No doubt LOST is a frequently divisive series, but critics and audience members can unanimously agree upon one thing: plot holes and unanswered questions aside, the drama excelled in developing character relationships. A perfect example is Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) and Penny (Sonya Walger); arguably the best love story in television history.
In one of the series' most critically acclaimed episodes – The Constant – Desmond and Penny finally reunite and reaffirm their love after years of separation.
Utilizing themes of time-travel, the episode follows Desmond as he physically shifts between the years 1996 and 2004. His one saving grace from this harrowing experience is establishing an anchor – a constant – between the two periods of time. Desmond, of course, chooses Penny. Contacting her in 1996, Desmond convinces Penny not to change her phone number so that he may call her in 2004. When he is finally able to make that call, their emotionally charged reconnection is breathtaking.
With beautifully honest performances from Cusick and Walger, Desmond and Penny absolutely shine as they reveal their undying love for each other. However, it is not so much the scene alone that really hits home but the dramatic buildup of Desmond and Penny's relationship over the course of the entire series – a true testament to LOST's immensely talented creative team. The reward is a brilliant scene that inevitably brings tears to the eyes of viewers even after countless viewings.
“I love you, Penny. I've always loved you.” Stunningly powerful. And honest.
10/15/2015 0 Comments
British television series Black Mirror is a twilight zone for the Twitter generation. Each episode features a dystopian morality play that presents all-too-eerily familiar alternate realities; an elusive warning of what might be on the horizon for modern society.
In the second episode – Fifteen Million Merits – Bingham (Daniel Kaluuya) is living in a future dystopia where workers ride exercise bikes all day to generate a power source for society. The cyclists are paid in merit points, which they then spend on food and other digitized possessions. Their points are also spent to avoid digital advertising which they are subjected to throughout the day. Reality television shows like Hot Shots – a futuristic X-Factor – prevail as an unending source of “entertainment” for the workers.
For fifteen million merits, a worker can audition for Hot Shots, earning a chance at stardom. Bing discovers a coworker singing one morning, Abi (Jessica Brown Findlay). Smitten by Abi's talent, Bing insists that he pay for her to audition.
When Abi is featured on Hot Shots, the guest judges convince her that she is simply too talented, and they instead persuade her to become a celebrity porn star. Heartbroken by Abi's subjection to the manipulative media, Bingham is then forced to watch sexual advertisements featuring his newly enslaved love. Enraged, Bing goes on a nonstop quest to earn another fifteen million merits and land an audition on the show. There, in front of guest judges and the entire society, Bing expresses his outrage over the theft of the only real thing in his life – his love for Abi.
With reality television so prominent in our society, Bing's speech is hauntingly accurate. He says, “The faker the fodder is the more you love it because fake fodder's the only thing that works anymore, fake fodder is all that we can stomach.”
His words are a haunting dose of what is perhaps to come if our society completely surrenders to this “fake fodder.” The episode's conclusion is even more terrifying – no spoilers here – and certainly worth a watch. But the real gem is Daniel Kaluuya’s brilliant portrayal of a hauntingly familiar everyman in this terrifyingly dystopian society.
10/14/2015 0 Comments
We are currently experiencing a Golden Age of American Television, and this wonderful era was ushered in by shows like Six Feet Under. Created by Alan Ball, the HBO series focuses on Fisher & Sons Funeral Home. While philosophical and religious themes prevail throughout the family-centered drama, each episode opens with a death, which provides a modest dose of dark humor and surrealism as well. The series exposes character flaws with an unflinching degree of honesty, accentuating every blemish with both comedy and catastrophe. Raw emotional sincerity prevails, providing a gritty realness that was unprecedented in American television.
A tumultuous relationship that permeates throughout the series is Brenda and Nate, who meet in the very first episode. Their rollercoaster trajectory presents scenes of tranquility and tragedy.
At one moment in the series, Brenda and Nate are happily engaged. Brenda is focusing on her fiction writing and unbeknownst to Nate, she's using current sexual encounters to fuel artistic stimulation. Brenda's inspiration by way of infidelity is eventually discovered by Nate, who confronts her in this untethered scene.
At the height of their argument, Nate reaches to take off his engagement ring. Disgusted, Brenda says, “Don’t you throw that ring at me. That is such a fucking cliché. I’ll fucking barf.”
Tossing it, Nate replies, “There, barf.”
Their raw emotional honesty is gut-wrenching; a moving example of superb acting.
10/13/2015 0 Comments
Walter White's behemoth arch in Breaking Bad will perhaps go down as the most complex character development in television history, and that uncanny transformation is attributed to Bryan Cranston's brilliant performance. In just five seasons, viewers witnesses a tender, affable science teacher transform into a vile, loathsome kingpin.
White's metamorphosis is the result of hubris unlike any other, and Cranston's fierce complexity resonates throughout the series. However, underneath all of White's determination and grit lies a dying man's compassion and humanity. Lest the viewer not forget, White's initial reasoning for this titanic transformation is his cancer, a cancer that eats away at his soul.
In this heartbreaking scene from the first season, White's family stages an intervention in which they plead with Walt to treat his cancer with chemotherapy. His wife, Skyler, passes around a Talking Pillow that grants the person in possession permission to speak. When Walt is finally allowed an opportunity to hold the pillow, he declares that he wants a choice, the choice to say no to treatment. What follows is an emotional confession from a broken man never feeling as though he has had a chance to truly live.
Experiencing Walt's sense of humanity and compassion so early on in the series is what drives the viewer to continue rooting for him, even as they witness his vile transformation from protagonist to antagonist. It's a complex performance very few can pull off, but Bryan Cranston carries it with confidence, grace, and ease.
10/12/2015 0 Comments
David Milch’s Deadwood captured a gritty 1870's Dakota Territory and the citizens existing within its nearly lawless terrain. Milch's ensemble of captivating actors helped drive his dense dialogue, often exploring themes of corruption, misogyny, and violence. With so many deviant characters deliciously dominating the screen, it was often refreshing to watch a few purely good citizens surviving within the ranks. Two of those characters were Reverend Smith and Doc Cochran, portrayed by Ray McKinnon and Brad Dourif, respectively.
Reverend Smith begins to suffer from a medical condition that gradually causes his mental and physical collapse, and it is devastating to watch his zeal progressively diminish. In this scene, Smith is examined by the prickly yet always sympathetic Doc, and the Reverend confesses his agony over the mental anguish in which he is subjected. However, always a man of faith, Smith attributes this torment to the Will of God. He says, “This is God's Purpose, the not knowing the purpose is my portion of suffering.” Not understanding Smith's relentless devotion, Doc replies, “If this is His will, Reverend, He is a son of a bitch.”
The always altruistic Reverend takes little offense to Doc’s blasphemous remark, and the two share a moment of silence. It is deafening.
So many layers exist within the stillness of this scene, which is akin to watching two quiet flames fiercely flickering in the night.
Some thoughts on art, life, and theatre. Stay positive.