Geeking Out

Lost: Locke Lies?

Lo, and the skies opened up and the rain came down and the gods looked down on the latest episode of Lost

And it was good.

Pretty damn good, in fact.

I have to admit that this episode was really solid. And it even ameliorated some of the concerns I had about last week’s episode. For example, I was enormously frustrated by the lack of communication between Locke and Sayid regarding the explosives in the basement of the Flame Station, but apparently that wasn’t an oversight — it was intentional, as we learn that Locke is up to something. (And from the previews of next week, it looks like he’s got a serious agenda that no one else knows about.)

The characters actually talked. They actually shared information, including Desmond telling Claire about his psychic powers and Charlie’s impending doom. (In previous episodes, that would have been glossed over with some hand-waving, much to the annoyance of the audience.) Locke, et al pressed Mikhail for answers and got a few (including a tantalizing hint that the Others know quite a bit about the Losties pre-crash). And while I was peeved that Locke killed Mikhail before he could offer more answers, it did make sense from the point of view thatsomeone had to test the security system…and Locke does have that hidden agenda.

Also good to see: an actual attempt to get off the island! People exchanging information!  An admission that some people have just given up on ever leaving the island. Continuity (Sawyer’s nickname ban continues).

What was bad in the episode? Not a lot. It does, however, stretch credulity to the breaking point to think that Claire could meet her long-lost dad and never get his name. (Even if she didn’t ask, you’d think he would say, “My name is Christian Shepherd.” Or even just leave his name and number in case she changed her mind in the future.) And it’s a little bothersome that Sayid and Kate let Locke’s behavior slide, but they did give him some guff about it and I noticed that he was put on tree-chopping duty while everyone else sat around and chilled out. Also, Claire’s relationship to Jack was telegraphed way back in Season 2’s second Ana-Lucia flashback, so that revelation went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

Fortunately, there was plenty of other good stuff to distract me.

Oh, and that ending? With Jack playing football with Tom? Pretty damn cool. It does, however, indicate that another Jack-centric episode is in our near future…and I think we’ve had enough of them to last a looooooong time.

Heroes defies TV “gravity” and stays strong

Let’s be honest — it would be pretty damn near impossible for Heroes to get better than it was last week. “Company Man” combined action, tear-jerking emotion, and plot twists galore to make what may have been the most perfect hour of television since the first season finale to Twin Peaks. Or, at the very least, since Lost‘s season 1 episode “Walkabout.”

So, the fact that Heroes managed to keep the story moving without losing momentum or feeling like a letdown from last week’s ungodly good episode (so described because clearly the production team sold their souls to the devil to produce that epi…and it was worth it) makes Heroes damn near…uh, heroic. They’ve kept the tension ramped, the emotions running high, and the interest piqued.

Good job, folks.

But, uh, April 23? Really? I really have to wait that long?

Sigh. OK. But only because I’m addicted. Otherwise, I could take this needle right out of my arm, I could…

Lost Didn’t Suck Last Night

After last week’s pathetic Jack episode (in which it took an hour for us to learn that Jack got a tattoo in Thailand and is conflicted…hmm), I had pretty much given up on Lost. I figured that if the show was that befuddled as to how to bring back viewers, then I didn’t care for it anymore.

But I watched last night because, well, because it’s still Lost, after all, and I wanted to give it another shot.

Glad I did.

I’m not going to say that “Tricia Tanaka is Dead” was a return to form or anything, but it was at least a step in the right direction. Every major character (except for Jack) got at least a moment of camera time and a line of dialogue. Multiple sub-plots advanced. Hurley’s quest to start the Dharma mini-bus was vaguely reminiscent of Season 1’s golf-course-building exercise as a device that is absurd on the face of it, but fun and moderately understandable. These are people who are trapped on a frightening island — they need to blow off some steam, otherwise they’d all be stark raving insane.

Jin, Sawyer, Charlie, and Hurley were all well in character.

My major quibble is the existence of the bus in the first place. Someone is now going to have to explain why this thing even exists on an island that is supposedly under quarantine, where the inhabitants are supposed to be in the hatches. And what was it doing out in the middle of the jungle? How did it get there and how was it turned over?

Unfortunately, one good episode does nothing to restore my faith that such questions will ever be answered. Hell, we still don’t know how Yemi’s plane got from Nigeria to the island, and given that Eko’s dead, I doubt we ever will.

Still, the focus on multiple plots, the return of character-based humor, and the fact that the flashback actually seemed to matter on a character and plot level all made the episode worthwhile.

So, you’ve earned another week from me, Lost. Don’t waste it…

Alex and Robots

Alex and Robots

Alex says: "Not finished yet, but close. Superhero? Not quite, but working on it. I have sensors on my skin that track the electrical activity in my muscles. The sensors cause the exoskeleton to move with my body."

Oh, the people you meet at Yale!

My college roommate takes one step closer to kicking Iron Man’s pansy ass.

Alex Sulkowski: Mad Scientist or Disturbed Genius?

Here’s the thing about going to Yale: people always say to you, “Wow, you went to Yale. You must be some kind of a genius or something.”

Well, no, sorry, I’m not a genius. I may not even be a something. But the absolute coolest thing about going to Yale was this: I got to meet geniuses. Bonafide off-the-wall, brains-coming-out-of-their-ears geniuses. I got to hang out with them, bask in the glory of their unfettered intellects, and generally enjoy the sensation of pure awe.

One of those geniuses was a guy named Alex Sulkowski. Alex was one of my roommates for my senior year and a good friend my entire time at Yale. He’s also the most brilliant person I’ve ever known. He used to build remote-controlled tanks with video cameras and mounted water guns, then sit in our room and control the things through the TV, driving around campus and drenching people with the automated water gun. He built a robot with bulletproof skin that could detect when it had hit an obstacle and reverse direction. All kinds of cool stuff.

The best part about it? Alex isn’t even an engineer or a roboticist by trade. This is the stuff he does for fun.

Last year, Alex won a contest for designing a mechanized exoskeleton. He’s entered a new competition this year and sent me some pictures of his work-in-progress. It was so cool that I just had to share it with the world.