Lost, 5x14, "The Variable" (#100)
Oh, Lost. Why do you do things that are...
SO UNEXPECTEDLY AWESOME? (come on, you knew what I was going to say) Daniel's one of your big deaths? Really? I mean really, I'm asking; is he the major/major-ish death Ausiello was talking about? Because if so, I AM PRETTY DARN CONTENT. My emotional involvement here is approximately zero. It was like watching Crabbe get bumped off in Harry Potter - "whoops, that was sort of unexpected. Bye now!" I'm actually kind of giddy over how not-bothered I am. The show didn't even try to get me emotionally involved in his demise. If, on the other hand, he skips off alive and well where Rousseau in a similar situation did not, I'm detonating a hydrogen bomb.
I'd have more words about the HOMG revelation that he's the son of Eloise & Charles Widmore (HI THERE, TWO TERRIFYING FORCES OF CRAZY-ASS/EVIL), but I got spoiled for it a few days beforehand and as a result, meh. I thought it might be more game-changing, but although the internet is burning up with ways in which the 100th episode was apparently craaaaaazy and/or mind-blowing, I pretty much felt like it was just more plodding exposition (with a side of "holy crap, Daniel is finally actually sharing some ideas that are in his head") and nothing to write home about.
Except for the other parts.
Even though I felt like I was sleepwalking through 80% of it, otherwise known as "any time Daniel was in a scene that did not also include Sawyer," the other parts were phenomenal. And by "other," I mainly mean "shippy."
Desmond/Penny: Squee! While I feel mildly cheated that we didn't get to see the immediate aftermath of Ben's beat-down, other than a telltale bloodstain on Penny's shirt which speaks volumes (merci!), at least we didn't have to wait long before seeing him rushed to the hospital. Which was interesting in and of itself, as I'd been under the assumption that it wasn't too serious and so their first course of action would maybe be to hop in the boat and speed away from the gun-wielding madman. Whoops.
Instead I got to spend the whole hour a) biting my nails and fretting like whoa, and b) appreciatively soaking up every second of watching Penny fret and worry and cuddle Charlie for distraction. Oh, writers. I love it when you access my brain, hack into the file called "Tragic Scenarios*," and pick one to play with on film!
* = there is actually a Word document on my computer containing such information, right above a list of "available ships" with which to play mix-and-match.
My sigh of relief when the doctor approached with a smile was heard around the world, including on the Island in the 1970's. The people who heard it were then deafened by my squealing at the reunion in recovery (child-free, for purposes of streamlined shippy convenience), and "I promised you I'd never leave you again." Enh! Enh! I've finally made my peace with Alex's death. Relatedly, having Widmore's son shot to death is kinda-sorta karmic tradeoff. I've apparently also made my peace with Desmond for killing Charlie. Sorry, Past Self.
Clearly, I need pictures to document my new approval:
Sawyer/Juliet: Oh, Juliet. I really, really need to believe that you're not going to roll over in defeat and accept that your second round of life in New Otherton being over means that all aspects of said life are over, because "Freckles" or not, I am pretty sure that Sawyer's not going anywhere. Relatedly, you are really super pretty this week with the perfect hair and flowy red top and just being generally gorgeous, and I'm going to need reassurance that you don't go off and get yourself killed before, during or after the season finale.
Some random things: "This is our home"! Hand clasp! That would have been enough for me (*has not watched this an inordinate number of times at all*), but then we finally get what I've been waiting for - just a few seconds aside, amidst the flurry and chaos, for the two of them to touch base. One of the alliances recently blew up on Survivor due to lack of communication - Brendan thought he was lying low & biding his time; the rest of them took it as a cue they needed to explore new options - and because these shows are totally alike in every way, I've been fretting about them not having a chance to pause or talk in private since this mess began. Was perhaps not an entirely unfounded fear:
"You still got my back?"
"You still got mine?"
COLD, JULIET. Which brings me back to my opening statement, and let's just take a moment to bask in his reaction:
And I'm good. We'll just...be optimistic and flaily about how much we love them, no matter what. She's far too kick-ass and sure of herself to be threatened in any way by a half-cocked ex-fugitive who makes poor choices, right? Right.
P.S. GET HERE, NEXT EPISODE. Because your promo seems to involve Sawyer getting roughed up in the presence of a woman he loves again, and I had a pretty good time with it the last time that happened.
-Jack & Sawyer fighting over Kate again. Different motivations, same underlying Kate-is-a-pawn message. Highly enjoyable.
-I tried to find some measure of compassion in my heart for Dan's emotional reaction to Little Charlotte - remember how I begrudgingly shipped them for like five seconds? - but in the end, it was just too gross and uncomfortable to watch, the way he appeared out of nowhere and started babbling and crying at her and made her cry as a result because she didn't quite know what was going on.
-I did manage to drum up a lot of compassion for poor little Daniel who just wanted to play beautiful piano music, and instead got railroaded into math & science by his bitch-ass mother. Note to Eloise: I don't become a fan of you until you turn into Fionnula Flanagan
-Plus I am strangely fond of lovesick!Daniel, recently graduated and sporting an awesome and uncontrollable mane of hair. It's mesmerizing.
-Sawyer: "Welcome to the party, Twitchy." HEE.
-My true favorite part of the episode was Radzinsky storming in, spitting with outrage, "I just got shot by a PHYSICIST!" Heeheehee! No matter how many times I play this, I burst out laughing every time.
-Because it should be said again: Juliet looked really, really pretty all curled up and tucked into a corner of the couch.
-Oh, Sawyer. "I belonged here just fine until you came back, Doc." It hurts to watch it all unraveling around him, it really does. Particularly his expression of utter disbelief and betrayal when Jack starts goading Kate into taking him to the hostiles, or when Juliet volunteers the code to the fence so they can carry that plan out.
-Oh, Jack. You and your little renegade band...you're cute, I like you, and yours is the only group I want to see as much as Sawyer's right now (Sayid who? Ben what?). Just one tiny thing about this proposed plan to stop all the events and make it so that the plane never crashes:
NO. I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS IDEA.
They're not going to be able to pull it off, right? Because especially on the heels of Doctor Who, just the thought of everyone losing everything they've gained and having to turn back into who they were before the plane crashed pains me. Sawyer in particular - nobody's gone through anywhere near as much of a redemptive arc or had their life improved as much as he has - but then there's also Kate bound to rot in a jail cell, the state of the Jin/Sun marriage, Shannon stays a raging and completely useless/self-absorbed bitch (even I can't watch her before she meets Sayid), and...well, things actually probably work out pretty well for Claire, and Charlie's probably still bound for an early death either way given his heroin habit, and -- WHATEVER, IRRELEVANT, SAWYER.
-Survivor: And it's official, I like everybody who's left.
I mean, I don't like Coach, but he entertains me, and I do like everyone else, so we call this a Top Six of Epic Win. I AM SO HAPPY SIERRA'S GONE, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW. Plus, if Debbie inexplicably is looking to boot at Coach as the
Then I watch an episode and remember that nobody else left in this game is very smart at all. Erinn has a glimmer of promise, but I think she's so worried about being ostracized and voted out next that she's unlikely to make a power play for herself that might help down the road. And really, Taj has no reason to scheme, Debbie might be shrewd but she's not a mastermind (and is easily distracted by emotional flare-ups), and Coach is so far into the land of delusion that he can pretty much be led by the nose and still believe everyone is following his orders.
Watch, this will all blow up in my face next week. *knocks on wood*
Right now, it's just fun to watch Old Timbira completely rip itself apart. It's like, Jalapao just occasionally has to poke the dogfight with a stick to get them back on course, and then their brief moments of "hey, we could make them sitting ducks" clarity vanishes and they get riled up and resume going after each other with a vengeance. It's really fun to watch Sierra tell them exactly what's going to happen, and have them all so blinded by their hatred that they don't even pay attention.
Part of me still thinks it would have been wise to keep Sierra, if only because I can all but guarantee that she and Coach would never, ever form an alliance together and thus Old Timbira would be nicely and permanently splintered...but I don't know; maybe it was wise not to blindside Coach two weeks in a row. They wiggled out of it once; twice might have been pushing it.
Hey, look at me, all rambling about game play & strategy like I know what I'm talking about! I don't. It's just that Stephen talks strategy a lot, and therefore I pay attention and it sinks into my head. I'm still ridiculously thrilled at how he runs everything through his brain like a computer and manages to both come up with immediate responses and analyze the information later so as to figure out the next five steps to take. And so far, I can't remember him being wrong. At least not in a way that's had serious consequences yet. He's also one of the few people who realizes things like "I'd rather have an honest blowout than people smiling saccharine smiles to my face."
I guess I could talk about the actual episode now:
Reward Challenge: Oh, I love the game where you answer questions about your tribe mates and pick the most popular one! Someone always ends up being the verbal punching bag! This year it was Sierra, obviously, so I didn't really mind. Especially when the last question is "who is most likely to stab you in the back" (answer: Sierra) and Stephen winces horribly and mouths apologies for picking her yet again, but it's the right choice and wins him the challenge. Yay! Come on, after all those days of Exile, he deserved this.
Besides, not only did this challenge come with the fun of BREAKING STUFF (specifically, violently shattering little ceramic replicas of the contestants, which are even dressed in the same clothes so as to be just a little bit meaner, heh), I got to watch Taj crack Stephen over the head with her answer board after she lost to him. "Ow!"
Oh, and then he apologizes about 1600 times to Erinn before and after picking her to send to Exile. It is ridiculously endearing. (MY OBNOXIOUS CRUSH, LET ME SHOW YOU IT SOME MORE)
Reward: Cows-cows-cows!! *squeals and points* I would have been all "screw meeting the traditional family, I want to pet their cows. And hold their chickens. And not think about how all of them are destined for the table at some point and I'm probably going to be eaten some of their fallen brethren." The crazy spring looked really fun, though..."bobbing like a cork"? I want to experience this! I didn't even mind Taj swooping in to play surrogate mommy to the bruised 3-year-old, who was probably like "WTF where is my own mom?"
I was worried about leaving the bitter Former Timbira to collude back at camp and mutter angry things - even though Stephen obviously had good and valid reasons for picking best-pal JT and runner-up Taj, it still looked bad to collect Former Jalapao - but fortunately, all they managed to do was pick a catfight between the women. Dunno why I worried. It wouldn't have been worth it to endure Coach on that reward just to try and preemptively placate him. Especially not after he somehow, I don't even know how, convinced himself that they really ditched him for his own benefit.
Exile Island: Mostly I was just weirded out by the Extreme Close-Up on Erinn's Prada-labeled glasses. Was that necessary? It definitely wasn't necessary for me to repeat this fact and further advertise them...
-I still love that everybody would trust JT with their life, and he runs off to a camera confessional to give a wide, disarming grin, and proclaim that even though he's really not so trustworthy in this game, nobody seems to be catching on. "Maybe it's the accent, I don't know." It so is. That and the aw-shucks grin.
-I also love that Coach has never lied in this game. Or his life. HIS LIFE.
-"She's a half-wit floating on the breeze, not knowing where she's going." I think Coach mixed up the pronouns in this statement and meant to say "I" in place of "she." Here is a similar example: "I believe that she thinks she is telling the truth."
-There was a brief period of time where Stephen didn't know what was going on. My response was utter panic. It was a scary state of affairs until he got a handle on it (thank you, dirty-laundry-airing Sierra!)
Immunity Challenge: First, let's take a moment to showcase my obnoxious crush, again, some more, and take delight in the fact that Stephen practically trips over himself to wrap Erinn in a hug and mumble more apologies, and then give her a sweater so she can warm up. He brought her a sweater! Seriously, I think if I were Erinn, I would have spontaneously gotten over my breakup/ex-boyfriend right then and there.
Ahem. Loved the first part of the challenge, especially Debbie taking offense to Jeff's lack of attention and deciding to highlight her own progress. "Debbie with HER first bag!" Grapple-hook fishing, it is made of win. Especially when Erinn's cranky response to Jeff's mocking commentary is "I haven't eaten in 3 days!" If only Taj had noticed how her top had managed to slip too far down on one side. There is no excuse for that in a stationary challenge.
Not so fond of the second part - I hate those mazes where you try to navigate a ball through a hole-filled board - but I was mimicking the pose of everyone on the bench, mouth open, leaning forward, and utterly frozen in intense concentration. They did not have the same luxury I did, however, of smacking my head into my hands and striking it several times when Coach won. He won a game of concentration. Not only did this give him another excuse to declare himself "Dragonslayer," but it only inflated his head about the importance of his morning "meditation" exercises. Ugh.
Voting: Um, crap, why did Erinn vote for Stephen? What was at the bottom of the note*? Please tell me it was just a throwaway vote because she promised not to vote for Sierra/knew he was safe/did not want to vote for Debbie and screw up her alliance's plans with a split vote. Because, I mean, you can't hold a grudge against a man who apologizes a hundred times and brings you sweaters as peace offerings. You just can't.
[Apparently, it was "Never again. [I] swear." Which alleviates most of my fears.]
Youtube: Why don't you have awesome Stephen clip-show videos up for me yet? You made them for Ian! And Ozzy! And Ozzmanda! GET ON THIS.
(Although I did find a hilarious clip of Coach describing how Stephen is strong on the inside, even though "he couldn't fight off a crocodile, like I did when I was in the Amazon!")
(And since I'm now on a youtubing binge and discovering delightful things therein, I would like to state for the record that his plan, should he win the million dollars, is to quit working in soul-sucking Corporate America, buy a cabin in Sierra Nevada, and write. So. GIVE IT TO HIM, BITCHES.)
(I don't even know what I'm going to do when this season is over.
-CSI: 4x22, "The Gone Dead Train"
Langston + Doc Robbins: A quirky partnership I support in theory, but have no actual patience for watching.
Langston & Nick being mistaken for a gay couple: That's two! (times with slashtastic subtext since the former arrived - are you trying to tell us something?)
The A Plot: Hell, I wish I'd been paying enough attention to guess that it was rabies! But no, I had to fall for the promos dressing it up as the Mysterious Bad Disease of Unknown Origins. Otherwise, I guess it was fairly good? Think it would hold up well to watching in reruns, despite what else I have to say.
Cath Drama: Totally acceptable when it involves being bitten by a rabid woman and having 48 hours to find rare and expensive treatment before it's too late. I was almost disappointed by how much of this went on in the background, even though otherwise I'm sure I'd have complained about it.
The B Plot: Fun whenever Greg was talking/working the case; Riley not so much.
SuperDave: Aww, solo autopsy. And a wife who calls him the Snapping Alligator, apparently on account of how he occasionally responds to questions/comments without a smile. His temper is SO out of control! ;)
Words spent on this episode already: too many.
Show? When did you get stilted and boring? I still consider you brilliant, but it's starting to feel like you were handing in creative essays and now you're writing legal copy.
Southland: the only crime show where bodies actually wind up naked, rather than conveniently dying in their underwear. Impressive. That's about all I have to say, because without Ben & Co. it's like I don't even know what show I'm watching (ooh, except the drug doggy's back!). Although I could definitely use more Kenny, seen the previous night on Lost. And as always, more Bryant (must remember: NOT MORETTA). I'm even starting to warm up to his crazy-ass wife and see her side of things.