Monday, May 31, 2010

"The End" - Further Thoughts

After a week, a second viewing, a couple of podcasts and several websites, I have reached more conclusions about the LOST finale.  Although I stand by most of my initial interpretations, there are a few things that I have changed my mind about.  Chief among them is the status of Ben in the flash-sideways world.  I had originally thought that his reluctance to enter the Church indicated that he was not yet dead in the real world.  On further reflection and some brilliant insight by my friend Stacey, I see now that Ben too was dead as the entire flash-sideways world was a part of the afterlife.  The sideways world was an environment to rectify the character's human lives and in some cases come to terms with their flaws and failings.  This is not to say that it was Purgatory in the Catholic sense because not everyone was suffering for their past transgressions.  True, Ben was feeling guilt about some of the things that he had done in his life, specifically his treatment of Alex and Danielle Rousseau, but it was self imposed and may have been a byproduct of his Island enlightenment at the fists of Desmond.  Although Ben was sometimes a part of Jack's life, he was more tied to Alex, Rousseau and probably a number of Others.  When they have all been Island enlightened and come to terms with their pasts, together they will be able to enter the Church and move on as a group.

I've also had a chance to think more about the implications of the supposed detonation of Jughead at the end of Season 5.  At the beginning of Season 6, we all thought Juliet had split the timeline by setting off the H-bomb, but the more I have thought about it, this is likely not the case.  The bomb did not detonate when Jack dropped it down the shaft and we all assumed that Juliet detonated it by repeatedly hitting it with a rock.  I have been under the impression that because of the electrical anomaly at the future site of the Swan Station, the detonated H-bomb served to propel Jack et al back to their present time (2007) while also creating a timeline in which Oceanic 815 never crashed.  At the end of the finale, I was left feeling that Jughead had been a red herring along; a plot device used to get all of our characters back to 2007.  Now I'm of the opinion that Jughead was never actually detonated.  When we were first introduced to the Swan Station in Season 2, Sayid remarked on the amount of concrete being excessive even going as far to compare it to the containment of Chernobyl.  Furthermore, in Season 5, Daniel Farady told the young Eloise Hawking that the Others must encase the leaking Jughead in concrete.  I now feel that the Incident was not the destruction of the H-bomb but rather the attack on the Swan Station construction site by what appeared to be Hostiles.  After they vanished and the Dharma Initiative picked up the pieces, they encased the core of Jughead in concrete and built the rest of the station as planned.  The time-jump by Jack et al was caused by the mysterious elctrical properties of the Island in order to get them to where they were supposed to be in time.  Perhaps that's a little far fetched but seems par for the course on such a mysterious and powerful island.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"The End"

It has all been building to this and, no doubt, there will be people that will be disappointed with the final episode of LOST.  Granted, there were things that I was still hoping for but in the end, what we were given was a beautiful finale that moved me to tears on more than one occasion.  My sadness was certainly related to the fact that the series was ending, but there's more to it than that.  Before the sci-fi and mystery, this show was about characters and the resolution of some of these stories was so touching after all this time that I couldn't hold back my tears.  Even when I was crying, I was laughing at myself for being so broken up about these fictional characters, but for the record, I also cried when characters died in War and Peace.  And truly, two out of my three crying jags during the finale were actually out of joy rather than sadness.  There will be many who consider this finale a failure on par with The Sopranos (which I liked, by the way) but I consider it a success.


Let me start by saying that there is no way that I will be able to say everything that I should in this single blog post.  Roxi is out of town right now and has been intentionally putting off watching the last few episodes of LOST so that she can have a nice marathon to finish off the series.  I plan on watching the finale again when she watches it later this week.  For tonight, I will hit on the high points and post as many companion entries as are necessary in the next few days.

In the past few weeks, I have started to enjoy the flash-sideways storyline more and more.  It started with "Happily Ever After" and has continued ever since.  For a plot device that I was suspicious about in the beginning, I was surprised how much I've ended up enjoying it.  I specifically liked the emotional experience of "Island illumination" that the characters were having.  So that brings us to tonight.  As much as I enjoyed seeing the Island story come to a close, I was mostly effected by flash-sideways illumination events.  And even though they all had strong emotional resonance with me, two of them in particular brought me to tears.  The first was the interaction between Sun, Jin and Juliet.  It was great seeing Juliet again and it made sense that she would be the OB/GYN attending to Sun in the sideways world.  I was surprisingly not very sad when Sun and Jin died in "The Candidate," but I guess it had been pent-up all came out when they had their simultaneous flash of the Island in tonight's episode.  I was overcome with emotion but also found myself laughing when they started speaking to Juliet in perfect English.

The second time that I became emotionally devastated was when Kate, Claire and Charlie had their flash when Aaron was born.  I was okay until Charlie came back with the blanket and then the waterworks were unstoppable.  I suppose it was residual emotion from Charlie's somewhat untimely death in "Through the Looking Glass," but I just couldn't stop crying.  Like I said earlier, I actually started laughing out loud at myself for being so effected by these scenes but I was just so happy for Sun, Jin, Charlie and Claire!

As expected, the concert at Pierre Chang's museum was the culmination of sideways Desmond's work to get most of the Oceanic 815 passengers together.  Of course there were the stragglers like Sun and Jin; Sawyer and Juliet; and Sayid and Shannon but thankfully they had other help in experiencing Island enlightenment.

On the Island, things played out mostly as expected as far as the Jack vs. Locke storyline went.  It was a pleasant surprise to see that both Jack and Locke were humanized as a result of Desmond's extinguishing of the light in the cave.  It certainly made killing the Man In Black a lot easier.  I only wonder why Jack didn't become a new Smoke Monster after reigniting the light in the cave.  I was really expecting Jack to be the new Smoke Monster to Hurley's Jacob.  Many of us have been expecting that Hurley would be the actual replacement for Jacob and it was very sweet to see him ask Ben to become his equivalent of Richard.  It was even nicer to see him thank Ben for being the best Number 2.  Here's a thought about Ben: when he didn't join the Oceanic passengers in the church, I don't think it was because he was not welcome.  Instead I think it was because he was still alive on the Island as the replacement for Hurley after he died in some future time.

The obvious big topic of controversy and discussion will the be final few minutes of the episode;  Namely that Jack went to his father's coffin only to find it empty...again.  The revelation that Jack was dead initially caught me off guard and my mind race to explain how and why all the other Oceanic passengers were in the church.  But as Christan explained, everyone dies sooner or later. Everyone was gathered together because they were so important to each other at that time in their lives.  That is quite a change from what Jacob said about their lives in "What They Died For."  They went from being flawed and alone in life to having an extended family on the Island. 

So what are we to make of the presence of Hurley, Kate, Sawyer and Claire in the church?  As I said earlier, I feel that this gathering occurs sometime after Hurley has passed on the stewardship of the Island to Ben in the future.  Kate, Sawyer and Claire were seen escaping the Island with Frank, Richard and Miles.  But they may not have ever made it home.  The plane may have crashed.  Or on a lighter note, they may have made it home and lived out their lives.  But in the end, they too died (will die as the case may be).  The point is that at some point all these Island souls meet up in this church as they move on to the next life. 

My third and final bout of tears came in the ending moments of the series as Jack stumbled his way back to the bamboo forest where he first awoke on the Island.  As he laid down, I was fine but when Vincent came out of the jungle and laid down next to him, it brought up memories of "Jurassic Bark," the most touching and cry-inducing episode of the Futurama ever.  As Vincent laid down and rested his head next to Jack, I couldn't help but cry.  And as the corporeal form of Jack closed his eyes for the last time, I felt that it was a perfectly poignant ending to such a fantastic television series.

Of course there were open storylines that I knew would never be closed and others that I thought for sure would see resolution, but like life, some things are just left as questions.  It has been a hell of a ride.  There were some down times and things that I would have done differently, but I don't think I ever would have come up with some of the amazing stories that the writers of LOST have crafted for the past six years.  All good things must come to an end and I am at peace with that but I will miss seeing these characters in new adventures for a few weeks every spring.  So long LOST.  Thank you for such a great story that has made me think and kept me guessing until the very end.  It has been a pleasure.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ubee's Open Mic

Thanks to Nic Chimenti for a nice writeup on Trivianic about last week's open mic night at Ubee's featuring myself and two other songwriters.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"What They Died For"

I've said it so many times this season, but I have to say it again: I can't believe LOST is almost over!  It really boggles my mind that this season has gone by so quickly yet maintained the typical pace that LOST has managed these last few years.  Sometimes things felt rushed and sometimes things seemed very belabored, but by and large, the story has managed forward momentum.  I know that sometimes watching on TV and waiting a week or two between episodes has seemed bad at times, but rewatching the previous seasons on DVD has almost always redeemed any slow parts of the series.  At times, I have been critical of LOST but what kind of fan would I be without gripes or nits to pick from time to time?  When I sat down to write this post a few minutes ago, I hadn't intended to start this way or go on this long, but I guess this is me eulogizing my favorite show.  I know that there's still one seriously super-sized episode left, but I couldn't help but feel a little sad as I watched the post-episode promo for the finale on Sunday.  It has been quite a ride and although a part of me would love more LOST, I realize that all good things must come to an end.  I respect what the producers of the show have done even if I haven't always been pleased with the way they brought us to where we are now, a mere two and a half hours from the final credits.  Even though I was a late comer to watching the show (I saw the first two seasons on DVD) I have been a devoted fan since I had my mind blown by the Season 1 Locke-centric episode "Walkabout."  It was then that I knew that LOST was something different altogether.  But I digress...the truly sad goodbye will come on Sunday night. 


A week after the most divisive episode in the history of the series, I was very curious about the follow-up.  For the record, I enjoyed "Across the Sea" even if it was perplexing at times.  If nothing else, it was essential for tonight's episode.  I was very glad to see Desmond again even if it was only in the sideways world.  I really thought he was about to run Locke down again so I totally shocked when he got out of his car and beat the crap out of Ben...just like old times!  Ben even had a flash of Desmond beating the crap out of him at the marina in "Dead Is Dead."  But Desmond wasn't done yet!  He turned himself in to Sawyer who put him in a jail cell with Sayid (very glad to see him again!) in a cell next to Kate.  I didn't realize they keep men and women in the same holding area but whatever.  Desmond still wasn't finished gathering up sideways Losties thanks to a deal he made with Ana Lucia who released them to Hurley while she was transporting them to county lockup.  I loved Hurley's line asking if Ana Lucia was coming with them.  His meeting with Libby had an even more profound effect than I had thought!  It appears that the climactic meeting of everyone in the sideways world will be at the benefit concert at Miles' dad's museum.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the sideways world, Locke got religion.  He became a the man of faith that we all know and love when Ben told him what Desmond said while beating the crap out Dr. Linus.  So Locke has decided that it is indeed time to fix his legs.  Speaking of Ben, he got invited to dinner at his favorite student Alex's house with her mother.  It goes without saying that it was nice to see Danielle again especially all dressed up like a normal person as opposed to a crazy Island hermit.  After dinner, it almost seemed like there was a love connection between Ben and Danielle.  I could be reading that wrong but it sure seemed like something to me.  I still have no idea what will happen when all the sideways characters get together in the finale, but a fair number of them are setup for the meeting and I'm sure the rest will be drawn together by Desmond during the epic finale on Sunday.

Back on the Island, Jack, Sawyer, Hurley and Kate were understandably upset by the deaths of Sayid, Sun and Jin but action Jack knew what to do.  After sewing up Kate's wound (mirroring Jack's post-crash surgery in the "Pilot"), Jack began leading the survivors in search of Desmond.  Sawyer stopped Jack along the way to ask about the bomb on the sub.  I really felt for Sawyer and his feeling of guilt and responsibility for Sayid, Sun and Jin's deaths.  Jack really stepped up and said some very comforting things to Sawyer and I liked Jack for doing it.  Not long after, Hurley saw the boy Jacob and followed him to find the full grown Jacob who told him that the end was near and that he needed to see the survivors.

Meanwhile, Ben, Richard and Miles were still on a quest to get C4 to destroy the Ajira plane.  However, they were ambushed at Ben's old Dharma house by Charles Widmore and Zoe.  Unfortunately for everyone, Locke was not far behind.  Widmore and Zoe hid, Miles ran and Ben and Richard attempted to confront Locke.  Suddenly Richard was attacked by the Smoke Monster and seems to be dead and gone.  I'm not totally sure we've seen the last of him, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he was gone for good considering how characters are dropping like flies now!  If he's gone I must say Richard, we hardly knew ye.  Please give Frank our condolences if you see him in the afterlife of secondary characters.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Just when I thought Ben had turned over a new leaf, he double crossed Widmore and Zoe.  After quickly dispatching of Zoe, Locke offered to spare Penny's life if Widmore told him how and why he returned to the Island.  I was surprised to learn that Jacob told Widmore to return with Desmond.  As Widmore was telling Locke about the importance of Desmond, Ben shot and killed him.  This is just getting ridiculous!  Ben asked Locke who else needed to be killed which disturbed me.  But then again, he could be pulling a long con on Locke.  At least I hope he is!

Back at Jacob's campfire, the remaining candidates questioned Jacob about his motives.  Apparently Jacob brought them all to the Island because they had lonely lives and they needed the Island as much as the Island needed them.  And Kate was crossed off the list in the cave because she had Aaron and wasn't alone anymore.  But she was still a candidate and she could have the job if she wanted it.  After last week, I really didn't care for Jacob and although he made some good points in his explanation, he still came off as pretty selfish.  He said that he was letting his replacement choose because he never got the chance to decide if he wanted to be guardian of the Island.  Of course, Jack stepped forward to be Jacob's replacement.  It felt right even though I haven't always been on Team Jack.  Jacob turned water into wine or something for Jack to drink and told him where the heart of the Island was.  Jack drank and became like Jacob.

Finally, Ben and Locke trekked to the well where Desmond was supposed to be but apparently, besides not killing him, Sayid also left a rope for Desmond to escape.  According to Locke, Desmond is the fail safe in the case that all the candidates are killed.  I have a feeling that Locke plans to throw Desmond into the light to make him a Smoke Monster but his unique resistance to electromagnetism will backfire on Locke and probably destroy him.

This penultimate episode was a pretty standard setup for the finale to come but I loved all the moving parts and placements of the characters.  With a two and a half hour finale though, I wonder if our game pieces won't be shuffled around more before the final acts.  I wonder how many, if any, of our Losties will survive the finale.  Only time will tell but I am on board and ready to roll with whatever they throw our way on Sunday.  I'd like to hope for something mindblowing but will settle for a good episode of a great show.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MSA Open Mic Night at Ubee's

I played three songs at the Memphis Songwriters Association open mic night at Ubee's on Tuesday night.

You can find out more about my music at

"Across the Sea"

I can't believe that there are only two more episodes of LOST left...Ever!  Of course one of them will be two and a half hours long but still, that means that there are only three and half hours of LOST left.  And I still have no idea how it will end!!!


Well this was certainly the most unconventional of unconventional episodes.  I'm thinking of it as a companion piece to "Ab Aeterno;" heavy on the mythology of the Island, Jacob and the Man in Black while being almost entirely devoid of any of the regular cast members.  And for that matter, the only appearance of any regular cast members came in the form of a clip from the Season 1 episode "House of the Rising Sun" giving context to the skeletons that Jack and Kate found in the caves.  Adam and Eve are the Man in Black and his adopted mother.  Their bodies were placed in the cave after the Man in Black killed his mother and Jacob killed the Man in Black.  So the mystery of Adam and Eve is finally solved and I'm satisfied.  I suppose it could be considered strange that Jack estimated the age of the skeletons at 40 or 50 years when they were actually hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.  But they also had the gift of near immortality so I guess their bones age very slowly as well.

This episode started with the birth of Jacob and the still unnamed Baby in Black.  I liked that each was swaddled in a burlap cloth of their respective colors.  From the very beginning they were marked so to speak.  Unfortunately for them, their mother was brutally murdered by the woman who helped her deliver them thus setting up what would become the first in a long line of parent issues among those associated with the Island.  The murder seemed very unnecessary at first but it became clear that this adoptive mother felt a very strong distrust about other human inhabitants of the Island.  Some of her ranting and raving reminded me very much of Rousseau's solitude. 

Jacob and the Man in Black's birth mother came to the Island from a ship wreck but there were other survivors.  One day Jacob and the Boy in Black stumbled across some of the Others (?) and followed them to their village.  When they wanted to know more, their adopted mother showed them the secret of the Island and told them that one of them would be in charge of protecting it some day.  Later, Boy in Black saw a vision of his dead mother that Jacob was unable to see.  Boy in Black proclaimed that he was special.  After what his ghost mother told him, Boy in Black wanted to leave the Island but Jacob didn't so they went their separate ways; Jacob stayed with their mother and Boy in Black went to the village. 

Years later, Man in Black and the Others had figured out a way to find the secret of the Island and use it to leave.  It was very cool to learn that they had dug wells to investigate the magnetic properties of the Island and were working on installing the donkey wheel.  Unfortunately, Man in Black's mother stopped him, killed all of the Others and filled in the well.  In retaliation, Man in Black killed his mother but was caught by Jacob who was very unhappy about it.  Jacob took Man in Black to the special place and pushed his unconscious body into the cave.  After his body was eerily pulled into an underwater crevice, the light went out and the Black Smoke emerged.  Shortly afterwards, Jacob found Man in Black's lifeless body and he placed it in the cave with their adopted mother as mentioned earlier.

After last week's episode painting Locke/Man in Black in the most malevolent light possible, this episode made me sympathetic to his plight.  I don't condone what he has done to all the people he has killed, but it certainly seems like Jacob hasn't made his existence easy.  Of course, he isn't actually Jacob's brother anymore but rather some kind dark yin to the light yang that is the secret of the Island.  I also found it very interesting that not unlike Richard Alpert, Jacob seems a lot less enlightened the more we learn about him.  Perspective is such a key concept in LOST.  It looks like Locke/Man in Black wasn't telling stories when he told Kate that his mother was crazy just like Claire will seem to Aaron.  I know there is not enough time left in the series to learn Jacob and Man in Black's mother's backstory, but I suspect that she was recruited just as she "recruited" Jacob to take over her job. 

There really isn't much left to say about this episode.  It was very good and very necessary but it still doesn't give me enough clues as to what will happen during the rest of the series.   I just can't believe that LOST will be completely over in only twelve days!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

"The Candidate"

Glad to have LOST back after a week off even if there are only three weeks left of the series. 


I find myself very conflicted about this episode.  I really enjoyed some of the flash-sideways story but I was a bit disappointed with the outcome of the submarine escape attempt.  But as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself.  In the flash-sideways world, the more things change, the more they stay the same for Jack.  He saved Locke's life but he was not content to stop there.  He really wanted to perform another surgery to help Locke walk again and damn if he was going to take no for an answer!  Turns out Locke was a candidate for a new surgical procedure.  It was interesting to see that in the sideways world, it was Locke's fault that he was in a wheel chair and his accident made Anthony Cooper a vegetable.  Good old Jack tried to talk Locke into surgery one last time and after a fine performance by Terry O'Quinn, Locke rolled out of the hospital presuming to never see Jack again.  I have my doubts though since Jack is starting to notice how many Oceanic 815 passengers he keeps running into (nice cameo by Bernard).  It was also interesting to see that Locke had a vision of his Island life and spoke about it while sleeping.

Back on the Island, Jack was still convinced that he shouldn't leave and Locke was trying to convince him otherwise.  He at least got Jack to go along with him to rescue Sawyer, Kate, Hurley, Jin, Sun and Frank from Widmore who had locked them up in the polar bear cages for old time sake.  I've had my doubts about Locke's plan to fly off the Island mainly because the Ajira plane was too busted up to make any more trips.  It was nice of Widmore's people to build such a nice wooden staircase with railings up to the cabin door of the plane.  It seems like they should have spent more time working on the sonic fence though.  Once Locke found the C4 in the plane, I knew that he had plans to use it against our candidates, I just didn't expect the payoff so soon.  So it was off to the submarine instead.  I'm not sure what Sawyer had planned for dealing with Locke after he was in the water, but Jack did his part.  Whatever the plan, it changed when Kate got shot.  I've been expecting something like that to happen for the better part of the season, I just didn't expect what happened next.

Before Jack got on the sub, I saw Locke pull the old switcharoo with their backpacks so I expected Jack to unknowingly carry a bomb onto the sub.  Of course Jack never expected to get on the sub but once Kate got shot, Jack had to play the hero and bring her on board.  I liked Jack's attitude once they found the bomb.  From his time with Richard Alpert and the Black Rock dynamite, he was certain that Locke couldn't kill them or he would have done so already.  His logic seemed pretty strong considering what he'd witnessed recently, but Sawyer wasn't buying it and really, who could blame him?  I knew that Sayid still had some good in him and it was pretty clear that he was going to sacrifice himself at some point.  So I was not surprised to see him take the bomb and head for a secluded part of the sub but not before he told Jack where to find the still living Desmond.

So with an explosion, Sayid departs this second life and the series, that is until we presumably see a ghost version of the Iraqi appear to Hurley.  What I did not see coming was the fallout from the explosion.  This is also where I started to feel a little cheated.  First,  big metal door knocked Frank out and that was all he wrote!  So long Frank...we hardly knew ye.  He was my favorite new character introduced in Season 4 and I was so happy to see him back on the show last season and become a regular cast member this season.  I haven't loved the progression of his character this year and am disappointed that this was how he exits the series...not with a bang but a "Oh Hell!"

But they weren't done killing off characters yet!  Apparently the explosion trapped Sun against the wall of the sub but I didn't think the writers actually had it in them to kill three characters in one episode.  Turns out I was right...they killed four!  Four freaking regular cast members in one episode.  I knew that not everyone would make it out of the series alive, but I thought they might be spread out over several episodes.  But that's not how it was to be.  Sun could not free herself from confinement and Jin would not leave her so they stayed together to the end.  Another child is orphaned by the Island.  I guess I was supposed to be extremely saddened by their deaths, but I felt like it was missing the emotional heft that some other deaths have had over the years.  Maybe I was numb from the carnage that was occurring but death by drowning has already been done and to much better effect by Charlie in "Through the Looking Glass."

The producers have always said that the Island is a dangerous place and it stands to reason that a lot of people would die if there were an explosion on a submarine.  It's really a wonder that more of the candidates didn't die as a result.  So we bid adieu to Sayid, Sun, Jin and Frank.  I will miss them but all four have been underutilized this season and that has been a shame.