Fan Perception of Ana-Lucia Cortez

FAN PERCEPTION OF ANA-LUCIA CORTEZ

I have a confession to make. I did not watch the ABC series “LOST” from the beginning. In fact, I did not start watching the series until (2.02) “Adrift”, the second episode of Season Two. However, I could barely maintain interest in the show, until the Season Two episode, (2.04) “Everybody Hates Hugo”.

To be honest, there was nothing particularly special about that episode. But there was one scene that really made me sit up and notice. This scene featured a moment in which Tail Section survivor Ana-Lucia Cortez punched James “Sawyer” Ford. I cheered when that happened, because … well, I found Sawyer rather annoying. Unbeknownst to me, Sawyer was already a fan favorite by this time and many fans were upset by Ana-Lucia’s act of violence.

They were even further upset when she accidentally shot and killed fuselage survivor, Shannon Rutherford near the end of (2.06) “Abandoned”. It was an accident and Ana-Lucia thought she was defending herself from an attack by the Others, following the disappearance of fellow Tailie Cindy Chandler. Mind you, Season One (which I saw, thanks to the release of its DVD box set) featured Charlie Pace’s murder of a defenseless Ethan Rom, Jin Kwon and Michael Dawson’s beatings of each other, a fight between Sawyer and Sayid Jarrah, and Shannon’s attempted murder of John Locke for lying about the circumstances of her step-brother Boone Carlyle’s death. But it was Ana-Lucia’s accidental killing of Shannon that pissed them off – even to this day.

But it was the seventh episode from Season Two that sealed my fate as a regular viewer of “LOST”– namely (2.07) “The Other 48 Days”. This episode conveyed the experiences of Ana-Lucia and the other Tail Section passengers of Oceanic Flight 315 during their first 48 days on the island. To this day, “The Other 48 Days” remains my favorite “LOST” episode of all time. But I also noticed that the fan opinion of Ana-Lucia remained at an all time low.

As the years passed, I never understood the fans’ low opinion of Ana-Lucia. She did not seem any better or worse than many of the other characters on the show. Honestly. During my years of watching the series, I was surprised to discover how unpleasant or annoying many of the regular characters could be, including the golden quartet – Dr. Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, Sawyer and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes. Even a borderline villain like Ben Linus proved to be more popular than Ana-Lucia.

I found myself wondering if the series’ decision to make her a leader of the Tailies made her so unpopular. A Latina woman who did not live up to the fans’ ideal of the early 21st century white woman? At first I had dismissed the idea … until I read this article by Theresa Basile called “Lost Season 2: What if Ana-Lucia Was a White Guy?”. Here is the article. Is Ms. Basile right? Most fans would be inclined to dismiss her opinion. But after years of reading the fan reaction to Ana-Lucia, I am beginning to suspect that the author might be right.

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“LOST”: The Death of Nathan

“LOST”: THE DEATH OF NATHAN

(2.07) ”The Other 48 Hours” is the 31st episode of ”LOST” that aired on November 16, 2005. This episode featured the Tail Section passengers of Oceanic Air Flight 815 and the story of their first forty-eight (48) days on the island. A controversy popped out from nowhere in this episode and it featured a fellow survivor named Nathan, whose death led to a barrage of criticism aimed at another character – Ana-Lucia Cortez, portrayed by Michelle Rodriguez.

The previous episode, (2.06) ”Abandoned” ended with the kidnapping of one of the Tail Section survivors, stewardess Cindy Chandler (Kimberly Joseph) and Ana-Lucia’s accidental shooting of one of the regular Fuselage survivors, Shannon Rutherford (Maggie Grace). ”The Other 48 Days” unfolded the events experienced by the Tailies that led Ana-Lucia to pull the trigger in such haste. And one of those events included the death of a Canadian-born passenger named Nathan (Josh Randall) at the hands of the Others’ spy, Goodwin Stanhope (Brett Cullen), The ironic thing about Nathan’s death is that when this episode had first aired, many of the series’ fans blamed Ana-Lucia for the Canadian’s fate.

When Flight 815 of Oceanic Airlines had first crashed on September 22, 2004, the plane broke into several pieces. One of those pieces included the tail section, which landed in the water, somewhere opposite of the Fuselage passengers’ camp. Not long after the survivors swam ashore, some of them – Ana-Lucia Cortez, Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Libby (Cynthia Watros) and Others spy Goodwin included – helped the others. But after Tail Sections passengers (aka the Tailies) settled down for the night, the Others snatched three adult males and Eko managed to kill two of them with a rock when they try to take him. It was Nathan who pointed out the disappearance of the three male survivors. Several injured survivors die in the passing days before the Others attacked again on the twelfth night and snatched nine more survivors – including two children named Emma and Zack. Ana-Lucia managed to kill one of the Others. The remaining survivors – Ana-Lucia, Mr. Eko, Libby, Cindy, Nathan and Bernard Nadler (Sam Anderson) – and Goodwin head into the jungle to evade the Others.

During their trek into the jungle, Nathan peevishly insisted that they break for rest and water. Although against the idea, Ana-Lucia obliged due to the arguments from the other survivors. She eventually dug a pit – on her own – and converted it into a cage. For Nathan. Apparently, Ana-Lucia had developed a suspicion toward the Canadian-born survivor since the Others’ second attack. Along with Cindy, he wanted to stay on the beach, following the Others’ first attack on Day One. Nathan also lengthy trips into the jungle, supposedly to take a bathroom break. He also seemed rebellious toward Ana-Lucia. Nathan spent four days in the pit without food, despite protests from Bernard and Goodwin. He also had to endure unrelenting questioning by Ana-Lucia. When she indicated her intention to torture him, Goodwin helped Nathan out of the pit. Then he killed the Canadian by snapping the latter’s neck.

Ever since Nathan’s death, many fans – but not all – have dumped most of the blame on Ana-Lucia’s shoulders. In the Television Without Pity recap for”The Other 48 Days”, someone named Daniel had this to say:

”She kneels by a stream, and starts to break down. Who says Michelle Rodriguez can’t act? She stops herself when she sees Eko standing there watching her. She barks at him, for no one must see her cry. He tells her that everything’s going to be okay, and he crouches beside her. “What, you’re talking now?” he says. “It’s been forty days,” he says simply. “You waited forty days to talk?” she says. “You waited forty days to cry,” he says, and that totally sets her off, and she collapses, sobbing in his arms. I’m going to hope that the tears aren’t strictly of the “even a girlfighter needs to let it out once in a while” variety, and that some of these tears are being shed for Nathan, whose death Ana-Lucia bears some of the responsibility for, whether you like her or not.”

He was right to claim that Ana-Lucia bore some of the responsibility for Nathan’s death. I only wished he had included the others who were also responsible in the above passage. Even one of the series’ screenwriters got into the act. Both Elizabeth Sarnoff and Christina M. Kim, who wrote (2.16) ”The Whole Truth” had Ana-Lucia assume all of the blame for what happened to Nathan:

GALE: I don’t mean to be ungrateful, but why are you going to help me get out of here?
ANA: On the other side of the Island there was this guy with us. I was 100 percent convinced that he wasn’t on the plane. So I dug a whole and I threw him in it.
GALE: And what happened?
ANA: I was wrong. And now he’s dead. But good news for you Henry — I don’t make the same mistake twice. So how about you tell me your story?

Well, it is all peachy keen that Ana-Lucia was able to accept responsibility for Nathan’s death. But it would have been sweeter for me if the other Tailies had accepted responsibility on screen, as well. Yes, I am saying that the other Tailies – along with Goodwin – were responsible. Let us exam how each individual in that group was responsible:

*Nathan – You read it right. I believe that Nathan was partially responsible for his own death. I realize that he had spoken the truth that intestinal problems led him to disappear from the Tailies’ camp every few hours. But Nathan had been the one who first noticed that the Others had kidnapped three survivors on that first night. He should have realized that disappearing into the jungle by himself for several hours – for whatever the reason – was a stupid move. The Others’ attack on the first night would have convinced me to overcome any embarrassment and insist upon company so that I could groan and fart for two hours with some semblance of safety. And there was the problem of Nathan’s personality. Not only did he have an ornery personality that irritated Ana-Lucia and the other Tailies, he also had a secretive nature that aroused many suspicions amongst his companions.

*Ana-Lucia Cortez – As I had stated earlier, Ana-Lucia was partially responsible for Nathan’s death. She was the one who had dug the pit. She was the one who dumped Nathan into the pit, starved him and questioned him constantly. She also threatened to torture him. And although Nathan’s behavior failed to help his cause, I suspect that Ana-Lucia’s own dislike of him allowed her to easily believe that he was a spy for the Others.

*Bernard Nadler – Although Bernard had protested against Nathan being dumped and kept in that pit, he did nothing to help the latter escape. Despite knowing that Ana-Lucia was attempting to starve Nathan into confessing.

*Libby – Like Ana-Lucia, she disliked Nathan’s behavior. And she had expressed her distrust of Nathan before Ana-Lucia had finished digging the pit:

LIBBY [entering]: Hey.
ANA: Hey.
LIBBY: Back at the beach — the night they came back — you said that Nathan was gone for 2 hours? That he was missing? Creeps me out, Ana. Do you really think it’s possible that one of us is one of them?

Later, she responded to Goodwin’s protest:

GOODWIN: You’re not all serious.
LIBBY: He never talks about himself, Nathan. Every time I ask him anything, he just dodges.

You know what really irritated me about Libby in the end? She dumped all of the blame for Nathan’s death on Ana-Lucia in (2.08) ”Collision”:

ANA [to Libby]: What about you?
LIBBY: I just don’t think you’re the best judge of character. I was with you when you put Nathan in the pit.

That is correct. Not only was she there when Ana-Lucia dumped Nathan’s ass into that pit, she was one of those who had supported the act. Her hypocrisy toward Ana-Lucia really annoyed me.

* Cindy Chandler – Like Libby, Cindy expressed distrust of Nathan. She also claimed that she had never seen him on board Flight 815 before the crash – despite her gift for knowing faces:

ANA: We were in the air for 2 hours — I didn’t see him once — not once.
GOODWIN: It’s a big plane, Ana, just because you didn’t…
CINDY: No, I didn’t see him either. I’m pretty good with faces, you know, with the passengers, and I did not see him.

I believe that Cindy may have overestimated her talent for faces. Apparently, she had failed to spot Nathan before spent time in one of the plane’s restrooms, dealing with his “problem”. And she failed to realize that Goodwin had never been a passenger on Flight 815.

*Mr. Eko – He was kind enough to feed a banana to Nathan, while the latter was being deliberately starved by Ana-Lucia. And yet . . . he did not bother to free Nathan from the pit. One could argue that Mr. Eko had feared incurring Ana-Lucia’s wrath. But we all know that he was the last person on that island who could ever be intimidated by her. Like most of his companions, Mr. Eko probably harbored suspicions about Nathan.

*Goodwin Stanhope – Naturally, he is the main person to blame for Nathan’s death. After all, he snapped the other man’s neck. Goodwin had helped Nathan escape from the pit. He realized that if Ana-Lucia had tortured the other man, she would have realized that Nathan had been speaking the truth. As a spy for the Others, he could not afford for her to continue any suspicions. But . . . there had been no need for Goodwin to commit murder. He could have simply allowed Nathan to maintain his distance from the other Tailies. But he chose murder instead.

From the above statements, it is easy to see that I have managed to place the blame for Nathan’s death on just about every member of the group that had left the beach, following the Others’ second attack. Yet, because Ana-Lucia happened to be so unpopular with many fans of “LOST”, she has received most of the blame. I hope this will finally set the record straight.

“LOST” RETROSPECT: (2.04) “Everybody Hates Hugo”

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“LOST” RETROSPECT: (2.94) “Everybody Hates Hugo”

Unless I am mistaken, Season Two of “LOST” is not very popular with the show’s fans. This season expanded on the Hatch (DHARMA Swan Station) subplot that was touched upon in the second half of Season One. This season introduced a tiresome running joke surrounding the Michael Dawson character. And it also featured the introduction of the survivors from Oceanic 815’s Tail Section, which included the unpopular character, Ana-Lucia Cortez. In some way, the fourth episode – (2.04) “Everybody Hates Hugo” – seemed to be some kind of manifestation of Season Two.

Aside from the joke regarding Michael Dawson, “Everybody Hates Hugo” touched upon most of the topics I brought up in the previous paragraph. In the previous episode, (2.03) “Orientation”, the survivors of Michael’s raft (Michael, James “Sawyer” Ford and Jin Kwon) were captured by a mysterious group of people upon their return to the Island. “Everybody Hates Hugo” focused on their incarceration inside a deep pit. Before Sawyer could finish plotting their escape, the mysterious group revealed to be survivors from Oceanic 815’s Tail Section. Despite some hostile conflict between Sawyer and the Tailies’ leader, Ana-Lucia Cortez, all agree it would be best to head for the Fuselage passengers’ beach camp. Claire Littleton stumble across the bottle of messages from Michael’s raft on the beach. She and several survivors worry over the fate of Michael, his son Walt Lloyd, Jin and Sawyer. Following the tiresome three-episode introduction of the Swan Station’s interiors, Jack and Sayid explore the hatch. They also order a very reluctant Hugo “Hurley” Reyes to ration the food found inside the station. The episode’s flashbacks reveal the consequences of Hurley winning the lottery . . . and his reasons for wanting to be in charge of food distribution on the Island.

I have to be frank. The episode’s main subplot involving Hurley’s job in the Hatch and his flashback did nothing for me. I found it boring. Well . . . I almost found it boring. Hurley’s reasons behind his reluctance to win the lottery and be in charge of the Losties’ food distribution clarified an aspect of his personality that I have always suspected. Despite some flashes of wisdom and common sense, Hurley is at heart a man-child who is reluctant to grow up. Unfortunately, this is an aspect of Hurley’s character I have never admired. In fact, I found it tiresome . . . over and over again. And I never could understand why fans have never noticed in past viewings. One could point out that Hurley became more mature as the series progressed. I find that hard to believe, considering the circumstances behind Hurley’s eventual fate. Hurley’s minor quarrel with Charlie over the secrecy of the Swan Station struck me as infantile. It did not help that Charlie’s constant rants about betrayal really irritated me. But I must admit that both Jorge Garcia and Dominic Monaghan gave first-rate performances. The only thing about this subplot that I found entertaining was Hurley’s interaction with Rose Nadler, portrayed by the very talented L. Scott Caldwell.

The second subplot regarding Jack and Sayid’s exploration of the Swan Station only seemed a step above the main subplot. The only reason I found it slightly more interesting was due to the mystery surrounding the Hatch. It seemed like a more mature subplot than one about Hurley’s man-child issues. That even includes Jack’s accidental encounter with a nearly nude Kate Austen, after she had finished taking a shower. What interested me was Sayid’s discovery of an electromagnetic energy within the Hatch’s walls. This discovery will end up being fully revealed by mid-to-late Season Five. The third subplot involved Claire’s discovery of the bottle of messages from the raft. This subplot struck me as irrelevant . . . period. Aside from giving Shannon Rutherford a moment to see a wet manifestation of Walt – an event that will have greater impact in a future episode – this subplot did nothing to drive the series’ main narrative forward. Instead, it involved some of the female survivors speculating on the fates of the raft’s passengers. And nothing more.

It was the final subplot regarding Michael, Jin and Sawyer’s experiences with the Tailies that really injected energy into the episode. It was not so much the mystery surrounding the raft survivors’ captors that made “Everybody Hates Hugo” so interesting to me. The three men discovered they had been captured by survivors from the Tail Section before halfway into the episode. But the psychological conflict between the more familiar characters and the newcomers crackled with a lot of energy that made me take notice. I especially found the conflict between Sawyer and Ana-Lucia, thanks to Josh Holloway and Michelle Rodriguez’s intense performances very entertaining. I realized that a good number of “LOST” fans disliked the Ana-Lucia Cortez character ever since this episode aired during the fall of 2005. I must admit that I had a different reaction. The powerhouse punch that Ana-Lucia delivered to Sawyer in “Orientation” had already thrilled me. Her continuing abuse of the always annoying Sawyer filled me with even more glee. I realize that most fans would probably be put off by my comments. But I do not care. I like Sawyer, but he was a real pain in the ass in this particular episode. At least to me.

“Everybody Hates Hugo” ended both on a mysterious and uplifting note. The Tailies led the raft survivors to another hatch that had been originally constructed by the DHARMA Initiative. Apparently, they had been using it as refuge from the jungle and the Others inside the nearly abandoned Arrow Station. So much for the mystery. What did I find uplifting about the episode? Certainly not the cheesy monologue featuring Hurley’s generous distribution of the food from the Swan Station. It was that moment when one of the Tail Section survivors approached the raft survivors and asked if they knew Rose. Thanks to a poignant performance by Sam Anderson, I nearly cried when he revealed himself to be Rose’s missing husband, Bernard. Great way to end an otherwise mediocre episode, “LOST”.

Top Five Favorite “LOST” Season One (2004-2005) Episodes

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Below is a list of my top five favorite episodes from Season One of “LOST” (2004-2010). The series was created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof; and produced by the latter and Carlton Cuse.

 

TOP FIVE FAVORITE “LOST” SEASON ONE (2004-2005) Episodes

1 - 1.22-1.23 Exodus

1. (1.23-1.25) “Exodus” – This season finale served as a transition in the series’ narrative, as an expedition sets out to find dynamite to open the hatch recently discovered by castaway John Locke. And the raft planned by Michael Dawson finally leaves the island with him, his son Walt, Jin Kwon and James “Sawyer” Ford, resulting in unexpected circumstances.

 

2 - 1.17 In Translation

2. (1.17) “. . . In Translation” – This episode featured Jin Kwon’s backstory in flashbacks and the further disintegration of his marriage, when he discovers that his wife Sun had learned English behind his back.

 

3 - 1.04 Walkabout

3. (1.04) “Walkabout” – While Locke and a few others set on a hunting expedition to find boar for the other castaways, his flashbacks reveal his reason for being in Australia.

 

4 - 1.11 All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

4. (1.11) “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” – Jack Shephard leads an expedition to find two castaways that had been kidnapped in the previous episode. The episode’s flashbacks reveal the events that led to Jack being responsible for his father’s dismissal from the hospital they worked at.

 

5 - 1.19 Deus Ex Machina

5. (1.19) “Deus Ex Machina” – In their search for a means to open a hatch they had found, Locke and Boone Carlyle find a Nigerian small plane. And their discovery leads to tragic circumstances. In the flashbacks, Locke meets his parents for the first time, who prove to be major disappointments.

“LOST” RETROSPECT: (1.01-1.02) “The Pilot”

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“LOST” RETROSPECT: (1.01-1.02) “The Pilot”

The pilot episode of some of my favorite television series have rarely impressed me . . . if not at all. There are a few exceptions to the rule. And one of those exceptions happened to the be pilot episode for ABC-TV’s “LOST”

Created by J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Leiber and Damon Lindelof, “LOST” aired on television for six seasons, between 2004 and 2010. As many fans know, “LOST” told about the survivors of a commercial passenger plane crash on a mysterious South Pacific island, while flying between Sydney and Los Angeles. While television viewers got to know these survivors during their time on the island, but also through flashbacks revealing their past. The series’ first episode aired in two parts on September 22, 2004.

(1.01) “Pilot (Part 1)” introduced the series’ leading character, a spinal surgeon named Dr. Jack Shephard, who wakes up in the middle of the jungle following the crash of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. He stumbles onto the beach and finds the chaos left behind from Oceanic 815’s crash. As everyone knows, the plane broke into three pieces before crashing on the island. Jack and most of the survivors ended upon with the fuselage. The cockpit and the plane’s first-class section ended deep into the jungle with no survivors, save the pilot. And the tail section fell into the ocean on the other side of the island. Jack and some of the survivors like John Locke and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes help other passengers with injuries or dodging burning pieces. After helping some of the passengers, Jack goes to another part of the beach to tend to his own injury, when he meets Kate Austen. She sews up his injury, while the two bond. Many other things occur during the episode. Survivors either form friendships or get on each others’ nerves. During their first night on the beach, everyone becomes unnerved by sounds of a monster deep in the jungle. The following day, Jack heads toward the cockpit to retrieve the plane’s transceiver and is accompanied by Kate and musician Charlie Pace. They retrieve the transceiver and encounter the badly injured pilot, who informs them that the plane had lost radio contact six hours into the flight and veered off course. Before he can share any further information, he is seized by a strange being and killed. Jack, Kate and Charlie make a run for it.

(1.02) “Pilot (Part 2)” continue Jack, Kate and Charlie’s flight from the monster that killed the pilot. During their absence, the dog of 10 year-old survivor Walt Lloyd finds a pair of handcuffs. A Middle Eastern survivor name Sayid Jarrah comes under suspicion from a Southern-born passenger named “Sawyer”. Jack and his two companions make it back to the beach with the transceiver. Sayid, Kate, “Sawyer”, Charlie and a step-brother-sister team named Boone Carlyle and Shannon Rutherford trek to the high ground to use the transceiver. Instead of contacting help, they manage to interpret a message sent earlier by a French woman on the island. One of the badly wounded survivors on the beach turn out to be a U.S. marshal demanding the whereabouts of his prisoner, a woman. Flashbacks reveal that the prisoner is Kate.

I will not deny that “LOST” is one of my favorite television series. It is not on my list of the top ten favorite shows. But it is on my list of top twenty favorites. Despite my favoritism toward “LOST”, I cannot deny that it also possessed some seriously flawed writing. But it was not on display in the two-part pilot. Well . . . somewhat. A few of the occurrences in this episode ended up contradicting the series’ future narrative. 

It is ironic that the first villainous character to make his/her appearance in the series turned out to be the main villain – the Smoke Monster aka the Man in Black. The survivors heard its “roar” during their first night on the island. And he killed the Oceanic 815’s pilot while the latter discussed the plane’s location with Jack and Kate. In fact, the Smoke Monster killed another survivor in an early Season Three episode – Mr. Eko. While many fans are still debating the reason behind the MIB’s murder of Mr. Eko, no one has figured out why the pilot was killed. Especially after Season Six revealed the list of candidates for the island’s new caretaker. I suspect that the MIB was simply being portrayed as a supernatural monster before the writers had decided to portray him as a villain with a purpose.

I have two more complaints about the episode. Some of the characterizations struck me as one-dimensional. This was especially the case for Shannon Rutherford, who was portrayed as some bitchy Valley Girl; Jin Kwon, who was written as a cliché of the oppressive Asian husband; Sun Kwon, who was portrayed as the typically oppressed Asian wife; and James “Sawyer” Ford, who was not only unlikable, but also the one-dimensional Southern white male. In Sawyer’s case, not only was his character portrayed in the worst clichéd manner possible, poor Josh Holloway was stuck with some pretty bad dialogue – especially in Part 2. He fared a lot better as the series progressed. Speaking of dialogue – yeech! Yes, I thought it was pretty bad. It was more than bad. I found it somewhat infantile and unmemorable.

Fortunately, the good outweighed the bad. Despite some of the one-dimensional characterization and bad dialogue, there were some pretty good performances. For me, one of the best performances came from Matthew Fox, who dived right into the role as the series’ lead character, Dr. Jack Shephard. Fox gave early hints of the complicated and deeply flawed character later revealed in future episodes. Fox’s early revelation of Jack’s flaws must have been subtle, for the later revelation of his flaws seemed to have taken many by surprise. Dominic Monaghan gave a funny and charming performance as the drug-addicted musician, Charlie Pace. And yet, his performance was skillfully shaded with hints of his character’s drug addiction. Thanks to Naveen Andrews’ subtle, yet intense performance and good writing, the character of Sayid Jarrah rose above the usual clichés featuring Middle Eastern characters. Emilie de Ravin was a delight as the pregnant Australian survivor, Claire Littleton. As for Evangeline Lilly, she did a pretty good job as Kate Austen, the survivor trying to hide her status as a Federal prisoner. However, I had some difficulty accepting her as the take charge type, as the script tried to portray her in Part 2. Terry O’Quinn was perfectly mysterious as John Locke, but viewers had to wait for another two episodes before he began to shine in the role. And Harold Perrineau gave a skillful performance as Michael Dawson, the inexperienced father of 10 year-old survivor, Walt Lloyd.

I felt that the narrative for “The Pilot”, which was written by Abrams and Lindelof, proved to be a well-written adventure. The story covered all of the elements for a story about survivors on a tropical island. The addition of the Smoke Monster injected a little horror and a great deal of mystery that would become the series’ hallmark. One of the aspects of “The Pilot” that I found particularly interesting was that it started with a close-up of Jack Shephard’s eye – post crash. In other words, this story did not start with the crash. Audiences were not treated to scenes aboard Oceanic Flight 815 and the actual crash, except during flashbacks. Very unusual. There were other scenes that I still find fascinating after nine years. My God! Has it been nine years? Those scenes include Jack, Kate and Charlie’s escape from the cockpit, following the pilot’s death; the discovery of Danielle Rousseau’s message in Part 2; the encounter with the polar bear; and the survivors’ first awareness of the Smoke Monster’s existence. But the one scene that many consider outstanding – including myself – is that opening shot of the fuselage wreckage on the beach and the chaos that surrounded it. I must admit that not only did J.J. Abrams really outdid himself in this particular scene, it is probably one of his best directed sequences in his entire career.

Despite a few hiccups regarding dialogue and some one-dimensional characterizations, “LOST” provided one of the best series openings I have ever viewed on television, thanks to some superb direction by J.J. Abrams, a damn fine cast and a well written teleplay. It is a pity that the series has never been able to maintain such excellent consistency during the rest of its six seasons on the air.

“LOST” RETROSPECT: (1.17) “. . . In Translation”

 

“LOST” RETROSPECT: (1.17) “. . . In Translation”

Before I commence upon this article, I should reveal that the “LOST” Season One episode, (1.17) “. . . In Translation” is one of my all time favorites from the series. I will try to be as biased as possible regarding the episode, but do not expect me to succeed. 

To understand “. . . In Translation”, one has to watch the previous episode, (1.06) “The House of the Rising Sun”. The flashbacks in that episode revealed the backstory of the marriage between Jin-Soo Kwon and Sun-Hwa Kwon (née Paik) before they had ended up stranded on the island via Oceanic Flight 815. Told from Sun’s point of view, the flashbacks revealed that Jin had to take a job working for Mr. Paik, Sun’s father, for her hand in marriage. The couple became increasingly estranged, as Jin began spending more time doing his father-in-law’s bidding than with his wife. One night, after they are married, Jin returned home covered in someone else’s blood. Fearing that her husband might be a dangerous killer, Sun secretly plotted to leave Jin (hence the secret English lessons); but changed her mind while on route to Los Angeles, via Sydney. “The House of the Rising Sun” also revealed the growing animosity between Jin and fellow castaway Michael Dawson, when the former attacked the latter for wearing Sun’s father’s watch – something that Michael had discovered on the beach.

“. . . In Translation” continued the revelation of the Kwon marriage, only from Jin’s point-of-view. The flashbacks revealed the circumstances behind Jin asking Sun’s father her hand in marriage, the bargain he made to work for the older man, Jin’s growing awareness of Sun’s frustration with his duties and more importantly the real circumstances surrounding the infamous blood on his hands that Sun had spotted. Sun saw a man who may have committed a brutal murder. What really happened is that Jin prevented a government official – who had refused to re-open one of Mr. Paik’s factories – from being murdered by one of his father-in-law’s henchmen by convincing the man to cooperate with a severe beating. Realizing that he was in danger of losing Sun, Jin decided to take his fisherman father’s advice to use a business trip to leave South Korea and stay in the U.S. for good. Only the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 intervened. Following the events of (1.14) “Special”, Michael Dawson decided to build a raft in order to get his ten year-old son away from the dangers of the island. The hostility between Michael and Jin finally come to a head when someone mysteriously set fire to the raft. Believing that Jin had set the fire, Michael attacked the former. Sun’s desperate cries for Michael to stop revealed her knowledge of English to Jin and the other castaways. The revelation not only led to a rift between the South Korean couple, but also to the beginning of a friendship between Jin and Michael, as they proceeded to rebuild the raft.

This episode was aptly named “. . . In Translation”, a take on Sofia Coppola’s 2003 movie. If anything, it focused upon the main problem that surrounded the Kwon marriage – namely the bad communication that existed between the couple before and after the crash of Oceanic 815. For some time, Sun believed that Jin might be a murderer on her father’s behalf, due to the blood she had spotted on his hand. This would explain why she had continuously declared to people like Michael and fellow castaway Kate Austen about Jin’s dangerous nature and how “he was capable of anything”. And this would explain why she took the trouble to learn English and not tell Jin. However, Jin was also guilty of keeping secrets from Sun. He never told Sun the details behind the blood on his hands, believing that it was not her place to know. More importantly, he lied about his father, Mr. Kwon, telling both Sun and her father that the latter was dead. Which is ironic, considering he left Sun after learning that she spoke English. Even more ironic is the fact that Sun knows that his father is alive . . . but never bothered to reveal this to Jin. Some viewers translated that last shot of Sun revealing her bikini without Jin hovering about, as a sign of her “freedom”. Whatever ”=”bondage”that Sun found during her marriage, had been created by bad communication between her and Jin. For me, Sun’s removal of her wrap struck me as a hollow and irrelevant gesture. Her “freedom” came at the cost of losing – at least for a while – the very man that she would always love more than anyone else.

On a minor level, a lack of communications also continued to exist between Michael and Walt. Most fans tend to blame Michael for this by accusing him of being a poor parent. Although there were moments when Michael became forgetful of Walt. And there were other times when Michael’s jealousy of Walt’s friendship with castaway John Locke got in the way. However, many of these fans failed to recall that Walt was just as responsible as Michael, due to his residual resentment toward the major changes in his life – losing his mother and gaining a long lost father. Because of this resentment, Walt had a bad habit of disobeying his father when he should have done the opposite. As far as these fans are concerned, Locke would have made a better parent than Michael. Personally, I disagree. Locke was adept at being a friend to Walt. Being a friend did not necessarily mean one is a good parent. The latter has to be an effective disciplinarian, as well. Unfortunately, being a disciplinarian does not jibe with the early 21st ideal of parenthood.

A third storyline centered on the triangle that existed between Shannon Rutherford, Sayid Jarrah and Shannon’s stepbrother, Boone Carlyle. But I barely paid attention. In a nutshell, Sayid declared his intentions to court Shannon to Boone. The latter decided to stir up trouble by hinting to Sayid that Shannon likes to use older men for her own benefit. Needless to say, Shannon set things to right and resumed her romance with Sayid after receiving sound advice from Locke.

Screenwriters Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Leonard Dick really did a great job in continuing the revelations behind the Kwon marriage in this very emotional episode. The island incidents balanced very well against Jin’s flashbacks regarding his marriage. And this episode really worked, due to the outstanding performances from Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim. Also Harold Perrineau (Michael Dawson), Bryan Chung (Mr. Paik), and John Shin (Mr. Kwon) gave excellent support.

Some of my favorite scenes in the episode included Jin’s successful attempts to save the life of the South Korean government official, his marriage proposal to Mr. Paik and especially the poignant conversation he has with his father, Mr. Kwon, about his marriage. I also enjoyed the scenes that featured Michael’s two attempts to bond with ten year-old Walt – the second being more successful. I also enjoyed Locke’s revelation that Walt was responsible for burning the raft. But my favorite scene featured the moment when Jin discovered that Sun spoke English. Director Tucker Gates did an excellent job in conveying Jin’s confusion with spinning camera work and muffled babble, as the the South Korean castaway tried to understand the English words that swirled around him. The only dark spot in this episode was Sawyer’s attempt to form a lynch mob for Jin, after the raft caught on fire. It was an unpleasant reminder that Mr. Ford’s penchant for resorting to violent retribution remained with him until the last season
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Some time ago, I had created a LIST of my ten favorite episodes from “LOST”“. . . In Translation” ranked at number six on my list. After my recent viewing of the episode, that ranking still stands.

“BREAKING DAWN, PART II” (2012) Review

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“BREAKING DAWN, PART II” (2012) Review

Two years ago, Warner Brothers made the decision to split the movie adaptation of Stephanie Meyers’ last “Twilight Saga” novel – “Breaking Dawn” – into two films; following its example of the two adaptations for the last “Harry Potter” novel. The first film, “BREAKING DAWN, PART I”, was released a year ago. Instead of waiting six months, the studio decided to wait a year for the second half of the tale, “BREAKING DAWN, PART II”

“BREAKING DAWN, PART II” picked up where the latter film left off – with Bella Swann’s transformation into a vampire, following the difficult birth of her and Edward Cullen’s daughter. The movie’s first ten to fifteen minutes focused on Bella becoming acquainted with her new state and abilities. She eventually learns that her best friend and wolf shapeshifter, Jacob Black has “imprinted” on hers and Edward’s new daughter, Renesmee Carlie Cullen. In other words, Jacob has found his soulmate in Bella’s daughter – whether he proves to be her protector, a lover, or an older sibling. At the moment, Jacob seemed to be serving as Renesmee’s protector and much older friend. Bella first reacted with hostility at the idea of Jacob imprinting on her daughter, but she eventually resolved herself to the situation. But a more important situation has developed with Renesmee. The Cullen/Swan offspring has begun aging rapidly. Even worse, a fellow vampire named Irina Denali spots Renesmee playing in the woods with Bella and Jacob and comes to the conclusion that the young girl might be an immortal – a vampire sired from a child. She reports her assumptions to the Volturi, who become determined to destroy Renesmee. Creating child vampires goes against their law, due to the former’s unpredictable nature. Aro, leader of the Volturi, also longs to destroy the Cullens; due to their large size and the psychic abilities that many of them possess. Bella, Edward and the Cullens are forced to seek allies from other vampire covens around the world to help them protect Renesmee from the Volturi. And Jacob recruits his fellow wolf shapeshifters from the La Push pack to assist in the Cullens’ battle.

A part of me is astounded that the film franchise for the “Twilight” Saga has finally come to an end with this film. Another part of me is relieved. To be honest, I have never been a die hard fan of the series. And of the five movies, I have managed to like at least two of them – “ECLIPSE” and surprisingly, “BREAKING DAWN, PART II”. You heard it first. I actually liked “BREAKING DAWN, PART II”. I did not love it. And I was not initially thrilled by Bella’s initial transformation into a vampire. But for some reason, her transformation and the birth of her daughter attained a few achievements in the franchise. One, Bella’s character transformed from a passive and love-obsessed teenager to a self-assured and mature young woman (or vampire), who proved she could ruthless when protecting her daughter. For the first time in the series, the Bella/Edward romance actually became bearable. I believe this was due to the change in Edward’s nature, as well. He stopped being a brooding and controlling boyfriend and began treating Bella as an equal partner in their relationship. And the tiresome love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob finally came to an end, due to Renesmee’s birth. Jacob came to accept Bella and Edward’s romance and began focusing his attention upon their daughter. Thankfully, Jacob’s feelings for Renesmee did not produce any “ick factor” within me. I believe this is due to Jacob’s attitude toward her as some kind of goddaughter or younger sister. Renesmee seemed to regard him as some kind of loving big brother. And even more ironically, both Taylor Lautner and child actress Mackenzie Foy managed to click on-screen.

Before one accuses me of loving this film, I assure you that I do not. Yes, I liked it. But it had problems that prevented it from becoming a favorite of mine. Being part of the “Twilight” Saga did not help. I found the scene featuring Bella arm wrestling with Emmett Cullen rather childish and a waste of time. In Stephanie Meyers’ novel, Charlie Swan learned about Jacob’s status as a wolf shape shifter and suspected that Bella and the Cullens are not quite human, but he was never informed that she had transformed into a vampire. However, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg made matters slightly worse by not even conveying Charlie’s suspicions of the recent inhuman nature of his daughter. I found that rather sloppy. Also, there were moments when I found the Cullens and Jacob’s interactions with their vampire allies resembling a “happening” from the Age of Aquarius. I had this fear that sooner or later, they would form a circle by holding hands and sing “Kumbaya”. Those moments were most nauseating. Hell, I enjoyed the Bella/Edward sex scene more than those moments.

But despite these unpleasant moments in the film, I still enjoyed “BREAKING DAWN, PART II”. Dear God, I cannot believe I said that. But I liked it. Aside from the more positive portrayals of Bella and Edward’s characters and Jacob’s relationship with Renesmee, there were other aspects of the movie I liked. Michael Sheen was deliciously over-the-top as the Voltari’s leader, Aro. Billy Burke’s portrayal of Charlie Swan was entertaining as ever. Due to the improvement over Bella and Edward’s personalities, I was able to enjoy Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s performances a lot more than I did in the previous movies. Taylor Lautner was great, as always. Maggie Grace was very effective as Irina Denali, the embittered vampire who erroneously assumed that Renesmee was an under aged vampire. Both Lee Pace and Rami Malek provided a great deal of the movie’s humor as two of the vampires who become among the Cullens’ vampiric allies.

The movie’s pièce de résistance proved to be the final battle between the Cullens’ army of vampires and wolf shapeshifters and the Voltari’s army. I have to hand it to director Bill Condon. He really outdid himself in this sequence. I found it even more impressive than director David Slade’s handling of the protagonists’ battle with Victoria’s army of newborn vampires in 2010’s“ECLIPSE”. This sequence was enhanced by the plot twist that marked the end of the battle. It was a twist that struck me as well handled by both Condon and Rosenberg. In fact, I believe they did a better job of this sequence than Stephanie Meyer did in her novel.

Like I said . . . a part of me is happy that the “Twilight” film franchise has finally come to an end. I no longer have to face being coerced by my relatives in viewing any of these movies at the theater. However, another part of me is also relieved that franchise ended on a positive note. To my utter surprise, I found “BREAKING DAWN, PART II” to be rather entertaining, despite its flaws. More importantly, the movie featured an improvement on the characterizations of the two leading characters – Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. And the movie ended with a well written and well shot action sequence that provided a surprisingly effective plot twist. All I can say is . . . good job.