They’ve got character

Buffy, you'll always be number one in my heart.

Entertainment Weekly published its list of the top 100 greatest characters of the past 20 years. In some instances, I would have done some rearranging and there are a few characters I would have added, but I thought it was a pretty good list. You can see the entire countdown here, but these were the top 10:

  1. Homer Simpson from The Simpsons
  2. Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series
  3. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  4. Tony Soprano from The Sopranos
  5. The Joker from The Dark Knight
  6. Rachel Green from Friends
  7. Edward Scissorhands from Edward Scissorhands
  8. Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs
  9. Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City
  10. SpongeBob SquarePants from SpongeBob SquarePants

I was really happy to see Buffy at number three. More than a decade later this is still my favorite show of all time, and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s quintessential grrl power character is to this day my hero. Now that I’m watching The Sopranos, I can also see the validity of placing Tony Soprano high on the list. Love or hate him, he is quite the character, and the first in a long line of boundary-pushing antiheroes, including some of my personal favorites, Dexter and Jack Bauer – who both made the list, but are farther down.

In the top 10 I was less thrilled with The Joker – it’s a great character and an excellent portrayal on the part of Heath Ledger, but just not worthy of the top 10 in my mind. Also, to the chagrin of legions of Friends fans, I would not have placed Rachel so high either. I enjoy Jennifer Anniston in the occasional romcom, but just was never that big of a fan of the show.

There are others on the list who I am no fan of (ahem, Carrie Bradshaw), but can see why they earned a place. I don’t watch the Simpsons, but can certainly appreciate the longevity, influence and ubiquitous nature of Homer’s character. Similarly, I see the rationale for Harry Potter. Although I think if Harry is going to be this high on the list, perhaps the Twilight characters (Edward is at #53) should also be pulled up a little.

Others, not in the top 10, who I was glad to see recognized include Mulder and Scully, The Dude, Beavis and Butthead, Cher, Sarah Connor, Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, Ron Burgundy, John Locke, David Brent, Tyler Durden and The Bride. What do you think of the list?

The end of Lost

I’m still not sure what to think of the ending of Lost. Here, Jack and John shake hands before moving on.

I’m still processing last night’s series finale of Lost, as many of you probably are, so this may be the first of a few posts as my opinion evolves. At this point, I am still floored by the ending, but I’ll get to that.

If I was going to judge the show on the first two hours and 20 minutes, I would hands down be able to give it an A+. From day one, Lost has been a character-driven show. At the beginning, there were the flashbacks to life before the island, then there were the life-changing events on the island and the flash forwards and time travel stories, and finally the sideways reality. All of these narrative tools allowed fans to build a strong bond with the characters, which is pretty remarkable when you consider the large cast and potentially confusing storylines. So it was only fitting, and a true treat to loyal Lostees, that the very best moments from the previous seasons were replayed as each character had an awakening.

 I must admit, this was a very emotional two and a half hours of TV. I cried. A lot. I cried when Sun and Jin touched in the hospital and saw their baby; I cried when Sayid and Shannon embraced; and I bawled like a baby when Claire gave birth to Aaron and reunited with Charlie. These were some of my favorite stories in Lost, and I sincerely thank the writers for giving these couples a happy ending. With all they have been through, they deserved it.

As the show progressed, I was left with the overwhelming message that the island was a pivotal point of self-discovery for these people, who had been cast adrift in their personal lives prior to boarding Oceanic Flight 815. I was struck by the hopeful prospect that, as Hugo told Sayid, we all decide who we are in life, and no one can decide that for us.

As for the events on the island, the pace of the action was non-stop. I chewed my fingernails as Jack and the Smoke Monster squared off – first in the clearing where Jack challenged him, then at the cave, and finally by the shore. And it was just so great to see his character finally come into his own as the self-assured hero he was always meant to be.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not discuss the last 10 minutes, even though I am still not sure how I feel about them. I, like most fans, did not see this coming. And I don’t need to point out the vast array of inconsistencies with previous events in the show. That being said, I don’t hate the ending. I’m glad the characters reunited, and were finally given the ultimate gift of redemption. It was, in many ways, satisfying to see such deeply conflicted characters come to such a peaceful ending.

On the other hand, it is such a final, closed ending. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hugo, Charlie, Claire, Desmond, Penny, Jin and Sun don’t go on. Their lives are over. Granted, many of them presumably lived out their lives off the island (I assume they all died at different times), but many of them did not (Jack, Charlie and Jin and Sun all died on the island). And I’m still not sure of what to make of the sideways reality storylines being somewhat irrelevant. Some of these people had good lives in the sideways reality – Jack had a son, Locke was in a loving relationship with Helen, and Ben was not a bad guy. I liked these stories, and was rather unsettled with the abrupt end to them. Particularly troublesome was Locke’s assertion that Jack didn’t have a son. I just don’t know what to make of that.

Please post your reaction in the comments. I’m sure there are a lot of different viewpoints about the events from last night’s show, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What a difference a week makes

With a little help from Hurley and Anna Lucia, Desmond (who is much like The Puppet Master) escaped with Kate and Sayid.

My heart was pounding after last night’s episode of Lost, and I was pretty keyed up when I went to bed last night. But I promised myself I would wait and let the gravity of the episode sink in before I gave my reaction. I think a sufficient amount of time has passed, so here goes.

Wow. What a difference a week makes. Last week, I was completely underwhelmed with the show. This week, I can’t stop thinking about it.

On the island, we have four remaining characters who seem to be firmly on the side of Jacob – Hurley, Jack, Kate and Sawyer. Jack stepped up to be the candidate to replace Jacob, but a twist may be forthcoming. It just seemed way too easy that he accepted the job no questions asked. It looks like we are in for a crazy couple hours in the season finale, with Kate and Jack pledging to kill the Man in Black, and the Man in Black out to destroy the island once and for all.

Miles seems to be undecided, and Desmond is MIA. Meanwhile, the Man in Black caused quite a ruckus at the abandoned Dharma compound. I couldn’t believe it when he cut Zoë’s throat. A real jaw-dropper there.

Ben is obviously on the side of evil at this point, which was a welcome return to what I felt was his true nature. As I’ve said before he really has it coming.

If the events on the island weren’t enough to chew on, there was all the action in the alternate reality. Desmond pulling the strings to bring all the Oceanic Flight 815 passengers together, Ben and Rousseau’s apparent love connection, John Locke’s meeting with Jack, and the final, awesome twist – jailbirds Desmond, Sayid and Kate escaping with a little help from Anna Lucia and Hurley. I have to hand it to Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Desmond, for his deadpan delivery of such lines as “I ran over a man in a wheelchair.” Also, even though Ben is a good guy in the alternate reality, I did a little happy dance when Desmond opened a can of whoop ass on him.

Sunday at 7 p.m. can’t come soon enough for me. What about you? What was your favorite moment from last night? What was the most shocking? There’s just too much for one blog post.

Making sense of the dual realities on Lost

I am increasingly vested in the alternate storyline of Jack and his son.

As the season finale draws nearer and nearer, I am finding it increasingly hard to believe that the writers of Lost will be able to pull everything together in a way that is satisfying for me. Not because the writers aren’t great (they are), but because I am truly torn between the two realities. This is probably a testament to just how good the writing is – to be engaged with such a far-flung concept as an alternate reality, there has to be a good narrative with strong characters.

On the one hand the sideways reality (a term coined by my co-blogger, Mark) is often better for the characters – take Jack, Locke and Ben for example. On the other hand, the entire show has been building up to the struggle for the greater good on the island, and some characters have undergone tremendous change for the better (Sawyer, for example).

Mark has theorized that the show will end with both realities intact, but this is not very satisfying to me. So, in the end I hope the two realities are somehow tied together. I am particularly vested in the alternate storyline of Jack and his son, even more so after last night’s episode solidified their relationship. I would also love to see Jack perform a successful spinal surgery on Locke.

What did you think of last night’s episode? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For the last time, the dynamite is unstable

Last night’s installment of Lost was one wild ride. From the first few minutes, I thought it was just going to be another island/alternate reality juxtaposition starring Hugo and Libby, but oh, it was so much more.

First, Ilana blew herself sky-high. One word: Awesome. Just as classic as when Arzt blew himself up. I was almost sad when Hugo put an end to the fun with dynamite by blowing up the Black Rock. Seriously, couldn’t we have had at least one more replay of the whole “You shouldn’t mess with that unstable dynamite” KABOOM! Scenario? I would have liked to see Ben, or Sayid, or maybe even Kate, go out this way.

Then we get the revelation that the haunting whispers are the ghosts of people who can’t move on because they have done wrong on the island, per Michael’s cryptic conversation with Hugo. Then we have Desmond, captured by Sayid, and pushed down an ancient well by the Smoke Monster formerly known as Locke.

In the alternate reality, Hugo, with the help of Desmond (who seems to be some sort of alternate reality spirit guide) hooks up with Libby. This was all very sweet, and of course Hugo is lovable as always. But Desmond really stole the alternate reality show in the last minute by mowing down John Locke (a real “What?!” moment for me).

It seems like each episode of Lost is more action-packed and revealing than the last. I’m already excited for next week. Major props go to the creators of the preview for next week, which featured that utterly terrifying song from Willy Wonka.

I am curious, if you could give unstable dynamite to any Lost character, which one would you give it to?

“A kind of advisor”

Look at your man, now look at Richard on a horse.

Last night’s long-awaited Lost episode about Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) was excellent. So here’s a recap of what we learned:

  • Richard (aka Ricardo aka Ricardus) came to the island as a slave aboard the Black Rock, bound for the New World. This makes him about 500 years old. Like several other Lost characters, he is a murderer and a very conflicted man. He has always worn that eyeliner.
  • The Black Rock crashed into the Egyptian statue that Jacob lived under, leaving only the foot.
  • Wild boars sometimes eat dead people.
  • The island serves as a holding pen for the Man in Black (MIB), who is apparently pure, unadulterated evil (sort of like Michael Myers). Jacob brings people to the island to prove to the MIB that given the choice, people will do the right thing. Perhaps this is why so many people of questionable moral character end up on the island – to prove that even a liar, murderer or thief can atone for the sins of another life.  “When they get here, their past doesn’t matter,” Jacob said.
  • The MIB and Jacob have been engaged in a game of cat and mouse for a very long time. We previously knew (from the episode in which the creature formerly known as Locke coerced Ben into killing Jacob) that these two cannot battle it out mano-a-mano in the Octagon, so Jacob enlisted Richard to be his emissary to those who come to the island and to try to steer them in the direction of good. In return, Richard is given the gift of eternal life.

I have to hand it to Nestor Carbonell – his performance was outstanding. From the heartbreaking scene where he leaves his dying wife, to his frantic pleas with the wealthy doctor for help, to the nail biting scenes of being chained inside the Black Rock; he showed his acting chops. I was quite touched by the ending, in which the always sensitive and lovable Hurley helps him communicate with his dead wife to find closure.

The episode seemed to run a few minutes longer than usual, and as always the preview scenes for next week’s installment were intriguing. Did anyone catch the shot of what looked like Sun lying dead/unconscious under a tree? I am curious – who do you predict will be the final candidate standing?