Wow. I cannot remember the last time - if ever - that I was captivated by an episode of this show from start to finish without a trace of desire to fast-forward. And I didn't even have any of my favorite characters present! How did they pull that off?
Okay, they had one favorite character: SURPRISE UNEXPECTED ALEX! Who made the episode, oh, 500% better on sight? And then approximately 5000% better by being the prize pupil of one Dr. Benry, and GOSH, I do not care how Hallmark that ending was, there were legit tears in my eyes.
Like, one of the fastest ways to my heart is teacher/student stories (not like that...well, sometimes like that, but not in this case), so from the moment she showed up on his doorstep - after I repaired the eardrums I had broken with my own squee - I swooned over this snappy team of two. But when you add in the fact that in another life she was his daughter...I cannot handle it. I'll be in my weepin' corner, being lachrymose about things that aren't even sad (except for bitter endings that played out long ago), just incredibly moving.
A++: The fleeting moment where Dr. Linus worries that the principal's done something to her. (preceded by more sappy 'Guaranteed ways to make me cry: heartfelt teacher encouragement' moments, and followed up by hilariously dishy Gossip Hour)
F: No Karl. Really? Not even a fleeting glimpse?
And because the Alex stuff wasn't enough to tug at the heartstrings, amidst a lot of quippy snark, we had both versions of Ben competing to see who could break you fastest: the highly educated babysitter, living a mundane and unfulfilled/largely unappreciated life, who traded the chance to make a difference** for a student's future...or the incredibly pitiful, weak, broken shell of a man who gave and lost everything until he had nowhere to turn, pitifully begging for a place to belong***?
**as an aside, he managed to look terrifying while menacing the principal with his demands. I mean, less so when the principal proposed a counteroffer, but in that first moment, his eerily intense stare from behind round glasses suggested the kind of brainpower and repressed emotions that could Fuck You Up if mixed with even a modicum of power. I like to think that choosing Alex was symbolic of how this entire life is built on noble intentions, as opposed to how quickly power corrupts on Craphole Island. Because if he hadn't, how long until he fell into the same routines and attitudes as his predecessor?
***I think 2007 Ben wins. Looking at him in that faceoff with Ilana, I can't even comprehend that this is the same man who used to manipulate more naturally than he drew breath, running about 17 agencies at once, each with 29 contingency plans. Yeah, I'd say Emerson deserves his Emmy. That entire speech of his is so desperately sad, I watched it twice a few hours apart, and wound up in tears myself both times.
Also, that's it. I don't care how many of my favorites Flocke corrupts; I'm choosing The Present and Former Coalition of Jacob as my side. They've got too many big damn heroes to be wrong. ...and I'm easily swayed by Jack's influence now; it's the hair, okay. Very authoritative.
IN OTHER AWESOME NEWS: We got to hang out with Richard (and learn the secret of his immortality, kind of - Jacob's Special Touch), who in turn chose to hang out in the the Black Rock, which is pretty much my favorite location on the entire island and which I've been yearning to go back to. Not much to see inside, as it turns out, just a front-row ticket to something that made me think of Jesus recruiting a disciple, but I found it enthralling anyway.
And lastly, Widmore is cruisin' to give a bruisin', because he just can't let anything go. "Hope you enjoyed the brief lull in action," his Submarine Of Potential Destruction seems to suggest, "because I'm here to stir shit up, and your Beach Of Searching Souls concerns me not."
Now watch, it'll turn out that he's on my side all of a sudden. I know how this show works.
^ Same woman, one TV generation apart.
FANDOM. BEHAVE BETTER. I do not have time to write a whole anti-Sheldon diatribe from scratch this week, okay, I am a little bit tied up in writing about things that are awesome, but I promise you that I can hold a grudge and randomly whip one out long after this tournament is forgotten and nobody cares anymore.
Oh, and turns out I am still supporting Sue Sylvester because she's about my last chance to win points in the betting pool, so, Veronica Mars? OUTTA SUE'S WAY, GLEE FOR THE MOTHERFUCKING WIN. (I care less about this one, though. Sue shouldn't really be high on anyone's fave character list)
Curses! I watched American Idol last night, because it was amazing. Seriously, I kept trying to walk away and couldn't. All of these girls are phenomenal, except for the frowny one who sang Chaplin's "Smile," a/k/a "the song that practically begs you to get kicked off next." From what little I have seen of the boys, everyone except Casey James sucks, so I'm not looking forward to combining the two groups...but I am about ready to make a mix CD out of last night's performances.
Side note - almost no filler tonight! I love having 8 performers in a single hour. Nothing but some uncomfortable moments where Ellen is continually determined to pretend that she wants to climb Simon like a jungle gym, and a brief but legitimately amusing bit where Ryan steals Simon's chair, and is met with admonishments that he can't sit on Simon's lap, either. Guess which one was funnier.
...CURSES, I MEANT TO VOTE AND THEN I FORGOT.
1. Katie Stevens - "Breakaway": I am 103% positive she is going home, which sucks, because not only is she gorgeous with a wonderful personality, but she's getting better at picking songs I enjoy hearing her sing. Alas, her tuning also tends to seem slightly off, and she was very low-end, middle-of-the-road. Also, thanks for making me feel old by mentioning how she was only 8 years old when this song came out.
2. Sioban - "House of the Rising Sun": Awesome name, pretty girl, seems talented, but this is the first time I've seen her sing and I hate a cappella. I hate it like burning and the fires of a rising sun.
3. Lacey Brown - "The Story": Man, I always get excited when I hear that title and think Zee Avi has somehow gone mainstream. Carlisle's song does tell a good story, but I've never been much of a fan. However, I still give her points for the storytelling aspect, even though I don't know at all how I feel about this crazy my-age girl and her punk-colored Kate Gosselin mom hair.
4. Katelyn Epperly - "I Feel the Earth Move": Okay, is everyone crazy tonight? Because I've never seen her sing either, but the first thing I noticed was that she OWNED this performance. I don't know who she is or where she came from, but she's awesome. I was bouncing in my seat, and felt like I was watching someone perform their latest hit on a nighttime talk show.
5. Didi Benami - "Rhiannon": "Oh yay!", I cried. This is my first sight of her, too, and so far I can tell you that she's pretty and she has a singer-songwriter flair that I'd like to see develop later, so keep her around. But as far as this song goes, it was just sort of a trainwreck, with her tiny voice, timid performance, and very minor and predictable arrangement. Which is not to say I wouldn't listen to it, it just underwhelmed.
6. Paige, "Smile" : See previous feelings. SNUFF HER. SNUFF HER OUT.
7. Crystal Bowersox - "Give Me One Reason": I'll give you three! One, she is now 3/3 on AWESOME SONGS; we are clearly musical soulmates, and I've never had one of those on AI. Two, she is in a whole different class from everyone, and it's wonderful - she opens her mouth, and it's nothing like I'd expect but I don't even care, because I've gone into a captivated trance in awe over how much I love it.
And three, she has dreadlocks, yet when she sings I don't even notice them. I totally ignore all her physical characteristics in favor of her sound, guys! I NEVER DO THIS. CRYSTAL FOR IDOL '10. If not, that's also cool; she'd probably do better with a 4th place or so finish anyway.
8. Lilly Scott - "I Fall to Pieces" : Stupid pimp spot. Can we cut her too? Because despite Fixing a Hole, and the way her name reminds me of "Cold Case" every time I hear it, I think she's boring with the potential to be irritating, and this song was horrendous.
'Ghost Whisperer, 5x15, "Implosion"
Excellent! After a few episodes of languishing in the basement of pointless Ned plots and boring ghosts, this show remembered that its purpose is to terrify the pants off me, and reacted accordingly with a Shadow-heavy story.
Being as I am still quite the casual viewer here, I have no real appreciation for the milestone, and even less comprehension of the series to date. Fortunately, I think that big season 5 reset button means I don't have to pay too much attention to what's before my time, so I can leave it at 'spooky!' and 'chilling!' and 'WAUGH, CREEPY GHOST BEDFORD IS WATCHING YOU.'
I may have had a little leftover appreciation for Ned and his mom, but I am still adjusting to Ned's presence here. I can't decide if I'm impressed by the way he gets to hang with the adults at the age of, what, maybe 19? and pursue paranormal mysteries, or just annoyed by his attention whoring. (okay, I'm sure there is a good reason he is part of this group, and I especially love that the Book of Changes hid itself in one of his textbooks, but that doesn't mean I have to like it)
In other news: way to ramp up my fear of abandoned places like tenfold. Not only do I have to worry about original ghosts, but possibly new ghosts of people who died there, and which might even still have bodies accidentally trapped inside things.
Lastly, it was an epic night for guest stars on CBS, and GW kicked things off with Alexie Gilmore ("why do I know her, why, why, DR. LADY ON NEW AMSTERDAM!"), albeit in a very small role, but figured I would mention it.
Medium, 6x15, "How to Beat a Bad Guy"
1) Oh! Oh! I was not imagining things when I saw Patricia Arquette walking award show carpets in January with reasonable hair - Allison's hair has grown out a tad, just a little bit, but enough to juuuuuust barely cross back to the threshold of acceptable. Unless I'm just so desperate for it to look normal that I'm convincing myself it looks better...but I really do think it's improved. Unsurprisingly, the show bounced right back into quality.
2) Guest Star of the Hour: Laura Prepon was AMAZING. I wanted to believe she was really a sweet and friendly victim, but she definitely killed it - pun maybe intended - as a rape-avenging murderer. Of all the network's guest stars tonight, she was definitely best.
3) You know what I like? When Allison has incidents that leave her slightly roughed up - maybe just enough for a hospital visit, and Joe to look concerned
4) Oh! I was so full of bubbly joy about the new Halpert baby, I totally forgot that Lynn & Lee have one too. Nice to see her again (and get a birth month confirmation of August). And by nice, I mean super, wonderful, amazing, and when the hell did I fall in love with babies, again? Let's pretend I was just fond of the family stuff.
I also forgot they're still just engaged - yet I love how this relationship has unfolded. The Office gang can talk all they want about how 'brave' and 'real' it was for their soulmates to have a pre-wedding baby, but if you want realism, it's these two right here. Accidental pregnancy, and nothing star-crossed or easy about it - but they're finding a way to make it work. The fact that he won't let his creepy ex-con, not-so-ex-rapist brother anywhere near them unless and until he's convinced of his reform is just an added bonus of protectiveness.
5) Speaking of which, heavy subject matter this week, with the brother we've either never seen or I just don't remember, but I'm guessing the former, if Allison wasn't aware of him either. And a seriously sketchy timeline Lee laid out for Allison there at the end. That cannot possibly hold up to cross-examining in court.
6) Next week: ...Medium, are you screwing up your own backstory again? Because I only have these vague memories left from season 2 and even vaguer knowledge of season 1, but that...does not sound quite like how I remember the state of things being for the pilot. Unless maybe this is one of those promos based on a dream/vision.