The End

“Lost” in Review — My Ten Favorite Episodes

This weekend, I finished my rewatch of all 120 episodes of Lost. I spent essentially my entire spring semester working my way through the show, so the fact that I finished just before finals week seems like a nice way to end things for the semester.

This is a show that’s difficult to let go of. It’s complicated and crazy and incredibly moving at times, and I know I’ll be thinking about it often in the coming weeks. So, as a means of reflection, I’ve picked my ten favorite episodes. It was a difficult list to narrow, especially because Lost has so many twists and turns that you can’t possibly think why some episodes aren’t as great as the others.

So, in no particular order, here are my ten favorites. Let me know what you think!

The End (season 6, episode 17)

I know there’s some serious disagreement about Lost‘s finale, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful endings a show has ever received. If nothing else, it’s a cThe Endonclusion that leaves viewers with lots to think about, and it is absolutely worth the 119-episode build up. Content wise, the episode features the shifting storylines that are so characteristic of the show. On the island, Jack, Kate, Hurley, Desmond and Sawyer are left trying to figure out how to stop Locke (who isn’t really Locke anymore) from destroying the island. In the flash-sideways reality, all the original crash survivors — plus Desmond and a few others — come together for a concert (and so much more). It’s great to see familiar faces, and the final moments are unbelievably poignant. If you can look at this image (almost the final shot of the series) without feeling something, I’ll assume you’re dead inside.

Pilot (season 1, episode 1)

PilotFrom the very end to the very beginning. This show is known for having the most expensive pilot episode ever, and it was money well spent. Lost could never have been what it was without this amazingly complex pilot. Its twists and turns showed viewers that Lost was a new kind of TV show, and they’d have to learn to expect the unexpected.

The Incident, Part 2 (season 5, episode 17)

The Incident

In my opinion, the writer’s strike in 2007 kind of derailed Lost‘s original glory for a while. The show was so incredibly smart for the first three seasons, but the fourth season marked a bit of a dip in the show’s trajectory. However, but the end of season five, things had gotten back up to par, and the season ends with a heartbreaking sequence starring Sawyer and Juliet. This episode also clearly marks the beginning of the end as Jack decides to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the hopes that it will reverse the fates of those who crashed with Oceanic 815. Sounds like a great idea, right?

The Candidate, (season 6, episode 14)

Sun and JinAnd speaking of heartbreakers… I don’t know how to even discuss this episode except to say it features a LOT of tears (both on screen and on my face). The final episodes of Lost are full of tragedy, and nothing says that more clearly that “The Candidate,” in which three major characters die. At the show’s conclusion, it was hard to say that anyone could be safe from death, but three deaths in one episode is still kind of a lot to handle. Apart from sadness, the episode also features plenty of intensity as the remaining survivors try to figure out who is meant to succeed Jacob as protector of the island. No big deal.

Man of Science, Man of Faith (season 2, episode 1)

Season 1 ends with a pretty crazy cliffhanger as the hatch is bloMan of Science, Man of Faithwn open and… we have to wait until season 2 to find out what’s inside. Turns out there’s a whole little home down there, complete with a cool Scottish guy! (Okay, I kind of love Desmond). Things also get confusing for Shannon when Walt (who’s been kidnapped) keeps appearing to her in the jungle, but no one believes her. Oh, and Sawyer (who has a bullet in his arm) and Michael are left stranded in the middle of the ocean on a small makeshift raft since their boat was blown up. All this adds up to perfect start for this crazy show’s second season.

The Cost of Living (season 3, episode 5)

As far as characters on Lost go, I have a lot of soft spots. One of those weaknesses is for Mr. Eko, a character who died way too soon, in my opinion. This episode gives us more of Eko’s back story after he is haunted by apparitions of his brother in the jungle. Apart from Eko’s problems, Jack, Kate and SawThe Cost of Livingyer are still being held captive by the Others, and Jack starts to think he might have an ally in Juliet. Jack also finds out why he’s been captured: Ben needs a tumor removed from his spine, so how convenient that a spinal surgeon happens to have crashed on his island. All these little schemes offer a glimpse at what makes this show so great.

Through the Looking Glass (season 3, episode 22/23)

It’s kind of a bummer that I picked episodes in which great characters die, but they just so happen to be some of the best episodes the show had. In theThrough the Looking Glass season 3 finale, the crash survivors are seemingly presented with an opportunity to finally leave the island, despite Ben’s attempts to stop them. Season three sees Desmond having continual flashes in which he foresees Charlie’s death. Unfortunately, that’s how this episode ends. In one of the first big deaths since Boone and Shannon, Charlie martyrs himself to save Desmond, and his death is one that will hit you right in the heart.

The Constant (season 4, episode 5)

Like I said earlier, season four was probably the weakest in Lost‘s run, so it makes sense only one episode from that season made my list. “The Constant,” though, is a gem in an other wise The Constant“meh” season. The beginning of season four brings several new characters into the picture, and this episode begins to tell us why as we see Desmond flashing back and forth between the present on the island and 1996. In the past, Desmond must find Daniel Faraday to stop the flashes, and we get to understand a bit of why and how the island is making time jumps.

The Man Behind the Curtain (season 3, episode 20)

This episode was a long time coming: when Henry Gale (a.k.a. Ben a.k.a. the man in charge of The Others) joined the cast in season 2, he always seemed The Man Behind the Curtainless than innocent. By the end of season 2, we found out that he was working with The Others and he took Jack, Kate and Sawyer hostage. Overall, not the greatest guy. But this episode finally gave us a glimpse at Ben’s back story. He was born and raised on the island, and after his mother died during childbirth, his young life is miserable in the shadows of his father’s grudge. For the first time, you might feel bad for Ben. But then you find out he murdered everyone — seriously, everyone — who lived with him in their camp, so then you feel a little less bad.

Everybody Loves Hugo (season 6, episode 12)

This episode, to me, marks the real finale of the show. From this episode on, everything has an air of conclusion, so Everybody Loves Hugothis episode feels pretty important. In the “flash sideways” sequences in LA, Charlie and Desmond are the first to “remember” life in the island, though Charlie only has a vague memory of a beautiful blonde. Desmond, apparently enlightened, makes it his personal mission to reunite all the crash survivors, which actually doesn’t take much effort since they’re all so interconnected anyway. Thankfully, he soon has Hurley on his side, so the quest to find their friends becomes a bit less difficult.

So that’s it for me. My heart hasn’t quite let go of this one yet. This feeling has only struck me one other time in bingeing on shows, and that was last summer when I finished the true TV marathon of watching Cheers from start to finish. For a pop culture-obsessed person like me, there’s no better feeling than the mix of accomplishment/loss at finishing a great show. Here’s hoping for many more.

Wolf Whistle

Book #29: Wolf Whistle, by Lewis Nordan

Guys, all my reading assignments for the semester are officially DONE! Of course, I still have a big paper and a final to take, but this feels like an important step.

I ended the semester on an… odd note. Lewis Nordan’s Wolf Whistle takes on a fictionalized version of Emmett Till’s lynching and somehow makes it funny. The book is about a lot of things, and the wrongful murder of a young black boy is only one of them. Readers can also look forward to fires and fourth grade field trips and prejudice galore!

I still need to some to wrap my mind around the book overall. There are lots of little swerves along the way, so it’s kind of difficult to say how I felt about it. If nothing else, I think it’s a good thing to end the semester with a book that’s left me thinking.

Joe

Book #28: Joe, by Larry Brown

It’s Sunday morning, marking the last week of the semester before finals. Basically, that just means we’re all tired and lacking the necessary motivation to power through, but I’m doing my best.

Last week, I finished Larry Brown’s Joe, the penultimate reading assignment in my Southern lit class. It’s a dark, gritty novel — the story revolves around a group of shady characters in Mississippi just trying to survive. The titular character is a complicated one; as readers, it’s difficult to know how good a guy Joe really is, though we want to believe in him.

The book was also adapted into a film in 2013 starring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. I’ve only made it through about half the movie (I’ll finish it soon), but I’m not really buying Cage in the role. Something about his voice doesn’t work with a Southern accent for me.

Now I’m about halfway through our final reading assignment: Lewis Nordan’s strange and darkly comic Wolf Whistle. Here’s hoping we’ll end the semester on a high note.

A Confederacy of Dunces

Book #27: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

Dear spring semester, could you please just hurry up and end?

I only feel this way sometimes. Or maybe about half the time. After this week, I have 2 more weeks of class and then finals, and I’ve started to reach my capacity on being able to care about school work. The chance to freely watch TV and movies and read books of my choosing is so tempting that I’m struggling to ignore them. My will power is at an all-time low, and I need to do something about it.

On the upside, I’ve had some good assigned reading to keep me somewhat focused. I just finished John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, a truly strange book that I had to read for Southern lit. It’s a satirical novel, one that focuses on the polarizing Ignatius J. Reilly and a cast of loosely connected characters.

This book is full of laugh-out-loud moments. As repulsive as Ignatius is, he’s pretty funny, especially in his complete disregard of social etiquette. The book runs a bit longer than I found necessary, but this really just contributes to its overall absurdity. If you’re a fan of comedy, you’re bound to be a fan of this book.

Now, among the many papers I must write, I’m down to my final two reading assignments for the semester: Larry Brown’s Joe and Lewis Nordan’s Wolf Whistle. Here’s to ending on a strong note.

Thoughts and Things

It’s officially that time of the semester when things get crazy. That reality might be especially true for grad students: in the coming weeks, I’ve got 5 books to read, 3 major papers to write, and final exams to take. Somehow, though, I’m feeling pretty good about it all (believe it or not, writing this post isn’t just a way to postpone my homework).

In fact, things have been exceptionally good lately. Sure, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to go to work or school, but I’m feeling fulfilled and challenged in all kinds of wonderful ways.

Here are some things that are bringing me joy these days. No surprise, but many of these things are pop culture-related.

  • Watching “Empire” has been a joy. My roommate and I still have 4 episodes left, but we’re obsessed. Who wouldn’t love Cookie Lyon?
  • As of Saturday, “Outlander” is back in my life and I am so very happy about it. It’s safe to say that the books will find their way onto my summer reading list.
  • I’ve got a great thesis advisor and a project I’m really excited and passionate about. I’ve barely started the work, but I’m feeling ready and motivated toward progress.
  • I got to watch Dreamgirls today and it was pretty invigorating.
  • My assigned school reading has provided me with a wonderfully diverse group of books I may have never approached on my own. I sped my way through Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart for the second time over the weekend, and I’m now close to completing Maxine Hong Kingston’s harrowing The Woman Warrior. Up next: John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces and Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine. 
  • I get to write research papers on topics I care about and feel confident I can talk about for 20 pages. This is kind of lame, but it’s a relief.
  • Rewatching “Lost” has been a little treasure in my life. Why is this show so much smarter than me?
  • I’m joining my dad and stepmom in New York next month! Hopefully I’ll also get a chance to visit a few friends during my visit.
  • I’m in a writing workshop course that’s challenged me to write personal pieces, something I haven’t really done since high school (apart from keeping this blog, of course). It’s been a bit scary, but I think I might actually make a habit of it.
  • In June, my mom and I will be traveling to Austin, TX to attend the ATX TV Festival! I bought our tickets when the “Gilmore Girls” reunion panel was announced last fall, but as they continue to make announcements of the programming, I get more and more excited for the adventure.
  • I’m almost halfway done with grad school! What is happening?!
  • I spent a lovely, relaxing, spiritually-fulfilling Easter weekend at home with family and friends. I’m so thankful for my fourth anniversary as a Catholic, and attending Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday was the perfect source of inspiration for the coming weeks.

And now, for my biggest news. Last year about this time, I was finishing my undergraduate days and preparing to start grad school, hoping for an assistantship with the English program in which I am enrolled.Things didn’t work out as planned, but I ended up with another assistantship that’s been a gratifying experience.

Things are still improving. I’ve been offered an assistantship in the English department, which will not only provide better funding toward my education, but also give me the chance to teach two introductory English courses next spring! Getting to start my dream job a little early is both exciting and terrifying.

And now for the icing on the cake. As you probably know, I attended the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, an experience that has absolutely affected my life (in the most positive way). I’ve planned on returning to Sundance in 2016, particularly because it directly relates to my master’s thesis topic, and after I didn’t receive a fellowship that would provide partial funding for the excursion, I’ve been thinking about how I’ll budget to pay for the trip.

Now comes the good news: to make a long story short, I’ve been asked to serve as a teaching assistant for the 2016 Sundance course, so I’ll serve in a somewhat advisory capacity for the students attending. In exchange, all my expenses will be covered. I repeat: I am going to Sundance FOR FREE. I expect this is an opportunity that will never arise again, but it’s one that’s made me wake up with a smile on my face every day.

So if you’ve read this or if you’ve been in my life recently, I just want to say thanks. I feel incredibly blessed and grateful for this life. If you’re feeling sad or stressed or bummed out, please let me know what I can do to return the favor. I’m in an especially “spread the love” kind of mood and the moment, and I want everyone in my life to feel as content as I do at this moment.

XOXO,

Gossip Girl

Airships

Book #24: Airships, by Barry Hannah

My blog updates have been fairly nonexistent recently because school is controlling my life. (For reference, though, I am maintaining my viewing habits; I finished season 3 of “Lost” earlier today, I’m working my way through “Empire,” and my movie count for the year is up to 40).

Reading wise, I don’t think I’ll have any time for recreational books until school winds down for the semester, but I’ve still got plenty of assigned texts to keep me busy. I just finished reading Barry Hannah’s wacky short story collection Airships, a text we were assigned to read almost in its entirety for class, so I went ahead and finished it.

A lot of Hannah’s writing is tricky and difficult to understand, but it’s also entertaining and hilarious at times. I’m particularly fond of the very short story “Coming Close to Donna” if you’re looking for a recommendation.

This weekend I’ll be jumping ahead to my next school readings: Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. In my very sparse free moments, I’m also slowly working my way through Flannery O’Connor’s complete short stories, of which I had to read seven for class last week. That’s a project I don’t expect to finish for some time, but she’s too good to put down.

Spring Break

Don’t get too excited — this isn’t going to be a post chronicling all the exciting adventures I’ve had in my days off. Actually, my spring break has primarily been spent sitting on my bed with either a screen or book in front of my face. This, of course, is my little version of paradise.

My spring break was made a little sweeter since we got an extra two days off because Kentucky has been a haven for major snow fall in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, we had a week off school for about a foot-and-a-half of snow and ice. Last Wednesday and Thursday, we received another 21-23″ that closed the university two days early for spring break. Now it’s 60 degrees. Things have been a bit odd in the weather department, to say the least.

Since it’s been a few weeks since my last post of this sort, I thought I’d take a few minutes to do another update. Here’s what I’ve been watching and reading lately.

Books — I haven’t accomplished as much reading over break as I’d hoped, but I’ll try to remedy that in my last days off. Earlier this week I finished Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, a book I’d read partially several years ago, but came back to after borrowing it from my roommate. Didion’s nonfiction is relatable and comforting, especially if you’ve recently lost a loved one.

Last night, I finished Cecelia Ahern’s Love, Rosie, previously published as Where Rainbows End. I got it as a cheap Kindle download from Amazon, and knowing it was from the same author as P.S. I Love You (which I haven’t read), I hoped it’d be a decent book. I found the writing incredibly weak and the overall story rather boring and frustrating, so that was a pretty giant waste of time, unfortunately.

Now I’m turning back to my assigned school reading. My plan is to begin reading John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces today. The book isn’t due for a few weeks, but since it’s long and, I’m assuming, fairly dense, I want to have ample time to finish it. I’ve also got some Flannery O’Connor short stories to read for classes next week, so I’ll try to get a head start on those. O’Connor is always a pleasure, so that’s something I’m excited about.

Movies — I haven’t watched much recently that’s very noteworthy, but I’m at least happy to be making progress on my intended watch list for the year. I rented two Redbox movies this week, Chasing Hearts and Men, Women & Children. The first was really lame; because Jamie Dornan is the film’s star, the distributors apparently tried to milk his Fifty Shades success, but the movie was mostly boring.

I rented Men, Women & Children because I really like Jason Reitman, but his movies have been rather off lately, especially since this was the first film he directed following the ridiculous Labor Day. The movie’s cast is good, but the story is rather melodramatic and depressing; it presents the dark side of a society controlled by technology. I was interested enough in the story to keep watching, but it’s not a film I’d watch a second time.

I also watched the film adaptation of Love, Rosie, which is thankfully far better than the book. The film’s writer and director took lots of liberties with the book’s story, and ended up producing something much more entertaining. It’s a pretty formulaic romantic comedy, but those can be fun, so I’d recommend it if you looking for something of that type.

TV — I think most of my viewing time this break has been spent on TV-bingeing. I started watching Teen Wolf on a whim just over two weeks ago, and I’m currently watching the final episode so I’ll be caught up when season five begins this summer. It isn’t a great show by any means, but it’s fun and entertaining, and I’m glad to have something to watch during the dry months of summer TV.

My mom and I also started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. We got through the first five episodes in one sitting, but haven’t returned to it yet because our timing hasn’t really worked out, but I think I’ll plan to finish it now that I’m done with Teen Wolf. Once that’s done, I’ll return to Lost, since I paused in the break between seasons two and three.

As for on-air TV, I’m SO excited that Bates Motel returned this week. It looks like things have officially gotten inappropriate this season, so that should be loads of fun. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Broad City, and Girls will all be reaching season’s end in the next week or so, so that should lighten my TV-watching load a bit (though I’m sad to see them all go). Otherwise, I’m still keeping up with Jane the Virgin, Reign, and Scandal, and I believe I’ll wait until the summer to binge on the current season of Broadchurch with my mom, so that will slowly begin building up on our DVR.

Now back to real life. Here’s to soaking up my last moments of no obligations before school and all those pesky deadlines and assignments return.