If you haven’t seen the latest, please assume spoilers. Also, to go off on a tangent for a moment, I am really starting to get pissed with Jezebel for putting Lost spoilers above the cut on Thursdays. And yes, they are spoilers even if the show has aired, because many many people do not watch things when they broadcast, at this point. As one poster put it in the comment threads, trumpeting “DUMBLEDORE DIES” everywhere the day after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published would have been a spoiler, even though the book was out, because people hadn’t read it yet. And, in fact, mean-spirited people did go out of their way to spoil the book for people, and I think that really sucks.
I have no problem with posting reviews/recaps/discussions which contain spoilers, but if spoilers could not be BLARED IN THE HEADLINES, that would be great. Like this post, I figure if someone hasn’t seen the latest, they can just scroll by really quickly and not read anything damaging, because the spoiler isn’t BOLDFACED AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE. There has to be a balance between dissecting shows after they air and not spoiling people. Jezebel completely spoiled Lost for me this week, and it makes me never want to read their site again. I certainly won’t be reading on Thursdays anymore, that’s for sure. Especially for famously plot-driven and twisty shows like Lost this should be a no brainer, and pretty much every Lost fan site ON EARTH has an explicit policy which deals with this sort of thing; reviews on io9, for example, don’t have spoilers before the cut. Lostopedia has a big ole bunch o’ crap at the top of the page so that if you land on it, you won’t see spoilers until you scroll down. This is how it should be, people!
Ok. on with the television.
It has Nathan Fillion, so I pretty much had to start watching it, but I have reserved my opinion on this freshman series thus far. The pilot was very rough (as pilots always are), and I’m not really sure where the show is going, at this point. The basic premise is kind of cute: you have a bestselling crime author who ends up partnering with a police officer for “research.” Fillion, as the author, plays a classic spoiled brat (with the twist of a teenage daughter), and Stana Katic, as the police officer, is smart, hard-nosed, and often unintentionally funny.
This week, I think I finally put my finger on one of the things that bothers me about this show. It’s that Castle (the eponymous hero) is always portrayed as much smarter and more on top of it than the police. Indeed, the show almost seems to insult their intelligence, with Castle figuring out the last minute brilliant twist, and them slavering in his wake.
Sure, Detective Kate Beckett tends to rock the interrogations and questionings, but the show seems to play on the idea that she has a good poker face, and that’s about it. Without her author hero, she would be totally lost and unable to solve cases. He’s the one who gets all the big breaks, and charms everyone, and the show almost seems to reward him for being a privileged brat. Maybe I just know too many privileged brats in real life, and that’s what makes this show so hard to relate to.
Woah, what an episode this week! It was kind of nice to return to a character-centric episode, after last week’s, which was a little bit all over the place, and some very interesting things happened in this episode.
Obviously, the big payoff was Sayid shooting Young Ben. It’s kind of the classic time traveler’s dilemma: if you could kill Hitler, would you? And since Daniel Faraday is MIA (hopefully we’ll be hearing more about that), and we don’t know how reliable he was as a source to begin with, we don’t know what the implications of Sayid’s action might be. Is Ben dead? Will Adult Ben die if he sets foot on the Island?
The typical setup for things like this is alternative timelines, which makes the most sense to me. If that’s the case, the show now has a irrevocably split timeline: 1977 on the Island with the Dharma Initiative, and the modern day. Is this how they’re going to play it? And, if so, how are the timelines going to reconcile? Or are they? Presumably the Purge isn’t happening now, which means that Dharma might actually be active when the plane crashes this time, which would be…interesting.
I also found Sawyer’s behavior in this episode very intriguing, as he tries to cleave to the life he has established for himself. The moment when he voted to kill Sayid was pretty intense. Obviously, he intended to go free him, and probably thought that voting yes would be the best way to look inconspicuous, but that’s still a pretty intense thing to do, to vote for the death of a friend (sort of). Sayid, meanwhile, seems to be having some kind of bizarre religious/redemption experience.
I also feel obliged to mention, yet again, my irritation with female characters on Lost. Juliette seems really one-dimensional at this point, and I dislike the idea that the show seems to be propagating, that she and Kate and interchangeable, flipping back and forth between Jack and Sawyer like ping pong balls. They are either the other women or the kept women, with no identities of their own. Gag.
Once again, a very solid episode, which in some ways I liked more than this week’s Dollhouse. We’re obviously ramping up for the season finale (and hopefully just the season finale), which is very near to hand. For example, now we know who the “major male character” that would die is. Although I don’t know if I view him as major. Honestly, I’d kind of forgotten about him. I think they should have reintroduced him in a two-parter to remind us that he existed, and then killed him off once people remembered and liked him. Oh well.
It was interesting to see Cameron and Reese working together, although they obviously distrust each other. And I really liked to see John taking charge. It makes me think that there’s going to be a major breakaway, in which he will defy his mother and strike out on his own. I believe that he’s making the right choice to trust Cameron and Reese. Cameron because, well, she’s programmed to protect him, and Reese because he’s human, and learning from his mistakes. Oddly enough, that concept was referenced in the subplot with John Henry, when Weaver talked about the fact that once John Henry has been fooled once, he won’t be fooled again.
I’ve got Tristan to blame for getting so invested in this show in the first place, but my deep love of it makes me wonder: why aren’t more people loving it? This show should not be in danger of cancellation, because it is amazing. It is actiony, yes, but it’s also emotionally complex, with real character development, and real situations, even if they are within the framework of a science fiction world. I feel like a lot of people aren’t giving it a chance because it’s a scifi show, or maybe because it’s so plot-heavy that it’s hard to just jump into at this late date. It’s well worth the effort, though.
“Drawer of inappropriate starches…”
So, I feel like this episode is one that I’ve seen before. “Band Candy” from Buffy, maybe, or perhaps “Tabula Rasa.” Could be “Spin the Bottle” from Angel. The point is, Joss has done the “incapacitate the characters/force them to express their true selves” thing before. Granted, it was done in an interesting way in “Echoes,” as the Actives and the non-Actives responded very differently, and quite frankly, it was a fun episode, it’s just that the core concept felt a bit stale to me.
And yes, I did like the idea of actives glitching to traumatic memories, and giving us a glimpse of their past. Adele and Topher going loony tunes was pretty amusing, and added some great comic relief to a pretty emotionally intense episode. It does feel a little bit early, almost like Joss is trying to get through the good stories before the show gets canceled, but on the other hand, he needs to advance the plot at some point, so why not do it now. And we are definitely in the Joss zone now, where really good television starts to happen, and I start really loving it.
One of the interesting things I’ve been noting in responses to this episode is that a lot of people seem to have a problem with the idea of Caroline as an animal rights activist. To the point that people now claim to dislike the character. Now, being a big fan of animal rights, and hugely opposed to animal testing, I happened to like that facet of her character, and I liked that she was trying to expose a very bad company.
Whatever one’s beliefs on animal testing (an outdated, vile, and scientifically questionable practice) might be, I think it’s clear that they were up to some seriously Not Good Shit, what with the mind-altering chemicals and the experimenting on fetuses. And I don’t think that bad companies should be allowed to get away with what they are doing, whether it’s tormenting animals for profit or selling defective body armor, and Caroline did the right thing by trying to expose them. I also think it’s pretty awesome of Joss to do, to give Caroline a very real persona, and I’m a bit surprised by how much it seems to have polarized fans. It’s a good thing I have a thick skin, because some of the comments I read about animal rights activists and animal rights in general on sites like Whedonesque were pretty horrific. Maybe Caroline’s story, as it unfolds more, will give those small minded bigots some room for pause, or personal growth.
(For more info on animal rights, and animal testing in particular, here are some resources: the National Anti-Vivisection Society, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association/Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Research Alternatives to Animal Testing, and the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.)