Television: Lost finale

So last night the television series Lost came to a much heralded conclusion. Don't read any more than this if you haven't watched it yet and don't want it ruined for you.

Locke and Ben find Desmond—who was rescued from the well by Bernard and Rose, who have kept Vincent as a pet, just in case you wondered what happened to all of them—and are taking him to the center of the island (where the light is) to destroy it. Desmond is, as Jack would later put it, a kind of weapon. Apparently his natural resistance to electromagnetism has something to do with it, but whatever. (I can't help but wonder what Widmore planned to do with Desmond?)

Jack, Hurley, Kate and Sawyer also catch up with Locke, Ben and Desmond and it ends up coming down to Jack and Locke and Desmond going to the light and sending Desmond down to—as best I can figure—pull a giant drain plug. Which causes the island to begin falling apart, but slowly enough that Jack and Locke have time to fight it out on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Jack wins that one, and he sends Kate and Sawyer off on Locke's (which was Desmond's) boat to the other island so they can catch the plane with Miles, Richard, and Lapidus—and have just enough time to convince Claire to come along too.

Since the island, meanwhile, is still disintegrating, Jack leads Hurley (who refused to leave) and Ben back to the place where the light had been. Jack intends to go down and fix things; basically, he's going to go put the plug back in the Drain of Doom. Hurley is left to become the next new Jacob, with Ben as his sidekick. While Jack is at it, he ties the wounded but not dead Desmond to the rope so Hurley and Ben can lift him to safety and (hopefully) get him home.

As an aside, I just want to say, I thought the light/drain mythology bit was dumb. I like fantasy and Indiana Jones as much as anyone, but that was . . . I don't even have the words. Navel of the World tourist postcards forthcoming, I suppose?

Back in the sideways world, Desmond is working double time to pull everyone together so that they can trigger their island memories of one another. I won't get into all the ways it happens, but I will say Claire's and Charlie's moment made me tear up. Jack is the one left out of all this, or maybe he's just the most resistant to it. A moment with Locke after having done spinal surgery, another with Kate when he arrives too late for the concert . . . She then leads him to the church where his father's body has been sent after Oceanic's temporary misplacement of it. But Jack will discover that the coffin is empty. He'll see his father again and realize he himself is dead. And he's come to the place where he's being reunited with his loved ones. Which isn't to say they're all dead (yet, in "our" time, if there is such a thing in the show). But apparently the lovely thing about this "Heaven" is that they're there regardless, just as you best remember them. Because love is eternal and knows no time.

For the most part, I liked the ending. I found it hopeful and uplifting. Warm, really. I enjoyed some of the imagery, like opening the show with the progress of Christian Shepherd's coffin: a symbol for laying the show itself to rest. And I totally called it that the final image would be Jack's eye closing. The writers of the show certainly show a liking for symmetry.

As for the island side of things, I can only say I hope that (a) Bernard, Rose and Vincent suffered no ill effects from the earthquakes as the island was breaking apart, and (b) Desmond was able to get home to Penny and Charlie. I was really glad that Claire and Kate both were able to go back to Aaron; a nice balance against the fact that Sun and Jin did not get to go home to their daughter.

I originally wanted to believe that the sideways timeline was an alternative option for those who didn't get happy endings on the island. I haven't quite decided if it was or wasn't. Whether it was Jack writing all of that in his head or something bigger. One theory suggests that the moment of Jack's death occurs during the flight, at the point where Rose tells him it's okay to let go after the turbulence. But that might also just coincide with the moment Jack gets back to the island via Ajira and does let go, as in ceasing to attempt to control things or be the leader. My media studies degree notwithstanding, I'd have to go and watch a lot of stuff over again before coming up with a solid answer for myself.

But like Jack, I don't necessarily feel the need to do that. I've let go of Lost, and am happy to just let the experience of it wash over me . . . Like a bright, warm light.


Television: Bones

My favorite television show had its season finale last night, so it's time to take stock yet again.

Basically the episode set up the coming season as a time jump of one year. This is because [almost] everyone found something else to do for a year--like summer vacation only extended. Brennan agreed to head an anthropological site on the island of Maluku, and Daisy was going with her, leaving Sweets behind. (He had the option to go with her and decided against it--also deciding against "waiting" for her, so it'll be interesting to see what happens there). Booth agreed to go back into the Army for a year to teach the troops some sniper and tracking skills. Jack and Angela decided not to hang around and wait for all their friends, so they were skipping town to spend a year in Paris. Cam and Caroline were evidently left to hold down the fort.

At the end of the episode, as Brennan and Daisy said their good-byes to everyone at the airport before flying off for Maluku, Booth turned up in uniform and made a pact with Brennan to meet at the Reflecting Pool near the coffee cart in one year. This makes the opening for next season painfully predictable in that a year will have passed and Brennan and Booth will be awkward with one another, having changed and yet not changed . . . Like seeing an old college buddy or something. OR, alternatively, one of them won't show. At that will set off some other thing, what-have-you. I'm hoping the writers will surprise me and that neither of these things will actually happen. Though I'm not sure what else could happen.

Meanwhile, I still have questions about the beginning of this season and Booth's brain and such. Apparently all of that was dropped without notice at some point. I mean, if Booth had been having trouble remembering how to handle simple plumbing jobs, can he remember how to shoot and track well enough to teach Army recruits? As for being in love with Brennan, well, they dealt with that in the 100th episode, though the idea of it being a false feeling generated by his brain was never followed up on, either. This is me throwing my hands up and saying, "Are we just pretending none of that happened?" That's fine by me if we are, since I thought all that was a bit hokey anyway, but I'd like to know for sure one way or the other.

Certainly, I think the idea of a year away is a good one. A lot of shows are doing that kind of thing lately, so it may seem that Bones is jumping on a bandwagon here, but they needed to do something to keep things fresh. Or rather, to refresh things. So here's hoping for interesting developments in absentia. See you in the fall.

Book Review: The Red Pyramid

Rick Riordan
Hyperion, 2010
528 pages
hard cover


So if you've read Riordan's Percy Jackson books about how Percy is really the son of Poseidon, making him a half-god with cool powers, then you can substitute a brother-sister team for Percy and Egyptian gods for the Greek ones, and you've pretty much got The Red Pyramid summed up.

Carter Kane is 14 and travels the world with his Egyptologist father. His sister Sadie is 12 and lives in London with their maternal grandparents. Carter and Sadie only see each other twice a year, so they aren't particularly close. Until . . .

Riordan's books are formulaic, but that's not to say they aren't good. Though geared towards ages, oh, let's say 9 to 12, adults can find them entertaining as well. They aren't nearly as deep and involving as the Harry Potter books, but they hold their own.

The Red Pyramid is the first in Riordan's new series The Kane Chronicles. As the portal, so to speak, it does a fine job of setting up the rules and introducing the major players. Having Carter and Sadie alternate as narrators is a nice way to fill in perspective, though the gimmick of the author's opening and closing notes about having "found a recording that he's transcribed" falls a bit flat.

If you (or your kids, students, what-have-you) liked the Percy Jackson books, you'll probably like this too. Though you run the risk of getting bored with or tired of it, since it is so very similar. But Riordan has had a winning formula in the past, and has clearly decided not to tamper with what works.


Television: Happy Town

Why aren't you people watching this show? If you liked Twin Peaks, or The X-Files, or American Gothic, you should be watching Happy Town.

While Lost and FlashForward are good, they tend to be intense. Happy Town has all the dark drama but tempers it with quirk.

If you've missed out on the first couple episodes, they're available online. But to summarize: small town haunted by the disappearances of several residents. The locals refer to the perpetrator as "The Magic Man." A murder--of someone many suspected to be The Magic Man--turns the town on its head, even as the arrival of a strange new resident coincides with a delirious turn by the town's sheriff.

Now the sheriff's son turned acting sheriff is trying to solve the murder (well, he did that in Episode 2, but--) even as other strange things begin to happen . . .

Happy Town is definitely taking a few pages from the Twin Peaks play book, and Sam Neill is especially fun as a cinephile with something to hide.

The show, meanwhile, is in imminent danger of cancellation, though ideally ABC will let it play out over the summer at the very least. A boost in viewers would be helpful!

Book Review: Shades of Grey

Jasper Fforde
Viking, 2009
400 pages
hard cover


I love this book.

Like all Jasper Fforde's novels, it takes some toe-dipping to get into, but Fforde has earned the patience of his readers. His standard MO is to write completely unintelligible things for the first couple chapters until the reader starts to understand it and it begins to make some kind of strange sense. Think of it as cultural immersion, the same way a person might learn a new language by being surrounded by it. It always works out in the end, so long as you have the gumption to stick with it.

Fforde's track record with the Thursday Next series, and the Nursery Crime books, opens the door for him to write this completely unanchored novel, itself the first of a trilogy. Without giving too much away, I'll simply note that it takes place in a future where everything's gone a bit retrograde and status is determined by color—not of one's skin, but what color (and how much of it) one is able to see. Society labors under strict and strange rules handed down by a man named Munsell, and poor Eddie Russett strives to be good in a world populated by people who are bent on being bad.

The question becomes: is circumventing an oppressive government—breaking the rules—a bad thing? It depends on one's motives . . .

Fforde is as clever as ever here (though I have a couple questions for him, which I've posted on his Web site's forum—if you please, Mr. Fforde). He's created a world any parageographer could be proud of, and his characters are thorough, even if most seem beyond redemption. The reader feels Eddie's frustration, and in many cases finds him- or herself frustrated with Eddie in particular. But the main character's cluelessness is the perfect mode of travel for the reader, who is new to all that Eddie takes for granted and joins him on his learning curve.

Call it a tale of opening one's eyes after suffering blind faith in the system. A tale for the ages, and the kind of thing they'll be teaching in high school along side 1984 in another decade or so. Well worth a read, and certainly more satisfying if you can get a book club to take it on and discuss it afterward.