Thursday, December 29, 2011

"BOARDWALK EMPIRE" Season One (2010) Photo Gallery



Below are images from Season One of the HBO series called "BOARDWALK EMPIRE". Produced by Terence Winter, Mark Wahlberg and Martin Scorcese, the series stars Steve Buscemi:


"BOARDWALK EMPIRE" Season One (2010) Photo Gallery











































Monday, December 26, 2011

"HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" and the Not-So-Great Robin/Barney Love Fest




"HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" AND THE NOT-SO-GREAT ROBIN/BARNEY LOVE FEST

I am tired of the Robin Scherbatsky/Barney Stinson (Cobie Smulders/Neil Patrick Harris) saga. I really am. They have practically dominated Season Seven of CBS's "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" with a romance that seemed to be force-fed by the series' creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, in order to satisfy the certain shippers.

What can I say? Everything about the Robin/Barney love story has seemed forced to me. As far back as Seasons Four and Five. When the pair first became a couple back in Season Five, Thomas and Bays managed to screw that relationship by breaking them up in (5.07) "The Rough Patch". And they used one of the most contrived reasons I have come across in television history. After dating each other for a while, the two decided to break up, because their relationship led them - "two awesomes" - to "cancel each other out", making them less than they want to be. Their relationship led Robin to become a sloppy dresser and Barney to gain weight. It was one of the most ridiculous episodes I had ever seen.

But what happened between Robin and Barney seemed nothing in compare to the love saga that awaited viewers in Seasons Six and Seven. Robin introduced Barney to a work colleague of hers named Nora (Nazanin Boniadi) in the Season Six episode, (6.16) "Desperation Day. After Barney struggled with his feelings for Nora throughout late Season Six, he finally realized that he was interested in her in the season finale, (6.24) "Challenge Accepted". In the following season, Barney told Nora about his sexual past in (7.02) "The Naked Truth". She nearly dumped him, until she realized how serious he was about her . . . and decided to give him a chance. During this initial courtship between Barney and Nora, Robin decided that she still have feelings for him. Gee . . . how convenient. Instead of telling Barney about her feelings, she eventually began dating her psychiatrist, Kevin (portrayed by Kai Penn).

I was willing to give the possibility of a second Barney/Robin hook-up another chance. But Thomas and Bays managed to fuck it all up. At least for me. One, the producers had decided to portray poor Nora as a one-dimensional paragon of perfection. During the nine episodes Nora appeared in the series, the writers never developed her beyond her penchant for Valentine's Day, kids and ideal romance. She was a female Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), but without any flaws or complexity whatsoever. Hell, Ted's past girlfriends were portrayed with more complexity than Nora. And I am not just talking about Robin. Even the latter's new boyfriend, Kevin, seemed more complex and interesting as Nora. The only time I ever came close to really liking Nora was in (7.07) "Noretta", in which she suffered a series of mishaps during a date that was supposed to culminate in sex for the first time with Barney. But Thomas and Bays never allowed Nora's character to develop beyond the mishaps she had suffered in that particular episode. They seemed determined to manipulate the viewers into disliking her and cheering for a Barney/Robin hookup.

In the end, Thomas and Bays got rid of Nora in (7.10) "Tick, Tick, Tick . . .". And how do they achieve this? They allowed Barney and Robin to cheat on both her and Kevin by having sex sometime between (7.09) "Disaster Averted" and "Tick, Tick, Tick . . .". In the latter episode, Barney eventually told Nora that he had "slept with another woman". He failed to inform her that the woman in question was her colleague and the woman who had introduced them . . . namely Robin. Then he dumped Nora. What the fuck? This unpleasant task was followed with a scene in which Robin silently conveyed to Barney that she decided to keep their night of illicit sex as a secret from Kevin. Barney ended up crying in his milk, because Robin decided to stay with Kevin. And how did I feel? I realized that I could not give a shit . . . about either Barney or Robin.

Wait. It got worse. At the end of (7.11) "The Rebound Girl", Robin informed Barney that she might be pregnant. Even worse, he might be the father, since she has yet to have sex with Kevin. This bit of information had me rolling my eyes with disbelief. In (7.12) "Symphony of Illumination", Robin discovered that she was not pregnant. Her celebration was short-lived, when her doctor informed that she could never have children. This last plot twist disgusted me to no end.

Why? Why in the hell did Thomas and Bays use to plot line for Robin in the first damn place? For what purpose? They revealed in a few interviews that Robin's discovery about her inability to conceive would drive her to become more career-oriented. Really? How lame! They could have simply continued to use Robin's dislike of motherhood to explain why she never had kids. Why in the hell did they bother to use this "inability to have kids" plot line, straight out of a Ross Hunter production from the late 1950s and early 60s? It is so Lana Turner. Did they honestly believe that the only way for Robin to remain sympathetic was for her to be physically denied the chance to get pregnant, instead of simply disliking the idea of being a mother? Or was this simply another addition to the Robin/Barney soap opera, leading to their eventual marriage?

What makes Robin and Barney's romance even harder to swallow is the fact that I do not find their romantic chemistry all that exciting. In fact, I find it rather dull. Both Harris and Smulders had great chemistry when portraying their characters as close friends, or whenever Robin repelled one of Barney's cheap come-ons. But when it came to portraying serious romance between the two, I found the chemistry between Harris and Smulders as exciting as a piece of wood. Smulders had better chemistry with Radnor during Robin's romance with Ted. In the Season Two episode, (2.05) "The World's Greatest Couple", Lily had moved into Barney's apartment to help him stave off persistent one-night stands. Harris and Hannigan had more chemistry in that one episode than he ever did with Smulders. He even had better chemistry with Boniadi, when her Nora character was at its most one-dimensional.

The Barney/Robin soap opera seemed to have affected the characters of Ted, Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) and Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan). I realize that "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" is not solely about Ted's search for his future wife. Six seasons of the series have proven this. But Ted, Marshall and Lily have been treated as supporting characters in compare to Barney and Robin. They have been given silly "B" plots in most of the season's episodes, despite the fact that Marshall and Lily are expecting their first child and Ted is supposed to be the series' leading character. while viewers (at least those who, like myself, are not Barney/Robin shippers) have been forced to swallow the barely digestible Barney/Robin love fest of Season Seven. The balance between all five characters have been off ever since the producers had decided to engage in Barney and Robin's "love story" this past year.

Will the great Robin/Barney love fest abate at least a little by the second half of Season Seven? I hope so, but I have doubts. Barney is scheduled for his own wedding sometime in the near future, thanks to a flash forward seen in the season premiere, (7.01) "The Best Man". Like many viewers, I suspect that the bride in question is likely to be Robin. When the series' first two seasons led toward Marshall and Lily's wedding in (2.21) "Something Borrowed", their characters did not overshadow the other three with dominant appearances throughout the first two seasons. Yet, Thomas and Bays have bombarded viewers with episodes centering around Robin and Barney during this past year. Why? I suspect to satisfy the growing number of Barney/Robin shippers that seemed to have materialize over the past few seasons.

Now, is it really two much to ask for the producers to get over their Barney/Robin obsession and return the balance for all five characters? Is it? Many fans of the show had complained about the quality of Season Six. Mind you, the last season did not feature "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" at its best. But I managed to enjoy it a hell of a lot better than Season Seven. If this Robin/Barney love fest get any worse, Craig Thomas and Carter Bays is going to lose a fan . . . namely me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"INCEPTION" (2010) Review




"INCEPTION" (2010) Review

It still amazes me at how director/writer Christopher Nolan’s films manage to generate a great deal of emotion from filmgoers and critics. This has certainly been the case for his 2010 movie, the science-fiction drama called "INCEPTION".

Inspired by the experiences of lucid dreaming and dream incubation, "INCEPTION" told the story of Dom Cobb, a dream “extractor” who enters the dreams of others in order to obtain information that is otherwise inaccessible. After failing to extract corporate secrets from a Japanese businessman named Saito, Cobb is hired by the latter to perform the act of "inception" - the secret implant of an idea into a target’s mind – on the son of Saito’s terminally ill corporate rival, one Robert Fischer. Saito’s object is to convince Fischer to break up his father’s corporate empire in order to prevent it from becoming a monopoly and threatening the businessman’s own corporation. If Cobb manages to succeed, Saito promises to use his influence to clear the younger man of murdering his wife, so that he can reunite with his children.

Cobb assembles a team to achieve Saito’s objectives. They are:

*Arthur, the Point Man – who is also Cobb’s partner, and responsible for researching the team’s target

*Ariadne, the Architect – a graduate student who is recruited to construct worlds in which dreams take place

*Eames, the Forger – has the ability to take the form of others in order to manipulate the dreamer

*Yusuf, the Chemist – who formulates the drugs needed to sustain the team members’ dream states

*Saito, the Client/Observer – who decides to become part of the team


Despite assembling a skillful crew, Cobb encounters a few difficulties. One, Arthur had failed to discover that their mark, Fischer, had been trained in lucid dreaming and creating mental defenses. His mind manages to manifest armed personnel, which attacks the team in downtown Los Angeles, after they kidnap him in Yusuf’s dream. This leads to disaster for Saito, who is wounded during a gun battle. Due to Saito’s wounds, the rest of the team discovers that Cobb had failed to inform them that they could end up in limbo if they die in a dream state, due to the drugs given to them by Yusuf. Worst of all, Cobb has to deal with the manifestation of his dead wife, Mal (the Shade), whose presence in the dreams could end up threatening the assignment.

There had been a good deal of hype surrounding "INCEPTION" before it hit the theaters in mid July 2010. Surprisingly, I had been unaware of it. I merely wanted to see it due to Nolan’s role as director and writer, and from what I had seen in the movie trailer. I had no idea on how I would react to the film, considering my reactions to 2006’s "THE PRESTIGE" and 2008’s "THE DARK KNIGHT". Do not get me wrong. I enjoyed both movies very much. But it took me a while to understand the plot to ”THE PRESTIGE” and I have never liked the last 30 minutes of "THE DARK KNIGHT".

In the end, I not only understood "INCEPTION", I enjoyed it. Hell, I more than enjoyed it. I loved it. It is one of the most original movies I have seen in years. I found it very rare to see a movie that used unusual visuals to convey a main character’s emotional story. Through the use of dreams, the team manages to allow Robert Fischer to face his demons regarding his father and to finally put them aside, so that he can learn to be his own man. But more importantly, the Fischer assignment finally allows Cobb to face his own demons and guilt over his wife’s suicide.

The concepts of lucid dreaming and dream incubation are nothing new in movies or television. Both topics have been used in movies like "THE MATRIX" and television series like "BABYLON FIVE", "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" and "STAR TREK VOYAGER". With the amazing special effects supervised by Chris Corbould and Wally Pfister’s beautiful photography, Nolan managed to take these concepts to another level. And he did it without resorting to 3-D photography (thank you God!) or slow motion action (with the exception of one scene). The special effects were especially put to good use in scenes that featured a fight scene between Arthur and an unnamed man inside a high-priced hotel corridor, Cobb and Ariadne’s dream experiences on Parisian streets; and the Limbo world first created by Cobb and Mal.

Nolan had gathered an impressive group of actors and actresses for his cast. Veteran actors Michael Caine, Postlethwaite and Tom Berenger portrayed father figures (literally or otherwise) for at least two of the major characters and gave solid performances – especially Berenger, who portrayed Robert Fischer’s godfather and business associate. Dileep Rao, last seen in the 2009 blockbuster "AVATAR", had the good fortune to be cast in a larger role as Yusef, the Chemist. His character provided sedatives for the team to use in order to easily go into dream state. And I must say that I enjoyed Rao’s sly, yet humorous performance very much.

I had been aware of Tom Hardy since his two-episode appearance in the HBO 2001 miniseries, "BAND OF BROTHERS". But his portrayal of Eames the Forger is probably the first role in which he truly impressed me. Like Rao, he projected a sly sense of humor, mingled with a sharp wit and a hint of arrogance. And dear God! That man has a voice to die for. Cillian Murphy’s role as the Mark, Robert Fischer, seemed like a far cry from his villainous Dr. Jonathan Crane aka the Scarecrow in Nolan’s two BATMAN movies. Yet, the actor did an excellent job in his subtle portrayal of a man disappointed by what he deemed as his father’s lack of love toward him and his own insecurities that he may be unable to live up to his father’s shadow or expectations of him. Marion Cotillard proved to be quite an enigma in her portrayal of Mal, Cobb’s late wife. In some scenes, she projected a quiet, self-assurance as her character tried to manipulate her husband into accepting his dreams of her as reality. In others, she projected the melancholy of a woman teetering on the edge of suicide. And there were moments when Cotilllard conveyed a sense of subtle menace, whenever someone threatened Cobb’s memories of her. It was a very effective performance.

Another complex performance came from Ken Watanabe, who portrayed Cobb’s client, Saito. Judging from Watanabe’s portrayal of Saito, one would have felt certain that he would end up as the movie’s villain. Yet, thanks to Nolan’s script and Watanabe’s performance, Saito proved to be a complex individual that developed an interesting relationship with Cobb. The latter formed another interesting relationship with the team’s Architect, a college graduate named Ariadne. And Ellen Page did an excellent job in portraying Ariadne’s sense of wonder at her introduction of the world of lucid dreaming. More importantly, Page was effective in portraying what I believe was the movie’s emotional center – the one person who was able to help Cobb deal with his demons regarding Mal. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role as Arthur, Cobb’s main partner, should finally set him on the road to stardom. He gave a wonderful performance as the team’s pragmatic Point Man, whose job was to provide background information on Fischer. He was cool, sardonic, dashing and surprisingly a pretty solid action man. His fight in the dream state hotel corridor might prove to be the talk of moviegoers and critics for months to come.

But the one man who held this movie together, other than Nolan, turned out to be leading man Leonardo DiCaprio. I could, in many words, praise his performance as Dom Cobb, the team’s leader and extractor/inceptor. I could describe the emotional complexity of his portrayal of a man who remained torn by his wife’s death and his longing to reunite with his children and his efforts to keep his demons in check and prevent them from affecting his jobs. I could also praise DiCaprio for handling the movie’s action sequences like a born-again Bruce Willis. But why bother? All one has to do is watch the actor upon the movie screen. Personally, I believe that he may have given one of the better performances of his career, so far. In short, DiCaprio was phenomenal.

I tried to think of something to complain about "INCEPTION" and only ended up with one. It seemed to me that two-thirds into the movie, its pacing began to drag. Which seemed odd, considering while the movie focused upon scenes featuring Eames’ dream – the snow fortress – I found myself squirming in my seat in an attempt to stay awake. Some of the action sequences seemed to go on a little too long by this point. Fortunately, the movie moved on to its final scenes, starting in the Limbo City dream sequence and my attention became revived.

There have been many discussions and debates over the movie’s final scene – namely Cobb’s reunion with his children and the last shot featuring the spinning top. Many claim the last shot was an indicator that the entire movie had been a dream and that Cobb remained stuck in a dream state. Others believe the spinning top – Mal’s totem – was nothing more than a red herring. As far as they were concerned, Cobb had genuinely reunited with his kids. Personally, I have no idea if the entire movie was a dream or not. A part of me feels it should not matter. What mattered to me was that Cobb finally learned to let go of Mal . . . and put his guilt over her death behind him. And by turning his back on Mal’s spinning top, I believe he had finally achieved this.

As I can recall, the summer of 2010 had not been a memorable one for me. But it was not a complete bust. I had seen a good number of entertaining movies that year. Yet, only a handful truly impressed me. As far as I am concerned, the one movie that rose ahead of the others that year was Christopher Nolan’s opus - "INCEPTION”.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"TOWER HEIST" (2011) Photo Gallery



Below are images from the new comedy called "TOWER HEIST". Directed by Brett Ratner, the movie stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Alan Alda:


"TOWER HEIST" (2011) Photo Gallery









































Friday, December 16, 2011

"THE PACIFIC" (2010) - Episode One Commentary




"THE PACIFIC" (2010) - EPISODE ONE COMMENTARY

March 2010 marked the premiere of the 10-part miniseries, "THE PACIFIC"; which was produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman. The miniseries focused upon the lives and experiences of three U.S. Marines who fought in the Pacific Theater - writer Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), war hero John Basilone (Jon Seda) and professor/writer Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazello).

This first episode featured the three men's reactions to the attack upon Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Basilone was already a one-year veteran of the Marines during this period, when he bid good-bye to his family. Leckie joined the Marines about a month after the Hawaii attack and formed a friendship with a local girl named Vera before saying good-bye to his father. And Sledge was forced to realize that his heart murmur will prevent him from joining the Marines with his friend and neighbor, Sid Phillips (Ashton Holmes). Not long after this opening, both Leckie and Basilone found themselves being shipped out to deal with the Japanese threat on Guadalcanal. Most of the episode focuses upon Leckie and Phillips' early experiences on Guadalcanal. By the end of the episode, Basilone and the 7th Marines regiment had arrived.

If there is one thing I can say, "THE PACIFIC" was definitely different from 2001's "BAND OF BROTHERS". But I guess I expected it to be. One thing, this episode made it clear that scenes featuring the three characters' experiences on the home front and amongst other civilians would be featured. The scene between Leckie and his father at the bus depot was very interesting - especially with the writer dealing with his father's reluctance to say good-bye. And it was interesting to watch Sledge deal with his frustration at being unable to join up, due to a heart murmur. I found myself wondering if he had any idea what he would experience during the war's later years, would he feel so frustrated.

The main difference between "THE PACIFIC" and "BAND OF BROTHERS" was that the latter mainly recount the experiences of an Army company, with an officer as the series' main character. "THE PACIFIC" was presented in a way that was similar to the 2000 movie, "TRAFFIC" or the 2005 movie, "CRASH" . . . in which the same topic was presented from different perspectives. "THE PACIFIC" presented the viewpoints of three men who DID NOT serve in combat together. And yet, there were connections between them. Leckie had served in the same Marine company as Sledge's best friend, Phillips. Both Leckie and Basilone fought on Guadalcanal and had a brief encounter with one another at the end of Episode One. Two future episodes featured both Leckie and Sledge fighting in another campaign together - Peleliu. Although there were complaints, I was happy to note that some viewers understood and managed to accept the fact that "THE PACIFIC" possessed a different style of storytelling than "BAND OF BROTHERS".

I would also like to add that I found the combat action featured in this episode very amazing, especially the Battle of the Tenaru. And I found the jungle setting rather lush. The birthday tune that Leckie and his Marines friends sang to Phillips was not only funny, but held an ominous aura as well. Well done. Very well done.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"CONTAGION" (2011) Review




"CONTAGION" (2011) Review

When I first saw the trailer for Steven Soderbergh's new movie, "CONTAGION", it brought back some old memories. I found myself remembering Wolfgang Peterson' 1995 film, "OUTBREAK", which starred Dustin Hoffman; and the influenza pandemic that terrified the world's population two years ago. With those in mind, I decided to check out Soderbergh's new movie.

"CONTAGION" is a medical thriller about the rapid progress of a lethal contact transmission virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving pandemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. And as the virus spreads around the world, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart. The movie began with a Minnesota woman named Beth Emhoff returning home after a business trip to Hong Kong and a side trip to Chicago to cheat on her second husband with an old flame. Two days later, she collapses from a severe seizure before dying in a hospital. Her husband, Mitch Emhoff, returns home and discovers that his stepson - Beth's son - has died from the same disease. Other people who have had contact with Beth eventually die in China, Great Britain and Chicago, leading medical doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to investigate the origin of the disease.

While watching "CONTAGION", I noticed that its narrative bore a strong resemblance to the one featured in Soderbergh's 2000 Oscar winning movie, "TRAFFIC". I noticed that "CONTAGION" had failed to generate the same level of interest that the 2000 movie managed to do. And I find this ironic, considering that I seemed to prefer this movie over the Oscar winning film. I do not mean to say that "TRAFFIC" was the inferior movie. As far as I am concerned, it was a superb film. But I simply preferred "CONTAGION" more. It could be that I found a viral pandemic to be a more interesting topic than drug trafficking, due to the events of 2009. And I found that particular subject scarier.

And I cannot deny that "CONTAGION" scared the hell out of me. The idea that a new disease could spring up and spread throughout the world's population so fast practically blows my mind. And I have to say that both Soderbergh and the movie's screenwriter, Scott Burns, did a great job in scaring the hell out of me. What I found even scarier were the various reactions to the disease. Soderburgh and Burns did a great job in conveying factors that drove mass panic and loss of social order, the difficulties in investigating and containing a pathogen and the problems of balancing personal motives and professional responsibilities. Another amazing aspect about "CONTAGION" is that Soderbergh and Burns avoided the usual cliché of portraying the pharmaceutical industry or the military as the villains. Instead, everyone - the government agencies, politicians at every level and even the public at large - are portrayed in an ambiguous light. Looking back on "CONTAGION", I realized that I only had one minor complaint - Soderbergh's direction did come off as a bit too dry at times.

Soderbergh and his casting director managed to gather an exceptional job for the cast. Cast members such as Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston, Elliot Gould, Chin Han, Sanaa Lathan, Jennifer Ehle John Hawkes and Enrico Colantoni gave very solid performances. But I found at least five performances truly memorable. One came from Jude Law, who portrayed an aggressive freelance journalist named Alan Krumwiede, who convinces some of his readers to use a a homeopathic cure based on Forsythia, on behalf of companies producing the treatment. I found Law's character so annoying that I did not realize how skillful his performance was, until several hours after I saw the movie. Kate Winslet gave a very poignant performances as Dr. Erin Mears, a CDC doctor who is forced to face the consequences of the political agendas of a local government and the disease itself. Laurence Fishburne did an exceptional job in conveying the ambiguous situation of his character, CDC spokesman Dr. Ellis Cheever, who found himself torn between his duties with the agency, keeping certain aspects about a possible cure from the public, and his desire to ensure his wife's safety. But I believe the best performance came from Matt Damon, who portrayed the widower of the doomed Beth Emhoff. Damon was superb in portraying the many aspects of Emhoff's emotional state - whether the latter was grieving over his wife's death, dealing with her infidelity, or ensuring that he and his daughter remain alive despite the increasing chaos and death that surrounded them.

I did not know whether I would enjoy "CONTAGION", but I did . . . much to my surprise. Not only did I enjoyed it, the movie scared the hell out of me. And I cannot think of any other director, aside from Steven Soderburgh, who can do that with such a dry directorial style. I do look forward to seeing this movie again when it is released on DVD.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"CAPOTE" (2005) Photo Gallery



Below is a gallery of photos from the 2005 biopic about writer Truman Capote called "CAPOTE". The movie, written by Dan Futterman and directed by Bennett Miller, stars Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Clifton Collins, Jr.:


"CAPOTE" (2005) Photo Gallery











































Thursday, December 8, 2011

"LOST" RETROSPECT: (1.12) "Whatever the Case May Be"




"LOST" RETROSPECT: (1.12) "Whatever the Case May Be"

I had never meant to write an article on (1.12) "Whatever the Case May Be", the Season One episode of ABC’s ”LOST”. Honestly. But after I recently re-watched the episode, I realized that I had to say or write something about it.

”Whatever the Case May Be” happened to be the second episode that featured Kate Austen as a main character. While frolicking in what looked like a spring, Kate and fellow castaway James “Sawyer” Ford came across another chunk of Oceanic Airlines 815’s fuselage section and several dead passengers. Kate also discovered a silver Halliburton case that she asked Sawyer to retrieve for her. The case belonged to the recently dead U.S. Marshal Edward Mars, who had been escorting Kate back to United States soil in order for her to face criminal charges. Being Kate, she decided to tell Sawyer that he could keep the case . . . before making several attempts to get her hands on it by theft. The case not only contained Marshal Mars’ firearms and some money, but also a sentimental object that meant very much to Kate.

How much did that object mean to Kate? As shown in the episode’s flashbacks, it meant so much to her that she staged a bank robbery (in which she pretended to be a potential loan customer and victim) in New Mexico in order to acquire it from one of the bank’s safety deposit box. It seemed that Marshal Mars had placed it there to entrap Kate. As for the object of Kate’s desire, it turned out to be a toy airplane that once belonged to a former childhood sweetheart named Tom Brennan, whose death she was partially responsible for, as shown in a later episode called (1.22) “Born to Run”. Not only was Kate willing to stage a bank robbery in New Mexico and steal the Marshal’s case on the island for it, she was also willing to manipulate and lie to castaway leader Jack Shephard in order to get her hands on it.

Several “B” plots also abound in this episode. One of them featured on Charlie Pace’s continuing melancholy and guilt over Claire Littleton’s kidnapping at the end of (1.10) “Raised By Another”. In short, Charlie sat around and moped over Claire, while the other castaways moved their belongings to another beach in order to prevent everything and everyone from a rising tide that threatened to wash over their camp. In the end, Rose Nadler helped him snapped out of his gloom with tough words and a prayer. John Locke and Boone Carlyle focused on finding ways to open the hatch they had discovered near the end of (1.11) “Even the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” and met with failure. And Sayid Jarrah asked Boone’s stepsister, Shannon Rutherford, to help him translate longtime castaway Danielle Rousseau’s maps and notes, which are written in French. His request attracted Boone’s jealous attention.

Did I like ”Whatever the Case May Be”? No, I did not. In my opinion, it was one of the worst episodes from Season One. In other words, I thought it was a piece of crap. One, the entire storyline about Kate’s efforts to get her hands on the toy airplane struck me as an exercise in irrelevancy. The fact that this particular episode was resolved in ”Born to Run”, the next Kate-centric episode, not only convinced me of the uselessness of this storyline, but also the flaky nature of Kate’s personality. Look, I understand that she had felt guilty for inadvertently causing Tom Brennan’s death. But was it really necessary to set in motion a bank robbery in New Mexico or piss off Jack and Sawyer for that damn toy plane? I do not think so.



Kate’s quest for the toy airplane produced two sequences that really annoyed me. One, her attempts to steal the Halliburton case from Sawyer left me shaking my head in disbelief. At one point, I felt as if I was watching two adolescents behaving like ten year-olds. Both of them seemed ridiculous and immature in their efforts to steal the case from each other . . . not sexy. And why did Kate hand over the case to Sawyer in the first place? She could have maintained the lie that the case belonged to her. Nor did she have to tell Sawyer what was inside the case. At least she would have been spared resorting to childish efforts to get the damn thing. The quest for the toy airplane also produced one of the most ludicrous flashbacks in the series’ history, and one of the dumbest bank robberies in movies or television. The fact that Kate had staged the robbery for the airplane makes me want to upchuck. And if she knew that Marshal Mars had placed the airplane inside the bank, why did she have to enter the bank, unmasked? Why not simply act as one of the masked robbers? And if the whole thing was a trap set up by Marshal Mars, where in the hell was he? Where was the stakeout? And what were Damon Lindelof and Jennifer Johnson thinking when they wrote this episode?

And if the main plot seemed ludicrous beyond belief, the subplots were no better. After discovering the infamous hatch to the Swan Station at the end of the previous episode, (1.11) “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues”, John Locke and Boone Carlyle decided to keep their discovery a secret. Well . . . Locke did. Boone rather idiotically decided to follow his lead. To this day, I am amazed that so many ”LOST” fans had continued to regard Locke as the castaways’ wise mentor by this point in Season One, considering that his decision to keep the hatch a secret struck me as incredibly stupid. Oh well. Perhaps Lindelhof and Johnson needed this secretive behavior as fodder for future storylines. Another subplot featured Sayid Jarrah and Shannon Rutherford’s efforts to translate the charts and notes that he had stolen from Danielle Rousseau in (1.09) “Solitary”. The storyline regarding the charts and notes amounted to nothing. But it did initiate the romance between the former Iraqi soldier and California dance student. We finally come to the subplot regarding Charlie Pace’s guilt and despair over Claire Littleton’s kidnapping and Rose Nadler’s attempts to help him deal with the latter. One, I found subplot boring. And two, Rose’s attempts to revive him from his despair struck me as a perpetration of the ”Religious Black Woman” cliché. Not only could I have done without this subplot, I could have also done without her dialogue.

Many fans have viewed Jack’s behavior toward Kate in this episode as abusive and controlling. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I found his reaction to Kate’s revelation about her tracking skills in ”All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” as controlling and abusive. Frankly, I thought he was being a prick. However, I completely understood his behavior with Kate in this episode. Honestly? Kate had manipulated him and lied to him for the sake of case and a toy airplane. Instead of keeping the case in the first damn place and explaining to Jack why she wanted it opened, Kate behaved like an erratic child. And Jack treated her like one, in a fit of disgust and anger. Boone continued his verbal abuse of Shannon’s self-esteem in this episode. I realize that she had behaved abominably to him, back in Australia. I also realize that Shannon can be a bitch. But she had done nothing to earn such constant and persistent abuse. So . . . Boone behaved like a prick. Sawyer did not treat anyone with such abuse. I found his efforts to open the case rather childish, but that is all. But I thought that Kate treated him in an abusive manner in an effort to get her hands on the case. I realize that she did not want him to know about her criminal past. But as I had stated earlier, she could have continued to claim the case as hers and recruit Jack’s help to open the damn thing. Instead, she allowed Sawyer to take the case. The she resorted to stealth and physical abuse to get it back. Kate had behaved like a prick . . . or a female version of one.

"Whatever the Case May Be" had one or two virtues. Actually, it had one. Larry Fong’s photography of the Hawaiian jungles and beaches remained fresh and beautiful as ever. But with so much infantile and stupid behavior by the characters, and incompetent writing by Damon Lindelhof and Jennifer Johnson, is it any wonder that I hold this episode in deep contempt?