Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lost: What Kate Does - LTDA

Kate and Sawyer had a moment... and I enjoyed it.
Among other things.

Off Island
Kate's Running
What always strikes me about Kate's 'fugitive' episodes is that they let you know she's this runaway fugitive, but she always risks her 'freedom' to save someone else. There's an ever-present dilemma between what she has to do to get away and what she knows is right and doing what's right seems to always win out in the end. She didn't have to go back for Claire, she certainly didn't have to go to the house with her, and without a doubt she should NOT have gone in with her at the hospital.

Kate could very well have dropped her off at the ER steps and driven away – a taxi driver fulfilling their fare. She even glances at police cars parked nearby and chooses to stay with Claire because she doesn't want this woman to have to be alone. A theme echoed on the island – no one should have to be alone, and maybe that's why she continually goes after Sawyer. If she didn't, who else would? Same reason she went after Locke at the hatch in season two. Same reason she always goes into the 'heart of darkness' after anyone. Jack's philosophy of 'live together; die alone' has been exemplified in no other character more often – and no other character, ironically, is hated more, than Kate.

Kate and Jack and Connections
There's always been this quote floating around Jater forums about Jack and Kate and it's always been attributed to JJ Abrams. I don't know whether he said it or not, but it's eerie that seasons later, the content is strikingly on target. It refers to them as being connected: that they have met before, that they were supposed to meet now, and that they would meet again in another life. It's romantically beautiful, this idea that some people are just destined to be together. So, while some would pass off Kate's watching Jack as she drove past him as mere recognition that this guy was the guy she snatched the pen from on the plane, and oppositely, his pause was the same, shipper or not, I think it's more than that.

The world slowed down (and by that, I mean the pacing of the scene) and some sort of recognition did take place, but it was more than just, "I saw this person on the plane." The elevator ride with "James" yielded exactly the opposite results – Kate's nonchalant staring at the ceiling, a few eye rolls, and a wry grin as she left. She encouraged the cab driver to simply run over Artz's stuff. The same way Jack recognized something in himself on the plane, I think they recognized something in each other and I'm curious to see where Kate's 'running' takes her in the next few side-flashes.

Kate, Claire, and Aaron
In the same vein of thought, Kate's rummaging through Claire's luggage didn't seem to click with her until she pulled out that stuffed whale – the same one a toddler Aaron held while she argued with Jack just before he left them in the normal timeline. Though I believe she would have taken the stuff back to Claire anyways, and she would have gone back and been there for Claire, there's something in her connected to Aaron as well. The mention of his name gave her pause, and the strong suggestion that Claire keep her boy were not just the words of a stranger.

Interestingly, because of what has occurred in the actual timeline, Kate is back on the island to get Claire and reunited her with Aaron. If Claire, in the alternate timeline, DOES keep Aaron and raise him as her own, will this somehow impact the actual timeline? Does it fulfill both of the psychic's visions, or is this WHY the psychic had two "visions" – one of Claire raising her own child and another of "a couple in Los Angeles" raising Aaron. More on that later.

On Island
Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet
Sawyer's happiest time, when he felt most complete and most compelled to be a better person, were his three years spent with Juliet. That he walked in a rage from the temple back to their abode in Othersville only to tear up floorboards and remove a single engagement ring should say a lot about where his heart truly lies. And the following scene with Kate is probably the most adult either of them have ever been with one another because those three years they spent apart allowed them both to experience and lose their true love.

Their talk on the dock, where Kate accepts the blame for Juliet's death and James looks past his anger at Jack and takes on part of the blame himself, shows a level of growth on both of their parts that they would never have achieved together. No more shacking up in tents or trading mix tapes in the sand like juvenile delinquents. Of course, the more they've grown, the more they've realized that they've grown apart. Where Sawyer throws his ring into the ocean and declares himself an island nomad; Kate breaks down – partially because of the conversation with Sawyer about Juliet, about how it didn't work out how they wanted it to, and about being alone maybe being a destiny in itself; partially because the man who gave Kate a diamond ring and asked her to marry him, their relationship didn't work out how THEY wanted it to and he's back in a temple fulfilling a destiny she's not sure she's a part of anymore – and is left to sort out her problems with a clearer understanding of what she stands to lose.

The Test, The Infection, The "Cure"
Last week I figured they were testing Sayid to see if he was inhabited by Smokey. Now we know, definitively, what being "Infected" means – to be 'marked' by the Man in Black. But what does it mean? Can he control you? Or are you just evil; the way small children are born innocent and then 'touched' by the sins of adulthood… and can one repent. The idea of repenting isn't new to Lost so it stands to reason that one who has been infected CAN be cleansed. Speaking religiously, will Echo's 'church' have something to do with it? And if it does, should we finally declare this a war between God and the devil himself? Or smaller minions playing a 'travel size' version of the same game.

What exactly denotes one who is 'marked'? And how do they become infected? What about HOW he was shot lead to it? What part did Jack play? Are we looking at his character all wrong? Some postulate that Jack is somehow related to the island, and the idea is that he's always been related to Jacob, but what if his lineage goes back somewhere sinister?

But if it did, would Dogen have leapt up to keep him from swallowing the poison pill? Or might the pill have had some other effect on Jack? I guess it depends on how much we trust Dogen.

Connecting the Side-Flashes
Recently I read a quote from Darlton saying the Side Flashes are more important than the Island stories. It might have been a joke, but, curiously, what if it's somehow true. What happens in the side flashes IS more important because, at some point, the two lines have to converge?

My theory on the imaginary timeline is that it is 'course correction'. Obviously you can't change something in the past. If they'd detonated the bomb and their plane had never crashed, they'd never have been on the path to be on the island to detonate a bomb, so another course – another timeline – was created to rectify the damage. Someone mentioned last night that everyone's characters, in both timelines, felt like they were MISSING something. I concur. They were missing a part of themselves. The eventual merging of their normal self and their alternate universe self might just be the cleansing ritual needed for those infected to become uninfected, and for those searching for their destinies to finally fulfill them.

Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chuck: What the Chuck?

When I ate my Subways Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich, demanding a third season of Chuck, never in a million years would I have thought that I was buying into the one thing I absolutely loathe about television series as a whole.

This insane notion that, as a viewer, what I find most interesting is the amount of time they can keep two destined characters apart insults me seasonally, but that alone is not enough to incur my wrath because it's actually fairly typical and usually acceptable when there's an end in sight – something writers of ALL series should find BEFORE they start their tinkering – because I'm really watching for the, you know, plot.

That doesn't mean screwing with the relationships doesn't piss me off.

A little separation, a few obstacles, the idea that you have to wait just a little bit longer to see that these characters are being written OBVIOUSLY on their way towards coupledom is one thing… UST is a magical thing. UST, or Unresolved Sexual Tension for those not acronymically inclined, is a driving force with romantically linked characters.

For most shows, there is a pair of leads – traditionally male and female – and part of the fun of watching the show is that beyond whatever happens contained to any specific episode, there is a relationship that develops within the overall arch of the series, generally hinting at – and eventually coming to – romance. Chuck, aside from the spy games, has at its core this constant almost-there relationship between Chuck and his spy-handler Sarah.

Sarah is the ex-partner/girlfriend of Chuck's old best friend Bryce and for a good part of season one, while Chuck had a growing infatuation with Sarah, her constant reminder to him was that falling in love with a spy was dangerous and she insisted the feelings were NOT mutual. Though the audience could tell otherwise, it was believable that she would resist this relationship, given that Bryce was presumed dead, so why WOULD Sarah want to begin a new relationship with Chuck.

Season two seemed to have these two characters coming to grips with the fact that yes, their feelings were reciprocated, and that maybe, just maybe it could work, but each week reminded them that it couldn't. Not as long as they were spies. And then they brought in Chuck's ex-girlfriend who turned out to be a bad guy, no one seemed to care, it was awkward, and they wrapped that storyline up quicker than you could say, "Chuck this." Oh, and there was that spy who got his ass kicked and Sarah was, like, "Psht."

Fans fought for a third season. They fought for the right to see the storyline – which ended with Chuck uploading a newer version of the intersect that gave him instant access to knowledge like… oh… Kung Fu – progress and also, to see these characters progress, since they'd never been given a proper coupling. As an aside, I say, if you're not watching a television show with at least a little hint of 'shipper' in you, you will never be satisfied with the ending of a show; if you outright reject a ship, you will never be satisfied with a show period. Ships are part of the shows we watch and as humans we should root for them.

So we get this third season, opening with Chuck having been whisked away to a secret location to learn to use his new intersect to become a Real Spy, as opposed to the lucky idiot he's been portrayed to be during spy missions thus far. This idea has real potential because it's now what Chuck wants, because of Sarah. BUT, now Sarah wants nothing to do with the spy business – she wants to leave it for good, and she wants Chuck to join her. Creatively, this is amazing and believable and heart wrenching at the same time, but in the way that's lovely to watch.

Of course, it’s not enough. We've now been introduced to two new characters, Hannah and CIA Special Agent Daniel Shaw who serve as potential love interests for Chuck and Sarah, respectively. And I've got one question: Why?

With Chuck advancing in his skills, it makes sense for them to send in a new agent to further his training, and possibly serve as an annoyance to the existing team – proving how well they work together – but to also make him a love interest for Sarah… Sarah, who just decided she wanted to leave the spy game altogether to pursue a normal life with Chuck. Sarah, who spent two seasons fighting her feelings for Chuck because of Bryce's death. I'm supposed to believe she's just going to fall into a relationship with this guy she's known a month because she's… jealous? Poisoned? Really really dumb?

Hannah's introduction, aside from my Kristin Kreuk bias (by the time the Smallville scribes pulled their heads out of Lana's punani they'd destroyed the show… I hear they've rebounded beautifully in her absence), makes even less sense. Does she serve as a reminder to Chuck that he DOESN'T want to be a spy, only a few episodes after he's decided to run the gauntlet? Will she prove to be another spy? She's overqualified for the Buy More, under qualified for Chuck, and nothing more than a nuisance to the storyline already established.

The obstacle that made sense, the one they'd introduced believably at the beginning of the season, was Chuck eschewing a relationship with Sarah to become a real spy, and it's an idea that I looked forward to seeing Chuck and Sarah struggle with. Instead we get televisions newest Love Quadrangle and unfortunately 'Chuck versus the Mask' left me with a very sour taste in my mouth… one that not even a million Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwiches can cure.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fringe: Balancing the Equation

It was something my fellow classmates had a hard time grasping in chemistry, the idea that each side of the equation must be equal or something would go terribly wrong. For Fringe, this balance exists between two universes, and when Newton – the newly re-headed bad guy – attempts to open a doorway to the other universe, the results are disastrous.

The doorway, it seems, allowed a building – and all of its occupants – to travel into our dimension, fusing with the building – and all of its occupants – already in existence in a mishmash of parts and personalities. Through the memory of an old experiment, Walter realizes that he already knows what is going to occur: Something from our universe must travel into the other to re-establish the balance that was thrown off by Newton's experiment.

Peter's eventual conclusion is that some building of equal mass must travel to the other side and the episode's main charge is finding that building and evacuating all of its occupants. The question of how falls on Walter, who presumes it can be located by someone who can see the opening window to the other side – something he is sure Olivia can do, if she can only re-activate another one of her abilities: seeing the things in our world that do not belong… the things that come from the other reality. This catapults our heroine on a journey back to the place where this ability began – the titular 'Jacksonville'.

Previously mentioned as a smaller cell of a larger study, Walter informs us that it was the only place where the Cortexiphan injected into small children worked, giving them special abilities. The strongest of those children, Olivia – then known as Olive– Dunham, arrives and observes that despite her "freakish" memory, she has absolutely no recollection of the Day Care Center in which the experiments took place.

As an aside, did the parents consent to this secret testing? Olivia had mentioned her father had been in the army, stationed for a short while in Jacksonville – if he did consent, were these trials part of some larger government testing? Creating a soldier who can destroy an enemy with their mind would be valuable to a government looking to eradicate losses, both personal and political.

The key to reconciling Olivia with her previous perceptive powers, says Walter, lies in their ties to strong emotions. With the help of another dose of Cortexiphan and Walter's special blend of drugs, Walter sends Olivia into a dream-like place where she soon finds she's not alone. A small child argues with Olivia that she doesn't want to do this anymore and that she has to make them stop. Olivia catches the child, comforting her before asking her name. "Olive."

Confronted with herself, she's lost in that fear and the child disappears from her arms, only to appear a foot away with eerily bright blue eyes, scaring Olivia enough to wake her from her dream no more able to see the things out-of-place than she was before. The emotion Walter was shooting for, he explains upon re-watching the video we previous saw of Olive sitting in the pristine center of a scorched room, was fear. Of course, Olivia isn't afraid of anything anymore and Walter presumes that without the particularly strong emotion of fear she will never see what she needs to see.

Returning to Manhattan more jarred than enlightened, the team sets out to solve the riddle of which building will be transported using the only piece of information they do have – it must be of equal mass to the building that came from the other side. Of course, the closer it draws to the moment of truth (as Walter calculates they had roughly 40 hours from the time the original building came through), the more helpless Olivia feels.

As the only known person to have had this ability, she feels responsible and approaches Peter with this fear. In comforting her, the duo lean in for their first shared kiss and Olivia realizes, she's afraid. She bolts from the room, looks out over the city, and sees a building shimmering in the distance. The occupants of the building are evacuated and the building gets sucked violently from sight, something Olivia knows the conspiracy theorists will have a field day with.

Of course, the fans can have a field day with this episode. Did Olivia's FEAR of not finding the building trigger her ability (an emotion *I* would have classified closer to disappointment, or frustration), or did her fear of what was about to occur right in front of her – being approached by Peter in a more-than-friendly capacity – flop her gut in a less than fearful and more like love kind of way. Walter only stated that it had to be a strong emotion; he assumed it was fear because of what worked with the children – particularly, Olive. For a child, a strong emotion can be anything; as an adult, it's harder to stimulate love than fear, and it is definitely the greater of the two emotions.

There's also now the question of Peter. Before departing on their first 'date', Olivia is able to see Peter shimmer in much the same way she was able to see the building in the city, clueing her into the fact that he is not part of this reality. Of course, given the information we received throughout this episode, for Peter to have come into our world, something (or someone) of equal mass must have gone into the other.

Did Walter deposit Peter's dead body into alt-Peter's bed, for his parents to find and mourn? Or, given his curiously saddened response to Astrid's proclamation that the alt-people just vanished and their loved ones would never know where they went, did he simply steal Peter, leaving alt-Peter's parents to wonder forever what happened to their son. Is that the reason for this "war" of the worlds? Alt-Walter might not have changed as much as our Walter has and his vengeance may be a great behemoth of scientific catastrophe waiting to happen.

It also begs the question, William Bell is too large to have 'replaced' Peter in the alt-world so whom did he replace? Or, as Walter mentioned, Peter was more rotund as a child, possibly Bell would have been a lanky fellow and WAS his replacement. And where does Nina fit into all of this? Did she help orchestrate Peter's substitution and 'rehabilitation'? Is travelling to the other universe how she lost her right arm?

And, given the dangers of temporal displacement, though Olivia seems pleased that they saved the occupants of the hotel in OUR universe, she gave little thought to the consequence of said building merging with its mirror in the OTHER universe. Presumably this mystery is being solved by Alt-Olivia, with or without the aid of Alt-Walter. From a previous episode we know she's still working in a 'Fringe' division with Broyles and Agent Francis.

Which brings us back to Peter, the one element that – no matter the sequence of events – increasingly seems to be at the heart of the imbalance bringing these two universes crashing into one another. Does total balance between the universes require that he be returned? Does it require that of William Bell as well? Or is there something else, some other piece of the puzzle yet to be revealed. Can Olivia's abilities seal the gateways permanently, or would it require some greater event?

I envision a finale that involves alt-Peter asking alt-Walter to let him go, to stop trying to get him back because he's made a home where he is. I also envision Olivia encircling herself and Peter in a fiery wall of protection, mirroring what happened to her as a child, but this time using her powers out of not fear, but love. But something tells me we're in for something far greater.

We just have to wait two months to get to it.