LOST 6.10: Charles Widmore’s Big Package

Widmore has his eyes on the prize.

While this week’s LOST certainly held my interest, it was not one of this season’s stronger entries. The primary focus seemed to be on explaining the other side of Sayid’s L.A.-verse story – just how Jin came to be put on ice in the walk-in fridge at the restaurant (He was about to be iced!). But tucked into the framing story on the Island was the revelation that all the people whose names are not crossed off the list in Jacob’s cave must leave the Island together.

Well, give the-powers-that-be points for consistency, at least. Recall that all members of the Oceanic 6 had to return to the Island together. And course this admonition echoes the series-long theme of “live together, die alone.” Other threads picked up upon included Widmore’s and Ben’s warnings that “war” was coming to the Island; and destiny vs. free will, as when the Man in Black told Sun he wouldn’t ask her to do anything she didn’t want to. And was it just me, or did MiB hint to Claire that Kate’s name might have been one of those crossed off the cave wall. We did not see her listed back in episode “The Substitute.” And his casual mention after they are off the Island, “whatever happens, happens,” felt like tacit acknowledgment that Claire can cap Kate if she still wants to. Speaking of getting off the Island on that plane, Smokey cannot travel over water under his own power – apparently that’s why the Island is his prison?
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LOST 6.9: Poor Richard’s Almanac

Endless life's a beach for Richard

So how terrific was LOST this week? After all these years, we finally get the scoop on Richard — and it was worth the wait. We learned everything we needed: Who Richard is, whose death he has on his conscience, why he is on the Island, and what he is doing there.

It’s no surprise Richard insisted to Jack, Hugo and the others that they are all dead and the Island is hell — because from his perspective that’s all very true. What it boils down to is, Richard (Nestor Carbonell) is something of a modern Job: He’s a powerless pawn locked in the crossfire of a battle between higher powers he cannot begin to understand. Woes have been visited upon him for the amusement of others. Everyone who has wielded power over him has let him down or even outright betrayed him — from the doctor who scoffed at the idea of riding out in the rain to minister to Richard’s sick wife, to the corpulent priest who withheld God’s grace and condemned him to hell. There was Magnus Hanso, who instead of rescuing Richard from death by hanging ultimately condemned him by setting him on a course to a far worse living death. And then there are Jacob and the Man in Black, mysterious forces in human form who amuse themselves by using Richard. Only the poor guy isn’t a chess piece — he’s more like a ball they kick around.
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LOST 6.7: Paging Dr. Linus…

Ben, Miles and Ilana

This week’s LOST gave us another set of long-sought answers amid another fine Ben-centric episode, one that teased out his central motivation (in both universes): lust for power.

On the Island, Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) took Ben (Michael Emerson) prisoner, and he explained how he sacrificed what he valued most — his daughter, Alex (Tania Raymonde) — for the sake of the Island. Or, more specifically, because Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) had led Ben to believe that he had a great responsibility as protector the Island. “I had a chance to save her, but I chose the Island over her,” he confessed. “All in the name of Jacob.” So he stabbed Jacob to death as revenge…but also out of fear of losing his power over the Island’s denizens.
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LOST 6.6: I Am…I Sayid

Sayid stabs MiB

This week’s LOST was about personal destiny and free will. (Not aiming too high, are we, LOST?)

In two universes, Sayid (Naveen Andrews) struggled to come to grips with what kind of man was, who he is now, and what sort of person he aspires to be in the future. In the L.A. universe, Sayid is a merchant, while Nadia (Andrea Gabriel) is not only alive, she is married to Sayid’s brother, Omer (Cas Anvar), a dry-cleaner. Seems Omer borrowed money from the wrong folks and so he asked his brother to call upon his Republican Guard skills to go all Rambo on the loan sharks. But Sayid resisted — just as he resisted the temptation of Nadia, whom he clearly loves and who adores him. He even told her that he was a once a bad man and does not deserve her. Of course the mobsters tired of waiting for their money and brutalized Omer, which prompted Sayid to go all Rambo on their asses after all. How random was having Martin Keamy (Kevin Durand) show up as a gangster? From Kahana captain to mob lieutenant? Well, I guess they are both tough guys motivated by money.

Back on the island, Sayid was tired of being jerked around by Dogen (Hiroyuki Sanada), and so demanded and explanation for being “tested” by that Princess Bride-type machine. Dogen told him that the device allowed him to determine how a man’s scale of good and evil is balanced, and that Sayid’s scales were balanced the “wrong way.” But which way is that? From Dogen’s perspective, Sayid might have been too far on the side of the angels. (If concepts of “Good” and “Evil” still have any meaning on the Island…)
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LOST 6.4: Your Number’s Up!

John Locke

You wanted answers to the big questions? How about “Where did the Numbers come from?” Now we know. They came from Jacob, who wrote the names of people aboard Oceanic Flight 815 on a cave wall. And the so-called magic Numbers correspond with the survivors – well, the survivors and John Locke, depending on how you classify him. Nonetheless, the explanation was suitably spooky; c’mon, names and numbers scratched into the stone of a nearly inaccessible hidden cave. That’s pretty cool. And hey, that scale was balancing one white rock and one black rock. The Man in Black pitched the white one into the sea. How many times have we seen black and white rocks – not to mention The Black Rock slave ship?

The numbers and the people associated with them are as follows: 4 – Locke. 8 – Reyes, 15 – Ford, 16 – Jarrah, 23 – Shephard, 42 – Kwon (but is that Jin or Sun?).

This leaves us with one gigantic question: What about Kate? What’s her number? Did Locke/Smokey simply not show her to Sawyer? Why didn’t Sawyer ask about Freckles? See below for my theory.
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LOST 6.1, 6.2: Kate’s in a Tree!

Juliet hangs in there…

So, after spending some eight months chewing over the Big Questions left by the LOST finale last May — Did Juliet really detonate the nuclear device? Will the white flash reset the clock? Will Oceanic Flight 815 avoid crashing on the island? Will our friends end up forgetting each other and never meeting? Will absolutely nothing happen? — it turns out the answer is, Z: All of the Above and More.

Jack and Faraday’s plan was to detonate the nuke within the confines of the electromagnetic pocket and “reset” the island’s timeline. And it worked. Only it didn’t.

Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) insisted she set off the bomb (and “It worked”), but the Swan site remained intact. At least, in one version of the story. It would appear that instead of resetting time, the blast splintered reality. I think the show began by showing us Jack (Matthew Fox) on the plane in another universe, one in which Flight 815 avoids the original White Event and lands safely in Los Angeles. Perhaps the close encounter with the island left Jack 2.0 with some kind of vague imprint that made him notice the people he otherwise would have been trapped alongside — Desmond, Rose, Bernard, Sayid, etc. It was great fun to once again see such dearly departed characters as Boone (Ian Somerhalder, now Damon on THE VAMPIRE DIARIES) and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan, now Simon on FLASHFORWARD). Mitchell will be seen again as Erica when V returns. Heck, even goofy science teacher Arzt was worth a laugh. Oh, and the island itself is now underwater.
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V Redux: It Came From Madison Avenue

The new version of V is designed to be a reboot, but tacking on the conventions of our current TV landscape calls attention to the familiarity of the concept. Of course a little of this is part-and-parcel of being a remake, and thus unavoidable, however, everything that is being ladled on top is also all too familiar. V feels like we’ve seen it all before because we have seen it all before. Literally.

 

Morena Baccarin

This time around, the idea is, when 21st-century aliens invade, they will not come as warriors, but rather as marketing agents. They will invade via advertising, with pamphlets, white teeth, long legs and tight butts. And a subtle message of inclusiveness and the common good. Heck, the Visitors were even offering “universal health care” — red meat for TV talking head Chad Decker (Scott Wolf), if only he hadn’t compromised his morals in exchange for ratings. Blast!

 

It was clever to cast Morena Baccarin (ex-Inara, FIREFLY/Serenity) as Anna, the beautiful public face of the Visitors; Baccarin also played Adria, the beautiful public face of the invading Ori cult on STARGATE SG-1. And, well, the Visitors are practically setting themselves up as a cult, to the point of recruiting confused young people. Getting Laura Vandervoort, whose big break came playing the alien Supergirl…er, Kara on SMALLVILLE, for Lisa was another sly casting move, as was bringing aboard Joel Gretsch (as Father Jack), who knows a thing or two about alien abduction after starring on THE 4400. Oh, Alan Tudyk used to play Wash alongside Baccarin on FIREFLY. Gee, one begins to understand why everything feels familiar, even without seeing ALIEN NATION before or District 9 this summer.

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Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 5/14/09

One thing I can count on is that stuff will happen in the season finale of LOST. Lives will be…er, lost, and stuff will get blowed up good. And boy, did stuff ever happen! Perhaps the biggest development was the death of Juliet. Is she really dead? I think so. But did she manage to detonate Jughead’s explosive core or did the electromagnetic bubble rupture and unleash yet another “white event” time jump? If the nuke was detonated, what effect will it have? Miles could have been correct: the nuclear detonation itself could have been the Incident. Wouldn’t Juliet’s wrenching, tragic, Shakespearean death (Juliet kills herself in despair over losing her Romeo — get it?) be wasted if she gets resurrected by a reset? From a meta standpoint, consider this: Elizabeth Mitchell, who played Juliet, has the lead role in the new version of V. And dying is no impediment to appearing on this show. But no matter what happened, I think the ultimate result of that whiteout will be to jump all the Losties back to 2007, so everyone can be together. And when I say everyone, I include John Locke’s corpse. The other giant reveal was that Locke is actually still dead. Apparently Jacob’s enemy took on John’s form — he didn’t reanimate the corpse. Which begs the question, was this guy responsible for the sightings on the Island, like Christian and Walt sightings over the years? (For that matter, did he play the horse Kate saw?)

We were introduced to Jacob weaving tapestry and lounging on the beach in the shadow of the statue. A “friend” joined him to look at a sailing ship on the horizon — I’m guessing it’s the Black Rock. The black-shorted man discussed how much he wanted to kill Jacob and vowed to find a “loophole.” Their stalemate sounds suspiciously like Ben’s arrangement with Charles Widmore. Mark Pellegrino (best known as the abusive Paul on DEXTER) played Jacob, and his unnamed frenemy was played by Titus Welliver (Kyle, LIFE; ex-Silas, DEADWOOD). In a series of flashbacks, we learned that Jacob touched the lives of many of the Losties: Jacob paid for the lunchbox Katie shoplifted; Jacob gave little James Ford a pen with which to finish writing his letter to Anthony Cooper, vowing revenge; Jacob distracted Sayid so Nadia could be killed; When John hit the ground after being thrown out the window by Anthony Cooper, he appeared dead until Jacob revived him with a touch; Jacob got Jack’s Apollo candy bar unstuck from the vending machine; Jacob told Hurley that talking to the dead is a blessing, not a curse, and encouraged him to board Akira Flight 316 (and bring that guitar); Jacob was a guest at Jin and Sun’s wedding. We even saw Jacob recruit Ilana when she was bandaged in a hospital — so does that mean Ilana and Bram work for Jacob? Is that what Bram meant when he told Frank, “We’re the good guys”? Good guys who torched the Cabin and lugged Locke’s body around in a box? What is Frank a “Candidate” for? When Ilana asked Richard, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” Richard replied in Latin. I looked it up, and he said, “He who will protect us all.” So who is it?

Other important stuff:
•Ben said the island’s leader answers to Jacob. “Locke” was certain that Jacob was responsible for Richard never aging.
•Richard told “Locke” he’d never seen anyone brought back from the dead, and in light of “John’s” reveal, Ben may have been right when he previously said, “Dead is dead.”
•Vincent was with Bernard and Rose, living peacefully in the jungle. “It’s always something with you people.” Is anyone more in love than Bernard and Rose?
•Jack’s fistfight with Sawyer was brutal and a long time coming. Okay, so Jack is heartsick over losing Kate. But does that give him the right to alter the very fabric of reality for everyone in order to change that? “I don’t speak destiny,” Sawyer spat. “What’s done is done.”
•Chang’s hand was crushed by debris, accounting for the artificial hand seen in some of the films.
•The struggle to save Juliet was heartbreaking. There can be no doubt that Sawyer really loved her.
•Recognizing his enemy in John’s body, Jacob said, “You found your loophole,” but can Jacob really be killed?
•”They’re coming.” Who’s coming?

So, next spring will bring the final, 16-episode season of LOST. But will folks come back to watch? Was the sight of Locke’s body lying inert on the sand LOST’s official “Jump the Shark” moment?

Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 5/8/09

As of this week, John Locke is large and in charge on LOST. He strutted through the Others’ village like a conquering hero — or the returning king that he is. When Richard Alpert noticed the change in Locke’s demeanor, John said, simply, “I have a purpose now.” Well, he certainly has direction at least. He solidified his control over the people by insisting on confronting Jacob rather than accepting his orders, sight unseen. Hmmm, what happened to the “man of faith” who was so willing to accept the word of others? Seems like John has grown up. Now he wants a reason to follow Jacob. And he’s going to give his people a reason to follow him instead of the disembodied Jacob. Locke slapped down Ben by noting, “The Island told me. Doesn’t it tell you things?” That was in connection with Locke’s impeccable timing in sending Richard to meet John’s time-traveling self.We saw those events from John’s perspective in the season premiere. Now we know how Richard knew to treat a gunshot wound, and why he gave Locke the compass. The episode ended with John leading the Others on a mission not just to find Jacob, but to kill him. “I’m starting to think John Locke is gonna be trouble,” Richard Alpert said. “Why do you think I tried to kill him?” Ben replied. Jack, meanwhile, as apparently taken up Locke’s mantel of faith. He decided that detonating the bomb is the reason most of the Oceanic 6 were sent to 1977. In other words, it’s their destiny. He has no reason to believe Faraday’s wild theories, other than Daniel’s death — which proves the past can be altered. (Or can it? It appears that Faraday always died in 1977 — even if he existed in the future — so nothing was actually changed.) So Jack is taking just the sort of leap of faith that Locke was known for. Jack was determined to change the past in the hopes of undoing all the tragedy that happened since Flight 815 crashed. But, “It wasn’t all misery,” Kate suggested, “Enough of it was,” Jack replied.

Sawyer and Juliet were enduring misery back at the DHARMA Initiative, where Radzinsky insisted on torturing LaFleur (Sawyer) to find out where Kate went. Radzinsky went so far as to declare himself the new leader of DHARMA. We know the fate that awaits Radzinsky: creating the blast door map and editing the orientation film before blowing his own brains out. This is clearly the beginning of his madness. Of course, it’s not like his buddies are any better. You can bet Sawyer will have a word with Phil about hitting Juliet. Because Dr. Chang believed Faraday’s journal — and because Hurley cannot lie effectively ( “Dude, we’re from the future.”) — he ordered the island evacuated. Sawyer bartered a trip aboard the submarine, Galaga, for himself and Juliet. Sawyer resolved to use his knowledge of the future to get rich by doing things like buying Microsoft stock and betting the Cowboys in the 1978 Super Bowl. How about that “Good riddance” sneer before boarding Galaga? Next week is the two-hour season finale, which will set the stage for the final season of the series. We have to figure we will see the Incident — unless Jack stops it. But maybe detonating Jughead causes the Incident by making the impending release of electromagnetic energy even worse?

I liked that SUPERNATURAL was super-talky this week; I could even have done without the fraternal fistfight at the end, but I guess the-powers-that-be felt like they needed to add some action. I was totally entertained by Castiel acting in mysterious ways, Anna getting dragged back to heaven, Alistair being all sadistic, and Sam’s mom dropping by. Not to mention how Jared Padalecki got to stretch some acting muscles and emote. I really bought the sibling rivalry between the boys. Will Lucifer himself cameo in next week’s season finale?

Y’know, when words are bleeped on SOUTH PARK, it’s frakkin’ hilarious. When words are bleeped on SOUTHLAND, it’s just … well, desperate. Like, the-powers-that-be are putting on airs: “Oh, we’re an edgy cop show with gritty, realistic dialogue, but The Man, over in Standards & Practices, he won’t let us express ourselves.” In reality, SOUTHLAND is more like the second coming of ADAM-12 than THE SHIELD.

Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 4/30/09

This week’s LOST had a real fun twist ending: Daniel Faraday was apparently shot to death by his own mother, Eloise Hawking, in 1977. I say “apparently,” because nobody said he’s dead — but he sure looked dead. Still, on the Island, dead ain’t exactly dead, LOL. However, Daniel had gone out of his way just a little while earlier to warn Jack, “This is our present…any one of us can die.” Even though they previously existed in the future. And the way Eloise and Charles Widmore talked about Daniel and the Island, it was clear something terrible had happened, and she noted she “sacrificed” her son to the Island. So when Eloise told little Daniel that it was his “destiny” to go to the Island, she wasn’t just talking out of her hat; she actually knew he would show up there because, from her perspective, he already had. Charles also knew it would happen, as his terse argument with Eloise outside Desmond’s hospital indicated. So he was essentially “fated” to die then and there.

Which brings us to some interesting thoughts on free will. Faraday’s research into relativistic physics revealed a relationship between “constants” and “variables.” He did not explain what exactly that was, but indicated people are the variables, because people have free will. And if they have free will, then they can choose their own actions without being constrained by the “rules” of what happened. Faraday believed this enough to think he would be able to alter the past by stopping the release of the energy. But, to my thinking, that’s only changing the “past” from the perspective of people living in, say, 2004 or 2009. As Faraday pointed out, when he, Jack and Kate were in the year 1977, that became their “present,” so from their perspective, the future (from 1978 on) has not happened yet, so Daniel wouldn’t be changing the “past,” he would be affecting the “future.” And we all affect the future every moment of our lives. So the secret really is perspective. Now, it’s true that Daniel died in 1977 (we presume), but he may have died in a different way because of the actions he decided to take. Perhaps in the 1977 Eloise remembers, she stabbed him to death, or killed him some other way. But Faraday’s specific actions this time altered the timeline to a small degree. Which begs the question of free will. Was Daniel only able to affect the manner of his death? If he had not taken the submarine back to the Island, his mother could not have killed him. I suggest that had Daniel known his mother would kill him on the Island in 1977, he could have avoided that fate. He just didn’t have enough information. He simply knew about the impending disaster (and the appearance of Jack and the other Losties in the DHARMA class photo) and wanted to try to head off the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 and the subsequent Kahana expedition that brought him to the Island. There is one other possibility: Daniel might have known about his death but forgotten it due to the memory problems that tormented him as a result of testing his time-displacer machine on himself before using it on Theresa. That’s what Widmore was referring to when he said Daniel would not remember the conversation about the Island tomorrow. I liked the scene of Daniel crying over the discovery of the fake 815 wreckage in 2004 but not knowing why; he forgot he would meet the survivors, but still sensed a connection to them.And how cruel of Widmore to tell his son the Island could heal his mind. And how cold of Eloise to talk her son into going, even when he was reluctant. As Faraday said, “You knew this was going to happen, but you sent me here, anyway.”

•I know several people were very concerned about Desmond’s fate after he saved Penny and little Charlie from the gun-wielding Ben, so it was good to see he survived, because Desmond and Penny remain a great love story.
•The Hostile known as “Ellie” in 1954 was actually Eloise.
•Why did designated pest Radzinsky show up at the motor pool with armed guards in tow?
•This episode explicitly spelled out what happened: The DHARMA drilling in 1977 accidentally unleashed the Island’s electromagnetic energy source at the Swan location, so they built “the Hatch,” and pushing the button every 108 minutes contained the energy. When Desmond failed to push it in 2004, Flight 815 crashed. It was not clear how Daniel thought detonating the “Jughead” hydrogen bomb would negate the EM energy, but hey, he’s a scientist. And let’s not forget the Losties are only a couple of hours away from that disastrous discharge….