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Thursday, January 20, 2005
TV Round-Up
Lost: Special
The more I watch Lost, the more I convinced that the island is actually one giant group therapy session. Every one of these guys and gals has huge family issues. And how many of the castaways have issues with their father? I'm counting at least three so far--Walt, Charlie and Sun.

You know, there are times when being an opening credit reader can backfire on you. This week, I noticed the words "Written by David Fury" and got all excited about the episode. For those of you who don't remember, Fury wrote the Locke episode "Walkabout" and he also wrote a lot of very good episodes of Buffy and Angel. So, going into an episode written by him, I'm predisposed to like it. And after "Walkabout" I'm kind of sit up and go--"OK, shock me again, Fury. I'm ready, I can take it."

Becuase let's face it--the reveal about Locke at the end of the "Walkabout" was really the defining moment of this show this year. It took Lost from a fascinating show to one of those--holy cow, I've got to tune in next week and you can't give me new episodes fast enough. I also find myself wondering if maybe, just maybe, Lost hit such a high point with the shock value there that it may never recover or be quite that shocking again. Not that it's a bad thing, but that visceral thrill of the Locke story has not been matched or duplicated.

But back to this week's episode. Interesting to see how some of the backstory of our castaways unfolds. With Jack and Kate, we've gotten the stories of certain incidents in their lives and how it led to them coming to the island. With Locke, Michael and Walt, we get a wider tapestry. We see glimpses of who they were over a period of years and what led to them to the island instead of just a couple of weeks or days leading up to the plane crash. Of the backstories presented so far, this one may be the most far reaching--going back at least ten or more years to before Walt was born.

"Special" is about father figures. Michael wants to be one to Walt but is denied the opportunity by Walt's mother. The guy she marries (who name eludes me) only wants to be a father to Walt becuase it's part of the package for marrying Mom. Locke is slowly becoming this father-figure to much of the island--look at how Jack came to him last week just to chat, Walt looks up to him etc. I'm slowly coming to believe that Locke's encounter with whatever is loose on the island changed him in far more subtle way than we think. Yes, he can now walk, but have you noticed how close to the life-changing events of late Locke has been. It's almost as if he's the one pulling some of the strings, being in the right place at the right time to help the castaways get to where the island wants or needs them to be. Last week, Boone had to get past his love for Shannon. This week, Michael needs to be seen as a hero to his son and a father-figure. Michael gets that chance--but with Locke's help. The polar bear attacks again--again, after Walt reads about it on a comic book--and Michael is the hero who saves the day and drives off the polar bear with a knife. Interesting to consider just what that might mean in the overall scheme of things.

Because we're not quite sure why the Polar Bear stopped attacking. I have to wonder if it was how Walt wanted things to be. He wanted a super hero like he saw in his comic books and his dad stepped into that role. Of course, we get some kind of strange vibe from Walt. When his mom and step-father don't pay attention to him, bad things happen. A bird he's studying in his book crashes into the window and dies and Mom suddenly gets sick. Now on the island, both times in a higher state of emotion, he sees a Polar Bear and one appears. Coincidence? Oh, I doubt it seriously. Worth debating--well, yeah, since I've pretty much done that for the last paragraph or so.

And while this week there weren't as many subplots kicking around, there were still some intersting things. Sawyer taking Claire's diary is interesting. I'm not sure why he did it but surely he had a reason. Charlie reading the journal--the scene where he keeps opening and closing it was hysterical--and then relating what he read to Sayid and Jack. And the continuing attempts to understand what the maps mean and if they actually lead to the Black Rock or not. All of that was interesting and helped keep the backstory moving. But then, we get the ultimate--ha, we're gonna make it a long wait for new episodes ending. Out in the jungle, looking for Walt's dog, instead we see Claire stumble out of the bushes--very much not pregant any more and looking like she's been through hell.

All of which makes me wonder--last week, we saw how Boone had to let go of Shannon. Was part of Claire's return that Charlie accepted she might be gone for good and now she's given back to him?

I am sure the truth is far more fascinating and I can't wait to see where they take us next. Dang it's going to be a long couple of weeks...

Alias: Ice

It's former Mutant Enemy night over at Bad Robot. First, Lost is written by David Fury and then Alias is written and directed by Jeffrey Bell, a producer and writer over on Angel.

And wouldn't you know it--a former Mutant Enemy guy is just what Alias needs to help it get back on track. Say what you will about the whole secret-weapon that freeze dries people, but at least this episode was interesting and did some good character work.

No shock that Bell would be good at writing for angst and guilt-driven characters. That's pretty much Angel. But that he'd do so well for Vaughn was a pleasant surprise. I will admit I've never found Vaughn all that compelling a character, but here it all clicked. Vaughn as a priest and giving and receiving the confessional about his having to kill Lauren was the highlight of the show. And that's saying a lot when you've got a weapon that freeze dries people and causes them to shatter into a million and one pieces if you drop them.

This week's big story is trying to find who is producing this new bio-weapon and stop them. And as silly as the whole bio-weapon could have been, at least our heroes take it seriously. I guess being a Star Trek fan, I will buy into just about any sci-fi concept you put out there, so long as the story and characters make it seem credible. If they'd had any sarcastic comments about the whole bio-weapon instead of taking it seriously, I'd've been a bit less enamored with the episode than I am. Also, as I've said before, the sci-fi plotline opens up some new avenues for our characters to explore and do so in a credible, well-done way.

Of course, let us not forget this is Alias where insane things can happen at any time. Such as the last few minutes where Vaughn is strapped down to the table and going to be injected in the eye with the bio-weapon only to see Syd come into the room at the best possible moment to dramtically save Vaughn and kick some bad guy butt. I will also say the ending didn't really address the main issue--which was we had to shut down production and destroy all the weapon that had been produced to this point. Yes, we stopped bad guys from the IRA but we get no mention of--yes, we blew that stuff up or disposed of it or are we're sending a team to dispose of it. One line is all it takes and I'm satisfied line people!

Also, who else thought that Jack made up a story to tell Nadia about the picture? That story about the baby being Irinia's niece was just way too fuzzy and touchy-feely for Jack. Last week, the man is lying to Nadia so she'll kill someone and this week he's sparing her feelings? Yeah, right. I bet this whole baby photo thing will come back to bite Jack yet again when Nadia puts together the truth about everything.

And you have to love the scene between Jack and Vaughn about killing your wife. Where else but the CIA would you find two guys who would kill their wives to save Syd? What are the odds? Those two should really start their own support group and have some group therapy sessions.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/20/2005 08:49:00 AM | |
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