Friday, February 27, 2009

TBG TV: Lost - "The Life & Death of Jeremy Bentham"

The Good:

The whole Tunisian "hospital" scene was gloriously graphic – by commercial television standards. Just a frenzied assault on the senses between the pills washed down with cloudy water, the "BITE! BITE!" barking and, finally, Locke passing out from the pain of having a compound fracture set by, ummm…somewhat unsanitary standards.

A few weeks ago, I bitched about the "Charles Widmore was once on the island" revelation as being thrown out there (seemingly) solely for shock value. Widmore offered up more out-of-nowhere exposition this week, but it served a purpose here. Obviously, he was just pulling Locke's strings (even if Widmore's claim of long-ago island leadership is authentic) and nicely reestablished the core conflict between Widmore and Ben Linus.

Gotta admit, it was something of a guilty pleasure to watch Jack and Kate take such wonderfully mean-spirited swipes at Locke. Kate's "look how far you've come" gut punch was especially venomous.

"Boy's gotten big." New favorite line of the season!

The Bad:

I couldn't have been the only to notice the passing resemblance in character between the late Ana Lucia and the island's newest ethnic hotness, Ilana. I'm sure (hope?) there'll be more here than meets the eye, but after her first two appearances, I'm wondering why the writers didn't just call "Ilana" something like "Ana 2-cia". No? How 'bout "Ana Lu-sequel"? No? Not funny at all? Not even a little?

Did Locke really need the Obi-Wan Kenobi "hood n' cape" reveal in the opening scene? Was that an inside nod that went way over my head?

Fine. They had to write Matthew Abaddon's awesome "Reddick" character out of the show. Here's hoping that the FOX network's Fringe turns into a multi-season success, catapulting Abaddon into the pantheon of eight steadily working African-American actors. But, could the writers have come up with a more inglorious exit for the character than aping Driving Miss Daisy? And, to see Reddick felled with a shotgun blast just reeks of sloppiness on the part of Widmore – a man who seems to have planned for every circumstance.

Let's just put all the Walt stuff right here: (1) Maybe it's the puberty, but Malcolm David Kelley's awkward line readings were downright brutal. I can see trying to convey confusion and nerves in the context of the scene, but it didn't look like he was acting there. (2) Considering all the trauma Walt has endured, he sure seemed, I dunno…indifferent towards seeing the one person he bonded with on the island besides his father. (3) Walt hasn't seen his last living parent in years. And, his inquiry to Locke about his dad's whereabouts was tantamount to "Ya seen my old man, around? Tell him I said 'hey'."

I guess it's too late for me to avoid turning into "that guy", but come on. Locke's personal chauffeur is blown away in hail of gunfire, blood and broken glass. In a panic, Locke is able to seamlessly jump from the back seat to the front seat (with a broken leg), start the car, put it in drive and get the hell out of there in less than six seconds?

OK…I always catch hell when I say things like this, but I could see Ben's murderous swerve coming a mile away. Jin's alive? Hmmm. Eloise Hawking? Hawking? She's the one to see about getting back to the island? Oh, and you have to die, you say? Let me process all this mentally…got it. Now, die!

Verdict: This was actually a pretty strong episode, with most of my criticisms amounting to a pile of nitpicking. Locke's chronic gullibility never gets old and the hope here is that his resurrection finally - finally - propels him to realizing his "importance" and at long last pushing back on those who've pulled his puppet strings for the past five seasons.


SHough610 said...

Malcolm David Kelley has ALWAYS been a terrible actor. It just got more pronounced as he got older because we're used to young kid actors being terrible.

Tell me you watched The Wire... Every time I see Reddick, Michael K. Williams, or any of the other denizens of Baltimore from David Simon's show I clap my Dorito stained forearms together in joy.

But about LOST, Locke is hands down my favorite character. Locke, Ben, Sayid, and Desmond have managed to remain interesting and have been on the show either since the beginning or close to the beginning.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Don't get me wrong. I, too, share your disdain (mine's more of an "irrational hatred") for child actors.

That said, in the first two seasons, I didn't think Kelley was any better/worse than any other child actor told to imitate adult emotions. Hell, he was a zillion times more interesting watching Sawyer's knuckle-dragging grunts the first few years.

I've always thought the writers overplayed their hand a little with the Walt character - playing him up as one of the "keys" to the show, then punting on him when he grew three feet between seasons.