Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lost episode recap – “The Package” S6E10 airdate (03/30/10)

What’s tough about a Sun and Jin episode is all the subtitles: makes recapping tough when I have to make sure to stare at the television the entire time and can’t watch my fingers typing. Well, here goes.

As usual, the DVR has cut off the very beginning and we come in as Not-Locke tells Jin that they have to collect Sun, that everyone on the List (written on the ceiling of Not-Locke’s Oceanside cave) whose name has not yet been crossed off has to leave together. But where is Sun, Jin wants to know. Not-Locke is working on it.

Alterna-2004: Sun is there, waiting, as airport security finally releases Jin. They give him his watch back but not the $25,000 cash. As they walk away, Jin is very upset. He was supposed to deliver the cash with the watch on behalf of Sun’s father. Sun looks bemused. Also, when they check into their hotel, Jin insists on get separate rooms as they are not married! I thought they were, seeing how he made her button her sweater on the plane ride over.

Island. Not-Locke tells Sayid that he has to run an errand and will be back in the morning. Sayid’s like yeah, okay, but I’ve discovered I don’t have any emotions any more and if anything bothered me, that would. Not-Locke tells him that not feeling anything may help him get through what’s coming. After Not-Locke leaves, Jin immediately starts packing. Sawyer wants to know where he’s going – after Sun of course. Duh. Sawyer tries to argue with him but then, suddenly, everyone gets shot with tranquilizer darts. Widmore’s people come out of the underbrush, select Jin and drag him off.

After the commercials, the Losties are still on the beach, chopping papayas, playing cards, cleaning guns. They ask Alana what happens next: she says they’re waiting for Richard to come back. Ben thinks that’s a bad idea and bets that they never see him again. Alana is sure that Hurley will find him and bring him back; Miles: “Unless Alpert’s covered in bacon grease, I don’t think Hurley has any chance of finding him.” Frank: “Hey! Don’t talk about bacon!” Heh.  Alana is insistent that Richard will come back and lead them to victory. And then Sun has had Enough. She plunges a knife into a tree trunk and stomps off.

Jack finds her at her garden, pulling up the dead plants. She doesn’t care if Richard ever comes back and she is skeptical when Jack tells her about the candidates (of whom she may be one) on Jacob’s lighthouse wheel. She doesn’t want to hear about purpose or destiny – she just wants everyone to leave her alone.

Alterna-2004. Jin knocks on Sun’s door and she asks him inside. He’s determined to deliver the watch and she laughs, saying that it’s too late in the evening – his contact won’t be there anymore. He scoffs that all she’s here to do is shop. She stares at him, smolderingly, and unbuttons her sweater. He grabs her. Smoochies! I think they’ve done this before.

Island. Not-Locke startles Sun at her garden. He says that he’s found Jin and he can take her to him right now. He holds out his hand to her. “I don’t believe you,” says Sun, “and you killed those people at the Temple.” He brushes it off, saying those people were confused. He’s asking her to choose to come with him to see her husband. She stares at him and then bolts, running off into the tall grasses. Not-Locke calls her name and chases after her. They run and run, chased and chaser. Not-Locke is about to catch her when she runs straight into a tree, knocking herself to the ground.

Alterna-2004. Sun wakes up. Jin is sitting up in bed next to her. She thinks that maybe they should run away together – she’s got this secret bank account, you see. Jin springs up, wondering if this was her plan all along. She tilts her head to one side: “Do you want to be with me or not?” “Of course,” he says, “I love you.” This tender interlude is interrupted by a knock on the door. Jin hides and Sun answers the door: it’s Martin Keamy, “a friend of [her]father’s.” He pushes his way in, saying that she’s got something for him.

Island. Ben finds Sun, still unconscious. He helps her up, asking what happened. When she answers him, she speaks Korean. Confused, Ben pleads for English: “Who did this to you?” Sun manages: “Locke.” Ben’s eyes bug out.

Back on the other side of the island, Not-Locke’s eyes are bugging out as well when he finds all his people unconscious on the ground. He shakes a woozy Sayid awake, who explains that they were attacked, by whom he does not know. Not-Locke is concerned with just one thing: “Where’s Jin?”

Jin is locked in a big metal room on Hydra Island. It’s the room where the Dharma Initiative did their subliminal message experiments (remember poor Karl forced to stare at those flickering images?). Zoë shows up, calmly tasering Jin when he tries to push past her. She asks for his help in deciphering some old Dharma maps which he worked on back in the 1970s. “You want my help, then I want to talk to Widmore,” says Jin. Zoë says he’s in luck as Widmore wants to talk to him too.

Not-Locke and Sayid gird their loins, ready to take the outrigger over to Hydra Island to get Jin back. Not-Locke notes Claire pouting off to the side and asks her what’s wrong. She says that if her name isn’t on the List, then she doesn’t have to get on the plane as Not-Locke doesn’t need her. Not-Locke says yes, he does need her and there’s plenty of room on the plane for her. She muses that Aaron won’t know who she is when she finally gets back to him, then eyes narrowing as she sees Kate, asks if Austin’s name is on the List. No, not anymore, says Not-Locke, but he still needs Kate so no killing her. Why? Because Not-Locke is “three people shy of getting off this Island” and Kate can help him collect those people. But, he tells Crazy Claire, once Kate has done that, “Whatever happens happens.” Claire smiles to herself like a loon. I am still hopeful that Claire and Kate will end up killing each other in an all-out girl-fight before this show ends.

Sawyer gets in Not-Locke’s face, wanting to know what he and Sayid are doing with all those guns. Not-Locke tells him their plan and Sawyer continues, pointing out that Not-Locke has hitherto been trying to avoid “Charlie Widmore.” Not-Locke: “They took one of our people, James, I’m going to get him back.” Sawyer puts his thinky face on as Not-Locke and Sayid head out. (BTW, Sawyer is continuing to look very fabulous with his shampooed and neatly trimmed hair.)

Alterna-2004. Sun hands Keamy the watch but he’s more interested in the money Jin is supposed to have for him. Sun plays the “no English” card but Keamy’s flunky soon finds Jin hiding in the bathroom. Where’s the damn money? Sun and Jin speak Korean to each other – I think in this reality she really doesn’t speak English – and a frustrated Keamy snaps that he feels like he’s in a Godzilla movie. He sends his flunky off after that “Russian guy who speaks six or seven languages,” hopefully including Korean – looks like Mikhail is going to make an appearance.

Once that crazy Russian gets there, Sun explains to the thugs (through Mikhail as translator) that the money was confiscated at Customs – if Keamy will let them go to the bank, she can get the money. Keamy decides to send Sun and Mikhail to the bank while he takes Jin, as collateral, to the restaurant. When Jin begs Keamy not to tell Sun’s father that they are involved. Keamy’s like, WTF do I care about you two? Just get me the money.

Island. Ben is annoyed that no one believes that he found Sun already unconscious and had nothing to do with it himself. More unbelievable is this: when she hit her head, it knocked her ability to speak English right out of her, although she can understand what the rest of them are saying. When Miles scoffs at this weird form of communication, Frank points out that he’s the guy who can hear the dead, so no pointing fingers. Jack thinks that Sun’s affliction may be temporary aphasia. Richard and Hurley pick right then to come back. “Pack your bags,” says Richard abruptly, “We’re leaving.”

Hydra Island. When Not-Locke steps onto the beach, the pylons that Widmore has set up spark and flare, keeping him on the ocean side. Widmore’s people point guns at Not-Locke and then Widmore comes out to talk to him, first allowing that he knows that it isn’t John Locke he’s talking to. Not-Locke says he wants Jin back and Widmore says he has no idea what Not-Locke is talking about. Not-Locke looks grimly pleasant and remarks: “A wise man said war was coming to this Island – I think it just got here.”

Big Island. Jack wants to know where Richard is taking them. Richard wants to know where Not-Locke is. When they tell him that he’s over on Hydra Island, where the Ajira plane is, Richard explains that since Not-Locke wants to leave the Island, they’ve got to keep him away from that plane. Miles looks at Hurley and snarks that this must be his fault. Hurley: “Yeah, sort of.” Richard wants to destroy the plane, which makes Sun quite angry. She gets right in Richard’s face and launches into a tirade – in Korean, which confuses poor Richard quite a lot – and basically tells him that he cannot destroy the plane which is their only way off the Island, and she’s not going to help him save the world because all she wants to do is get back to Jin. Furious and frustrated, she storms off, leaving the Losties to watch her go. “I don’t think she’s coming,” obviouses Hurley.

Alterna-2004. There is a problem at the bank: Sun’s account has been closed. By her father. This is bad, because Sun thought no one knew about it but her. Meanwhile, at the restaurant, Keamy tapes poor Jin to a chair in the cooler. Since Jin doesn’t understand English, Keamy feels free to exposit what’s going on: Sun’s father knows all about Sun and Jin’s secret affair and the $25,000 that Jin was supposed to deliver to Keamy was payment in exchange for Keamy offing Jin. Then Keamy tapes Jin’s mouth closed and apologizes, “Sorry - some people just weren’t meant to be together.”

Hydra Island. Widmore finds Zoë poring over those maps and snaps at her, “What were you thinking?” She says she’s sorry that she’s rushing the timetable but maybe Widmore should have put a mercenary in charge instead of a geophysicist. Widmore shakes his head – what’s done is done – and tells her to take “the package” from the submarine to the Infirmary. Widmore then apologizes to Jin for what’s been done to him (there’s a lot of apologizing in this episode) and hands him Sun’s camera, which they found on the Ajira plane. There are pictures of Jeon, Sun and Jin’s daughter. She’s wicked cute and Jin cries, looking at the pixels. Widmore interrupts: if Not-Locke gets off the Island, then Jin’s daughter, Widmore’s daughter, everyone’s daughter, will cease to be. “Come,” says Widmore, “It’s time for you to see the package.” “What’s the package?” asks Jin. “It’s not a what,” replies Widmore, “It’s a who.” It better be Desmond, that’s who it better be.

Alterna-2004. Jin hears muffled voices and gunshots through the closed cooler door. He kicks at the door until Alterna-Sayid opens it. With his very limited English, Jin begs for Sayid to free him so Sayid hands him a knife and tells him good luck. Some time later, Mikhail has brought Sun to the restaurant. He pulls his gun when he sees all the bodies on the floor and he’s distracted enough that Jin is able to come up and put a gun to the Russian’s head. They fight, gunshots are fired. Jin finally kills Mikhail – shooting him right through the eye – and then turns to Sun. She’s on the floor, gasping, bleeding from a wild gunshot to the belly. As he picks her up, she cries, “I’m pregnant!”

Island. Sun sits alone, staring out at the ocean. Jack joins her. He’s brought her a pen and a notepad to see if she can still write English. She can. She is grateful. Jack asks what Not-Locke said to her – that he has Jin – and why she didn’t go with him – she doesn’t trust Not-Locke. Jack asks if she trusts him, and if she does, if she’ll come with him, he promises to bring Jin to her and get them both off this Island. She takes his hand.

On the other side of the Island, Sawyer checks in with Kate. They’re both worried about all the machinations that are going on, although Sawyer is hopeful that Widmore perhaps blew Not-Locke to little bitty bits over there on Hydra Island … then their hopes are dashed when Not-Locke walks back into their camp, alone. He tells them, in not so many words, that Sayid has been left behind over at Hydra to find out what it is that Widmore is hiding.

Cut to Sayid, silently swimming up to the submarine as Zoë and a red shirt struggle to pull “the package” onto the dock. They lose their grip and the man falls, head dangling over the edge, inches from Sayid’s face. It’s my darling Desmond, of course, drugged and befuddled enough to not give Sayid’s presence away. Widmore’s people pick Desmond up and march him off, and Sayid treads water thoughtfully, watching them go.


Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mini movie review: Zombieland

My attempts to get Mr. Mouse to successfully watch a horror movie with me are failing miserably.  He "watched" Shredder but began reading a magazine halfway through; he refused to be in the same room for Ginger Snaps, Jennifer's Body and Paranormal Activity, instead grumping when the screaming got too loud.  But I really thought I'd found a match in Zombieland.  I mean, he saw Shaun of the Dead, ferchrissakes: another horror/comedy zombie-lite flick that clocks in at an efficient 81 minutes seemed just the thing.

I thought Zombieland was great fun.  Standard plot - after the inevitable zombie apocalypse (mad cow leads to mad human leads to zombies), a small band of survivors make their way across the country in search of safe haven.  There's the erstwhile narrator (Jesse Eisenberg), a still envirginated* bundle of neuroses who is searching for a normal life, a borderline insane but entirely charismatic Southern badass (Woody Harrelson) who is searching for a Twinkie, and a couple of cute, canny, grifter sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) both far older than their years.  Mike White also has an extended cameo and ends up being eaten by a zombie whilst on the crapper, which is awesome.

Also awesome is the third act - has any other moviemaker thought to have the last stand against the zombies set in an amusement park?  I thought they did a great job working the set into the various zombie kills: lots of movement, color and light, not your standard zombie fare.

* which, as we all know, practically guarantees survival in a horror flick

Oh, and Mr. Mouse?  Slept through the whole dang thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book review: No Dominion: a novel by Charlie Huston

No Dominion is the second book in Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt Casebooks series. Remember how much I liked the first one? This second entry doesn’t go into any sophomore slump, starting up with a bang and getting wilder from there. Huston clearly has a knack for drawing the reader into the action. Here are the first two sentences:
The glass is breaking. That’s not the surprising thing: the surprising thing is that it didn’t shatter when he threw me against it.
Once again, Joe is stuck in the middle of all kinds of hell. He’s still trying to lay low, remain Rogue, unaffiliated with any of Manhattan’s Vampyre Clans, but times have been tough lately. Since the goings-on at the end of Already Dead, he’s been on the outs with the Coalition, and all his jobs – and thus his money and his easy source of blood – have dried up. So when his former Clan, the Society, led by the hippie/master manipulator Terry, hires him to investigate a new drug of sorts that is making its way through the streets, presenting a high so high that the new fish infected who take it turn into old school beserkers, Joe takes the job. If he’s lucky, he won’t live to regret it.

No Dominion brings back all the regulars from the first book: Joe’s HIV-positive bartender girlfriend Evie; Phil, the skeezy Renfield snitch; Irish giant vampire Hurley, post-modern feminist lesbian vampire Lydia, and loose-cannon vampire Tom, all part of Terry’s crew; the eerie and translucent Daniel. Some new and memorable characters drop in too as Joe’s adventures take him up to Harlem: the Count, an affected poor little rich boy Infected, complete with his bevy of vampire brides; and DJ Grave Digga, warlord of The Hood.

In addition to his flair for over-the-top violence (these are vampires, after all), Huston has a nice ear for dialogue, particularly its rhythms. Just don’t mind all the cussing (I certainly don’t).

I’m already halfway through the third volume of the Joe Pitt series – just eating this stuff up like kettle corn. Although these novels aren’t long (251 pages for No Dominion ), they’re dense with just the kind of stuff I like: complicated, twisty plots; colorful and layered characters; and the supernatural dosed with a shot of the real world. I think I’m going to be very sad when I get to the end of the series.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost episode recap – “Ab Aeterno” S6E9 airdate 03/23/10)

It's the long awaited Richard-centric episode!  It's pretty talky and I haven't differentiated between the paraphrasing and the actual quotes, but since Lost dialogue is rarely eloquent I figure you won't care that much.  On to Richard's story:

The good guys – Jack, Sun, Miles, Frank, Ben, Alana, Hurley and Richard – sit moodily around a campfire on the beach. Remembering that Jacob told her to go to Richard when she didn’t know what to do, Alana looks to him: “So, Richard, what do we do next?” Richard lets out a giggle: “You know I was trying to kill myself when Jack found me, right? Everything Jacob ever said was a lie.” Jack: “What are you talking about?” Richard: “You want to know a secret? We’re all dead. Really. We’re not on an island, we never were. We’re in hell. Literally. So, forget Jacob – let’s listen to someone else. And that’s what I’m going to do.” And then Richard grabs a torch and stomps off into the darkness.

Alana loads her rifle and tells Jack that she’s going after him – still stuck on the Jacob told her to concept. Jack says that he thinks Richard has maybe lost his mind, then turns back to the others: “What? Do you think you know where he’s going?” Ben, snarkily: “Oh, this should be interesting.” Sun, to Jack: “He meant [Not-]Locke.” Jack’s all, “What? No way? Locke is dead.” Ben: “If it’s any consolation, it’s not exactly Locke.” Jack: WTF. Then he sees Hurley off to the side, talking to someone who isn’t there. He’s speaking in Spanish but Jack doesn’t hear him, so he rushes up to Hurley, demanding to know what Jacob is telling him. Hurley says, “Sorry, Jack, it’s not Jacob and it has nothing to do with you.” Jack stares after him, frustrated.

Ben turns to Alana and says that Jack is right, something’s wrong with Richard and he should know since he’s known him since he was twelve. Frank chimes in, “So you guys grew up together?” Ben: “No, I was twelve; Richard looks just like he does now.” Frank: “Hm, he doesn’t age? How do you think that happened?” I think that’s what we’re about to watch.

Flashback: to the Canary Islands in 1867. Richard pulls his horse to a stone shack and goes inside. His pretty wife Isabella is very sick with fever, coughing up blood. Richard says he’s going to for a doctor and he’ll try to be back before dawn. He’s worried that he doesn’t have enough money to pay for treatment so Isabella takes the crucifix from around her neck and tells him to give it to the doctor. Richard gets choked up, fearing that he’s losing her. She kisses him and tells him that they will always be together. “I will save you,” promises Richard, and rides out into the stormy night. Until further notice, all dialogue is in Spanish with English subtitles, btw.

He bursts into the doctor’s house over the manservant’s protests. The doctor, a wealthy and privileged white man, refuses to ride out into the bad weather. He says he has something that can save Isabella but it’s very expensive. Richard gives him all he has. The doctor says its not enough and refuses to help. They struggle and the doctor falls, hitting his head against the table. But Richard finds a bottle of white powder and grabs it, running back to his wife. But it is too late: she has died while he was gone. And then the authorities burst in, dragging him away to prison.

Later, a priest comes to ask if Richard wants to make his confession. Richard confesses to killing the doctor, and begs for forgiveness. The priest says no, he cannot grant absolution for murder. Richard pleads that it was an accident but the priest says that penance is the only thing that can save him now, but there’s no time as they’re going to hang Richard the next day. He leaves Richard kneeling in his cell, bereft.

They come for him, leading him blindfolded into the courtyard. But a Mr. Whitfield stops them, asking if Richard speaks English. After a shocked pause, Richard says yes. Whitfield notes that he has strong hands and therefore is now that property of one Captain Magnus Hansen Hanso. Richard is a slave, and bound for the New World on a ship called the Black Rock.

It is a dark and stormy night when the Black Rock approaches the Island, guarded by that giant Sobek (or whomever) statue. A rogue wave picks the ship up, smashes it into the statue and tosses it into the center of the Island. All goes dark.

Later, some of the slaves are alive and shout for release from their bonds. Whitfield staggers down into the hold and immediately starts stabbing them with his sword. They are helpless before him. Whitfield snarls: “We are shipwrecked in the middle of the jungle with no fresh water, limited supplies, and only five officers left.” He advances on Richard who begs for his life. Whitfield lunges at him and then the Smoke Monster clarion rings through the jungle. There is screaming from up above and then silence. Whitfield shouts for his men to report and the Smoke Monster plunges into the hold and consumes him, then disappears. Then it comes back, chuckling and growling like a cougar, curling around a trembling Richard. Richard prays, muttering under his breath, and the Smoke Monster retreats again. There’s a close-up of Richard’s naturally lined eye as he hears the clarion call recede into the jungle. And then he is alone.

A CGI butterfly flits through the hold as Richard tries to free himself from his chains. When a nighttime thunderstorm drips water into the hold, he can’t get to it. It’s looking bad for our boy. After a time, a wild pig shows up to feed on the bodies - ick. The boar runs off and Richard collapses. Sometime later, Isabella is there. He is confused so she explains to him: “We’re dead, we’re in hell, and I’m here to save you before he comes back.” Who is coming back? “The devil.” Then the Smoke Monster’s clarion sounds and Richard sends his dead wife away, panicked. She runs straight into the Smoke Monster; there is much screaming and then, again, silence.

Yet later, a man brings water to Richard. It’s Esau, a/k/a the Man in Black. This is all in English now, btw. When Richard asks who is he is, he says he’s a friend when Richard asks who he is; he also confirms that yes, this is Hell. Richard notes that he wasn’t on the ship and Esau says that no, he’s been here long before the ship arrived. Richard tells him that the Smoke Monster took his wife. Esau looks thoughtful and says, “Then he has her.” Richard scrabbles at his chains, begging Esau to help him free Isabella. Esau is willing to help since he too wants to be free; coincidentally, he’s got keys to Richard’s manacles right here in his pocket. But first he elicits a promise fro Richard to do whatever Esau asks. Of course Richard says yes, and Esau unlocks him. He helps Richard to his feet, noting that he’s going to need his strength if they’re going to escape. “Escape?” wonders Richard. Sure, says Esau: “To escape from Hell, you’re going to have to kill the Devil.”

They have roast boar for lunch. Heh. Esau instructs Richard: “When you’re done eating, you’ll walk due west until you get to the statue. That’s where you’ll find the Devil.” Esau gives Richard a fancy dagger, telling him to stick it into the Devil’s chest, quickly, before he has time to speak. Richard protests, saying that’s impossible as the Devil is black smoke. “No,” says Esau, “I am.” But … my wife! Esau rides right over this, saying that the Devil betrayed him, taking his body and his humanity, and regardless of what Richard thinks, it is the Devil that took his wife. Richard: ‘But you killed all those officers!” Esau: “Dude, shut up and go kill this guy I’m telling you to kill – I’m certainly not going to answer any of your questions in any way you (or any of the viewers) can comprehend.” Richard: WTF? Esau: “If you ever want to see your wife again, you will do what I tell you.” Richard takes the knife.

He makes his way to the remains of the statue and starts to enter the room in the pedestal. But Jacob pops up and administers a fierce beat-down on him before taking the knife away and demanding, “What are you doing here? What are you doing with this?” All Richard can do is moan about his dead wife. Jacob: “If she’s dead, why are you asking me where she is?” Then he pauses, thinks a moment, and asks if Richard met a man dressed in black out there in the jungle. Richard: “Yup and he told me you are the Devil, and I had to kill you to rescue my wife, who is here, dead, in Hell, just like me.” Jacob: “You really think you’re in Hell?” Richard: “Where the frak else would I be?” So Jacob drags Richard into the ocean and threatens to drown him until Richard pleads for his life. Jacob: “That’s the first sensible thing that you’ve said. Get up – we need to talk.” Richard kneels there, gasping for air, wishing for all the world that he’d actually been hanged back there in the Canary Islands. ‘Cuz all this just sucks.

Later, they sit, sipping wine, a blanket wrapped around poor Richard. He asks what is inside the statue’s pedestal and Jacob curtly tells him that no one is allowed inside without an express invitation. (I don’t see why – it wasn’t that great in there.) Richard then asks if he is, in fact, the Devil. Jacob smiles gently and says no, introducing himself as the man who brought the Black Rock to the Island. Why? Jacob picks up the wine bottle and uses this analogy: the wine represents Hell/Evil/Esau and the Island is the cork, the only thing keeping the evil where it belongs. He says that Esau believes that all people are corruptible because it’s in their very nature to sin; Jacob brings people to the Island to prove him wrong. And when they get here, their past doesn’t matter. Of course, everyone he’s brought here up to this point has died because they couldn’t figure it out and help themselves. Richard points out that if Jacob won’t help them, Esau will win.

Jacob thinks for a moment, and offers Richard a job as an intermediary between Jacob and the people he brings to the Island. Richard is willing to take the job, but asks for his wife back as payment. Jacob says he can’t do that sp Richard asks for his sins to be absolved. Jacob says he can’t do that either and, frustrated, Richard says that he doesn’t want to die – he wants to live forever – and Jacob clasps his shoulder, saying that he can do. Richard stares at him like he’s a crazy person.

After this interlude, Richard makes his way back to Esau who grumps that he obviously let Jacob talk to him: “He can be very convincing, but if you ever – ever – change your mind, my offer still stands.” He tells Richard that he has something for him: it’s Isabella’s crucifix. Richard looks down at it and when he looks back up, Esau is gone. Shaken, Richard buries the crucifix, sobbing.

Present time: Richard has made his way back to that clearing where Esau left him. He digs up Isabella’s crucifix and whispers that he’s changed his mind. He repeats this louder, shouting that he was wrong – does the offer still stand? And suddenly Hurley is there: “What offer, dude?” Richard fuh-reaks out on him, screaming that he doesn’t know what to do and the Losties should leave him alone. Hurley cuts through the drama by saying, “Dude, your wife sent me.” This shuts Richard up immediately and his eyes bug out like Ben’s. Hurley says that Isabella wants to know why Richard buried her cross. She saw him do it - she’s standing right there next to him. Isabella looks at Hurley, saying that Richard doesn’t believe and Hurley replies, in Spanish, that it sometimes takes people a while. He repeats that Isabella is right there, and that she thinks Richard’s “English is awesome.” Richard starts to cry. Isabella asks for Richard to close his eyes. He does. Isabella, through Hurley: “It wasn’t your fault that I died … it was my time. You have suffered enough.” And he almost seems to hear her, crying that he wants to be with her again. She kisses him gently and is gone. Richard puts her crucifix around his own neck and thanks Hurley. Hurley’s like yeah, well, she said one more thing: “You have to stop the man in black because if you don’t, we all go to Hell.”

And from a distance, Not-Locke is watching the whole thing.

Flashback: Esau sits under a tree when Jacob joins him. Esau tells him not to gloat – it’s unbecoming. Jacob: “So, you tried to kill me. Why?” Esau: “Because I want to leave.” Jacob: “As long as I’m alive, you’re not going anywhere.” Esau: “Well, now you know why I want to kill you.” Jacob says that even if Esau succeeds, someone else will take his place and Esau insists that he’ll just kill them too, as many as it takes. Jacob offers him the half-drunk jug of wine and takes his leave. Esau takes the bottle, noting the analogy, then upends it and smashes it on a rock.

This episode was entertaining enough, but it was pretty much blatant pandering to the fans with the close-up of Richard's eye, and the this is Hell/no it's not dilemma, and the answer to how the Sobek (or whomever - I'm not looking it up) statue got smashed.  All questions that we Lost fans would like to have answered, but really not integral to moving the story along.  Still, I must admit that getting a few answers is a nice treat.

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lost episode recap – “Recon” S6E8 (airdate 03/16/10)

Now, that’s the way to start a Lost episode: Alterna-Sawyer, sweaty, shirtless and getting’ his sexy on. The girlie he’s with seems to agree with me. He seems to be playing his old con only this time, the girlie isn’t taken in by it: she’s married to a con man herself and is totally on to him. By the way, Sawyer looks extra hot because he’s got a haircut. When she pulls a gun on him, he tells her that he’s not actually a con man but is a cop and they’re looking to take down her husband. She starts to get agitated so he calls in the cavalry who are waiting outside. The cops take the woman away. Guess who Sawyer the Cop’s partner is? Miles – yay! I think I like this alternate reality.

Back on the Island, Crazy Claire is packing up her camp. She pauses to gaze lovingly at the sketchy teddy bear-animal skull dollbaby in the bassinet. Kate comes up, looking around, and is not quite able to keep the “eeuuwww” out of her voice when she asks Claire if this is where she’s been living. Then she catches sight of the skull-baby and is horrified: “What is that?” Claire fixes her with a stern gaze: “It’s all I had.”

In the clearing, Not-Locke has gathered his groupies around. He says he knows that everyone is tired and full of questions, and he will make himself available to them eventually, but right now they need to keep moving. Cindy the Stewardess asks what happened to the folks who stayed behind at the Temple. Not-Locke doesn’t lie: “The Black Smoke killed them.” The camera cuts to Sayid who shows absolutely no expression. Everyone else sort of whimpers. Not-Locke consoles them; and as he talks, Claire sidles up to Kate and holds her hand. Kate’s all: um, weird? As they move out, Sawyer checks in with Kate, asking after Jack, Hurley and Miles. She cuts to the point: “So you’re with Locke now?” Sawyer shakes his head: “I’m not with anybody, Kate.”

Alterna-2004. Detective James Ford is on the phone, trying to track down “Anthony Cooper” (who, you may remember, is Locke’s bad daddy and the man who was responsible for Sawyer’s parents’ deaths – in the other reality, at least). Miles wants to know who Anthony Cooper is and Sawyer blows him off. They shoot the shit for a while until Miles tells him that he’s fixed him up with a date for tonight. Sawyer’s all, if she’s so great, why don’t you date her? Miles reminds him that he has a girlfriend (who?!), then asks another couple of pointed questions about Anthony Cooper. When Sawyer prevaricates, Miles tells him that he can trust him, there’s no need to lie. Sawyer bluffs, insisting that he’s not lying.

Island. Not-Locke leads his troops through the jungle. They pause at a stream and Not-Locke tells them to stock up on water as they may be camping out for a couple more days. Sawyer doesn’t like this: “A couple of days? I thought you said we were getting off this rock!” Not-Locke suggests that maybe they should talk about this in private. As they move away from the group, Sawyer asks how Not-Locke managed to get the survivors away from the “smoke thing.” Not-Locke sighs, turns and admits: “I didn’t – I am the smoke thing.” Sawyer frowns, because that means Not-Locke killed all those people, and Not-Locke points out that he did give them a chance to leave peacefully. He insists that all he wants to do is leave the Island but the Temple people believe that they have to protect the Island from him – “It’s either kill or be killed … and I don’t want to be killed.” Sawyer sighs.

They walk to the shore where there is an outrigger canoe waiting. Not-Locke tells Sawyer that he wants him to take the canoe over to Hydra Island where the Ajira plane is and do some recon on Alana’s people there who want to do Not-Locke harm. Sawyer protests that it’ll be dangerous because those folks might want to do him harm as well. Not-Locke smiles, saying that won’t be a problem since Sawyer is the best liar he ever met: you tell’em whatever you need to tell’em to gain their trust, then you come back and report to me. Sawyer wants to know why he should do this. And Not-Locke tells him that they’re going to end up getting on that Ajira plane, flying off this Island and never looking back. Sawyer makes his frowny face again.

Alterna-2004. Suave Sawyer stalks through restaurant bar, searching for the redhead with whom Miles has fixed him up. He finds her: it’s Charlotte, of course. He thinks she’s hot; I think she’s wearing too many extensions. They flirt during dinner. There are lots of close-up shots of their faces and he’s got such a cute dimple that I’m all distracted. Charlotte must like that dimple too because shortly thereafter they have sex back at Sawyer’s apartment. In the afterglow, she asks if she can borrow a t-shirt. He says yes, but as she’s rummaging around in his dresser drawer, she finds a file all about how Anthony Cooper killed his family. Sawyer catches her looking at that stuff and gets furious, throwing her out over her protests of “James!”

Island. Sawyer has made it across the strait to Hydra Island. He makes his way to the polar bear holding cells and, upon seeing the shreds of the flowered dress that Kate wore when they were locked up together and had sex, he gets all nostalgic or sad or something. Whatever. Have you forgotten Juliet so soon?

Back on the big Island, Kate sits down next to Sayid. She asks if he believes that Not-Locke can get them all off the Island. He answers in a monotone, “Yes, I believe,” and she looks at him strangely, asking if he’s all right. He says no and then, from out of nowhere, Claire tackles her, knocking her to the ground and holding a big ol’ knife to Kate’s throat. Sayid just watches as Kate screams for his help. Finally it’s Not-Locke who pulls Claire off. Freed, Kate scrambles for a shotgun and wields it like a club. Claire is screaming, ranting – she took Aaron! – and Not-Locke tries to explain that Claire had gone missing so Kate did what she had to do to take care of the baby … and finally just slaps Claire across the face. Both Kate and Claire look stunned at this and Claire shuts up. Not-Locke tells her sternly: “This is completely inappropriate.” He sends Claire away, saying he'll deal with her in a minute. He looks at Kate: “Are you all right?” Kate shrieks. “No, I’m not all right!” and Not-Locke gives her a funny look and then goes to talk to Claire.

Hydra. Sawyer next finds the Ajira airplane, looming large and unbroken in the center of the island. He walks around it, rubbing his hands over its fuselage like it was a woman. Then he looks around, noticing a fairly recent campfire and a trail like something had been dragged away. He follows the trail and something indeed has been dragged: a bunch of rotting bodies all thrown together in a pile. Sawyer gags, turning away and sees movement in the underbrush. He gives chase, tackling a frightened woman. She squeals that she’s the only one left.

Alterna-2004. Charlie’s brother Liam has a cameo in the lobby of the L.A.P.D. as he tries to get someone to help him bail Charlie out of jail; he attempts to talk to Sawyer but just gets brushed aside. Bye, Liam! Meanwhile, Miles comes storming up and grabs his partner, hustling him into the locker room and throwing him up against the lockers. “Is there something you want to tell me?!” he shouts. I immediately assume that Charlotte made a phone call to him after getting tossed post-coitally and so does Sawyer, saying that “she opened the wrong drawer.” Miles is all: WTF are you talking about? “Why were you in Australia when you told me you were in Palm Springs?” Oops. “You lied to me! We’re supposed to trust each other – what were you doing in Australia?” Sawyer, grimly tells him that’s none of his damn business. Miles gets a hurt look on his face and says, fine, you’re right – and I’m not your partner anymore.

Hydra. Sawyer offers the woman some water and asks her story. She was out collecting wood when she heard screaming; when she came back, everyone else was dead and she’s spent the last few days dragging the bodies into a pile. She is calming down and asks if he’s alone. He tells her no, he’s with a group of people on the larger Island and if she wants, he’ll take her back with him. “Thank god,” she breathes and Sawyer shakes his head: “God’s got nuthin’ to do with it.”

Island. Kate sits by herself in a stand of bamboo, sobbing and sniffling. Not-Locke finds her and says, “I’m sorry, Kate, I have to take responsibility for Claire’s behavior as I told her that the Others took her baby.” Kate wonders why he did that. Not-Locke asks if she ever needed to have an enemy, needed to have someone to hate – “It’s powerful, isn’t it?” Well, Claire needed something to keep her going when she was all alone. Kate sneers: “That’s very insightful, coming from a dead man.” Not-Locke: “Well, nobody’s perfect.” I must say that Not-Locke has a much better sense of humor than poor Locke ever did. He continues, saying that Claire may just need a little more time and that he will keep his promise to keep everyone safe – including Kate. Wiping away her tears, Kate changes the subject: where did Sawyer go? Not-Locke offers her his hand and tells her that he’ll show her.

Hydra. Sawyer and the woman walk to his outrigger and she begins to ask really a lot of questions, enough questions that both Sawyer and I get suspicious. He pulls his gun and demands to know who she is. She drops the act and gives a whistle. Immediately, a bunch of guys with big guns burst out of the bushes and disarm Sawyer. “You got me,” he smirks, “Take me to your leader.”

Island. Not-Locke and Kate make their way to the beach, taking seats on the sand. He tells her that he sent Sawyer to Hydra … but he really wants to talk to her. He says he isn’t actually a dead man and he understands what she’s going through. Kate: WTF? Not-Locke says that a long time ago, before he looked like Locke, he had a mother who was completely disturbed and as a result, he had some growing pains, problems that he’s still trying to work his way through. Ooh – what mythology could this be referencing? Let the wild theorizing begin! Kate wants to know why he’s telling her this. Not-Locke: “Because now Aaron has a crazy mother too.”

Hydra. Sawyer gets taken to the pier where Widmore’s submarine is moored. FM is a little slow on the uptake: so these are Widmore’s people? They send Sawyer down into the sub.

Alterna-2004. Sawyer heats up a frozen dinner and half-heartedly watches an episode of Little House on the Prairie. The dialogue between Pa and Laura is supposed to relate to Sawyer’s situation somehow but Mr. Mouse is asking me questions about the past three seasons of this show and I neither catch it nor care to rewind. In the end, Sawyer gets remorseful and shortly thereafter, shows up at Charlotte’s apartment with a flower, some beer and an apology. She won’t have any of it and slams the door in his face. He leaves the flower on the doorstep but takes the beer with him when he goes. Heh.

Submarine. Widmore introduces himself to Sawyer, who won’t shake his hand, remembering him as the guy who sent the freighter to the Island to kill everyone. Widmore of course says it’s all a big misunderstanding, he’s been wrongfully portrayed as the bad guy. But what he really wants to know is why is Sawyer here? John Locke sent him. John Locke’s dead. Sawyer: “We both know that who I’m talkin’ about ain’t John Locke.” Then Sawyer proposes a double cross whereby he brings Locke to Widmore in exchange for safety for his people (that would be Kate and who else, do you suppose?) and safe passage off this damn Island. Widmore considers this. And then this time they shake hands.

Island. Claire finds Kate and wants to apologize; Kate mostly just cocks her rifle. But then Claire starts to cry and thanks Kate for taking care of the baby, and she clutches Kate into a big hug, sobbing. It’s okay, says Kate. I’m not entirely sure I believe Claire’s change of heart – I mean, it’d be cool if she was faking this and ended up killing Kate. Meanwhile, Sawyer has made it back to the main Island where he reports to tells Not-Locke that the Ajira passengers are all dead and there’s no way Widmore will let Not-Locke’s crew on the plane without a fight. He says that there are about six well armed men besides Widmore, and they’re setting up anti-Smoke Monster pylons. Not-Locke wants to know what Sawyer told Widmore about him. Sawyer: that I’d tell you the coast was clear and walk you over into their trap. “You told me you’d get me off the Island – a deal’s a deal.” Not-Locke stares long and hard at Sawyer, and it looks as though he may believe him.

Alterna-2004. Sawyer finds Miles and hand over the notebook about his family’s case. It says SAWYER on the cover. “Who’s Sawyer?” asks Miles. Sawyer tells him how his parents died, and about the grifter who forced them to it, and how he’s been chasing him ever since he left the police academy. And when he finds him, he’s gonna kill him. Miles is about to try to talk him out of it when their car gets nailed HARD by a small blue sedan whose driver jumps out and runs away. Miles and Sawyer give chase, Sawyer eventually catching them. It’s Kate, of course, fugitive on the run. Sawyer looks her up and down appreciatively and exclaims, “Son of a bitch!”

Island. Kate pokes at the campfire when Sawyer saunters up, wondering what’s for dinner. She doesn’t seem like she much wants to talk, but tiredly asks why he’s running errands for Locke. He tells her exactly what he found over there on Hydra, and how he’s going to let Widmore and Locke fight it out between themselves, and “while they got their hands full of each other, you and me are gonna get off this Island.” And he’s not after the plane either - his plan is to steal the sub, Freckles.

Next time: a Richard episode!!! SQUEEEEE!

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mini movie review: The Hangover

In an attempt to watch something foolish and funny and not at all depressing, Mr. Mouse and I turned to The Hangover last night.  Mr. Mouse had already seen it - in the theater! without me!! - but was willing to give it another go.  Except for the fact that my rental DVD had a glitch/scratch that meant we had to skip the scene with the "Black Doug" revelation (Mr. M kindly filled me in), I thoroughly enjoyed this grown-up, fairly intelligent entry into the dumb-raunchy movie genre.  Having a mystery for the main characters to follow through the duration elevated this flick above most of the others in its genre, keeping the audience entertained and interested, and not just along for the road trip ride. 

The casting was great - has Bradley Cooper ever looked hotter? - and I particularly liked Jeffrey Tambor and Heather Graham's little bit roles, although I found Ken Jeong annoying and slightly offensive.  As others before me have said, the standout was Zach Galifianakis.  I knew him from Tru Calling only, not any of his comedy (which I now have to go dig up on YouTube), and found him to be very, very funny with great timing. 

"Tigers love pepper.  They hate cinnamon."  Can I get a t-shirt with that on it?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lost episode recap – “Dr. Linus” S6E7 (airdate 03/09/10)

So, my new DVR likes to cut off the first 30 seconds or so of every show. That’s annoying.

Alterna-Ben’s history class is letting out. The principal is waiting there for him to tell him that he’s got to take detention after school all week. He’s not that psyched about it because he can’t do History Club with his five little History Club geeklings. At lunch, Arzt the high school science teacher (who blew up with the Black Rock dynamite) bitches about all the budget cuts and inadequate equipment; Ben makes some passionate arguments about all the changes he’d like to make until Substitute Teacher Locke butts in to suggest that maybe Ben should be principal since he actually cares about the school.

Island. Alana, Frank, Sun, Miles and Ben run through the jungle, Miles wanting to know WTF that Black Smoke Monster was. Has he not seen it ‘til now? Alana, who knows that Miles can communicate with the dead, hands him her pouch of Jacob ashes and asks how Jacob died. Ben watches nervously. Miles does his thing, turns to Alana and says: “Linus killed him.” Ben’s eyes bug way out and everyone else stares at him. Alana: “Jacob was the closest thing I ever had to a father.” Miles, looking at Ben: “Uh-oh.” FM: “I love Miles!” The group resumes slogging through the jungle while Ben just stands there, unsure of what to do.

After the commercial they have apparently been walking all night, emerging at the Losties’ old beach camp in daylight. Alana says she’ll look for some tools to rebuild the shelters, and instructs the others to look for food. Ben tries to suck up to her but she’s not having any. Frank notes snidely: “You make friends easy, don’t you?”

Alterna-2004. Ben has made himself and his invalid father some tasty microwave dinners. They seem to have a pretty decent relationship in this reality as Roger tells his son that he wanted so much more for him. That’s why he took them both to the Dharma folks on that Island - it could have been so much better if they’d only stayed there. Hm, interesting. The doorbell rings and when Ben opens the door, he says, pleased and surprised, “Alex?” It is Alex, pretty and clean, and one of his history students, upset that he didn’t make it to History Club after school. He explains the detention conflict. She says that the AP history test is Friday and she was hoping for some extra tutoring; they make plans to meet early tomorrow morning, Alex will bring the coffee.

Island. Sun asks Alana how long they’re planning on staying at the beach camp because she really wants to find her husband. Alana sniffs that she really wants to find him too. Sun: “?????” Alana explains that she doesn’t know if she’s supposed to protect Sun or Jin or both of them, since “Kwon” is a candidate to replace Jacob. Sun: “[WTF?] How many candidates are there?” Alana replies that there are only six left. Let the rampant theorizing begin!

On another part of the Island, Jack (another candidate, I suppose) is pushing Hurley (yet another candidate, no?) to get back to the Temple. Hurley is dragging his feet because Jacob had told him that danger was coming to the Temple and he needed to keep Jack out of it. They argue about which way to go until a skinny, rattled-looking Richard pops out of the underbrush, saying they’re both wrong and the Temple is “that way.” Richard is extra-twitchy these days but offers to lead them to there.

On the beach, Frank is gathering firewood while Ben scrounges through the tent ruins, waxing somewhat nostalgic for the days when Ocean 815 crashed onto the Island. Frank tells him that he was actually supposed to be flying that plane but he overslept. Ben: “Come on!” Heh – don’t try so hard, Ben. Frank wonders how different his life would have been if he’d woken up on time that day but Ben just points out, again a little too emphatically, that the Island got [Frank] in the end, so probably not that different.

Then Frank skedaddles as Alana jams her rifle into Ben’s neck. The others just watch as she herds him off down the beach. When they get a little ways away, she chains him to a tree and tells him to start digging. Dig what, Ben wants to know. Alana: “A grave … you murdered Jacob, it’s for you.” Y’all, I don’t want Ben to get killed off. There are FAR less important and more annoying folks who should eat it first.

Alterna-2004. History tutoring session – is that a painting of the Black Rock? Never mind (but yes, I think it was). Alex is getting frustrated, worrying about the AP test, worrying about getting into and paying for college. She wants to go to Yale. Ben asks what he can do to help. She says what she really needs is a recommendation from that “pervert” principal. Of course, Ben wants to know what she means by “pervert” and eventually, she tells him that she saw the [married] principal and the school nurse knocking boots in the school clinic. Ben promises not to say anything – all the while thinking about how he can use this to his advantage. Some things never change, no matter what reality you’re in.

Island. Ben digs – not making much progress – while Alana stalks around with her gun. Miles swings by with some food and Ben asks if he still wants that $3.2 million, because he can get off this Island and use his connections to pay Miles if he’ll just help him now. Miles wants to know why he even needs Ben’s money when frickin’ Nikki and Paolo are buried just right over there with $8 million in diamonds. Ben spits that Alana is going to kill him for murdering Jacob, a man who didn’t even care about being killed. Miles shakes his head: Jacob did care, right up until Ben pushed that knife into his chest, hoping all the while that he’d been wrong about Ben. “I guess he wasn’t,” says Miles, leaving Ben to his labors. As an extra incentive, Alana fires a round in his general direction.

Other part of the Island. Hurley is trying to figure out how Richard still looks as young as he ever did: are you time traveling? No. A cyborg? No. A vampire? No- Jacob gave him a gift, it’s hard to explain. Jack’s ears perk up – what’s this about Jacob now? They come to the Black Rock because Richard lied to them about going to the Temple since everyone there is now dead. Hurley stops in his tracks at this news but Jack gets in Richard’s face, all whaddya mean they’re all dead? Richard says he doesn’t know exactly what happened but he just came from there and everyone left there was dead. No, he did see Sayid and Kate so maybe they made it out alive. Jack looks accusingly at Hurley who admits that Jacob had told him not to go back there. Richard now looks at Hurley: You spoke to Jacob? Well, don’t believe anything he says. Richard starts walking into the Black Rock and Jack calls after him, asking where he’s going. “Something I need to do,” says Richard. What, asks Jack. Richard: “Die.”

Alterna-2004. Arzt is grading tests when Ben swings by to ask if he could “hypothetically” access the nurse’s email account. Arzt is as goddamn annoying in this reality as he was back on the Island. He blusters until Ben ‘fesses up that he thinks she’s having illicit relations with the principal. Arzt: “You’re making a play. You had me fooled with that sweater-vest … Linus, you’re a real killer.” Ben looks pleased – or constipated – at this pronouncement.

Island. Ben is still digging. He looks pretty beaten down.

Black Rock. Richard seems pretty familiar with the layout of the ship, as though it was his mode of conveyance to the Island. Jack and Hurley catch up with him in the hold. When Richard selects some sticks of dynamite, Hurley starts to wig out, insisting that Jack leave with him now before Richard kills himself. “I can’t kill myself,” sighs Richard, making crazy-eyes, “which is why I want you to do it for me.” He starts tossing the dynamite around, muttering that Jacob touched him – which is supposed to be a gift but isn’t a gift at all, but a curse. For once in his life Jack continues to ask questions instead of backing off: “Why do you want to die?” Richard says, and I paraphrase, I devoted my life, longer than you could possibly imagine, to the service of a man who said everything had a purpose, I had a purpose, and when the time came he would share it with me, but now that man is dead and I’ve learned that my entire ridiculously long life had absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Jack makes a frowny face. Richard’s made the fuse long enough so that if Jack would light it for him, there’ll be enough time for him and Hurley to escape – he can’t do it himself, it just won’t work. Amazingly, Jack lights the fuse. Richard sits there, calm at last. And then Jack sits down too, as Hurley cringes. “Let’s talk,” says Jack. Richard: WTF?

After the commercial, Hurley is wild: Jack! We’ve got to go! This dude is crazy and I know crazy! Indeed, Richard is now staring at Jack as though he’s the lunatic. But Jack remains calm, telling Hurley to get on out of the ship but he has to talk to Richard first. Being a wise, wise fellow, Hurley goes. Richard: “You should go with him, Jack. You’re going to die.” But Jack doesn’t think either of them is going to die right yet because he saw his name on the dial at the Lighthouse and the reflections. As Jack goes on and on, Richard looks nervously at the shortening fuse. Ooh, now Jack totally has the crazy eyes: he thinks that if Jacob went to all that trouble to bring him here to the Island, there’s no way Jack will get blown up right here with Richard. Richard notes that’s a pretty big risk Jack is taking: “What if you’re wrong?” I’m not, Jack says, and closes his eyes. You know, there’s no suspense here whatsoever because of ALL the characters, they’re NEVER going to kill f’ing Jack. And then – surprise! - the fuse fizzles out before the dynamite can explode. Richard stares at Jack who grins, “Want to try another stick?” Richard is bemused and asks now what. Jack: “We go back to where ewe started.” That would be the beach, I presume.

At the beach, Ben is interrupted in his digging by the Smoke Monster noise. It’s Not-Locke, who’s come to visit. When he asks Ben what he’s doing, Ben snarls that he’s digging his own grave; then Not-Locke asks why he’s doing such a thing. “Because you talked me into killing Jacob?” snaps Ben. “I don’t want you to die,” says Not-Locke. He says that he’s gathering a group to leave this place for good – and he thinks Ben would be perfect to stay behind and be in charge of the Island. Ben starts to bluster again until the chains just fall off his ankles. Not-Locke tells him to make a run for the other, smaller Island, and tells him where there’s a gun leaning against a tree. If Ben can get there first, he’ll get the drop on Alana who is sure to follow. When Not-Locke disappears, Ben bolts. “Hey!” shouts Alana, giving chase.

Alterna-2004. Ben confronts the principal with proof of his affair with the school nurse: “Pretty lascivious stuff … that took place on school property.” Ben tells the principal that he will resign and recommend to the school board that Ben be appointed as his replacement. Then the principal shows him an email by which Alex Rousseau has asked for a letter of recommendation to his alma mater, her first choice for college, Yale. The principal pretty much tells Ben that he can have his job but if he does, he’ll flame Alex and her future to cinders. “What’ll it be, Dr. Linus?” Ben has to think about it.

Island. Ben gets to the gun Not-Locke told him about and forces Alana to surrender her rifle. But he wants to explain that he knows what she’s feeling: that he chose the Island over saving his daughter’s life, sacrificing everything for Jacob who didn’t even care. “I’m sorry that I killed Jacob, and I do not expect you to forgive me because I can never forgive myself.” Alana: “Then what do you want?” Ben: “Just let me leave – I’ll go to [Not-]Locke.” Alana, confused and concerned in spite of herself: “Why?” Ben, sobbing: “Because he’s the only one who will have me.” Alana, resolutely: “I’ll have you.” She stalks off, leaving a shocked and shaking Ben standing there. Aw.

Alterna-2004. Ben returns to the principal’s office, in a misdirection where we’re supposed to think it’s now his. But Alex stops by, hoping to thank the principal for the rave recommendation he wrote for her. The principal comes in next, bitching at Ben for being in his office, but Ben mildly says that he’s just here to drop off the detention sheets and, with a smile at Alex, says he’s pleased that the principal found someone else to cover the rest of the week so he can get back to History Club. Looks like everyone’s happy now.

Island. Ben and Alana make their way back to the beach and everyone seems a little surprised to see him still alive. During the musical montage: Frank sits by the campfire; Miles rolls a big ol’ diamond in his hand (you dog, Miles!); Alana sniffles quietly to herself; and Hurley and Jack show up, Richard trailing along behind them.

And then there’s a weird POV from the ocean, looking in at the folks on the beach. There’s a submarine, heading their way. Guess whose sub it is? Charles Widmore’s, of course. He found his way back to the Island at last. (Does this mean we get to see Desmond next week?)

Updated 3/10/10:  I read something online today that posited that whatever happens to a Lost character in their alternative timeline determines whether they end up on the side of Good vs. Evil on the Island.  For example, Sayid, while protesting that he's "not that guy" anymore, still kills Keamy et al., and so ends up with Not-Locke; while Ben, who flirts with the dark side, ends up doing the right thing for Alex and her Yale future, and thus he ends up with Jack, Alana and Hurley etc.  Intriguing, that.  (I also read someone complaining that they didn't like this dividing the cast into Good vs. Evil - smacked of redoing The Stand.)

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mini movie review: The Wrestler (2008)

I'd been wanting to see The Wrestler for a long time now, continuing in my tradition of not seeing a year's Big Movies until long after all the hoopla has died down.  (This will also happen with The Hurt Locker, so look for my review of that sometime in 2011.)  I've seen all the pictures of Mickey Rourke, of course, and heard his terrible tale of excess and bad choices that transformed him from the razor-sharp 80's bad boy to the shambling hulk he is now, only to be redeemed and brought back into the public's adoring (?) eye with this movie.  I'd even heard that while the characters in The Wrestler are compelling, the story is pretty light on plot, just a glimpse into Randy the Ram's life during one period of time.

So I wasn't surprised at any of that when I finally sat down to watch.  What I was surprised by was:
  1. how friggin' hot Marisa Tomei is.  Mr. Mouse thought she looked "haggard," which she was supposed to - but she did her own topless scenes and damn.  Girl looks amazing.
  2. how friggin' bleak the whole movie is, from start to finish.  Sure, there's some genuine camaraderie among the wrestlers, and Marisa Tomei's stripper Pam/Cassidy has some real affection for Randy, and there are some nice moments of warmth and humor, but by and large, this flick is a total downer.  From the tawdry spectacle of these cut-rate, has-been or never-will-be professional wrestlers, to Randy's downtrodden life, to Pam/Cassidy's regular and repeated humiliation as an over the hill topless dancer, to the despair and bitterness of Randy's estranged and abandoned daughter (Evan Rachel Wood, who does a nice job), this movie just beats you down.
I'm glad I saw The Wrestler, and I hope poor Mickey Rourke gets some money and an extension on his life from his excellent work in it, but now I have to go reorganize my Blockbuster movie queue for something not quite so depressing.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Book review: Already Dead: a novel by Charlie Huston

Oooh boy, did I ever like this book!

Already Dead, by Charlie Huston, doesn’t waste any time. It tells you right away that you’re in for a hell of a ride: by the top of page 6, a couple of junkies and a Goth zombie have cracked open the skull of an NYU student and are having a picnic. By the top of page 7, our anti-hero, Joe Pitt, has stomped the undead life out of the zombies, complaining all the while with liberal f-bombs that now he’s got to find the damn carrier that started the zombie infection in the first place. Plus he’s ticked because he burned the roof of his mouth on a slice of pizza. Oh, Joe, it’s just going to get worse from here.

Joe Pitt lives in Manhattan, has all his life, and that life is extra-long because Joe is a Vampyre. There are lots of Vampyres in NYC, organized into various clans – the extremely powerful Mafia-esque Coalition; the post-modern hippies called the Society who want Vampyres to live out and proud; the super-creepy ascetic-warriors of the Enclave; and other, smaller groups – and Joe wants nothing to do with any of them. He just wants to be left alone. But all these clans have plans for him and he’s got to make them all happy, or at least not piss any of them off too much, and try to keep a low profile. But when the Coalition enlists his help (insists upon his help) to track down a missing little girl from the very right side of the tracks, Joe can’t refuse.

In my reviews, I’ve referred to the Dresden Files books as “noir.” After reading Already Dead, I’ll have to revise that to “noir-lite” because Joe Pitt? He’s noir. Cynical, cranky, put-upon and tougher-than-tough, Joe is one bad ass vampire detective. I’m an Angel fan and Joe could kick Angel’s ass before breakfast. His Manhattan is not a place anyone would want to live, teeming with extremely scary Vampyres, shamblers, ghoulish beasties and nasty humans. And Joe has seen – and done – it all. He’s a great character, and he’s surrounded with great characters. His human girlfriend is a sassy HIV-positive bartender who refuses to have sex with him because she doesn’t want to infect him, not knowing that he’s a vampire and that the Vyrus that has infected him renders him impervious to her disease.

This is another thing that I loved about this book, aside from the complex plot, the vivid characters and the unabashed, gleeful and gory action: we’re actually offered a nearly-plausible scientific explanation for vampires and zombies. Vampyres are created when they’re infected with a “Vyrus,” that allows them to heal quickly from nearly anything aside from a total beheading, gives them extra strength and heightened senses, makes them extremely photosensitive and causes them to need human blood to sustain themselves. Zombies, on the other hand, are infected by a flesh-eating bacteria that will ultimately devour its host but, until it does, maintains partial control of the host’s muscular and nervous systems and urges its host to attack and consume other people as a means of self-preservation/propagating. Jeesh, when you say it like that it almost makes sense!

I was thrilled to learn that Already Dead is just the first in the Joe Pitt Casebooks series; at this point, I have four more to read before I catch up. I am just going to tear through these books, they’re so much fun. The only downside is that the Dresden Files, which I liked so well up until now, pale somewhat in comparison. Without a doubt, if you are in the mood for a supernatural noir thriller, I recommend that you spend some time with Joe Pitt.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost episode recap – “Sundown” S6E6 (airdate 03/01/10)

Just so you know: much better episode than last week.  Jack didn't cry at all this time!

Alterna-2004. Sayid is having dinner with Nadia and her husband Omar. Their children call him “Uncle Sayid.” Omar seems aware of Sayid and Nadia’s history.

Island. Sayid barges in, demanding answers from Dogan, as in: you tortured me and hooked me up to some machine and called it a test - what were you testing for? Dogan says that machine measures the balance between good and evil in a man … and now, “we think it would be better if you were dead.” Sayid insists that he is a good man. But Dogan obviously thinks otherwise and they start fightin’, using everything they can reach. They’re fairly well matched, Sayid by no means getting the upper hand as we’ve come to expect. During the fight, a baseball falls off the table. This distracts Dogan just as he is about to plunge a dagger into Sayid's throat and he stops, and tells Sayid to leave and never come back.

Not-Locke and Claire stand at the gray ash border around the Temple. She wants to know why she has to be the one who goes in – why not Jin or Sawyer? She’s the most motivated, explains Not-Locke. She steps across the ash, pausing to ask, “Are you going to hurt them?” Not-Locke: “Only the ones who won’t listen.”

Alterna-2004. Omar wakes Sayid at 2:30 a.m., confessing that he’s in trouble: he has borrowed money from a loan shark who won’t leave him alone. He wants Sayid to “convince” the loan shark to back off. Sayid says he’s not that kind of person so Omar plays the “I know you care about Nadia and we could lose our home” card. Still Sayid says: “I am not that man anymore.”

Island. Sayid finds his backpack and tells Miles that he’s been banished for being evil. Miles fills him in on how he’d been dead for two hours before something brought him back, so something wonky – if not evil exactly – is definitely going on. They are interrupted when Claire struts into the Temple, hands raised. She goes straight to Dogan and tells him that Not-Locke wants to speak to him outside. Dogan refuses, saying he’ll be killed if he sets foot outside the Temple. “Then send someone he won’t kill,” sneers Claire. Dogan orders the Others to “put the girl in the hole” until this is over, then tells Sol that he wants to see Jack and Hurley immediately. Um, says Sol, they’re not here right now. Dogan is not psyched to hear this, then points at Sayid: “Come with me … things have changed.”

They go into the Temple and Dogan pulls a special dagger out of a hiding place. Sayid wants to know why Claire is here. Dogan intones that she is a confused girl under the control of an angry man, once trapped for years but free now with Jacob gone. “This man will not stop until he has destroyed every living thing on this Island.” Sayid: “And you want me to talk with him?” Dogan: “No, I want you to kill him.” He explains that the man will come to Sayid as someone he knows who has died; Sayid must plunge this knife into his chest – if he speaks, it is too late. Sayid wants to know why he should do anything for Dogan. Dogan replies: you say there is still good in your soul – prove it.

Alterna-2004. Sayid walks Nadia’s kids to the school bus stop. When he turns, Nadia runs out, shrieking his name: Omar is in the hospital with a punctured lung from a “mugging.” Sayid unconsciously moves but Nadia stops him, asking him to not do whatever he’s thinking of doing, but go home and wait for the kids while she goes to the hospital.

Island. Sayid finds Kate out in the jungle. “Are you leaving?” she asks, “What did I miss?” “Ask Miles,” he replies, and keeps going. Kate, doing what she’s told for once, returns to the Temple and asks Miles what’s going on. Miles: “Sawyer sent you packing, huh?” Nice – I love Miles. He brings her up to speed: Claire’s back, just strolled into the Temple, acting weird but “still hot though.” I adore Miles. Kate: “Where is she?!!!”

Speaking of still hot, Sayid pauses for a drink when the wind suddenly picks up around him, Smoke-Monster-like, but without the black smoke, and then Not-Locke steps out of the underbrush. He starts to greet Sayid when Sayid plunges the knife into his chest – to no effect. Not-Locke pulls the knife out of his chest: “Now why’d you do that?”

After the commercial, things are a little tense until Not-Locke offers the knife back to an extremely bemused Sayid. “What did they tell you?” asks Not-Locke. Sayid: “That you are evil incarnate.” Not-Locke rolls his eyes: you had no chance, Sayid, Dogan knew you couldn’t kill me – shame on you for being talked into this. Not-Locke wants Sayid to deliver a message and if he does, he could have anything in the entire world he wants. Sayid tears up, saying that the only thing he ever wanted died in his arms. Not-Locke’s like, I can totally work with that.

Alterna-2004. Nadia returns home late from the hospital, reporting that Omar is going to be fine, eventually, and he ‘fessed up to her about the loan. Sayid offers to give her some money but Nadia turns him down. She starts to cry, saying that she knows he cares about her and if so, why did he push her towards his brother. OMAR IS HIS BROTHER! Gently, Sayid says that he’s been trying to atone and separate himself from all the horrible things he’s done. “I can’t be with you because I don’t deserve you.” And then he starts to cry. AW.

Island. When Sayid returns to the Temple, he delivers Not-Locke’s message: Jacob is dead and because he’s gone, none of the Others have to stay on the Island anymore. Not-Locke is leaving the Island and if the Others want to go too, they’re welcome to meet him at the rendezvous before the sun goes down. Cindy the Stewardess asks what happens to them after the sun goes down. Sayid: “You die.”

Kate is wandering through the Temple looking for Claire when Sol finds her. He wants to know where Jack and Hurley are but she shoves him into the wall and he’s all, okay - you can see her! He shows Kate to the Hole, which is a dank, stone –lined pit, where Claire is singing and muttering to herself. Kate wants to know what happened and Claire starts babbling about how the Others stole Aaron. Foolish Kate interrupts her, saying no, I took Aaron – off the Island where I raised him. Kate obliviously keeps going on and on as Claire’s eyes narrow viciously. Kate says she’ll rescue Claire and Claire scoffs that she’s not the one who needs to be rescued. “He’s coming, Kate. He’s coming and they can’t stop him!”

There is chaos at the Temple in the wake of Sayid’s announcement. Sol tries to stop people from leaving but no one wants to listen to him. Miles sees Sayid and is like, first you’re banished and now we’re leaving? Sayid: yup, but first I have to return this big ol’ knife.

Alterna-2004. Sayid goes outside and runs into with that bald bearded guy from several seasons ago who found Sayid when he was working in a restaurant. He’s still a bad guy and he makes Sayid get in his car with him. They go to a restaurant where – holy crap - it’s friggin’ Keamy. He’s Bearded Guy’s boss, still completely sleazy, and apparently the guy from whom Omar borrowed the money. Sayid wants to know if Keamy was the one put Omar in the hospital. Keamy starts shooting his mouth off and Sayid Has Had Enough. He grabs Bearded Guy, using him as a shield when another henchman starts shooting, and then pulling Bearded Guy’s gun to shoot the other henchman. When he takes aim at Keamy, Keamy panics, saying that everything’s fine, Omar’s debt is clear and Sayid should just forget about it. “I can’t,” says Sayid softly and, in some very nice symmetry, shoots Keamy. He looks as though he maybe feels a little bad about it. Then he hears some banging coming from a walk-in cooler: it’s Jin, gorgeous, tied up. Sayid asks who he is. Jin shakes his pretty head: no English.

Island. Sayid brings the knife back to Dogan, who notes “You let him talk to you.” Sayid says: “I stabbed him first, and then he talked to me. That’s the second time you tried to have someone else kill me – why?” Dogan says that off-Island, he was a businessman who got his son killed in a drunk driving accident. In the hospital, Jacob came to him and told him he could save his son’s life but Dogan would have to come to the Island and never see his son again. Sayid: “Jacob drives a hard bargain.” Dogan: “The man outside offered you a similar bargain, right?” Right.

Dogan observes that it is now sundown – will Sayid stay or go? Sayid says he’d like to stay. And then he grabs Dogan and plunges with him into the murky pool, holding him under until he stops breathing. Dang. Sol runs in, screeching, “What have you done? He was the only thing keeping it out – you idiot, you’ve just let it in!” And the Smoke Monster sounds outside. “I know,” says Sayid, and dispassionately slashes Sol’s throat.

Outside, the trees are shaking and uprooted as the Smoke Monster enters the Temple, grabbing people willy-nilly. Remember how scary the Smoke Monster was the very first time we saw it?  Well, this isn't quite that scary but it's still pretty intense.  Miles and Kate run together for a while until she splits off, saying she has to get Claire. Miles tries to hide in a storeroom but the door gets pushed in: it’s Alana, Sun, Frank Lapidus and Ben. Frank’s like, Miles, you gotta come with us now. Alana is also looking for Sawyer and Sayid, etc.; Miles says Sayid is at the pool and Ben runs off to fetch him.

Meanwhile, Kate runs back to the hole to get Claire but Claire’s all, we’ll be much safer in here. The Smoke Monster barrels into the room and Kate flings herself into the hole, clutching a rope to keep from falling, watching as the Monster blows by. Claire just grins.

Ben finds Sayid watching Dogan and Sol’s bodies float in the pool. He says, “Come on, I know a way out of here. There’s still time.” Sayid smiles at him CREEPILY, “Not for me.” And Ben’s eyes bug out as he backs slowly away.

As they run through the tunnels, Miles asks Sun where Jin is. “He’s alive?” she gasps. Um, last I saw of him, yeah. Alana leads them to the escape tunnel Hurley and Jack used and they escape just in time as the Smoke Monster cruises through the Temple.
Some time later, Sayid walks out into the Temple courtyard, picking his way through the carnage. Claire and Kate come out soon afterwards, with Kate still clueless that Claire is Evil. She does at least pick up a rifle so her self-preservation is intact at least. They walk out of the Temple to join Not-Locke and his band of lackeys. Not-Locke is slightly surprised to see Kate with them. But no one says anything as Not-Locke leads the pack off into the jungle, Kate following along behind, her face a symphony in WTF?

Lines are being drawn: Not-Locke, Claire and Sayid are Evil; Jack and Hurley are Good; Kate is a Doofus; and Sawyer is a Wild Card … how will everyone else take sides?

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost