Nerdos iuvat fortuna

Thoughts from the life of a big nerd

A Few Reasons Why I Loved the LOST Finale (and you should too)

The series finale of LOST has sparked more divisive internet and watercooler debate than any nerd topic since nerds were arguing about some other meaningless minutia hours before Sunday’s final episode.  As a long-time fan of the show, I need to clear the air and get my feelings out there since I am apparently in the minority.  I already inadvertently started a facebook comment war so why not full on blog about my thoughts.

Do not read this if you haven’t watched the finale yet!

First, if you think that what happened in the finale means that all of the characters died in the plain crash and have been dead for the whole series, please stop reading this right now, go back and watch the episode again, and actually listen during Jack’s conversation with his father at the end.  Christian Shephard speaks one crucial line that tells you that everything that happened on the island was real.  He says, “some died before you, and some long after you.”  If they had all died in the plane crash this could not be true.  The only part of the show that was a “purgatory” of sorts was the sideways universe from this season.

Now, into the meat of why I loved the finale.  I personally feel that the episode tied up all of the most important loose ends for our main characters.  First, the remaining castaways (Lapidus, Sawyer, Miles, Richard, Claire, Kate) safely escaped the island.  We know this because Jack sees the plane flying overhead as he is dying.  This is a goal the crash survivors have been working toward since the very first episode of the series. Jack has a poetic end to his character arc and Hurley and Ben take over as the new Jacob and Richard, respectively.  Plus, Desmond will be able to return to his family.  All of these are satisfying and appropriate ends for these characters.  It’s not important what happens next to the survivors on the Ajira plane because that would not add anything to the story told in the show.

Next, the mythological answers about the island that we needed to understand the main story were sufficiently addressed.  This is where most people will probably disagree with me.  I think, however, that we knew enough about the island, the Dharma Initiative, the spiritual mystery of the island, and any other hare-brained theory before the final episode even began.  Also, fans found questions in things that were never even important.  Sure, there are some things that I would like to know more about, but not having an answer to those things in no way ruined the show forever.  In fact, I’m glad that I still have something to think about.  It shows that the writers are intelligent and that they respect our intelligence.  I don’t want answers spoon-fed to me, whether it’s LOST or any other show.  Think about Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, for example.  Did you really feel better about yourself and the saga when you learned that the mysterious Force was merely a bunch of microscopic life-forms called midi-chlorians?  Probably not.  So why hold LOST to a standard that you don’t hold with other things?

Many people are arguing that the ending of the show made everything previous completely meaningless.  I have the hardest time swallowing this argument because it requires you to say that all of the events that happened in the course of 5 seasons had no bearing on how the main characters changed and grew.  Sure, there was a lot of mythology in these seasons that was engaging and intriguing on its own, but the characters’ interaction with that mythology is what made it meaningful.  Locke’s turbulent relationship with the hatch revealed his struggle between faith and cynicism, which ultimately ended in his attempt to hang himself because of his perceived failure.  Jack’s relationship with the other survivors and with the events on the island changed him from a man of science to a man of faith.  So ultimately, I don’t understand how someone can say that all of these character-defining moments, however mysterious and unexplained, become somehow meaningless when the end result shows characters who are changed and defined by their experiences and relationships on the island.

Finally, I like that the LOST finale, as with the series as a whole, mirrored reality in many ways.  There is no human being who has answers to every unexplainable event that happens in life, and many times we are left discussing and honing our thoughts and opinions about important questions for our entire lives.  LOST recognized this fact and didn’t try to give us an ending that wraps everything up in a neat little box for our neat little lives.  Wouldn’t that have felt more fake than the ending we got?  I am glad that the LOST producers and writers addressed unanswerable questions about faith, science, spirituality, death, and the supernatural and then didn’t totally answer them because we can’t answer those questions on our own.

I’ve heard more than a few people say that the finale was emotionally satisfying, but intellectually unsatisfying.  As you can probably tell by now I only half agree with this statement.  If you expected more answers than we had already gotten this season in the finale than go right ahead and be disappointed because that’s never what the show was about, and I think that you may have missed the point (or maybe I missed the point and we’re all just suckers who wasted away 15-23 hours each year for the past 6 years).

With that, feel free to defriend me on facebook, defame my name to your friends, call me unspeakable names, or just argue with me like the nerds we all are.  I welcome the onslaught.

May 25, 2010 Posted by | TV shows | 1 Comment

The Empire Quotes Back

Chewbacca has all the good lines

As we continue our look back at 30 years of The Empire Strikes Back, it’s hard not to recall some really memorable lines.  Sure, we got “May the Force be with you” in the first movie, but movie quote afficionados have to love Empire for its clever and memorable dialogue.  The recent Star Wars status day on Facebook in honor of May the 4th (be with you) saw a considerable amount of lines from Empire, which is a testament to its lasting imprint on the movie quote universe.  So, here are a few of my (and probably other people too) favorites.

“No disintegrations”

This quote is somewhat more obscure than the rest of the lines in this post, but its obscurity reflects the mystery of the character it refers to.  The line is spoken by Darth Vader to the bounty hunter Boba Fett when we first meet him.  This one line conjures a mysterious past and defines the character by his intense methods of dealing with his prey.  In addition, Darth Vader, the big baddie, has to keep another character in check.  If a minor character can inspire a talking-to from the main villain, he must be a tough dude.  These two words are the perfect introduction to the phenomenon that became the Fett.

“I love you…..” “I know”

Don't forget your matching his and hers t-shirts

It’s hard to get a more classic romantic line than the famous interchange between Han and Leia on the platform of the carbon freezing chamber.  The romantic tension between the two had been building the entire film, and the emotionally charged scene in Cloud City called for a touching romantic moment.  Instead, Han responds to Leia’s emotional outburst with his trademark nonchalance, and this brief exchange reminds us that Han Solo is by far the coolest, suavest, and manliest smuggler in the galaxy.  I would not suggest, however, using this line with your significant other as a romantic gesture mostly because you and I will never be as cool as Han Solo.

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”

Yoda speaks many of the classic lines throughout the entire saga, but this particular line has always stuck out to me.  It’s interesting that the line isn’t even typically characteristic of Yoda-speak, but the wisdom imparted in it is all Yoda.  Yoda’s lesson that failure is acceptable because it leads to success is one that rings true across all cultures and beliefs.  When Yoda lifts Luke’s X-Wing out of the swamp just with his mind, you know immediately that his life has never been about trying.  He has always put everything into all of his actions, whether or not they succeeded, and that is why he is ultimately successful.  It’s hard to beat a life lesson like that.

“No. I am your father!”

Yes, this is the actual line.  The next time you hear anyone say “Luke, I’m your father” slap them in the face and immediately confiscate their geek card.  They have no credibility.  The defining moment of Empire is the scene in the reactor shaft where Luke and the audience discover the true identity of his father.  Fittingly, the most memorable quote from the film comes from the most memorable scene.  This line has been parodied in countless movies and TV shows to the point that it has become a part of pop culture even for those who have never watched one scene from The Empire Strikes Back.  No other quote from the entire Star Wars saga is more famous, and any list of quotes would be incomplete without it.

There are countless other lines in Empire that are worth the effort required to type them out, and they will forever live on in the minds and mouths of nerds everywhere.  Happy Quoting!

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Movies, Star Wars | Leave a comment

The Many New Faces of The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars is known for its vast array of colorful denizens. Beyond the main characters, the galaxy is full of various robots, aliens, humans, and everything in between. In A New Hope we were introduced to the main characters and the beginning of their story arcs, but The Empire Strikes Back actually introduces to the galaxy some of the most memorable characters of the entire saga. I’m guessing that if you had to pick a favorite character besides Luke, Leia, Han, or Darth Vader, you would pick a character from Empire. Therefore, it is only fitting to take a look at the best new characters to show their faces (or their helmets) in the Star Wars saga.

Lobot has about two lines in the entire film, but you can’t help but be intrigued by him. I mean, don’t you ask yourself where he got those sweet doodads on the side of his head and if he dreams of electric sheep (kudos if you get that reference). Sure, we know that Lobot is Lando’s chief dude at Cloud City and he’s pretty handy with a blaster, but there is so much mystery about the rest of his character. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any more of a role in the films so we don’t know his backstory or future, but he does have an action figure so that alone makes him intriguing. Maybe there’s a novel out there that tells Lobot’s story, but I don’t want to read it because they mystery makes Lobot interesting (at least a little bit).

Where can I get me some of those poofy sleeves?

On a slightly more serious note, Emperor Palapatine makes his first quasi-appearance in Empire. We never actually see Palpatine in the flesh, but he does appear in the form of an ominous, looming hologram that makes even Darth Vader look insignificant. If you weren’t scared out of your pants when you heard that Darth Vader has a boss, then Palpatine’s ugly mug in 3D holographic hugeness should have done the job nicely. The short scene with a holgogram was an appropriate introduction to the Galactic Empire’s biggest baddy, which easily merits his placement on the best new characters of Empire list even without a physical appearance.

You don't want to mess with him

The last three new characters are difficult to rank or differentiate based on the coolness factor, but they each stand out for their iconic appearances and personalities. Lando Calrissian, friend and gambling buddy of Han Solo and administrator of Cloud City, provides Star Wars with the smoothest cat in the galaxy. Of course, Billy Dee Williams was the only actor worthy of the role, and he brought a suavity and charm that even trumped his treacherous behavior. In addition, who wouldn’t want to wear a cape like Lando’s? Easily a fan favorite, Lando endeared himself to fans everywhere when he showed his true colors by joining Luke and Leia in the attempt to rescue Han.  As for his deserving to be on this list, well, he’s Lando Calrissian.  Need I really say more?

Don't tell me you wouldn't pose like that if you had a cape!

A list of Empire characters without Yoda, a tragedy would be. The Star Wars saga and Yoda must always be unseparable. He provides the wisdom and the undercurrent for so many of the themes throughout the entire series, and he provides a screen presence that is serious and humorous at the same time. When we first meet Yoda in Empire we don’t even know that he is the Yoda that Luke is looking for, and the audience is as surprised as Luke when he discovers the truth about the little green alien. Yoda-speak has become a regular concept in popular culture, and you can’t find anyone, even if they haven’t seen any part of a Star Wars movie, who doesn’t at least recognize Yoda’s distinct look or speech. Out of all the new characters in Empire, Yoda easily takes the cake as the most significant and most recognized.

How can you not want one of these? Isn't it the cutest thing?

Finally, the honor of cult favorite and most mysterious new character goes to the galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Okay, technically Fett was introduced in the infamous Star Wars TV holiday special, but for most people that is merely a bad dream. Empire is the first place where Boba Fett really shines. What makes Boba Fett stand out among all of the other bounty hunters standing on the deck of the Star Destroyer? Fett gets his bounty (Han Solo), he has the coolest armor, he has a rocket pack, he has the swagger, his ship is oddly awesome, he is totally mysterious…I could go on and on. Boba Fett is independent and confident, and he doesn’t have to say much to convey this, which makes him easily the coolest new character in Empire.

If anyone wants to buy me this, I will not refuse.

Some honorable mentions:  Any of the other bounty hunters (Bossk, Dengar, IG-88, etc.), the space slug, tauntauns, wampas, General Veers, Darth Vader’s unhelmeted head, Ugnaughts.

Did I miss any of your favorite characters from The Empire Strikes Back?

May 5, 2010 Posted by | Movies, Star Wars | Leave a comment

May Strikes Back

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…….

(insert text crawl and music)

The evil forces of the public school corporation, despite recent setbacks, had succeeded in chipping away at the free time of young boys and girls throughout the neighborhood.  The children were forced into a hidden base at the remote edge of the backyard where they could re-enact their favorite scenes from a certain sci-fi trilogy.  Twenty years later some of those kids still fondly remember those days and even write about them on the internet…I will start by saying that I was not born for the opening of either Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back.  I share a birth year with Return of the Jedi, and that movie has subsequently become my personal favorite.  You might ask, “How can you like Jedi more than Empire?  That’s practically blasphemy among Star Wars fans!  Without spending too much time on the topic, since this post is supposed to be the preview for “May Strikes Back,” the young age at which I first watched the trilogy was most conducive to a love for Jedi.

Empire, however, has grown on me over time.  While I didn’t fully understand the darkness and melancholy of the film as a child, the experiences of life have led me to a greater appreciation of the film’s sadness tinged with hope.  In addition, Empire has the best new characters and most iconic moments in the entire saga.

Over the course of the next month, in honor of Empire’s 30th birthday, I will be posting thoughts and observations

This tauntaun will get you where you need to go and keep you warm!

about the Empire Strikes Back.  I’ll look at some of the new characters, the scenes, the dialogue, and much more as a tribute to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sequels of all time.  So, fix that hyperdrive and saddle up that tauntaun as we take a wild ride straight into the heart of the Empire (Strikes Back).

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Movies, Star Wars | Leave a comment