Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy New Year!

I really shouldn't be doing anything Lost related right now since my thesis is due next week, bu tI just had to share this: Lost-Media has the Season 4 cast promo photos up.

*insert Flanders-like squeal of joy here*

Scroll back and forth to see them all. I think Elizabeth Mitchell has officially become my favorite eye candy of the show. Smart, tough and beautiful with a sinister side. Me likey. Plus, she's not married to a hobbit.

Eeeeeeeeeee.... check 'em out. And have a great new year everyone! :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lost: Access Granted Tidbits

I'm loving my Lost Season 3 DVD, but I was bummed when I found out the Blu-Ray edition included an additional special feature not included on my DVD: Access Granted.

Basically it's Darlton sitting down and answering some long standing questions, several of which we've all speculated on. As it turns out though, DarkUFO has a nice, concise summary of all the info. None of these are really spoilers, just clarifications of things we speculated on or already knew. The best tidbits to me are:

1) Kelvin Inman, Mikhail, Christian Shepherd are officially dead, however "just because you're dead doesn't mean you can't reappear."

Boo! Hiss! Not surprising though. This, to me, says that the Monster probably absorbed their bodies and will assume their shapes at some point.

2) The others do not just get in the submarine and travel off the island. The submarine is only a part of the mechanism that allows the others to travel off the island.

This is interesting, especially given that you seem to need to be unconscious in order to travel back and forth. This has a very Lanogliers feel to it for me: a Stephen King story that deals with time travel (sorta) where only people that were unconscious survived the warp.

3) We haven't seen the last supply drop. How it's being dropped on the island is a mystery. Keep in mind that just because the package had a parachute attached does not mean it was actually "dropped."

Teleportation? Magic boxing?

4) There's only one Richard Alpert. He just has good skin. "Age is all relative on the island."

So much for the immortal Richard Alpert. But is age relative once you leave the island?

5) The Others are responsible for bringing Anthony Cooper to the island. Drugs + Accident = arriving on the island. "There are other nefarious things that The Others are doing in the real world, but we can't tell you about that yet."

Again with the unconsciousness. So I guess Ben was sort of lying when he said they pulled him out of the magic box? And I wonder if it was really all Ben's doing in order to push Locke's buttons, i.e. Jacob didn't order this?

6) The Blast Door map was incredibly accurate. However, there were two spectrums to the map, and we only saw one. The question mark is the Pearl Station, and the various references to the monster and its travel patterns were "pretty definitive."

The question mark is officially the Pearl? I'm a bit disappointed. But there being another layer to the map is very interesting to me, especially since in order to see it, we're really going to have to get a Radzinsky or Kelvin flashback, probably via the monster or some other DHARMA employee (Marvin Candlemudfax).

Some very neat stuff. There's lots more that I didn't talk about too about Walt, the Swan, Room 23 and Henry Gale. Check it out!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lost Theory Question #8: Kelvin Joe Inman

I love Clancy Brown. He's got one of the best voices in the business and a calm, menacing presence on the screen. His Kelvin is one of the most enigmatic characters of the entire show - all we really know about him post-Iraq is what he told Desmond while they were in the Hatch together. However, since we also know he was just stringing him along so he could steal the Elizabeth and escape, how much of what he said to him is really true? Let's first take a look at what he told Des in the Hatch:

Kelvin Are you him?
Desmond What?
Kelvin What did one snowman say to the other?
Desmond What are you talking about? Who are you?
Kelvin I'm Inman. Kelvin Inman.
Desmond What... what happened to my boat?
Kelvin I found you washed up on the beach. There was no boat.

[The alarm sounds and Kelvin enters the numbers]
Desmond What was all that about, then?
Kelvin Just saving the world.

[Shot of Desmond watching the Orientation Film]
MarvinNot long after the experiments began, however, there was an incident. And since that time the following protocol has been observed. Every 108 minutes the button must be pushed. From the moment the alarm sounds you will have 4 minutes to enter the code into the microcomputer processor.
Kelvin How many times are you going to watch that thing?
Desmond Why are there missing parts?
Kelvin Radzinsky made some edits.
Desmond Who's Radzinsky?
Kelvin He was my partner?
Desmond And what happened to him?
Kelvin Just make sure you put that back behind Turn of the Screw when you're done with it.
Desmond Why do you wear that suit?
Kelvin So I don't get infected out there. Give yourself a shot of this every 9 days. You were out there a while before I found you. Hope it's not too late.

Later we see Kelvin working on the Blast Door Map:

Desmond How do you even remember where you left off from?
Kelvin Slowly, Des. Very, very slowly. You should have seen Radzinsky do this. He had a photographic memory. I mean, this whole baby was his idea.
Desmond Yeah, right, Radzinsky. Radzinsky figured out how to fake a lockdown. Radzinsky created this great invisible map. More and more tales about your former partner. Yet for some reason, you never want to tell me what bloody well happened to him.

[Kelvin walks over to Desmond and points to a spot on the ceiling]
Kelvin See that brown stain, there? That's Radzinsky. He put a shotgun in his mouth when I was asleep. The bitch of it was I only had a 108 minutes to bury the poor bastard.
Desmond Well, if you don't want me to go crazy, next time let me go out.
Kelvin Well, you want to go out there with the quarantine and the hostiles?
Desmond I haven't been outside for 2 bloody years! Yes, I want to go. I was in the army for God's sake!
Kelvin Oh, right, Her Majesty's Army, correct? Tell me, Desmond, why'd you leave that nice old lady's army? Oh, I remember now. You got kicked out because you couldn't follow orders.
Desmond And why did you leave your army, Kelvin, huh?
Kelvin Because men followed my orders. Ah, but then thank God I joined the Dharma Initiative. Namaste, thank you and good luck.
Desmond Please, Kelvin. Let me go out. Huh? Just once?
Kelvin Sorry, Des. You stay here. You push the button. That's an order.

So what can we glean from this?

1) Radzinsky - I think Kelvin's probably telling the truth when he says Radzinsky edited the Orientation Film and made the map with a photographic memory, but I bet he's lying about how Radzinsky died. On one hand, you would think he wouldn't want to kill him and be trapped in the Swan. On the other, maybe Radzinsky was planning on abandoning his partner, much like Kelvin was planning to do with Desmond, and Kelvin shot him before he could go through with it.

It seems to me that at some point we're going to have to hear Radzinsky's story. He obviously pre-dates Kelvin, but the fact he was making a map of stuff he knows about DHARMA suggests he was really kept in the dark about everything. Furthermore his notations on the map also suggest he was in the Swan 1) Post-incident and 2) Post-Purge. Thus he may have been someone DHARMA recruited after the purge to keep the button pushed. While Kelvin says he joined DHARMA voluntarily after the CIA, maybe both he and Radzinsky were abandoned by DHARMA in the Swan. The Snowman Joke certainly suggests Kelvin was waiting for his replacement. Either way, it does seem that for some reason, DHARMA failed to send anyone else, even though the food drops continued. Maybe the Food Drop Station (Symbol: Apollo Candy Bar) failed to get the memo. :)

Memphish recently asked who the heck "Him" was and why were they making the map in the first place? It seems to me that Kelvin and Radzinsky were recruited post-purge and abandoned by DHARMA. They were kept in the dark about a lot of things except for the Swan station, where they were essentially kept prisoner by the button. Remember that, according to Darlton, Ben had no knowledge of the Swan until Locke uncovered it - DHARMA wanted to keep the station secret. It stands to reason that DHARMA really wouldn't tell any of their recruits any more than they absolutely needed to know. I imagine once their replacements failed to show up, they started venturing out to see if they could find out why and, hopefully, someone they could get to replace them.

From the Blast Door Map, we know they knew about the other stations (although they didn't seem to know their location) and they seemed to know the computer could be used to talk to other stations. Eventually they must have decided to head out and explore as much as they could, in the process discovering the sickness was a fake. They made the map in black light just in case there was a hidden camera watching them. I have no idea if this works - you have to imagine the writers tested it, right?

The big question for me here is why did Radzinsky edit the Orientation tape with regard to using the computer to communicate? Was this part of his plot to abandon Kelvin?

2) Kelvin's men - This sounded genuine to me too, genuine guilt. We know he forced Sayid to torture people so he's certainly capable of making underlings do horrible things. But is there more to it than that? Kelvin sounds an awful lot like all of our Losties here - a sordid, possibly murderous past from which he's running away.

Now we get to the fail-safe. There are two separate flashbacks that address this:

Desmond What is this?
Kelvin This is the only other way out, partner.
Desmond What are you talking about?
Kelvin Failsafe. Turn this key and this all goes away.
Desmond What's behind that wall, Kelvin? Huh? What was the incident?
Kelvin Electromagnetism, geologically unique. The incident... there was a leak. So now the charge builds up and every time we push the button it discharges it before it gets too big.
Desmond Why make us do it... push the button? If we... if we can just...
Kelvin [Laughing] Here's the real question, Desmundo... do you have the courage to take your finger out of the damn and blow the whole thing up, instead?

Then we flash-forward to Desmond confronting Kelvin outside the Hatch.

Kelvin Well, gosh, I didn't think you had the stones to come after me. I was a spook for 10 years, Des. I know when I'm being followed.
Desmond What are you doing with my boat?
Kelvin I'm fixing it.
Desmond You were leaving?
Kelvin Well, I mean, not yet. It's still about a week away. You wrecked it pretty good, Des. What do you think? Want to come with me?
Desmond Come where? What about the button?
Kelvin Screw the button, man. Who knows if it's even real?
Desmond That's not what you said when you were going on and on about dams and electromagnetics and failsafes!
Kelvin Well, I was drunk.
Desmond Why did you lie to me?
Kelvin I lied to you because I needed a sucker to save the world after I left.
Desmond You crazy old bastard! You stole my life!
Kelvin Oh, come on.
Desmond What else did you lie to me about huh?! What else? Tell me?!

First off, what do we learn here?

1) The Sickness is a red herring - Kelvin confirms this here. And you have to wonder if Kelvin and Radzinsky discovered it the same way Desmond did - "Oh look, an errant hole in the biohazard suit. Hmmm.., I haven't gotten sick. Let's go out without one and see what happens."

2) The Incident - The incident is real and the magnetism is real. Kelvin obviously believes in it or he wouldn't still be there pushing the button. However, after Desmond catches him, he dismisses the button as a possible hoax!

This, to me, is incredibly perplexing at face value. From the first flashback, Kelvin sounds like he's genuinely scared of the button. In the second, he not only disses it, he even suggests that Desmond abandon it after spending three years scaring him into staying! The only thing I can think of here is that he was just trying to calm Desmond down and get him to lower his guard.

But what exactly was DHARMA doing with the electromagnetism? Why didn't Kelvin blow the fail-safe earlier? Did he know the Swan would implode? Was he told that the world would be destroyed if he turned the key? We still don't really know what the ultimate consequences of the Discharge are going to be, however I can imagine they're not going to be good for anyone on the island.

Now I'm going to ask the big question: Is Kelvin dead? Let's take the two possibilities:

1) He's dead - In this case, I imagine the Monster scavenged his body like it did with Christian Shepherd's and Yemi's.

2) He's alive - If he's alive (which is what I hope), then where is he and why didn't he take the Elizabeth? If the Others found him in the harbor, they would have found the Elizabeth too. It's possible he might have been captured on the way back to the Swan, bloodied and disoriented from his fall. But even saying that, where have the Others been keeping him? The Temple? He wasn't kept in either the Barracks or the Hydra, that's for sure.

Occam's Razor says he's dead, but the reasons I think he might be alive are because 1) It just seems like a stumble on some rocks is an awfully cheesy way for a major CIA spook to die and 2) His flashbacks seem to be greatly important.

We have a dearth of information from the Purge up until Kelvin arrived on the island. Ben is certainly going to get another flashback and fill a bit of that in, but I doubt he could fill in all the blanks since he didn't know about the Swan. I, for one, would welcome Kelvin Inman running around the island again. Just wait until he sees what's left of the Swan. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

He's Special, Dude

I've been so busy, I know been out of the loop for a while. Couple quick hits before I plunge back to work:

Jorge's Blog

Did you guys know Jorge Garcia started up a little personal blog on Blogger? It's pretty funny. Don't miss his Halloween costume.

Room 23

In other news, have you seen the newest Mobisode, Room 23? The ODI has the video and transcript. It's pretty neat, actually giving us new information on the Others and Walt. It's cleverly done too because they managed to make Walt the premise of the mobisode without actually having him on screen. This basically confirms/lends credence to several things:

1) Room 23 was the "room" Bea Klugh threatened Walt with back in "Three Minutes"

2) As I speculated before, Walt's powers seem to involve summoning animals to some degree, especially subconsciously under duress. And I can easily see him being under duress in Room 23. Question now is, was he subjected to the same treatment as Karl in there or did he have his own "special" test? Looks like Ben was telling the truth when he told Michael Walt was "more than they bargained for."

3) Jacob was the one who wanted Walt. So what did he want Walt for? To open the Magic Box? To help him somehow, like he asked Locke to help him?

Now I really want to see a full flashback on Walt's time with the Others. What a great episode to chew on. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Top Ten Episodes #2: 2.10 "The 23rd Psalm"

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Rating: 9.3 (#24 overall)

Short Recap: We get to see Mr. Eko's sordid past, as a group of Nigerian drug lords force him to kill an innocent man in order to save his brother's life. Eko goes on to become a feared drug lord himself while his brother goes on to become a priest and respected community leader.

Eko "purchases" a large amount of heroin from some fellow thugs, but he needs to smuggle it out of the country in order to sell it. Since the only private planes currently allowed in the air are for U.N. aid or Catholic missionaries, Eko turns to his brother for help. He asks Yemi to make him and his associates priests so they can smuggle the heroin out of the country in Virgin Mary statues further telling him that if he refuses, his associates will burn his church to the ground. Yemi reluctantly signs.

As the plane is about to take off, Yemi pleads with Eko to stay. The military then appears, guns a blazin'. Yemi admits to Eko that he tipped them off and ends up getting shot in the crossfire. The plane takes off with Yemi's body aboard and the military thinks Eko, disguised in priest's garb, is actually Yemi. Eko returns to the village in Yemi's place.

On the island, Eko notices Charlie's Virgin Mary statue while talking with Claire. He smashes it open to reveal the heroin inside. He finds Charlie and demands he take him to the Beechcraft. Charlie reluctantly agrees.

On the way to the crash site, Eko is confronted by the Monster who scans his brain for his memories. After a short standoff, it glides silently back into the jungle. Eko and Charlie find the plane and Eko finds the body of his brother. He takes the cross from around his brother's neck, gives Charlie a statue to replace the one he broke and together they burn the plane with Yemi's body inside.

Claire, noticeably upset with Charlie for lying to her, kicks him out of her tent. The episode ends with Charlie adding the Virgin Mary statue to a hidden cache of others he had secretly scavenged from the wreck.

Why it's a classic: The very best episodes of Lost generally give us the golden trifecta of plot advancement, character development and island mythology, served up with some savory acting and dialogue.

The 23rd Psalm does this better than just about any other.

I have to admit I loved Mr. Eko from the start. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has one of the most tremendous screen presences I've ever seen; he completely dominates every scene and his vow of silence early on merely added to his mystique. So when this episode came along I think fans in general were pretty primed for his backstory.

Oh, and what a backstory it was.

By this point in the second season, generally considered the worst of the three my most Lost fans (although I have to admit I really loved it), the flashbacks of the main characters were already becoming repetitive and tepid. So the episode had an initial bonus going in of being something new. But I certainly wasn't prepared for just how powerful Eko's backstory would be.

Every segment was intense: Eko saving his brother by killing an innocent man, Eko brutally killing two fellow thieves with one swipe of his knife ("Go. Go and tell them that Mr. Eko let you live"), Yemi's death and Eko's guilt. We were left with a portrait of an extremely complex character, one capable of incredible brutality and evil despite the fact we recognize (and even sympathize with) his motivations. Interestingly though, Yemi does not share our sympathy. At all.

Mr. EkoSo I come to visit you for the first time in 3 years and you won't hear my confession? You know, Monsignor would have said he failed to raise a proper Catholic boy.
Yemi Well, why waste your time confessing. It won't help you.
Mr. EkoIt won't?
Yemi No, for confession to mean something you must have a penitent heart.
Mr. EkoYou and your guilt, Yemi. I've only done what I needed to do to survive. How is that a sin?
Yemi You may live far from here, but that doesn't mean I haven't heard of who you are and what you have done.

[Mr. Eko pulls the cross he wore as a boy out from under Yemis shirt]
Mr. EkoHave you forgotten how you got that cross, brother... the day they took me? Is what I did that day a sin? Or is it forgiven because it was you that was saved?

When Eko says here that he only did what he needed to do to survive, we believe him. But is that really his only motivation? Do you think Eko enjoys his power and his ability to instill people with fear. Yemi does and tells Eko so. Later on he further tells him he will never be a priest.

Mr. EkoI'm going to make this easy for you. You will make us priests and we will fly the drugs out ourselves.
Yemi Make you priests?
Mr. EkoJust sign these ordination documents and I will give you the money for the vaccines.
Yemi Leave this church now, Eko. Go. Now.
Mr. EkoYemi, I understand that you live in a world where righteousness and evil seem very far apart, but that is not the real world. I am your brother and I would never do anything to hurt you, but my friends... if you do not do what I ask... they will burn this church to the ground. Is that worth less than the price of your name on a piece of paper? Think of the lives you will save.

[After a mental struggle, Yemi grabs the papers and signs them]
Yemi My signature does not make you a priest, Eko. You could never be a priest.

Obviously this conversation had a wee bit of impact on Eko. :)

At the time, this episode showed us a despicable man who was trying to turn his life around, trying to make up for the horrible things of the past (hullo thar redemption theme). And I don't know about you, but I believed Eko HAD redeemed himself at the end when he took his brother's cross.

The rest of season also followed in the same manner: Eko became the priest of the Lost community, baptizing Aaron (hmmm... in retrospect, did that baptism count), building a church on the beach and even telling Michael a handy parable as they sopped up Libby's blood (one of my favorite scenes of the show). The fact that it was later revealed Eko did even more horrible things, not feeling sorry for them in the least, is the only reason I did not make this episode #1, since it takes away a lot of the power Eko's backstory held (I discuss this more in the summary below).

But, of course, Eko's story isn't the only reason this one's a classic. There's also 1) Charlie's banter with Eko and 2) the first real good look we get of Smokey.

This episode actually marked the beginning of Charlie's decline, despite it giving him his most memorable dialogue of the series. Episode 2.12, "Fire + Water," is easily the worst episode of the season, if not the entire series. But here we see Charlie at his best, holding his own against Eko's intensity and uttering one of the funniest lines of the entire series:

Mr. EkoClimb that tree.
Charlie What?
Mr. EkoClimb that tree and perhaps you will be able to get your bearings or see the plane.
Charlie You climb it. What if I don't? You going to beat me with your Jesus stick? I find it a little odd that your scripture stick has dried blood on it.
Mr. EkoAre you going to climb that tree or not?
Charlie What kind of priest are you, anyway?

Simply awesome. Josh, my roommate at the time, and I were rolling. It was also touching to hear Charlie recite the 23rd Psalm along with Eko when they burned the plane, reminding us of Charlie's strong religious streak.

But the big reveal this episode was ol' Smokey. Whoever was responsible for convincing the brainless execs at ABC to keep Smokey a secret deserves a basket of fish biscuits because it was one hell of a surprise. So what did that one encounter tell us?

1) It really is a cloud of black smoke - Even though we saw Smokey in "Exodus," I still wasn't totally convinced Smokey was just a black smoke cloud; I thought it might be a shapeshifter (which it sorta is). But it seems the the smoke is, at least, its default form.

2) Smokey can read minds
- One of the best TiVo moments of the series. We now know too that it doesn't just seem to read minds but it seems to be able to communicate telepathically too, at very least through dreams.

3) It comes from underground - You can dispute this if you want, but it looked pretty clear to me. When Smokey appears, trees and soil fly into the air and if you watch it as it leaves Eko, it clearly looks to me like it goes down into the ground, just like it did when it tried to drag Locke with it in "Exodus." Is there a Cerberus Vent near the Beechcraft? Seems so.

Looking back on the scene, I still don't quite understand what the Monster's motivation is. There's something it saw in Eko that made it spare him. His devotion to his brother, perhaps? Later, it asked Eko for his help in making Locke push the button. The fact that Eko failed in this regard might be partially why the Monster killed him (is the Monster capable of anger and retribution), but it seems more to do with the fact that Eko wasn't sorry for any of his sins. But if that's the case, why did it not kill Eko the first time it met him?

The only thing I can think of here is that Eko did indeed try to redeem himself at first. But the destruction of the Swan shook his faith and made him defiant again. Also maybe the Monster communicating to him as Yemi made him stubborn. Maybe the fact that Yemi felt so strongly about everything he had done made Eko react to the Monster the way he did. Since the writers have long said understanding the Monster is the key to understanding the island, we're probably going to have to wait awhile for a definitive answer.

Summary: I so wanted to make this episode #1. In fact, for a very long time it was my #1 episode. But as much as I tried to separate "The 23rd Psalm" from what the writers did to Eko's character down the road, I simply couldn't. Much of the power of this episode stems from the fact Eko was an unabashedly evil character who did some horrible things who finds redemption and closure on the island. But despite his evil deeds, you also sympathize with his actions because they all stem from his (good) motivation to save his brother's life. It certainly made me think Eko was a good man who merely did what he needed to survive (as he repeatedly professes).

But "The Cost of Living" essentially retconned this. They showed another horrible episode from his past, one where he did have a choice; He could have chosen to stay in Yemi's church and dealt with the warlords in a different way. He could have become, like Yemi, a true priest and a peaceful leader of the community. Instead he sold the vaccine (that would have been stolen anyway) to another warlord and used the proceeds to run away from his guilt and shame. And in the process he defiles Yemi's church, killing men inside and even washing his hands in the holy water basin. Then, much like he told Yemi so long ago, Eko told the Monster (in Yemi form) that he did not regret anything he had done:

"I did not ask for the life that I was given. was given, nonetheless. And with it...I did my best."

While he certainly didn't regret saving his brother's life, he certainly regretted much of what he had done since then. While this discrepancy may seem trivial, it stained Eko's character and, to me, took away from "The 23rd Psalm" quite a bit. You mean all the time he had spent repenting during the second season was fake? I just can totally buy that. And while the episode today still retains much of it's power thanks to Eko's incredible origin, the Monster scene and his banter with Charlie, it gets demoted to #2.

As just a final word on Eko, there is one loose end in his story: We still don't really know how he got assigned to Australia. He was supposed to be heading to London after the events of "The Cost of Living"; we still don't know whether he even made it there. And furthermore, we really don't know why he was heading to L.A. either. I wonder if we ever will?

Despite all this, not only was "The 23rd Psalm" the best episode of Season 2 (for which it was nominated for a "Best Writing" Emmy) but to me it still stands alone as one of the best episodes of Lost. And for someone watching the show through for the very first time, I don't know how you can not vault Eko's character up your favorite character list after viewing it.

What say you? Was Eko one of your favorites? My #1 favorite episode review will be up sometime before Christmas. Yay!

(As always, thanks to The Lost Hatch for their excellent episode transcripts)

Previous Reviews:
#10: White Rabbit
The Man From Tallahassee
Man of Science, Man of Faith
#4: The Pilot
#3: Walkabout