavy yet cheap furniture. (It's cheap for a reason and will probably last you no more than a year. This is why the man who own Ikea is the richest person in the world...he's made his money off the backs of all those poor college students who don't have the cash to buy something a little more expensive that will last them for much more time in the long run.)
7: Go home.
8: Drink.

And oh yeah, it's somehow always raining when you travel to the Ikea in Burbank. It never rains in LA...unless you have to go to the fucking Ikea in Burbank.

Fuck you, Ikea in Burbank. Fuck you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2007: It Was a Very Good Year

So I've finally got around to publishing my Best Movies of 2007 list... I figured maybe I should get to it before most of the "Best of 2008" movies hit theaters (though I'm sure "One Missed Call," "Prom Night," and "Tyler Perry's Whatever This Week's Tyler Perry Movie Is Called," will all end up on end of the year lists.)

There Will Be Blood
P.T. Anderson's stunning vision of the rise of California Oil tycoon Daniel Plainview is the most engrossing movie of the year. At times a terrifying horror movie and at times a hilariously over the top black comedy, Anderson's film is both classically structured and completely modern, and it's quirks and strange details make it of a piece with the filmmaker's other work, even though his previous period piece only went as far back as the 1970's San Fernando Valley Porn industry. Anderson really comes into his own in this stunningly singular vision, while remaining true to the promise of his earlier work. And Daniel Day Lewis's performance as Plainview is amazing, scary, and obsessive, a train wreck you can't peel your eyes away from. Johnny Greenwood's score, all screeching violins and loud bursts of noise, gets under your skin like very few pieces of film music have done before it. Brilliant.

David Fincher's obsessively detailed recreation of the Zodiac murders is a major step forward in the filmmaker's career, revealing a new maturity from the talented provocateur of "Seven" and "Fight Club." The director recreates the case and era as obsessively as the film's hero, proving along the way that mountains of facts and informaiton don't necesarrily reveal the truth. And for such an expository movie, it's awfully entertaining and thrilling. It's filmmaking of the absolute highest caliber.

I'm Not There
Todd Haynes's exhilerating Bob Dylan biopic features six different actors playing Dylan (or versions of Dylan) in an exploration of the musician's ever shifting personas. By the end of Haynes's long, strange journey, we are not really any closer to knowing the "real" Bob Dylan...and Haynes (and Dylan himself) wouldn't have it any other way.

No Country For Old Men
In a very good year for big name auteurs like Fincher, Cronenberg, and the two Andersons, The Brothers Coen deliver perhaps their finest film (no small feat from the guys who made "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "Blood Simple," "Millers Crossing," "Raising Arizona," and lots of other awesome,) with this masterpiece of mood, atmosphere, and tension. And Javier Bardem is scary as hell.

Brad Bird is a genius, and he sets yet another high water mark for American animation with this Pixar tale of a rat who dreams of becoming a gourmet chef. This is not just kid's stuff..."Ratatouille" is a sophisticated comedy about the struggle of an artist to create and a cry out against mediocrity. The scene in which the snooty food critic Atom Ego has his first bite of the dish created by the unlikely chef is a beauty. The silent moment is at once funny, moving, and triumphant, and a graceful reminder of how great art- any art, be it food, film, music, or even a cartoon about a rat- can emotionally affect us. It's possibly the single most trancendent moment in American film of the year. Plus that little rat is really freaking cute.

Eastern Promises
David Cronenberg's newest films have been more "mainstream" than his previous work, yet none of them have sacrificed one iota of the filmmaker's themes or personal obsessions. Viggo Mortensen is stunning as a mysterious driver for Russian mobsters in London, whose loyalties and motivations remain murky until the final fade out. And his naked knife fight is one of the most jaw droppingly well directed sequences in any movie from 2007.

The Darjeeling Limited
I'm a Wes Anderson nut, and I was initially disappointed with his latest film. But the movie has grown sturdier in my memory, revealing itself as Anderson's most mature work to date. The story of three over privileged brothers on a train ride through India who try and plan a "spiritual journey" and find something else entirely, Anderson cut down on the quirk without diluting his very strong and unique voice. I didn't get lost in the world of the film like I did with every one of his previous films, didn't laugh as often or feel as deeply moved, but it's still a damn good film...and it's got me thrilled to see what the most original and distinct voice in American cinema has in store for us next.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
One of the most entertaining movies of the year, period. A documentary about the battle to post high scores in classic arcade video games may not sound exciting, but the filmmakers take their set up and turn it into the stuff of high drama- and comedy. When mild mannered teacher Steve Wiebe sets a new record on arcade classic Donkey Kong, he unleashes the wrath of mulletted hot sauce maker Billy Mitchell, the self proclaimed "gamer of the century." What follows is a battle of wills that builds into a shockingly compelling sports movie, featuring two challengers with zero athletic ability. Mitchell turns out to be one of the most entertainingly hissable screen villains in movie history, while the good natured Wiebe becomes the arcade set's Rocky Balboa right before our very eyes. Filled with beyond colorful characters, "The King of Kong" turns a subject that could have turned off general audiences into a nail biting, laugh out loud blast of entertainment.

Knocked Up/ Superbad
Judd Apatow has had a legendary year (despite the mediocre box office of the just okay "Walk Hard," which he wrote and produced) and his one/ two summer punch of "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" are great for different reasons. "Superbad" is one of the filthiest and funniest teen movies to hit theaters in years, and it had audiences rolling in the aisles like no other comedy in a long time. But "Knocked Up," Apatow's personally felt story of a stoner who decides to grow up so he can become worthy of the beautiful woman he impregnantes after a one night stand is the one that has earned (exaggerated though not completely unjustified) comparisons to "The Graduate." A flawed, sometimes uneven comedy, "Knocked Up" became an instant classic because it's full of big laughs, heart, and if you look for it, universal truths. Apatow is surfing the zeitgeist and changing film comedy for the better, and "Knocked Up" is perhaps the most significant mainstream Hollywood release of the year. He's changing the way the industry makes comedies, and that's a good thing.

Charlie Wilson's War
In a year when a handful of political films failed to excite audiences or critics, "Charlie Wilson's War" told what could have been a boring and preachy story of the senator who got the Russians out of Afghanistan and helped end the Cold War and in the process armed and trained the very people who would turn on us on 9/11...into a light on it's feet and funny as hell comedy. Tom Hanks gets to subvert his Mr. Nice Guy family man persona yet still charms as the hard drinking, womanizing titular senator. But it's Philip Seymour Hoffman, a national treasure at this point, who steals the movie from megastars Hanks and Julia Roberts as the CIA spook who helps Charlie Wilson pull of his war.

The Host
This Korean monster movie is a crazy genre hybrid, switching tones between over the top comedy to edge of your set horror to tear jerking pathos at the drop of the hat. When pollution, dumped by American companies, creates a pissed off monster who lives in an urban river, a family fights to find their missing kid. Also, the monster looks really cool, and the filmmakers are wise enough to not hide him until the end of the movie... we get to see the beast early and often.

The animated tale of a defiant Iranian girl growing up during the Muslim revolution, this movie proves that cartoons aren't just for kids. The lovely black and white animation is used to tell a personal, political tale in a medium usually reserved for fart jokes, dated upon release pop culture jokes, and cute talking animals (not to say there's anything wrong with talking animals, considering how gorgeous "Ratatouille" turned out to be.)

The Bourne Ultimatum
The third film in the "Bourne" spy franchise is light on story, and heavy on action. Normally, this would be a criticism of the film, but my god, what awesome action. Paul Greengrass stages his globe trotting action sequences with nerve jangling shaky cam and claustrophobic close ups... and he, unlike most action directors, doesn't forget to make each sequence suspenseful. The movie is a breathless, non stop chase, and it's one of the most exciting action movies in years.

Black Book
Paul Verhoeven returned to Europe after making one too many expensive flops in America... and delivers an excellent tale of a Jewish girl infiltrating a Gestapo headquarters for the Resistence... and falling in love with the Nazi she is supposed to seduce. A crackling, well made thriller with a great performance from the gorgeous Carice Van Houte, Verhoeven's film is none too subtle (like the rest of his work,) but it's exciting, engrossing, and alive.

The three hour "Grindhouse" experience is an argument for the very act of going to the movies. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez lovingly recreated the experience of exploitation double features while making very good films in the process of referencing generally very bad ones.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Radiohead covers The Smiths' "The Headmaster Ritual."

This is awesome because (as anyone who knows me is fully aware) The Smiths are my all time favorite band. And I discovered Le Smiths by reading interviews with Radiohead, who always list them, The Pixies, and Kraftwerk as their three big influences. Which made me check them out, and knocked Radioheasd off the top spot of...well, being my favorite band.
And oh yeah, the cover kicks total ass. It's probably my favorite Smiths cover I've heard...most covers of their works sounds lacking without his Morrissey-ness singing. But Radiohead, being probably the best, most interesting, and probably most influential band in the world right now, make it their own. Also, it's nice to see the guys in the band, who make generally grim and brainy music, just having fun playing a song they obviously love.
Radiohead's new album, (which, as you've heard unless you live under a rock, is available for download only on their website,) "In Rainbows" is fucking excellent, by the way.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jack's Back...Soonish

Fox premiered a promo for the seventh season of "24" during the Red Sox/ Rockies World Series Game last night.
Here's a longer version of the clip, (obviously not taken from the game, considering Kiefer's intro thanks "all the British fans of the show.")

It looks like they'll get back on track after "24" fans were letdown by the meandering sixth season, but I have a few random thoughts just based on these two minutes of footage:
- After all the controversy about torture at Gitmo, and the release of the new torture drama "Rendition," it's kind of weird to see the show kind of spitting in the face of anti-torture advocates. Jack Bauer telling a senator that he doesn't regret torturing terrorists is kind of a creepy moment, especially since the most interesting parts of season six were the moments when Jack was obviously torn up and disgusted with himself about the fact that he had to torture. The guy spent a year in a Chinese prison being tortured himself. And then, later in the promo, when his new female partner says "do whatever it takes...torture him if you have to," it's kind of a weird moment. Weirder still is when Jack responds and says "I'm gonna enjoy this." When did Jack start getting off on torturing the bad guys? I always gave "24" a pass for the show's questionable depiction of torture because, y'know, it's an action adventure fantasy show...but that moment was just kind of icky.
-Jack Bauer would think I'm just being a pussy about the whole torture issue.
-That female agent who says she "can handle Jack Bauer?" Yeah, probably not.
-Tony's reappearance is no shocker, since his return to the show was reported a couple months ago all over the media (though it still doesn't make any sense that he lived after being stabbed with a syringe filled with poison,) but now he's a bad guy? He certainly looks the part these days, now that he's sporting a tightly shaved head to go with the angry/ anguished look on his face. But this is the first time one of Jack's closest allies has turned to the dark side since Nina in season one. Tony- say it aint so!
-Tony and his accomplices are attacking...the CIP firewall? Didn't they already do techy terrorists in "Die Hard 4?" Isn't it kind of goofy to put nerdy hackers against kick ass action heroes? Is there some exec at Fox who had the thought that "if Hans Gruber can't kill John McClane, maybe Bill Gates can!"
-Despite these reservations, Season 7 looks like it could be a return bad ass "24" goodness. We all deserve a nail biting, edge of our seats, adrenaline pumping season of "24." Especially those of us who stuck it out past the autistic kid in Season Six.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

When a Man Is Pushed Far Enough, Killin's As Easy As Breathin'

So I went to see an early screening of “John Rambo” tonight. For some reason, cinematic genius Joel Schmacher, the man behind “Batman and Robin” and “The Number 23” was on hand. I'm not really sure what he was doing there, but there he was, in all his glory.

Speaking of “John Rambo”...

The movie was a pure, Regan era, exploitation eighties fascist fantasy action movie. It was porn for conservative NRA members…dumb, crass, and even borderline creepy at times in its representation of the evil Burmese rapists and pedophile soldiers.

But when it kicked did it kick ass. It was so short that it barely felt feature length, yet the beginning stil dragged a bit. But once it got to Rambo killin'...oh mama. Blood, gore, people snapping in half, heads flying off bodies, bodies splitting in two, and a man being turned into nothing more than a gooey pile of guts after Rambo blows him away with a gattling gun at close range. Just kick ass.

It's probably the most violent American action movie that's not trying to say anything intelligent about violence (ala Cronenberg's recent work.) Or maybe it is trying to say something intelligent about violence, but fails miserably.

Whatever. It's Rambo. It probably the best direct to video action movie you'll see in theaters next year, and it spurts blood real nice. Just don't try to think too deeply about the actual, very serious geopolitical situation in Burma, and enjoy Sly's old man, circa 1986 rampage. He looks great for a 90 year old (it's probably the steroids,) though he certainly moves a lot slower than he did a few years ago.

I can't wait for him to do a follow up to “Cliffhanger.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It Will Be Mine. Oh Yes. It Will Be Mine.

So I got sucked into the iPhone hype a couple months ago, but resisted buying one...because I can't afford one. At all.
And now Apple announces what I've really been waiting for....the touch screen iPod. It's got all the funcionality of the iPhone, without...the phone part. Which I don't need, anyway, since I have a crappy Razr that never works.

It's got the touch screen, the beautiful design, and Wi-Fi. One's only got 16 gigs of memory. I can't put all my music on just 16 gigs. But whatever...I will have one. Soon.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another Movie To Get Really Excited About

Here's the delightful trailer for Michel Gondry's "Be Kind Rewind," coming out in December:

Maybe there's won't be much of a story other than Jack Black and Mos Def remaking those classic films, but I really enjoy the trailer. It looks like a really fun love letter to cinephiles everywhere.

I have a feeling that, now that we're coming to the end of the summer blockbuster cycle, the remainder of 2007 could be really special for anybody who loves movies that are about more than big explosions.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


So the Wii Fit trailer was released at E3 this week:

My favorite part of the trailer is when the kid is playing the soccer mini-game... after the digital ball smacks his avatar in the head, he actually rubs his physical, real world head. Does this game smack you in the face if you fail? Cause that, my friends, would be a breakthrough in interactivity.

And seriously, there's an effing YOGA MINIGAME? I mean, for all the Joke Wii games that people have come up with, nobody could have dreamed of, let alone believe Nintendo themselves would put out, a YOGA MINIGAME!

Wii Fit is just the latest example of Nintendo's isanely popular line of video games that aren't actually, technically, in the strictest sense of the phrase, y'know... well, games. This new one fits right in with their very successful "Brain Age" games, which are designed to excercise your brain muscles... and which are so popular that Nicole Kidman is starring in tv spots advertising them:

As ridiculous as it looks, if Wii Fit is actually a fun way to lose some pounds, then I'm all for it. I do like the idea that the pad weighs you and tells you your fitness progress. Maybe they'll even have a Wii Channel where Mario is your personal trainer and berates you into losing more weight, (even though that pasta eating hypocrite doesn't have much room to talk.) As long as I don't have a bag of Doritos and a six pack of beer in front of me while I play it, it might actually be helpful.

Rudin Power!

I used to intern for uber-producer Scott Rudin, who is notorious around Hollywood for his temper and the way he abuses his assistants. Lucky for me, as an intern, I was never on the receiving end of any of one of his mythical tantrums, though I witnessed a loud blow up or two.

But despite the man’s very ill temper, he’s one of the few true genius producers in Hollywood. I just looked at the slate of movies he’s got his name on this year…and almost every film I’m dying to see in the next six months is produced by Rudin. He’s on fire right now, working with some of my absolute favorite working filmmakers…I mean, the guy has the new Wes Anderson, P.T. Anderson, and Coen Brothers movies coming out this year? Are you kidding me?

This is the list of Rudin’s offerings for the rest of 2007:

PT Anderson’s period piece, loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!” The movie stars the mesmerizing Daniel Day Lewis, is scored by musical genius Jon Brion, tells a story that is near and dear to my liberal heart, has an amazing trailer, and is, oh yeah, a new PT Anderson movie. I can’t wait for this one.

There is not much known about Wes Anderson’s new comedy/ drama. The internet is buzzing with rumors that Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, and Jason Schwartzman play siblings on a journey across India, searching for a magical tiger that their father has been resurrected in. But in a recent interview, Anderson denied that the tiger has anything to do with the plot, so I’m not really sure what to expect from this one. The guy made my favorite movie of all time, “Rushmore,” and he’s probably my favorite director. Also, he cast Natalie Portman, which is a plus. Anyone think I’ll be seeing this?

Based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, the Coen’s new flick got raves at Cannes and looks like a return to form after their disappointing comedy “The Ladykillers.” The trailer makes the movie look tough and mean, and it seems like a throwback to the Coen’s earlier work, like their brilliant debut, “Blood Simple.” And Javier Bardem looks like he’s going to be amazing in this.

This is writer/ director Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to “The Squid and the Whale,” which was a very good comedic drama about divorce that featured a career best performance from the always underrated Jeff Daniels. A lot of people loved that movie, though I thought it had a few problems. That said, I really dig the trailer to “Margot.” It looks like he’s matured a bit as a director, and what a solid cast. Jack Black looks like he’s really growing as a performer. I’m really pulling for this one to be a home run for Baumbach.

Kimberly Pierce finally follows up her excellent “Boys Don’t Cry,” which came out in the previous millennium. This one tells the story of a soldier who deserts the war in Iraq. Sure to be controversial, in a good, very intelligent way. Also, it has “Deadwood’s” Timothy Olyphant, who is finally blowing up these days. Good for him.

Writer Alan Ball (“Six Feet Under,” “American Beauty”.) makes his big screen directorial debut about a young Arab-American teenager struggling with her sexuality and bigotry in what is sure to be a provocative, political, and sharp movie. I’ve read a few advanced reviews for this one that were singing the film’s praises. I’m not as huge a fan of “American Beauty” as I was in high school, but I love “Six Feet Under.” This could be great.

Like “Stop Loss,” this one is from a great filmmaker who hasn’t done anything in years. Kenneth Lonergan, who made the fantastic “You Can Count On Me” back in 2000, finally returns to the director’s chair in this story of a young woman who witnesses a bus accident and is swept up in the aftermath to the tragedy. I don’t know much about this one, but I’m excited to see what Lonergan has to offer with his second feature.

These two are chick flicks, and not strictly up my alley, but they both look like they could at least be intelligent and good. “The Other Boleyn Girl” is a period piece about two sisters (Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson) competing for the affections of King Henry VIII (“Munich’s” Eric Bana.) Even if this costume drama is boring, I can at least dream that Portman and Johansson, probably my two biggest actress crushes, are competing for my affections. Lucky you, Eric. “I Could Never Be Your Woman,” from “Clueless” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” director Amy Heckerling is about a mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) falling in love with a younger man, played by the hilarious Paul Rudd, who has been picking great roles for the last few years. I don’t know if I’ll see either of these flicks, but if they get great reviews, I’ll certainly check them out.

As a former employee at his company, it makes me kind of proud to see Rudin kicking ass and taking names. It’s amazing to see just how good Rudin’s taste is and how intelligent his choices are. None of his movies are guaranteed mainstream hits, but they’re from the best filmmakers in the business, almost all of whom seem to be taking big risks with controversial and ambitious subject matter. It’s also a testament to how well he works with filmmakers…he may give the people under him hell, but he treats the creative talent really well and gives them an amazing amount of creative control for high profile films. (The amount of rope he gives filmmakers probably explains why all those poor assistants put up with the abuse he dishes out...they figure "I'm willing to take a stapler, hot cup of coffee, or even a computer monitor to the head if I can eventually get a chance to make the kinds of movies that P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, and the Coen Brothers get to make.") It’s also very impressive that, in these sequel obsessed times, he can get smart, adult, and controversial movies made at the big studios. I just hope that these movies do well, and maybe Rudin takes home that best picture Oscar that’s alluded him his whole career... if only for the sake of his poor assistants.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lost Watch: Like, Woah

Episode Title: The Looking Glass Air Date: 5/23/07

There's just so much to talk about.

"Lost's" third season finale was an absolute stunner. Everything is different after last night. And now we're supposed to wait nine months until we get a new episode? It's just not fair.

So, the most important thing we learned last night? They get off the bloody island. At least Jack and Kate do, and probably Claire and her baby, if Desmond’s vision was accurate (as Charlie’s death would imply.) And we learn all this through an all new “Lost” storytelling device. In what has been described as a "game changer" by the producers, last night's Jack flashbacks were not flashbacks at all...they were flashFORWARDS.

Our first clue of this is when we see a depressed, suicidal, alcoholic, pharmaceutical addicted Jack with a very fake beard flying on an Oceanic Airlines flight, then stumbling around LA, a lost soul with nobody to turn to. He reads a newspaper clipping about a dead man and breaks down in tears, leaves a distressed voicemail, then steps to the edge of a bridge, ready to kill himself. Until a car crashes behind him, and Jack has to go back into hero mode, saving a woman and her eight year old child from the burning wreckage.

Immediately, this doesn’t seem like the Jack Shepherd we’re used to. Jack’s an alcoholic? Just when in his past did he become like his dead (or is he?) father? But the writers don’t let us in on their storytelling trick just yet.

Jack also attends the funeral of…someone. He is the only mourner who shows up, and doesn’t ask to view the body. So who is the deceased? We’ll get to that in the end…sort of.

On the island, in the “present” (or past now?) the showdown with The Others is imminent. Sayid, Jin, and Bernard (of all people) stay behind to blow the tents when Ben’s goons show up as the rest of the survivors head off to the radio tower to shut off Rousseau’s distress call, while Charlie is being held prisoner by some a couple hot Lesbian Others in the underwater hatch.

So yeah, a lot is going on.

When The Others show up, the plan almost works perfectly…almost. Sayid and Bernard hit their targets and blow two of the tents. But Jin misses, tries to run to closer to get a better shot, and is captured. Sayid and Bernard try to run and fight, but both end up surrendering.

The big survivor party sees that only two of the planned three explosions went off, and Kate wants to go back to the beach to help their captured friends, while Jack insists on pushing forward.

In the underwater hatch, Charlie tells his captors that the survivors are heading to the radio tower and that he is there to turn off their jamming signal. They radio Ben, who is surprised to hear them “break radio silence.” Apparently, the rest of The Others believed the two women were no longer on the island and that the underwater hatch was flooded and inoperable. Ben sends the eye-patch sporting Russian to the hatch to investigate, and decides to go to the survivors and “talk them out of” turning Rousseau’s distress call, and allows Alex, his daughter, to join him.

A shaken Sawyer, who is still upset after the events that went down in “The Brig” a few weeks ago, decides to go back to help Sayid, Bernard, and Jin, even though he is unarmed. Kate wants to go too, but he doesn’t want to bring her. Jack is worried about allowing him to go unarmed, but Juliet volunteers to join him and tells them that there is a hidden cache of guns that they can arm themselves with before they head back to the survivors’ camp…after Juliet kisses Jack passionately, raising more than a few eyebrows.

A distressed Kate doesn’t understand why Sawyer wouldn’t let her come and Jack explains that, duh, it’s because he’s trying to protect her. When Kate asks why Jack is sticking up for Sawyer, Jack tells her “because I love you,” in a matter of fact admission that Kate had to have known all along.

Poor Hurley, feeling left out and unsure of himself, asks if he can come along with Sawyer and Juliet. Sawyer tells him he’d be useless and get them killed, in an honest moment that cuts Hurley deeply but had to be said anyway. And oh yeah, Juliet admits that there is no gun cache…she only told Jack there was so he would let them go help their friends.

So the stage is set for three epic showdowns, none of which disappoint.

Ben meets up with Jack and the two of them have a little chat. Ben tells Jack that if he uses the Satellite Phone, the people he summons to the island will kill everyone. He tells him Naomi works for a group of people who have been trying to find the island, who will ruin it. Jack (with reason) thinks he’s bluffing, so Ben radios in to Tom, who is holding the three survivors at the beach hostage, and tells him to kill them if Jack doesn’t relent. Jack won’t budge and hears three gunshots, thinking that he’s doomed his friends to three bullets through their heads.

Meanwhile, Desmond wakes up in the boat above the underwater hatch, with a whopping headache and Charlie’s goodbye note to Claire in his pocket. Before he has time to think what to do next, Eye Patched Russian guy starts shooting at him, so he dives down and enter the underwater hatch. Charlie tells him to hide before his captors catch wind that he’s there, but then Eye-Patch shows up. Charlie informs him that Ben’s been jamming any radio signals to the mainland through the hatch, and Eye Patch decides to radio his boss to decide how to deal with it. Ben convinces him that he’s doing the right thing, and tells him to kill Charlie- and the two unsuspecting female Others.

Eye patch shoots the chicks, but before he turns the gun on Charlie, Desmond pops out and shoots him with a harpoon gun. One of the dying Others tells Charlie the code to stop the jamming signal- the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” tapped into the keyboard (it was programmed by a musician, she says with her last breath.) So Charlie gets to have his big moment and turn off the jamming signal, which will finally get the survivors home. He taps the Beach Boys classic in the keyboard, the yellow light turns off, and a signal comes through…from Penny. An excited Charlie asks Penny about Naomi and the boat off the island, but she tells him that she doesn’t know anything about a boat…Naomi and her crew were not hired by Penny. Before Desmond can talk to his lost love, Charlie sees a terrible sight through a porthole…Eye Patch survived the harpoon through the stomach and is holding a grenade up to the hatch window.

Charlie locks himself in before Desmond can enter, the porthole blows, and water begins to rush in. Thinking quickly, Charlie scrawls a message on his hand and puts it up to the window, telling Desmond that it’s “not Penny’s boat.” Then he dies.

This is a “Lost” first…an original character and fan favorite is killed off. Yeah, they killed Shannon and Boone off…but nobody liked those characters anyway. Charlie’s death is hard to take, and Dominic Monaghan’s performance last night was the best he’s given in the series’ three year run. Charlie Pace, you will be missed.

Back on the beach, Sawyer and Juliet are trying to figure out how they’re going to take out the Others who have their friends at gunpoint…until Hurley zooms in, driving the Dharma VW bus into the action. Hurley! He hits one of the Others with the car, while Sawyer sneaks around and knocks one of them out with a branch. In the scramble, Sayid kills one of them with his legs, Jack Bauer style, and Sawyer takes Tom’s gun. When Tom surrenders, Sawyer still kills him, telling him “that’s for taking the kid.”

Hurley radios in and tells the survivors that they saved their friends and loved ones, a relief to Jack who believes he allowed them to die. At the same time, the jamming signal is off, and Jack and crew turn off Rousseau’s distress call.

We have cell phone reception, people. As Naomi tries to make the call with the satellite phone, she suddenly falls down dead.

Guess who? It’s none other than Mr. John Locke, who was summoned out of what would have been his grave by none other than Walt, or a figment of his imagination in the form of Walt, or the smoke monster in the form of Walt, who tells him “you’ve got work to do, John.”

Jack picks up the phone, and Locke points a gun at him, telling him he’s not supposed to make the call. Jack stands strong, telling him that “I’m done letting you keep us on this island.” Locke relents, unable to shoot Jack, and a desperate Ben yells out “you don’t know what you’re doing!” But the call is complete, and the man on the other end of the line tells him they are coming. And soon.

Cut to the last scene of the “flashforwards.” Jack meets up with someone at the airport…it’s Kate. A distressed Jack tells her that he’s been flying all the time with his “gold pass” that Oceanic gave him, hoping that the plane would crash and take him back to the island. He tells her that “we weren’t supposed to leave,” and that “we have to go back.” Kate leaves, saying she has to go back to “him” (Sawyer?) and leaves Jack to his misery.


So at least Jack and Kate got off the island, and presumably a lot of the survivors have. Charlie’s sacrifice has made it possible for the survivors to be rescued…but the people it’s not clear if the people on Naomi’s boat are the ones who will be doing the rescuing. And a haunted Jack clearly has decided that coming back to the real world was the wrong move…that Locke, and maybe even Ben, were right the whole time.

Mindblowing. The finale implied that “Lost” may be done with the flashbacks, and the “flashforwards” might just be the new way the show will tell its labyrinthine story. Which sounds amazing to me. I can’t wait to see where this baby goes next.

As always, the episode has raised a whole lot of new questions. Who was in the casket at the funeral that Jack attended? He said he was neither family nor friend of the deceased, and nobody else showed up. When he asked Kate why she didn’t come, all she said was “why would I?” So who was it? My money’s on Michael. He betrayed the survivors and murdered two of them, so why would they go to his funeral? But it always could be Ben, or even Locke. His bizarre behavior would imply that not many people like him much anymore. And if he had to leave the island, he might be inclined to kill himself. This would also explain Jack’s guilt and remorse for leaving the island.

And what about Jack talking about his father as if he’s alive in the future? Christian Shepherd is dead. How can Jack tell the hospital’s new chief of surgery to bring his father down and see if he’s drunker if he’s dead? And how can Jack try and get prescriptions for drugs from his father if he’s dead? Did Jack come home to another timeline where his father never died? Is he just delusional at the point that he asks about him?

What are they going to do about Ben? What is Locke going to do? And who the hell did Jack talk to on the phone…are they coming to rescue the survivors…or slaughter them?

Anyone who doubted the show, anyone who turned away from it, gave up on it…it’s time to come back. The show is better than it’s ever been on every level, and it’s time for you to come back to “Lost.” If you thought the show had lost it’s way, you’re wrong. Just get over your fanboy pride and get back on the “Lost” train.

Season 3 ended with a note perfect episode. It was exciting, funny, emotional, and satisfying on every level. Almost every story beat planted earlier in the season has paid off, including the seemingly stupid VW bus episode. The only thing that didn’t pay off was the “Jack’s Tattoo” episode…everything was working in their favor last night to the point that I thought it was going to be the key to killing the smoke monster. The confidence in the storytelling on the show at this point is astounding, and I can’t wait to see how they bring the show to a close over the next three seasons. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I really think they’re going to pull the whole thing off and actually have satisfying ending for loyal fans. If they can equal what they achieved last night, then “Lost” is going to go down as one of the all time great shows.

Nine months is a long time.



More tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"Calvin and Hobbes" Is Awesome

Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes" is a masterpiece of an artform that has too few masterpieces (especially today...have you tried to read anything in the "funnys" section of your local paper lately?) The strip was a perfect distilation of childhood, had a wonderful art style of its own, and it was often laugh out loud funny. Its an American classic, and I'm a proud owner of the gorgeous collection "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes," which came out a year or so ago.

One thing that's always been admirable about Watterson is that he refused to sell out his creation. He could have licensed the shit out of "C+H," slapping the characters on T-Shirts, Lunch boxes, toys, stickers, and other junk. But Watterson refused- he wanted to keep the characters in their medium and felt that an image of Calvin on a T-shirt would strip him of his complexity as a character, something that happened with the hugely popular and totally unauthorized "Pissing Calvin" images that seem to be plastered to one out of every three semis you pass on highways. Sure Calvin is "mischevious." But he's also a sweet, funny, naiive kid with a big heart. Watterson, rightly, hated the "pissing Calvin" images.

I always respected Watterson's integrity, but have also been curious about what "Calvin and Hobbes" would look like animated. There was a rumor a couple years back that Watterson was going to make a film based on the strip, and that he was going to be in charge of the animaiton. The rumor may have been totally false, or the project may have just never gotten off the ground, but in any case it never happened. Which is why I'm so impressed by this video I'm posting below. An Italian animation student made it as a class project, and it's damn near perfect as far as the animation goes. The voice work is a bit odd, but everyone has their own idea of what Calvin should sound like in their heads...another good reason for Watterson not have gone ahead with the project. The guy knows what he's doing with his amazing creation. He did the strip for ten years, ended it perfectly, and never let it become an annoying product. He's an artist, and he was right to protect his creation.

That said, this is pretty damn cool, especially for a student project:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lost Update: Y'All Everybody

Episode Title: Greatest Hits Air Date: 5/17/07

With next week’s final approaching quickly, there are lots of balls of story being juggled by the “Lost” writers right now, and it’s nice to see everything really clicking for the show again. “Lost” stumbled a bit early this season and some viewers walked away from the show, but hopefully they’ll come back to it when the DVDs come out this summer, because it’s been as good as (or better than) the first season for the last four or five weeks.

Last night’s Charlie-centric episode was no exception. Charlie has been kind of worthless for, oh, two season now, but last night reminded me of why I found the character likeable and appealing…and it was in no small part due to the resurrection of that stupid song from his former band, Drive Shaft. It’s so ridiculous, but I love “Y’All Everybody.” I want to see Oasis cover it for real at a show sometime…that would be boss.

With The Other approaching and the survivors preparing for their arrival, Juliet tells the group that Ben is jamming all communications from the island in an underwater hatch and someone must swim into a supposedly flooded room and turn it off.

Desmond has one of his flashes and tells Charlie that it’s time…he has to die if he want to help Claire and her baby get rescued. A stoic Charlie agrees to sacrifice himself for the good of the group. It’s all very “Poseidon Adventure” or “Armegeddon.” The flashbacks were actually effective and poignant last night, because they scenes of Charlie remembering the best moments of his life before he knowingly goes into a situation he won’t walk away from. It was a nice change of pace from repetitive character beats in the flashbacks, and served more of an emotional purpose than a storytelling one.

Meanwhile, Jack has a plan for The Others. He tells everyone that Juliet has been instructed to mark the tents with the pregnant women with white at night so The Other know which tents to invade. Jack plans on filling the marked tents with dynamite and then “blowing them all to hell” (his delivery of the final part of the plan was classic Matthew Fox over-dramatic acting. He could teach a master class.)

The group realizes they must also head into the woods and turn off Russoau’s distress signal, which might also interfere with communications from the outside world, and that turning off her signal, flipping off Bens’ jamming signal, and the “blowing them all to hell” must happen all at once. It’s like a video game challenge for the survivors.

When Alex’s traumatized boyfriend shows up at the beach to tell the survivors that The Others are coming sooner than they feared, the group realizes they don’t have enough materials to wire the dynamite. So Sayid has another plan (he always does.) Three people will hide in the woods and shoot the dynamite when The Others’ enter the tents. Like in the end of “Jaws.”

Bernard shows up after an unexplained thirty episode absence and volunteers to be one of the shooters, demonstrating his expert marksmanship that was never alluded to in a previous episode. Whatever, it’s nice to have he and the always hilarious Rose back. Where have they been for so long?

The episode ends with Charlie and Desmond taking the boat out to the underwater hatch. Demond offers to take Charlie’s place, but Charlie knocks him out to ensure that he does it himself. What did I say? Just like “Armageddon.” You know, JJ Abrams was one of the 500 writers on that movie, so it’s not a shock. Just sayin’.

Ready to die, Charlie takes the plunge and swims to the bottom, entering the hatch…and surfaces inside a decidedly non flooded room. An ecstatic Charlie celebrates not being dead- until two bad ass chicks run out brandishing guns. Uh-oh.

So we’ve got Charlie being held prisoner in an underwater hatch, Jack and co hiking out to turn off the distress signal, and Sayid, Bernard, and Jin waiting in the shadows for The Others to attack, all of it culminating in next week’s episode. Oh yeah, and we still don't know the fate of poor, shot in the back John Locke.

Anybody think the Jack's plan is going to go perfectly in next week's finale? If you said yes, I’ve got a mystery island in an unknown region of the world to sell to you.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Lost Watch: Ghosts in the Machine

So that’s why the still have the flashbacks.

After weeks of showing back-stories that don’t actually reveal any new information about the show’s main characters, this week’s “Lost” was a Ben Linus-centric episode, and it delivered, hard style.

The first thing we learn, right off the bat, is that Ben has been lying to everyone about being born on the island. He was born in Oregon (near where Juliet was flown to when she was first recruited…hmmmm) and his mother died in childbirth. The man who pulled over to help Ben’s panicked father ends up getting him a job on the island, working for the Dharma Initiative…as a “workman” (or janitor, which Ben’s daddy doesn’t take well at all.) The creepy little boy version of Ben sees his mother, or his mother’s ghost, or the black smoke monster posing as his mother, or whatever it is…and follows her out into the woods. Where he meets the slimy Other Richard, who looks like he is the exact same age as he is in the present- and this is supposed to be twenty something years earlier. Richard tells little Ben to be patient, and that he can join what The Dharma bums call “the hostiles” and we’ve been referring to as “The Others.” Cut to a few years later and Ben gets his chance, murdering his father while the rest of the hostiles murder the Dharma people, and then take over their little suburban town. So now we know how they came to live there, before Kate, Sayid, and company crashed the party.

The flashbacks were nice, but there’s no time like the present, and the new episode proved that rule to be very, very true. Locke shows up with his father’s dead body slung over his shoulder and demands answers. When Ben tells Locke that he’s not really the man in charge, that he takes orders from a man named Jacob, Locke demands that he take him to the real head cheese. Ben tries to weasel his way out of hit, but Locke has alpha maled his way into the hearts of the rest of The Others, so Ben agrees, to save face.

Meanwhile, back at the survivor’s camp, the crud is hitting the fan hard as Sawyer brings back the recording that Locke gave him that proves Juliet is still communicating with Ben. When everyone finds out about the injured parachutist, the group wants to know why nobody told Jack. An angry and intense (is there any other kind) Jack shows up and decides it’s time to talk. He admits he knew The Others were coming to take the survivor’s pregnant women folk. And that he was waiting to tell everyone until he had figured out what to do. Then, in super dramatic Jack fashion, he tells everyone “I guess we have a lot of catching up to do.” Thus setting up what might actually be an interesting Jack flashback season finale, and not, y’know, the boring story of how he got his tattoo while banging a weird Thai chick during a vision quest.

When Ben takes Locke to “Jacob’s” hidden cabin, there is nobody in the room. Ben begins to coverse with an empty chair, and for a minute I thought the writers were gonna go all Norman Bates with us and have Ben tell Locke “a boy’s best friend is his mother.” But then Locke hears a hoarse voice creak out “help me,” the room starts to move and vibrate, and Locke realizes, “crap, we might actually have a real ghost giving Ben orders.”

“Lost” easter egg fun fact…go through the scene where the cabin is going crazy to find a couple frames where you can see a man sitting in the previously empty chair.

After Locke’s creepy close encounter, Ben takes him to the pit where all the Dharma Scientists were gruesomely deposited after they were gassed by the hostiles. He tells Locke that he made a choice to join “the original natives of the island” (funny most of The Others seem pretty, I dunno, Caucasian, to be native Islanders) and that he was smart enough to do so and not “end up in that pit.” Then he tells Locke that’s what makes him smarter than him as well- and shoots him.

Ben asks the wounded Locke what Jacob said and tells him “I had to shoot you, because you could hear him.” Clearly, Locke is too powerful, or as everyone thinks he is, “special” to let Ben keep him alive. He’s a threat to his power.

So going into next week’s season finale, we have a new, huge mystery on our hands. A ghostly figure gives Ben all his orders? And Locke can hear him? I don’t wanna give anybody any spoilers, but I don’t think Locke will die. In fact, hopefully we’ll see him swoop in next week, Han Solo style, and save our survivors from the upcoming Other attack. And if Locke gets there in time, he’ll probably replace Ben as the one the Others look to. Once Ben’s is out of the way, maybe there will be more communication between the Hostiles/ Others and the survivors. Because no relationship can survive without communication. And then maybe we can go even deeper into the island’s mysteries.

With this week’s announcement that “Lost” has a set enddate (which means the writers can plan things out in advance and not stall their storytelling for fear that they won’t have enough material to make it into season nine or something awful like that,) this week’s amazing episode, and promises of a great season finale, “Lost” is on fire.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Happy Blog-iversary (To Me)

As of today, I've officially been writing this blog for a year. And by "writing this blog" I mean "occasionally updating it every few months or so (other than the Lost entries, which I'm also posting on the website I work for job anyway.")

So to anyone who has been looking at it for updates on my life, my take on movies, politics, or the like (and not just my redundant opinions on Lost,) I can only say that I'm sorry. And add that there are probably not many of you looking to this blog for that anway, but if there are any, I'm going to try and get back in the habit of blogging, and blogging about more diverse topics than "Lost." Besides, the season is ending next week. It's nice to be able to just sit down and indulge in writing whatever I want.

Besides, the summer movie season is upon us. And y'all know I'll be good for that. In fact, I feel a "Spiderman 3" review coming on.

Editors Note: I thought I made up the term "Blog-iversary." But it's already in the Urban Dictionary, and translates to "The yearly anniversary of someones web-log (blog)" Damn. One day I'll come up with a zeitgeisty buzz word!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Lost Watch: Locke It Down

Episode Title: The Brig Air Date: 5/02/2007

Right now “Lost” is as good as it’s ever been, and last night’s Locke-centric episode, “The Brig” was one of the best in the show’s three year run.

We finally got to see what Mr. Locke was doing for the last eight days since Ben showed him that his father was on the island and recruited him to join The Others, we got a little more out of the woman who parachuted onto the island (including, finally, her name, Naomi,) more mysterious behavior from Jack and Juliet, some resolution to Sawyer’s back-story, and even a few scenes with Sayid (seriously, why is he never in the show anymore?)

And the best news of all was that there weren’t flashbacks that delivered redundant information about the back stories of the characters. Locke’s flashbacks took place on the island and filled us in about what he’s been up to for the last eight days since he’s been with The Others, a question most fans have been desperate to have answered for a few weeks now.

So what did happen during those eight days? Ben tells Locke he had to kill his father in order to “let go of his past” and truly accept the island. When Locke can’t kill him, Richard, the smarmy smooth talker who got Juliet to come to the island, tells Locke that there is somebody else who might be persuaded to finish his father off if he can’t do the job. He hands him one of the files The Others have on all the islanders (who does the filing for The Others, by the way? Do they have an on-island summer intern?) and sends him off.

It’s Sawyers bio. Turns out one of my theories from almost two years ago has finally paid off (I’m not that smart though, I’m sure a lot of people saw it coming as well,) because, drum roll please…Locke’s dad is the original Sawyer, the man who conned our beloved Sawyer’s mom, which led to his father murdering her and killing himself. So obviously, James, let’s call him Good Sawyer, kills Locke’s dad, the o.g. Sawyer, in the bowels of the slave ship where they found the dynamite to blow the doors off the hatch back in season one.

A sentence like that can really make “Lost” seem like a ridiculous show, can’t it?

Before Good Sawyer kills Locke’s dad/ Bad Sawyer, the evil old bastard presents a theory…that they are not on an island at all. He tells James/ Sawyer that he was in a car accident, and right before he blacked out he saw a paramedic smiling as he slipped IV into him, and says “it’s too hot here to be heaven.” So we’re back to the theory that everyone on the island is dead.

But not so fast, Losties. First of all, what about Ben’s claim that he just appeared in a box? Ben contradicts the claim, at least slightly, when he admits that “the box is a metaphor.” And Locke’s dad’s line about a man smiling before he put the IV in him seems more important to me than anything. One of The Others was sent to bring him to the island is the most likely scenario, and they put something in him that knocked him out until he arrived there, just like they did to Juliet. Obviously, Ben is going to great lengths to manipulate Locke. His ability to heal on the island does make him special in some way, and let’s not forget-the island itself talks to him. And the island doesn’t talk to just anybody. It’s kinda snooty that way.

So Sawyer kills the man who gave him his name and fulfills Locke’s destiny for him. The two men part ways, but not before Locke warns him that the Others are planning another attack to steal Sun and any other pregnant women away- and other pregnant women will probably include Kate now that she’s sleeping with Sawyer on a regular basis. Sawyer asks Locke if he’s coming back, and Locke says he never will, that he’s “on his own journey now.”

Meanwhile, back at camp, Hurley, Desmond, Charlie, and Jin are having their own existential crisis after Naomi the parachutist tells them that the Oceanic Flight they were all on was found off the coast of Bali and that there were no survivors. When they bring Sayid in to talk to her, she tells them that she took off from a ship just nineteen miles away from the island, and that she was hired by Penny to look for Desmond. So the big cliffhanger at the end of season 2 has finally paid off…at the end of season 3.

What plane is she talking about if it’s not the one our heroes were on (because as Sayid says “clearly, we’re not dead.) I still stubbornly refuse to believe the “all the islanders are dead” theory, mostly because it would be too simple and obvious, and also because the show’s creators have categorically denied the theory all along. Though they could be throwing us off the trail, I don’t think they’d outright lie to the fans. Which leads to the question, was there a real plane? Did somebody stage a crash to cover up the fact that the survivors are missing, and to keep anyone from looking for them? Or more simply, is Naomi lying?

The last piece of the puzzle in “The Brig” was the group’s refusal to tell Jack about Naomi. Kate gets wind of the new arrival and when Sayid tells her, she informs Jack…and Juliet, who Jack stubbornly defends and tells Kate “anything you need to say, you can say in front of her.” Kate lets Jack know that the reason they haven’t told him about Naomi is that they no longer trust him, but he doesn’t seem concerned about it at all. He seems more concerned with finding out where the helicopter took off from. Juliet looks alarmed and mysteriously says to Jack “we should tell her,” but Jack disagrees, saying “she’s not ready.” So now we know for sure that Jack knows something he’s been keeping from everyone else. Maybe the group wasn’t wrong to stop trusting him.

It was another episode packed with information, drama, emotion, and even a little comedy (loved the bit when Rouseau shows up in the ship while Locke has Sawyer locked in the brig with his father and they have an awkward moment before she leaves with some dynamite…which I’m sure will pay off before the season ends.) So much has happened in the last two weeks that it’s made up for the slow middle section of the season. “Lost” is really firing on all cylinders again, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lost Watch: Were They Dead Before The Plane Even Crashed?

Episode Title: D.O.C. Air Date: 4/25/07

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

“Lost” delivered an episode so full of information, intrigue, and even a bit of action that it boggles the mind why there were so many weeks this season where it felt like there was absolutely no progress in the storyline.

And oh yeah, they realized they could focus on two different storylines in one episode. Instead of leaving us with blue balls after last week's episode in which Demond and co. found the parachuting woman in the trees by dedicating the whole hour to Sun, the episode was about both her story and the crew dealing with the newcomer to the island. Imagine that. Editing.

Last night was a Sun-centric episode, and in an early flashback a woman tells her that Jin’s mother (who he thought was dead) was a prostitute and demands $100,000 to keep the shame of knowing the truth from him. Sun finds Jin’s father, a sweet old fisherman, and he implores her not to let him know the truth about his mother, to let him think she died when he was a baby. So Sun goes to her rich and powerful crime lord father to get the hush money. The money leaves an unknowing Jin forever in his debt, which leads to him being turned into the angry and violent muscle-man who can’t get his wife pregnant.

Which is why there was such a mystery about who Sun’s babydaddy is in the first place. She was sleeping with another man before they crashed on the island, and a doctor told her that Jin was impotent. Though Juliet tells her that the island somehow makes people more fertile, she also finds out that every woman who becomes pregnant on the island died. Juliet takes her to the “fertility hatch” to find out when the Date of Conception was.

If the baby was conceived pre-island, it’s not her husbands. If it was conceived on island, Sun will most likely die. As she says to Juliet, “either way, I lose.”

In the end, it turns out that the baby was conceived on-island. Sun is happy- because it is her husband’s child, and even though the news is essentially a death sentence, she is at peace(and when Juliet tells her she has two months, we know that this thread will probably not resolved until the end of next season.)

Meanwhile, across the island, Sun’s husband is with Desmond, Hurley, and Charlie as they continue their “camping trip” from last week’s episode. They crew is caring for the woman they found hanging from the tree, who is bleeding to death with a branch stuck in her side. Too far away from camp to get Jack, the four of them are desperate to help her…until the previously presumed dead Eye-Patch-Sporting-Russian-Other (hereafter referred to as E.P.S.R.O.) shows up. After a foot chase in which he attempts to escape, Jin chases him down and kicks his ass, karate style. The Russian says he can help the dying woman- but only if they agree to let her go once she is safe.

He patches her up and, despite Charlie’s protests, Desmond lets him go- but not before E.P.S.R.O. attempts to steal the satellite phone the woman had with her. Jin catches him, and all he can say in his defense is “you would not have respected me had I not tried.”

Fair enough.

The best scenes of the fast paced and story packed episode came at the end. After Juliet finishes helping Sun, she goes to the back of the fertility hatch and picks up a tape recorder. She records a message for Ben, telling him that Sun is pregnant and that he will have samples from the other females soon. “Other samples?”

After clicking the recorder off, she says one last thing she can’t let him hear but clearly wants to say to Ben: “I hate you.” Our poor Juliet is conflicted about where her loyalties lie. By the end of the season, something’s gonna have to give with her.

The shocker moment came last night when Hurley was talking to the still confused and groggy tree woman. She looks around and asks where she is. Hurley tells her they are on an island, and they are the survivors of Oceanic Airlines flight 815 out of Sydney. The woman looks confused and tells him that it’s impossible that they were on that flight- because “they found the airplane and there were no survivors.”

Did you hear that? That’s the sound of thousands of “Lost” fans who all believe the popular theory that all the survivors are dead and the island is actually a purgatory high fiveing. The appearance of E.P.S.R.O., who tells Desmond “I already died last week,” would seem to confirm the theory further. But not so fast everyone! I think the “recovered plane with no survivors” information is a clever ruse by the writers to lead us back down that path again. Last season’s Hurley-centric episode “Dave,” in which a friend from the big guy’s past (the bald guy who played either Ricky or Ronnie on Aaron Sorkin’s not quite but soon to be cancelled “Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip,”) tries to convince him to jump off a cliff because they are already dead anyway, was a direct denial of the island as purgatory theory. My theory about last night’s last scene revelation is that there was some sort of cover up about the crashed plane back in the real world, maybe by Dharma, so that everyone who had family members in the crash would stop looking for them.

Which means the survivors are more screwed than they thought they had been for the first two seasons- not only are they on an island far off course from where everyone would be looking for them, it turns out nobody is even looking for them in the first place.

If the crazy, internet born theory about everyone being dead is untrue, it still leaves a whole raft of questions to be answered? Why is E.P.S.R.O. still alive? What does that fence actually do to people? Why is the smoke monster scared of it? What’s going to happen to Sun? What kinds of “samples” is Juliet trying to collect from the lovely ladies of “Lost?” Where the hell did the woman in the tree come from, and how did she know Desmond?

Tune in next week for some answers and, most likely, even more questions.

Lost Watch: Enough With The Foreplay

NOTE: Sorry to my one or two readers for not posting this entry. I put it up on the Broadcaster Beat last week the day after it aired, but never got around to throwing it up on my personal blog. Also, I promise one day soon to get back to bloggin' about things other than "Lost," even if it is about other tv shows, movies, and the like...I mean, let's talk about "24" this year, am I right??

Episode Title: "Catch 22" Air Date: 4/18/2007

“Lost” was another transitional episode last night, all setup for what is coming in the last few episodes before the season finale. It was spiced up with Desmond’s vision of Charlie dying a violent death, but we knew that wasn’t gonna happen from the beginning, didn’t we?

Desmond has one of his jigsaw puzzle-like visions in which someone arrives on the island after ditching a helicopter- and he thinks it is Penny, the woman he abandoned. Unfortunately, Charlie dies in his vision and Desmond wants everything to go as he sees it in his head- because changing it will mean it might not turn out how he saw it, and he might not see Penny. Thus Desmond decides he is willing to sacrifice Charlie in order to reunite with his girlfriend.

Des puts together a team to enter the jungle that includes Hurley, Charlie, and Jin- telling Hurley they are coming on the trip because they are the ones who are supposed to go on the trip, according to his vision.

As they trek deeper into the jungle, Desmond becomes more conflicted about the fate he may be dooming poor Charlie to. His flashbacks underscore the theme of sacrifice, as we see that Desmond once tried to become a monk, living on a monetary and taking a month long vow of silence. But it turns out that he had a “religious awakening” right before he was to marry another woman, before he met Penny. Fans will remember that Desmond ended up on the island because he set off on a sailing trip around the world instead of marrying Desmond’s much longed for Penny.

This guy’s commitment issues have taken him to some strange places.

Meanwhile, back at the survivor’s camp, a soap opera is developing as Kate becomes jealous of Jack’s growing closeness with Other spy Juliet, who he is beginning to foolishly trust more and more. Kate sleeps with Sawyer again, but this time because she is jealous of Dr. Jack and the shifty Juliet’s new relationship. Poor Sawyer only gets laid when Kate thinks he is going to die or if she’s jealous. But considering Juliet’s mixed intentions, Jack’s affections will probably return to Kate soon.

Demond and co.’s journey ends the way he thought it would, leading up to Charlie stepping on a trip wire that launches an arrow. At the last second, Desmond pulls Charlie out of harm’s way, saving his life but altering the time line he saw in his head.

But the team has come far enough without Charlie’s sacrifice. They find a woman hanging in the trees who has parachuted out of a helicopter. She’s alive, but when they take off her helmet, it’s not Penny. Did Desmond's choice to save Charlie actually change the person hanging out in the jungle?

Whoever she is, she knows Desmond.

The episode had some pretty cool elements, and I always love time travel/ seeing the future stuff. There were a couple nice little Easter Eggs as well, including the photo on the head monk’s desk when he talked to Desmond in his office- the woman with the monk was the batty old lady who told Desmond in his alterna-flashback earlier this season that he was supposed to leave Penny and end up on the island, that the fate of the world depended on it. And the new stranger amongst the islanders is evidence that finally something has come of the crazy last scene in season 2 in which it was revealed that Penny is searching for Desmond, using paranoid dudes in a bunker in Antarctica.

So it was a cool episode that dealt with themes of fate vs. freewill, and set Desmond up with a very tough and compelling choice. But ultimately, it was another episode that was more setup for things to come. Hopefully, the payoff will be worth it. Personally though, I'm getting a bit tired of all the foreplay. Let's get to the action already.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lost Watch: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Episode Title: One of Us Air Date: 4/11/2007

Juliet joined the survivors at their camp last night on “Lost,” and her arrival gave loyal viewers a glimpse at trouble brewing down the road.

As predicted, Sayid wanted answers out of Juliet, while Jack protected her from his torture-happy ways.

Turns out Jack was wrong.

The flashbacks were used cleverly on “Lost” last night, a rarity for the show these days. We got to see more of Juliet’s backstory, more about her journey to the island. We got to see why she was motivated to get back home- her sister, who was dying of cancer, has become pregnant because Juliet has discovered a way to make her fertile. But when her cancer returns, Ben promises he can cure it- if Juliet agrees to stay on the island.

And somehow, he keeps his promise.

Last night’s episode also provided much needed hints as to what she was doing working for The Others. She was trying to figure out why women were unable to give birth on the island, why their bodies reject their children if they are conceived there. Turns out Claire was the first person to have a child on the island without dying, and Juliet believes it was because her baby was conceived elsewhere.

Which is probably bad news for Sun.

Claire gets sick after Juliet first arrives, and Juliet tells Jack she can help. She explains that she is sick because way back in Season one, creepy Ethan was injecting her with a drug that would help the baby survive, and that Claire is going through withdrawal from the drug. She tells Jack that Ethan left supplies in the jungle that can save Claire’s life. Though her story makes very little sense, Jack trusts her and lets her help.

Sayid and Sawyer follow her out to the supplies, finally confronting her for the answers that Jack doesn’t seem to need. She shames the former con man and Iraqi interrogator into letting her go so she can help Claire, but it turns out that they might have had a good reason to force information from her.

In the last scene of the episode, Juliet’s flashback take us to right before last week’s episode- to Ben planning how she will manipulate her way into the camp of the survivors, how she will make it look like she has been left behind by The Others along with Jack, Kate, and Sayid. Ben even mentions that the “implant” in Claire has been activated, and that it will make her sick soon…which will give Juliet a crisis to avert and help her gain the trust of the survivors. Though Juliet has a conflicted look on her face, she still agrees to go along with Ben’s plans.

And then he tells her “see you in a week.” Jack needs to stop being such a decent guy and trusting everyone. It's obviously not a policy that is helpful at this point.

One of The Others is in the survivors’ camp, and we don’t know why. Clearly, something bad is coming for our survivors. Is Juliet going to kidnap the pregnant Sun? Will The Others finally make it clear to everyone exactly what they want? Will we find out what Juliet meant when she said “if you knew everything I knew, you’d kill me?” Does her conflicted look she will betray Ben? Did he read everything her face meant and not care?

The episode was a clever precursor to things to come. A few questions were answered and most of Juliet’s true motivations were revealed to us (though it wouldn't be "Lost" if everything became crystal clear) through good use of the flashbacks. And the questions that were not answered were covered up well through Juliet’s refusal to give up too much to Sayid, who at this point is as frustrated with the lack of solid information about The Others as the audience is. Juliet even addressed Jack’s lack of need for questions and asked him why he didn’t need to know more about her. Jack’s unsatisfying answer is that when the submarine blew up three weeks ago, he saw the look on her face, saw that she wanted to get off the island as much as anybody else, and that makes her one of them.

Maybe asking people questions would be a smart habit for Jack to take up. If he was a bit more curious about her, then he might not be leading everyone into trouble as quickly as he has been.

The last few episodes have felt like a slow climb before the big drop on a roller coaster, and it seems like we are close to the top. Like any good rollercoaster, “Lost” will probably follow the rule that the slower the climb up, the faster and steeper the drop down. Hold on tight, because it’s gonna be quite a ride.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Lost Watch: Welcome to the Wonderful World of Not Knowing What the Hell is Going On

Episode Title: Left Behind Air Date: 3/4/2007

A pretty standard episode with a few interesting elements, last night’s Kate-centric “Lost” didn’t reveal too much that we didn’t already know about the Others, the monster, or Kate’s back story, even though major portions of screen time were spent on all three subjects.

The most interesting developments from the episode last night came from The Others abandoning their idyllic Other-town. Before they left, Locke came in to say goodbye to Kate, because he was going to somewhere with them.

That’s right, John Locke has joined team Others. We’ve always known that something was going to snap with him, but now he’s gone off the deep end and disappeared with the show’s main villains as they withdraw further into the island. At least the defanged and whiny Locke is gone. That guy sure hasn’t learned from his constant mistakes, but I’m sure that going off with the Others will have no terrible consequences.

The other big development from last night was the fact that they left Juliet behind along with Jack, Sayid, and Kate. Juliet did betray Ben when she told Jack to let him die in surgery, and was trying to leave on the submarine with Jack. But did they really leave her with the survivors because she was banished from the Others or is this just another one of Ben’s many manipulations, with Juliet meant to infiltrate the group?

Juliet already admitted to one deception last night- after spending time in the jungle handcuffed to Kate, and evading the big ol’ smoke monster all night, Juliet admits that she was the one who handcuffed them together, to try and win Kate’s sympathies after being abandoned by the people she’d spent the last three years of her life with.

Juliet does a pretty poor job of ingratiating herself with Kate after bringing up Jack, which leads to a vicious fight between the handcuffed women. For a few minutes, “Lost” devolves into a women’s prison picture. I had to check the credits to make sure Quentin Tarantino wasn’t behind the episode, because it felt a bit like a self conscious B-movie homage for a moment there.

When the women get back to Other town, Juliet chases the smoke monster away by activating the big metal security fence. She tells Kate that they don’t know what it is, but know that “it doesn’t seem to like our fence.” When they reunite with Jack, Kate apologizes for her part in ruining his hopes of leaving the island, but he seems more concerned with Juliet than Kate by that point.


Jack decides it’s time to head back to camp with the rest of the survivors, bringing Juliet along. Sayid seems displeased, but Jack insists, because she was left behind, just like them.

Which means Sayid is gonna go all Jack Bauer on Juliet next week and interrogate the sh#t out of her, hopefully finally revealing a lot more about The Others than we already know.

Kate’s flashback story was weak- she wants to talk to her mother even though she is heavily guarded by US Marshals trying to arrest her. She enlists the help of the woman Sawyer conned in one of his flashbacks almost two seasons ago. Yawn. I just hope these connections that all the Survivors have actually add up to something and are not just “cool coincidences.”

The “B story,” (as it’s called in the TV biz,) took place back at the survivor’s camp with Hurley telling Sawyer that the group was planning to take a vote on whether or not to banish Sawyer from camp. Sawyer is convinced to act nice to the rest of the survivors, talking to Claire about the baby, helping Desmond hunt for boar, and cooking up a nice meat roast after the hunt. The whole time Hurley is talking him through it, acting as like the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” if the angel was trying to tell Jimmy Stewart to stop being such a jackass to everyone.

After Sawyer has won over the crowd, Hurley admits that he made the whole banishment vote up to teach him a lesson- that most people are looking to Sawyer to be a leader and that he needs to stop acting selfishly. Hurley owned him, proving again that he's the real GURU of the island. The slightly amusing subplot ended with one of those weird, slo-mo montages set to a bad pop song that “Lost” resorts to once in awhile, with a smiling Sawyer learning that, aw shucks, it’s okay to be nice.

Overall, “Left Behind” was more of a transitional episode, setting stuff up that should pay off nicely in the next few weeks. It will be good to see the whole crew (sans crazy Locke) back together again for the first time this season, and it will be really nice to see what Juliet has to reveal about The Others- and if she’s really been banished or if she’s still working with them. And maybe there will be more awesome catfights between her and Kate.

One can dream at least.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lost Watch: Who the Hell are Niki and Paulo?

The writers of “Lost” made one of the signature moves that angers their loyal fans again and again: the week after one of the show’s best episode airs, ending on a cliffhanger that blows the collective minds of anybody with even a passing interest in the show…they follow it with an episode that has nothing to do with what happened the previous week, that features characters uninvolved with whatever storyline is heating up, and ends up sending fans running to vent their frustrations at the watercooler or on their blogs.

Clearly, the show’s creators are doing this on purpose, and enjoying making us squirm a bit.

So I'm with you, "Lost" loyalists: like you, I want to know what’s going to happen with Locke’s dad, what Jack and Juliet will do now that they're stuck on the island, if Sayid and Kate will be allowed to go home, and what Ben's next creepy manipulation will be. But we’ll get to that eventually.

Last night we got Niki and Paulo.

Since the beginning of season three, these two attractive yet annoying characters have been showing up with increased frequency. I get that there are more survivors from the crash than we have time to follow, so it’s fine once in awhile to feature survivors who are not among our main crew that we've grown to love over three seasons. And I’ve always liked the idea that any of these bit players would be jealous about the adventures only the main characters are involved in. It’s a nice, self aware bit that proves the writers are paying attention to TV history- these are the nameless crew members of “Star Trek” if those hapless “red shirts” were pissed about being sidelined.

Fans have been complaining about Niki and Paulo since they first appeared, so last night’s episode was a nice way of acknowledging their complaints while making a big wink wink joke out of them. They even brought back Boone and Shannon, two of the most hated characters in the show’s history (who were also the first two main characters to be killed off) to top off the trick of trying to integrate the two new characters into the fabric of the show’s first three seasons.

Sawyer and Hurley’s ping pong game is interrupted when a panicked Niki falls down in front of them, gasping for air. She “dies” right in front of their eyes, and when they look for Paulo, they find him dead as well. Hurley decides to lead an investigation, and the episode suddenly becomes “CSI: Mystery Island.” As Charlie, Jin, and Sun join the investigation, the show flashes back to reveal Niki and Paulo’s backstories.

Turns out Niki is an actress who was a bit player on a TV show in which she is killed off (more self awareness.) The show she appears on is a cheesy romp about stripper detectives, complete with a badass boss played by Lando himself, BILLY DEE WILLIAMS (who, in a twist on the show within the show, reveals himself to be the villain- in a possible plant for a twist down the line on “Lost?”)

Niki is sleeping with the show’s older producer, and Paulo is his chef. The poor old fellow doesn’t realize that he is a mark, and Niki and Paulo poison him- in order to steal millions of dollars in diamonds. The rest of the episode follows Niki and Paulo trying to find the diamonds on the island after the plane crash, leading to a confrontation in which Niki throws a poisonous spider at Paulo- one which paralyzes him for eight hours. Soon we hear a subtle background sound that implies the big bad smoke monster is approaching, and Niki is bit by the spiders as well.

Our main castaways finally figure out that the couple poisoned eachother over the diamonds, and selfish ol’ Sawyer learns a lesson about greed, pouring the diamonds out into their graves. As they bury the hapless side characters, Niki’s eyes flash open-but it’s too late, and the couple is buried alive.

Overall, the episode was a silly diversion from the main story. I liked the self aware jokiness, and I liked that it had an old school, “Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” tone, complete with a darkly comic moral about greed that led to the characters being buried alive and the slightly cheesy/retro score that ended the episode. It was an hour of television that was all about television, which acknowledged the kind of TV that inspired “Lost.” It didn’t move the mystery on the island forward and revealed little new information, but I did kind of dig the clever/ silly ways that the two new characters crossed paths with all the major characters from the show. When Paulo spies Ben and Juliet planning how they will get Jack to perform surgery on him, it’s can only be a joke about expository dialogue when Ben says “I will exploit what he is emotionally attached to and get him to help me.” Just a funny and self aware episode, even if it was treading water. And it had Lando in it.

So I'll accept this wander away from the main plot without complaint. But with all that said- I do want to know what’s going to happen with Locke’s dad, what Jack and Juliet will do now that they're stuck on the island, if Sayid and Kate will be allowed to go home, and what Ben's next creepy manipulation will be.
So let's get on with it, shall we?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lost Watch: Locke Box

Episode Title: The Man from Tallahassee Air Date: March 21, 2007

“Lost” is officially back on track, and it’s thrilling to actually be excited with the show instead of pissed off about it on a Thursday morning.

As always, spoilers are ahead.

Last night’s episode finally revealed why John Locke was in a wheelchair for four years before he crash landed onto mystery island…and more importantly why he’s so angry and scared of leaving while the rest of the castaways are desperately trying to find a way home.

His father, the con artist who convinced him to donate his kidney, is in town, about to marry a rich woman. When the woman’s son comes to Locke looking to see if he vouches for him, Locke goes after his father and tells him to leave. After the kid ends up dead, Locke goes to his apartment to confront him- and gets pushed out of an eight story window, paralyzing him. Clearly, Locke’s life totally sucked before he got to the island.

While Kate and Sayid attempt to rescue Jack (who doesn’t want to be saved,) Locke has other plans. He finds high ranking “Other” Ben, incapacitated after Jack performed surgery on him, and holds him at gunpoint, wanting to know where the submarine that the dead Russian Other spoke of is docked.

Ben quickly figures out that Locke plans on blowing up the sub, which would effectively cut the islanders off from the outside world. Ben pleads with Locke to leave the sub alone, telling him it is the only connection that his people have with the outside now that the “anomaly” (the Hatch explosion from the end of season 2 caused by Locke) has cut off their radio contact. Ben tells him he doesn’t have to blow up the sub, that he knows Locke has committed to the island fully and doesn’t need to fear that the sub exists. He tells him about a “magic box” on the island in which whatever you dream, whatever you want, comes out of it, and that Ben will show it to him if he doesn’t blow up the sub.

Locke is steadfast in his convictions, telling Ben he feels the Others have “cheated” by their actions on the island, not really committing to it by living in houses with air conditioning, fully stocked fridges, and keeping their connection to the outside world intact.

That’s right, crazy John Locke, the man who is in love with the island, is back in a big way. His obsession with the Hatch in Season 2 was clearly just a short term fling. But what he and the island have- that’s forever.

After Locke finds the sub, he peeks down the entrance in a shot eerily reminiscent of the last shot from Season 1, when he finally got the hatch open. Then he blows it up, even after finding out why Jack’s been so friendly with the Others- Ben was about to let him go home on the sub. Poor Jack is stuck after his one ticket home is sunk.

This is the third hatch that Locke has blown to pieces, if you want to count the sub as a hatch. His erratic, stubborn, angry, and sometimes stupid behavior is becoming the show’s true wild card, throwing everything out of whack.

When Locke is captured by the Others, Ben tells him he wants to show him something- something that came out of the “magic box.” He wants to show him “The Man from Tallahassee,” who Ben asked one of his henchmen to fetch earlier. Locke is shocked to find his con artist father bound and gagged in a closet.

Boom. Cut to black.

It was a wild ride that was also a welcome reminder that the show’s mysteries go deeper than just figuring out who the Others are- the island’s story is so much bigger than that. The last two seasons have focused so much on The Others that it’s nice to remember that the Island has so much more to reveal than just whether The Others are Dharma or not.

It's also nice to see another episode where Locke is his intense, weird, unpredictable self again. He was so whiny in Season 2, confined to the hatch and punching in numbers for the whole year. It's good to see the old badass yet kinda stupid Locke of season one making trouble for his friends again. Somebody needs to talk this guy through some of his decision making- every time he's decided to do something, it's panned out pretty badly. But are all his choices leading to something the island is trying to reveal? Or is the island itself playing him like everyone else seems to? That would make Locke even sadder- the guy's so gullible, a mass of land can con him.

So this weeks list of questions include: how did Locke’s dad get to the island (did he really appear in a magic box or is Ben lying?) Will Locke try to kill him, or maybe have a father son bonding session where they hunt boars together? Is Locke’s dad the same con artist who ruined Sawyer’s parents’ lives and turned him into who he is? What’s going to happen to Jack now that he’s stuck on the island? Will he be accused of abandoning his friends? Why was he playing football with them- just because he struck a deal with them doesn't mean they are all best friends, does it? Are the Others and castaways going to be spending more time together instead of being seperated from now on? What will happen to Kate and Sayid now that they are prisoners of The Others? And what the hell is the so called MAGIC BOXanyway?

Just a few weeks after many fans thought they could free up an hour in your schedule on Wendesday nights, “Lost” gets addictive and exciting again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lost Watch: Saving a Sinking Ship

After months of teases and subplots that have gone nowhere, declining ratings, and bloggers and critics mercilessly slamming season 3 of “Lost,” is the show finally turning a corner and turning back into the exciting show that America couldn’t turn away from a mere two years ago? Last night’s episode, while flawed, was a step in the right direction.

Spoilers are ahead, so don’t read this if the episode is waiting for you unwatched on your TIVO.

When I heard the focus of this episode’s flashbacks was going to be Claire, who may be the most boring character on the show, I wasn’t thrilled. But to my surprise, for the first time in what feels like months, the writers actually revealed some new information through the flashbacks- after a gothed out Claire with dark hair (very hot by the way) gets into a car accident that puts her mother into a coma, her absentee father shows up to Australia to help- and it turns out to be Jack’s dad.

On the island, Claire gets an idea to try and catch one of the birds flying by- because she sees that they are “tagged” and will eventually be studied by scientists. Claire decides she wants to catch one and put a note in it that could lead to the rescue of the islanders. Conflict arises when Desmond tells Charlie not to help her- because he has another vision in which Charlie dies by slipping on a rock as he tries to catch a bird for Claire. The whole mess leads to Desmond explaining his creepy psychic powers to Claire- who, to her credit, accepts them and tells Charlie she will help him get through it.

More interestingly, Kate, Locke, Sayid, and the scary French lady continue their search for Jack, with the eye patched Russian Other in tow as a prisoner. When they approach a giant perimeter of huge metal pylons, the group doesn’t know how to proceed- until Locke pushes the prisoner between them to see what happens. In one of the more bizarre and cool scenes of the year, the Russian is killed by weird sonic wave, foaming from the mouth, bleeding from his ears- and smiling the whole time. Creepy and cool, just like “Lost” should be.

The murder also leads Kate and Sayid to question Locke’s decision to use the Russian as a guinea pig. Locke shrugs it off, but is unable to explain why he has a bunch of C4 explosives in his bag. Clearly, our man Locke is looking for a little revenge after head Other Ben humiliated him last season.

Finally, team badass team decides to chop down a tree and use it to climb over one of the pylons. When they get into Other territory, they find the creepy little on-island suburb that was revealed in the stunning opening episode of season 3- and discover a smiling Jack (which might be a first for the series) playing football with the Others.


So has Jack been brainwashed? Is he trying to trick The Others so he can escape? Or, as they continue to claim, has Jack discovered that The Others are "not the bad guys?" And what will Claire and Jack's newly revealed brother/ sister relationship mean to the show? Overall, the episode revealed enough info to whet the appetites of an audience that has grown impatient with the show, but more importantly promised greatness to come on next week’s Locke-centric episode. It looks like “Lost” is back, right when many fans were ready to write it off for good.

Theories and Conjectures:
*JACK HAS BEEN BRAINWASHED: The Others claim that they're "not the bad guys," but after killing, kidnapping, and generally terrorizing the crash survivors, I think they can be pretty easily categorized as "villains." After seeing the zobmie-like behavior of the kidnapped survivors when they were "watching" Jack in the animal cage a few weeks back, and seeing the kid in the creepy "Clockwork Orange" like theatre, there is clearly some kind of mind control going on- and we'll find out more next week.

*THE OTHERS ARE DHARMA: The Russian Other was just toying with team badass when he told them he was a member of Dharma and the Others weren't- and told them about "the purge" in which the Others wiped out Dharma scientists. It's all a fucked up psychological experiment by Dharma- whatever Dharma is.

*CHARLIE IS NOT GOING TO DIE...BUT CLAIRE JUST MIGHT: Charlie won't die. He's one of the most popular characters on the show, and the fact that he's been told he will die just proves he won't- the writers wouldn't give out the info that he might die if they actually intended to kill him. It's just meant to build tension. My money is on Claire biting the dust- she is a boring character, and Charlie as a single dad raising her baby would be kind of interesting- in a generic Hollywood comedy sorta way (Charlie, Hurley, and Sawyer could star in a remake of "Three Men and a Baby.") But the new relevation that Claire is related to Jack suddenly makes her a bit more interesting, which leads to...

*JACK AND CLAIRE'S NEWLY REVEALED REALTION TO EACHOTHER IS GOING TO PAY OFF: I'm not sure how, but most of the little connections between the main characters last year turned out to be nothing more than coincidences. I don't have much to go on, but I feel like the writers revealed the big connection between Jack and Claire for a reason- especially now that Jack has become a Zombie-Other.

*THE LOCKE EPISODE NEXT WEEK WILL ROCK FOR MANY REASONS, NONE OF WHICH INCLUDE THE FLASHBACKS: This week's reveal notwithstanding, the flashbacks have become really tedious. I know next week's Locke episode is going to reveal how he ended up in a wheelchair- and to be frank, I don't care at this point. But I do care that Locke's behavior has become increasingly bizarre, and I want to know why. I miss the crazy/ weird/ slightly creepy Locke of season one, and I'm glad to see he's back. And I can't wait to see him confront manipulative lead Other Ben.

*"HEROES" AND "LOST" FANS ARE GOING TO BELIEVE TALK OF "THE LIST" MEANS THE SHOWS ARE CONNECTED: This is a silly theory based upon the fact that the show shares a few writers, creative consultants, and producers. The shows are on two different networks, have a very similar demographic but not the exact same audience down to each viewer, and...a crossover between the shows would be horribly stupid and lame.