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Thursday, April 07, 2005
TV Round-Up
Lost: Do No Harm
Between 24, Battlestar Galactica and now Lost, the edge of my seat has been getting quite a workout this week.

But Lost gave me more than just sitting on the edge of my seat. It had me there squirming and feeling very, very uncomfortable. Watching Jack promise to save Boone and then desparately doing whatever it took to keep that comitment was great drama. I loved how obsessed Jack is with saving people--a theme is becoming more and more apparent as the series goes along, both in the island scenes and in the flashbacks. In the three previous flashbacks, we see how Jack is determined to save his father. Then, with this week's flashbacks, we see Jack's wedding. I have to admit, part of my Party of Five bias crept in here, seeing Matthew Fox act in wedding scenes. On Party of Five, Fox's Charlie left Kirsten at the altar and I kept expecting a development like that to happen here. Even as Jack started his vows, I felt like we were walking a fine line where he could have decided to walk away at that point. I was glad they didn't choose to go that route, though they did leave a lot of things up in the air. For a flashback story, this one was pretty open-ended. We got next to no big payoff like we have with others. But then again, I complained last week that the Locke flashback was far too formulaic so I guess I shouldn't be complaining too much that this week's didn't follow the established formula.

But back to my original point. Jack's father points out that Jack is wired for comitment--and for keeping his comitments. Interesting to wonder if this takes place before or after Jack's betrayal of his father at the hospital. Also, Jack likes saving people--he wants to save his father, he saves his bride, he's trying to save Boone. In many ways, you could argue that Jack is trying to save Kate as well from whatever is lurking out there in her past. Is it that Jack is drawn to these people in his life because he has a Superman complex? The wanting to save people or shield them from the hurt and pain in their lives, to make things better. I honestly feel like I can identify a lot with Jack in the episode and the series because of this. And I can identify with his anger at the end of the episode. Jack doesn't necessarily mind if you come after him, but someone in his care has died because of the actions of another. In this case, Boone has died because of Locke's actions. Jack couldn't save Boone and now he's dead-set to find the person who created this problem--Locke--and give him hell. To demand answers . To demand there be consequences to the actions. To demand that someone suffer becuase Boone did.

And the way things slowly went from bad to worse worked so well. I've noted before how much of a community the island has become and how we're getting more episodes that focus on that as the series progresses. And I love it. I also love that not everyone is entirely what they appear to be. Take Jin, for example. Here was a guy who seemed like a controlling husband to Sun, but here we see a bit more to him. His running into the woods as Kate calls for help and helping out with Claire having the baby. We see him as so much more than just an angry man who controls his wife. He's growing and he's complex--just like most people are in reality. I love how complex everyone is--how much human and how falible. And yet, when the chips are down Jin comes through and does what he needs to do to help his fellow castaways.

Meanwhile, Sun serves as Jack's moral compass. Sun pulls him back from the edge. Jack promises to help Boone no matter what--even giving his own blood to try and save him. The scenes where Jack decided to amputate Boone's right leg to try and save him were intense. Those, along with Jack trying to find a way to transfuse his own blood had me squirming on the edge of my seat. The best thing about this episode was that for a long time, you hoped that they would find a way to save Boone, but as the story unfolded, we realized there was no way that Boone could be saved. And that made his final pleas to Jack to let him go all the more heartbreaking. And the final scenes with the music as Jack has to play doctor and tell Shannon her step-brother has passed away were heartbreaking. No words spoken--just everything shown in wide shot. Amazingly well done.

I'm sure many will point out that it's really coincidental that Claire has her baby and it's a boy as Boone is dying. Yes, I'm sure it wouldn't necessarily be that way in realty, but you know, I liked the juxtaposition of as one life ends another begins. It was also interesting the way the Jack and Claire's fears at a lifechanging event played out. Claire fears she won't be a good enough mother, Jack worries he may not be the husband or father he wants to be. I liked that little thread running through the parallel storylines. And the scenes of the community gathering around to see the new baby were a great counterpoint to Jack having to give Shannon the bad news about Boone. Triumph and tragedy all in one scene.

And then, like all good shows, it left me wanting more. Forget re-runs. Forget the sweeps schedule and ABC making money. I want new Lost next week. A couple of weeks seems way too long to wait to see how this all develops from here. And that, my friends, is the mark of a great TV show. When the hour ends and you're left wanting more.

Alias: Nightingale
The more I watch of Lost and Alias this year, the less convinced I become that J.J. Abrams is some kind of uber-TV genius along the line of Joss Whedon.

There are times watching the shows back to back that the difference is night and day. And I say this having watched Alias first this week and then watching Lost on videotape after Alias was over. I think my thing with Lost is the characters there feel real, they actually grow, develop and learn. On Alias, they seem to go through the same motions over and over again.

Like this week. For four years now, Syd has gone back and forth on whether or not she likes or trusts her father. But suddenly, this week, she's spilling out details about Vaughn's discoveries on his father to him. And yet, she never once thinks that Jack could or would betray her trust and confidence when he's done it so many times before. Honestly, if she's shocked at his betrayal when it does come to light later this season (and you know it will), then she's just not been paying attention. And, no, it doesn't matter that Jack went into the reactor to save her life. I mean, who didn't see that scene with Marshall coming--golly, there was no way I could save her and somebody must have. You sure are a good dad, Jack.

Yes, I get that Jack is conflicted. He has to balance the life he's chosen with the love for his daughter. But yet, this still won't matter to Syd as she'll easily shake it off, just in the way she seems to have taken in stride--oh yeah, my father shot and killed my mother. Yeah, that's one that's gonna be easy to forgive and then you can move on to being super cool spy family again.

Meanwhile, I think the central mandate of this show is "What sexy outfit can we dress up Jennifer Garner in this week and how can we build an episode around it?" This week, it's dressing her up like the St. Pauli beer girl. So we sent them to a tavern where there is done and it just happens to be the front of the bad guys who have a convient harddrive just full of information on stuff that Vaughn found out about his dad last week. Honestly, I don't feel as if this storyline is going anywhere other than to maybe not have Garner and Michael Vartan not be on screen together too much since rumor has it working together wasn't the most pleasant experience.

And then, we once again have heavy-handed exposition of Sloane and Jack talking about their evil plan but not giving us any clue as to what it might be. I think we're past the mid-point of the season and we've had to clue as to what they're really up to. And it's getting really, really annoying!

If this is how the arc stories are going to be, give me more non-arc stories like last week with Marshall. At least that one was entertaining and fun.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/07/2005 09:05:00 AM | |
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