Tuesday, January 04, 2005

L O S T / A L I A S

This is going to be another big one, mostly because this is the biggest Wednesday so far in 2005 (also, it's the first Wednesday of 2005, but whatever). After three grueling weeks without, we finally get a new Lost. To make the deal even sweeter, it's followed by a two hour season-premiere of Alias (more on that later for the newbies and skeptics out there). Needless to say, there's a lot to be excited about. Let's get down to business.

Lost Episode Title: "Whatever the Case May Be"

Character Involved: Kate (Part II - Yes!)

TV Guide Description: Jack, Kate and Sawyer fight over possession of a newly discovered locked metal briefcase which might contain insights into Kate's mysterious past. Meanwhile, Sayid asks a reluctant Shannon to translate notes he took from the French woman, a rising tide threatens to engulf the fuselage and the entire beach encampment, and Rose and a grieving Charlie tentatively bond over Claire's baffling disappearance.

Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: This one is pretty easy, I think. It's really three-fold:
1. Whatever the case may be, referring to the newly discovered locked metal briefcase in question.
2. Whatever the case may be, referring to Kate's crime and the "case" involved with her being wanted by the law / bounty hunters.
3. Whatever the case may be, referring to Jack not caring what the "case" or "crime" that Kate committed, because he hearts her anyways!

I'm wondering where this briefcase comes from - this can't be the metal thing that Locke and Boone discovered last week because that seemed to be huge and buried pretty good underneath rocks and mud and stuff. Also, from the looks of the previews, I was sure this would be a Boone and Shannon episode, since they seem to focus a lot on the two of them. I guess it will likely be similar to how the last new episode was Jack Part II even though the storyline really focused more on Charlie and Claire. Which brings us to our discussion items:

1. Okay, let's check out the TV Guide description first.

a. Jack, Kate, and Sawyer fight over the briefcase. Okay, so perhaps this is something that Sawyer has been hoarding for a while and Kate just now sees and makes the connection to? (I would think that if this was the case, it would be pretty easy for Kate to get it away from Sawyer with her womanly ways) Was this something that the bounty hunter was carrying on the plane?

b. Sayid asks Shannon to translate the French woman's notes. So Sayid is at least confiding in Shannon about his encounter with CFL (Crazy French Lady). Perhaps this is what puts Shannon into danger, which is what looks like it happens on the previews.

c. A rising tide threatens to engulf the fuselage and entire beach encampment. This would be a great way to get all the characters back in one camp (the caves) to create new group dynamics / tensions (and force Jack and Kate to hook up!) But since they've already been on the island for a few weeks and this is the first time the tide has risen so high, does this make any sense? Tides rise and fall on a daily basis. Is the island sinking? Or is this more "magic" like how it will stop and start raining instantaneously? (Note: I actually read that they wanted to get rid of the plane debris on the beach to make filming easier - this way they can use any part of the beach and not have to worry about setting up a two story fuselage to film.)

d. Rose and Charlie bond over Claire's disappearance. So Rose is still on that island! It's been a while since we've seen her last. I wonder if this means that Charlie is out of his daze from last week - if so, how much will he be talking? The obvious connection here is that Rose thinks her husband is on the island and missing, much like Charlie thinks Claire is still alive on the island and missing. We always assumed that Rose was nuts, but what if she's not - and her husband is discovered with Claire?

2. Now back to the last new episode, which was fantastic!

a. In theory, the abduction of Charlie and Claire could have been carried out by Ethan alone, but I doubt it. Unless there was someway that he "held Claire hostage", he would have had to overpower Charlie to get him to come with him. Plus, did you see how Charlie was strung up in the tree? There is NO WAY one man could do that. That's the work of a lot of guys (with ladders or something?) So are these the people encountered on the way back from Black Rock, as CFL put it? Do you think there's a whole clan of them? Where did they come from?

b. What kind of super power does Ethan Rom have? He seemed almost supernatural in fighting Jack last time (moving way too fast, being a bit too strong). How did Kate not see him or hear him? It makes me wonder about Kate. She didn't hear the screaming either when they were chasing after them in the woods. It's weird.

c. So, let's say that Ethan is part of some "cult" on the island, why do they want Claire's baby so badly? Is there some prophecy about a baby coming to the island? Is there a connection with the psychic that put Claire on the plane? Is all of this way off?

d. I'm more convinced than ever that Ethan is not Alex.

e. Did Ethan intend to kill Charlie? How long do you think he was hanging there? You can only hang for like two or three minutes before the lack of oxygen makes you go brain dead - but most of the time, people who are hung die from their necks breaking. The thickness of the ropes around his neck prevented this from happening - was that intentional? They could have just used one rope...

3. Other thoughts:

a. How about the symbolism of Jack saving Charlie, after Charlie saved Jack during the cave in?

b. Did Locke know that he and Boone were approaching the metal tunnels of the cult? Remember how he kept telling Boone to back because it was late, but Boone refused? Maybe he was afraid they were getting too close? Also, once they found the metal underneath, Locke kept hitting it with his flashlight - that would be SUPER LOUD if you were inside the metal below, and could serve as a warning sign to hide... The thing is, up until this point, I was firmly back on the "Locke is a good guy" side - now I'm back to "I have no idea."

c. The scenes for this week show Jack yelling at people (I think he's going crazier and crazier as the season goes on), Kate and Sawyer running through the forest (probably one has the suitcase and the other is chasing them for it), and Shannon being carried away as Boone looks on - is this Shannon and Boone coming face to face with the monster? Is Shannon getting eaten? Since Locke was with Boone, is he going to be there to somehow communicate with the monster like he did when he first met it?

Okay, unfortunately, since it's been so long since the last episode, that's all I can think of. I'm somewhat ashamed...

The good news is, there's plenty more Email to go! We need to hook you on Alias, which will be immediately following Lost. Here we go...

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Alias Pitch:

Keen to jump into the fourth season premiere of "Alias" this coming Wednesday but worried that as a new viewer you won't understand what's going on? Don't panic. According to an interview with creator J.J. Abrams, the two-hour opener will be easy for newcomers to follow - "We're not going to have any reprise (of previous seasons). We're not going to have any explanation...In no way is this first episode imposing or convoluted".

The plan, at least for the earlier episodes of this coming fourth series, is that more than a few of the episodes will be self-contained. Like any show there's more rewards in it for the long-term viewer but the strategy is at least for the opening few weeks to make it easy for a new audience to jump into the show which hopes to benefit from its post-"Lost" timeslot. Don't expect the show to go all "CSI" reset each week style however, as the season goes on "Alias" will move back into the larger schemes (essentially it's like the show's first season all over again). "Hopefully, people will be so invested in the characters that they'll enjoy the ride" says Abrams.

Indeed, already a few reviewers of the first half of the premiere episode (which introduces Angela Bassett in a recurring role) have been raving it's better than ever, "the first ten minutes of the premiere are among the most exciting I've ever seen on TV" says TV columnist Kristin from E! Online.

Alias Summary:
Okay, so now that I've sold you on why you should be watching this show, here's a brief summary of the first three seasons of the show. Brace yourself:

SEASON ONE
For those unfamiliar with the show, it essentially plays out like a forty-five minute episode of James Bond, with plenty of high-tech gadgets, flamboyant action sequences, and rapid-fire dialogue.
Alias, if you don't know, features Jennifer Garner in the role of Sydney Bristow. Sydney is an agent for the CIA...or that's what she thought. Turns out Syd is working for SD-6, a secret, nefarious organization working against the interests of the United States and other law-abiding nations.

Sydney discovers the truth in the first episode after SD-6 kills her fiance. Determined to avenge his death and destroy SD-6, she approaches the CIA with the plan of being a double agent - continuing to work for SD-6, but all the while stealing intelligence and foiling their plans for the CIA. Vaughan (Michael Vartan), a young, handsome CIA agent, becomes Sydney's handler and she passes the SD-6 secrets on to him.

Her father, Jack (Victor Garber), is also working for SD-6, but Syd comes to find out that he is also a double agent for the CIA! To say Syd and Jack have a strained relationship is to grossly understate the situation. Syd, as she says in the intro to most episodes in Season 1, hardly knows her father. Her mother (supposedly) died in an accident when Sydney was very young, and her father has always been emotionally distant.

The premise of the show is that Jack and Syd, sometimes working together, are trying to destroy SD-6 from the inside. The main plot-line in Season 1 is that SD-6 wants to collect as many artifacts of Milo Rambaldi as possible. Rambaldi is a 15th century architect who may have been a prophet. As Vaughan would say, "think Leonardo Da Vinci crossed with Nostradamus". The hunt becomes a race with another group for these items, headed by the mysterious "The Man."

In the course of the season, Syd also discovers that her mother was a KGB agent and that she is very much alive. Her mother only married her father as part of a KGB plot, and then left him and Syd by faking her own death when her mission was over. The season ends with Syd finally coming face to face with "The Man". A tied up Syd watches the figure come into the room and utters "Mommy?"

SEASON TWO
The search for Rambaldi artifacts remained the central plot point in Season 2. However, the main event of the season occurred halfway through, in an episode that followed the Super Bowl, that changed the Alias world forever. After accessing security codes on an airborne server, the CIA raids all SD cells simultaneously. In a single hour, SD-6 was no more, Syd was no longer a double agent, and the show became focused on the "Spy Family" of Jack, Syd, and Irina. Irina (Syd's mom) has a ton of knowledge on the subject matter, so the CIA takes her into custody and uses her for information throughout the season. Also, the destruction of SD-6 finally allowed Vaughan and Sydney to become romantically involved (as there was no danger in someone from SD-6 seeing the two of them together)! However, the rest of her personal life is pretty much destroyed. In addition to her fiancé being killed in the first season, her best girl friend Francie has been murdered and her best guy fried Will has to go in the witness protection program - all of the people close to her have suffered because of her spy job, through no fault of their own.

The season ended with a HUGE cliffhanger, with Syd waking up on the streets of Hong Kong, two years in the future, with no memory of the previous two years.

SEASON THREE
The third season is basically divided in two: the first half dealing with Sydney's attempts to find out where she'd been for such a long time. The second half focuses once more on the relentless pursuit of the sacred Milo Rambaldi artifacts, which may hold the answers to Sydney's destiny.
When Sydney comes back to the CIA, she is shocked to find out what's happened in those two crucial years. Her father, Jack (Victor Garber) is being unlawfully held in prison due to his questionable methods of trying to track down his missing daughter. Her mother is in hiding (and never appears all season, ex except via written communication with other characters). Her arch-nemesis, the shifty monster Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin - former head of SD-6) has been granted a full pardon by the government for his role in bringing down over a dozen terrorist cells and is the head of a charitable group. We still do not know if he is truly good or bad. Most shocking is that her former lover, agent Vaughn is now happily married to the National Security Council's CIA liaison Lauren Reed (Melissa George).

The new evil enterprise this year is the Covenant. This terrorist outfit is determined to collect the Rambaldi artifacts, which are extraordinarily powerful devices that hold the key to Sydney's fate, and the fate of the world. The CIA must stop the Covenant from solving the equation of Rambaldi's endgame, so Sydney and her team attempt to capture these priceless gems and figure out their true meaning before the Covenant can get their hands on them. We find that Vaughn's wife, Lauren, is also working for the Covenant and is pure evil (also having an affair with a high up Covenant member, Mr. Sark).

The season wraps up with the Rambaldi artifacts leading to Sydney's long lost half-sister, Nadia - an Argentinean spy who was imprisoned in Russia. Nadia's subconscious held the key to the last Rambaldi artifact. The season finale ends with Sydney killing Lauren, whose dying words direct Syd to a safety deposit box. The final scene of the season shows Syd reading a piece of paper from this box with a shocked look on her face. Her father, Jack enters the room and says "You were never supposed to find out about this."

So there you go. Again, none of that knowledge is necessary to start watching the show now - but if you're curious what the show is all about - that's it! (I would highly recommend sitting down and watching the DVDs, as the show is incredibly fun, exciting, and engrossing.) Hopefully I've intrigued you about the show, and the fact that this is a great starting point to watch the show will keep you planted in your couch for the entire evening.

All are welcome at the Delta House!