Sunday, February 28, 2010

The 2 Paragraph Review: The Substitue & The Lighthouse

So after the Kate episode Lost silenced me somewhat. My fervor after the premiere faded a bit and while I was happy with the Locke episode and while I was happy with the Jack episode, I wasn't overjoyed. I wasn't thrilled. Neither episode contains amazing revelations, revelations I feel every episode should now have. Every conversation seems to be: "I need you to do x." "Why do you need me to do x?" "Because I told you to do x but you have to make sure y does x with you." "But how should I do that?" "Just trust me?" "How can I trust you?" and it gets all very painstaking for me when even characters who are no longer of consequence, such as Sun, are asking the question "What makes you think I'll go with you?" of a character who is also not of consequence seemingly to make sure the dialogue has at least three questions in it, often ones that receive vague answers or no answers at all. Every conversation should not feel like pulling teeth, and there's something about these back and forth dialogues, particularly between the main cast and the new others that really aggravates me the first time around and detracts from the overall quality. This was all until I watched the episodes again, however, and realized that many of my gripes are resultant from the fact that I can't watch Lost the way it's meant to be watched, in sequence, many episodes in one sitting, without interruption. These dialogues are only aggravating when you know you have to wait a week or more to get the actual answers.

While The Substitute wasn't about Richard and monster-Locke the way I wanted it to be, it offered several great scenes between Sawyer and Locke and, when watched in conjunction with The Lighthouse, really advances the mystery of the numbers and offers an interesting insight into the world of Jacob. Terry O'Quinn is delivering an amazing performance and being able to see his range as a result of the "alternate reality" juxtaposition, as well as the small ways this aspect of the plot is advanced, are wonderful to see. Josh Halloway has slowly and subtlety proven himself to be one of the best actors on the show. Sawyer has been through some fantastic changes from the first episode until now and he may very well be, in terms of quality of writing and the marriage of that writing with his performance, the most finely constructed character on the show. We can always count on Jack for some of the best episodes, however, and The Lighthouse is my favorite of the season so far, apart from the premiere. Filled with homages to the first season, as well as exploring Jack's father-son issues from a new perspective, really breathes a bit of life into the show's main character who has been a bit dormant for two seasons. Seeing him struggle, hearing his pain, seeing him bash the mirror as he did his father's coffin, his reaction to his message on his son's answering machine and his subsequent conversation after the recital are all truly powerful moments completely resultant from the quality of the writing and the performance. Nowhere else can an audience experience this level of attention to detail from both story and performance. If Lost continues down this path, it will secure itself as the best show in television history.

The Elder Scrolls V: Dragon-Out Effect: What Bethesda and BioWare Can Learn From Each Other

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was my first experience playing an RPG. I saw the box at Gamestop and was intrigued. I liked what I saw on the back and thought it was worth a try. Then I played the beginning (keep in mind this is the first time I'm coming to an RPG after years of nothing but big name action titles) and was bored to death. I gave up after the first hour, and then I gave up again after a second attempt one year later. The graphics and combat just seemed so stale and uninteresting to me and it felt more like playing an interactive Powerpoint Presentation than a video game.

Then some more time went by and the summer laze kicked in and I decided to give it another try. I'm very thankful I made that decision. Doing so opened up a new world to me, and not just the one constructed so beautifully by Bethesda, but also the world of Role Playing Games and their various modern iterations.

The two publishers that seem to be releasing the best RPGs in video games right now are Bethesda and BioWare. Having played Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout, KOTOR, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age I can easily say that I prefer Bethesda. Bethesda brings a level of immersion and depth to their games that I feel is lacking in BioWare's. The two companies offer different experiences and have different goals, obviously, and BioWare certainly beats Bethesda in a number of areas, but I haven't experienced quite the level of awe I have while playing one of Bethesda's adventures. Nor, on a more practical note, have I felt limited in any way or felt forced to endure an unnecessary load time or that the game world lacked life. The basic functionality, the smoothness of gameplay has always been better with Bethesda's efforts. While both companies have created worlds that stole my consciousness away for hours on end, nothing can compare with the ability to freely explore the Wasteland of Fallout and the myriad of quests available to me in Morrowind or Cyrodill and the like. These open environments and the secrets they contain and the tales they tell truly make one feel as though they are visiting another living, breathing world for a few hours, where as BioWare's recent efforts are much more contained if not contrived, environments nothing more than options in a quick-travel menu (Mass Effect 2 being the best example of this). I would much rather see a smoke stack in the distance, a mountain, or a shine and think I want to go there and then go there with no interruption in the process, except perhaps some battles that earn me my much-desired XP along the way. Bethesda's also have better inventory screens...or at least they have inventory screens.

I cannot comprehend why the omitted inventory in Mass Effect 2 is being hailed as a blessing, as playing around with my ammo type and armor is something I love in RPGs and always want access to at all times. To not have that reduces the game to a shooter with RPG elements, rather than an RPG with shooter elements. It seems to me that the BioWare team behind Mass Effect decided that the way to fix problems with the stale and repetitive planet exploration missions and the convoluted inventory of the first game was not to actually fix these issues, make cooler planets, make a better inventory, but was just to get rid of these options altogether. I suppose that does solve the problem. But is that what we actually want. Don't we want to just be able to travel to awesome planets and have them each be unique and detailed? Don't we want to be able to choose what goddamn guns we wield on the fly? Wouldn't that be a better game?

Now, one can argue, "Well that's just the way the game is" and even though that's actually not an argument, there's some truth in that. Perhaps I do just "want to play a different game and shouldn't complain", but I think anyone who played the first Mass Effect and liked it, has the right to feel a little irked when the rug they thought really tied the room together gets pulled out from under their feet. It's like giving someone vanilla ice cream when you go over to visit their house and it's the best vanilla ice cream you've ever had. So you go over their house again the next week and they tell you that they're gonna get you a bowl of the same vanilla ice cream and you get all excited. And it looks the same, until you eat it. And it's banana-flavored ice-cream. Now it may be great banana-flavored ice-cream. It may be the best damn ice-cream ever invented. But you wanted vanilla. And you were expecting vanilla because you had every right to. But now you've got a lump of banana nonsense in your mouth and you're not quite sure why. That's Mass Effect 2 for me, with it's menu screens, incessant load times, combat-heavy, inventoryless banana flavored whatnot. It's not bad. It's good...very good. It's still a helluva lot fun to talk in Mass Effect 2...more fun to do that than anything else in the game. But it doesn't let me have an inventory. So if that's something I love, if that's something I need, how can I think it's better than the first?

My preference aside, BioWare does something far better than Bethesda, and that's create compelling characters and truly emotional plot points that make a player really feel as though they are inhabiting a character and a story. I truly felt like a human ambassador on a mission to save the galaxy in Mass Effect and never, while playing any of Bethesda's game, did I ever feel that sense of importance or accomplishment. In Bethesda's world people talk to you in that somewhat stiff manner, their heads bob back and forth, and pivotal moments occur, but the character you've created and the NPCs around him always feel so very unemotional, inhuman, lacking any real importance with the actual events, and as though you are exactly what you are...a user-created XP gathering machine, nothing more. You are but an Avatar for a code created by designers and created by you, the player. You are like a sponge, sucking in data. And while some of that data is beautiful, and the lack of any real emotional connection to the actual character you play may be the thing that allows the gamer to get that much more immersed in the world itself, I can't help but feel Bethesda's sorely lacking in the way of actual emotional connection and could learn from BioWare on this particular topic.

Bethesda's strength is the world itself and the gameplay and the history of that world as well as the quests it offers. Any emotionality experienced is often not resultant from quests so much as its resultant from standing on a rock and watching the sunrise. Fallout is leaps and bounds more emotional and powerful and humane than any of their previous efforts.

But not even Liam Neeson's voice acting struck as deep a chord with me as the opening damsel in distress in Dragon Age. BioWare's strength is the emotionality of its narratives and the believability and humanity of the player's interactions with the other characters, Dragon Age being the very best example of this.

So both companies can learn a lot from each other. All Bethesda needs to do is incorporate some more convincing NPC animations, better voice-syncing, and harder-hitting emotional situations that impact the create-a-character. I do not want to play a pre-designed Shepard-like protagonist because that limits my freedom. I truly want to feel as though I'm in the world, I'm inhabiting a heroic or demonic role, and the only way to do that is to subtlety have my interactions with NPCs as detailed and real as they possibly can be, as well as presenting choices that flesh out my skill tree and make me feel as though I'm more than just a floating first person camera collecting points. Project Natal could actually help Bethesda in this way, providing a voice to the protagonist by way of the actual gamer.

BioWare, while they're able to make experiences so compelling I can often look passed dated graphics, stale environments, and frustrating invisible walls, should seriously reconsider these aspects of their games and create a completely new engine that 1) Doesn't require so many load times and 2) Provides us a game world that's as detailed and inviting to gamers as the ones Bethesda creates.

Ultimately I thank both companies for always giving us good games and hours upon hours of fun.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sea of Dreams: A Review of BioShock 2

I was wrong. This is all I thought while playing BioShock 2. And it actually hindered my enjoyment of it. I sabotaged myself with my own mind. With my own cynical, idiotic thoughts I slightly tarnished a near-perfect gaming experience. But BioShock 2 is so good, at times so powerful and immersive, that it managed to distract me even from myself.

I never believed I would like this game, that it would be good, nor that it would do justice to the first, as evidenced by my long and pretentious blog on the game I wrote prior to experiencing it. I still stand by what I wrote in that blog, I simply never expected 2K Marin to deliver on everything I desired and for them to prove my presumptions wrong. And so I've learned an important lesson. I will no longer presume to know what any medium of entertainment will produce before I experience it. I will no longer judge a video game before I have the right to do so. I will not watch video previews and read interviews and renounce a game based on these misleading snippets. And I will not bad-mouth designers because I suspect they are forgetting their audience by making a direct sequel. I never expected that 2K Marin would actually make a game for the BioShock fan and not the casual gamer that just thinks plasmids are cool.

There were only a few minor gripes throughout the entire wonderful and engaging experience that is BioShock 2.

1) The menu screen does not have the lovely piano notes that sound off when you select an option. This gave personality and depth to the first game in a subtle way.
2) Arranging the placement of plasmids should be a thousand times easier. When the player goes into a gene tonic station the arragement should match the formation of the selection wheel so you're able to put the plasmids exactly where you want them without any difficulty.
3) Towards the end I missed the old hacking. While I really enjoy the new hack tool a great deal, by the end of the game I was reloading saves so many times after failed hack attempts that I wondered in what way this new system is actually easier and more user-friendly than the first game's tubular mini-game. Continually re-loading also breaks the immersiveness of the experience. I found this timing-mini-game to actually be much more difficult and it certainly results in more failures than the first game's system. The good thing is that you never have to do it, though, it's purely your choice.
4) The story structures mirror each other, as does every other facet of the game. This is welcome (BioShock 2 does manage to set itself apart in the end, however), but it would have been nice if the "big reveal" that occurs right around the same time and manner as it does in the first BioShock were anywhere near as unsettling and surprising. The developers went a different route. You witness the revelation, in the same flash-back style as the first game, but the fact that it's done in the same style made me feel that it should have been bigger and more interesting. This was done purposefully on the part of the designers, however, to make the moments that occur after the "big reveal" that much more meaningful and powerful.
5) The plasmid controls are a little off sometimes. Holding down the left trigger doesn't always result in the attack you desire. Also, the plamids do not appear to upgrade in the little hand animations while you're not using them as they do in the first game. For example, in 1 you see ice-spikes shoot out of your hand after upgrading to Winter Blast 2. Such is gone in the sequel.

These small grievances aside, BioShock 2 is an excellent continuation of the series. It's one of the best sequels I've ever played, and while I abhor the word franchise BioShock has proven itself to have become one of the few actually good and artistic franchises in existence. I have to give 2K Marin all the credit they deserve for creating an artistic and beautiful and deep entertainment experience that is, at its core, extremely fun and, subsequently, ultimately daring. I took issue with the fact that it was a direct sequel and that it had the number 2 in its title. Well, I should not forget that it was originally titled Sea of Dreams (a phrase that appears in an audio diary), and I have to acknowledge that returning to a familiar Rapture ignited a joy in me I did not expect. There was something wonderful in that familiarity and I felt less like I was playing a sequel and more as though I had just loaded a save from the first game and was venturing into new, undiscovered territory.

While the first BioShock cannot be surpassed, this is not meant as a criticism of BioShock 2. It's simply a testament to how wonderful the first game is and what it did for video games. But the sequel carries on that tradition, at first from a very simple and enjoyable perspective. Returning to Rapture is simply fun. It's fun to open crates, listen to audio diaries, collect tonics and plasmids, and notice little details along the walls. If one plays this game at a crawl they'll see wonderful little artistic flourishes in the landscape that cannot be seen anywhere else. As much as I didn't want to admit to msyelf that I was enjoying the game in the opening, I could not deny how much I was captured by the experience once the Big Sister appeared and stole a Little Sister right in front of me. I took off after them, screaming at the television. It was at this moment that I realized this was a good game, that the developers had done it, and that I was captured by something meaningful.

Following this the game only gets deeper and more enjoyable, with audio diaries detailing Sofia Lamb's ascent to the leader of Rapture, experiments with Big Daddies, and the mournful stories of Raptures twisted inhabitants. There is one particularly wonderful batch of audio diaries that details a father's story from the surface who came down in search of his daughter. You get to listen and finally see how this man's life plays out, but it's not a quest. It's not a narrative that affects the main story in any way. It's an intelligent aside that works toward giving the game that much more history and personality.

The relationship between gamers and Little Sister is much stronger and the gather missions are truly intense and enjoyable battles that put ones skills to the test at the hardest difficulty.

From a gameplay standpoint very little has been changed with the exception of a few smart little improvements, most notably re-mapping the health hotkey to the right d-pad. The drill is the most satisfying weapon in the game and the charge ability truly makes one feel like a powerful Big Daddy. A couple other little touches that enhance your sense of being one of the big brutes is the sound and subsequent rumble that occurs when you jump or drop, as well as seeing the visor of your helmet in the corners of your screen (which goes away inexplicably when the level does not begin with you in water...just an odd little flaw). The new hacking is fun and a logical progression from the first system in some ways, but grows frustrating in the end, where as the updated video camera for research is a much better improvement. It simply takes some getting used to. Not everything is spelled out initially. Players are encouraged to discover things on their own.

Above all the game continues the tradition of marrying gameplay and narrative perfeclty with both informing each other and never getting in each others' way. BioShock 2 takes the time to develop relationships between the characters as well as the player and the world they inhabit. The philosophy and artisty of the first game is back and not in the contrived manner in which I predicted. It feels natural. And above all, it feels unique to this game. BioShock 2 establishes a life of its own through metaphor and imagery that subtely ties into the most important aspects of its narrative. Butterflies abound. Lamb's eyes are always prominent on walls. Her text, Unity and Metamorphoses is scattered everywhere. So change, rebirth is the theme of BioShock 2 I quickly realized, so, throughout the entirety of the game, I analyzed every word, every image as I would a novel or a film. And when I discovered that there clearly was a recuring theme in the game, I knew that I had sold 2K Marin short. They obviously know that a BioShock game has to be a game with a theme, one that makes statements on humanity and morality. They did this and gave me the experience I craved. The main theme comes to the forefront of the story in the final act of the game and even the most skeptical of BioShock 1 fans will be shocked and moved by how the theme manifests itself.

This is an excellent video game, an absolute joy, and leaps and bounds better than most of the films, books, or other games out on the market today. At the time of this writing I have yet to jump into the multi-player, but the fact that it's there is another welcome addition, espeically now that I know nothing of the main campaigne was lost to it.

BioShock 2 continues a great tradition and teaches us to put all presumptions aside, whether they be that a sequel to a classic will inevitably fail, or that a story has to follow a predictable path. While the game doesn't have a moment as powerful as meeting Andrew Ryan and the "Would you kindly" revelation, it provides you a different and almost equally powerful moment, and all of it leads toward a conclusion that is actually more satisfying than the finale of the first game.

If you loved BioShock, you will likely love BioShock 2.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Up To Old Tricks...

All of the intrigue and momentum established in the finale of season 5 and the premiere of season 6 was brought to a sudden and unexpected halt with this week's episode of Lost. A Kate-heavy, nonsensical narrative without any meaningful revelations and filled with repetitive and frustrating scenes between Jack, Sayid, and this new, obnoxious batch of others, it's simply difficult to believe the writers would do this so late in the game.

Though I didn't previously mention it, I'm shocked and annoyed by the inclusion of any new characters whatsoever. I don't care if the Temple Leader and his translator become amazing characters...they simply shouldn't exist. There are already too many characters and too little time.

Throughout the course of any series it's very obvious when the writers are trying their hardest and when they're taking some time off to save their creative energy. One would think, seeing as how season 6 is the final season of Lost and that there aren't 22 episodes, that every single episode would be filled with meaningful answers, shocking moments, and interesting scenes of dialogue. Both stories in this episode were cringe-worthy. Teeth-pulling, nails on the chalkboard level awkwardness and discomfort and downright boredom. I wanted to turn the episode off because I knew, from the moment it spent one too many scenes on "alternate reality Kate and Claire" that it was going to be useless.

I thought we'd had our fill of "the others" being unnecessarily vague and refusing to answer questions, and lead characters asking useless questions or resisting simply for the sake of resisting.

The big reveal at the end of this episode is that Claire is still alive and that she has "a darkness growing inside her" just as Sayid does. Dun, dun, dun. Not only is this lame, SyFy channel-worthy dialogue, it's simply uninteresting considering what's going on with Richard, Ben, and Locke. I suppose she's been a question in people's minds since her odd scene in the cabin after being lured away into the night by "Christian", but the way it's handled (and by handled I mean it's barely handled at all and yet the entire episode revolves around it) leaves one thinking: really...that was it...that's this week's episode?

I definitely have faith in the show. But this episode is entirely forgettable and unworthy of the series at this stage. The episode might as well been devoted entirely to Arnst. Or Neal. Two characters that are showing up far too often in the alternate reality. How many times does Leslie Arnst (the guy who blew up in season 1) need to make a cameo. Do fanboys really laugh when Arnst shows up? Is it good writing? Is it necessary? Does it advance anything? Or is it just resultant from the writer's sense of self-importance, in them thinking they're being cute, in them continually bringing in obnoxious characters to kill them off as a fan service. A much better practice than satisfying fans by killing off useless characters like Nikkie and Paulo because they suck, is by not creating the awful character in the first place. Think about the time that was devoted to Expose, the millions of dollars that went into that episode, that could have gone into another Mr. Eko episode, another Jack episode, another John Locke episode etc. It's disheartening to see the writers revert back to season 3 antics, posing obnoxious new little mysteries while seeming to ignore the real concerns of the audience, almost as though they purposefully want to anger us.

Any other show and I'd walk. But I hope, for the sake of the show, and for the fans, that this is the last misstep Lost takes. It would be unfair to the overall greatness of the show thus far and to the fans that have poured hours into it, to have it disrespected with another, similar episode.

I Don't Watch "Lost"

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Alternate Timeline

Okay now that my review is out of the way, its time to stretch those Lost analytical muscles and churn out some theories and observations based on the encyclopedic knowledge of the show. I am going to focus on the new timeline that the bomb created where Oceanic 815 lands safely in LAX.

I'll begin with saying that this is fascinating. It is so interesting to see what would actually happen if they landed. And its like a breath of fresh air to see the real Locke alive and well. I missed him very much and it was good to see him.

The shame of the new timeline is that this isn't how it would have happened.

Things aren't how they were. The first huge inconsistency was that Desmond was on the plane. Desmond being my favorite character, I delve deep into what this could mean. If he is there why I think he's there, and that is because he knows something's up, than that's fine. But if he is there otherwise, I'm going to have a problem with it. It just so happens that Desmond was on the same flight back to LA, I don't think so.

The second major inconsistency was, for me, was that Shannon wasn't there. That's really when it first hit me that things weren't right aside from Desmond. And Hurley being lucky? Things are really wrong here. Plus Hurley and Sawyer were in the wrong seats, which would leave them in the tail section of the plane. But therein lies the intrigue. This timeline isn't the timeline that would have been. This is an entirely new beast. But the one thing that has truly piqued my interest, was that Jack's dad is missing.

This little detail leads me to believe that this new timeline is incomplete. Its missing key components that the original has. I am about to list my potential theory so if you don't want to read it don't continue. I believe that the two timelines, in the end, will somehow merge, restoring our heroes to their lives but redeemed and knowing everything that happened on the island.

I know there are holes in this theory but, that is how I feel as of right now. I can't think of another reason why they would introduce the idea of another timeline. And why is the island underwater? And how did Juliet know the bomb worked? It was funny, right as the episode ended I found myself saying what I always say at the end of an episode, I fucking hate this show.

Lost s601 "LAX" Review

I apologize for not writing this earlier but I was away for the last few days, which gave me plenty of time to think about the premiere of Lost. I will say that I did not like it as much as Tim did, but I did think it was great. To me, it did what Lost does best, the unexpected. When last season ended it could have went a few different ways. Through the off season everyone was speculating which actually happened and couldn't wait to see if they were right. What the Lost writers did was combine all the theories into one, unexpected outcome that was more shocking than we could have ever thought.

So the bomb worked, but it didn't. And now there are two timelines, one where Oceanic 815 landed safety and the other where they crashed. That's awesome! I was blown away when I first saw it. And now the flashbacks are flashes to the alternate timeline. Also we finally were shown the Temple, which I has been dying to see since it was first mentioned in season 3. But my favorite was when we got some hints towards the black smoke monster. Season 5 is already shaping up to reveal, just as Tim was saying, answers that are subtle. A lot of conclusions I've made about this episode came later when I put some thought into it, and whenever a show or movie does that, its fantastic.
My gripe with the episode it that you can count one constant in Lost; that big things happen in the premiere and final episodes. For a premiere I felt that not much actually happened. The pacing was off for the first hour and the characters were in one place. Finally with the Temple, the story picked up a bit but still, I felt like not much actually happened. I was way more interested in the alternate timeline. And then there was Juliet's second death. Okay, maybe she survived the bomb with a flash to a new time or something, but to have her die again was comical. I thought Josh Holloway's performance was amazing but the material he had to work with left a lot to be desired. "I have to tell you something...ugghhhh...." That is way too cliche for Lost but it in no way made me hate the episode.

The main thing is that I am more intrigued by Lost than ever before. I can't stop thinking about it. Locke aka Jacob's nemesis aka black smoke monster are all the same thing. It solidifies what people have been speculating for years that the black smoke monster is actually all the dead people we have seen on the island. But what the shit is it? How did he know Locke's last thoughts? Why in the alternate timeline was the island underwater? What the hell is it all about? I love it! The premiere answered as many questions as it raised but it is all fresh and new. Lost always changes and that's why its so great. I can't wait to see what is going to happen. Thank god its Tuesday tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #1

So it comes, the end of the begining of the end. As I sit here at 7:30pm waiting impatiently for the season premiere I write this blog entry. Lost is flowing through my veins and my mind races with anticipation for what is to come. So here goes my last entry for the countdown with my #1 favorite Lost episode of all time.

The Constant. In the midst of season 4's hints of science fiction, Desmond Hume found himself on a journey through time itself. Again, Desmond is my favorite character and I fully believe that his relationship with Penny is the heart of Lost. Everytime they are on screen together or apart, the magic of their relationship transcends any other on the show, giving us the greatest episodes of Lost. And this episode was the absolute best.

The time travel aspect was introduced perfectly, getting us used to the idea through the concept of someone's consciousness being sent through time and not their body. It prepared us for what was to come and it also introduced Faraday as the voice of knowledge and importance in the Lost mythology.

But really, the story of Desmond is what makes this episode so fantastic. His self imposed exile and his fight to return to the love of his life has never been more genuine and never felt so potent in an episode. The final moments of the episode when Desmond and Penny speak for the first time in over 3 years was choppy but pitch perfect. It was a swirl of emotions and excitement as not only our hero was able to reconnect with Penny, but his life was saved in the process.

The Constant also furthered Desmond's importance in the show's story. He is an exception unlike any other character in the series, and I do believe he will come back in a big way. He and Faraday will be instrumental in the show still and I can't wait to see them both return.

The Constant is a showcase of direction, writing, and acting for not only Lost but television as a whole. It has more power than most films nowadays and it retains its magic everytime you watch it. I can't say enough about this episode other than I have never seen anything as good as it on TV. Period.

And that's it for my Lost countdown. Sorry Brian that you're episodes didn't make my list, maybe you should do one too. I hope everyone writes something about the new episode. I don't care if we all write reviews or even just thoughts. I want to hear all of it, since I will be writing plenty. So enjoy the premiere and "I'll see you in another life, brotha."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #2

I will say that I have never been shocked more than at the end of the Sixth Sense and at the end of Walkabout. Its the feeling that came with such a revelation that Bruce Willis was dead and that John Locke was paralyzed. All the pieces of the puzzle that made up the time you have been watching finally all make sense in a rush of realization and awe that you can't help but turn to your friend and scream holy shit!

That is why Walkabout is my #2. But not only that, it introduces the once mysterious, John Locke and his extremely boring everyday life. He works at a box company during the day and calls a sex line at night. He has no friends, no family, and no life. But that is what makes Locke so great. On the mainland he was nothing, on the island he is everything. He hunts, builds, and plays a mean game of backgammon. What's not to like?

The writers went to great lengths to destroy our image of Locke as a man to build him back up as the man on the island and it really payed off. There has never been an episode with such an amazing impact like Walkabout. Even now when I watch the episode, I still get chills when you see him stand for the first time.

Its simply amazing.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #3

Not many episodes can cut to the heart of Ben Linus like the Shape of Things to Come. This episode was dark and real. Well real besides the black smoke monster but we'll get to that.

On Lost, if we're lucky, a character's death is long and drawn out in a cinematic way. We are given closure and plenty of time to think about it. (Charlie, Boone, and even Shannon) But the rest of the time, the characters are ripped from the show realistically leaving us stunned and wanting answers. In the episode of season 4 where shit got real, we got just that.

First of all, time travel was still new and Ben's flashback was actually a flash forward but back to the past, confusing eh? That aside, the real meat of the show came with Keemy's siege of the barracks and Sawyer's uncanny ability to dodge bullets. It built to the stand off with Keemy and Ben which resulted in the death of Alex, Ben's adopted daughter. It was such a blow to the audience to have someone actually carry out a threat and kill a major character that we all watched in horror, including Ben. But that was the best part, to see Ben finally lose, to him him out of his element, to see him see his plans turn against him. For the man who always has a plan and always has something to say, was speechless.

Then to top it off, we were told that Ben can summon the black smoke monster and the attack on the mercs was absolutely satisfying. This episode was full of suspense, build up, action, and regret. And it truly was a hint at the shape of things to come.