The Most Awesome Thing

The Most Awesome Thing I Saw Last Week (Feb 24-Mar 2)

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for us to assess the many Awesome things we saw last week.  A mammoth undertaking, considering this was a week in which Richard Burgi made a guest appearance on Nip/Tuck as a guy who, well, humps furniture, and Larry King said the following line on 30 Rock:  “If you’re just joining us, we’re here with Tracy Jordan, who is giving guitar icon Peter Frampton enigmatic clues about a secret treasure.  Stay with us.”  Dr. Steve Brule explained just what’s wrong with ice cubes and Art Garfunkel made an especially surprising appearance.  Jon Stewart choked down a pancake-wrapped sausage dipped in Baconnaise, Peter Petrelli actually managed to keep the upper hand while pointing a gun at someone, and screenwriter Mike White had difficulty figuring out how gates work.  Dr. House managed to ratchet up his addiction, Eastbound & Down continued to be the greatest accomplishment in human history, and Andrew “Dice” Clay reminded us why we were right to have not thought about him since 1987.  Clearly, this has been the kind of week of which dreams are made.  So what cream rose to the top of whatever substance sits beneath cream?  Let’s find out!


As I’ve mentioned before, it’s difficult for me not to just make Lost the Most Awesome Thing every week.  I like to mix things up a little, but this week’s episode, “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” stood out as one of the best episodes of the series.


Now, you have to understand something.  When the Season Three finale aired in 2007, I was worried that it was Locke in the coffin.  I fretted for a season, and then it turned out it really was Locke in the coffin.  That led to more fretting.  In case I haven’t mentioned it a million times by now, John Locke is my favorite character on TV.  And deep down, I worry that he’s fated to be a tragic hero.  So that coffin was pretty disturbing.  And while this week’s episode put an end to almost two years of stress when the = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Island managed to bring Locke back to life, that alone isn’t what made it stand out for me.

The episode detailed Locke’s ill-fated attempts to convince the Oceanic 6 to return to the Island.  And while it featured several crucial moments for the overall mythology of the series (Locke meets Charles Widmore for the first time, the fate of Matthew Abaddon, the introduction of a whole new bunch of Lostaways), “Life and Death” also boasted some incredibly strong character work and storytelling, proving that when you take away all the polar bears and time travel, Lost delivers some of the most emotionally involving writing on television.


When the episode began, we knew that Locke had to die before it was over.  That fact was set in stone.  And still, watching him fail over and over again, until he was ready to take his own life in the hopes that it might convince Jack and the rest of the severity of the situation, was wrenching.  And the long, slow process of rigging a noose from an extension cord and getting up the courage to take that one last step was absolutely heartbreaking.  Terry O’Quinn does such good work on this series, and this was a real showcase for his talents.  What his performance really drove home was that Locke was flat-out ready to die to save the Island.  He didn’t expect to be resurrected – he believed this was the end for him.


There were so many great moments in this episode.  Some welcome humor from Hurley (who’s more scared of Locke when he finds out he isn’t a ghost), a nice appearance from Walt, the reveal that Frank Lapides is second only to one Sully Sullenberger when it comes to putting down a plane under adverse conditions, an almost tender moment for Benry, and the beautiful realization that Locke was going to keep his promise to Jin whatever the cost; this was Lost at its best.


And in second place, well, there’s nothing I can say that can prepare you for this:  Stephen Colbert talks about racial issues while covered in tarantulas!


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