Tag Archives: Michael Emerson

TV Land in Fall 2012 – Why it’s getting LOST (in a good way)

“We have to go back!”

In the weeks between spring finale time, and the summer television season, TV fans tend to do one of two things: (1) reflect on seasons past or; (2) look ahead to the new season.  As for me, my intention in writing this post was to do the latter.  But I ended up doing quite a bit of the former, as well.

Allow me to explain.  You see, having recently watched all the new trailers from this years’ network upfronts, my original goal was to select the five new series with the most potential to end up on my new 2012/2013 TV roster, and review their trailers.  However, after I made my selections, it occurred to me that all of the series I chose shared one interesting commonality: Lost.

You guys remember Lost, right?  You know, the show about the plane crash, where the writers promised that the characters weren’t in Purgatory, until the last season, when it kind of / sort of turned out that was exactly where they were . . .

Why?   Personally, I think these shows failed because they focused too much on trying to emulate the crazy plot twists, erudite literary references,  and rampant conspiracy theories of the older series, while virtually ignoring the one thing that really made Lost shine .  . . its characters.  After all, before all the flashbacks, flash-sideways,  and flash forwards . . . before the polar bears, Hurley birds, and omniscient dogs . . . before there were Others, Dharma Initiatives, donkey wheels, hatches, and secret videos starring a guy with one arm . .  . Lost was simply about fourteen fascinating people, who just so happened to be flying on the same ill-fated plane.

As I mentioned earlier, all five of the news series on my Most Likely to Watch list all seem to possess certain qualities that make them seem particularly Lost-like.  (Well, actually four of them do.  But I’ll get to why I chose the fifth one, in a bit.)  The question is, will any of these series be able to pull off the unique mix of script, characters, plot, and mystery necessary to become TV’s Next Big Thing?

Let’s analyze, shall we?

666 Park Avenue – ABC

Clearly, the most obvious connection between 666 Park Avenue and Lost is this guy . . .

Terry O’Quinn . . . a.k.a John Locke.  In a clever  (and possibly slightly tongue-and-cheek) bit of casting “the producers of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars” have opted to hire Oceanic Flight 815’s resident Man of Fate, Denizen of Destiny, and an eventual alter ego for The Black Smoke Monster / a.k.a. The Man in Black to play the Devil.  So now we know that at least one character on this show will be exceptionally well-acted.  But stunt casting alone is not enough to make for a successful show.

As for the concept of the series, intriguing as it is, it’s nothing new.  1997’s The Devil’s Advocate boasts a similar premise, in which the Devil takes Manhattan, and faces off against a similarly upwardly mobile late twenties to early-thirty something couple, by tempting them with riches, and only partially disclosing their true cost . . .

And yet in 1997 we weren’t reeling from a recession caused by the burst of a very large real estate bubble.  What better time to explore a television series in which the much maligned 1%ers actually ARE evil incarnate?  So, the series boasts not only a solid cast (Vanessa L. Williams also stars), but also a timely premise.  But there are other Lostian aspects this show offers, which could end up making it a success, if the writers handle them correctly.

Just like that “other show,” 666 Park Avenue offers an over-arching mystery, along with some tantalizing questions that, if producers play their cards right, viewers can chew over and discuss for seasons to come.  What exactly is the Devil doing in real estate?  What happened to the last managers of the Drake Apartments (I think most of us know the answer to that already.  “Warmer climates?”  HA!)  What’s the deal with the dragon etched on the basement floor?  And, perhaps, most importantly,  what are the HOA fees for living in a place like that?

But what’s really going to make or break 666 Park Avenue, I think, is its cast of characters.  Lost explored the lives and backstories of its various survivors with great sensitivity, and depth.  666 Park Avenue has the opportunity to do the same thing with its various apartment tenants.  Who are these people who live in the Drake?  What drives them, and what ultimately enticed them to sell their soul for some extra square footage, a view of Central Park, and an on-site gym?

Only time will tell . . .

CULT – THE CW

Folks who have spent these past few weeks wondering what happened to vampire-slaying history teacher, Alaric Saltzman, after he croaked on The Vampire Diaries, can breathe a sigh of relief now . . .

Though often written off as a “teen television” channel, over the past few years, the CW has enjoyed a surprising amount of success producing shows for a slightly younger, hipper audience who are seeking series that are a bit darker, and grittier than your typical “bright and shiny” network fare.  And from the looks of it, Cult might just prove to be the darkest and grittiest of them all.  Just watching the trailer gave me chills . . . probably because that TV Guy / Possible Cult Leader looks and sounds like a cross between Hannibal Lecter, Kevin Spacey’s character in Seven, and, of course, Benjamin Linus from Lost . . .

But of course, Cult shares more in common with Lost than just an average-looking, kind of creepy, but still oddly charismatic, intellectual type, who might be a cult leader.  Much like it’s predecessor, Cult will offer its fans countless conspiracy theories, clues to unravel, mysterious happenings to be explained, lots of oddly dressed folks with dubious motives to puzzle over, and most importantly, confusing, but compulsively rewatchable, YouTube videos . . .

What intrigues me most about Cult is how unabashedly “meta” it seems to be.  I mean, here is a show that blatantly eviscerates the one thing it needs to survive as a series: a diehard fandom.  This, of course, begs the question, could Lost fans be driven to commit murder, simply because Benjamin Linus asked them to do so?  Well, maybe if he asked really nicely . . .

Revolution – NBC

Here’s another timely premise, in light of the world’s increasing dependence on technology to survive (not to mention Facebook’s catastrophic failure as a stock IPO.)  Imagine a world completely without technology, that’s populated by folks like us, who can’t remember a time before the existence internet, and who can’t let a day go by, without checking our e-mail, sending a text message, or asking SIRI if it’s raining outside.

Of all the shows on my new TV viewing roster, this J.J. Abrams-produced one probably wins the prize for being the most Lost-like.  Let’s see, we’ve got an unexplained supernatural phenomenon and/or terrorist act, that has cut off our main characters from technology,  a sustainable food source, and the benefits of generalized medicine, forcing them to spend hours wandering aimlessly in the woods, looking dirty . . . and hot . . .

We’ve got repeated flashbacks to a climactic event, which, when viewed together, at the end of the series should explain everything . . . almost.  We’ve got various factions of people, some who want things to remain as they are now, and others who want to “go back” to the way things once were . . .

We’ve got snarky rogue-loners, who begin the series looking out only for themselves, but inevitably “learn to love” and become the series’ obvious unlikely heroes . . .

We’ve got nerdy professor types who spend the entire series looking vaguely confused, while trying to “figure it all out.”

Heck, we even have weird ancient-looking symbols, and those dopey, green-screen computers from the 80’s . . .

But beyond all those superficial similarties, I think “Revolution” has the potential to be a true character study,  just as Lost was.  After all, nothing exhibits the true nature of a person better, then putting them in a completely unfamiliar situation, without the benefits or camouflage  that modern-day luxuries provide.  In the words of Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, “DUUUUUUUUDE.”

The Last Resort – ABC

Forget, “You sunk my battleship.”  Something tells me, come this fall, everybody will be yelling at their TV screens, “YOU SUNK MY SUBMARINE!”  If Revolution is the series that most resembles Lost in terms of plot points, The Last Resort most resembles its tone, high production values, and cinematic quality.  In fact, if I hadn’t spied the ABC logo on the corner of screen, I could have sworn this was war movie.  Heck, they even hired That Movie Guy with the Oddly Deep Voice to do the narration!  Conspiracy theorists, war aficionados, and political pundits alike will find much to love in this series, which, like it’s famous predecessor will revolve around an international cover-up  . . .

. . . the result of which will strand our main characters on an island, separating them from the people they love, and putting their lives in constant imminent danger . . .

Hey, this place even looks like Lost island.  Where’s Vincent the Dog?   WAAAAAAAAALT! 

And of course, there will inevitably be dealings with “those pesky others.”

But mostly, I’ll just be watching this one, because Ben from Felicity will be there . . .

Speaking of completely shallow reasons to watch a television program . . .

Chicago Fire – NBC

At the beginning of this post, I admitted to you that really only four of the five series I chose for my Watch List were like Lost.  Chicago Fire doesn’t resemble Lost at all . . . unless you count the repeated obligatory shots of Sometimes dirty-faced and slightly bloody cocky alpha males who never met a shirt they actually liked to wear . . .

I’d be lying if I said the prospect of having a naked Taylor Kinney on my television screen every week, wasn’t a big draw for my choosing Chicago Fire for this blog post.  But personally I think the trailer for this series boasts more than good looking shirtless guys with bad attitudes.  The in-fighting between the squad members, caused in part by the oh-so-cliched concept of The Fallen Comrade shows promise for solid character development.  The kickass females in the series make my feminist heart proud.  And if done right, those inevitable Burning Building sequences are going to look really awesome in HD.

Besides, who doesn’t love a man in uniform . . . or out of it?

And there you have it folks, my five Lostian . . . and not so Lostian picks for the best new shows of Fall 2012.  So, what’s on YOUR Must Watch List?

[www.juliekushner.com][Fangirls Forever]

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Filed under 666 Park Avenue, Chicago Fire, Cult, Lost, Revolution, The Last Resort

Lost: A Show About Science or A Show About Faith? – Thoughts on the END of Lost’s Series Finale “The End”

Last night, I wrote a blog entry, in which I discussed some of the lighter aspects of Lost‘s generally feel-good Series Finale, “The End.”  In it, I, more or less, completely refrained from discussing the show’s controversial ending, and promised to tackle that issue exclusively in another post.  Well, I’M BAAACK . . .

One Man of Science.  One Man of Faith.  The Island wasn’t big enough for both of them . . .  or was it?

In the last season of Lost, there was much talk and broohaha about this image, and all the ideas it represents . . .

Light versus Dark.  Black versus White.  Good versus Evil.  Heaven versus Hell.  And while that dichotomy was certainly central to the battle between Jacob and the Man in Black . . .

 . . . our Losties, for the most part, resided somewhere in between.  Much like the rest of us non-television characters, their morality was covered in shades of grey.   For them (and for us), the REAL battle for control of Lost island was one that was a lot less clear cut, making it a lot less certain who we should root for.  And, ultimately,  it was this battle, that took center stage during the final half of the Season finale. (After they, you know, got rid of that pesky Black Smoke thing  . . .)

Jack v. Locke – The Man of Science versus The Man of Faith

Although Lost undoubtedly featured many characters and their respective stories of redemption, at its core were the journeys of two men.  When we first meet Jack Shepard, he is the quintessential Man of Science.  He’s a surgeon, and about as left-brained as a person can get.  There is not a creative or artistic bone in this man’s body.  So, understandably, when it comes to matters of faith or destiny, he’s a complete Doubting Thomas.  For him, if an explanation doesn’t appear in a medical reference book, it just plain doesn’t exist.

John Locke, on the other hand, is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants, Man of Faith, guy.  He’s Mister “Nobody tells me what I can and can’t do.”  A guy who sees absolutely nothing wrong with signing up for a “walkabout,” despite being completely incapable of “walking about.”  Upon crashing on the island, he suddenly regains use of his legs, and, thereafter, becomes convinced that the Island is his Destiny.  He is absolutely certain that some higher power has brought him to the Island; and that he is, therefore, meant to remain and do great things there . . .

For the first Four Seasons of Lost, pretty much up until Locke’s “death,” we watched these two men battle it out with one another, arguing for the righteousness of their respective ideologies.  Neither man would budge an inch with respect to his position.  However, upon REAL Locke’s death, at the end of Season 4, things change for Jack Shepard.  During the last two seasons of the show,  Jack slowly evolved from a Man of Science into a Man of Faith. 

First, after escaping the Island as part of the Oceanic Six, he returns to it, believing he is meant to rescue the others who remained thereon.  In Season 6, when the Losties are once again ready to escape the island, this time on a boat, Jack jumps ship, convinced that the island “isn’t done with [him] yet.  Then, in the penultimate episode of the show, Jack LITERALLY drinks Jacob’s Kool Aid, and agrees to remain on the island, throwing away his promising surgical career in order to “protect” what, for all intents and purposes, was a Giant Lightbulb . . .

Scientific Answers versus Mystical Answers  – The SHOW About Science versus The SHOW About Faith

When it really came down to it, I think Lost‘s journey as a show, was similar to Jack’s journey, as a character.  Lost started out as a Show About Science (Science Fiction, perhaps, but, science, nonetheless).  In the show’s early seasons, many of the Island’s mysteries were explained through quasi-scientific means.  Flight 815 was initially thought to have been brought down, as a result of the Island’s unique electromagnetic properties, which were inherent to the Island’s location, but were also exacerbated by a Hydrogen Bomb buried beneath its surface . . .  These electromagnetic qualities also allowed the Island itself, and its inhabitants, to move freely through the time/space barrier and . . .  basically . . . time travel.

Those all important numbers, which Hurley chose in order to win the lottery, and which Desmond was forced to repeatedly punch into a computer screen to prevent the Island’s destruction . . .

Were part of the Valenzetti Equation, derived by members of the Dharma Initiative, to determine the exact point in time at which all human life would cease to exist.  The Dharma initiative itself was, more or less, a scientific research group, which took advanage of the island’s unique electromagnetic properties in order to experiment with various facets of human life, from a woman’s ability to give birth . . .

 . . . to psychology, subliminal messaging, and mind control . . .

Then, Season 6 came around, and like Jack Shepard, Lost had to go and get all “Faith-y” on us.  Island mysteries, like “why the plane crashed,” which had once been explained by science, were now explained as being part of the “Master Plan,” in a battle between the God-like Jacob . . .

 . . . and the Devil-like Man in Black . . .

 . . . for control of the Island, and, by extension, the souls of its inhabitants . . .

Supernatural, and biblical-type reasoning was now used to explain Island mysteries such as why MIB couldn’t escape the Island, why Richard Alpert wouldn’t age . . .

 . . . why Jacob and MIB couldn’t kill one another, how Locke became Flocke . . .

 . . . and who Adam and Eve were . . .

The Last Ten Minutes of the Finale Episode of Lost – Flash Sideways of Science (Time Travel) versus Flash Sideways of Faith (Purgatory)

So, I guess, it shouldn’t really have surprised me (but it DID!), that the final Lost mystery, the reason behind the Flash Sideways, ended up being a faith-based reason (preparation for the afterlife / purgatory) . . .

 . . . as opposed to a science-based reason (an alternate universe created as a result of Juliet’s detonation of the hydrogen bomb at the end of Season 5).

And, I have to say, that the fact that this promo picture, released just before Season 6 began, didn’t give the religious implications of the finale away to me, makes me more than a bit mad at myself . . .

I guess, when it really comes down to it, how you felt about Lost’s final moments (MULTITUDE of unanswered questions notwithstanding), really comes down to which side of the Man of Science / Man of Faith debate YOU fall under.  Me, personally?  I’m a bit more of a “science” girl.  So, I was a little disappointed that the Flash Sideways World did not, in fact, end up being the hydrogen bomb-created alternate universe I had initially envisioned. 

Plus, Flash Sideways World just seemed so PERFECT!   And because I’d truly grown to love these characters, having spent six years with them, I really wanted this world to exist FOR THEM!  Because, without it . . .

Ji Yeon would REALLY be an orphan . . .

David Shepard would COMPLETELY cease to exist . . . Oh, and most of the Losties would already be DEAD!

 . . . including THIS GUY!

But, putting my personal feelings aside, the fact that the Flash Sideways World ended up being purgatory makes sense, BECAUSE everything was so perfect there.  In essence, Flash Sideways World gave our main Losties the oppportunity to redeem themselves from wrongs they felt they had committed during their actual lifetimes .  . .

Jack Shepard had a bad relationship with his father, who degraded his worth constantly, and always chose his work over him, so in Flash Sideways World Purgatory he was a supportive and understanding father to his son . . .

During his lifetime, Sawyer was a con artist, who shunned justice.  So, in purgatory, he was a detective, who fought hard to protect it.

Sorry! I know technically I should have found a “cop uniform” pic of Sawyer, but I just couldn’t help myself . . .

On the island, Kate unknowingly abandoned Claire, and ended up raising her child, Aaron.  But in Purgatory, she guides Claire through the birthing process, and allows her to raise her own baby . . . And, as for Claire, she gets to keep her kid, and not become a skanky haired wackadoo.  YAY!

In the real world, Sayid’s murderous lifestyle resulted in the death of the love of his life, Nadia.

In Purgatory, he lets his brother marry Nadia instead, and, in doing so, probably spares her life.

In the real world, Desmond loved Penny Widmore, but her father’s disapproval of him kept the two of them apart.  In Purgatory, Desmond works for Charles Widmore, and has gained his utmost trust and respect . . .

In Purgatory, Hurley isn’t a loveable loser who won the lottery and STILL can’t accomplish anything.  He’s a loveable WINNER, who get’s the girl and is rich enough to employ the ENTIRE CAST OF LOST!

Purgatory Ben is a kindly history teacher who saves Alex’s future, by sacrificing his own personal success to ensure her entrance into an Ivy League college, instead of . . . you know . . . GETTING HER KILLED!  And Purgatory Locke is a pretty nice guy too, and Ben’s BFF to boot!

And, as I mentioned before, Jin and Sun, actually get to raise their kid Purgatory World.  Plus, they successfully ditch Sun’s Asshat Dad.

Matthew Fox probably explained the whole “purgatory thing”  best, in his post-finale interview with Jimmy Kimmel, when he said something to the effect of: “There’s a school of thought that, after you die, you go to a sort of ‘waiting place’ in which you encounter everyone who was important in your life.  Once you have reunited with, and reconciled with, these people, you can truly accept your own mortality and . . . move on.”  (And you just KNOW Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse fed him those words, because Matthew Fox may be smart, but not THAT smart!)

I’ll have to admit that when Christian Shepard (and if THAT’S not a “Man of Faith” name, I don’t know what is) . . .

 . . . . appeared in that Non-Denominational (or, rather, ALL Denominational) Church / Temple, OUTSIDE of his own coffin, and replied to Jack’s question of “How did you get here?  Aren’t you dead?” with . . .

 “How did YOU get here?”  . . .

I screamed at the television . . .

“YOU PROMISED THEY WEREN’T DEAD THIS WHOLE TIME, J.J. ABRAMS!  YOU LIAR!  I JUST WASTED SIX YEARS OF MY LIFE FOR YOU!”

But then, when Christian explained that, “Everything that happened on the Island was real . . . Everyone dies eventually . . . Some of these people died before you, some long after you .  . .” I calmed down a bit . . .

And in the penultimate scene of the show, when Jack stumbles out from the cave, lays down on the ground next to doggie Vincent, watches his fellow Losties successfully escape the Island on a plane, and, subsequently, CLOSES his eyes in death, just as he had opened them so many times during the LIFE of the show, I thought to myself, “What an appropriate ending . . .”

But then they HAD to show me this . . .

While the producers didn’t go as far as I feared they would, by showing me a heap of dead bodies lying amongst the wreckage, they showed me enough to make me wonder if I was being f**ked with.  And I couldn’t help but be reminded of ANOTHER intriguing, but unnerving, Open-Ended Series Finale that left me with more questions than answers . . .

(Special thanks to njean666 for this fabulous clip)

They never make it easy for us, do they?

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Filed under Lost

What Lost’s Jacob’s “Candidate” Job Opening Might Have Looked Like, if He Posted it on Careerbuilder.com

Those of you who watched Lost’s penultimate episode, “What They Died For,” last night (which was excellent, by the way), already know that, during it, the “mysterious and godlike” Jacob finally selected Jack Shepard as his “Candidate” to replace him on the Island. 

(And, for those of you who were surprised that it ended up being Jack, I have GOOD NEWS for you!  I am in the process of selling the Empire State Building for dirt cheap!  If interested, please send a check in the amount of $1 million, made payable to TV Recappers Anonymous, at  . . .)

Yeah, it was kind of predictable (and by “kind of” I mean “very”) that Jack would take the reins as “Guarder of the Light Thingy.”  And yet, while many of us viewers immediately surmised that this would ultimately end up being the case, Jacob, himself, was not nearly as quick on the uptake.  In fact, it literally took this dude CENTURIES of bringing people to the island and watching them die senseless deaths, to solve, what was essentially, a Human Resources Issue.

But all of this could have been avoided, had Jacob simply took advantage of modern hiring technology.  (After all, we already know the Island has internet access . . . ) 

So, just for kicks, I thought it might be fun to see what a “Jacob’s Candidate” job posting might have looked like, had it actually been placed on a job search website, like Careerbuilder.com.

Employer: Jacob

Job Title:   “Protector of the Light”

Location:   Undisclosed, but we call it “The Island”

Employee Type:    Full Time (And I’m not talking a 40 – 60 hour work week, either.  I mean REALLY full, like you will do ABSOLUTELY nothing else, for the duration of your life.)

Manages Others:    Nah, we killed all the “Others.”  Except for maybe, this guy.

Job Type:   Security, Godliness

Experience:   No prior experience necessary

Salary:   Non-applicable (Your “payment” is the pride of knowing that you have been chosen over centuries of other less worthy applicants, you ungrateful turd.)

Benefits:  See “salary” description above.  But you are more than welcome to all the fish .  . . and polar bears that you want to eat.

To be honest, we haven’t actually SEEN a polar bear around these parts since Season 1.  But that’s OK.  It just means more FISH FOR YOU!

Duties:

1) Keep the Man in Black from “entering the Light”

2) Keep the Light from going out

3) Keep the Man in Black from killing you

4) Find more suitable replacement “Candidates,” just in case you fail to do items 1 through 3

5) Smolder, brood, and generally try to look self-important ALL THE TIME.

Requirements:

1) A crappy home life a MUST!

2) Nonexistent or minimal sex life . . . unless you are this guy . . .

In which case, screw all you want!

3) Daddy issues

4) God complex

5) The ability to run quickly, and cover long distances, when chased by a polar bear or puff of black smoke . . .

Transportation:  Last time we checked, there were three ways of transporting one’s self to the island.  They are: (1) plane or jet crash;

(2) shipwreck; or

3) submarine

Please note:  Here at the Island, we do not cover your relocation expenses.  However, should you arrive at the Island via means 1 or 2, you may ultimately be able to have your travel fees reimbursed, as a result of a class action lawsuit begun on your behalf.  There is no guarantee of your actually receiving such reimbursement, however, as most people in the outside world are probably going to think you are DEAD.

So, what are you waiting for?  Apply Now!  Your violent and untimely death FUTURE is just a mouse click away! 🙂

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Filed under Lost

Benjamin Linus is My New TV Boyfriend! – A Recap of Lost’s “Mr. Linus”

Just look at that come hither stare . . .  Who knew history teachers could be so sexy?

WARNING: This recap might not be particularly snarky.  After all, I am in love (with Benjamin Linus!).  And one of the side effects of falling in love is a complete loss of one’s sense of humor . . .

Who would have thought that the most uplifting, feel-good, episode of the entire Lost series, thus far, would belong to a character that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best television villians of all time?  For all those women out there (myself included) who have always dreamed of roping in and taming a bad boy, this episode was the ultimate fantasy come true.  If Michael Emerson does not win an Emmy for his performance in “Mr. Linus,” the entire Academy of Television Arts and Sciences deserves to suffer the wrath of Smokey!

And when it comes to the Emmys, Smokey does NOT mess around!

But in order to truly understand the full extent of Benjamin Linus’s current redemption, both in flash-sideways world, and in real time, we should probably go back and revisit the single worst moment in the character’s entire life: the death of his adoptive daughter, Alex Rousseau.

At the time, Benjamin Linus and his band of Others were living at the island Barracks.  Things were going peachy for Ben, until his nemesis, Charles Widmore, sent over his head minion, Army Drill Sergeant from Hell, Martin Keamy, to ensure Ben’s surrender and departure from the island.  By way of collateral, Keamy kidnapped Ben’s adoptive teenage daughter Alex, and brought her to Ben’s house with a gun to her head.  Keamy told Ben to either surrender immediately or watch his daughter die.  Ben thought Keamy was bluffing, and stayed put.  He wasn’t.

A Principal Without Principles . . .

Back in flash-sideways world, Ben and his father left the island, presumably before all the sh*t hit the fan down there.  Now Ben is a reluctant European History teacher at a high school, desperately seeking more excitement from his humdrum life.  In his opening scene, Ben teaches his students about Napoleon’s exhile to Elba, an obvious metaphor for Ben’s own meteoric rise and fall as “The Chosen” One on Lost island.  

I love when Lost gets all “literary” on us.  You can bet that this episode’s shout out to the above-referenced book (apparently the castaways on-Island library offers both this tome and porn), will send hard core Losties racing to their nearest bookstores in search of clues . . .

“Elba was where Napoleon faced his greatest test.  Exhile wasn’t the worst of his fate.  It was the truly devastating loss of power.  Sure, they allowed him to keep the title of emperor.  But without his power, everything was meaningless.  He might as well have been dead,”  Dr. Linus tellingly, instructs.

Flash Sideways Ben’s only joy comes from being able to run the school’s History Club, and tutor its student members, especially Alex Rousseau (who, in this timeline, is a precocious teen with aspirations to attend Yale).  That is until the school principal cancels the club, citing “budget cuts.”  (Really?  How “expensive” is some lame club where all students do is get together and talk about history?)

When Ben vents his frustrations to his colleagues, former Flight 815er Doc Arzt and new “Substitute” John Locke, the latter suggests that Ben take on the principal position for himself.    The opportunity to do this arises, when Alex admits to Ben that she saw the Principal engaged in illicit activity with one of the school nurses.  With Doc Arzt’s help, Ben hacks into the Principal’s computer and finds e-mails implicating the Principal in the aforementioned naughty conduct. 

Ben confronts the Principal with aims to blackmail him and usurp his position.  However, the Principal warns Ben that, if he does this, the former will take revenge on Alex (just as Keamy did — on a significantly smaller scale, of course) by single-handedly ruining the young girl’s chances of attending the principal’s alma mater, Yale.  This time, Ben chooses Alex.  As a result, he doesn’t get to be principal . . . but at least he gets his History Club back?

And thus, our Flash-Sideways World Ben has redeemed himself.  Something Flash-Sideways Sayid was unable to do last week . . .

Ben and Team Jacob, BFF (Best Friends Forever For Now)

If last week’s Lost episode focused on Smokey and his dastardly team of crazies, this week’s episode spotlighted the above-referenced opposing team, led by Ilana, the Candidate Bodyguard.

“And Iiiiiiiiii, eeeee iiiii, will always love Jacccob!” 

(Yeah, I’m not really a fan of Ilana’s, so far.  The character is a bit like the above song, only one-note, and a highly annoying one at that.)

When Miles “I Communicate with Dead People” (or, in this case, Dead Ash) Straum conveniently leaks to Ilana that Ben killed her “father figure” Jacob, she gets a little pissed off at our boy.  So pissed off, in fact, that she chains his leg to a stake and forces him to dig his own grave.

Speaking of death wishes, Richard Alpert, he of the guy liner and the never-aging face . . .

finds himself exhausted, from a life of serving Jacob, and always looking so damn pretty day in and day out.  His solution, therefore,  is to off himself, a la Bill Murrary in Groundhog Day.

Yeah, it didn’t work for him either . . .

Apparently, one of the rules of Lost island, is that, if you are Jacob’s candidate, you can’t end your own life.  Someone else has to do it for you.  I guess this would explain why former candidate Michael Dawson couldn’t shoot himself in the episode “Meet Kevin Johnson” but was able to die later when the submarine he was on exploded. 

Richard Alpert must have watched “Meet Kevin Johnson,” because he commandeers Jack and Hurley to light his ass on fire with a stick of dynamite.  Hurley bails on the plan, but Jack stays and sets the dynamite aflame.  Jack tells Richard that both of them are meant to be on this island . . . alive.  Therefore, he is certain that the stick of dynamite will not explode.  He is right . . .

Meet Jack Shephard – Man of Science  Man of Faith

While Jack and Richard are busy NOT blowing themselves to smithereens, Smokey is visiting Ben, offering him a means to escape Ilana’s clutches and join the Darkside.

Smokey tries to entice Ben, by offering him the opportunity to govern the island once again.  After all, just like Napoleon, Island Ben has always been a man driven by power.  Ben takes Locke’s advice and makes a break for it.  But he soon finds himself at a standoff with a Ilana. 

Instead of shooting her, as old Ben would likely have done without so much of a thought, a tearful Ben explains to Ilana how his anger over sacrificing his daughter to serve Jacob and the island, ultimately, caused him to kill Jacob, an action he deeply regrets.

When Ilana asks Ben why he has chosen Team Smokey, Ben admits that Smokey is “the only one who will have him.” 

The line is one of the most endearing of the evening, as it paints Ben as an outsider – one who, deep down, just wants to have friends.   Ilana must have agreed with me, because, instead of simply letting Ben go, she replies, “I’ll have you.” 

(Don’t you be taking Ben from me, Ilana!  He’s MINE now!  All MINE!)

At the episode’s conclusion, Jack, Hurley, and Richard, reunite with Ilana, Sun, Lapidus, Miles, and, of course, Ben.   And thus, Team Jacob is born.

Team Jacob is definitely the underdog in this matchup.  After all, there are no supernatural powers in this group (not aging is cool and all, but it doesn’t really help you in a fight, unless your opponent is one of the Golden Girls . . )

Yet, my money is still on Team Jacob.  I think they will be the Cinderella story of the season.  How about you?

Oh, and I almost forgot, in the last few seconds of the episode, something EVIL made its way through the ocean toward the Losties . . .

No, not that.  It was just Charles Widmore in a submarine.  Still, pretty scary, no?

Well, that’s all she wrote, Lost fans.  What did you think?  Are you ready to start the Michael Emerson Emmy campaign with me?  Is your money also on Team Jacob for winning the Lost ultimate showdown?  Do you think Charles Widmore will fight for Team Smokey, or does he have his own agenda to accomplish on Lost island?

Only time (travel) will tell . . .

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