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Thursday, May 05, 2005
TV Round-Up
Lost: The Greater Good
There are a lot of comparisons being made these days between Lost and The X-Files. And while I know that they are both two completely different beasts (for one thing, I get the impression the Lost production staff has a clue where the storyline is going and aren't making it up as they go), there are times when these comparisons make a whole lot of sense.

Like this week.

If anyone out there was a huge X-Files fan like me (come on, admit it! You know you watched!), one of the biggest criticisms was that we'd have a huge episode with colossal, staggering, mind blowing events about the mythology or the on-going storyline and then the next week, we'd have to go back to the status quo. And it was always a bit disappointing.

And that is what I feared might happen with Lost. Last time we had a new episode, Boone died and Jack decided he was going out to confront Locke on what happened. It left us in a place where things had changed on the island--the dynamic was starting to shift. And I couldn't wait to see how things all played out in the next episode.

Of course, the one thing I have to keep reminded myself is that it's only been about a month of time in the character's lives, so any dynamic, sweeping changes that I am expecting or hoping for won't happen overnight.

That said, there were parts of the story here that I like and some that were just OK. For coming back after a long break, I probably expected more from the storyline. But Boone's death was like finding out that Locke was once paralyzed--it was a watershed moment for the series. And while I think the show is still chasing those two moments in terms of jaw-dropping, show-defining value (similiar to how high Buffy raised the bar in season two when the season ended with Buffy stabbing Angel and sending him to hell to save the world), I guess I wanted a bit more here.

We did learn some things. One was that it was Locke who attacked Sayid earlier this year and destroyed the transceiver. And I will be damned if they didn't at least help us to feel as if Locke had a very good reason for doing this. Locke points out the signal was not exactly--hey come on by for punch and pie. It could have been a deadly little trap and led them all to instant death. So, by Locke's view, he was helping things out by not allowing them to find where the signal originiated.

But this only continues to confirm my suspicion that Locke has his own agenda. Indeed, he seems to relish the role of being in control here. We have seen in his flashbacks that during his pre-island life, he was not the one in control. Instead he was manipulated by others--especially his father. So, it's interesting to see Locke here turn into that type of man out here in the wilderness. Locke has the survival skills and he has a place of respect among the island castaways--well, at least he did. Even his confessions to Sayid about Boone's death and hitting him felt like Locke was revealed just enough to win Sayid's trust and continue playing whatever game he's been playing since day one. Or to further his own agenda just a little bit more. Locke leaves out details on the hatch and that he was paralyzed and there was no way on Earth he coud have climbed up to the plane at the time Boone died.

Again, it's interesting how Locke shows up when people need him and can't be found at other times. He was needed at the funeral, but Jack couldn't find him earlier. Shannon finds him when she steals the gun and wants to kill him. He appears and disappears at will, almost making me wonder if he's something akin to the French woman. She seems to appear and vanish at will, almost as if she wants to be found. Or she shows up when it suits her needs and then is gone the rest of the time.

Meanwhile, we see Sayid manipulated as well through the women he has strong feelings for. In the flashbacks, the CIA uses Nadia as a card to get Sayid on the inside of a terrorist cell who are planning to blow up something. Sayid's old college roommate is the one who has chosen to martyr himself to the cause. Then, on the island, we see Shannon go to Sayid to ask for his help in getting vengeance on Locke for killing Boone. Interesting to see that in both cases, Sayid makes choices that are good for the long term and so he can look at himself in the mirror each day with a clean conscience, but in the end he loses things. He loses two friendships--his friend kills himself rather after learning Sayid is helping the CIA and Shannon is upset when Sayid stops her from killing Locke. In each case, there are unintended consequences to Sayid's actions for the greater good. And while I think we'll get back to Sayid and Shannon eventually being able to talk and be friends, I'm not sure the romantic angle of this storyline hasn't been permanently closed. (Which may or may not be a bad thing).

As for Shannon seeking out vengeance on Locke..I can buy it. But I didn't necesarily buy that she knew where the keys or the gun case were. I am not sure if she was part of the in-crowd on knowing this information. Also, it was awfully nice of Kate to drug Jack into a deep sleep just as Shannon needed the keys to the gun case. Didn't anyone see her going into Jack's tent? I mean, Kate is there watching him as he nods off and there as he wakes up? Didn't you get the impression she was keeping a bit of an eye of Jack after drugging him into sleep?

Meanwhile, the newly born Turnip Head is taken care of by Charlie. This was a nice bit of comic relief, even if it was stretching a bit thin by episode's end. I did like that only Sawyer could quiet Turnip Head. How is that small children naturally sense the ones out like Sawyer? It must be some kind of radar.

But as good as this episode was in spots, it just wasn't all I'd hoped for. It felt like a place holder between the death of Boone and what is to come. We got some revelations, but nothing mind-shattering. And maybe that's just my problem--maybe I've come to expect too much. But Lost has shown that it can raise the bar. I'm just hoping the next three episodes approach that bar a bit more than this one did.

Totally unrelated to anything else here--did anyone else think that when Sayid and his friend were told they had a target to blow up, that it would be the flight that stranded our heroes on the island?

Alias: Mirage
One of my biggest complaints about Alias since day one has been the lack of consitency in Syd's relationship with Jack. One week she loves him, next week he's evil spy dad jerk. And there's very little in between or transition between the two. This week, we get a bit of both. At first, she's angry that Jack has lied to her and kept his illness from her. Then, by episode's end she is getting all weepy as she watches Jack interact with what he thinks is a six-year old Sydney. (Of course, I am tempted to do the math and see if they took into account the two years Syd "lost" but I have a feeling that little development has been forgotten by all on the writing staff).

You know, as I watched this, I thought--damn, it sure is nice the CIA has untold resources to build and entire replica house to help Jack remember where Michael McKean's character is. It's also nice to know that nce they find out they will pay for Syd to hop a flight to Norway, bring him back and let him work on curing Jack. I never really thought much about joining the CIA, but if the benefits plan is that good, sign me up!

If this had been a Star Trek episode, a lot of this would have taken place on the holodeck..that's all I'm saying.

It was interesting to see that Jack was hallucinating the entire visiting the doctor thing and instead slowly doing more harm to himself than good. I still have to wonder if maybe someone out there wasn't manipulating him, trying to find out what he knows.

And while I can see Syd getting all weepy about her dad thinking of quitting the CIA way back when to be with her, I'm not sure how true that was. Remember that in all of Jack's hallucinations, he keeps talking about how he has regrets. And maybe this was wishful thinking that he could go back and make a change like this. It may not have been who he was then. It may not have shown how he valued Syd then, but how much he values her now. And their relationship. Again, I now all of you who love Jack and think he's a nice guy will jump into the defense of him, but I don't necessarily think that what we saw here was a honest flashback of exactly how it was. (In all honesty, it felt like a storyline developed to get Victor Garber an Emmy nod this year).

I did have one of those--what the hell?!? moments when Slaone says--well, let's play along with Jack's delusions and see if we can find out where the Michael McKean character is. Yeah, the man is a cold blooded killer and while he might be tripping back to the time when all was peachy keen at the Bristow house, what is to say the next minute he's not going to channel killing Irina and then place Syd in danger? Or that Jack might not think it's some kind of spy thing and not react well? I know that we were clutching at straws to save him, but this seemed like a pretty out there straw, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I have to laugh at the complete lack of security in the CIA. Does it really make sense that they'd let Nadia go home each night with a lap top that has all these secure files and can be used to break into the CIA mainframe?!? That just does not seem like the greatest idea and it's just begging for someone to bug you and find out all our state secrets. Which Elena does! I swear, the CIA is making it a bit too easy for her to spy on Syd and Nadia. And all of APO as it were.

And the new, evil water virus thing is now in enemy hands. I have a feeling this will be the driving plotline to the end of the year--trying to recover it. That and the magic cure that Michael McKean will pull out of the air for Jack.

Totally unrelated to all of this...did anyone else think Jennifer Garner looked a lot like Neve Campbell in the early scenes at the bar with the pink wig?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 5/05/2005 08:04:00 AM | |
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