Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lost: Best Episodes - Season 2

Let's jump right into the best episodes of Lost Season 2


Season Two picked up right where Season 1 had left off. The opening scene is one of the best of the series. I think Season Two is the best overall season. It provides this raw suspense, you really want to know what is happening next, but there are still great flashbacks and character development. I see it almost being split into three parts, or three main story arcs or themes. First would be the discovering of the hatch coupled with Michael, Jin, and Sawyer getting back with everyone, culminating in the death of Shannon. The second is a set of very good episodes exploring a single character and developing them. The third arc is about Henry Gale aka Ben, leading to the betrayal by Michael and the capture of Kate, Jack, and Sawyer. The longer story arcs really, really make you watch and want to know what will happen next. The single character shows are the ones that are more enjoyable when watching a second or third time. It doesn’t seem like much happens, but oh, it does.

New Characters: Ben, Eko, Bernard, Libby, Desmond, Alex, Tom, Penny, Charles Widmore, DHARMA

I have to give honorable mention to What Kate Did, The Hunting Party, and One of Them

6. Season 2 Episode 13 – The Long Con

Island: The crew has finally met the "others" and Jack wants to attack them. But no one else is really on board. Sun is attacked in the jungle and this fires everyone up to go after the "Others". Locke has Sawyer hide the guns, but Sawyer ends up taking them.

Flashback: Sawyer does a Long Con with a woman named Cassidy. He ends up falling for her, but ends up still betraying her in the end.

This is definitely the best Sawyer episode. This is Sawyer at his best, or worst, but we also see signs of some redeeming qualities in him. The episode is so much more layered than my little summary. There is the further rift between Locke and Jack and much of the idea about the long con – having someone else think what you want them to do is there idea – has a lot to do with Ben, the "others", and even Jacob.

5. Episode 10 – The 23rd Psalm

Island: Charlie takes Eko to the plane and Eko finds his dead brother Yemi, tells Charlie he is a priest.

Flashback: Great flashback of Mr. Eko as a child, then a brutal gangster, then Yemi saving Eko.

This is definitely also in the category of single character episode. Nothing really has too big of an impact on the rest of the series, but it give you what you want, more information about Mr. Eko. Reciting the 23rd psalm was a bit melodramatic. The flashbacks are really the best part of the episode here. Oh, and Eko confronts the Smoke Monster. Yes!

4. Episode 3 – Orientation

Island: Jack and Locke learn more about the Hatch in the DHARMA Initiative video. Desmond flees.

Flashback: Locke meets Helen and tries to get over what his father did to him.

Orientation just builds off the steam of the first two episodes. You really, really want to know what the island is, what the hatch is, why they have to push the button. What you get is this awesome, grainy orientation film, which, like any good piece of Lost, raises more questions than are answers. Great scenes with Locke and Jack and Desmond and Jack. This one really continues to get you hooked. Would you push the button?

3. Episode 7 – The other 48 Days

Island: Shannon has just been killed

Flashback: Pretty much the entire episode is the flashbacks of the tail section survivors.

Watching this episode seems to happen in 10 minutes. So much is happening. You really want to take in every single piece. I think it was brilliant to introduce the tail section people slowly over 4 or 5 episodes and then give them this feature. You again have all the intensity and chaos of the first episode of the series. You have many similar things that happened over the course of season one happening in this 45 minutes episode. We see how Eko got his stick, we see our first glimpses of the others, see some redeeming qualities in Ana Lucia, and we see where the fear that these people have has come from. The best bits are Ana thinking this guy is an "other" but being wrong and then finally confronting Goodwin and killing him. Yes. Action packed!

2. Episode 1 – Man of Science. Man of Faith

Island: Jack, Kate, and Locke enter the hatch.

Flashback: Jack saving Sarah and the miracle that heals her. Oh and a great scene with Jack and Christian and Jack and Desmond?

Well, starting the season with a bang indeed. This was one of those episodes that you did not want to end. You wanted to learn as much as possible. And I have to mention the awesome beginning sequence, one of the best scenes of the series – check it out. I love the camera scan up the hatch mirroring the camera scan down the in season one's finale.

You are really in the same position as the characters. You want to know what this hatch is, what this place is, who his weird dude is. There is so much suspense, you don't even care that the fate of the raft is not addressed. So much suspense! It was pretty much a toss up between this ep and the my choice for #1. Oh, and even the title is great. Is it referring to John and Jack, Desmond and Jack, Desmond and John, Jack and his father, all of them? Very nice. And the song "Make your own kind of music" applies to Locke and Desmond, maybe Charles and Ben.

1. Episode 23 – Live Together, Die Alone

Island: Wow, just watch it.

Flashback: Pretty much everything you need to know about Desmond – how he got to the island and why, what he did on the island and in the hatch, and what happened the day of the plane crash

Seriously, this episode is full of action, too full of action to summarize. You have a "breaking of the fellowship" of sorts. (I could really extend this metaphor, but will hold back) Everyone is off doing their own thing – getting Walt, stopping the button from being pushed, finding weird statues. One thing I remember from watching it the first time, is that even though it was a trap, I really thought Jack and Sayid would save the day. Then all of a sudden they are tasered and caught. The hatch/button scene was great as well, lots of emotion and action. Great flashbacks! One drawback was that the final scene was Claire kissing Charlie – lame. But what put it over #2 on our list was the awesomeness that happened right before and right after Desmond turned the key. Especially love all the magnetic stuff and Desmond's leap of faith.

Best Season Two Scenes:

Obviously the first scene of episode one and the climax of the final episode

Crazy raw emotion from Mr. Eko when he finds his brother

There are loads of intense Jack scenes, but I'm not sure if anything is as emotional as when he learns Sarah is leaving him in The Hunting Party

Locke's finding the crazy map in Lockedown

Adrift – Michael and Sawyer finding Jin escaping and when the ask him what is – "Others"

What Kate Did – Scene with her adopted father, another great layered episode

Abandoned – Shannon getting shot by Ana-Lucia, Michael asking the Tailies "What happened to you people?" and Ana telling shedding a bit of light on their story

Collision – the reunion of Jin and Sun and Rose and Bernard – one of the best scenes of the series

Two for the Road – Michael shooting Ana Lucia and Libby

All of Ben's Crazy manipulation of Locke


Jack: Don't. It's not real. Look, you want to push the button, you do it yourself.
Locke: If it's not real, then what are you doing here, Jack? Why did you come back? Why do you find it so hard to believe?
Jack: Why do you find it so easy?
Locke: It's never been easy!

The Long Con: Music on the radio with Sayid and Hurley - foreshadowing season 5 time travel?

Live Together – Michael: "Who are you people?"

Ben: "We’re the good guys"

Unnecessary Connections and reveals:

Locke being Nadia's home inspector

Libby at the mental institution with Hurley

Libby giving Desmond her husband's boat

The US military guy getting Sayid to torture his fellow prisoner being Desmond's Hatch mate, though it was cool when it was revealed he spoke Arabic.

Kate's Mom as Sawyer's waitress in The Long Con

I'm sure there are more.

Characters Stock Market:

Jin: Moving up quickly

Desmond: Buy now, sharp rise coming soon

Jack: Slowly decreasing

Sawyer: Slowly increasing

Kate: Steady

Locke: Steady

Ana Lucia: volatile

Sayid: Steady

Charlie: Up and Down

Hurley: Stagnant

I would advise you to watch Live Together and Man of Science before the next season starts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lost: Best Episodes - Season 1

Time for an exciting topic.
I preparation for the final season of LOST, I have been rewatching the entire series. I set out to put together my list of best episodes, but due to time constraints and the fact that I feel I would be selling lots of great episodes and moments short, I decided to go season by season, listing my favorite episodes (which I think are the best episodes) and then end with the final list of the best episodes of the series. You know, build the suspense.
Exciting stuff. A daunting task, but a fun task, and definitely not as difficult as the Simpsons countdown.

Criteria: There is no real point system or anything but things I look for other than the obvious entertainment factor are quality of flashback, how it relates to the entire series, how it develops character, what questions it answers/raises, flow of episode and flow of series.

Lost Season 1 Best Episodes:

Things were very different in season one than they are now. Season 1 was much simpler. And I think that is a good thing. You are learning about the island along with the characters. You are sort of in the same position as them. Upon watching this episodes for the second or third time, I was much more drawn to the flashbacks than when first viewed. They are not only additional information and introduction, but great stories in themselves.

6. Episode 4 - Walkabout -
Island: Locke's hunting prowess is shown. Memorial Service for the dead
Flashback: Locke's life before the crash - job where no one respects him, his "girlfriend" is a phone sex girl, he goes to Australia for a walkabout

This is in the top 3 ever for some people, but I think it is a bit over rated. The best thing about it is the big reveal - that Locke was in a wheelchair before the crash and can now walk. The flashbacks are the best part of this episode, though, which usually isn't a good sign. There is also a good scene with Jack and Rose, but momentum was definitely slowed in the episodes following the Pilot.

5. Episode 17 - In Translation -
Island: Someone burns the raft. Michael thinks it is Jin and confronts him in front of everybody.
Flashback: Jin is working for Sun's father and has to send a message to one of his employees. Jin doesn't do it effectively and Sun's father sends a hit man. Jin intervenes and beats the mess out of this guy. Jin visits his father and decides to leave his job and go to the US.

I'm not usually a big fan of Jin/Sun centered episodes, I mean we get it, she is rich, he is poor, and she was going to leave him, but upon rewatching this episode it is a very strong, flowing episode. The highlight is Jin learning that Sun speaks English when Michael was seemingly about to kill him after thinking Jin burned down the raft. That is followed by Locke coming in and telling everyone that they are not the only people on the island, the first real acknowledgment of the "Others". The Jin flashbacks are great - the contrast of him with Sun's father and doing his enforcer work with the very touching scene with his own father was very well done. Then there is the reveal at the end that Walt burned the raft. This ep marks distinct changes in the relationships of Michael/Jin, Michael/Walt, and sets the ground work for the dynamic change of the Jin/Sun relationship.

4. Episode 13 - Hearts and Minds - Island: Boone is going to tell Shannon about the hatch. Locke knocks him out and ties him up so he cannot do it. Boone wakes up, gets out, saves Shannon, then the Smoke Monster gets Shannon. We do not know until the end that is was a test for Boone and a hallucination.
Flashback: Shannon tricks Boone into coming to Australia to save her from an abusive relationship. She cons Boone out of the money, but then her man leaves her anyways. Boone and Shannon hook up. It's revealed that Boone loves Shannon.

The Boone/Shannon flashback episode. This episode loses some steam after Boone and Shannon are both dead within a season, but it was very entertaining, edge of your seat stuff. It reveals a lot of the Shannon/Boone relationship, but also begins to hint at other key story ideas like letting go, choosing sides, Locke possibly being crazy, and a Locke/Jack feud. Also, even though it was a hallucination, it was tight to see the Smoke Monster in action.

3. Episode 1 and 2 - Pilot - I don't think I need to say much about this one. Lost had us hooked from the start, and the intensity and the questions already risen in the first episode have a lot to do with that.

2. Episode 5 - White Rabbit - Island: Running out of water. Jack sees his dead father and heads out into the jungle to find him and his casket and stumbles upon a water source.
Flashback: Jack as a child with this father, Jack and his mother, Jack going to get his father's body.

I once remember someone asking me if I was a "Jack Person" or a "Sawyer Person". I am obviously a Jack Person, and usually like Jack-centric episodes the best, especially in season one. The question evolved more into a Jack or Locke person, which is a totally different story. Anyways, Jack flashbacks are usually the best. This one spans his childhood to his getting his Dad's casket on the plane, the first of many very intense Jack scenes, which could be its own entire list. Aside from Jack, this episode introduces a lot of keep ideas and motifs that will last the entire series - magic, the power of the island, fate, and introduces a key piece of Lostology from Jack "But if we can't, live together... we're gonna die alone."
There is also a great example of the season 1 technique, the episode ending montage with music in the background and almost a steady cam shot panning through many of the characters.

1. Episode 11 - All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues -
Island: Jack, Kate, Boone, and Locke go off to find Claire and Charlie. Jack finds Ethan and eventually Charlie. Boone and Locke find the hatch.
Flashback: Jack's father works on a patient when he is under the influence of alcohol. After much internal debate, Jack narcs on his father.

This is where Lost really raises the stakes. I'm talking obviously about Ethan here. At the time we did not know about the Others, but just that Ethan wasn't on the plane. He really kicked the shit out of Jack and left Charlie to die. We see Jack almost insane with desire to save Charlie and Claire, something that will rear its head again many times. You have Jack not giving up and saving Charlie. On the other side, which might be even better, you have the beginning of the Locke/Boone bromance and the discovery of the Hatch. And I have not even mentioned the great Jack/Christian flashback or the show's title which obviously refers to Jack as seen in the flashback, but also Sawyer, Kate, Locke, Walt, and Claire. Man, a great Lost episode, has it all.

Best scenes of Season 1:
Jin with his Father
"Live together or die alone"
Ethan vs. Jack
Ep 23 and 24 Exodus - A great scene where Walt gives Vincent to Shannon, then Vincent chases after the raft when it sets sail, very touching
And the first view of the hatch, the camera panning down, which will be used in the opposite way in the premier the next season
Pilot - Kate sutures Jack
Ep 12 Whatever the Case May Be - Great scene between Rose and Charlie, basically she tells him he can't just sit and mope because he lost Claire. Everyone has lost someone and is in a horrible situation and they are doing work, so he has to too.
Ep 15 Homecoming - a real short, real great scene here when they are about to go into the jungle to find Claire, Jack gives Locke a gun and says I'm guessing you know how to use this. Locke loads it, chambers the round at just gives Jack a great smile. Nice.
Ep 19 Deus Ex Machina - This one just missed the top 6, great scene after Locke realizes what his father has done, but the classic scene where Locke is questioning all that has happened and why Boone died and then the hatch lights up - ok just watch it
And my favorite scene of the season, again pretty simple - from "All the Best Cowboys..."
I could not find a video, so I'll give you the rundown. Boone and Locke are out in the Jungle looking for Claire. Boone has already asked Locke about his past and where he learned all this stuff. Locke tells Boone it will start raining in one minute. A minute later it starts to pour.
Boone: You learned this at a BOX company?!!
Great delivery, great build up, and it ends with Locke standing triumphantly in the Rain. Love it. And if you can't tell by now, I have a severe man crush on Boone

Favorite Characters: Jack, Boone, Sayid
Most Intriguing: Locke, Rousseau
Most Hated: Sawyer - dude was a straight jerk for most of the first season
Most Annoying - Claire
Most Attractive: Shannon, Kate
Things you want to know more about: Well, everything - the hatch, who took Walt, the polar bear, Ethan, Claire's baby, why Locke was in a wheelchair, the numbers, Rousseau's story

There you go, season one in a nutshell. More to come over the next few weeks.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sports Thoughts

Not sure how to start this post.

Of course I am talking about the Packers game yesterday. It was a pretty amazing game. We just ended up on the wrong side of it. We'll have to add this one to the Wisconsin Sports Despair post. It could've been perfect. It was a weird game. Did the Packers blitz once? What happened to the defense? Rodgers hasn't forced a pass like that all season, yet he does on the first play. Some great emotional highs at the end - Rackers missing the kick, winning the coin toss, but then it was all over. So much went wrong but we still had a chance to win. 1st Play of overtime, man. That was it. Should've won it.
Also, apparently Fitzgerald can just knock Woodson down as much as he wants and Cardinals can hit Rodgers helmet first in the head (second play of overtime) and grab his facemask (last play of overtime). But, like I said, we still had a chance, and that's all you can ask for.
A Sad night in Green Bay. But next year we will win the Super Bowl. I am confident in that. Young team, starting to hit stride. I can't even think of a need that must be addressed in the off season - I guess offensive line and special teams.
Only reason left to watch the playoffs? To see Favre lose.
I guess I will root for the Saints and Chargers.

Great Badgers Basketball game Saturday beating the undefeated Purdue. Wisconsin pretty much handled Purdue in the second half. Jordan Taylor was the man again. Jason Bohannon actually stepped up. He made 3 pointers and a few drives! We won even when Leuer was off his game. And Nankivil barely played for the second straight game. Ryan Evans must've been feeling confident after getting a shout-out from Big Dunc, as he contributed well all game.
This team is really a contender for the Big 10. They have a great inside and outside game. I thought that lack of frontcourt depth could really hurt them, but winning with Leuer having such a poor game was great to see. The key as I said, is Jordan Taylor's ability to play the point and let Hughes be the off guard.
This game not only icreased my hope for this season, but the future as well. The young kids played well, and can a Bo Ryan team really ever be bad?

I also realized a change in my sporting preferences, or moreso my dedication to teams. Badger basketball has really been moving up the list. Speaking of lists, here's the list, in order, or teams I an most interested in, or teams I most root for.

1. Everton - English football. I guess waking up early almost every Saturday or Sunday proves my dedication. Everton's winning or losing can actually effect my mood. They haven't won a trophy since I've been a fan, but something about my personality makes me like them even more because of that.
2. Badger Basketball - My love for Badger basketball has increased pretty steadily since I left campus. Something about Bo Ryan basketball is great too watch. I've found myself changing around my schedule so I can watch games. And I watch the entire game, no channel flipping. It is great!
3. Packers - I am a huge Packers fan, but games are long. I've found myself missing a few and often flip through channels during games to watch movies like 10 Things I Hate About You and The Sum of All Fears. My dedication is not where it used to be.
4. Brewers - I am definitely not a fair weather Brewer fan. If I do not see the game or listen to it, I definitely look for the score. I still root for the Brewers no matter how far out of the playoff chase they are. There are 162 games, so it's good to always know that the Brewers will be playing, but it's a bad thing because if you miss one game, it doesn't really matter
5. Badgers Football - I probably only saw about half the games this year. College football is too long. Games take over 3.5 hours. And we always play at 11:00am. I might be classified as a fair weather Badger football fan because I am excited about next year.
6. Southampton - Southampton is the city I studied in while in England. I saw many games and have a personal tie to the team. The have moved down two divisions since I left, so there is no conflict with Everton.
7. Bucks - I like the Bucks and root for them, but really don't care much. Sometimes I don't even know that they played. I would rather watch Man vs. Food than a close 4th quarter of a Bucks game.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Return of the Flat Top

I'm sure by now you have all seen the return of the Brandon Jennings' tight flat top fade. He sported it during the McDonald's All-American game, but probably got rid of it in Italy. For most of this Bucks career he had little puff braids, but starting with Tuesday's game against the Nets, Jennings is back to the beloved flat top. In honor of Jennings (below), I thought I'd give you a sampling of some of the best flat tops in recent memory.
Ryan Evans for the Badgers has more of a classic flat top.

And of course you can't talk about the high flat top fade without mentioning Kid n' Play

I couldn't find a picture, but I know Mike Anderson from Channel 12 News rocked the flat top for many years, and I think an afro before that.

I remember Jack Sikma having a flat top, but it appears to be some flat top/mullet amalgamation.

Chris Mullin flat top sporting, alcoholic, gambling addict - even his bobble head has the flat top

Kurt Russell in Stargate - military version

Guile from Street Fighter 2 - Look at that thing. A Family of 4 could have an entire meal on that thing. Flatness!

And, of course, Ivan Drago. Yes." I must break you (with my flat top)."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


New Year, whoo! Time for more predictions. In the year 2010.......
Well, check back on my 2008 predictions, I think about 4% of them came true. Hopefully this time I'll be a little closer to the mark.

In the year 2010.....
-the Milwaukee Brewers will make the playoffs (starting out bold)
- the Lost finale with disappoint (staying bold)
- Brandon Jennings will not be Rookie of the Year
- Everton will not win any trophies
- Wisconsin Badgers basketball will win either the Big 10 regular season or Big 10 tournament
- Wisconsin Football will make a BSC Bowl
- The Republican Party will gain lots of seats in the House but only 2 seats in the Senate
- The Olympics will be somewhat interesting
- Tron, Robin Hood, Priest, and Toy Story 3 will be tight
- The A-Team, The Karate Kid, and Little Fockers will suck
- I will begin writing the Great American Graphic Novel
- I will go on a date
- I will get a real job or get into a great masters program
- I will get into great shape
- I will be on Survivor
- The US will make the Quarterfinals of the World Cup
- Three celebrities that might die - Lil Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Winona Ryder
- chances of me leaving Milwaukee 45%
- purple will be the hot fashion color
- Alicia Keys will still be super hot

There you go. Looks like 2010 will be an exciting year. I'm ready. Are you.

One more prediction
In the year 2011.......
The Green Bay Packers will win the Superbowl