Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Review: Lost 3.22/23: Through The Looking Glass

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And a thousand memes were born...
From gif-central
Lost - Season Three, Episode Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three - Through The Looking Glass
Written 23/3/14

We're here, then. My last Lost review. And, for the not the first time in these four or so years of reviewing the show, I'm a little lost for words on how to begin. It doesn't feel right to go about this episode within my usual format of blabbering on in metaphors for five minutes, but that's really all I know how to do. So - what's so great about Through The Looking Glass? As a normal finale it's somewhat more subdued than the previous two seasons, probably down to the trend I mentioned last week where the end of this season focussed more on the overall mytharc than it did on big climactic plot points. Alongside a fairly badass set of Island events which include the end of the war with The Others, the reunion of Danielle and Alex Rousseau and a chance of some of our survivors getting home at last, we also have something special - the first Flash-forward, which leads to one of the best cliffhangers in the entire show.
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Lost's most iconic character death.
From Wikia
     Carrying straight on from the previous episode, and a confident Charlie gets tied up by the Others that operate the Looking Glass, Greta and Bonnie. The plan to blow up the Others at the beach camp almost goes off without a hitch - Jin misses his bundle of dynamite, culminating in Tom Friendly capturing the three shooters. On the way to the Radio Tower, Sawyer, Juliet and Hurley decide to head back to see what happened, not having seen the third explosion from afar. As Mikhail and Desmond both arrive at the Looking Glass, Jack's team meets Ben and Alex, and Ben convinces Jack that the three shooters are dead. However, Hurley comes to the rescue of the three using the DHARMA van, and Sawyer takes his revenge on Tom by shooting him in the chest. Mikhail turns on the two women in the Looking Glass and Desmond takes him by surprise, allowing Charlie to use a hint from Bonnie to turn off the jamming signal. Mikhail is still alive, however, and detonates a grenade outside the window, leading Charlie to save Desmond by shutting himself in. In his last, hand-written message, Charlie imparts the fact that Naomi's crew is "Not Penny's Boat." Jack is able to contact the Freighter, but Locke has returned from his injury and throws a knife in Naomi's back.
     Charlie's death, while very poignant and well-shot, is conflicting for me. I hate to be that guy, but, I do study Physics. And the simple fact is that Charlie did not need to die - and I don't mean that in a whiny, "Why did he have to die!?!" way, I mean that the show makes it look like an act of pure stupidity on Charlie's part. In the show, the room that Charlie's in has its window blown open, causing water to rush in. In order to prevent the station from flooding, Charlie shuts the door behind him. Now. Had Charlie not shut the door, both he and Desmond would have had ample time to jump back into the moonpool and escape with their lives. Not just because the Looking Glass is pretty big, but also because the water wouldn't rise beyond the top of the window, so Charlie and Desmond would have all the air they could ever ask for. The same is true for Charlie in his locked room - he would have found himself standing neck-deep in water, certainly, but there'd be no drowning happening.
Charlie shouldn't die. (Or at least according to Physics.)
      Here's where I'd discuss the plot of the flashforward, but that's not important because wow, it's a god-damn flashforward. I commented a bit on this change in dynamic during my first few reviews of Season Four, but since that was in 2011 I should really talk about it again. With the Writers' Guild of America Strike of 2008 (the same one that crippled Heroes' second season) on the horizon, introducing flash-forwards was a way to keep up the interest for the show over the longer break and to provide some change to the format that had stood the show true for three seasons. I liked it at the time, but now I'm not so fond - one of the fun parts of the flashbacks was that every episode added a new element to someone's personality, because you knew more about their history and could relate their past experiences to those in the present. Flashforwards reverse this dynamic, but that often means that our flashforwarding Losties are just happening to remember things that are happening in our present. If that makes any sense.
     Ultimately the main core of the episode wasn't much to wax lyrical about. It was cathartic to see the end of the Survivors Versus The Others storyline, even as the lines between them began to blur. Everything that needed to happen in our characters arcs happened, and there was a sense of closure which was only slightly tickled by that epic cliffhanger which revealed that actually, some of them do get off the Island. And that for some reason, Jack wants to go back. It's a brilliant end to a brilliant swansong to the era of long-ass seasons and normal flashbacks and human characters and stuff. It's nearly all of the reasons why I love Lost. Why I still love Lost, after all my whining. And I'm gonna miss talking about it.

Thanks.

Monday, 8 December 2014

A musing on five years

My current locale...
Five years ago today, I wrote an article about a set of fireworks. Gorton is a small area in the south of Manchester, and for the first few years of my life it was the place I called home, before me and my family moved to the marginally more scenic town of Droylsden in Tameside. Of course for my parents, it had had more permanence. At least, I guess so. That's the only reason I can think of as to why we attended those fireworks in the first place. Had I not attended those fireworks, I would not be on this website typing as I am now.
     Blogger is something of an archaic platform to work with. It wasn't exactly hip and trendy when I started using it in 2009, but it was a fair bit more popular than it is now, in an age where all of your blogging needs can be better suited by Wordpress or Tumblr. But then again, popularity was never my main aim - it was an attempt to express opinions about stuff. To a teenager bristling with opinions, an opportunity to do that in a space with few people will challenge you is a very attractive option. Once I started writing regularly I advertised my blog on social networks for a while, hoping to gain an audience like that of the blog that inspired me, Dan's Media Digest. But there's a reason why he's just been shortlisted for a "UK Blog of the Year" award and I've not written anything in months.
     Nostalgia Filter, or as it was once called, Audenshaw Reviews, is at its most fundamental a procrastination aid. Writing about something, making a project of it, is a task I used to set for myself - both because I enjoyed it, and because it felt satisfying to do something productive. As a result, I've I've ended up writing a short book. Taking a very rough average, I have a wordcount of about 900 words (for a standard length review, sometimes I find less to talk about, sometimes more.) Extrapolating that out for the 802 posts I've tagged as either "Review" or "Opinion", and that comes to 721,800 words. That's seven novels. In the past five years I've written seven novels. Except they weren't novels. They were blog posts about TV shows and films. (Note to self - the word blog isn't in the blog's internal spellchecker dictionary.)
gorton 100 fireworks photo: Gorton 100 Fireworks 048.jpg
A photograph from the event that inspired it all.
(Original owner unknown, please comment if
you want credit.)
     In the past five years, I've done my GCSEs, my A-Levels and the first term of the first year of my degree. I've performed in four stage productions, had a total of 63 articles published in external publications and have posted the word "Thanks" 934 times. (Including this one.) In that time I've watched over 700 hours of television and film in order to review it here, and then countless more hours after that to write up the damn things, with a minimum of about 45 minutes for each one to write it up. Which if you calculate it forward again means that I've spent a bare minimum of 601 hours writing here. That's almost a month.
      Time gets away from us so quickly. Right now this is the longest thing I've written for the blog in months. What began as a place for an arsey teenager to mouth off without being ridiculed by his peers has become something I'm immensely proud of, and something I regret not having done more with. I had planned for so long that this would be the end of this blog - something frightening for me to see as I look at the little (1) next to my "Scheduled Posts". But I don't think it is the end. Not yet.
     For hopefully not the last time,

Thanks.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

5th Anniversary

Thanks for the memories, readers. :D

Audenshaw Reviews/ Nostalgia Filter through the years.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Review: Lost 3.21: Greatest Hits

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Charlies writes his list of Greatest Hits. From Wikia
Lost - Season Three, Episode Twenty-One - Greatest Hits
Written 22/3/14

Charlie Pace - a character whose three season journey went from brilliant to disappointing and then back to okayish with a side of "that's not how you say Aaron, omg shut up". As a Manc myself, it's fantastic to see somewhere other than London actually mentioned in the rest of the world, and especially in a character who began life as complex and difficult as Charlie. The inevitability of his death and the show's constant signposting of it makes him a very interesting exception to the usual rules of TV - but that by no means diminishes the quiet poignancy that his acceptance of his death brings to this last pre-finale episode.
      There's a sense of pre-finale fever as Jack reveals his plan to defeat The Others - by planting dynamite (courtesy of a returned Danielle Rousseau) in marked tents, the Survivors can blow The Others to kingdom come without them even knowing. Sayid reveals that Naomi's phone signal is being blocked; Juliet chirps in with the fact that all signals to and from the Island are blocked by an underwater station called The Looking Glass. Desmond has revealed to Charlie that Claire and Aaron will be rescued - but only if Charlie descends to The Looking Glass and disables the blocking frequency. Charlie thus says his goodbyes and writes a list of the five greatest moments in his life - his Greatest Hits - for Desmond to give to Claire once he is gone. Karl arrives, revealing that Ben has brought the plan forward by a day, thus meaning that three things must happen at once - the spoiling of The Others' raid, a trek to the Island's radio tower and Charlie's underwater adventure. Charlie reaches The Looking Glass, but once there he is held at gunpoint by an Other.
      In previous reviews near the end of a season I've oft talked about episodes whose sole purpose is to shift the characters into the right positions for the season finale, and while they might have had quite a while to do this, the end of Season Three has been so full of character devleopment and mytharc stroking that we're only just getting to it. Considering the fact that we're only an episode or two away from where I started Lost, it's strange to think about how little the atmosphere of the show is to that - the Writers' Guild of America Strike really did a number on the show post-Season Three, and I'll be talking about that more in my overview of the whole show
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Charlie's death, while poignant, is kinda stupid. But I'll save
that for next week, eh? From Wikia
      This week's flashbacks were split up into five unrelated segments, charting the Greatest Hits on Charlie's list. On a rainy Clitheroe road, Charlie hears his band's one-hit-wonder "You All Everybody" on the radio for the first time. At Butlins, a young Charlie learns to swim with his Irish dad. Charlie's brother Liam gives him his family heirloom "DS" ring. Outside Covent Garden, Charlie saves a woman (Sayid's belle Nadia making her once-a-season appearance) from being attacked, and she calls him a hero. Finally, #1 on Charlie's list, is the moment when Charlie and Claire first meet, and he reassures her that rescue is on the way. I always get a little weary when the show tries to use Hawaiian locations for English locales, especially as it's very rarely accurate at all, but this style of flashback meant that such discrepancies were minimal and their distribution throughout the episode made them quite touching as counterpoints to Charlie's decision.
     Like Charlie, and myself, this episode felt very much like it was getting ready for the end. There was so much manoeuvring going on with the characters, elaborating on plotlines which for the past few weeks have been mere one-scene hints. But through all that busybodying, there was still room to feel something for a character whose storyline has been at times both brilliantly inspired and completely misguided. And, seeing how much he was loved by the fanbase, this was a stroke of absolute genius. Greatest Hits is an episode whose strange kind of contention in sadness is something that makes it very, very worthy of its own title.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: My last Lost review. Really, this time. We see the final showdown between the Survivors and The Others before the impending Writer's Guild of America strike looms and we're presented with Lost's most wtf cliffhanger ever - we go Through The Looking Glass.