Monthly Archives: March 2010

I don't like secrets

After the heights of last week, it’s almost necessary that this week allow us to exhale.  That being said, this Jin/Sun story still felt inconsequential.  Continue reading

A part of me is proud… let's just leave it at that

Well, that was certainly an improvement.  I think that’s partly due to a more interesting case of the week and partly due to some solid character development.  Continue reading

Fork Guy?

I always recall the supporting cast getting short-shrift in season one, but “Teacher’s Pet” is Buffy’s first Xander-episode, and it’s not a bad one.  Continue reading

Richard doesn't have any answers

At the end of this episode I found myself pleasantly surprised by how engaging Richard’s story was while being disappointed in how little it answered.  Having had a night to sleep on it Continue reading

I'm not allowed in the first class cabin anymore

Well… that was a step back, wasn’t it?  This episode really suffers in comparison to the premiere.  Infidelity, murder, and date rape have been replaced with infidelity, credit card fraud, and a Paris Hilton cameo.  Specifics aside, “Credit Where Credit’s Due” suffers from a common flaw of serialized dramas, the story-of-the-week doesn’t stack up against the season-arc.  Continue reading

I know this really great cauldron

It’s hard to keep myself from examining these episodes in the context of what comes afterwards.  Willow’s offer to help Amy with her spells is hilarious in itself, but carries more weight given later events.  It certainly makes this seem like an effective foreshadow in retrospect, but there’s really no way to have known that when watching for the first time.  It’s one of the pitfalls of trying to gauge the “effectiveness” of the first season. Continue reading

The same way I know I can trust you

 

First off, a disclaimer:  I missed the first 15 minutes of “Recon” on Tuesday.  I’ve since watched the whole thing, but it’s a safe bet that the missing piece influenced my impression of the episode… which was a bit of a mixed bag.  Continue reading

That's where I come in

Veronica Mars isn’t commonly thought of as a genre-bending show, but the first scene of the first episode is dedicated exclusively to playing with hardboiled detective clichés.  Continue reading

It's in about nine hours, moron

Where “Welcome to the Hellmouth” gave us a very rough impression of what to expect from the series, “The Harvest” refines it a little while, more importantly, delivering a more detailed roadmap for the first season. If Buffy is about undermining clichés, then it’s here that The Master and his cronies establish themselves as the first one in need of slaying. I’ve always regarded The Master as the series’ least interesting big bad, a cartoonish villain that wanted to destroy the world because… well, he’s bad, and that’s what bad guys want. He becomes a bit more tolerable if we see him as emblematic of the type of horror BtVS is setting itself against. Luke spouts his doomsday prophecies and kills people to melodramatic music up until Buffy shows up to kill him. Appropriately, he’s stabbed in the back during some absurd “I think that’s sunlight” pantomime.

As far as the rest of the episode goes, it’s mostly devoted to establishing one of the standard BtVS templates. The Scoobies attempt to assist Buffy in the fight against evil, she attempts to go it alone because “she’s the slayer,” that doesn’t work out, and then they all pitch in to defeat the villain of the week. It works just fine the first go-around, and we can just ignore the fact that they all spent seven seasons re-learning the value of teamwork. Beyond that, the vampirism metaphor gets some necessary expansion. Sex is at the core of it, of course (“It’s a whole sucking thing”), but Jessie’s turning and Cordelia’s reaction places that sex in a teenaged context. This is a life-changing act, and taking part in it has given Jesse a new mystique which is attractive until it becomes frightening. As Cordelia says, “experience” is attractive and Jesse, having experienced this mystery, if filled with confidence. He’s also blinded to whatever virtues he and his friends had beforehand. He gets staked while ignoring his surroundings, wasting time to gloat over Xander. Let that be a lesson.

Final Thoughts

Giles demonstrates some awareness here of being the prince of exposition, “That was terribly British-sounding, wasn’t it?” For the time being, it’s enough to make him more than a stereotype for Buffy to play off of.

Requisite True Blood Comparison: Jesse’s death is treated exactly how Gran’s death should’ve been. He’s Xander’s friend and we get that it’s upsetting, but we haven’t yet been given enough time to really care about Jesse or Xander and so the show doesn’t waste as lot of time trying tug our heartstrings. The death raises the stakes and drives the plot forward, nothing more.

Thank God Buffy stopped flipping around after this season. With action, as with most things, you need to do it right or not do it at all.

You really had me fooled with those sweater vests

Alright, I admit it; this season is starting to wear a little thin for me.  I was a staunch defender of Lost even in the dark days of season 3, but attempting to figure out what the hell is going on in the LA X storyline is really starting to impede my enjoyment of the show.  This week was certainly the weakest outing for Ben’s character as what should’ve been some small (but meaningful) steps toward redemption were bogged down by an unaffecting flash sideways.  The alta-verse story appears to be a second chance for Ben to be a good man, and it’s nice to see him take advantage of it, but without knowing what (if any) continuity there is between “our” Ben and Dr. Linus we can’t know what (if any) significance it has.  Even if these two men are one and the same, this single good act doesn’t seem to amount to much in the face of all the evil he’s done.  So, what, exactly, should we take away from all this?  I don’t know, and that’s making it difficult for me to care.

Fortunately, the action on the island is much easier to engage with.  Miles “reads” Jacobs ashes and reveals to everyone, most importantly Ilana, that Ben was the one that killed Jacob.  Understandably pissed, she ties him up and compels him to dig his own grave.  Smokie arrives and makes his usual offer of every you want in exchange for one evil act; in this case it’s being put back in charge for killing Ilana.  Surprisingly, Ben doesn’t take the bait.  As usual, Michael Emerson proves he’s the man and delivers a great performance as he tearfully confesses to killing Jacob because he’d sacrificed everything, including his daughter, for a man who simply didn’t care.  Now he’s going to join Locke because “he’s the only one who’ll have me.”  I absolutely love the character turn here as it’s not really a turn at all, just a new way of seeing everything Ben’s done so far.  I assumed he was hungry for power for its own sake, but that power’s now revealed to be less important to Ben than the acceptance that accompanies it, a motivation that makes a fair amount of sense given his relationship with his father.  Ben ultimately chooses the good side as Ilana also offers acceptance without any apparent strings.

Elsewhere on the Island, Richard confirms the suspicion that he came to the Island on the Black Rock (likely as a slave) and that Jacob is responsible for his immortality.  He also surprises us with his desire to die now that Jacob’s left without ever explaining his plan.  The eternal man that just wants it to end is nothing unique to Lost, but using it as a litmus test for fate was a nice twist.  Jack quickly identifies with Richard’s feelings of helplessness and decides to play chicken with Jacob’s plan.  His inability to kill himself seems to be ample proof for the man of science that he’s as trapped as Richard is.  However, knowing Jack, recognizing the forces driving him will not be enough to make him simply accept them.

Final Thoughts

There are still ample thematic links between alta-verse and the island.  Those links are just feeling less and less important as they’re not backed up by the plot each week.  I’m trying to be patient, however…

I by no means think that Ben is now one of the “good guys,” but he’s no longer a force of pure evil.  If he was really hungry for Jacob’s approval and not just the accompanying power then his motives feel far more human.  This need for acceptance may also lead him to try to build honest relationships with the Losties in the coming weeks rather than dealing with others purely through manipulation.

Fate vs Free Will has emerged as the dominant theme in Lost.  What then will it mean if the master manipulator repents?

Seeing Ben replacing his father’s oxygen was a nice visual for how different their relationship is, far more effective than Roger’s “I wonder what would’ve happened…”

Anyone else recognize the guy that played Walter Peck as the principal?  Always the bureaucratic jerk.

“Are you a cyborg?”