Friday, April 25, 2008

They changed the rules on us

LOST returned from hiatus last night with an all-killer/no-filler, story-based episode titled “The Shape of Things to Come”. If this type of intensity is the shape of things to, I might need some adult diapers. Ben showed us some of his ninja moves, Charles Widmore upped the ante, the Black Smoke Monster took the bullet train to Othersville, we say goodbye to an innocent pawn, we learned Claire is made of Teflon, Bernard gets to practice the Morse Code skills he learned in dental school, and Ben took in the sights in some beautiful parts of the world.

LOST 4x09: The Shape of Things to Come

“The Shape of Things to Come” will likely be seen as one of those “game changer” episodes. They’ve changed the rules of how they will tell the story of these characters and this island moving forward. Sure, the episode relied heavily on a flash forward – Ben’s. But the storytelling was so intense that the mythology of the island almost played second fiddle to the plot.

On the island:

Alex hits the panic button when her captors – the motley crew from the freighter led by Keamy – try to get to Ben. Locke answers the phone and hears the emergency message, “Code 14 J.” Ben tries to barricade himself in the house, but Keamy bargains with Alex’s life to get Ben to surrender. Ben, in both a selfless and callous move, says that he doesn’t care about her, figuring they’ll let her go. Keamy proves himself the ruthless mercenary that he is and actually carries out the execution.

Ben was stunned, as were we all. As if Alex’s short life wasn’t sad enough, she died thinking Ben didn’t love her. This is the most sympathetic moment we have for Ben since being introduced to him, trapped in that net a couple of seasons ago. Ben announces “he changed the rules” and goes into action mode.

He exposes his hidden office and shuts a security door behind him. But not before we get a glimpse of what’s behind a wall of suits in there – some sort of cave or tunnel door. It’s covered with hieroglyphs and other symbols. Want to take a shot at deciphering them? Feel free. Seems to me this is something left behind by the original island inhabitants – the ones who built that four-toed statue we have yet to get the scoop on.
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Right before they were attacked, Hurley put Aaron on a pillow in a laundry basket. Is this an allusion to Moses in the basket being sent down the river? Will Aaron be the key to the Oceanic 6’s freedom or safety? Or perhaps Future Aaron will play a key role in leading the Losties back home.
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The crew blows up Claire’s house with her in it. But somehow, she emerges with just a scratch on her face. Good luck explaining that one.

Back on the beach, the freighter’s doctor washes onto the shore with a slit throat and a stitching job across his cheek that looked like shoelaces. I guess the poor guy probably had to stitch himself up, though. Bernard suggests Faraday try to fix the radio to send Morse Code since the microphone is broken. They manage to make it work and Daniel sends a message asking about Sayid, Desmond and the doctor. Faraday says the reply is “friends are fine – helicopters coming in the morning.” But Bernard utilizes that dental school training in Morse Code (huh?) to translate the real message, “What are you talking about? The doctor is fine.” Yet another time glitch perhaps – the island time is actually ahead of the freighter and the real world by some amount of time.

Ben emerges from the room and tells them they need to run for the treeline. The house begins to shake and the Black Smoke Monster comes racing at the freighter crew like a bullet train. Ben clearly called in the island’s backup defense system, and it does a number on them.

Sawyer’s takes Claire and Aaron back to the beach. Hurley, however, has work to do with Locke and Ben, and they set off to find Jacob’s cabin for further instructions.

Off the island:

Ben appears out of breath in the Sahara Desert wearing a parka with the name Halliwax on it. Why he’s wearing a parka, we’re not sure. Perhaps there are no non-stop routes from the island, and he had a stopover in Antartica. He also had a gash in his arm. Maybe he encountered one of the polar bears on his trip. Two men on horses question him and Ben takes them both down with some kickass Rambo style moves.
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Geek alert: Edgar Halliwax was the name given by the narrator in the Orchid Station orientation film. He called himself Dr. Marvin Candle in the video for the Swan Station and Dr. Mark Wickmund in the Pearl Station film.

Back from commercials, we see Ben in Tunisia checking into a hotel as a preferred guest using his Dean Moriarty passport from “The Economist” episode. The hotel employee seems alarmed. He asks what day it is, and she replies “October 24th.” “2005?” he asks. Ben sees a TV report of news crews hounding Sayid as he begs, “Please, I just want to bury my wife in peace.” Ben high tails it to Tikrit, Iraq, and although in the middle of a war zone, he manages to use press credentials to get to the top of a building where he photographs a bald man. Sayid catches a glimpse of Ben on the roof and then ambushes him. He didn’t realize it was Ben (is there paparazzi in a war zone?), but Ben convinces him the bald man is working for Widmore and was responsible for Nadia’s death.

Later, we see Ben chasing after the bald man again, but Sayid takes him down and empties out his handgun into the guy. Sayid volunteers to work with Ben, who walks away with a smirk. Was this Ben’s plan all along?

Next we see Ben in London. He enters a posh building and tells the doorman he’s visiting the Kendricks in 4E. However, he uses his key to access the penthouse and walks into Widmore’s bedroom. This ain’t no late-night booty call, and he’s not there to kill Widmore either. He’s there to confront him on having changed the game by killing Alex and to let him know that now he’s going to kill Penny. The rules appear to have been that no family would be killed, but Ben’s going tit for tat.

Ben cannot kill Widmore. Will the island not let him or is Ben still following some rules despite them having been changed by Widmore?

Did you take note of how stunningly this scene was filmed, with shadows and both Ben and Widmore only half-lit. It seems to play off the whole idea of light/dark, black/white, good/evil.

There are some fans that are drawing connections to theories of dark matter coming into play. Feel free to check the link for a detailed description, but be prepared for a serious headache.
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For discussion: Hurley, Locke and Sawyer are playing the game Risk at the beginning of the episode. Hurley gets frustrated at Sawyer and says that “Australia is the key to the whole game.” Is this a clue that the writers view this all as a big power struggle – perhaps with the armies of Widmore (and Paik) advancing on the island? Perhaps Australia actually is the key to understanding what is going on here.

The shape of things to come on LOST is good since the writers keep raising the bar. What did you think? Leave me some comments in Morse Code below.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NBC announces a spinoff of The Office

Lord help us! Let's hope they don't go mucking up and watering down one of the best-written, sharpest comedies ever on TV.

NBC is set to launch a spinoff of The Office in the Winter/Spring 2009.

News here.

Met Kevin Johnson...can't say as I like him that much

Episode 4x08 episode of LOST, “Meet Kevin Johnson,” gave us all the scoop on Michael since we last saw him sailing away with Walt from the dock at the end of season two. We saw Michael try to kill himself numerous times, an Other was outed, a sniper took out a couple of people on the island, we almost caught up with Walt, got some seemingly hard evidence that Widmore faked the wreckage found in the ocean, we got a little more screentime for Naomi and Minkowski, and learned that Ben, at the end of the day, still controls everything. More after the jump.

Lost 4x08: Meet Kevin Johnson

The episode opens with a tense town hall meeting at Locke’s house. Our buddy Miles returns, with his jaw still in tact. Ben reveals to the group that Michael is his man on the boat, and the Losties gasp. He also explains that Miles’ mission is to retrieve Ben and then they will kill every remaining person on the island. Ben confides to Alex that the freighter folk will use her to get to him. He begs her to go with Karl and Rousseau to The Temple, where the remaining Others have been since we last saw them.

Sayid and Desmond confront Michael on the deck of the ship and we flash back to Michael in New York.

Though his car is older, the stereo in it reveals that it’s relatively recent. Michael is despondent after making it back home and having revealed to Walt who he killed to get them off the island. He pins a suicide note to his shirt and drives full speed into a dumpster. We next see him in a hospital, and Libby – who he unintentionally killed on the island – enters the room. Michael awakes with a scream.

Geek alert: He’s still in a hospital room, but the room’s equipment was far less high-tech than the equipment in his dream. Why? The monitor in his dream says that all alarms are off and to “admit patient to activate alarms.” Wouldn’t he have been admitted?


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And in the room after he wakes up:

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After being released from the hospital, he hocks Jin’s watch for a gun and tries to kill himself in an alley. (Note to producers of Lost: New York is not filled with alleys. In fact, there are hardly any. Sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine.) Michael is interrupted by our favorite Other, Tom. We can assume that means this is before he’s been shot on the island, but more on that question later. Tom tells him that they’ve been keeping tabs on him since he and Walt left. He also tells him that the island won’t let him die. Michael tests this theory later back in his apartment with the gun and it seems to be true. Just then, the news report of the discovery of the wreckage of Flight 815 in the ocean is reported on the news.

Michael goes to Tom’s hotel room. And, no big surprise, we meet Tom’s boyfriend, Arturo. (Tom did say to Kate when she was showering, “you’re not my type,” and he didn’t seem to count football among his skills when he was tossing the ball around with Jack.)

Tom tells Michael that the wreckage was faked by Charles Widmore and gives him his next assignment. Michael has to pose as a deck hand on the freighter and kill everyone aboard. (Is Michael the most unlucky guy in the world, or what?) Reluctantly, he accepts the mission. However, it seems that the island wasn’t ready for him to die, as he tries to blow up the freighter, but instead a note pops up jack-in-the-box style saying “NOT YET.” Ben contacts him and tells him to make a list of the people on the freighter. Again, he agrees. Is there anyone Ben doesn’t own?

Sayid and Desmond confront Michael, who reveals the truth about what he’s doing there. Sayid tells the captain Michael is Ben’s spy. The captain actually seems pretty unimpressed with that information in the second after he got the news, but we’ll have to wait until they return to see what his actual reaction to the news was.

Back on the island:

En route to the Temple, quiet shots begin to ring out from the jungle and Karl goes down. Rousseau and Alex try to run for it, but Rousseau takes a hit. Alex waves a white flag of surrender, aaaaand…LOST. See you in a month.

Let’s discuss:

So help me with this timeline, if you would… How could Michael have sailed from the island, been rescued, flown to New York, convinced his mother to take care of Walt, become despondent, attempted suicide, recovered from what appeared to be very serious injuries, gotten out of the hospital and visited his mother, pawned the watch, wrestled with Tom in the alley, left for Fiji, boarded the freighter, sailed out to sea, sabotaged the freighter, then days later meet up with Sayid… all in the span of like 2 months!?!

One possible reason - the boat sailed out on the bearing Ben gave Michael (325), and that bearing sent Michael and Walt physically back in time, which could explain Walt’s height. Yes, Faraday said it was your consciousness that travels, but otherwise, I'm at a loss as to how they fit it all in that short couple of months.

Tom’s file had a picture of some open graves in Thailand. Thailand was also Jack’s vacation spot pre-crash. Coincidence? Maybe we’ll see the return of Bai Ling to a future episode of Lost. (*Fingers crossed*)

There was also a purchase order in Tom’s file made out to Widmore Industries for a decommissioned 777. Wouldn’t Widmore have covered his tracks a bit more than to have a paper trail with his company’s name with an order for the plane?

Was Michael’s hospital connected to Ben or perhaps Widmore? The nurse seemed like she knew more than she let on, sort of like the last minute replacement doctor at the hospital where Sun gave birth to Ji Yeon. Tom did say that they were keeping tabs on him. Could some connection to Ben or Widmore explain why it seemed he was out of the hospital much more quickly than his injuries suggested he should be?

Did Ben send Rousseau and Karl into the jungle to die like he did Goodwin?

Michael’s passport number was HNS012153. Is it a coincidence that the letters and the first digit look like “Hanso?”
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The game show on TV in Michael’s room appeared to be a 70s era game. There was nothing you could make out from it, except someone said “Kurt Vonnegut,” an author the show has referenced more than once.

Oh, and by the way, thank you to the producers of the promos for Lost, for clearing up any further debate. The Oceanic 6 are: Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Aaron and Sun. The end.

Help me out with some of those questions. What do you think? Hit us up with some comments on your thoughts.