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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Toy Story 3 - Analysis and Review (But Mostly Analysis) LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD

I know I’m two weeks late for this, but it’s taken me a week to absorb how much I enjoyed Toy Story 3, both from an entertainment perspective and a life enjoyment perspective. Pixar movies are always such a mystery. They’re designed for kids, but the adults are the ones who learn from them. This has especially been the case in the past few years with the releases of Ratatoullie, Wall-E, and the extremely emotionally challenging Up. Yes, they are cartoons, but they touch on themes and ideas that their target audience could not understand. Instead, these themes and lessons touch the guardians in ways that make the adult viewer value the fact that children these days are treated to such wonderful movies.

I could write literally essays about all the motifs and messages that arise out of films like Wall-E and Up, but let’s get to the task at hand. This review is about Toy Story 3, part of a movie series that launched a new generation of not only animated films, but also high caliber family oriented cinema. When I sat in the theatre, I was expecting TS3 to be a lighter fare compared to the Pixar movies of the last few years. I was thinking more of a Cars type movie rather than Up. Toy Story 1 and 2 have touched on mature themes such as abandonment and acceptance, but those issues haven’t come close to the darker themes such as death and loss featured in a movie like Up. I thought Toy Story 3 would just be a movie where I could enjoy my own nostalgia, and nothing more. Never did I think Toy Story 3 would be a movie that would hit my heart as close as Up did, never. I would soon learn I was wrong.

When we first start the film, we realize the world of TS3 has changed dramatically since we last saw it. Times have changed since the first two movies came out, and that’s reflected in Toy Story 3. Andy is older, his mom is older, Molly is older, even the dog is older. Right away, I sensed this was not going to be a movie for just for kids like the past two films simply because there were no kids present. In a way, it made me a bit melancholy. If you grew up watching these films, heed my advice, Toy Story 3 will make you feel old. Andy, the toy’s lovable owner, is no longer that kid you remember when you were a kid. He’s now old, just like you, and it’s a sad realization. Granted it’s something that us millenials face every day, the constant bombardment of age. We got bills to pay, responsibilities to take care of, families to start. Yup, we know we’re getting older all the time. But to see it manifest in a movie you thought was timeless, it’s a tough fact to face. And this is only the beginning of the movie.

We quickly shoot to present day, where we notice Andy’s toys have dwindled to a select group. All the peripheral characters like Shark, Weezy, and even Bo Peep are gone, broken or sold. Only Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Slink, and a few other main characters are still there. In a way, the lack of all those extra toys gave the movie an almost survivalist tone. Woody and a few of the toys that are still around are fighting for a chance to remain relevant. You can feel the desperation in the air as they scramble to make plans for life without Andy. Some are realists about it, knowing that this day would come, others are optimistic, convinced that they’ll always have a place in Andy’s mind even if other things come along to distract him. That optimist is Woody, of course.

I don’t want to divulge too much of the story, but most of the second act is basically just plot. The toys get stuck in daycare and decide to stay while Woody is determined to make it back to Andy when he gets lost in the shuffle as well. The daycare is run by a Southern type stuffed bear named Lotso, who serves as a Boss Hoss overseer and the main villain. He’s pretty much your typical Disney villain, nothing as complex as Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2. Eventually the toys make a break for it when they realize Andy still cares for them, and they are not junk that can easily be pushed aside. Yeah, like I said, lots of plot, which is actually refreshing admist all the emotional baggage thrown in the first act.

They make their break but then get stuck in the trash and end up at the dump. This is when things get really scary and really emotional. Basically, once the toys get to the garbage scene toward the end, it’s a thrill ride full of danger. I found this really different in a Pixar film. There have been a lot of action sequences in past Pixar films like the Incredibles, but the scenes presented in Toy Story 3 had a different tone. While The Incredibles’ action was fun and exciting, Toy Story 3’s action was dark and almost morbid. It’s set in the dark surroundings of a lightless garbage truck, which sets up an environment of clausterphobia. The toys also take their share of bumps while fighting to survive. This is where the tone is different. When I was watching their desperate struggle, I really feared that this was the end for the toys, unlike in any other Pixar film. Sure Wall-E almost died in his film, and Carl and Russell were being shot at by a crazy old man, but never when watching those films did I think, this is it. In Toy Story 3, because of the dark tones of the toys losing their purpose combined with the awful setting of the dump, I really felt that that could’ve been it. In probably the climax of the film, the toys look like their going to bite the big one. They stare their end straight in the eye, and what do they do? They didn’t fight it, they didn’t run, they accepted their fates, held hands, and were ready to share their last moments together. Woddy, Buzz, Jessie, all of them. And that’s when the audience cried. To make it so far in their journey to be accepted by Andy and fail, and then realize it didn’t matter because they accepted each other, it touch adults in ways that even the greatest tearjerkers could not do.

But naturally, it’s a Disney movie, the heroes never die, and it’s safe to say Woody and the gang made it out alive and eventually returned to their owner. But that wasn’t even the saddest part. The saddest and greatest scene in Toy Story 3 had to be the end, when not only did the toys let go, but Andy did to. He decides to give the toys to someone who would cherish them as much as he did. Yet, he did so reluctantly. These lifeless things were what he grew up with. They were there for him when he was lonely, they played with him when he was sad, they loved him in ways every human wants to be loved. Andy was those toys’ world, he did not want to lose such companionship.

But, he knew it was time to let go. It was time to grow up, it was time to move on. The central theme of the movie could not be more clear. And as he said one last good bye to the toys he loved, and he had one final playtime as he opened a new chapter in his life, it was time for us, the viewer to do the same. We often look at movies, toys, memories as things we want to cherish forever. These are the things that make us smile, make us laugh. Yet, we know, in our hearts, we cannot sit and play with our toys and reflect on our memories forever. If we do, we’ll be stuck in the past. We must go on to other things, to make new memories. And that’s the lesson that both Woody and Andy, toy and owner had to learn. It’s also the lesson that we struggle to learn everyday. Just like how Woody struggled to let go and move on, we do the same. But the great thing about Toy Story 3 is that the message is clear and simple: it’s okay to move on, it’s okay to let go, things will work out, whether you’re ready or not. If only the real world were so black and white.

It’s odd that a children’s film can offer so much depth, but that’s what great movies do. And Toy Story 3 is a great movie.


Friday, May 21, 2010

And My Favorite Lost Episode Ever Is.....

I can't believe the dream is over.

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
#8 - The Candidate
#7 - The Long Con
#6 - Deus Ex Machina/Do No Harm
#5 - In Translation
#4 - Greatest Hits
#3 - Through the Looking Glass
#2 - The Constant
and the greatest Lost episode ever is....


Walkabout
Season: 1
Character-centric: Locke


This was the episode that started it all for me. I remember watching the Pilot and thinking, whoa, this show is intense, maybe I should start watching. Then I watched Tabula Rasa, and thought, that Kate chick is hot, but meh, this is kind of a downer from the Pilot. But then I saw this episode, and from then on, I knew, this show is special.

Before Lost was known for its plot twists, mystery, and high dramatic production, it told the story of John Locke. This was the story that would set the tone for all stories in the world of Lost. This was the story that let you know this isn’t just a serious version of Gilligan’s Island.

To truly appreciate this episode, you have to think back about watching it for the first time, before you knew the big secret that was revealed at the end. I remember watching it for the first time on warm October Wednesday. Before this episode, Locke seemed like just a bystander, a mysterious one. If the island was an allegory to Lord of the Flies, he was the Simon. There was something unsettling about him. In the chaos of the crash, everyone was stricken by panic and fear. Locke seemed to be missing these qualities.

Then cut to Walkabout. The survivors need food, and Sawyer starts bitching about where they’re going to get it. Then, BAM, knife to the chair, old man Locke has some blades. It’s boar hunting time, bitches. Sawyer, freaked out by the knife that was hurled in front of him, thinks what all of us are thinking. What the fuck, and who is this guy talking about boar with the utmost confidence. Is he a hunter? Is he a commando? Is he crazy?

Actually, we find out in his flashback, he’s just a very pathetic man. He role plays a secret life, plays board games with a geeky co worker during lunch, and gets taunted by his boss incessantly. On top of that, you kind of think he has some kind of mental illness due to his phone calls with “Helen.” He is delusional.

Cut back to the island, and we see a completely different man. This guy’s a hunter, this guy is a leader, this guy is nothing like is pre island counter part, this guy is – oh shit, what the fuck was that! A giant cloud of smoke. What?!?! I thought polar bears were a mind trip, but black smog. Uh, okay, now a new can of worms has been opened. Walkabout introduced us to the first visible showing of the smoke monster, the thing that would be Lost’s archetypical super villain. Looking back on it now, it’s crazy to think that the writers planned this stuff way back in the fourth episode of the series.

But back to Locke. After Kate and Michael screw things up during the boar hunt, and Locke is left only with the smoke monster, we are left to conclude he’s a goner. But then, like bad ass, he emerges from the jungle with the boar. Wow, this John Locke guy is the shit.

Cut back to the off island, loser Locke. He’s finally made his trip to Australia, and he’s ready to hunt and kill. Only one problem. The tour guide refuses to let him on, because of his ‘condition.’ That’s when I felt like I won. In my mind, I thought, ‘I knew it, he does have a mental illness!’ I thought I totally figured these Lost writers out. They’re not so clever after all. Then I watched the scene unfold. Locke states he never lied, but the tour guide tells him he omitted important information (like his schizophrenia, I thought to myself). But as the tour guide began to get up and go on his way, I found out the truth. The wheel chair. Wow. Congrats, Lost, you won.

Also, it makes you realize that Randy is a huge ass. He basically taunts the handicapped. Geez.

The next scene, it’s just pure brilliance. The music, the sights, the sounds. It focuses on Locke, regaining consciousness from the crash. You hear the people screaming, you see the fire burning, you can feel the chaos around you. But in the middle of all this craziness, you see Locke, regaining the ability to walk. First it starts with a wiggle of his toe, then his leg moves. Despite all the madness around him, you see a man who has just experienced a miracle. He is finally happy, he is finally free. And when Jack calls him to help him with some survivors, you see how the island has changed a man within a matter of seconds. Amazing, just like this episode.

As Lost comes to and end, I’m sad. Some people are glad that the series is over, afraid that it would drag on forever. But to me, I wouldn’t think this is so bad. There are so many secrets left to discover. Walt, alternate timelines, time jumps. So many questions, so little time to answer.

But not all is sad. As I’ve been watching old episodes in the past week, I’ve realized something. I am a writer. Writing is a tough craft, but the toughest thing about writing is to find inspiration. And every time I watch Lost, and realize how greatly written it is, it makes me strive to find that same excellence, that same brilliance.

Lost isn’t just about the island. It’s about people and the journeys that all of us take in life. In my own writing, I try to do the same. I try to paint a picture of a character and their own personal struggles. And it would be foolish of me to say that Lost hasn’t influenced my writing in someway. It’s not a bad thing, I think it’s a good thing. We are influenced everyday by the things we see and the things we hear. And when I say that Lost has provided a nice guideline to some of my own creativity, it is never in shame, but always with pride.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #2 - The Constant

Wow, even though Evie gets all the attention, Claire is one underrated Lost hottie. I'd like to Emelie her de Ravin if yaknowwhati'msayin.

Um, anyways...

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
#8 - The Candidate
#7 - The Long Con
#6 - Deus Ex Machina/Do No Harm
#5 - In Translation
#4 - Greatest Hits
#3 - Through the Looking Glass
and number #2 is……..


The Constant
Season: 4
Character-centric: Desmond


I admit, I haven’t seen this episode in a while, but the general feeling I got after watching it was: wow, this episode is the shit. That last scene where Desmond reunites with Penny is certainly one of the most heart endearing moments in ANY television program I’ve ever seen. This episode has everything, and it rides on an incredible performance by Henry Ian Cusack as the forlorn Desmond.

When Desmond’s problem with time started in season 3, it was a bit confusing. Even as a hardcore Lost fan, I had a tough time keeping track of what was perceived as a jump to the past and what was a vision that Desmond had. Lost sometimes keeps things so ambiguous that a nice explanation is sometimes too much to ask for. With The Constant, the episode does a wonderful job clearing this up.

This episode is Desmond’s journey, and Desmond’s journey alone. The entirety of it was dedicated to explaining his unique ability of time shifting, and the viewer was not distracted by any island drama or freighter busting. It was nice because Desmond’s story needed the whole episode to explain.

As it turns out, his story is not too complicated. Basically, Desmond can slip consciousness into other times. One moment he’s in 2004, the next, his mind is transported into his body in 1996, thus allowing him to act out the past. However, there are a few side effects of this manner of time travel, amnesia and uh, death. Yeah, bummer dude.

Help comes in the form of Daniel Faraday, because you know, physicists know the answer to everything. To avoid death, and future time jumps, the answer is simple, Desmond must find something that is constant, something that was there in the past and here now so it can help his mind find a point of reference and make sense of his time shifts. Without this point of reference, his mind literally cannot take the confusion and he will eventually die…just like Fischer Stevens!

That constant is Penny. Most of the episodes centers between his quest to reach her in both 1996 and 2004 so that Desmond can finally find some stability. It’s an emotional roller coaster for sure, as Desmond’s painful history with Penny and her father is explored. But like all good rides, the best part of it is the peak thrill where the build up finally pays off in one adrenaline rush.

That rush comes in the form of a phone call. When Desmond finally gets that number, and finally calls Penny in 2004, it is exhilarating. Desmond is happy, you are happy, and moments like these, television or no television, are moments that we can all relate to. That desperate journey one goes through to finally make that connection, these are moments we all wish to have, and moments we remember forever.

Desmond’s time warping would eventually set things up for season 5 when all the characters start jumping through time and feel the pain of Time Aneurisms. In the end, most of season 5 goes back to The Constant. This episode is a true gem in an underrated season 4. It stands as one of those Lost episodes that make you feel, make you remember, and make you enjoy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #3 - Through the Looking Glass

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
#8 - The Candidate
#7 - The Long Con
#6 - Deus Ex Machina/Do No Harm
#5 - In Translation
#4 - Greatest Hits
and number #3 is……..

Through the Looking Glass
Season: 3
Character-centric: Jack


This is when Lost literally blew my mind. Flash forwards, I did not see it coming.

This episode pretty much speaks for itself, so I’ll start with the events on the island. A lot of plot happened in these two hours. It was basically divided into 4 sides: Charlie and Desmond’s trip to the underwater hatch, Locke’s personal journey, Jack meeting up with the rescue team, and Sawyer’s stand off at the beach against Tom and company. Each of the four arcs were pretty exciting and all had their moments.

Charlie and Desmond: Charlie dies. Pretty much the most tear inducing death until ‘The Candidate’ punched a hole in your heart with its trio of deaths.

Locke: The most uneventful of the four arcs, but Walt appears. It’s good to see him again. Too bad he got short sided. The writers really dropped the ball with him. He could’ve well been with Jack and company when they arrived back to the island with a whole ‘I’m going to find my dad’ arc. Geez.

And Locke kills Naomi. What a shame. As Miles puts it “she was hot and I dug her accent.” So did I Miles, so did I.

Jack: When the camera’s swirl and Jack realizes he’s done it, I couldn’t have felt happier for him. Too bad that rescue turns out to be the freighter from hell. Can’t this guy catch a break?

Sawyer: This one’s for the kid. POP! Enough said.

But the main meat of the episode is the flash forwards. We assume it’s a flashback, and Jack is on one of his depressive benders. Claire Dunphy also shows up looking milf-a-licious as ever. But she’s also pregnant from her new husband. Bummer Jack. If I were you, I’d be depressed to.

Throughout the episode, Jack seems to be upset over the death of someone, who we learn is Locke later on in season 5. There are subtle hints that let you know it’s a flash forward, mainly the appearance of Jack’s wife and her pregnant booty. If you really think about the time span from all the other seasons, you would know Jack and his wife split in late 2003, and the flight crashed in late 2004. That would give only a small month window for her visit to unfold. Other than that though, you would really have to observe carefully to know it was indeed a flash forward.

Up to this episode, it seemed like Lost was going nowhere. I started to wonder how long they could keep this up without getting stale. Then this episode happened and gave me hope again. That’s why its one of the greatest. After a season 3 that left some people lost themselves, this episode put them on the right track.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #4 - Greatest Hits

I don't really know what context this photo is in, but I'm not complaining.

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
#8 - The Candidate
#7 - The Long Con
#6 - Deus Ex Machina/Do No Harm
#5 - In Translation
and number #4 is……..


Greatest Hits
Season: 3
Character-centric: Charlie


Before I get to the top three, I want to point out that I realize this is a bit of an odd ball choice to go so high. I just want to remind you that over the past two weeks or so, this list has represented MY favorite episodes. That’s why you have some critical darlings (Ab Aeterno) ranked lower on the list compared to some more obscure choices from the earlier seasons (In Translation). The great thing about Lost is that every episode has something to offer, so to a fervent watcher, any of them could qualify in anyone’s top 10.

That being said, I assure you that this one (number 4) will be the last odd ball choice and that the top 3 are indeed stellar episodes and critical favorites.

Season 3 of Lost is easily the most underrated. It got flack at the beginning of the season for being slow and lost a few viewers in that steam, but once you get to “Par Avion,” the season becomes one of the best, churning season 1 quality episodes like “The Brig,” “Left Behind,” and “DOC.” And Nikki and Paulo died during this time, who could argue against that?

Charlie owns this episode. It’s kind of funny. Up to this point in Lost, I really hated Charlie, almost as much as I hated Kate. Both characters were completely inept at everything. You told them to do something, they couldn’t do it. You tell them not to do something, and they do it. They can’t follow directions. The only thing that Kate has for her is that she’s really hot.

But then this episode came up, and I completely liked Charlie. Everything, every small little scene, made you feel for our Oasis wannabe. First, you liked him because you knew he was going to die, and you admired him for the way he was handling it. He took it like a man. He didn’t go into a heroin induced tailspin, instead he spent his last few days trying to help the greater good and made amends with the mistakes he’s made.

This episode also has some of the most poignant scenes in all of Lost. They’re not necessarily tear jerkers, but they do make you sit back and think about the good things in life. Example’s include Charlie’s last talk with Claire and how a reluctant Charlie had to tell Hurley to fuck off, only to say one last “I love you man” to our favorite fat man (awww). Scenes like this really touch an emotional core to help you appreciate the strengths of friendships and relationships.

Lastly, there’s Charlie’s list. It must be hard knowing you’re going to die, but creating a Greatest Hits list is a nice send off. All of Charlie’s moments helped say a lot about our short statured rock star. And when he added “the night I met you,” it was the cherry on top to an already compelling flashback series.

The only gripe I really have about this episode is that it didn’t really have an impact later on. Charlie died, but Claire didn’t get rescued. She didn’t even get his list. Way to screw things up, Lost writers. Oh well. By itself, this episode is one of my favorites, as I wonder what it would be like to have my own greatest hits list.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #5 - In Translation

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
#8 - The Candidate
#7 - The Long Con
#6 - Deus Ex Machina/Do No Harm
and number #5 is……..


In Translation
Season: 1
Character-centric: Jin


We’re reaching the top 5, and this spot belongs to a season 1 episode. Season 1 was completely character driven, which was I loved it so much. Easily my top season among all lost seasons, it made you care about the characters, not the mystery or monsters that inhabited the island.

I have to say, when I first met the character of Jin, he was easily one of the island’s villains. Other than Sawyer, he seemed to be the guy that was easy to hate. Controlling, violent, and filled with rage, it was hard to root for a guy so oppressive to the people he loved. He was the stereotypical Asian husband of old school. Great.

Sun’s flashback in ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ painted a different picture of Jin. He was kind, na├»ve, and would do anything for his lady. I mean wouldn’t you, look at her? Hey-o. Then he works for Sun’s shady dad and the marriage quickly goes to hell. However, you don’t really feel for the guy. All you know in that episode is he works for Mr. Paik and becomes an asshole. Geez.

And on the island he’s no better. He attacks Michael, he makes little attempt to help his fellow survivors other than by fishing, and overall, he’s kind of a dick. But this episode pretty much turns a 180 on Jin’s character and explains all of that jazz. He’s not a dick, he’s just misunderstood, both emotionally and because of his language barrier.

This episode was carefully crafted to tie in the events of ‘The House of the Rising Sun.’ You find out that Jin didn’t turn to the dark side, rather he is an unwilling participant of Mr. Paik’s dirty deeds. You see the pain and anguish in his eyes when he has to come in terms with the sacrifices he’s had to make in order to be with the love of his life. And you feel bad for him, because he’s stuck in such a crummy situation. Be a thug and you can keep your life with your wife, turn your back and the game is over. That scene where Jin washes his bloody hands after laying the beat down completely captures how screwed Jin knows he is.

The most compelling scene though is when he reunites with his dad. There’s no more touching moment in any man’s life when he knows that the world is against him and the only person he can turn to is his old man. This scene sucks you in, especially if you’re a guy, and really makes you think about the relationship you have with your own father. It makes you realize even when you feel that no one has your back, even when you have turned on the people you love, if they really do love you, they’ll forget all that because that’s just the way they are.

In Translation wasn’t an episode that moved along the lost mythology. Michaels boat gets burned. Big whoop. But what In Translation does is it draws you into the power of the story and makes you reflect on your own life. That’s what good entertainment does, it makes you think.

And I really enjoyed that last scene when Hurley listens to Damien Rice’s “Delicate” while observing all the couples on the beach. Then his CD player breaks and he realizes he’s left alone in his misery while everyone else is all lovey dovey. Don’t worry big man, we’ve all been there before.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #6 Deus Ex Machina / Do No Harm

#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
#8 - The Candidate
#7 - The Long Con
and number #6 is a tie and it's……..


Deus Ex Machina/Do No Harm
Season: 1
Character-centric: Locke/Jack


Deus Ex Machina and Do No Harm should really be titled ‘Boone Dies, Part 1 and 2.’ The two episodes complete each other, and really flow better as one episode. It centers around (duh) Boone’s death, one from Locke’s view and one from Jack’s view. Both also have great back stories for the shows two most integral characters.

Boone was not really that big of a character in Lost. He was a creepy step brother who was more useless than Charlie. The whole season built him up as the man that tried to be Jack, but couldn’t, so then he became the Metro John Locke. It was kind of fun to see his transformation into John’s sidekick.

Despite his uselessness, he was remarkably self aware of his role on the island. It’s like the writers were trying to put audience feedback directly into Boone. He comments to Shannon how everyone on the island thinks they’re a joke. That’s what the viewers were thinking! He comments to Locke about red shirts and how they died first in Star Trek. Then he wears a red shirt. Classic.

Boone’s death was the first major turning point in lost though. Until then, it seemed like no one on the island was really in danger. Sure, there was the smoke monster, Ethan, Claire disappearing, and some people died, but those people were nobodies. Among the people that mattered, the main characters, it seemed that there was nothing to worry about. I mean, John Locke can kill a million boars without a scratch, and Kate climbs trees that are like 1000 ft high in every episode without any danger, so what is there to worry about?

Then comes along Boone, as pretty as ever, and he gets injured in a plane crash (not the one you’re thinking of). Surely you thought he’d be okay considering all the other crazy shit that been going on in the island. Nope, not this time.

So long Boone. That ending montage where Shannon mourns your death sure brought a tear to my eye.

Besides Boone, these two episodes bring to the fore front the important of Jack and Locke. Keep in mind that this was during Season 1, before Jack was some insecure loser, and when he was the shit among the survivors. And this was when Locke wasn’t dead or evil reincarnate, but rather the mysterious guru who seemed to know all the answers behind the island. These two were leaders among their groups, and polar opposites. Man of science, and man of faith. They were on the road to a power struggle, mortal enemies waiting for a chance to do battle, and Boone’s death enabled this.

The other thing that makes these two episodes very special is the back stories. It was a one two punch of great looks into the history of Locke and Jack. First you have Locke, desperate to connect with the father he never had. They get to know each other, go hunting, and share kidneys. What a Disney moment right? Then Locke’s dad leaves him and Locke finds out the kidney operation was one big con. Damn, that sucks. That ending, with Locke pounding on his car and then on the hatch door in frustration while ‘Life and Death’ plays, it’s truly an emotional powerhouse that punches you in the stomach. Every time I watch it, and every time I see that light shine and that gleam in Locke’s eyes widen as he finds a small bit of hope among the desperation, it sends chills down my spine.

Then, in Do No Harm, you find out Jack is married to Claire Dunphy before she became Claire Dunphy. Not only that, but you find how great of lengths he’s willing to go to try and save someone. In this case, he goes so far that he wants to marry the victim. That’s dedication man, and completely gives great insight into the man that Jack is and the man he will be for the next few seasons. And for a moment, in his flashbacks, you finally see a happy Jack, a Jack much different from the grieving, jaded, worn out Jack you’ve been seeing on the island. It brings new levels of sympathy and appreciation into the person he is and why he’s so ready to save people.

The combination of these two episodes is really what made season 1 so special. You’ll notice this is my first season 1 episode, but it certainly isn’t my last. It is the best season of lost out there, no doubt.

Oh yeah, and baby Aaron is born. Completely forgot about that. Damn, these two episodes have a lot going on in them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #6 - ?

No not, '?', the Mr. Eko-centric episode from season 2, ? as in my number 6 will be revealed Sunday because I don't have time today to do it. Sorry!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #7 - The Long Con

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
#8 - The Candidate
and number #7 is……..

The Long Con
Season: 2
Character-centric: Sawyer

Two words describe this episode: Sawyer rules. He managed to outsmart the two island leaders (Locke and Jack) to carve out a little niche for himself. And he did it while looking like a total badass. That whole little speech about the new sheriff in town totally blew my mind.

At this point in season 2, there were two things that controlled the power struggle amongst the castaways: guns and fear. The two are a gut reaction of each other. The Others cause the fear, the guns equalize it. This was a simpler time in Lost when we were concerned more about survival on the island as opposed to time travel and Dharma stations.

At the beginning of the series, the writers painted Sawyer as another dumb, hot headed redneck. But as the season progressed and progressed, and the viewers saw Sawyers conman connections, we begin to realize Sawyer is not your cookie cutter hillbilly. He’s manipulative, cut throat, everyman for himself. He is the realist on the island. While Jack and Locke are playing cowboys and Indians, he’s playing the game of life.

Before this episode, you feel that Sawyer’s near death experience may have changed all this. He wants blood against the others, right? They wrecked his ship and left him for dead. Now he was all about playing Locke and Jack’s game to get some sweet revenge. Wrong. In the end it’s still about adaptation and advantage, something Sawyer does in his play to con the two of their power over the guns. It’s a quintessential bad ass moment for Sawyer, and I thoroughly enjoyed how the writers set up such a blind side. I was shocked when I learned Sawyer orchestrated the whole conspiracy, but I also realized it made complete sense.

Josh Holloway never gets credit for his acting abilities. Hell, all of season 5 was practically carried on his acting alone. The Long Con is the episode that establishes Josh’s ability to add layers to Sawyer. He’s not the redneck stereotype we think he is. Instead, he’s an intensely complicated man, more complicated than Jack or Locke. He’s half saint, half demon, and one of the most compelling Lost characters out there. And the Long Con is the one episode where Sawyer truly shines.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #8 - The Candidate

Oh, Evie, why are you so hot?

Oh, I'm sorry, I got LOST in my thoughts. Get it? Wakka wakka wakka.

(Crickets chirp)

Anyways...

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
#9 - Ab Aeterno
and number #8 is……..


The Candidate
Season: 6
Character-centric: Jack and Locke (But mainly Jack)


Say hello to season 6’s most emotionally compelling episode. Usually one death is enough to blow your socks off in Lost, but 3 (and maybe 4 since Frank’s status is still unknown) is down right mind bending. I expected the writers to pull out the big guns, but not a-bombs of plot twisting shockers.

Sadly, we must say good bye to our favorite Captain Falafel, Sayid. I must say though I saw his death coming. Zombie Sayid seemed like dead story weight coming into this episode. He just seemed to be part of the crew, but not really someone who stood out. I wasn’t sure what else the writers could do with him. Yeah, he changed after his trip at the Temple, and yeah, he’s heartless now. Okay, so, what do we do with him now? We kill him, of course, and in a way that would truly let his soul rest in peace. Good bye Sayid, now you can be re-united with Nadia (and Shannon).

The Jin and Sun death was shocking though. They seemed completely untouchable. Jin is like the Tony Almeida of Lost, he just can’t die. His raft can get blown up by the others, his freighter get blown up by, uh Michael, and jump through time and come out all of it unscathed. I kind of knew that if he was to meet his maker, it would be because of his kryptonite, Sun.

There have been a lot of emotionally gripping deaths in Lost. Boone, Charlie, Charlotte, Faraday, Juliet, and so many others, but this one was like a punch to the stomach. It hit you hard because you realize these two have been apart for almost 3 seasons, and finally when they are reunited, they die. Shit. That sucks.

All of these deaths were to establish that the Man in Black is evil. He wants to kill the candidates for Jacob’s replacement, and that is that. But then, in the next episode, ‘Across the Sea,’ you see that MIB is not that evil after all. He just got screwed by his mom. Can’t Lost make anyone NOT morally ambiguous?

Non death related, this episode also brought back something that was sorely missing throughout the last seasons, Jack as a leader. As much as you hate him or love him, Jack was always the best leader among all the castaways. Locke could never be Jack, he had too much insecurity. Sawyer could never be Jack, he has too much confidence. Jack is the quintessential tactician. He thinks about his plans for the greater good of the group. And this episode brought that back. He knew the bomb wouldn’t explode, he had a plan. It’s too bad his fellow castaways lost faith in him. Nice going Sawyer, you screwed everyone with your rash decision. Back to the bench with you.

This is officially a Jack and Locke episode, but Jack owns this episode. From the flashbacks to the stuff on the island, right before all the deaths, it’s all about Jack retaking the role of leader from Sawyer. And unlike Sawyer, who bears the burden with a shield of arrogance, Jack bears it with a veil of insecurity. Ironically, that makes him the better choice. He knows his destiny, and unlike Sawyer, he doesn’t try to fight it.

There was one thing though that kind of brought this episode for me: logic. A) Why didn’t Sayid just throw the bomb to the end of the sub instead of being Mr. Hero? B) You can’t just swim out of a sub that’s sinking when hundred of gallons of water pressure are filling it up. C) How did Sawyer survive? He magically knows how to hold his breath while unconscious? D) I hate to pick on the fat man, but Hurley probably would have drowned while trying to swim out of the sub.

All in all though, this was a great episode that tugs you at the emotional strings. I was debating whether this or Ab Aeterno was the best of Season 6 so far. Ab Aeterno by itself is the better one, but The Candidate is a better episode in the Lost mythology.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #9 - Ab Aeterno

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
and number #9 is……..


Ab Aeterno
Season: 6
Character-centric: Richard


There are so few episodes in television that are so great stand alone that you don’t necessarily have to be a watcher of the show to enjoy them. Ab Aeterno is one of those episodes. Yet, at the same time, it manages to answer a lot of questions.

First, it answers how long Richard has been alive (roughly 150 years). Throughout the series, and since his introduction in ‘Not in Portland’, Lost viewers slowly wondered why the heck this guy never aged. This episode provides a simple answer, because Jacob gave him the gift of eternal youth.

Richard Alpert has always been one of the most mysterious characters on Lost. He’s always been the cool, calm, collective leader that Ben Linus could never be. But this is when his character breaks. After finding out that his master, Jacob, has bit the dust, he loses it. And rightfully so.

This kind of reminds me of the whole Crisis plot in DC comics. If you recall, Lex Luthor of another dimension is a good guy, and prepares his whole life to save the otherworlds of the DC universe. Alexander Luthor (as he is known by) helps our friends in the mainstream verse and saves the day from all destruction from Anti Monitor. Peace is restored, all is saved, and Alex retires in paradise. Happy ending, right? Not quite so. Now, with no purpose left in life, Alex goes a bit nutty and convinces himself all universes must be destroyed. Good grief.

That’s the dilemma Richard was facing. For over 100 years, he spent his time on a purpose, the purpose of Jacob. Now that his purpose was shattered, it was time for him to go Daffy. Luckily for the castaways, he wasn’t ready to go bonkers. Instead, he was reassured by the one thing that always seems to restore balance in every great story. Love.

That pretty much sums Richard’s story to a tee. No over the top gimmicks in this episode. Instead, we’re treated to a simple, yet well written story, about a man who lost it all only to find salvation, and only to lose it again.

But when it comes down to it, Ab Aeterno is great because of the simplest reason, acting. Nestor Carbonell should get an Emmy based on this performance alone. His acting is so top notch that it sucks you into the world of Richard Alpert. When he is sad, you are sad. When he is scared, you are scared. When he is angry, you are angry. Only the rarest of performances can elicit such emotions from its audience.

But that’s what Lost does. Behind all the smoke monsters, polar bears, and time warps, the core of the show has always been on the strength of the emotions and journeys of its characters. And that’s why I enjoy the show so much.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #10 - The Shape of Things to Come

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
and number #10 is……..

The Shape of Things to Come
Season: 4
Character-centric: Ben

Showdown. Ben vs. Keamy. Ben vs. Widmore. Ben vs. Fate. And guess what? He actually loses.

Yes, up to this point in Lost, Ben seemed unstoppable. Even at the moments when he seemed his weakest, you felt Ben was in control. It didn’t matter if Jack had him tied to a tree at the end of season 3, for some reason you believed that bug eyed little man had something up his sleeve.

And guess what he did. Throughout the beginning of season 4, Ben slowly picks up the pieces of his fallen kingdom within the island. He plays a bargaining chip with Locke to regain his freedom after being locked down by, uh, Locke. He also begins to assert his leadership over the ‘Cabin Defects,’ picking and prodding and playing Locke like a violin until it was a matter of time before Ben’s plans were on the right track. But there was one problem.

Enter Martin Keamy, Deadpool, Deathstroke, and Boba Fett rolled into one. I have to give my props to Kevin Durand. He’s always been known to play these over the top thugs (Smokin Aces, X-men Origins: Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma), but Martin Keamy was a fine character. He was the best second tier villain the show has had (better than Mr. Friendly, Radzinsky, Mikhail, or any other jabroni). Throughout season 4, you could only sense that two such awesome foes would face off.

The stage was set, Ben vs. the Mercenary, with his daughter on the line. And in one gone shot, it was game over. And that’s when Ben’s kingdom came crashing down. If there was any more pivotal moment in season 4, this was it. It was when the untouchable suddenly looked human. The expression on Ben’s face when Alex dies says it all. Even he couldn’t believe he lost.

He is no longer a master of the island, instead, he’s just another pawn. And he knows it. When Alex died, the myth of Ben did too. And in the end, what does that leave him with? Nothing else but to pick up the pieces. By season 6, Ben is a broken man, no longer chained as a conduit to the island. And in that sense, he faces some relief. Michael Emerson’s acting is so superb, you can see it on his face. Ben no longer wants in the drama of the island, he just wants to end it. And this is when it all started.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #11 - Some Like It Hoth

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
and number #11 is……..


Some Like It Hoth
Season: 5
Character-centric: Miles

I never really liked season 5. This is actually the only season 5 episode on my list. Even though this season set up a so far awesome season 6, I feel actually watching season 5 is like watching an entire build up to something awesome (Juliet detonating the Jughead). The writers could have done so many awesome things with the time traveling angle, but instead, they just kind of made each episode hinge on the next, which kind of sucked. Could I have chosen a more important season 5 episode (like The Variable or The Life and Death of Jeremy Benthem)? Sure, but those were not episodes I thought ruled. This episode ruled. It was a fun episode to watch.

Out of all the freighter folks that joined the cast, Miles is clearly the most interesting. He’s not the most important like to the story, like say, Daniel, nor is he the most charismatic, like say everyone’s favorite pilot, Chesty McGee, but Miles is certainly my favorite of the new crew. Perhaps its his awkward mannerisms, like asking Sawyer if he wanted to get a beer after burying a newly-dead Juliet. Perhaps it’s his sarcasm, he doesn’t even need to dole out nick names like Sawyer to get across his brand of smug arrogance. Nope, Miles is pretty much what the island needs, a everyday kind of guy who’s stuck in this impossible situation called Lost.

Okay, so he can talk to the dead, maybe he’s not that everyday. Whatever.

You don’t really have to know too much about Lost to enjoy what this episode has to offer. Sure you have to know that Miles can read the dead, and sure you have to know that they’re time traveling, but that’s it.

Miles flashback is pretty interesting back story. It shows how he’s able to make a living, profiting the dead, and gives you a sense of his character, one that exudes complexity. He’s not your run of the mill use your gifts for pay one dimensional character. No, he has issues, baggage from a father he never knew. Some people don’t get how Ken Leung tries to portray Miles. Is he just socially awkward? Is he supposed to look so uncomfortable? Is it just because Ken can’t act?

The answer is yes, yes, and no. Ken can act. He’s made a career of shining in shitty movies (Rush Hour, Saw). Ken portrays Miles that way because he gets Miles. Here’s a guy who has grown up without a father figure, a guy who hasn’t had the compassion of father to help him become a man. Is he bitter? Fuck yes. How happy can you be when you realized you’ve talked to more dead people than your own father? Miles is a man on a mission, and that mission is to say fuck you world. And that’s where the money comes in, because he just doesn’t get the mourning thing. To him, the dead aren’t special, they aren’t people to be remembered. To him, dead is dead, just like how his father to him is dead. Why should he show compassion to people who can’t get over it? He got over his father.

It’s best summed up at the end when Miles confronts the man he conned. "If you needed your son to know that you loved him, you should've told him when he was still alive." That sums up Miles to a tee. Your baggage is your fuckin’ baggage. Don’t come to me for answers. I never had answers about my dad.

And that’s why I like Miles. He sees the world as clear cut as it should be. And this episode lays it on the line and lets the viewer know why Miles is the way he is. It’s a shame there weren’t more episodes to explore such a cool character.

And yes, when Hurley decides to rewrite Empire Strikes Back, the exchange between the two is fuckin awesome.

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! - Introduction and #12 Two For The Road

I’ve been a Lost fan since season 1. To say that I’m a loyal watcher is an understatement. I’m an extremely loyal watcher of the show. I remember watching the pilot way back in 2004. At first, I thought the idea of surviving on an island was a neat concept, why not give this show a spin. To be honest, the pilot didn’t blow me away. It was well acted, well written, and some mysteries were introduced, who can forget Charlie’s ‘where are we quote’ but it was nothing mind blowing. But, I stuck with it because a mediocre Lost episode still blows everything else out of the water. As the show progressed, I slowly got hooked. It was all about the characters. Every one of them had interesting back stories (even Boone), and that’s what got me hooked. And as the seasons progressed, and things got weirder and weirder, I became a fanatic. With the last few episodes showing, I must admit I am sad. Where am I going to get my drama fix? I already have my comedies (Community, Archer, South Park, It’s Always Sunny, Modern Family), but Lost is the only drama show I really watch. But, instead of mourning my loss, I will celebrate it by giving you, the reader, my top 12 picks of the best Lost episodes ever. Every weekday until the big finale, I’ll be counting down an episode with my own commentary. This is my personal list, so if you have any disagreements, share them, but just be mindful this is what I liked and not what the critics think are the best. Now here we go…

12. Two for the Road
Season: 2
Character-centric: Ana Lucia

Ah, Ana Lucia, how people hate you so. You’re right up there with Nikki and Paulo and Kate. Personally, I never liked you much either. To me, you were Kate 2.0, but you just looked a lot meaner. There are many parallels between you and our favorite convict. Revenge back story? Check. Tough girl image? Check. Slept with Sawyer? Check! I think the writers were trying to go somewhere with you, but with all the negative fan reaction, they just realized there was only one place to go… your death. And out of all the things wrong they did with your character, your death was the one thing you did right.

Episode wise, it’s above average Lost fare. I did like Ana Lucia’s back story, driving around Christian, adding another strand to the Lost connection web. The chemistry that Michelle Rodriguez and John Terry had with each other was great. You could really feel that the two were tortured souls just looking for an escape while cruising the Sydney landscape.

Back on the island though, things were meh. AL was out for blood, and Ben (then Henry Gale) was in her crosshairs. I never understood why she was so pissed off at Ben. At the time, the viewer had no idea if this guy was really the leader of the others, or even an other to begin with, yet Ana Lucia was ready to stomp on Ben’s bug eyed face the moment she saw him. I guess she was thinking the only way she could redeem herself for killing Shannon was by taking out the person who she thought was responsible for our favorite Paris Hilton wannabe’s death. But she had no evidence that Ben was responsible, or even if he was connected to these mysterious others. The writers definitely mishandled this, because I think they wanted us viewers to sympathize with AL’s rage, but I didn’t really have a reason to.

The whole episode was just filler though until the end, when they brought out the big guns, so to speak. The biggest WTF moment in Lost history ever was when Michael shot not only Ana Lucia, but Libby too!! No not Libby?! Can’t Hurley catch a break in the romance department?! And not only that, but they just killed a character off without giving any insight into her back story. Now I can only speculate why Libby was in that mental hospital. Well I guess later, we find out it was because of her husband’s death, but that isn’t all the way until season 6, in sideways world. Fuckkkkkkk.

This was the moment that truly changed the game in Lost. It made you question everyone’s motive, released Ben to wreak havoc for a few seasons, and totally blindsided you with a shocking, but reasonable, twist. For those reasons alone, it gets spot 12.