Posts tagged russ

Lost Characters


I started watching the TV show X-Files when I was a freshman in college and I was hooked pretty immediately. About a year later when FX aired the entire series in order I video-taped (on VHS in those days) and watched the whole series. A decade later when I was almost done with college my friends Aaron and Russ wanted to watch the series, which they’d never seen before. But X-Files was a pretty long-running show, so we decided to just watch the episodes related to the alien conspiracy. Since I’d seen the series before I served as our guide. I found some lists of the alien episodes online, but I wasn’t really happy with the choices that they’d made and I ended up curating my own list of the episodes that would best let us watch the over-arching plot line.

X-Files is kind of a unique show because it let us do this. There are two kinds of X-Files episodes: the episodes that are part of the over-arching plot line of the alien conspiracy, and the stand-alone episodes of some weird supernatural thing that isn’t alien related. There really isn’t much of a middle ground. (Star was also an X-Files veteran and would sometimes watch with us, but she was and still is opposed to our approach, and in some ways she’s right: Most of the very best episodes were stand-alone episodes because they were so creative and often had really excellent writers.)


Ever since then I’ve thought about that idea of analyzing how required an episode is if you want to keep watching the series. I don’t think most TV shows are as clear-cut as X-Files was. Even shows that do have over-arching plot lines and random single-episode plots, they usually sprinkle and mix them so that there’s at least something related to the over-arching plot in every episode. You can’t usually cut out whole episodes and expect to understand what’s going on in the next episode.


Recently we’ve started re-watching the TV show Lost, and the third episode of the show suggests a different way for an episode to be really important to the series.

Really nothing happens in the episode to further the overarching plot. There are several reminders of important things going on but nothing new really happens. Sure they talk about being off-course and the weird radio signal, but they’re just reminding us of what’s happened in other episodes. In other words, if you completely missed this episode you could still watch the next one and understand everything that was going on.

Even though you wouldn’t have missed any plot milestones, you would have missed some really important milestones for our characters. There are tons of instances in this episode where you get a first look at attributes of these characters that end up being really important during the rest of the show. So maybe the episode is still really essential for watching the whole series, but for very different reasons. You could understand the plot without this episode, but you might not understand the characters without it.

Consider these scenes and what we learn about the characters:

  • When Jack goes into the airplane wreckage to rummage for medicine he finds Sawyer already in there rummaging for anything else of value. They debate the ethics of rummaging for supplies, and Sawyer suggests that Jack is acting like he’s still in civilization while Sawyer sees them as being “in the wild”. I think there’s an interesting irony that’s presented here. Sawyer is “in the wild” as far as his morals are concerned, having no problem taking from the dead nor from the rest of the castaways in order to benefit his personal stash. However, Sawyer is calm and collected as he does it. Jack on the other hand, operates for the common good and is slowly creating the civilization of the island. But here we see him rushed and almost panicked as he rummages for medicine, and he seems at the end of his wits, like he might just attack Sawyer at any second. We see this battle of values and personalities between Sawyer and Jack over and over during the course of the show, and this first encounter sets it up perfectly.
  • This is really Kate’s episode, and so you see multiple sides of Kate in it. One side is the dangerous criminal. The marshall tells Jack that she is dangerous and that she shouldn’t be trusted.
  • During the conflict over the gun, Kate gets nominated to carry it. She walks around camp with a gun and no one seems to mind except for Hurley. While we were watching this part Kelly said out loud, “It’s amazing that people are OK with her just walking around with a gun.” The thing we really learn about Kate through this is that she is able to command trust from her peers.
  • The marshall and Kate have two encounters when he is conscious: in the first the marshall attacks her and tries to strangle her, and in the second he has a kind of fond-farewell to Kate, even to the point of asking her to put him out of his misery. Here you see the other pieces put together: Kate is dangerous and the marshall both hates her and fears her, but he also strangely sees her as a trusted friend and relies on her to be compassionate to him.
  • You see this dual nature of Kate again in the attempted escape after the farmer sells her out. She is willing to do anything to get away, crashing the truck but ultimately she allows herself to be slowed down to save the farmer from the burning wreckage. She was just dangerous enough to crash the car, but too compassionate to allow the farmer to die, even when it meant her being caught.
  • Sawyer tells Kate that since she has the gun she should put the marshall out of his misery. He doesn’t know that Kate was the fugitive and that it actually would serve Kate’s interests if the marshall weren’t around anymore. We don’t see the rest of the conversation, but later we see it’s outcome when Sawyer has the gun and shoots the marshall. Here we see Kate as a con artist herself, conning the conman into doing something that really serves her more than anyone else, and you can imagine that she’s done it in a way that Sawyer thinks that he’s convinced her.
  • When Sawyer leaves the tent after shooting the marshall, he has a look of pain and sorrow on his face. Jack confronts him and Sawyer justifies his actions and makes a convincing argument that he was actually being merciful to both the marshall and the rest of the passengers. But because of the looks on his face, you get the idea that he isn’t glad that it’s happened. This is the first time that you realize that Sawyer isn’t one-dimensionally evil, but that he’s actually complicated and is trying to do the right thing from his own point of view.
  • When the marshall groans after being shot, Sawyer realizes that he has spent his last bullet and missed. Despite all of the morally questionable things that we’ve already seen him do, this is the first time that he looks afraid and ashamed. It reinforces the idea that Sawyer does have some compassion deep down, but also let’s us see another aspect of what makes Sawyer who he is: even when he is trying to do the right thing, he is ashamed of himself for constantly screwing up.
  • After Sawyer shot the marshall, he accuses Jack of not being able to do what needed to be done. But after he has missed, Jack goes into the tent and puts the marshall out of his misery. Here you see another pattern for Jack: despite whatever character flaws Jack may have, he is extremely capable, and doesn’t shy away from conflict or hard situations.
  • Perhaps most importantly, this is the first episode where Sawyer calls Kate “Freckles”.

Twenty Twelve


Ok, I’ve been trying to correct this for two years now, but I’m not sure it’s working. People keep saying “two thousand”. Say “twenty” instead. It’s one whole syllable shorter and it makes you sound like a native English speaker. You can do it.

Here’s some encouragement that Russ showed me:

Abusive relationship


Tyler pointed out to me yesterday that I’ve done bodily harm to him every day this week. Behold.

  1. On Monday we went to go see some fireworks in Spanish Fork. We went in three different cars, and none of us knew where any of the others were. Eventually (despite contradictory directions) Tyler and I found Russ and Christie and Harry Caray together. We had walked for a ways looking for a good spot to watch from, when Moriah called, claiming to be in prime fireworks-watching position, so our combined group was going to rendezvous with her. We all crammed into Russ’s car because it was closer, and Tyler was stuck laying across three people in the back seat. Russ dropped Tyler and me at my car. I thought it would be funny if Tyler climbed out of the car head-first. He didn’t think it’d be funny or convenient, so I tried to pull him out of the car, and he pulled back and hit his head on door frame.
  2. The next day we were at Walmart buying white gas (Wait for it….) and there was this display with a ton of frisbees at the front of the store. I picked one up tried to throw it to Tyler, but the truth is that I throw like a girl (no offense to those girl readers who are more athletic than me), and so I gave it one of those throws that curves complete and goes 90-degrees from where it was aimed. I figured that I’d just grab another frisbee and try again, but I’m not much better. I might not be skillful, but I am persistent (or stubborn?), so I grabbed another frisbee, but by this time Tyler had given up and already started to walk away. As I ran after him my stubbornness turned to mischief, and went on the opposite side of the isle-divider from him, hoping to hit him with the frisbee when he turned the corner. He, of course, foresaw my plan, and was ready for me when he turned the corner, thinking that he would simply catch the frisbee and foil my plan. Just as he appeared and I was about to launch my attack, two girls came out from a side isle and blocked my path. Instead of letting that ruin the moment, however, I stood cocked and ready to fire, waiting for the girls to clear the way. Tyler must have thought it ridiculous, because it only made him more prepared to catch the frisbee. By the time my shot was clear, my tension must have mounted to a degree such that the power with which I threw my projectile compensated for my inaccuracy. I hit Tyler right in the eye from about 8 feet away.
  3. After our party last night we convinced Tyler to show off his fire-dancing skills. He had two of the torch-knives that they use, and he was dancing with one while I was soaking the other in the white gas (that we’d bought at Walmart the day before). My job was to spin off the excess gas from the stick that I was soaking. After it had soaked up the gas, I swung the thing repeatedly (because I can’t spin it fast enough to get anything off of it) until it didn’t look like any more gas was spraying off of it. Then I lit it and (after burning my hand trying to light the other end) gave it to Tyler. On his first spin it sprayed burning fuel in a diagonal line from his right shoulder down to his left knee. It took a second or two before he noticed that he was on fire so he could drop the sticks and put himself out.
  4. That night at the ritual late night Beto’s run (which Carlos should have paid for), I stepped on his already-hurt toe.

He gave me the credit that at least the last one wasn’t my fault.

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