Spoilers, etc, consider yourself warned. Also, a side note: these Week in Television posts definitely do not reflect everything that I have watched in a given week. Rather, they’re shows that I watched that I have something to say about, which is why things come and go. Maybe I’ll pull together a complete list of everything that I am watching at some point, for everyone’s general edification.
Finally, we’re back on the Island, finding out what pulled everyone back to Dharma time. I don’t have too much commentary about this episode, but I do want to briefly address the women of Lost, because the portrayal of women on the show is really starting to bother me.
Disclaimer: I don’t like Kate or Juliet. Kate seems incredibly inconsistent, whiny, and irritating. She’s the kind of person that I would like to give a firm slap across the face to, and that’s not a gender thing, it’s a personality thing. Her flip-flopping between the two men in power also irritates me from a feminist perspective, because, hello, why can’t she be her own woman? Jeez. Juliet just annoys me because she seems kind of vacant, and highly manipulative, and she gets this stupid “soulful” expression on her face pretty much every time the camera zooms in on her, and it irritates me. She reminds me of this teacher I had in college who would go “um hm, um hm, um hm” and nod frantically every time you talked, attempting to convey deep interest but really just waiting for her turn to go.
So, I don’t like the way that Lost deals with women. Like, really really. All of the women feel like secondary characters to me, and they are often treated as pretty much disposable, like Charlotte, who was killed off once her basic function had been served. Now, maybe if the last season hadn’t been truncated, we would have seen her character develop a bit more, but as it was, I feel like she was a total redshirt. Just like the woman at the beginning of the series who gets caught in the tide. A throwaway disposable plot device.
Look at Shannon, who is portrayed as the stereotypical helpless blonde who can’t do anything for herself, and must instead manipulate men to get things done. Her brother, Boone, could just as easily have been the person who was totally unable to function on the Island, but no, it had to be the conventionally attractive blonde girl. Claire usually feels more like set dressing than a character, alternately hysterical over something or totally absent, and Penny, as a character, hasn’t been fleshed out at all. Everything we know about her is seen through the all-important lens of Desmond.
It’s not just the female characters aren’t sympathetic or interesting, it’s that they aren’t really there, as people. When they do make choices and try to assert themselves, the outcome is usually poor, and the attitude is “oh, that silly woman, trying to do things, what manner of craziness is this?” They’re damaged, like Ana Lucia, or they’re turncoat traitors, like Cindy.
The women in this show don’t seem to have much self reliance, or the ability to stand up for themselves and make decisions. They pretty much go along with the men, and this was really highlighted in “LaFleur,” as Juliet complied with Sawyer even when she thought that he was making bad decisions. The men are kept firmly in authority, even when their authority is questionable. Women who can get shit done, like Naomi, are killed off.
Holy game changer, Batman! I know that the first five episodes are basically self-encapsulated, but they are definitely building on the material, and the remote wipe was a totally new and awesome twist in the story.
I think we also learned a lot about Topher in this episode. I loved the moment when his assistant says “Echo could die,” and he seems totally unphased, more interested in the technical accomplishment of the remote wipe. It’s fascinating to contrast him with Boyd, because Boyd clearly views Echo as a human being, and experiences deep conflict about what’s going on, while Topher essentially views the Actives as, well, buffalo.
I am also really digging the process of Echo’s self-actualization. One of the reviews of the show I read recently had a very valid critique: where does it go from here? Once Echo fully awakens, what happens? It’s a pretty major weak point, and one of the issues I’ve had with the show from the start, so I’m hoping that we get to see where Whedon is taking this. If Fox cancels Dollhouse, I’m going to be left wondering about what could have been.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I was a bit worried about this week’s episode, since I’d heard scuttlebutt that the producers were “responding” to complaints about the exploration of Sarah’s mind and mental state, and I was afraid that we were going to go back to the wham bam thank you ma’am stuff from the first season that didn’t really grip me.
Thus, I was pleased when this episode managed to mingle psychology, complex plot development, and action. I think that the biggest criticism I’ve heard of the last few episodes is that they are “slow” and “boring,” which just goes to show you that people don’t appreciate good television when they see it, and I am unbelievably stoked that the producers managed to balance the desire for action with the need to actually tell a story.
Plus, there was way more Cameron this week, which was super exciting. And, may I say, HOORAY, RILEY IS DEAD! Yippee! Now if only Jesse could go back to wherever she came from, so that everything would be golden. Oh, except for Skynet.
I gather that a number of loose ends are being tied up in these few episodes, which strongly suggests to me that no one thinks Terminator is coming back for a third season. I am hugely bummed about this, because the show is kind of a grand experiment, a blend of science fiction and drama which I found innovative and really interesting. It’s tragic that people can’t appreciate the show for what it is, and that we will probably never get a chance to see where Terminator could have gone.
This week’s episode mainly intrigued me because it had a funny backwards tie-in: the plot is about a computer which kills a computer scientist (sound familiar, Terminator fans?), only it turns out that the computer was really just a cover. And a fake; it’s not actually artificially intelligent, it’s just really well programmed. I thought it was a kind of funny juxtaposition, since I watched Terminator and Numb3rs back to back. And, as always, I love Larry as the voice of compassion in the midst of cold, calculating decisions. That moment at the end of the episode when the DARPA lady references Oppenheimer and all of the American and Japanese lives he saved by working on the atomic bomb, and Larry shoots back with “yeah, and look at the thanks he got when his security clearance was revoked,” was totally awesome. And so true. The government repeatedly penalizes its own best and brightest when they dare to speak out against things which are wrong.