Friday, December 26, 2008

Time's 100 Best TV Shows...A Good List?

I'm usually at odds with Time Magazine (more over ideology or anything) but I found myself presently surprised when I came across their list of the 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME (Get it? It's a double entendre!) Why? Because three of my favorite four shows were on the list:

LOST: Duh. If this show wasn't on the list, I had decided to stop reading.

South Park: Wow, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are recognized by someone besides Penn & Teller?

And what was the third show?

Wait for it...

Survivor: Yes, I was shocked as well, but, obviously, agree completely.

The only show I would add to the list is House (the fourth of my favorites). Though it wasn't the creators' original interpretation, the show has become a beautiful reinterpretation of CSI-esque procedural dramas as a brilliant character study. Hugh Laurie plays Gregory House a genius doctor (and an objectivist that Ayn Rand would drool over) that his fellows and peers want to embrace but won't. It is that struggle that attracts the (American) audience as it is the same one they face every day.

Check out the rest of the list here. It's made me decide to pick up, err, sit down for a few classics.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Roark Stratagem

"Painting things
in black and white
is easy,"
the geriatric grumbled
ducking under the overhead bin.
If he didn't,
he would've hurt his head.
Or would he?
I don't know.
The consideration's too complex
for my cold mind
because I think things
like this:

The difference between a gem and e.g. y
is a matter of scope.
Put it in your mouth,
swish it around.
One tastes like sparkling water
the other, confusion.

"The morning sky
looks grey
every time I wake,"
the child complained
crawling under the covers.
If he didn't,
he would've observed the obvious.
Or would he?
I don't know.
The sight is too strange
for my simple eyes
because I see things
like this:

The difference between a gem and e.g. y
is a matter of scope.
Put it in your mouth,
swish it around.
One tastes like sparkling water
the other, confusion.

"The theme is repeated
because that's what it bares..."
I began.
"Where did that come from?"
She interrupted.
Standing, I smirked,
and turned away.
"Probably Bear Village,
how the hell do I know?"

I'm following the leader,
wherever I may go.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Storm

It was expected, but unanticipated. Before it began, it was over. Perhaps what's most bothersome is that in these divided times, the decision was so decisive.

I originally intended to write this companion piece to my last post the night of or the morning after. Why did I take so long to make my way to the keyboard? I was deciding what to do.

When I make that statement, I don't when what to do with this entry. I can write whatever I want here and it doesn't make a different (most likely). I probably won't get fired. I probably won't change anyone's life. In the best case scenario, someone will be entertained. And that value is worth getting behind.

What I mean is the same question I have posed to others: Where do I go from here?

The answer is the inevitable place my GPS has been fixed on in previous years. I need to be me. And I fully mean sentiment in the Randian sense. The way to win is to be the best me possible, to pursue making my life the best in my conception of the word best. That way is the best until the system is broken that is, and it ain't broken yet.

I am Jayemel. I am Repunklican. Don't hear me roar, because that's not what Repunklicans do. We end paragraphs with references and punchlines (and reference-punchline hybrids).

(What is Repunklican? There'll be more about that definition in the future.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Calm

I'm not sure what to do right now. I don't even mean when writing this blog. I mean in general. There's a few things I intend on accomplishing over the next few months (over the next couple days). I'm just so distracted.

For the last few years of my short (so far) life, I've been telling like minded people to me that people are realizing the truth. And I still believe that right now we are (although a lot will depend on what happens when our generation matures). However, in my nativity I never realized how much of a backlash there would be. Are we really on the verge of what we appear to be?

It's like Episode Four of Season Two of LOST. I'm hallucinating that I'm in the foot closest in The Swan. Jin is there in a chicken suit and suddenly speaks English. He tells me, "Everything is going to change." In the episode, Hurley's solution to stop change was to distribute everything, not even necessarily equally (the distribution criteria were never revealed).

Hopefully in real life change will be thwarted by support for the opposite.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

One of those things everyone (in my generation) should do...

I don't know if you had the same childhood experiences as me. I can't begin to try and guess what you went through. I'd be willing to be though that like me you watch the "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" game show that tested contestants on the geographical knowledge. You remember the quirky story lines of the game. You remember the giant map in the final challenge where contestants had to place flags in certain locations. But what you probably remember the most is the host yelling, "There's only one thing left to do, you know what it is." and the crowd shouting back, "Do it, Rockapella!" to cue the show's a capella group into singing the ridiculously awesome theme song.

I got to hear that song live. Not only is that statement true, but I also got to yell, "Do it, Rockapella!" after band member Scott Leonard said, "There's only one thing left to do, you know what it is." And then they did it. It was a moment of extreme happiness for me. I know it sounds weird. I'm 25 years old. It took me back to my childhood. How often do we get a chance to recapture these things?

There's only one thing left to do, you know what it is:
Shut up, you're wrong.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Regurgitation vs Filtering

Less than a week ago, Sarah Palin was named as John McCain's running mate for the Republican Nomination, but you know that. Otherwise, you probably wouldn't be reading my blog. What you don't know is the Republican reaction beyond the immediate exuberance that has been so discussed. I'm going to tell you about it now.

My closest confidants and I asked each other how the other side could possibly attack Palin. They couldn't possibly say she lacks experience. Barrack Obama lacks experience. They couldn't possibly say she's a part of the same old political establishment. She's the Governor of Alaska, not a Senator, not a Congressman, unlike Obama. They couldn't possibly say attack her values. She married her high school sweetheart and, well, you've heard all this stuff before. What's so shocking is that these ideas are what Palin is being attacked on.

I've already begun to hear people regurgitate the attacks. Palin is unexperienced. Palin's daughter is a whore because she's pregnant out of wedlock (conveniently ignoring that she's going to marry the baby's father). I don't know why I continue to be shocked, but I am. Why do people continue to regurgitate what they hear rather than filtering it?

The danger of the media befalls all of us. A few posts back in this blog I responded to the reports that Colin Powell was going to endorse Obama. That endorsement never occurred. But isn't it obvious how scary the release of that story was? A prominent Republican was going to voice his support for Obama. What was the connection between the two? Not only did the story stink of intent to sway the public, but it carried the stench of racism with it. The fact that we, as Americans, believed that story (and yes, I used we to include myself) speaks of our inability to filter rather than regurgitate the voices of the media.

My initial reaction to hearing the Powell story from my father was disbelief. However, I was quickly convinced otherwise. Perhaps I should have stuck with that thought. Instead, I traded my skepticism for cynicism, further thinning an already slender line, a line that deserves to be a hell of a lot thicker.

And if you plan on regurgitating what you've read here rather than filtering it then:
Shut up, you're wrong.

Monday, August 25, 2008

End It Like Beckham Website

The website for End It Like Beckham is up. Check it out:

The premiere date is still TBA. Be on the look out for it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why the left hate FoxNews (and why Colin Powell is endorsing Barack Obama).

It has always been my contention that FoxNews is not a conversative news station, but simply the least liberal news station. Often, the same stories are reported and/or emphasized on all the stations. FoxNews merely tends to give pundits of multiple perspectives airtime, whereas the other stations do not. Rarely is there a concrete example of this difference between the two stations. Today offers such an example.

A few minutes ago Bill Kristol (not to be confused with the City Slickers actor Billy Crystal) broke the story that Colin Powell will endorse Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. While this news is mildly surprising (a Bush cabinet member crossed party lines), upon a moment's thought it makes complete sense (consider what Obama and Powell have in common). Still, you have to wonder why FoxNews received the "exclusive" on this story. The "Bush cabinet member crosses" angle is certainly tantalizing enough for the media to push, so why haven't they?

Simply put, the media wanted to hide this story until closer to the Democratic Convention so they could run it into the ground and thus embed it into our psyches. Why would they approach breaking the story in such a manner? Three days later is the Republican National Convention, where Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman will speak. If the Powell story were broken and then repeated so closely to the Republican Convention, the tale of a Republican crossing party lines to endorse Obama would surely be remembered more strongly than the story of a Democrat (and former VP candidate) crossing party lines to endorse McCain. The only problem is, Bill Kristol and FoxNews blew the media's chance at the creating that storyline by doing their job of reporting the news when they uncover it, in other words, when it's new.

Why does the left hate FoxNews? Because it broke up their media monopoly by no longer playing by their rules. The old media playground clique can no longer control the flow of information and thus the national agenda in the same manner. Although, their influence on the national conversation can still not be understated. I can almost guarantee you that the buzz surrounding these endorsements will be that Powell is more right wing than Lieberman is left wing, so his crossing means more. Afterall, Lieberman has always been a moderate and so has McCain, right? It's just too bad no one will call Powell out on the real reason he's endorsing Obama....

(You know what? I think I will.)


Monday, August 11, 2008

Nothing is like the Nazis...?

Recently, an anonymous commenter on one of my old posts posted an (apparently) well known internet theory called "Nothing is Like the Nazis" in order to call me an idiot. The text of what he reposted follows:
NOTHING Is Like The Nazis

by isntitironic (wanksta extraordinaire)

"Seriously. Those people who don't agree with your 'ship? They are not like the Nazis. Those people who don't agree with your politics? That mod who banned you? That person who corrected the spelling in your fanfic? None of them are even remotely like the Nazis in any way, shape, or form. NOTHING is like the Nazis. Even those guys who hang out at the mall in black leather with shaved heads and swastika bling are not like the Nazis - they're only TRYING to be because they think it makes them rebels, when in fact it merely makes them badly-dressed idiots who will never get laid because if they ever took their clothes off in front of another human being they would find themselves in the incredibly unenviable position of having to convince that other human being that their tattoos are 'just kidding'.

Should you find yourself tempted to compare somebody to the Nazis, follow these steps:

1. Stop typing.

2. Log off and shut down your computer.

3. Visit the nearest bookshop or library. Get yourself a nice cup of coffee and find a book on the Holocaust. Read the book from cover to cover.

4. Spend 24 hours thinking about what was in the book.

5. Get back online and re-read the post that made you angry.

6. If you still feel like comparing something to the Nazis, repeat from step one. Once you have gained some perspective, then and only then may you post your reply."
I wonder if the commenter and the internet theorist he admires (isnitironic) are following the current Russian invasion of Georgia. I heard one analyst describe it as "Hitler-like." It appears people do think that things in the world can be like the Nazis.

Medical Proof that Men are Evil!

I'm in the last day of a week long visit to my parents' sitting in the kitchen on my computer. My Dad has FoxNews on the TV in the adjacent room. I'm passively listening, ingesting maybe every other word. Or, at least, I am using that listening technique until I hear an interesting phrase: testosterone toxicity.

Neil Cavuto brought a doctor onto his show "Your World" to discuss the recent "early" deaths of celebrities Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes. Cavuto and the doctor were discussing the cause of Mac's death and his chronic condition of Sarcoidosis, speculating whether it essentially aided and abetted the Pneumonia. Within their speculation, I heard them use a phrase I had never heard: "testosterone toxicity." From context I could basically ascertain that it meant men are more likely to die earlier because they have testosterone. Naturally, I was curious as to this claim, seeing as how I'm a dude and all, so I used the wide wide world of web to instantly Google the phrase and found the following website:!gid2=2824

The most important excerpt follows:

Testosterone toxicity
The long, alarming list of possible conditions caused by testosterone includes: cardiovascular disease, blood lipid changes, erythrocytosis (an increased number of red blood cells), fluid retention, prostate enlargement, prostate cancer, liver toxicity, sleep apnea, enlarged breasts, acne or oily skin, atrophy of the testes, and infertility. We shall discuss the most important of these.

So basically, any physical condition a man can get is due to testosterone. Or maybe, more simply, the condition of being a man is caused by testosterone, and the physical conditions happen after manhood is, um, achieved. Saying testosterone kills men is like saying players kill a team. Yes, every time a team falls apart, it is due to the players, but that is because you can't have a team without players. What caused the breakdown wasn't the addition of the players, but what happens after they have been added. Of course, it's much better for the feminists to talk about "testosterone toxicity" because now they can say men have a toxic substance coursing their body. Yup, men suck. But hey, at least we aren't weak whiny insecure uppity bitches.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Welcome to the Midside" Addendum: The History of "Shut up, you're wrong."

Over the brief history of this blog, what has been called into question most often is my catchphrase. I now realize that I must explicate its origins and purpose a bit more. Initially, I thought it was clear in conjunction with my tone and style. However, it seems I made an error in calculation.

The origins of "Shut up, you're wrong" aren't concrete in my mind. I came up with it at some point in the latter half of my undergrad experience, most likely later in my third year or earlier in my fourth and final year. Through my observation of arguments, both in and outside of the classroom, I found that most people use one tactic: deny and repeat. I mean to say that they deny their opponent's claim and repeat their own, as if repetition equals validity or truth. Thus, I distilled their arguments down to their basic wording: "shut up, you're wrong." Essentially, both sides go back and forth spouting the phrase with different words each time, sputtering their tires, getting more mud on them than even Brad Paisley would like.

The purpose later evolved into satirical punctuation. Let me explain my use of each of those words separately:

Satire: Whereas the phrase first begin as nothing more than childish mockery, it has now taken on another meaning. It is not an ultimate argument, it is the ultimate argument, at least to those people who will be most offended by it. You see, as I learned more, I discovered that the dichotomy between the belief in objective truth and relative truth is not only the only dichotomy that really matters, but has a direct affect on the tactics of argument. If truth is relative, then it doesn't matter what you argue, just how you argue it. It's also, ironically, why the argument tactic I noticed has become common. As relativism is subsumed into our society more and more, the only thing that matters is your own opinion. Thus, since it is so obviously all that matters, if you deny the other person's opinion and repeat your own, you always win. "Shut up, you're wrong" is the best argument technique EVER, at least when dealing with relativists; yes, all relativists, as even the skilled ones basically say "Shut up, you're wrong" just really beautifully and politely, so as to seduce the other person. All relativist argument is seduction. "Shut up, you're wrong" exposes how crude, similar, and insulting their argument is. It also weeds out the relativists, as they'll be most offended by it.

(Yes, we could delve into a deep discussion about the nature of seduction and if it's as negative as I've assumed it is here. For now, I'll say it is probably possible to distinguish between positive seduction and negative seduction.)

Punctuation: Often, people most remember the last thing: the last act, the final song in a set/on an album, the final movie in a series, the finale episode of a series. Recently I even posted a blog about how the poor last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer affected my opinion of the entire series. Thus, as a writer, it is important for me to have a trademark memorable "last thing." In America, the most memorable part of any character tends to be his catchphrase, so I turned to some famous catchphrase rhetoricians. Rush Limbaugh is known for the catchphrase he creates and subsequently repeats endlessly. Consider "Shut up, you're wrong" in the same vein as "Talent on Loan from God." From a non-Christian perspective, "Talent on Loan from God" seems pretty arrogant, but from a Christian perspective, from Rush's perspective, all talent is necessarily on loan from God, so it's merely a statement of fact. Likewise, the meaning of my catchphrase changes based upon your perspective (yes Mr. Burke, terministic screens mean a lot changes based on perspective). Professional wrestlers are often known by their catchphrases, which punctuate their "promos." Stone Cold Steve Austin said, "And that's the bottom line 'cause Stone Cold said so." The Rock said, "If you smell what the Rock is cooking." Likewise, "Shut up, you're wrong" ends my promos and is an easy association with the name Jayemel.

There you have it. I hope the meaning of the phrase is more coherent now. Next time you're going to be offended by it, stop and think about what I've written here. And yes, I'm aware that it's a comma splice, but I made a rhetorical choice when choosing a comma over a period. Besides, language is malleable, and if you disagree with that, well then:

Shut up, you're wrong.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Inspired by (Semi) Actual Events

Today I watched the video for the new Gym Class Heroes' single Peace Sign/Index Down Featuring Busta Rhymes on YouTube. I was first introduced to the song at Warped Tour this past August when lead singer Travis McCoy showed us what it meant by demonstrating how to "put your up your peace sign up, put your index down." I'm sure you're all smart enough to figure out it's a paradoxical hand gesture that goes from positivity to vulgarity. Although, as a hippie hater, the notion of "peace" (in their estimation) is a slur to me, so maybe the hand gesture is just redundant. The song itself is catchy and otherwise un-notable, even with the Busta Rhymes guest apperance. What most bothered me were all the comments on the video. Not one, regardless of a positive or negative senitment, had any semblance of proper spelling, grammar, or even coherent thought. Thus, in response, I penned the following poem in passing.

YouTube comments are more terrifying than terrorism.

Man, your ISP should charge an extra fee
because you're dumb as hell.
Where did you learn to spell? It makes me LOL.
OMG BRB someone's texting me.
What does that mean?
This screen is too obscene to get caught inbetween
you and your pointless scene.
Jk I kid. I've got too much wit to hate this shit.
Every bit writ is more shit to spit.
"Writ"? I suppose this is what we git when we don't vote for Mitt.
Now I said "git." I can't; I'm dropping off the grid.
And so to you I bid:
Read a book or something. Pick up some basic knowledge somewhere. Otherwise you and your opinion are irrelevent.

And if you're ready to call me an elitist intellectual at this point, you must have forgotten:
Shut up, you're wrong.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dark Knight earns its name.

In "Batman Begins" Christopher Nolan presented a version of Batman mythology that promised two things: gritty realism and a whole lot of darkness. Nolan reinforced that promise by naming the sequel "The Dark Knight," and then delivered on it with the finished product. The success of the second installment of this new series of films about a classic hero is well deserved and easy to understand when the subject matter and execution are considered. Though the movie falls into some of the same shortcomings as ts predecessor, it is one of the best movies to come along this year, and is certainly the savior of a lackluster summer.

The story begins in a bright place and descends from there. A new day has begun in Gotham, as we are actually shown daylight, something that rarely made an appearance in "Batman Begins." For anyone who has seen the first movie, and for me who watched it earlier in the day, this contrasting tone is clearly evident. Gotham sees light. The day is safe. The city's criminals once again know fear, well, all of the criminals except for one anyway: the Joker. The maniacal clown-make-up-wearing psychopath immediately dares to destroy the daylight by robbing a bank. But this scene isn't just any old bank robbery. Nolan and actor Heath Ledger's take on the Joker is quickly established. He is concerned about the "long con" first. The showmanship comes second, as a means of reaching the endgame of his plan. And in this robbery, the plan is for him alone to end up with the money. It is sickly entertaining to watch the Joker's henchmen off each other due to their bosses orders and admire the brilliance of such a plan. In that perverse genius is where the darkness of this film and the subtlety of Ledger's performance live.

About halfway through the movie, my friend turned to me and said, "I thought Heath Ledger was in this movie." I laughed, demonstrating my agreement. While Ledger steals the movie, Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman carry it. This story is not about the Joker, it is about the Joker messing up everyone else's story. Thus, he does not act as a traditional Hollywood character of recent years. He walks into a scene, achieves his purpose, and leaves. He is not multi-faceted, and unlike an onion, ogre, or parfait, he does not have later. No, the pontificating and soul searching are left to the other characters, except for Caine's Alfred anyway, who just always seems to know what's up and how to deal with it. The events the Joker sets into motion spark a healthy amount of philosophizing and monologuing by the inhabitants of Gotham. Don't try and convince yourself otherwise, this tale is a deeply intellectual, with a strikingly conservative perspective.

When approaching this sequel, I anticipated a sermon on the evil inside all of us, how we're all dark, with Batman being able to walk the line the best of all men (besides Johnny Cash). I never anticipated what I actually saw, a complex parable about the evil of some men, and our need to acknowledge it or put all we have in danger. The intricate details of the metaphor of "The Dark Knight" are too many to explicate here. What is important is the following: the Joker is the terrorist, Eckhart's Harvey Dent is the (in)corruptible hero, and Bale's Batman is the conflicted guardian. The Joker utilizes terror tactics that hit close to home. He makes viral videos of hostages. He threatens authority figures with death if his demands aren't met. Dent inspires the masses, using the law system that has been set up to protect them for its purpose. But, he also envies Batman and is tempted by the Joker. Batman pushes forward, doubting himself through the pressure of the people, and admiring Dent as the man who embodies the answers to that doubt. The skill of this story is how the Joker plays this odd and unique relationship between Dent, Batman, and the citizens of Gotham in the same way that terrorists play those same relationships in America. I won't spoil the ending, but it involves Batman endorsing the Patriot Act, and ultimately realizing that he is the hero Gotham deserves and Dent is the hero Gotham needs because as long as men like the Joker exist, men like Dent can't, and men like Batman will be oxymoronically called for and condemned by the callers.

"The Dark Knight" delivers and builds upon the promise of "Batman Begins." Buried underneath the action and drama is complex political and social commentary that is shockingly intelligent and informed. However, the movie does make a few missteps. As with the first installment, the run time feels a bit long, although it is much better paced. Dent's appearance as Two-Face is so ridiculous it's almost laughable. The replacement of Katie Holmes with the much less attractive, to put it politely, Maggie Gyllenhaal is curious, especially considering the resolution of her story. The Joker, though he is in control of the plot until the final act, isn't used as much as Ledger's performance warrants. What's important for us is to not let these shortcomings overshadow the immense successes of this movie. Doing so shouldn't be hard as it's not possible to overshadow darkness and, in regards to darkness, nothing eclipses "The Dark Knight."

4/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Chosen": Where's the payoff?

(Note: This blog entry is about the final episode of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It contains plot points and references to the ending of the series and the series as a whole. The show ended a little over four years ago, so I feel fine writing about it, but am providing this disclaimer for those people, like myself, who may not have found the show until recently. Although, I must admit that I have yet to watch Angel and am as of yet unsure if I ever will.)

I woke up this morning with a heavy feeling. No, I don't mean I ate too much yesterday or have heartburn or am still tired. I'm suffering from the hangover of disappoint. Last night, I watched the final five episodes of the seventh season of Buff the Vampire Slayer, completing a three month journey through the entirety of the series. Immediately following the end of "Chosen," the series finale, I was confused and put off. "That was how they ended it?" I thought. "After all the great episodes Joss Whedon has written, he ends with his weakest effort?" Today, I woke up less confused and with the gravitas which usually only comes following a big loss by one of my favorite sports teams. The level of disappointment is not actually anywhere as strong as that of a big loss, but it still warrants explanation.

Character Deaths

It's hard for me to get behind a show that kills two of my three favorite characters at the end. While Xander survived, the sort-of-love-of-his-live Anya did not. Anya is one of my favorite characters from television ever. I loved her straight forward dialogue. In a show where the players were frequently unnecessarily verbose and danced around the issue, she would cut straight to what was important. Also, as a recently human ex-demon, her perspective of learning the world as an adult offered humorous takes on the absurdity of humanity. I also can't deny loving her for being the capitalist voice on the show. Her highest moments were when she ran The Magic Box after Giles returned to England. But then, in the climatic battle of the series, she is cut and half from behind. No one except Andrew, the likable but "why are you still in this show" character from season seven, witnessed it. The only reflection on it was Xander saying "That's my girl, always doing the stupid thing." Really, that's it? Not only was Anya around for a large portion of the series (she first appeared in the third season), but she was an integral part of Xander's story. Obviously her death destroyed her own story (as did her lack of screen time in season seven. Andrew had more time than her), but I'd be remiss to how much it hurt Xander's tale as well. What exactly happened to him in season seven, he lost his eye and bonded with Dawn? Out of the big three, he was certainly the most mishandled, and I would have said big four if not for Anthony Stewart Head's intriguing demotion to "Special Guest Star" in season six. Still, Anya's death isn't even the most poorly done of the episode. The other one is.

As Anya didn't survive, neither did the almost-love-of-Buffy's life Spike. How can I begin to say how trite and conventional the story behind his death was? Bad guy goes on an upward arc by falling in love with the heroine of the series. The arc ends with his redemption through self sacrifice of his life. The story is cliche and worth a yawn, but that obvious truth of it is not the worst part of it. His death invalidates four seasons of the show. Right before he dies, Buffy tells him she loves him and he replies, "No you don't, but thanks for saying it." You see, at the end of the previous episode, Angel, Buffy's first vampire lover, showed up, hung around for the first 10 minutes of the finale, and disappeared back to LA and his spin off show. In those ten minutes, Buffy and Angel made googly eyes at each other and hinted that they would spend "some day" together. Look, I don't care if the story was Buffy and Angel. He wasn't that unlikeable of a guy. I think the story was a bit repetitive when he was around that's all. What I do care is that, if the story was those two, why give him his own show at all? Why give us Spike for four seasons only to have a few scenes in the very last episode that say trump everything the character had been through. The mismanagement of his ending is a prime example of the mismanagement of his story. His character always felt like it was held back. He was witty. He saw the truth. He kicked butt. But really, he only did all three halfway. He had a great speech in a Thanksgiving episode about why they shouldn't feel sorry for a vengeful Indian spirit:
You won, alright? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That’s what conquering nations do. It’s what Caesar did and he’s not going around saying, ‘I came. I conquered. I felt really bad about it.’ The history of the world is not people making friends. You had better weapons and you massacred them. End of story.
It was an incredible bit of social commentary that utilized his unique voice and the acting talents of James Marsters. It was the only such instance in the series. Just as the beauty of Anya was unceremoniously chopped in half from behind, the brilliance of Spike was cut off at the ends and then sacrificed for no good reason other than not offending the delicate sensibilities of those viewers who felt he still wasn't redeemed from his days as an evil vampire and his attempted rape of Buffy, as if allowing himself to be tortured to be given a soul and joining the Scooby Gang wasn't enough.

And on one final note on death in the finale, you're fighting The First (evil) and the only people that die are an underused series regular, a mistreated series regular, and a couple minor guest stars? Wouldn't this plot have been the perfect opportunity to kill off someone like Giles or Faith or Dawn? What about offing Principal Wood or Andrew?


On a show that was so heavily romantic, there were no positive conclusion to any of the relationships except, arguably the Wood/Faith connection, which was sprung on us at the end of the last season meaning I wasn't very invested in it. Buffy didn't even really make a choice. Sure, she hinted at it and made a few coy statements, but Angel still walked away. Once again, I get that the point was she didn't need a relationship, which I think is a great point more people need to realize, but her romantic storylines weren't the only ones that were ignored. What happened with Willow and Kennedy? I don't remember Kennedy being in the final scene. I get that she was only around in season seven, but then don't make her so important if you don't want her around at the end. Likewise, the death of Anya killed the one stable and strong relationship on the show for good. Season seven featured a lot of "What about Xander and Anya?" comments from me. I almost feel like I should have been told up front how they would end so I could have not cared as much. What's the point of having a tragic ending if there's no fallout or aftermath? How can there be no happy romance endings after writing great speeches such as these:

Xander to Anya in "Into the Woods":
I've gotta say something... 'Cause ... I don't think I've made it clear. I'm in love with you. Powerfully, painfully in love. The things you do... the way you think... the way you move... I get excited every time I'm about to see you. You make me feel like I've never felt before in my life. Like a man. I just thought you might wanna know.
Spike to Buffy in "Touched":
You listen to me. I've been alive a bit longer than you, and dead a lot longer than that. I've seen things you couldn't imagine, and done things I prefer you didn't. Don't exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood... which doesn't exactly rush in the direction of my brain. So I make a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred-plus years, and there's only one thing I've ever been sure of. You... Hey, look at me. I'm not asking you for anything. When I say I love you, it's not because I want you, or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are. What you do. How you try. I've seen your kindness, and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand, with perfect clarity, exactly what you are. You're a hell of a woman. You're the One, Buffy.
Spike to Buffy in "End of Days":
I've lived for sodding ever, Buffy. I've done everything. I've done things with you I can't spell, but I've never been close to anyone, least of all you, until last night. All I did was hold you, watch you sleep, and it was the best night of my life. So, yeah, I'm terrified.
Yeah, there were some magic moments in Buffy, but to not end with one, not one, hurts everything that came before. Dawn had no plot in season seven. It seemed like she and Andrew had a certain amount of chemistry that went unacknowledged. Why not them?


When I started this post, I had a lot more to say, but now I feel as if I said what needed to be said. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the entire series of Buffy. I did. There were some really bright spots. I enjoyed seasons two and four a lot. Seasons three and seven were good. The season five finale was ridiculously awesome (the season suffered from a bad actress playing the villain). I'm glad I watched the show and own. There are a lot of strong episodes, and I learned a lot about storytelling, especially in the television medium.

And for the record, in the Angel or Spike debate, though in this entry I espoused the mistreatment of Spike as a character, I side with Riley.

And if you disagree with that, well then:
Shut up, you're wrong.

Friday, July 18, 2008

So you say you want a Revolution?

Then they'll bring it to you. This news morsel was just too good to pass up. Check out the following story:

FBI: Soccer team members help subdue man on flight

An American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles was diverted to Oklahoma City on Friday after a passenger stripped nude and later tried to open an emergency exit door before being subdued by members of a professional soccer team and others, the FBI said.

Members of the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer were among those who grabbed the passenger near an exit door, FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said. Tie wraps were placed on the man, whose name was not immediately released. He was taken into custody in Oklahoma City and placed under psychiatric evaluation, Johnson said.

So what if it was only the general manager, an assistant coach, and former player Mike Burns? Not only are they the best soccer team in North America, they also fight crime.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Middle Magic

LOST has succeeded in influencing the entertainment world positively again. Javier Grillo-Marxuach, supervising producer on the first two seasons and writer of such episodes as All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues and Orientation, now executive produces his own show on ABC Family. Based on his graphic novel series, The Middleman is the story of Wendy Watson (known as Dubdub or Dubbie by her roommate and boss respectively) and her superhero boss The Middleman, who "fight evil so you don't have to." If Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pushing Daises, and Doctor Who were liquefied and poured into a premise blender, this show would be the shake the infomercial host would chug. It features absurd situations, the duoinc (hey, cool, I invented a new word I that sounds, uh, cool) collaboration, and reference-laden-oh-so-quirky dialogue. The third episode even featured the star of Only The Strong. I was shocked. Here are a couple gems I really appreciated:

Ben: I'm such a dolt. I thought that it would be art. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Wendy: So did the Carter administration.

Wendy: We're going to China?

The Middleman:
As soon as Ida gives us the precise coordinates for the heir. Let's just hope it takes mudman a good amount of time to figure out transcontinental travel and passport control.
Why can't the Chinese Middleman just take over the case?
The Middleman
: Don't be ridiculous.
China's a communist country. A hero will be reduced to the level of the common man.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Midside Special: Going Down with the Ship

“Now ending discreetly, just like a hidden sin,
as I go under please tuck me in.
Make me invisible.”

My name is Jayemel and I am a LOST fan. (Hey Jay.) I have been ever since my friend Nate dragged us to his dorm room and showed us the pilot he downloaded. He told us it was about a plane crash on an island. I don’t really remember what I anticipated. I don’t think I anticipated much. I definitely didn’t anticipate what would happen next, in the show or my life. I was hooked and so began the upward (downward?) spiral that would be my LOST fandom, and my personality.

We LOST fans are a unique breed. Our rabid passion is well known. We’ve already earned our pride and joy a unique place in entertainment history. Our leaders, Lindelof and Cuse, love to reference and admit the influence Star Wars has on their work. I can’t fathom LOST not reaching a similar pinnacle in American lore. In Clerks, Dante and Randy discuss the moral concerns of the independent contractors on the second version of the Death Star. Only true fans of the movies would have such a conversation. Imagining similar dialogue about LOST being written into future films is hardly laughable. Couldn’t we speculate endlessly about if Jack is actually Red Sox fan or not? Or what about the headline in the newspaper he picked up in Something Nice Back Home that stated the Yankees bludgeoned the Red Sox; was that another consequence of the Oceanic Six getting off the island, and thus is their fault? Heck, if Fever Pitch was created a few years after the Red Sox 2004 World Series win, I would have expected a LOST reference in it. Look at NBC’s recent semi-hit Chuck. There was a reference to the crash of Oceanic 815 in the pilot. Yes, a show from another network referenced LOST, while it is still airing.

These “independent contractor” conversations have already about LOST. Chuck (the show, not the character), though perhaps unintentionally was insinuating that the government did know about the crash, so they weren’t as lost as me believed. We, the lowly (highly?) fans have used the power of the internet to push and prod the permutations in different directions. We’re known for our endless theorizing, from pointing out the writers’ affinity for using juice as a plot device (even in flashes) to time displacement/parallel universe musings. More recently, we’re increasingly known for our loyalty to certain characters and relationships, so much so that such passion has seemingly hijacked our ability to rationally enjoy and understand the show.

Look, I’m not going to bullshit you. Beyond the opening post-crash frenzy scene, I have intensely disliked Jack. I knew his “Live Together, Die Alone” speech was coming. And also since the Pilot, Sawyer has been by far and away my favorite character. I connected with him instantly. I knew he was instantly important to the overall story. I saw the dichotomy and it was never a question for me. Jack and Locke? Please, move the two in to Santa Rosa with Hurley. They’re both insanely talented, and I love them in their elements, but they’re not leaders. Yes, I have my biases, I have since day one, but never did I think they would cruise me into a crossfire that quieted me. Me, Mr. Shoots Off at the Mouth a la Sawyer. Me, Mr. Opinionated a la House. Me, Mr. Internet LOST Column a la Bill Simmons. I found my posts at various message boards, most notably The Fuselage, censored for questioning if we’re supposed to like Jack and tangentially mentioning politics (which I strongly believe is an important theme of the story). Eventually, I was even banned from The Fuselage. I was e-homeless. All I could do was read Lostpedia and peter around in my own brain. Assumptions and misperceptions that ran rampant through the fan community went unchallenged. Then, before I was generously given this little corner of LOST-cyberpace that has become The Midside on, I inadvertently stumbled into the middle of a full blown war.

“This hidden explosion calls for a wandering cast with no direction.
Enter all monsters let us twist another fairy tale.”

I had never heard of the word “shipper” before a poster linked me to Fishbiscuitland. I had seen threads for fans of character couplings at The Fuselage, but never thought about the depth of the participants, um, passion. And when I first arrived at the now-infamous Fishbiscuitland, I didn’t give the idea anymore thought. I was too distracted by my excitement. I was allowed to post whatever I wanted. It didn’t matter that Sawyer was my favorite character or that I strongly disliked Jack. There were people that didn’t like Jack here too. Heck, they made threads about it. This place is pretty good, I thought.

My thoughts were shortsighted. Over the next year or so, as more and more “homeless” posters swam over to the pond. I learned new words and phrases. “Jate,” Skate,” “Jate is Fate,” “bubblehead,” and “Imaginary LOST” have all become part of my vernacular. When my friend Dan, who I’ve just introduced to LOST, called Jack “batshit” crazy the other day, I couldn’t help but crack up laughing, as “Skaters” routinely call “Jaters” and Jack “batshit” crazy. In between my column writing, real world work, and sporactic visits to Fishbiscuitland, the board became a “Skater” h(e)aven, and I, by association, inadvertently become a “shipper” by association.

Look, you know The Midside is all about honesty, and I’ve always admitted it. Kate and Sawyer belong together and will end up together. After we finished watching the first season, I asked my friend Dan, “Kate and Jack or Kate and Sawyer.” He replied, “Kate and Sawyer, I thought that was obvious.” Dan is a pretty smart guy. He picked up on some stuff the first time through that impressed me. So, his ability to read the writing mitigates his use of the word “obvious” a bit, but still, he didn’t even question the pairing. That is how integrated into the story it was. And I don’t disagree at all. It’s been there since the beginning, the second half of the Pilot specifically. And for that reason, “Jaters” irk the shit out of me. “Skaters” aren’t beyond reproach either though. Their behavior is far more grating than they’d ever care to admit, and sometimes it’s difficult to be associated with them.

I’m not going to go into a detailed account of what is so annoying about “Jaters.” There is plenty of such reading material available. If you’re interested, go read The Fish’s blog ( or The Fandom section at Fishbiscuitland ( They all do an amazing job of dicing “Jaters” like Baraka from Mortal Kombat. In fact, the Fish’s latest blog post is about how the “Jaters” have taken to saying that anyone who thinks Jack and Kate aren’t “fate” are not watching LOST, but a show called “Imaginary LOST.”

This retarded use of rhetoric is what really pisses me off about “Jaters.” They see something in such a backwards way and then ostracize and ignore anyone who disagrees with them in order to protect their own world view and mental stability. Yes, I have my own biases for Sawyer and Kate, but you know what? If I thought the show wasn’t about them and there was nothing else I liked about it, I wouldn’t watch the show in the same way that I don’t watch a billion other shows I don’t like. That’s what capitalism is all about. Hey, two people make a show at the same time, I don’t like how this one is going, let me try watching the other.” Another show I love is House. I think House and Cuddy would be great together. Does it look like it’s going to happen anytime soon? After the season finale, maybe, but the writers hint at it all the time and nothing happens. Am I going to stop watching the show if it never happens and/or House ends up with someone else (or, more likely, no one else?), no, because I love what the show is about and the character of House. But, if that relationship was all I cared about, I would have stopped watching a long time ago. If I wanted blue balls, I’d find the most childish and immature girl I could and try to date her.

The most angering thing of all is that this attitude, the type that spawns wars when dealing with social and/or political issues, comes from a profound misunderstanding of what LOST has been about since the pilot. This show has always played on preconceptions in storytelling. The writers take what we expect and, often times go in the opposite direction. What immediately appealed to me about the show was how it was a bunch of stock characters with new twists on them. I could imagine J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof even making that statement to each other as they created the show. “Hey, let’s make a stock show with stock characters, but have it not be that at all.” The “Jaters” use of the term “Imaginary LOST” proves how intellectually and emotionally brainwashed they are. They’ve bought into cultural “norms” so much that they can’t accept someone trying to shift the dichotomy, or, at least, liven up the conversation. “Jaters” are the kind of people who oppressive governments live for. “Hey, this this and this is true and anyone who disagrees is living in Imaginary Germany.” Yes, I said Germany on purpose.

The perfect example of their inability to see what they’re being shown, rather than seeing what they believe to be true is their treatment of characters. The whole Jack and Sawyer thing has been discussed to death. “Jaters” think Jack is a Jack Bauer-like hero even though, in a move that I believe is very intentional on the part of the writers, he started out troubled and degenerated ever since. “Jaters” think Sawyer is an unredeemable immoral asshole, ignoring the large plethora of American storytelling history, from Westerns, to TV shows like Renegade, to two movies the writers have reference in relevance to the character Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean (Han Solo and Captain Jack Sparrow). Everyone understands this error in perception by the “Jaters.” What no one ever talks about that really bugs me is their treatment of Jin. And the treatment isn’t limited to them. It is a bit pervasive throughout the LOST e-community.

Jin was never a bad guy. In the Kwon marriage, Sun was the messed up one. Jin did some messed up things, yes, but he never treated Sun poorly beyond the inadvertent neglect that became necessary to even be married to her. And you know what? He felt guilty about it the whole time. He loved her so much that he went to the ridiculous lengths of beating the crap out of a government official and the beating himself up over it. He felt so bad about it he was going to stay in America when they got to Los Angelos. But no, Jin was a piece of crap. He was an oppressive man working for the mob who wanted to keep Sun obedient and weak. No one seems to remember that Sun was the one who lied, cheated, and planned on living him in Sydney. And you know why everyone sides with Sun and not Jin? The writers were playing on preconceptions that are so ingrained in our society.

The story was setup so that, in a marriage from a patriarchal society the wife was the bad one, because in our post-feminist society we’re so used to the opposite story. Think of how boring it would have been if the entire story was Sun trying to get herself out from under her oppressive husband. Zzz, seen it before. Go read a Maureen Dowd column. The problem is that people, most notably “Jaters,” still see the story this way (and other characters and their stories too). Look, Sun is awesome now. It was badass when she bought her Dad out and I can’t wait to see her take on Jack. But don’t you see how her buying her Dad out was her making up for what she did to Jin? If he is still somehow alive, he won’t have to live as a mobster anymore. He can simply be her husband. If she had simply stood up to her father before, Jin probably could have been simply that much earlier. Sure, they may have been poor, but they would have been happier. The contrast is Penny and Desmond. Penny didn’t care what her father wanted. She wanted Desmond. Not coincidentally, Desmond was the “coward” in that relationship. It’s unfair (to the writers, to the actors, to anyone involved in the production, to the characters, to the story) to continue to harp on these preconceptions and ignore the events on screen. Still, though “Jaters” are a rare stunted breed, their shortcomings should not give a shortcoming to their opposition, “Skaters,” who I have inadvertently become a part of.

The most common description of “Skaters” seems to deal with the “snark” and “wit,” and it is that positive that often becomes a paradoxical negative. The simple fact is that “Skaters” are as obsessed with “Jaters” as “Jaters” are with the, I understand it to a certain degree. Having been on the short end of the stick in relevance to the political ramifications of the split, I like to know what the people who mistreated me are up to. I also like to scout the enemy. As a New England Patriots fan, sometimes it’s interesting to see what Indianapolis Colts fans are saying, but there becomes a point where it becomes redundant. “Ok, they hate the Pats, think Brady is overrated, and call them cheaters. Got it.” I figured out why they were saying, check in to see if anything new is going on, and move on. If there’s one thing I learned from ESPN’s coverage of Spygate (the Patriots “cheating” scandal) it’s that people love rally calls. They repeat mantras over and over again as if repetition equals truth, mantras such as “Jate is fate.” “Skaters” love to see that “Jaters” are being repetitious, point out that they’re being repetitious, and mock them for being repetitious. Yup, it makes them repetitious too. “Wit” is only witty if it’s original and immediate. If you repeat it, it becomes trite and unoriginal, and as House tells us, triteness kicks us in the nads.

“Skaters” aren’t immune from seeing the show differently than it actually is either. Whereas “Jaters” say “Skaters” are watching “Imaginary LOST,” “Skaters” say “Jaters” are watching LOST on the “batshit channel.” Likewise, they tend to sidestep or ignore their own misunderstandings of the show. Recently, a “Jater” named “lulinha_k” on fanforum posted a list of things she believes “Skaters” have been wrong about. “Skaters” mocked this post completed, ignoring it as completely invalid. The list does hold some merit:

“- Kate loathes Jack in the FF. Jack is crazy, they dont have to go back;
- Kate is living happy in her house with Sawyer/Frimples;
- Kate IS pregnant (ZOMG because they showed us that Sawyer can have kids in EMFH and that pregnancy scare for Kate in I DO and what´s the point of showing us all of this if not to hint that Kate IS preganant I´m 100% sure she is pregnant ZOMG)
- Kate doesnt care about Jack because she is gonna have sex with Sawyer again this season even after Jack´s "Because I love you".;
- Jacks "Because I love you" was the kind of brother/sister love and we are going to see Juliet becoming the love of Jack´s life;
- We will have some great epic skate reunion ("I´m survivin", "SAYID!", "They tried to kill you? great, gimme the baby");
- Kate´s invatation in Eggtown was a "friendly" invite;
- Kate is attached to Aaron in the future because Sawyer gave her the baby and asked her to take care of him;
- It´s OBVIOUS that Jack and Kate were NOT in a romantic elationship pre-TTLG FF;
- Jack and Kate will NEVER EVER GET TOGETHER. NEVER. N-E-V-E-R. TPTB gave up on Jate back in season 2.”

The poster is right, Kate wasn’t happy in New Otherton, she wasn’t pregnant, she didn’t have sex with Sawyer again (yet), she didn’t reunite with Sawyer (yet), Sawyer didn’t ask her to take care of Aaron, and Jack and Kate did get together (in one episode). “Skaters” would never admit they were wrong on so many things, and that lack of admittance is their fault that mirrors the “Jaters” inability to see based their preconceptions. “Skaters” push on, making predictions and statements that make no sense as long as it makes them feel personally good about where their favorite couple will end up and how their liking of them fits into their personal world view.

The new trendy “Skater” prediction is that Sawyer and Juliet will never happen. Sawyer has already had enough meaningless sex in his life, they say. It would make Juliet a joke to have her be the other woman again, they say. Their statements about Sawyer are a complete contradiction of how they viewed Kate being with Jack in the flash forwards. Three years had passed, they said. She couldn’t be expected to be alone forever, they said. They seem to be forgetting that Sawyer and Juliet saw the freighter explode. They believe Jack and Kate are dead. How come Sawyer isn’t allowed to move on with his life in this instance? Likewise, their statements about Juliet show a complete misunderstanding of her character. In every one of her relationships (that we’ve been shown), she was the other woman. It would make sense if she was the other woman again. Regardless of that fact, if Sawyer believes Kate is truly dead, then Juliet wouldn’t be the other woman. Well, unless you’re only allowed to love once in life, or be in a relationship if you’re in love, in which case, I’m glad I’m picky.

Perhaps most disturbing about “shipper” culture is a talent the two groups share: an affinity for using basic graphical and internet technology to adopt and chop screencaps. The most immediate things they love doing with screencaps is making long “photo essays.” These essays consist of a large amount of screencaps one after the other with lines of “analysis” following each one. They most frequently feature split second facial expressions that members of either group use to determine exactly what the character is feeling and then apply to the relationships at large. If I had known that complex feelings and thoughts could be determined so quickly, I would have been paying much closer attention to the facial expressions to people around me. I guess I’ll have to start. These screencaps then become “evidence” of the supremacy of each “ship,” and the scene becomes unforgettable.

After the facial expressions, screencaps then become a tool for fanart. The groups make banners, avatars, youtube videos, drawings, and other pieces of art that feature their favorite pairing. Most recently, “Jaters” have really used their talents here to irk “Skaters” by taking scenes with Sawyer and Kate, removing Sawyer, and inserting Jack. That level of skill can only be reached if the person has a certain level of creepy as well. These pieces of arts are then shared within the group, who then appropriate it for whatever purpose they want. Most frequently, the banners are used as signatures in forums (the avatars are likewise used), often as an underhanded way to taunt the opposite coalition. Some posters even spend their time making fan fiction, original stories using the characters. Sometimes I wonder what these people could accomplish if they used some of this time and talent for other things.

“No need to worry it is just another monster.
No need to fear here in the secret show.
No need to worry I am just another monster.
In you, I'll see me, in the secret show.”

The most bothersome thing about “shipping” is how the loyalty of the fan is to the relationship between the two characters and nothing else. I think Sawyer and Kate is the best pairing, but if the story goes another way and it makes sense in that it does justice to the overall story and the characters. I’m even not ashamed to admit that I’ve somehow become a “Skater.” Fishbiscuitland is the only LOST message board I read and post it. I barely read any other sites beyond Lostpedia, and I’m not even registered there to be able to edit it. I just don’t care much what posters at other sites have to say, mainly because I’ve found their thoughts to become redundant and unrevolutionary. It’s why I have this little corner of LOST-cyberspace. Me? I’m no different than you, I just write more.

And yes, I have an avatar and signature at Fishbiscuitland. My avatar is irrelevant to Sawyer or Kate, it is the JML logo. My signature, on the other hand, while just words, is relevant. It is an exchange between executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse in a podcast following the Season 3 episode “I Do”:

Lindelof: "How much clearer could you be about her choice? I mean, who's watching it and going, 'I'm not sure that she picked Sawyer, I think maybe she went with Jack there.' She's had sex with him."
Cuse: "And yet- And yet people actually do, you know, I think certain people maybe just don't value the act of sex as being that important."

You see, the quote isn’t just about Sawyer and Kate, it’s about the ramifications of relevance to their story. If Kate hasn’t made her choice, what does that say about her? If you think she hasn’t made her choice, what does that say about you? If you think she has made her choice, what does that say about you? Too often, “Jaters” and “Skaters” focus on small immediate things, from “Imaginary LOST” to the “batshit channel” to screencaps to fan fictions. The show becomes one dimensional. They’re worried about the choice and not the who or why behind it. Yes, it’s just entertainment, but that doesn’t mean it lacks what makes us human, the questions we ask. Entertainment is strongest when it helps us confront those questions, but you have to let it. Besides, if you take the humanity out of a relationship, you’re just fucking.

And if you disagree with that then:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Jayemel can be reached at

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Midside: S4E13 There’s No Place Like Home Parts 2 and 3

It’s almost hard to believe. Yet again, we’ve reached this point. Everything happened so quickly and was sprung upon us and now…this. No, I’m not referring to another season ending twist. I’m talking about how the season has already ended. The shortening of the number of episodes combined with the strike molded what feels like a completely abbreviated run. Where does this finale rank among other finales? Follow me into The Midside and we’ll address this consideration as well as other more specific ones such as: Who’s on the island? Who’s off the island? Who’s dead? Who should we trust, Widmore or Ben? And, in a point sure to be unique to The Midside, who is the Most Screwed Character of Them All™?


Disclaimer: Before I begin this section, I would like to acknowledge what I have in past columns. I hate the lists media sources such as ESPN make. They create impossible scenarios as a way to increase ratings or readership. For instance, over the Patriots 18-0 run, they were constantly compared to the ’72 Dolphins. It’s impossible to compare the two teams. They are from separate eras. They could never be on the field together. Such a comparison is nothing more than frivolous fluff. However, there is a specious air to it, as they both had huge undefeated streak. The comparisons become especially troublesome when the pundits turn to players and try to rank the best quarterback, wide receives, running backs, etc in history. How exactly, over the entire history of a league with ever shifting styles, rules, and conventions, can a definitive list be created? It can’t, and thus I find such lists ridiculous.

If I hold such an opinion, how can I attempt to rank the LOST seasons and finales? I won’t. While an argument can be made concerning ranking things within a consistent work of art, such as a television show, I still think such a list would be ridiculous. Creating one would be like ranking the chapters in a book. However, I do think that it is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each season and finale, which can be especially highlighted in comparison to one another. And if one happens to be weaker or stronger than all the rest, so be it. Likewise, this discussion is in no way meant to be a definitive statement on the relative quality of each season. Rather, it is my attempt to place the fourth season and it’s finale within the scope of the LOST universe. And I will start with a cross section of the finales.

The interesting thing about the season finales is that each has featured a variation of the same technique. The common term used when referring to them is “game changer.” The episodes contain a “game changing” moment or fact. However, each season has contained a different type of a “game changer.”

Season One featured the least revolutionary moment(s). The story did not change drastically and the technique had been used a thousand times before in television cliffhangers. In fact, the producers even compared it to the classic “Who shot JR?” question from Dallas. This approach worked well because it provided several iconic moments. No one is a LOST fan will ever forget the character peering down the Hatch or Tom, with his beard, saying, “We’re gonna have to take the boy.” In fact, when Penny’s boat found the life raft, the group I was watching with even referenced the scene, saying how they were going to demand Aaron and then destroy the raft. The finale fulfilled its purpose. It was so iconic, the parallel between future finales and it are immediately recognizable to even the most casual of fans. However, where this finale failed is that it wasn’t game changing enough. In fact, it was right before the game changing moment. It has always been my contention that the beginning of Season Two would have served much better as a cliffhanger than the end of Season One. In Exodus, the characters were in the same spots they were all season. They didn’t know what was in the Hatch. The raft escape had failed. In contrast, at the beginning of Season Two, new characters and sets were introduced. We found Desmond in the Hatch and the Tailies on the other side of the island. While the images we had in Exodus were iconic, imagine how much more iconic Desmond holding Kate at gun point and Jack responding “You” (a la Soulja Boy) or Jin running down the beach yelling “Others” and then Sawyer getting clocked in the face by Eko would have been. Exodus succeeded in using the question technique (What’s in the Hatch? Who took the boy? Is Sawyer alive or dead?), but failed by placing those questions within a static setting that eased their impact through its familiarity.

Season Two succeeded in fine tuning the techniques used in the first finale. Locke, Desmond, Eko, Sawyer, Kate, and Jack were all placed in such danger that we had no idea what their fates would be in the coming season. Charlie, Michael, and Walt went through such crucial events that we had no idea how they would react. Likewise, characters were inserted into the mythology. Suddenly, Penny and her artic station were trying to find the island. The idea of rescue and the characters that would help that story unravel were in our minds. Ben and the Others were revealed at the dock. Ben uttered his iconic “We’re the good guys, Michael” and one of the biggest debates in LOST history began. But, these questions would not have stood strong on their own. In fact, it could be argued that the good/bad Others debate had been in place since Ethan, the kidnapping of Walt, or Goodwin’s treatment of Ana Lucia. However, it obviously didn’t resonate in our mind until Live Together, Die Alone. Why? Because the questions technique was combined with another: the destruction technique. This concept was also used in the Season Three finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In that episode, most of what was familiar for the show over the first three seasons was destroyed: the high school blew up, the Hell Mouth was closed, Buffy quit the Watcher’s Council, and Angel left. However, there was only one question that remained with the show: What will happen when Buffy goes to college? The show had a natural setting to transition to. Likewise, LOST destroyed the Hatch. In contrast, the show had no logical locale to transition to, so the writers hit us with a plethora of questions. They turned the sky purple. They showed us a four toed statue. It was the ultimate mindfuck. Where this finale failed is its inability to include every character in the storyline. Claire, Jin, Sun, and Sayid all remained the same. This shortcoming most famously manifested itself in Sayid’s absence from Season Three.

Season Three took what made the previous finale so strong and built upon it further. Rather than using the destruction technique, they used the switch technique. The majority of the characters saw their roles flipped, as well as, of course, the story. Character wise, we saw the first glimpses of Locke becoming the new Ben, when he threw a knife in Naomi’s back and everyone looked at him like a nut case rather than a guru. Ben was tied to a tree, a powerless prisoner rather than the warden (like in the Season Two Finale). Jack’s leadership was finally cracking, as even Rose show signs of mistrust of the “good doctor” by mocking his mantra. Sayid, Sawyer, and Juliet, three characters who all had tenuous relationships with each other, were suddenly allies in battle with a begrudged respect for one another. Hurley was no longer the bumbling sidekick, but the hero that saved the island badasses (Sayid, Sawyer, Jin, and Juliet). Charlie, well, he died a hero rather than a character. And, thus, Desmond, presumably no longer had visions. Finally, the Others made their exit, disappearing to The Temple for an entire season. Story wise, with the change from flashbacks to flashforwards, the emphasis of the entire show changed. The point was no longer who these characters were, but who they would become. This switch is something we all struggled with in Season Four. We were so used to getting to know the characters, that we had no idea how to just be “friends” and share a journey with them. Likewise, Season Four featured only one “traditional” flashback in The Other Woman, while Confirmed Dead, Meet Kevin Johnson, and Cabin Fever featured flashes more similar to 3 Minutes, The Other 48 Days, and The Brig. Yes, everything was so switched that, at times, Season Four felt like a sequel or spin-off series. Thus, this success is also the shortcoming of episode. There was such an attempt to conceal the twist that not enough attention was paid to the notion of putting the past to bed. We still had (have) so many questions about the past, that we weren’t (are not) ready to let it go. This Doberman like grasp is what made Rousseau’s death so disappointing. We wanted to see her flashback. In similar fashion, I was disappointed in Ben’s Season Four episode being a flashforward. I still wanted to know what happened to Annie. Therefore, while Through the Looking Glass was a smashing success as not only did we all go through the glass, but we smashed it, it failed in the sense that we weren’t quite ready for that journey. We went on it, but it hindered a season that already faced such challenges as only airing during the spring half of the television season, a shortened number of episodes, and an unforeseen writer’s strike.

This season’s finale was most successful in using the complete technique, which is not a surprise considering that before it even began the writers stated that they created a two part set up: the first half of the season would ask question and the second half would answer those questions. And the two parts did just as they said. The finale literally picked up where the Season Three finale left off, using our new information to explain what happened in that scene and what happens after it. It is common knowledge that Season Three was the season of the Others. Likewise, Season Two was the season of the Hatch. We now know that Season Four was the season of the Rescue. Thus, similar to the destruction of the Hatch, all concepts associated with the rescue were destroyed. The freighter was blown up. The island is gone. And like the switch at the end of Season Three, the characters all have new roles. Yes, Season Four was truly the most complete season. However, where it failed is in living up to expectations. The previous two finales were so ridiculous that it would have been nearly impossible for There’s No Place Like Home to live up to them, and it didn’t. I don’t mean to say the finale was awful, but comparatively, Season Two and Three’s finales were superior to Season One and Two’s. However, Season Four was extremely successful in telling a complete story and rectifying the failures of the Season Three finale. I no longer care about the past.

What do I care about? Over the remainder of this column, I’ll discuss these new roles for the characters and how they do create intrigue. I will follow it with a consideration of who we should trust, Ben or Charles Widmore. Finally, I will conclude with a statement concerning how the changes leave me as a LOST fan going into yet another eight month hiatus.


Let’s play a game. No, I’m not going to put you in a trap that is barely impossible to escape from and then claim I tried to help you save your life. Rather, I’m going to run down the list of LOST characters, starting from most dead and ending with most alive. Then, I will reveal who is the Most Screwed Character of Them All™.

Deader than a Doornail

This category is comprised of Michael and Keamy. Before the finale, I figured both of them were dead, and I definitely knew they were following the first part. When the C4 was revealed, I was sure that it was linked the device Keamy strapped to his arm, thus making it a heart rate monitor, thus meaning Keamy would die, the freighter would explode, and Michael would go down with it.

Say what you will about Keamy, but he was an ultimate badass, someone you would want to have on your team. In a way, he is one of the most tragic characters on the show. He had the potential of being an ultimate action hero villain (or hero? Movie casting directors, look into this idea), but was a short lived reoccurring role on the show. Additionally, who ultimately ended his life? Ben. Yeah, we know he is a bit more badass than he lets on (as seen in The Shape of Things to Come), but his “first” death as so much cooler. His fight with Sayid was awesome, and it said a lot that he could only be taken down by being shot in the back. Although, I suppose he was distracted by Locke enough for that fact to hold true. Regardless, Keamy, you will be missed. You were one of the most badass LOST villains.

Michael, on the other hand, will not be missed. When referring to the abbreviated season and the negative effects of the strike, Michael’s story must be noted. This season was supposed to be his redemptive arch. He is one of the most hated characters in LOST history. Consider the fact that the reason he is hated is for killing Ana Lucia and Libby. Now consider how hated Ana Lucia was (she barely even gets mentioned anymore). How hated must Michael be if people hate him for killing her? Thus, it would have taken a much more in-depth story to truly redeem him. However, they did clear up his story with Jin and Sun, the characters he was most involved with from the beginning. The problem is, though he tried to make sure Jin took responsibility for his own son, Michael did not take responsibility for Walt.

Probably Most Likely Almost Certainly Dead

It comes as no surprise that Jin died. He was this season’s Charlie. What is so disappointing is that he didn’t go out the way Charlie did. He went out because Jack was a douchebag. Although, if they had waited thirty more seconds for Jin before they took off, would the chopper have blown up with the freighter? Perhaps, yet still, Jin essentially went out begging for his life, yelling at the top of his lungs for the chopper to come back. I would have at least liked to see him try and clip one of the wires, or tell Michael which wire to try and cut. I mean, he’s Asian, he should be good at that kind of stuff, right?

(ABC Pop-up: This statement is a politically incorrect style quip that Jayemel has made in many past columns.)

While his death scene may have been wussy, like Charlie, he completed a full arc that inverted his character. In the first few episodes, he seemed like a jerk. The writers played up the Korean male dominated culture stereotype. He seemed to mistreat Sun. But, in what would appear to be the opposite of that stereotype, he gave his life for his wife. There is the smallest off chance that he dove off the boat at the last second, but I doubt it. Thus, I will say that Jin was one of my favorite characters on LOST. He was a true badass who took care of his own business and let others worry about theirs. Amidst the storm of weird occurrences, he always seemed to be an anchor of simplicity through hard work and respect.

Dead, but Not Really

Oh John Locke, are you nothing more than Season Five’s Charlie and Jin? I’m going to have to say no for three reasons. First of all, there is no way these writers are going to use the same storytelling technique for three seasons in a row. Second of all, the biblical imagery surrounding him is too strong. Did you see the way he came down the mountain and became the leader of the Others? The scene was right out of The 10 Commandments. Thirdly, Locke has been tied up with the mythology of this show from the beginning. He will be there at the end. So what’s going to happen to him? It has been insinuated that Locke was an immaculate conception. He has tried to be reborn several times. Now he really is going to be reborn. Locke is the Jesus figure of this story. He is going to out Jordan Collier Jordan Collier (that’s a 4400 reference). As for the shock of him being in the coffin, the reveal wasn’t when I was shocked. Since the whole episode built to us believing Ben was in the coffin, I was shocked and figured out the reveal when Ben walked into the room. The final shot was just very artistic confirmation.

Maybe Dead, Maybe Claire

Claire, we hardly knew you, mostly because you were hardly in the finale. Do I want you to be dead? No. Do I think you are? Considering you hang out with Christian and appeared in Kate’s dream, I do more so now. There is still the outside possibility Christian never died or the island brought you and him back (like they will Locke) and you can only live on the island.

Alive, but Not Really

This category encompasses two characters who have the biggest potential for an upward turn in their story arc: Ben and Jack. I’ll touch on Ben later as part of the Ben vs. Widmore consideration, but I do have to ask what good is he if he can’t get back to the island? Of course, that question assumes he wasn’t lying when he said he wouldn’t be allowed to come back.

I only see one way for Jack to possible redeem himself now: The Ultimate Sacrifice™. Thus, I say that he is alive, but not really. Has anyone degenerated more than him? He went from the guy Kate admires, to the man she berates and slaps before driving off. Jin’s death is (arguably) his fault. Every decision he has made since Day One has led to negative consequences. And he still refuses to believe that the island is “special.” He saw the island disappear and wouldn’t admit it was a miracle. Look, I know I’ve been critical of Jack pretty much since after the opening nine minutes of the series, but it’s clear that the writers are in line with this conception of his character. The question now becomes if he is going to be able to redeem himself. If he is, the only way he can is to give his life (which makes sense if Christian and Claire, his family, are both dead). His possible redemption is tied up with whether they have to go back, which is now tied up with Ben’s possible evilness.

Alive and Kickin'

Sayid, Hurley, Kate, Desmond, and Frank are the characters that are all alive off the island and living (relatively) normal lives. Of those five, Hurley and Sayid have the least normal lives and are now intertwined, as Sayid came to “rescue” Hurley from the asylum. Frank is the least interesting of the three and we may not ever see him again, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we did. Kate and Desmond are perhaps the most interesting of the five. Kate is seemingly the least likely to go back with Jack, especially considering her dream of Claire telling her not to take Aaron back to the island. Essentially, she now has Claire’s blessing to raise Aaron. Then again, way back in Season One, Claire was told Aaron couldn’t be raised by another. That line was likely just to confuse us and doesn’t have any bearing anymore though. Likewise, I have to wonder what Desmond has to do with this whole going back to the island thing. Is he included in the “everyone” that Ben told Jack is needed to go back? If so, that storyline will most definitely intersect with Ben trying to kill Penny. Does Ben known about Desmond and Penny? Most likely. Will Penny become a series regular? Will she and Desmond side with her father or Ben? Was Desmond’s return not publicized because no one besides Penny and her father knew he was missing?

Alive and Bitchin'

Sun took a major step into the mythology of this show. Seemingly, she allied herself with Charles Widmore, which would seemingly put her at odds with Jack and Ben. What is she going to discuss with Widmore? Will she run into Desmond and Penny? Regardless, like Jin, her character has been inverted from the Korean stereotype. After buying her father’s company, she became a single mother CEO. Could there be more of a symbolic strong woman? It now also seems like she will be extremely tied up with the series finale and we have to choose whose side we’re on, her’s or Jack. Well, in The Midside we’re on her side.

Alive and Missin'

On the island are the Others, Miles, Charlotte, Sawyer, Juliet, and Locke. I previously discussed Locke, so I won’t go into him again. Miles seems to be the least interesting of the characters, as we don’t really know much about him. Is he staying because he has mystical powers and the island is mystical? Charlotte is a bit more interesting because apparently she’s been to the island before. How was she on the island before? Was she part of Dharma? Is that why she found the polar bear in the desert, as there is now pretty much a confirmed link between the island and North-Western Africa? As for Sawyer and Juliet, Juliet pretty much did nothing again and Sawyer did what was expected. He made a sacrifice as expected. Thankfully though, his sacrifice was only a “well-somebody-has-got-to-make-this-almost-meaningless-sacrifice” sacrifice. Now that that event is done with, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with his character, especially because he’s seemingly stuck with Juliet. Is something going to happen between the two of them? Interestingly, the scene where he got out of the water shirtless to talk to Juliet mirrored the season one “Hell of a book. It’s about bunnies.” scene with Kate. Were the writers foreshadowing something between the two of them? While he and Kate are obviously in love (yes, it’s confirmed, I’m no longer having this debate, go watch the finale again if you’re too stupid to see it), I wouldn’t really blame the two of them as they probably think their trapped on the island for the rest of their lives. Of course, if the island really shifted into the future (Ben was seemingly transported into the Sahara desert right after he shifted the island in time, if it did shift in time. Is that also the point in time the island stopped at? I know there’s a timeline on Lostpedia, but someone needs to make a visual timeline website.), would they even have time to start something? Three years for the Oceanic Six may have been a matter of months, weeks, or days for the island. And by the way, sitting on the beach drinking rum on an island with no hope for rescue or escape is without-a-doubt a Pirates of the Caribbean reference. Someone send in the sea turtles.

Most Screwed Character of Them All™

You’ve waited for it, and here it is, the final reveal of the most screwed character of them all: Daniel Farraday. Am I the only one who is concerned about what is going to happen to him? I’m not even referring to life or death situation, to which he could also be completely screwed. I’m talking about his complete lack of a storyline. Sure, he loves Charlotte, but so what? Jin loved Sun. Charlie loved Claire. You get my point. But do you have any idea where he is right now? He’s in the middle of the South Pacific with a bunch of redshirts in a Zodiac. Am I supposed to believe the Zodiac can get them all the way to an island? Look at the website if you don’t share my disbelief: Also, like I said, everyone in the Zodiac, except Daniel, is a redshirt. That fact is not a good omen. Good thing he’s eccentric and interesting, otherwise, I would write him off.


From the first episode of this show, the entire notion of “two players, one light, one dark” playing a game has been in place. The imagery was even brought back in this episode, as Hurley was playing chess “with Mr. Eko.” The chess pieces are light and dark. Hurley and Mr. Eko are light and dark. Now, as it would seem, the two players are Widmore and Ben. Although, it is important to note that, with Locke supposedly replacing Ben, it could be Locke and Widmore. That apparent replacement is probably just part of Ben’s overall plan though.

If those are the two sides, we have to decide which one we fall on. For me, the answer is simple. I’m on Widmore’s side. The only thing he has really that I didn’t like is the way he treated Desmond, but I can easily see him coming to respect the man his daughter loves. Likewise, I don’t blame Widmore for Alex death. First off, the question is still up in the air as to if Widmore ordered her to be killed. In The Shape of Things to Come, Charles even blamed Ben for her death. And you know what? I agree with him. If Ben had never taken Alex from Rousseau, she most likely wouldn’t be dead (and neither would Rousseau or Karl for that matter). The argument against Widmore, of course, is that the devil you know (Ben) is better than the devil you don’t, and that the writers could be going with typical storytelling, with the corporate guy (Widmore) being evil. However, I respond to that argument by asking when the writers have even gone with typical storytelling.

Once again, in this episode, Ben proved to me why he is evil. He killed Keamy, condemning everyone on the boat, in a moment of pure emotion. The action is entirely selfish and short sighted. Of course, the argument against that claim is what Ben himself said in the episode, everyone makes mistakes in the heat of the moment. Thus, my problem with Ben is that he continually makes the same mistakes over and over again, and he is a master of spin. Take his approach to Alex’s death. He has convinced himself that he is in no way to blame for her death, even though Widmore rightly pointed out in their conversation who does all the messed up things. As I’ve continually said here in The Midside, Ben has a history of committing atrocious acts. How can such a person be considered good? The only way Ben can be redeemed is if he has some ultimate good he is doing all these things for, and that good would have to be the ultimate ultimate ultimate good that preserves the victory of good over evil in THE UNIVERSE.

That’s where I stand, what about you?


Another year and another season passed. I’m not quite sure if I’m as passionate about LOST as I have been in the past. Sure, I’ll continue to watch the show and write these columns, but my love for the show is mitigated that the next season will apparently flow through Jack. I don’t exactly want to watch a show that is all about Jack making people believe him and then saving the day. Of course, what tempers that is the possibility they don’t have to go back and the role of Charles Widmore in the story. Part of the reason I’m a bit tentative heading into the hiatus is that most of the characters I enjoy are seemingly left without a storyline. Sawyer, Desmond, Farraday, and Juliet are all essentially MIA. Sayid is, thankfully, wrapped up in the main plot. Hopefully we find out where the island is very quickly in Season Five. Otherwise, I’m not quite sure about where this show is headed.

Thanks for surfing through this season. I hope you enjoyed The Midside. I certainly did. I’ll be back when episodes start up again. If you need your Jayemel fix over the hiatus, check out my blog, where I’ve also been cross posting these columns, at There I post movie reviews and anything else that comes to my mind. And, of course, if you disagree with anything written there, than you know what you can do:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Jayemel can be reached by email at