Monday, March 30, 2009

Heroes recap – “Into Asylum” S3E21 (airdate 3/30/09)

Mexico. Nathan and Claire are hiding out south of the border. I like her new bangs. They find a sketchy motel, all they can afford since they fled on such short notice. Claire’s feeling a little cooped up and heads out for a walk; Nathan gets her to agree to meet him for dinner at a cantina up the street. Back in NYC, Peter and Angela come back to earth in an alley next to a cathedral. Peter wants answers. So does Angela. “This is where I’m supposed to be,” she tells her younger son as the downpour starts again. Peter watches as his mom walks steadily towards the doors of the cathedral.

Arlington, VA. Several agents are dead on the floor of some apartment; the surviving agent, Jenkins, didn’t see anything and, in fact, is busy vomiting on the carpet. Danko and Bennet take a look around. There’s no sign of a scuffle and one bullet in the back of each agent’s head. The agents’ target had been James Martin, high school geometry teacher. They don’t know what his ability is but he’d been red-flagged as a person of interest. Bennet chides Danko for sending his men in without knowing what they were up against. Danko isn’t taking any guff, however, reminding Bennet that since Rebel got away, Bennet is the one who “needs a win” right now.

Danko goes out to the car and fires up the cigarette lighter. Surprise: Sylar is in the backseat. Sylar asks if Danko liked his presents – the stuffed bunny and the trussed-up Doyle – and Danko wants to know what’s going on. Sylar says the two of them are on the same side since they both want to kill people like Sylar, and he thinks they should pool their resources. Sylar goes on to tell Danko that he’s in over his head in this case and he, Sylar, can help find the guy who killed the agents. Soon enough Danko’s temper runs short and, quick as a bunny (unstuffed), he draws his pistol. But Sylar is gone – if he was ever really there and not some psychic projection. As the grumpy agent drives away, Sylar stands atop a nearby building, raising his face into the rain.

Building 26. Danko rallies the troops to apprehend James Martin and honor the dead agents. Interestingly, he puts Martin’s photo at the top of the most wanted chart, moving Sylar down. Danko goes over to Bennet and tells him to get on this – and he doesn’t want to hear any “one of us, one of them” nonsense. Bennet’s like, it got the job done – just like all those counterinsurgency jobs you ran way back when … but Danko doesn’t know what he’s talking about (nor do I, only I’m not lying about it). Bennet shrugs, whatever, and presses the value of working the enemy: “A little focused manipulation goes a long way.” Danko asks how he can trust the Heroes and Bennet retorts that he doesn’t trust them, he uses them. Bennet wonders if he’s to be sent after Sylar. Nope, says Danko, “I’ve got another assignment for you” and hands him Angela Petrelli’s file. Now that’s just going to be awkward.

Mexico. Claire finds her way back to the cantina where Nathan is enjoying a taco. She slaps down a wad of cash. Where’d she get that? Nathan wants to know. “I sold my kidney,” she says, “Twice. Both of them, actually.” And then grins at his horrified expression: she sold her necklace at a pawnshop. At a nearby table, some tequila-fueled frat boys are totally checking her out. Nathan tries to reign his daughter in as she gets fired up, saying that they need to get back to the States and help their kind – the government is going to continue rounding Heroes up until Nathan tells them not to. Nathan pouts a little and tells her that he wishes she’d show a little gratitude to him, for (a) giving her that free pass and (b) rescuing her out the window that last time. Claire pauses, and wants to know just why he did give her that “free pass.” “I have my reasons,” Nathan says obliquely. Then he snatches up the money and says he’ll be back – he’s going to turn it into more. He then walks over to the frat boys and asks for some tequila as Claire stares after him.

NYC. Mass has just ended in the cathedral and Angela and Peter sit in the back. She tells him that in order for her to have her visions, she must be able to sleep and she hasn’t been able to recently. But this cathedral gives her peace – she was married here, her children’s first communions were here, etc. – and maybe it will give her enough to rest. Peter asks if she’s looking for forgiveness. Angela: “I’m not sure even God has that in him.”

Mexico. Shots all around. Nathan ups the ante with the boys: $100 a hit and last man standing takes it all. Claire’s like, um, Dad? but Nathan insists he’s got it under control. This seems as though it will end badly, doesn’t it?

Building 26. Agent Jenkins (the survivor from the James Martin massacre) checks in with Danko to see if there was any progress. No, go get some rest, son. Jenkins persists (a little creepily), saying that Danko’s earlier speech when he rallied the troops was inspirational. He stretches out his hand and Danko pauses, and then shakes it. Then a cell phone starts ringing. Danko paws around and finds the phone hidden on top of a cardboard box. He answers it, dismissing Jenkins. It’s Sylar, calling from another rooftop. He’s done some homework on Martin: there’s another body that was stashed that Danko didn’t find. “Look in the box,” instructs Sylar. He goes on, saying that the answer to how Martin killed all the men is in the box: “He’s a shapeshifter.” Up on the roof, Sylar bends over a headless body; down in HQ, Danko opens the box to find the bodiless head. Ooh–Jenkins is the shapeshifter! Danko grabs his gun and runs after Jenkins. Sylar smirks on his rooftop.

Danko tracks Fake Jenkins/Martin to the parking garage. There’s running and chasing, Fake Jenkins pausing long enough to grab a startled janitor’s wrist. More running and chasing. Danko finds the actual janitor and orders him to be taken into custody, while around a corner, Fake Jenkins groans, his face rippling and flexing – shapeshifting looks painful. He manages to shift into the janitor’s form and runs out of the garage, getting lost in the passersby. Danko and his men emerge shortly thereafter but are too late. Their quarry is gone.

NYC. Peter and Angela are still in the cathedral, Peter bringing his mother a dry coat from one of the bins of clothes for the needy. Ironically, it’s one she donated last week but Peter insists that she needs it right now. Blah blah blah – Angela has regrets over the way she treated her sons, especially Peter. She is, in fact, looking for forgiveness. “I don’t hate you,” Peter says, “no matter what’s happened, you’re still my mother.” Angela: “I’m afraid that unconditional love isn’t love at all.”

Mexico. Tequila! Claire watches in horror as Nathan and one last frat boy (the only cute one) pound shot after shot. She interrupts them, saying they don’t look so good. Nathan insists he can take it, and then promptly passes out on the table. Cute Frat Boy reaches for the money and Claire grabs his wrist, asking for a rematch. She offers Nathan’s fancy watch into the mix and CFB is interested. But, he points out, he’s already twenty-two shots deep and she’s a little late to the party. (Twenty-two shots? That’s such bullshit – he’d be SO wasted and possibly dead.) Claire grins and pulls off the sweater she’s wearing over a teeny tank top - “Well then I guess I’d better catch up, huh?” - and starts downing shots. Her “eeuw” face is very cute.

Back in Arlington, Sylar walks into the shapshifter’s apartment. Danko is already there and waiting for him. His opinion is that Sylar is desperate to catch Martin because shapeshifting is a most excellent ability. You have no idea what I want, snarls Sylar. Danko pulls out an ugly knife, ready to shoot Sylar and then stick the knife into the no-more-regeneration spot in his brain, calling Sylar his white whale. Sylar prefers to think of himself as the golden egg-laying goose, saying that he – and he alone – can round up all the Heroes and deliver them to Danko. “And then you can take your shot.” Danko stares hard at him, and then puts the gun to the side. Come on, WTF? Why the hell would Sylar do this? I guess last season’s writers screwed his character up so badly that even Bryan Fuller can’t straighten him out.

NYC. Angela continues to sit quietly in her pew at the back of the cathedral, trying to get some rest. Peter watches over her, then goes to light a candle. He talks to God for a bit, wondering what the point of it is: he’s got this gift and he can’t even help people. Blah blah blah – tired of fighting, angry at his family, angry at God. Milo Ventimiglia is pretty enough, but he is just not good enough an actor to pull this sort of soliloquy off. Pluswhich, since when is Peter religious? Just then a draft blows out all the candles: agents pour into the cathedral, telling the startled priest that there are fugitives hiding out here. Angela and Peter duck into the confessionals.

Martin’s apartment. Danko thinks Martin has fled but Sylar disagrees, saying he’s still in the city. They tear the place apart, Sylar finding many different outfits not particularly apropos for a geometry teacher, like an Armani suit and scrubs. Sylar profiles that Martin is looking for power in all these different guises, either to screw with people or just to screw them. Then they find a bunch of photos of different men – all of whom are Martin - with different beautiful women. That would be the “just screwing them” part, I guess. They also find a matchbox: Garden of Eden, the club Martin frequents.

Mexico. Cute Frat Boy is impressed with Claire’s hollow leg, saying she doesn’t even look drunk. Oh, right, she realizes, and then starts slurring and giggling. More shots and then CFB falls off his barstool. Claire nudges Nathan: “We gotta go … I won the money!”

NYC. Angela insists on talking through the confessional grating even though there are agents swarming all over the cathedral. Blah blah blah – she was going to be a good person, a teacher, and then the visions came. And no one would listen to her so she got their attention with lies and manipulation and betrayal … but it was the price she paid to save the world. Suddenly, the door to her confessional is ripped open and both Petrellis freeze. But it’s Bennet - yay! He stares at the frightened, bedraggled Angela and shakes his head. “All clear,” he calls to the other agents. The Petrellis collapse with relief.

Garden of Eden club. Techno music blares and throbs. Sylar fits in with the pretty young things but Danko is totally a fish out of water. Sylar spots their quarry at once and points him out with a grin: Martin is wearing Danko’s body. The real Danko’s expression is exquisite.

Aw, I love those Budweiser Clydesdale commercials.

Real-Danko is quite discomfited, especially as Martin-Danko starts macking on a hottie. “He’s a better you than you,” laughs Sylar. But Martin-Danko sees them and soon it’s a cat-and-mouse through the crowd.

Mexico. Claire drags a sodden Nathan back to their squalid motel. He wants to know why she’s not a drunken wreck and she guesses that the whole tissue regeneration thing probably includes her liver. Nathan truly is a drunken wreck and starts apologizing and babbling. He thought that if he kept his distance from his illegitimate daughter, they would eventually find each other when the time was right – but he waited too long. The whole “free pass” thing was because he thought he could win her over, just like that. And now, he’s using protecting her as an excuse to hide behind to avoid helping the other hunted Heroes. He’s still babbling that he’ll make things right as he passes out, leaving Claire wiping away her tears.

The club. A Danko stares into the crowd with Sylar. “I lost him,” he says, “for good. Let’s go.” Danko turns to go and Sylar stares after him intently, and then follows. As they near the door, Sylar pulls out a gun but Danko is too quick and, turning, shoots Sylar who gasps and falls. Another Sylar – the real one – runs up: “You killed him!” “No,” says the real Danko, “He’s still alive.” And then Real Sylar looks down at the frightened and panting Faux Sylar and realizes what Danko is offering him. Zach Quinto is looking quite hot in this scene. As he reaches out a hand towards the cowering shapeshifter, Danko asks him if he can do it without removing the top of the skull. Sylar grins again. That damn music starts thumping again but cannot drown out Martin’s screams as Sylar bores his ability into his head. I guess it doesn’t hurt any less even with your skull still attached.

Mexico. Amazingly, Nathan is not hung over the next morning. I wish I had that super-power. Claire asks if they are going to head straight back to Washington to get started with the rescuing but Nathan shakes his head – he’s got no clout left with the government. “But you said …,” she protests. “I was drunk,” he says, and then sheepishly adds, “Some things are just too big for one man.” Claire is PISSED: “You could do anything you want! You can fly … you’re supposed to be Superman.” In tears, she leaves and Nathan hangs his head.

NYC. Angela has managed to sleep and dream and, in the morning, tells Peter that she knows what to do. First, they need to find Nathan and Claire, bringing the family together, and then they need to visit Angela’s sister. Peter: “Sister?” Angela caresses his cheek and then gives it a little slap. Peter just shakes his head at the friggin’ family he was born into.

Meanwhile, Nathan catches up to Claire at the bus station. There’s one heading to San Diego soon and she plans to be on it. She asks him what time it is but he doesn’t have his watch anymore, having pawned it to get her necklace back. Aw. Nathan looks at her, saying deliberately that he’s heading back up soon. Good for you, she replies. He walks away a few steps then looks back, asking if she’s coming. She smiles a little and takes his arm. Dude, I’d much rather fly Petrelli Air than take a stinky ol’ bus.

D.C. area. Bennet finds Danko with a body bag. Inside is “Sylar” with that big knife sticking out of the back of his head. Bennet recoils a little and the lady coroner asks if he’s okay. Danko goes back to his car and gets ready to light a cigarette but the lady coroner gets in the passenger seat and snatches the butt away from him, saying “Those things’ll kill you.” Danko asks how that was, zipping up the body bag. A few grunts and groans later, Sylar is back in his original shape and says, “Cathartic, poetic, and tactically fortunate.” Danko points out that if their partnership succeeds, Sylar “will be the only one left.” Sylar: “Funny how that works.”

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

Friday, March 27, 2009

Book review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

America is a vast country with room for many. Inhabited by Natives and settled by peoples from across the globe, the continent embraces its people and the beliefs they bring with them, seeking solace and livelihood and freedom. It's a good thing the country is so goshdarn big because the people came from all over - from Scandinavia to Africa, from Ireland to India and all the places in between. They brought their gods and their demigods, their faeries and ifrits and boggles. The people brought their old gods and the land welcomed them, allowing them to settle and flourish. Until the people got a little more sophisticated and newer gods began to make themselves known: telecommunications, electricity, transportation, television. The old gods retreated in the face of modernity. And then they fought back.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is the story of the battle of these gods - and the man caught in the middle. Shadow is about to be released from doing his three years in prison when he is told that his wife Laura has been killed in a car crash. Bereft, travelling home for her funeral, he meets a charismatic grifter named Wednesday. Wednesday knows all about Shadow and offers him a job as sort of an aide de camp. Figuring why not, Shadow accepts.

Wednesday is more than he appears to be, however, and so is the rogues' gallery of his confederates to which he introduces his new employee: Mr. Nancy (Anansi), Czernobog, Whiskey Jack, Easter (Eostre) - all gods making their way in a now-hostile world. On a wild roadtrip through some of the U.S.'s more memorable roadside attractions (like this and this), Shadow finds himself entangled in an epic struggle that he had no idea was happening.

This is my kind of book, no question about it. As a kid I plundered the school and town libraries, reading (and re-reading) every mythology book I could get my hands on - Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Native American, Celtic, African. I devoured those stories. And now, finally, the stories have all come together in Gaiman's uber-capable hands. As I turned the pages of American Gods and discovered a different god - or an oblique reference to a different god - I had such fun trying to recall what I might still know about thunderbirds, Thoth, Anubis, Bast and Horus, Kali, Morrigan, kobolds, Urd's Well and Loki. (By the way, each of these deities play a role in this big book - and that's not all of them!)

I loved this book. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Devoured it. Reread pages because they were so good. Got cranky when I realized I was nearing the end. In fact, I would venture to say that I had the exact opposite reaction to American Gods as I did to that friggin' stupid Mermaid Chair book. It's not all gods and monsters - Gaiman is nearly poetic about road-trips and small towns, and there's a murder to be solved - but while this is clearly fantasy, it doesn't have that swords-and-sorcery feel to it. American Gods reads easy like a straight-fiction thriller ... it just happens to be about, well, gods and monsters.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lost episode recap – “He’s Our You” (S5E10) airdate 3/25/09

I thought this episode was great fun. Sayid-centric for one, which is always a good thing (ask and ye shall receive) - pluswhich my man Sayid was looking fiiiiiiiiiine tonight. Also, very little Kate and Jack (also good), and we covered a lot of ground, getting information about Sayid's time in Ben's employ and just who that chick Ilana is. Bonus for the E.B. Farnum cameo!

Tikrit, Iraq. A father shouts at his son, calling him a coward for refusing to kill one of the family chickens. The boy doesn’t want to do it and the father says he must stay outside until he kills one. After the father goes away, a younger boy comes up, entices a chicken with a handful of grain and then wrings its neck. The chicken-killer hands the dead chicken to the older boy. When the father comes back out, he tells the younger boy, “Well done, Sayid.”

1977, Dharma Initiative. The former chicken killer stands calmly in his cell. Young Ben comes back with another sandwich and a book for the prisoner. Ben asks Sayid if Richard sent him here to the Initiative. When Sayid won’t answer, Ben tells him that the surveillance cameras are not wired for sound. He goes on to say that some years ago, he met Richard in the jungle and Richard promised to take him if he was patient. Ben looks gravely at Sayid and says, “If you’re patient too, I think I can help you.”

Moscow. A frightened man locks himself in his apartment. He goes to a safe and almost manages to get the door open before straight-haired Sayid busts down the door. The man offers money but Sayid shoots him anyway. He looks curiously at the man’s empty hand then leaves the apartment, walking down an alleyway to where Ben is waiting. When Sayid asks where the next assignment is, Ben says he’s done – he’s eliminated all the threats to his friends. There’s no one else in Widmore’s organization that they need to go after. Sayid is at a loss, dismayed at having killed all those people, and unsure what to do next. “Go live your life, Sayid,” says Ben.

1977. Horace comes to visit Sayid and cuts his bonds with a pair of pruning shears. Radzhinsky (the paranoid tech from the Flame Station) is there too. Horace wants to know what Sayid was doing out in the jungle. He also wants to know about Sayid’s handcuffs: he’s either in trouble with his people, which is a bonus for Horace, or he’s a spy. He gives Sayid an hour to decide how he’s going to answer – or he’ll “take it to the next level.” Sayid doesn’t look fazed by that at all.

Juliet is distracted by Kate and Jack outside their cottage and lets the breakfast bacon burn. She looks at Sawyer and murmurs that it’s over now, this, the two of them, all they have here at the Initiative - if Sayid tells the truth about who he is, everything will come crashing down. Sawyer tries to reassure her that he’ll take care of it, but they’re interrupted by a knock on their front door. It’s Horace, who reports having spoken to the prisoner. Apparently Sayid ain't saying squat and Horace is concerned enough by this to let “Oldham” have a try at him. Sawyer exclaims, “That psychopath?!” and Juliet just leans resignedly against the wall. Horace thinks he has no choice but Sawyer asks for a go at the prisoner alone first.

Soon afterwards, Sawyer goes to the cells and dismisses Phil. As he unlocks Sayid’s cell, he asks how he’s doing. Sayid replies that he’s a little freaked out by the fact that an adolescent Ben Linus just brought him a chicken salad sandwich (that’s a paraphrase) and asks Sawyer how he can live here with Ben. Because I have to, is the response. Is that so? Sawyer: “Let’s see how you feel after three years of livin’ in the ‘70s.” He tells Sayid that he thinks he’s in a position to save him and apologizes just before he punches Sayid in the nose. Sayid wants to know WTF. Sawyer says that it has to look like he beat Sayid’s confession out of him – to get intel about the Others. Sayid still doesn’t understand what this is all about and Sawyer has to spell it out: they’ve built a nice life for themselves here and if Sayid won’t come on board, he’s on his own. Sayid: Well, I guess I’m on my own then.

At the Dharma commissary, Hurley joins Kate and Jack for waffles. They pool what they know about Sayid: nada. Since Jack didn’t get anything out of Sawyer last night, so Kate says she’ll ask Juliet. Hurley’s like, why would she tell you anything? Kate: why not? Hurley: cuz they’re like together, like you guys used to be. Kate: [grrrr]. Hurley makes his escape and Kate casts an eye at Jack – did he know? Jack says yup and stares at his waffles.

Back down at the cells, a janitor – I think it’s Ben’s dad! – comes in to mop the floor. He smirks at Sayid, saying he must be pretty dumb to have been caught by the Dharmites. Just then, young Ben decides to bring another sandwich to Sayid. His father takes this very much the wrong way, his son never having brought him a sandwich. He shoves Ben out the door roughly, then tosses the food to the floor and leaves. Sayid looks thoughtful.

Flash wherever it was that Sayid was building Habitat for Humanity houses when Locke found him (looks like Hawaii). As he’s working, Sayid notices a disturbance in the force and turns to find Ben standing there. Ben tells him that Locke is dead, probably killed as retribution for the work Ben and Sayid had been doing. In addition, some bad guy has Hurley under surveillance at the mental hospital right now and Sayid should probably go kill him. Sayid’s like, why would I want to do that? Ben gets extra creepy as he says being a killer is in Sayid’s nature – it’s what he does, who he is. Sayid steps close and speaks softly, saying that Ben doesn’t know anything about him. Ben: Hm, guess I was mistaken. And then he leaves.

Flash back to the Dharma cells, 1977. Sayid is still looking pensive – and Damn Hot, I might add – when Sawyer comes back with Horace and some flunkies. When Sayid still won’t speak, Sayid (regretfully, I think) zaps him with a taser and tells the other guys to “take him to Oldham.”

They drive the VW bus out to a campsite in the middle of the jungle. There's a cloth tent, and an old-timey gramophone. Horace calls out and Oldham (William Sanderson – yay!) emerges from the tent. Sayid whispers to Sawyer, “Who is this man?” and Sawyer whispers back, “He’s our you.” Uh-oh. Oldham fills a syringe and steps close to Sayid, and then says placidly, “Better put him in the restraints.” Sayid takes this as his cue to struggle wildly but he can’t get away from the flunkies.

This is pretty intense. They shackle Sayid to a tree and for just a moment, he looks a little bit scared. Oldham says the shackles are for his protection as there are “side effects” to what he’s going to give him. He shoves a pill or something into Sayid’s mouth and makes him crunch down on it, then tells him not to fight it – it’s beyond his control now, and he will tell them the truth. Sayid lunges against his bonds, bringing his face within inches of Oldham’s. Still, he’s not said a word. Sawyer looks abashed. And he should.

Flash back to the scene at the marina when Ben told Jack, Kate, Sayid and Sun about going back to the Island. After Sayid left, threatening dire consequences if he ever saw Ben again, he goes to a bar and drinks very expensive scotch. Ilana – but we don’t know her name yet – strikes up a conversation with him. Her accent is, um, indeterminate and her hairdo is stupid. Sayid finds her interesting enough to continue talking to, however.

Island, 1977. Oldham starts to ask Sayid some questions. He gives up his name; he was in handcuffs because he is a “bad man;” this is his second time on the Island, and his second plane crash to boot. “Ask Sawyer,” he suggests goofily. Hilariously, none of the Dharmites seem very interested in any of this (nor do they know who “Sawyer” is – and Sawyer gives up silent thanks for that), instead asking what he knows about their various Stations. Sayid runs down the list but since he even knows about the ones that aren’t yet built, they get freaked out some. Then Sayid tells them: “You’re all going to die, you know. You’re going to be killed … because I am from the future.” Oldham: “Maybe I should have used half a dropper.” Heh. Sayid also thinks this is funny, cackling wildly that Oldham used “just enough!” Creepy.

Dharma compound. Juliet has gotten Kate a job at the garage where she works. At Kate’s bemused expression, Juliet asks her if it was Jack who told her about Juliet and Sawyer. No, says Kate, actually it was Hurley. Juliet smiles gently and says that this is a relief – since she couldn’t figure out how to bring it up to Kate without it sounding like she was saying stay away. And thus, Juliet, you just said it – nicely done. They are interrupted by the return of the group from the Oldham fieldtrip. Horace and the flunkies take Sayid back to the cells, Sawyer pausing long enough to share a Worried Glance with his ladylove. By which I mean Juliet.

Later that night, Horace has called a meeting of the head Dharmites and to ask them what they should do with Sayid. Paranoid Radzhinsky says they should kill him to which Sawyer protests. Horace says he needs more time to consider: on the one hand, Sayid does seem to be a spy for Richard’s Hostiles; on the other hand, the Initiative does have civilized law to follow. Radzhinsky presses the issue, however, saying that they have to vote, now, or he’ll call Ann Arbor (?!) and they’ll make the decision. Then, Amy speaks up: she’s worried about baby Ethan’s safety and doesn’t want Sayid here. Sighing, Horace puts it to a vote and everyone but Sawyer votes to kill the spy. Horace turns to him and says that he would really like to say it was unanimous. Grimacing guiltily, Sawyer raises his hand too.

Ah: Sayid and Ilana back at his hotel room, smooching, gasping and bouncing on the bed. Sexily, he stands to unzip her high leather boot … and then she kicks him in the head. Several times. Until she pulls a gun on him. Sayid, nursing a bloody lip, would like to know who she is. She is a bounty hunter, hired to bring him to Guam by the family of the man he killed on the golf course last year. Girl’s pretty good at her job too.

Island, 1977. Sawyer comes down to the cells. He hands Sayid the keys and instructs him to punch him in the face – he thinks Sayid can probably get past Phil at the door no problem and escape into the jungle. Sayid won’t do it, though, saying that being here is apparently his purpose back on the Island. “[Your purpose is] To get shot? You’re out of your mind!” says a frustrated Sawyer, and storms out. He goes over to Kate’s cottage and demands to know why she came back, saying that Sayid just spouted all this nonsense about why he was back on the Island, and so he wants to know why they all came back. Kate hems and haws a little, saying that she only knows why she came back, not everyone else. But before she can get to it, the VW bus – fully aflame – comes careening through the compound and crashes into a cottage.

Everyone comes running to put out the fire but soon the bus explodes and the whole cottage is engulfed. Jack comes up and Sawyer immediately bitches about how for three years everything has been peaceful. You know, this is a great diversion. Sure enough, as soon as Phil leaves his post outside the cells, young Ben comes in. His glasses are broken and Sayid asks him what happened. “My father,” says Ben, crying a little. Sayid is sympathetic, saying his own father was a hard man too. Ben says that he really hates it here – if he lets Sayid out, will he take Ben with him back to his people? “Yes, Ben,” replies Sayid with an eerie calm, “That is why I’m here.” I think that tone of voice Sayid just used does not bode well for young Ben in the long term.

Flash back to the L.A. airport, and Ilana escorting Sayid towards the gate. As he catches sight of Hurley and Jack in the waiting room, he asks his captor if she’s sure they’re going to Guam. Yup. He then sees Kate and panics a little, asking if they can take the next flight – he’s a little superstitious about planes. Nope. When they board the plane, he sees Sun and then Ben. He asks Ilana if she’s perchance working for Ben, calling him a monster responsible for genocide (?). She asks why she would ever work for someone like that. “I did,” sighs Sayid.

Island, 1977. Young Ben opens Sayid’s cell. Taking advantage of the roaring house fire, they manage to escape the compound unseen, running into the jungle. When headlights come towards them, they dive into the underbrush. It’s Jin, driving another VW bus. Jin asks how Sayid got out and Sayid says that Sawyer freed him. When he tells Jin that he’s got to keep moving, Jin wants to check with Sawyer first, so Sayid just decks him, knocking him out. As Sayid crouches over his friend’s unconscious body, young Ben creeps out of the bushes, marveling at Sayid’s prowess. Keeping his head down, Sayid says to him, “You were right about me. I am a killer.” Then he lifts his head, aims Jin’s pistol at young Ben and shoots the boy in the chest. A surprised expression crosses Ben’s face and he drops to the ground. Tears fill Sayid’s eyes and he runs past the boy into the jungle.

Wow. Awesome. But I bet the Island isn’t done with young Ben quite yet, despite Sayid’s best efforts.

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Heroes – “Cold Snap” S3E20 (airdate 3/23/09)

Danko cleans up in his gray bathroom (in his gray apartment) – washing his face, shaving, all à la Dexter extreme close-ups. An alarm sounds: the front door is open. Already this scene is shot more sophisticated visually than anything we’ve seen in this show’s history - very slick, very stylized. I love Bryan Fuller! Calmly Danko checks out the front door, gun drawn … and finds Doyle trussed with a bow and hanging on the wall in his living room. There’s a note pinned to his chest: “My gift to you.” Doyle wheezes – he’s alive – and Danko stares, now wigged out a bit.

NYC in the pouring rain. Bennet jumps into Angela Petrelli’s limo, dots of toilet paper blotting the shaving cuts on his face. Not so steady a hand as Danko, eh? Angela is a little cranky about having to sacrifice her relationships with her sons to enable her to save them; she says Nathan will come around but she fears Peter is done with her forever. She tells Bennet that it’s all in his hands now – he’s got to make Danko trust him again, especially in the recent revelation that Nathan can fly, perhaps by feeding Danko one of the outlaw Heroes. She suggests “Rebel” as an offering, saying that she can do without him – she has other resources. Angela gives Nathan her umbrella, telling him to go catch the next rail to D.C. In return, Bennet advises her to avoid going home. So far, the dialogue is TONS better than usual too – I love Bryan Fuller!

Building 26. Danko brings Mohinder into a lab where many, many Heroes lie on gurneys, doped to the gills to keep them sedate. Mohinder checks on Daphne, saying that she badly needs medical help. Danko replies that he didn’t bring Mohinder here to help Daphne; he just wanted to get Mohinder in the room of his own accord. A stealth lackey plunges a hypodermic into Mohinder’s chest and the doctor crumples. Danko turns and orders another bed made ready for “Ms. Strauss.” That would be Tracy, I guess, who is still sweating it out in her overheated cell. She tests her restraints, then leans forward, breathing a frosty sigh into the hot room. She’s still got it.

Later, Danko and Bennet enter the lab and Danko shows him Doyle all laid out, “[his] gift to [Bennet].” Bennet asks how he caught Doyle. “Because I’m smarter than the average bear,” Danko totally lies. I mean, he’s probably right, but he didn’t catch the bad guy this time. Bennet brings up with his (Angela’s) plan to capture Rebel: they allow Rebel to rescue Tracy, but use her as bait. Danko isn’t sure, not wanting to let killer Tracy loose: “If we don’t capture Rebel?” Bennet: Then I put a bullet in Tracy’s head and we call it “self-defense.” You know, that would just be good for everyone.

Ugh. Hiro and Ando are hanging out with baby Matt Parkman. At first they think that he’s Parkman changed to a baby, then Ando figures out that the baby is Parkman’s baby and they are annoyed because they meant to save the grownup one. Then the baby turns on the TV and the two idiots are too busy fussing around to notice that grownup Parkman is on the news, about to blow D.C. to bits with the bomb strapped to his chest. They unplug the TV, trying to set a good example, and then the baby exerts his own ability, turning the set – and a bunch of other toys and gadgets - on (and off), and they’re too busy marveling at his power to notice AGAIN that the baby’s daddy is on national news. I repeat, UGH.

NYC. Angela is annoyed that her car is stopped when her limo driver gets yanked out by a couple of goons with guns. Luckily this is one of her premonitions and she snaps to moments before her limo driver actually gets yanked out by a couple of goons with guns. As the goons search the street for her, she disappears into the pedestrian crowd by cozying up to a handsome businessman with an umbrella. Smart lady, that one.

Building 26. Bennet finishes a phone call, and then reports to Danko that their team lost Angela. Suddenly, the room goes into lockdown and the computers are nonresponsive. “Rebel, Rebel,” muses Bennet. In Tracy’s cell, the heat goes off and the door opens. She flexes her power and quickly busts out of her restraints. Rebel is considerate enough to open doors for her, leading her to the lab where she pulls tubes out of Mohinder’s, Parkman’s and Daphne’s noses. Now, why them? I guess she knows them from the plane escape. Parkman says they have to get Daphne to a hospital but Tracy doesn’t want to wait, rushing out. The boys scoop a comatose Daphne up and follow, catching up to Tracy as she runs into a pack of agents with guns. Parkman flexes his brain – thinking, “all clear” – and the agents rush right by the fugitives, unseeing. “So we just walk out the front door?” asks Tracy, grudgingly impressed. “Aren’t you glad you waited for us?” grins Parkman. Back at the locked-down HQ room, Danko Has Had Enough: when Tracy gets to Rebel, Bennet is to put a bullet in both their heads. “Call it self-defense,” he sneers.

Some time later, in a high-end clothing store, Tracy is helping herself to a sleek new black outfit, complete with sassy boots, conveniently freezing off the security tags. She gets cocky, though, and opens the door to request a smaller size … and in walks Bennet. He chides her, saying that if she’d stuck with Parkman she could have [continued to walk] right past all the agents – going out on her own was a bad idea. He’s pretty sure he can pull the trigger before she can turn him to ice. She’s ready to call that bluff, however, because she’s been building up a serious “cold snap” ever since the heat lamps went off. Diffusing the tension slightly, Bennet asks who Rebel is, but she doesn’t know. He suggests that if she leads him to Rebel, he’ll let her go: she won’t have her old life back (that’s gone forever), but she’ll be on the outside. If she won’t, or if she kills him, all bets are off and it’ll “be a cut to black.” Tracy thinks about her options.

Hospital. Parkman staggers down the hall, calling for help, Daphne in his arms. She’s woozily awake now. Nervous Mohinder urges Parkman to be ready to bolt if the hospital staff gets suspicious. Instead, Parkman flexes his mental muscles to encourage the doctors not to report Daphne’s “accidental duck hunting gun shot wound” and paces nervously while they take her into the surgery, Mohinder frowning worriedly at his back all the while.

Hiro packs a bag for Baby Parkman while Ando frets that they can’t just take the baby with them, as that’s kidnapping. I am resolutely not paying attention to Ando’s dissertation on Hiro’s mommy and daddy issues – blah blah blah. Seriously though, that is some really gorgeous baby luggage. Oops – a door slams: Mommy’s home! She finds her son and his two Japanese ninnies nannies in the playroom. Unrealistically calmly, Janice notes that they are not from the babysitting service. Why is she not screaming bloody murder?

NYC. Tracy sashays down the street. I suppose we’re meant to assume that she didn’t take Bennet’s deal. As she passes by an ATM, a robotic voice says her name and prints out a boarding pass for her. She thanks the ATM and hails a taxi, instructing it to go to Union Station. After her cab pulls away, a young black man with a curly mop of hair steps to the curb to hail his own cab. It’s Micah, of course. He must be Rebel – who else could manipulate all these computers? He’s grown – not as bad as Lost’s Walt, but not nearly as adorable as he used to be. His voice is even starting to change.

A bedraggled Angela meets her friend Millie (spot-on cameo by Swoozie Kurtz) at a restaurant. Millie is not that pleased to see her old friend, whom she hasn’t seen in some time, especially since she was detained for hours earlier today on the basis of their past friendship. Angela notes that she’s not having the best day herself. She asks Millie for a change of clothes, the loan of a car, whatever cash she has on hand. Millie does not seem inclined to help and suggests that Angela turn herself in. Angela stands to leave and Millie has a quick change of heart, handing the other woman a bunch of money. Angela thanks her and quick-steps out, but not before snagging Millie’s umbrella. Now, that was a neat and tidy scene, showing that Angela is not, in fact, all powerful and, when cut off from her family’s resources, needs help like anyone else. And it’s nice of Bryan Fuller to toss some work Swoozie’s way in light of Pushing Daisies’s cancellation.

A-ha! That’s more like it: Janice Parkman tells her Japanese invaders that she has called the police. They ask if she knows that her baby is special and she confirms it, saying the ability started during the eclipse. Hiro tells her that her ex is a hero like they are, and they warn her that the government will be hunting for her son. Just then, a knock on the door. She confesses that she didn’t actually call the cops so Ando takes the baby and he and Hiro hide while she goes to answer the door. The government agents there want to take her and the baby in for questioning, ignoring her perfectly valid point that the baby can’t answer any questions. Janice lies that she has to pick the baby up from daycare. She leaves with the agents but one of them relays an order to search the house over his earpiece. They hustle her off and agents swarm the house.

Hiro and Ando run with the baby to the center of the home. They’re trapped! Ando hands the baby to Hiro and sparks up, hitting the first few approaching agents with a big blast of his red energy. He’s excited by this but doesn’t keep his guard up, and gets a punch to the face for his trouble. As Hiro cringes in the middle of the room, the baby brushes Hiro’s cheek with his chubby hand and manages to turn on Hiro’s time-freeze power! Much rejoicing! Unfortunately, it only seems to be the time-freeze, not the teleporting, so Hiro must tuck the baby into a baby-Bjorn and then trundle a still-frozen Ando out of the house in a wheelbarrow. Okay, that’s kind of funny.

Daphne wakes up in the hospital, surrounded by cards to “Ms Stefani” as Parkman convinced everyone that she was Gwen to get her a private room. That's pretty funny too. Daphne seems pretty sassy for someone so recently on death’s door. As she gets dressed, she tells Parkman that even though he thinks that they’re supposed to be together, they don’t know each other and she’s not sticking around, even over his protests that he loves her. (Um, based on what, exactly? He thinks that he will love her, based on the future he saw, but I don’t think he actually loves her yet.) He tells her that she needs to stay with him for protection but Daphne’s not planning on slowing down long enough for anyone to find her, not even him. She pats his cheek kindly and superzips out of there.

Union Station. Tracy stalks through the crowd, making her way to a locker where Rebel has left her tickets, etc. Micah pops up, then, saying that they’ll be sitting together. She wants to know what he’s doing here. “I’m Rebel,” he says, cheekily. Tracy actually shows some conscience about this, saying that she had no idea “Rebel” would turn out to be her actual nephew. Micah quickly deduces that she’s bait and snaps that he figured they’d send someone after him, he just didn’t think it’d be her.

Out on the NYC street Angela soon finds herself chased by a bunch of agents and flees to an apartment building’s elevator. The agents quickly commandeer the elevator, bringing back it down to the lobby. Her expression is grim, resigned and a little scared. Just before the car reaches the lobby, there’s a thump on the roof. When the elevator doors open, the agents find Peter there, his arms around his mother. He gives them all a smirk and then, before they can fire the eight million guns they have pointed at the Petrellis, flies up into the elevator shaft with her. Well, now, I guess she’s relieved that he didn’t decide to just write her off after all.

Micah and Tracy walk quickly through a parking garage. He’s super-disappointed in her, saying that she’s just a politician, not a Hero like his mom. He wants to know what side she’s on, muttering that “[her] own” is not an option. They hear the agents approaching and she asks Micah if he can set off the sprinklers. He does, and the agents keep coming through the downpour. Tracy sends Micah away, telling him to keep doing what he’s been doing – and to stay ahead of the ice. And then she walks out into the wet, slo-mo so you know it’s Serious. There’s water everywhere. The agents converge, raising their weapons and she lifts her chin defiantly. Everything freezes: the men, the weapons, the water, the walls ... even Tracy. And then Danko walks up and shoots her pointblank in the chest, shattering her into tiny shards of ice. Micah hears the shot and pauses, briefly, and then keeps going. Bennet joins Danko, saying that he found no sign of Rebel. Danko grunts then walks off. Bennet takes a moment, standing over the frozen shards of Tracy Strauss, grieved. I sort of think that Tracy chose to sacrifice herself mostly because she couldn’t face a life on the run with her public profile and riches gone, rather than out of any overweening heroic martyrdom.

Hiro and Baby wheel frozen Ando to the bus station. It seems that everyone in the entire town has been frozen in time - that’s some amped up power there. Then Hiro blinks and time restarts. Ando is thrilled that they’ve escaped and Hiro can freeze time again – very exciting. Next stop: save big Parkman.

Parkman (speaking of him) finds Daphne on a Parisian rooftop: he flew there, she ran across the ocean. And by “flew,” he means actual flight, and he shows her he can levitate. When the frak did that happen? This is a fake out, I’m sure of it. Daphne plays along though, and asks him to take her for a tour around the Eiffel Tower. As they float through the sky, she comes clean: she knows that they’re still in the hospital, and this is all in her head, him trying to make her happy. Sniff. Back at the hospital, a somber (and silent!) Mohinder is with Parkman when Daphne dies.

NYC. Peter and his mom hide out at the top of the Statue of Liberty (symbolism much?) and he asks her what she wants to do next. To be continued!

Well, hush my mouth: “nothing momentous” and “nobody’s going to get killed off.” That’ll teach me to make pronouncements. My second least favorite character gets offed – the only thing better would have been to kill Mohinder. But fear not, Ali Larter fans. There’s still one triplet left of the Niki(Jessica)/Tracy/Barbara trilogy, and I suspect ol’ Barb will be making an appearance soon. I suppose it would be too much to hope that she is a total nerd whose power is being able to understand bird-speak. Because that would be hilarious. Anyway, pretty darn good episode, thanks to no Nathan, very little Mohinder and Peter, and the deft hands of Bryan Fuller. Long live Bryan Fuller!

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

Monday, March 23, 2009

Due to chemical difficulties, the Heroes recap will not take place as regularly scheduled

I am so hopped up on cold medicine that the translation from screen to page to screen (well, t.v. screen to laptop screen to this here screen you're looking at) would be way less sensical than usual. See? Is "sensical" even a word?

Srsly, I have been sick as a dog - while, ironically, the dog is healthy as a horse. Badum-pum!

I'll have the Heroes recap up for you tomorrow (Tues) night. It's no biggie. It's not like anything momentous is going to happen, like killing someone off or anything. See you tomorrow!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Movie review: Fido

Here we are, folks, the first official zombie movie review of 2009: Fido, starring Carrie-Anne Moss (the Matrix trilogy), Billy Connolly (about a zillion different things), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art Thou?) and Dylan Baker and Henry Czerny (two character actors you'll recognize from everywhere).

Fido takes place in an alternate-reality 1950s American small town, Willard. It's an alternate reality because not too long ago, Earth got infested with some space dust that turned all dead humans into zombies. If they weren't buried deeply enough, they'd claw their way to the surface. If they dropped dead of a heart attack on the sidewalk, moments later they'd lurch to their feet, hungry for human flesh. Not a good scene. So the Zombie Wars happened, and the humans learned that the only way to keep them down was to separate the zombie's head from the body. Once the living got the upper hand, they built fences around their little enclaves - like cute little small town Willard - and the normal way of life resumed. Even better, an enterprising company, Zomcon, came up with technology that subsumed the zombies' zest for flesh: snap the electric collar on one and you've got a docile slave, good for household chores and other demeaning jobs.

Young Timmy Robinson, an only child, is the target of bullies until his socially-climbing mother Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) brings a house-zombie home. Over Bill Robinson's (Dylan Baker) protests, they keep the zombie, whom Timmy names "Fido." Lonely Timmy teaches Fido to play catch and the two quickly bond, the neutered zombie soon displaying more humanity than Timmy's repressed father does. When a malfunction in Fido's collar allows him to kill and eat the nasty neighbor lady, Timmy learns that there are real life consequences to pet ownership.

This flick qualifies as a zom-com for sure. It's very funny, in a sly sort of way, poking fun at the issues of gun ownership, xenophobia, materialism, slavery and disposal of the dead. It's also rated R for "zombie-related violence" although it is less gory than Shaun of the Dead - zombies will be zombies, and they will eat their pound (or more) of flesh, if given half the chance. I thought it was great fun.

Extra special thanks to my old, old, old, old (as in grade-school-old) friends, Joe B. and Wayne R., for recommending this movie to me. One of them described it as "Pleasantville with zombies" which was more than enough to get me to see it. You should too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lost episode recap – “Namaste” (S5E9) airdate 3/18/09

Oh my word, y'all - it feels like a hundred years since my last show recap. Pluswhich, I'm all exhausted and my throat is killing me and I'm coughing non-stop and all this red wine I'm drinking is just not helping as much as I thought I would. Mr. Mouse wanted me to just go to bed since I'm sick but I said NO I must tell the people what happened on Lost tonight. And so, here it is - enjoy. (I liked the plentiful Sawyer but we need more Sayid already!)

Ajira flight, pre-crash: the Losties look nervous while everyone else looks tired. Up in the cockpit, the co-pilot bends Frank Lapidus’s ear about recognizing Hurley and how brave he is - as an O6er – to be back on a plane. Frank is laconic at best. Then they hit some turbulence, Frank turns on the “fasten seat belts” sign, Hurley pulls his mask over his eyes and then all hell breaks loose. “Uh-oh,” says Frank. In the cabin, flight attendants are being tossed around the cabin and a bright light – like the one accompanying the time-jumps on the Island - flashes. Suddenly, it all goes silent. Frank stares at the cockpit controls: we’ve lost power. And they are heading right for an island: “Is that a runway?” shrieks the co-pilot. It sure looks that way, and Frank is a total superhero as he puts the big old airplane down on it. They’re going too fast, though, and it cuts to black as the jungle crashes into them.

When we come back, Frank is alive but cut on his face and arm; the copilot is dead, impaled à la Wash in Serenity. [Sorry if that was a spoiler.] Frank goes back to check on the passengers and finds that the Losties are all gone, except for Sun. I think that’s weird - isn’t that weird? Frank and Sun look around and they think it’s that’s weird too. “They’re gone,” obviouses Ben. “Where?” pants Frank. “How would I know?” is Ben’s slippery reply as Sun stares at him, unconvinced.

Title card: Thirty Years Earlier. We’re back to 1970s Sawyer meeting Jack, Kate and Hurley out on the cliffs. “You’re alive!” cries Hurley and grabs Sawyer into an adorable, huge hug. Sawyer shakes hands with Jack, and gets a restrained, if fond, hug from Kate. “You’re really here,” marvels Sawyer, “… where is [Locke]?” Jack tells him that Locke is dead. While Sawyer ponders this, Hurley asks, “So, what’s up with you guys in the old Dharma jumpsuits?” Sawyer looks accusingly at Jin: “You didn’t tell ‘em?” Jin: “I was waiting for you.” Everyone stares at Sawyer. “We’re in the Dharma Initiative … it’s 1977.” Blank stares all around.

After the commercials, Jack’s mind is completely blown. Miles tries to reach Jin over the walkie and Jin looks to Sawyer, asking what they should do. Sawyer decides that they should go back to camp since it’s not safe in the jungle with the Hostiles (“Others,” he explains to Kate) wandering around. Hurley points out that the other folks on their flight are still out there somewhere. At Jin’s questioning look Jack admits that it isn’t just the three of them – also Sayid, Lapidus … and Sun. Jin (who needs a haircut) immediately takes off in the jeep, despite Sawyer’s protests. Frustrated, Sawyer tells the re-arrived three to stay put until he can figure out how to let people know how they got here. Kate wants to know who else is still here on the Island. Sawyer doesn’t quite know what to tell her.

Cut to one of the Stations where Miles is on duty. Juliet bursts in, wondering if he’s heard from Sawyer. She’s worried since he’s been gone a while without checking in. Miles hasn’t heard anything, despite his efforts to contact Sawyer, so they try some of the surveillance feeds. Something comes onto one of the t.v. screens and Juliet gets a very frowny look on her face.

At their home, Sawyer is throwing clothes into a bag when Juliet comes in. “What’s going on?” she asks. “They’re back,” he breathes. Juliet is incredulous, then stunned. Realizing that she’s in shock, Sawyer stops fluttering around and sits with her, telling her that he doesn’t get it either but he needs to figure it out before they (Jack et al.) screw up everything they (Sawyer et al.) have going on at the Initiative. Meanwhile Jin has driven out to the Station where the crazy Russian was (I so cannot keep track of the Station names). He tells the tech there that he needs to check the radar logs to see if a plane landed on the Island. The tech gets super-snooty, all “don’t you think I’d know if a plane landed on the Island?” so Jin has to shove him up against the wall a bit. The tech poutily radios to the other Stations to see if they picked anything up but it doesn’t seems as though they have.

At a beach near the Ajira crash site, the survivors are regrouping. Frank calls them all together: the radio is dead but he’s sure a rescue party will be coming soon. Caesar wants to know where they are. When Frank says the island isn’t on any of his charts, Caesar snots that there are buildings and animal cages nearby, and another island – the Island – just across the strait. He wants to search the buildings and starts rabble-rousing. Ben takes advantage of the distraction and heads off into the jungle. Sun follows him, catching up a ways in. “Where are you going?” demands Sun. “Back to our Island,” says Ben. “Wanna come?”

Back at the Dharma compound, Amy catches Juliet checking out the submarine manifest – there’s a sub arriving soon and two people dropped out of the trip, not wanting to undergo the sedative. Amy’s new baby coos at Juliet as she picks him up. Amy tells her that she and Horace have decided to name the baby “Ethan.” Juliet’s face is priceless. Amy asks Juliet when she and "Jim” are going to have a baby of their own but Juliet brushes the question aside with “when the time is right.” You know, I like Juliet and Sawyer together. Stupid Kate and stupid Jack are just going to ruin all of it.

Speaking of the stupids, while they wait for Sawyer to come back Kate asks Jack if Mrs. Hawkins mentioned that the return would be thirty years in the past. Jack deadpans that the lady left that part out. Sawyer drives up in the van and throws out instructions: they are going to pose as new recruits arriving on the incoming sub. He tosses new, er, current clothes at them. They protest that they don’t know what happened to the other people on their flight but Sawyer says that Jin will find the plane – don’t worry about it. “Trust me. Do what I say and everything will be fine.” Oof – famous last words, although he does seem to be doing okay so far.

Back at the radar station, there’s nothing about any plane anywhere. But wait! a motion detector has picked something up: possibly a Hostile/Other inside the perimeter. Jin grabs his gun and runs out, the tech following not too far behind. It’s Sayid! He’s still handcuffed; it looks like, and seems very happy to see Jin. When the Korean asks about Sun, however, Sayid doesn’t know what has happened to her. [Again, why did they all get separated? Why did she get stuck on the other island?] Then the tech rushes up, gun aimed at Sayid, and Jin has to pretend that his friend is a Hostile. I’m pretty sure that Sayid is sharp enough to figure out what’s going on – he’s a smart cookie, that one.

As the van trundles back to the compound, Hurley once again plays the part of Intelligent Audience Member and says that this thing about them being part of the Dharma Initiative … they all get wiped out, remember? He saw the pit with the bodies. Sawyer wants to know what Hurley’s point is. It’s: “Aren’t you going to stop it from happening?” Sawyer growls that he’s not here to play Nostradamus to these folks, plus Daniel’s got some interesting theories about what’s going to happen. Jack is surprised that Daniel is still here. Well, says Sawyer, not really here. He reminds them to act sort of groggy from the sedative, and tells them that Juliet will hook them up with names from the roster.

Miles comes up and is momentarily struck dumb when he sees the reintroduced Losties. Sawyer chides him to stop staring and Miles recovers enough to hand him a walkie, saying that Jin’s got a problem. Jin’s problem is the “Hostile” that the tech is currently locking in a storeroom. Sawyer starts to build up a head of steam about the Hostiles violating the truce when Jin cuts into his rant: it’s Sayid. “Sonofabitch!”
Ben and Sun pick their way through the smaller island’s jungle. Ben wants to get to the three outriggers ASAP and Sun is welcome to help him paddle if she wants … although as he takes his arm out of the sling, he seems to be healing quickly. Sun is reluctant to return to the Island until Ben insinuates that Jin might be over there. When Frank catches up to them, he tells Sun that she can’t trust Ben. “I have to trust him,” she mutters. Down at the beach, as Sun and Ben start to put an outrigger into the water, Frank continues his plea, reminding Sun that the freighter he came in on had been filled with commandos whose only job was to take Ben out. “How’d that work out for everyone?” snarks Ben. Frank begs Sun not to go. When she asks him to come with them, he demurs, saying that he needs to take care of the rest of the Ajira survivors. Ben starts to get a little attitude, saying that there’s a small town where he grew up just half a mile across the strait, and if anyone there can help Frank and his group, he’ll send them. Except he doesn’t quite get to finish his speech because Sun awesomely smacks him upside the head with a canoe paddle. Frank thought she trusted Ben. “I lied,” says Sun. Sun rules.

The “new recruits” are in the orientation room, wondering just how they’re going to pull this off. Jack gets called up and his orientation guide is none other than Dr. Chang himself. Jack’s job assignment is “Workman” – a janitor. Jack thinks this is funny (as do I). Kate is still standing around, however, waiting for her name to be called. Phil tries to help her and things get a little tense when “Kate Austin” is not on his list. But Juliet comes to the rescue, saying Amy had some late additions to the submarine manifest. As Phil goes about his business, Juliet sticks out her hand, introducing herself to Kate and welcoming her to the Island. There might be some glaring going on between these two ladies.

Jin is pacing outside the radar/tracking Station as Sawyer pulls up in the VW van. After Jin brings him up to speed, Sawyer says he’ll handle it. Inside, the tech is all nerved up, saying that Sayid is a spy and they should just shoot him. Sawyer appreciates “Quick Draw’s” input but wants to talk to the “spy” first. They drag Sayid out and sit him down. Sawyer explains that he is “LaFleur, Head of Security,” and, according to the terms of the truce, Sayid needs to “identify [himself] as a Hostile or be shot.” Because he is just that awesome, Sayid totally catches on and says yes, he is a Hostile … although they don’t refer to themselves as such. Great, says Sawyer, I’m taking you back to the compound. The tech wants to go too but Sawyer shuts him down as he hustles Sayid out to the van.

Frank and Sun had a lovely full moon by which to paddle across the strait, having apparently left Ben back on the little island. They land by the submarine pier and strangely it looks abandoned. They hear a big rustling in the bushes – sounds/looks kind of like the Black Smoke Monster – but nothing comes out at them, so they walk up to the compound. When they get there, it definitely looks abandoned [perhaps the folks who landed on the little island landed in 2007 – or whenever “present” is for this show – while those who got sucked out of the plane onto the Island landed in 1977. Which, fine, okay, but why didn’t Sun get sucked back to 1977? She was on the original Oceanic flight.]. It’s creepy. Suddenly a light comes on in one of the cottages and a man steps out onto the stoop. It’s Christian Shepherd. Also creepy. Sun says she’s looking for her husband – does Christian know where he is? Christian tells her, “Follow me.” Frank looks like he thinks this is a wicked bad idea.

Christian takes Sun and Frank into one of the abandoned buildings and pulls a photograph off the wall. It’s dated 1977. He says Jin is with Sun’s friends and shows her the picture. “I’m sorry, but you have a bit of a journey ahead of you.” Sun stares at the picture of the other Losties in their jumpsuits and you can see her mind reeling.

1977. The new recruits are socializing at the Dharma BBQ when “LaFleur” brings his “Hostile” in. Jack, Kate and Hurley just stare. Sawyer brings Sayid to an underground cell and locks him in, “until we can figure out what to do with you.” He tells Phil to bring the prisoner some food and, as he turns to go, tries to explain everything to Sayid with a Meaningful Stare. Sayid is silent, observing. I think he’s understanding everything.

Later that evening, aboveground, Jack asks Phil if he knows where LaFleur lives. Phil points out the correct cottage but stares after Jack suspiciously. This guy is going to cause big trouble, I just know it. Jack knocks on the door and Juliet answers, looking very pretty. He gives her a big hug after which she reminds him that they’re not supposed to know each other. Jack thinks he must be in the wrong house since he was looking for Sawyer. Nope, says Juliet, and lets him in, then leaves the two men to talk. Sawyer offers a beer but Jack just dives right in. What about Sayid? He’s safe, for now, since he can’t explain how he really got here. Where do we go from here? Sawyer is working on it but Jack snaps that it just looks like Sawyer is reading a book. Sawyer says yeah, it helps him think. Because thinking is how he saved Jack’s ass today, and how he’ll save Sayid’s ass tomorrow. He also reminds Jack that this is a totally different approach from when Jack was in charge: Jack just reacted, and it cost a lot of people their lives. He sends a disbelieving and disgruntled Jack off to bed, stepping out onto the stoop to watch him go. Then, glancing across the way, he sees Kate on her own stoop. More meaningful glances – whatever. Go inside and have snugglebunnies with Juliet already.

Down in the cells, a bespectacled young boy delivers the prisoner a sandwich. I bet this kid is Ben. Sayid thanks the boy for the food. The boy asks if he is a Hostile and asks for his name. They introduce themselves to each other. Yup, I was right. Sayid, schooling his expression precisely: “It’s … nice to meet you, Ben.”

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's a major award. I won it!

Last week, my blog-buddy Wayne over at Reel Whore - a frequent commenter and he who brought me into the LAMBfold - awarded me the coveted Dardos Award. And I quote:

The Dardos Award is given for cultural, literary, and personal values in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

In accepting the award, I must do two things:

  1. Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.
  2. Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.
I do! I humbly accept this award!

And here are the folks I am pleased to nominate (I'm a frequent reader of each but rare-if-ever commenter so they're probably thinking, "Um ... thanks?"):

She Blogged By Night. A fellow LAMBer whose movie reviews focus on "rare, hard to find or forgotten films." Gorgeous blog with lots of fantastic photos. [Ed. note - apparently by "frequent reader" I mean "except when I go on vacation and then don't scroll back to catch up on posts I missed in which case I'd see that SBBN already got one on February 1." Wow - that's embarrassing. But go read her blog anyway - it's still good stuff regardless of my own dumbassery.]

Anchorwoman In Peril!. Another LAMB - with a yen for slasher flicks. Funny, snarky, lots of fun.

Desert Candy. With a focus on baking/cooking and a recurring thread of Middle Eastern recipes, the posts - and their wonderful photos - have me drooling.

Half Assed Kitchen. Great recipes with not much ado hullaballoo to do.

The Bacon Show. "One bacon recipe per day, every day. Forever." The genius is in the simplicity.

And a special thanks to A Christmas Story for the post-title.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lost without Lost

So Lost was a rerun last night and, as such, the little blog went post-less. A sad state of affairs, I must say. All I gots for ya is tidbits:
  • Dollhouse is improving with each episode and word has it that around the E5 or E6 mark, we'll actually get some Whedonish game-changing/long-arc plotting. Add in some trademark humor and I'm totally sold.
  • I watched the Castle premiere on Monday: it was ... fluffy. Many critics/reviewers have likened it to Moonlighting and I can absolutely see the connection - crime-solving light with sexually-tensioned banter between the good-looking co-stars. The biggest plus with Castle: Nathan Fillion. Who continues to be adorable and who is, by all accounts, a Really Nice Guy in real life. I hope this show is his vehicle to real stardom.
  • I'm almost done reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. The worst thing is that I'm almost done reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
  • This little blog has received a prestigious award! Details to follow!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This Rural Life III

Springtime is a lie. At least up here in Maine it is. Just last Thursday, the temperature was -2°F on my drive into work; yesterday we got another three inches of the white stuff. The snowbanks around the driveway are hovering at around seven feet tall and the backyard will have snow on it until May. I’m not kidding: there’s this one little shady spot that will keep a steadily shrinking snow patch ‘til May. At least that means I can put off the lawn-mowing.

People from away think it’s a big joke when we Mainers say we only have three seasons - winter, mud, and July - but it’s really true. The snows can start in October (or even earlier up to the County) and continue well into April, at which point it all melts, widening the potholes in our paved roads right into the abyss and turning our dirt roads - and we have many - into thick, sticky swamps. April showers bring no May flowers: they bring muck and black flies and mosquitoes, and the rains often continue right up until July. When it finally stops raining, everyone’s lawn quickly dries up and turns brown. After July, well, it’s not that long until October again, now is it?

In all honesty, I never knew that spring was an actual season until my freshman year at a Connecticut college. Like a good girl, I’d gone home for spring break, helping the family shovel out from at least one snow/slush storm. One week later I went back south. There had been a little snow on the ground in Connecticut when I left, but upon my return it was sunny and nearly 70° and the grass was green and dry. I remember calling my mom (this being in the Dark Ages before email) and saying, “I get it! I understand spring!” And then after graduation I moved back to Maine and haven’t seen a springtime since.

I don’t care if the calendar claims that the first day of "spring" is just a few days away; whereas most of the rest of the country (except perhaps for you hardy Minnesotans and North Dakotans) is expecting warming days, cool nights, tiny pale green leaf buds, and cheery robins, I’m expecting more snow – anyone remember the 2007 Patriots’ Day storm where we got 8+ inches on April 16th? The Easter Bunny I can believe in, but spring in Maine is truly a myth.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Heroes – “Shades of Gray” S3E19 (airdate 3/9/09)

Bennet house, Costa Verde. Doyle the Puppetmaster reiterates that he needs Claire’s assistance and, when she refuses, he begs for her help. Sandra comes down and together both the Bennet women are alternately scared and brave. Doyle wants to know why the agents are not coming after Claire and she reluctantly admits that she’s been given a free pass. He’s upset about that – the agents having burned down his theater with him in it - but, strangely, does not force her to help him. A lone tear rolls down his cheek and with one last plea for her help, Doyle leaves. Claire and Sandra can’t believe it.

Building 26. Nathan wants to know what Danko has been doing. “Cleaning up the mess your brother left behind,” is the snarled answer. Nathan points out that there wouldn’t have been any mess if Danko would have released Parkman and Daphne like he’d asked. Nathan gets a call and, after a few terse words, snaps at Danko: “I thought Parkman was in your custody … he’s in front of the Capitol building with a bomb strapped to his chest.” Nathan takes his leave but heads up to the roof – which Danko finds curious.

Capitol building. Parkman screams that he was set up and he doesn’t know how to deactivate the bomb. When Nathan arrives, Parkman is not happy to see him, thinking that Nathan is behind it. Nathan insists that it was Danko but when Parkman tries to read his mind to see if he is telling the truth, he can’t because of the drug Danko injected in him. Back at Bldg. 26, Danko watches the live feed, wondering how Nathan got there so quickly. Pushing that thought aside for the moment, he tells an agent to arm Parkman’s bomb, saying that if Nathan wants to be a martyr to his cause, so be it. “Take him out, now!” he orders.

The agent pushes a button and lights start flashing on Parkman’s vest. Suddenly, Danko and the agent are bumped out of their computer – by “Rebel” I’m guessing. Nathan tries to keep Parkman calm, asking him if he can read the minds of any of the bomb squad guys surrounding them. Parkman can only hear snippets, however, but he finally gets enough to rip out the correct wire just as Danko tries to detonate the bomb remotely. Bennet is there with the frustrated Danko, watching but not interfering. Parkman pulls the detonator off the vest and then Nathan clocks him, knocking him to the pavement. Agents move in and drag Parkman off as Nathan saves face by saving “Can’t have you using your powers, Matt.”

Boondocks. Sylar pulls up to an extremely low-rent trailer in the middle of nowhere. He goes inside: there are stuffed birds and animal skins everywhere so he must be in the right place. He sees a man in the attached workshop and goes in: “It’s me … your son.” “That so?” says Dad, “What brings you all the way out here?” Ugh - boring: Sylar has questions about who he is, where he came from … blah blah blah. “Now I kill you,” sneers Sylar. Dad turns around – it’s John Glover, bad guy extraordinaire – and tells Sylar to go right ahead: “Either you kill me or the cancer does … I haven’t got all day.” Sylar is nonplussed, not having expected exactly that response.

Building 26. The lackey agent explains to Danko that he doesn’t know how the hacker got into their system. Danko is pissed off and wants a name. Nathan says he does too, plus he’s had enough of Danko’s leadership. Danko sneers that he answers to the President and Nathan can’t remove him. We’ll see about that, sniffs Nathan, calling Bennet over. Bennet rolls his eyes so Danko can see. Nathan begins to tell him that he wants to set up a team to take over when Danko is removed, but is interrupted when an audio file plays over the computer speakers: it’s Tracy shouting, “you’re one of us, Nathan!” Danko notes that the Petrelli family has a lot of skeletons in its closets – and he’s pretty sure he knows what Nathan’s is. Nathan’s all, “Bring it, bitch,” and Danko comes back, “oh, it’s so brought.” And Bennet is left to roll his eyes again.

Tracy, gloved and shackled, is led through the tunnels of Building 26. They pause at a checkpoint and the computer flashes at her: “Help is coming – have hope.” That crazy Rebel!

Nathan and Bennet snap at each other as they walk through the corridors: basically Bennet tells him that he showed Danko his hand and shouldn’t have done that. Nathan does not seem to be in the mood for lectures from anybody and leaving Bennet at the door, he enters Tracy’s well-heated cell. He tells her that “the man who transferred [her] back here” (Danko) will be in to question her soon. Nathan tells Tracy that he’s been helping her, and everyone else, all along – to which she snarks that he’s doing a fabulous job of it – and he needs her to help him now. He leaves as Danko comes in, and you can see Tracy trying to figure out the angles.

Danko questions Tracy while Nathan watches them on the live feed. When Danko says he wants to know everything about Petrelli, Tracy’s response is, “He was lousy in bed,” and Nathan looks like that hurts his feelings. Danko then wants to know what she meant when she said he was one of them: does Senator Petrelli have an ability? “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” says Tracy. Danko stares up at the surveillance camera and stalks out. That’s it - he’s not going to ask her any more questions? Jeesh, some interrogation. After he’s gone, it’s Tracy’s turn to stare into the camera.

Costa Verde. Claire frets that maybe she should have helped Doyle like Rebel wanted her to – perhaps she should be using her “free pass” to help the other Heroes. Well, says Sandra reasonably, that’s fine but Rebel really shouldn’t be sending psychopaths to our house. Okay, says Claire, then I should maybe take Alex’s old job at the comics store as a cover so the Heroes can contact me there, instead of the house.

Later, Claire is interviewed by the head comics geek at Sam’s Comics. Perhaps he’s Sam. He asks if she can work Wednesdays – which she can – and then he asks her what kind of hero she is: flight or invisibility (i.e., impulsive or calculating)? Claire takes this question much more seriously than Sam expects her to and he backpedals uneasily, “They’re only comic books … you got the job!”

Sylar’s dad’s squalid trailer. Sylar thinks that his dad is pathetic – he used to be a killer, now this. His dad’s like, I’m not going to fight you. He opens a rabbit cage and then puts the freed bunny into a trance by whistling at it. Sylar boggles, “You’ve got an ability!” and his dad chuckles that he’s got lots of them but it’s been years since he used them. In fact, he has the same initial ability that his son has – the power to take abilities from others. It’s a biological imperative: the two of them have the urge to kill, but they tend to pick easy prey like that poor bunny. Problem is, Dad continues, all the power in the world doesn’t matter if you’ve lived an unsatisfied life. And he thinks his son has already figured that out. Dad: “You want to know more or are you gonna kill me then?” Nope, Sylar wants to know more so he kills the rabbit for his dad instead. Poor bunny.

Building 26. Danko watches footage of Peter’s flight from the parking garage. He asks Bennet if he came across any Heroes who could fly in his years with the Company. Bennet says that he should be thinking about who would want to save Peter instead: perhaps Angela Petrelli. Hmm, says Danko, I hadn’t thought of that. Then Bennet has to go out in the hall and call Angela, warning her that her reckless older son has made a power play against Danko which is causing all sort of trouble. She isn’t worried and appears to have a plan. Then she holds a pair of argyle socks to her face. Um, what?

Costa Verde. Claire leaves work at Sam’s Comics, noting the surveilling agents watching her from a van across the street. Troubled, she calls her dad and asks how he was able to live a double life. Bennet is unable to give her a good answer as he watches agents take Parkman down the hall and Claire is left to figure it out for herself. As soon as she hangs up, she gets a text from Rebel: the agents have cornered Doyle and she needs to help him.

Down by the beach, the female agent chases Doyle, telling him to put his hands up. He does, immediately exerting his puppet-power over her. “When are you going to learn? I have this power over women,” he says smarmily. Is it just over women? Because that’s totally icky. The agent tells him that she’s giving him the opportunity to surrender so Doyle makes her point her own gun at her head. “I should kill you but I just want to go back to the way life was,” he murmurs and slams her body into the wall, knocking her out. Then the male agent comes up behind Doyle with his gun drawn … but suddenly someone kicks his feet out from under him and he goes flying. It’s Claire, and she stares at Doyle as he breathes, “Ooh, Barbie.”

Manhattan. Danko finds Angela at a swanky restaurant, sucking down champagne and oysters. Uninvited, he sits and says that Hiro, Parkman, Elle, Claire and Peter all inherited powers from their parents – was Nathan the misfit? “Sometimes these things skip a generation,” Angela replies blithely. Danko doesn’t believe her. She doesn’t care, noting that his focus and current lack of family connections makes men like him both useful and expendable, referencing some horrific incident in Angola that she’s surprised he escaped unscathed. Danko is impressed with her resourcefulness. Then she ignores him until he goes away. Heh.

Trailer o’ taxidermy. This is SO boring. Sylar wants to know why his dad abandoned him and killed his mother; John Glover doesn’t remember but he’s sure he didn’t care about any of it. As Sylar tries to help stuff the bunny, he slices his hand with a knife, and then turns his palm towards his father so he can watch the wound heal. His father wants to know how that happened; Sylar: “Just something I picked up from a cheerleader.” You can see John Glover’s expression flicker just slightly and know that Sylar’s dad realizes he can use that healing power to save himself from the cancer. Sure enough, as soon as Sylar turns his back, his father TKs a couple of arrows through his shoulders, pinning him to the wall. “I want that power!” roars Dad, then makes that little whistling noise he made before. Sylar’s eyes go wide, then the picture gets blurry and he sags against the arrows holding him to the wall.

Sylar struggles against the faintness, fighting against it, gasping, “I thought you’d given all this up.” His dad agrees that he had – but this healing power would give him a new chance at life. He steps up to his son and prepares to slice into his head using a knife, not his index finger. Sneaky Sylar flexes his will and knocks his father back, growling, “I thought a hunter like you would know when someone is playing possum.” Sylar pulls the arrows out of his body and turns to go, dismissing the older man. His dad asks him to stop, to kill him first before he goes, but Sylar’s like, no way, you’ll die alone and suffering – I won’t help. And then he walks out, leaving his father behind.

Building 26. Nathan struts into Danko’s HQ and hands him a piece of paper, saying that the President didn’t actually need that much persuasion to let him go. Danko blusters a bit, saying that Nathan will pay for this. Nathan looks at Bennet and grins, saying that the President wants to meet Danko’s successor. They head out to the corridor. As they wait for the elevator, standing none-too-subtly in front of a big window, Danko approaches, menacingly saying that while the Heroes scare the bejeezus out of him, Nathan has never once shown any fear – and he wonders why. Then he pulls a gun – Bennet shouting not to shoot! – fires two rounds into the window, and then rushes forward and pushes Nathan through the window. He leans out in time to see Nathan hover in midair for a moment or two before flying away. Danko turns back to Bennet, eyes wide: “Tell me you didn’t know about this!” Bennet just looks at him with the world’s worst poker face.

Costa Verde. Later that evening Claire finds Doyle sitting in a park. She hands the puppetmaster an envelope that contains a whole new identity. He thanks her, calling her “Barbie” once again, and leaves.

Los Angeles. Oh fabulous: the Hiro and Ando show. I have not missed them at all. They enter a house, Hiro saying that Parkman could be here, in danger. Suddenly a girl jumps out at them saying that it took them long enough to get here. She hands them a fat baby and heads for the door, saying she quits. Wait, protest the boys, we’re here to save Matt Parkman. “You’re holding him,” she says, “this babysitting service bites.” And then she’s gone. Either the baby is Parkman’s kid with the same name as his dad ... or I guess we’ve time-traveled again.

Also fabulous (not) - a Mohinder voiceover to close us out. I'm not paying any attention to what he says, but this is what we see: A tired Claire flops down on her bed but immediately gets a text from Rebel: “Your free pass is up. Agents are coming.” Sylar’s dad sits alone in his squalor. Danko comes home to find the stuffed rabbit sitting on his desk – with Sylar hiding around the corner. And finally back to the Bennet house as armed agents bust in. They search Claire’s room but she’s not there: she’s outside, hovering midair in Nathan’s arms. Whoa - Nathan is “Rebel”? I thought for sure it was his mom.

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

Sunday, March 8, 2009

DVD review: The Shiralee

The Shiralee - an Australian miniseries, based on the 1955 novel by D’Arcy Niland (which also spawned a feature movie in 1957) - originally aired in the late 1980s and releases on DVD this week. The story is set along the roads of the Australian Outback in the 1940s and 1950s, and explores a father-daughter relationship with humor and affection.

Bryan Brown is “Mac” Macauley, a drifter who has moved to the Outback after growing up an orphan in the city. Mac relishes his itinerant lifestyle, walking along the endless roads, picking up enough work to sustain himself but never staying in one place for long. He takes a job as a butcher’s apprentice and soon falls in love with his employer’s smart and independent daughter Lily (Noni Hazlehurst). Her father doesn’t entirely approve and, when presented with the opportunity, sends Mac packing.

Disconsolate – in a gruff and unsentimental way – Mac briefly takes a job as a boxer with a traveling carnival. Before long, he and fellow carnie Marge run away from the show to get married and work in the city. This marriage is more to distract Mac from his memories of Lily, however, and back in town he soon remembers his preference for the open road. When their marriage falls apart nine years later, Mac leaves Marge, taking their young daughter, Buster (Rebecca Smart) with him. In Australian slang, a “shiralee” is a burden; in a rash moment of spite against his unfaithful wife, Mac has just shouldered his greatest one.

This is where the fun starts – with Mac and Buster on the road together, camping out, scrounging for work, figuring out how to deal with each other. Buster is as stubborn as her dad while, for his part, Mac really has no idea how to deal with a nine-year-old child. She doesn’t want to walk (at first); many employers won’t hire him because he’s got a kid tagging along with him; she sings herself to sleep. Little by little, they grow to trust each other, then like each other and, by the miniseries’s climax – when he is faced with losing his daughter, either via a serious accident or to a vengeful Marge – Mac understands that he loves his stubborn, beautiful daughter.

The acting is a mixed bag, to be sure. Bryan Brown does gruff and obstinate well, and really shines in his scenes with young Rebecca Smart – who is hilarious, charming and the best part of this miniseries. The rest of the cast is adequate at best, and well intentioned at worst. Filmed on location in Australia, the dusty and scruffy Outback towns and roads are nearly as much a character as the humans, showcasing the grit and determination of the Australian frontier-folk.

The Shiralee is approximately 190 minutes long in a 2-episode/2-volume boxed set. The only DVD extra is a Bryan Brown biography.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I watched Watchmen

And, as such, have a few thoughts to share. I do not, however, have a cohesive "review" because I don't want to be lumped in with all the other dumbasses - of course, I liked the movie and many of the dumbasses didn't. On the non-dumbass side of things, Roger Ebert gave Watchmen four stars and was very articulate about it too.

This movie is perfectly cast. Jackie Earle Haley is a revelation as Rorschach; Jeffrey Dean Morgan is simply outstanding as the malevolent Comedian; and Patrick Wilson (quite a bit pudgier than when I was first introduced to him in Hard Candy), Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino fully inhabit Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre II and Silk Spectre I, respectively. A standing ovation to the folks in charge of casting this film - bra-frickin'-vo.

This movie completely earns its R rating. This is NOT Iron Man or even the Dark Knight. This is a wicked violent movie - compound fractures, amputations by circular saw, attempted rape. The characters say "fuck" a lot - I'm not sure the Comedian has a line without the f-bomb. There is an extended explicit sex scene, plus full-frontal on Dr. Manhattan - I know he's motion-capture/CGI but still, full-frontal. All in line with the source material but completely inappropriate for the 10-year old boy in the audience with me. Even before the movie started I wanted to go up to his father and smack him upside the head: this is not a movie for children.

I believe that Zack Snyder has filmed the unfilmable. He was completely faithful to the source material - so much so that for at least twenty minutes I worried about how accessible this movie would be to the folks who have not read the book. Yes, I know he deviates from the book at the end and finds an alternate to the giant squid. I get why he did that: too cartoony and the alternative he came up with allowed for a more acceptable/understandable reason for Dr. Manhattan to leave Earth. But really, Zack, if you're going to be this by the book, you should have gone with the squid.

The opening teaser and credits are extremely well-done - not just the Comedian's demise but the flashbacks giving the audience the (alternate) history to the masked heroes. Really well done.

I loved this movie. It's long (2 hours and 40 minutes) but I never got bored, although there is a LOT of talking in between the slow-motion fights and uber-violence. The music is quite well done too, all pre-Apocalyptic stuff like Dylan's All Along the Watchtower and Nena's 99 Luftballons (although the Leonard Cohen song during Dan and Laurie's sex scene was a little heavy-handed, I will say). I have no idea how audiences who are not familiar with the book will fare with it - but this is a movie about hope and despair, good and evil, and the people who are compelled to make a difference. Going into the movie, I already knew what to expect from having read the book 2.5 times. Now, I'd like to see Watchmen again, with no more surprises, but just to enjoy the spectacle.

Titles Nine - #8 -- comics edition

In honor of the Watchmen movie opening today, I thought I'd give you my comics/graphic novel collection as the theme for Titles Nine. Only problem is that I've only got eight in my bookshelves. So the ninth is the comics series that is next on my list to read, and possibly collect, in my continuing quest to consume all things Gaiman.
  • Watchmen - Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. This book is just amazing, not only as a comic but also as an actual book. I'm only a slight fan, having read it through in its entirety twice and currently working my way back through for a third time.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 8 - Joss Whedon et al. What would have happened next.

  • Fray - Joss Whedon. As you might imagine, the future-Slayer kicks all kinds of ass.

  • Y: the Last Man - Brian K. Vaughan. What happens to the world when all the males of all the species die - except one man and his capuchin monkey? A damn good story, that's what happens.

  • Fables - Bill Willingham. My kind of comic: the main characters are taken from fairy tales and folklore, but reinterpreted to make sense in a modern world. Or, as much sense as fairy tale folks can make. Great stories and pretty pictures.

  • Mouse Guard Fall 1152 - David Petersen. I own the hardbound book (previously mentioned here) and am looking forward to the next one. Mice with swords!

  • 300 - Frank Miller. Saw the movie first and was then compelled to buy the book.

  • Maus: A Survivor's Tale - Art Spiegelman. A memoir of Spiegelman's father's struggles as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. Jews are anthropomorphized mice, Germans are cats, etc. This was the first graphic novel I ever bought, years and years ago.

  • The Sandman - Neil Gaiman. Haven't read it yet, but I'm sure gonna.